how to host a stress-free (and healthy!) brunch
Published May 20, 2016 5:00 AM
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produced by ANNA KOCHARIAN recipes & tips by PAMELA SALZMAN
Hosting brunch can get stressful, especially when it’s for a crowd. So we enlisted the help of natural food chef Pamela Salzman, who gave us the lowdown on hosting the ultimate, stress-free brunch. Oh, and there are recipes too!
Plan Ahead It always helps to write out a to-do list.
Things like salad dressings and washing greens can be done several days in advance, while something like granola can be made a week ahead. The day before, you can cut fruit or saute the veggies that will be added to a frittata the next morning. Put condiments in serving vessels the day before and keep in the fridge, covered. There are some recipes that require an overnight soak, like French toast casserole, strata, and bircher muesli, which are all perfect for brunches. Make sure to read the recipes through before the day of, so you aren’t caught off guard with that overnight step!
Know What To Freeze Muffins freeze really well, so they can be made several weeks in advance and then defrosted first thing in the morning. Same with Stratas and quiches, just defrost the night before and bake in the morning.
Think About A DIY Station This is a fun way to let guests do some of the work, such as a mimosa bar, waffle station, or a bagels and cream cheese setup.
No Stress Tablescaping Set your table the day before. Then, the day of, you can add florals or use fruit as your centerpiece.
STRESS FREE BRUNCH TIPS
Take people up on their offer to bring something, but be specific so you can incorporate it into your menu.
Not everything has to be home-made. Mix things up between what you buy and what you make. For a large group, avoid recipes that are time-intensive or last-minute such as flipping pancakes or making individual waffles.
Figure out what you can do ahead. Ask your guests if there are any allergies, so that there are no surprises the day of and you’re not trying to scramble at the last second to accommodate someone.
Use chic disposables so mitigate clean-up!
Try to add vegetables where you can. Instead of a cheese and bacon frittata, make one with sautéed seasonal vegetables like Swiss chard or zucchini and green onions. A salad is an easy way to add in vegetables along with a touch of color to the table.
Watch The White Flour. Muffins are even better with whole grain flours like whole wheat pastry flour or whole spelt flour. You can swap either of those for white flour in most muffin and quick bread recipes.
Make It Homemade. You never know how much sugar, fat or salt are in packaged or store-bought baked goods. Plus, the quality of the sweeteners and fats is always lower than what one would use. Making your own is easy, healthier, and it will taste great!
Find 35 make-ahead breakfast recipes here!
What’s In Season? Fruit that is in season is actually richer in vitamins and nutrients than fruit that has been shipped from far away. A fruit salad does not have to be three kinds of melon and berries. Instead choose fruit that is in season or make a fruit dessert using what’s locally available.
Consider a green smoothie — load it up with spinach, bananas, flax, almond milk and vanilla!
STRAWBERRY-RHUBARAB CORNMEAL CRISP
- 4 cups fresh rhubarb, 1-inch dice (4-5 stalks)
- 4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
- ½ cup Grade A pure maple syrup or cane sugar
- 1 Tablespoon arrowroot
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- ¾ cup coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
- ½ cup flour (whole wheat pastry or for GF a combo of GF oat flour and King Arthur Multipurpose GF Flour)
- ½ cup cornmeal
- ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats (for GF, look for labeled GF oats)
- ½ cup chopped raw almonds or pecans
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch of ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 8 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter or Earth Balance, cut into 1-inch pieces or cold unrefined coconut oil
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.
- Toss the fruit with syrup or sugar, flour and orange juicet. Transfer to an 8- or 9-inch baking dish or pie plate.
- Add all topping ingredients in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Blend until the mixture resembles small peas. This can also be done by hand with a pastry blender. Squeeze with your hands to create small clumps. Topping can also be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
- Arrange topping over fruit to cover.
- Place baking dish on a cookie sheet and bake for about 45-50 minutes or until bubbly and topping is golden brown.
FLUFFY LEMON POPPYSEED RICOTTA PANCAKES serves 4-5
- 1 cup flour (e.g. whole wheat pastry, whole spelt or a blend of GF flours)
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking sodazest of 1 medium lemon
- 1 Tablespoon poppyseeds
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta
- ¾ cup buttermilk*
- 2 large eggs, separated
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon 100% pure maple syrup
- coconut oil for brushing the griddle
- Preheat a griddle to 375 degrees or medium heat.
- Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, lemon zest and poopyseeds in a large mixing bowl.
- In a medium bowl or 4-6 cup measuring cup, whisk together the ricotta, buttermilk, egg yolks, vanilla, and maple syrup.
- Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.Stir in the egg whites. They do not need to be beaten.
- Brush the griddle with coconut oil and spoon about ¼ cup of batter onto the griddle. Add blueberries to the surface, if desired.
- When bubbles start to form on the surface of the pancake and the edges become slightly dry, flip it over and cook until done.
- Maintain the heat on medium-low or 350 degrees.
*No buttermilk? Sub half unsweetened yogurt and half whole milk
BEET AND BURRATA SALAD WITH HAZELNUTS AND MINT
- 2 bunches of red or golden beets or a combination
- 1/3 cup raw hazelnuts*
- 2 8-ounce rounds of burrata (I like DiStefano)
- handful of mint leaves, thinly sliced (you can leave a few small ones whole for garnish)
- unrefined, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
- good aged white balsamic vinegar (or regular/dark aged balsamic)
- flaky sea salt such as Maldon
- freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the greens off the beets, leaving about ½ inch of the stems still attached. Save the greens for another time. Wash the beets well and place them in a roasting pan or pie plate with a thin layer of water on the bottom. Cover tightly with foil. Roast about 50 minutes (or longer for larger beets). When the beets are done, carefully remove the foil. Allow them to cool, and then peel them by slipping off the skins with your fingers. Cut them into ½-inch wedges. You can also slice some thinly into rounds and cut some into wedges.
- Lower the oven to 350°. In a pie plate or baking sheet, toast the hazelnuts until the skins blister, about 15 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a clean kitchen towel and let cool, then rub to remove the skins. If you don’t mind hazelnut skins, you don’t need to remove them. Coarsely chop the nuts.
- When ready to plate the salad, pull burrata apart with your hands and mound it down the middle of a platter.
- Arrange the beets alongside the burrata, sprinkle with hazelnuts, sliced mint, salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic.