Host the Ultimate Brunch
If there's a meal that lends itself to casual, relaxed good times with friends and family, it's brunch. It's less structured and formal than dinner, and you can make the food as elegant or as simple as you wish. All it takes is a bit of organization and preparation, so you can spend your time socializing instead of cooking.
Keep Everything in Order
Organizing your brunch date, and juggling everyone's schedule, can feel like herding cats. It gets easier if you have a good calendaring app on your tablet like Sol Calendar, with its beautiful and easy-to-use interface. It syncs with many different calendars, so you can connect no matter what calendar your friends use. Sol's unusual and thoughtful features include a weather forecast overlay that's always visible on your calendar, so you know if rain or snow puts a damper on your brunch date. The app's colorful stickers help you mark the date so you can't miss it, and you can put its to-do or daily schedule widgets on your home screen.
The Endlessly Variable Frittata
Of course, the food is important as well. One of the most reliable and versatile of brunch options is a frittata, a sort of omelet or crustless quiche. It has as many variations as you have ingredients in your fridge, so you can custom-tailor one to suit your guests' taste. You'll need one 10- to 12-inch skillet for every six guests or so, depending how many other items you're offering.
The basic steps are straightforward:
- Choose three or four add-ins—whatever appeals to you—leeks, shallots, onions or chives; fresh or roasted bell peppers; broccoli or cauliflower; kale or spinach; mushrooms or wild mushrooms; diced or crumbled sausage; shredded leftover meats; bacon or ham...use your imagination. You know what tastes good.
- Pre-cook the add-ins as needed, so they're already softened and have released their natural moisture. That's important, because you don't want soggy eggs.
- Lightly oil a heavy ovenproof skillet or pan, and spread up to 2 or 2 1/2 cups of add-ins evenly across its surface. Season them with salt, pepper, garlic or other flavorings, and sprinkle them lightly with your favorite shredded cheese.
- Beat 6 to 8 eggs, and pour them over the fillings. Tilt the pan, so they spread from edge to edge. Cook the eggs over moderate heat for just one or two minutes, until the edges begin to set.
- Top the eggs with more cheese or buttered croutons, if you wish, and slide the pan into a preheated oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. After 8 to 10 minutes, when the eggs are fully set and the cheese is bubbly, it's ready.
Frittatas are a reliable brunch option, but they're just one choice of thousands. Ideally your frittata would be surrounded by a range of other eye-pleasing, mouthwatering choices. For example, you might offer a stack of crepes alongside bowls of fresh fruit and whipped cream to fill them. Hollow out a baguette, stuff it with eggs, cheese and cooked fillings, and bake it to bubbly golden goodness in the oven. Baked French toast is always appealing, or you could give it a savory twist by layering cheese and ham between the layers for a sort of large-scale Monte Cristo. Give traditional side dishes a makeover, glazing good bacon or sliced ham with honey or maple syrup, and baking until richly caramelized.
Prepped and Primed
A good recipe app, such as the simply-named Recipes Search Engines, can help you find recipes you want to try. Once you've got them, your smartphone or tablet makes an excellent interactive cookbook. Whenever possible, look for recipes that can be made or at least prepared ahead of time. Prepare or buy your crepes and refrigerate them, and cut up any fruit or vegetables. Dice, shred or crumble the meats, and stash them in the Chef Pantry of your Chef Collection refrigerator. Prep your baked French toast or breakfast casseroles, and leave them overnight to soak up the eggs. With 34 cubic feet of storage, you won't run out of room.
Warm, Hot, Cold
On the day, keep things flexible by taking advantage of the Flex Duo oven in your Chef Collection range. Slide in the divider, so you can bake last-minute items at a high temperature while using the other half as a warming oven to keep prepared foods hot. When mealtime arrives, you'll have all the food organized and table-ready. Remember, although lingering over the table is part of the pleasure of a leisurely brunch, any leftover foods should be whisked away to the refrigerator once you've finished eating. Pack them into flat containers and pop them back into your Chef Collection fridge. If you have lots of leftovers, use the fridge's Power Cool feature to rapidly bring them down to a food-safe temperature as you linger over your coffee.
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