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No Stress Holiday Brunch

Submitted by on December 21, 2009 – 10:42 PMOne Comment
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expm19467_TH10301D6One of the best things about a holiday brunch is that you can start getting festive as soon as you open your eyes and no one will lift an eyebrow or give you a disapproving look.  Even better, brunch is a meal you can mostly make ahead so all you have to do is mix up a batch of bloody bastards, set the table and you’re good to go.

Brunch is different from breakfast in that you usually have a couple of courses and you always include a little something sweet as “dessert.”

Brunch begins with bread.
That means a variety of breads—bagels and cream cheese, croissants and strawberry jam, blueberry muffins.  You can buy all these items at any grocery store and in many cases, they’ll be better than homemade.  You can also add strudel and bear claws and other sweet rolls as your budget allows, but bagels, croissants and muffins will cover all the bases.

There must be protein.
If you have bagels, you’ll want to put out the fixings for a bagel sandwich—sliced tomatoes, sliced onions and some lox.  A little lox goes a long way, but if you are watching your pennies, get some cream cheese with bits of lox mixed in and fake it.

Bacon and sausage are great on the side and you can prepare both in the microwave, which is faster and neater than frying them up on the stove.  Even people who wouldn’t think of eating bacon most of the year will eagerly reach for seconds, so plan accordingly.

The incredible, edible egg.  Don’t try to make scrambled eggs for a crowd.  Some people like them runny, others like them dry and the timing is tricky.  Instead, make a substantial egg dish like a frittata, which can be served warm or room temperature; or bake a quiche the night before.  Another choice is one of those “egg strata” recipes you can find in any community cookbook.

egg_strataEasiest Egg Strata Recipe

Ingredients

-12 slices white bread (any kind, including Wonder Bread)
-1 ½ cup shredded cheese (I use a mixture of cheddar and jalapeno Jack)
-¼ stick of unsalted butter, softened
-1 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. black pepper
-2 ½ cups milk (non-fat milk is fine with all the cheese)
-5 eggs

Directions

1. Tear the bread into pieces—raggedy is fine.  You’re basically making a bread pudding here.
2. Layer the bread into a glass casserole dish, sprinkling the cheese on each layer.
3. Combine the milk with the salt and pepper.
4, Beat the eggs and add to the seasoned milk.
5. Pour the egg/milk over the bread, making sure all the pieces are soaked.
6. Refrigerate overnight.  The next morning, bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour.  The bread will puff up like a soufflé.

Don’t forget your vitamins.
Set out iced pitchers of juices—orange and apple and grape for instance, or grapefruit, tangerine and cranberry (for the season).  Plug in the coffee maker and then mix up a batch of beer bloody marys or chevala, a Mexican beer cocktail and sit down with your guests and enjoy the meal.

kasteelChevala Recipe for One

Increase amount of ingredients as needed
1 part Clamato juice
2 parts beer (any kind)
1 squirt fresh lemon juice
3 dashes hot pepper sauce
2 drops Worcester sauce

Serve ice cold.

For a really festive feel to the meal, break out some bottles of champagne-style beer.  These Bière de Champagne brews are highly carbonated, with delicate flavor and a potent alcohol punch.  Try Kasteel Cru, a pale pour with notes of apple and citrus and a crisp champagne taste with a touch of sweetness.  An even more complex version of a Bière Brut is Malheur Cuvee Royale which has even more fruitiness (apricots, apples, citrus) and a nice dry finish.