Here's the thing about brunch parties: You have to forget about pancakes, waffles, and omelettes, even scrambled eggs (although these look divine). Hosting guests a mere hour or two after you wake up requires make-ahead dishes. These tips will allow you to breezily greet your friends with a mimosa rather than bedhead and a flour-covered nightgown.
Now, we don't mean you have to give up pancakes for entertaining. If you want to hang out by the stove and make batches of pancakes, more power to you. But we prefer to roll out of bed, turn on the oven, and make coffee. We're not so dexterous in the a.m.
So, these are our tips for making brunch as effortless as possible:
• Make a breakfast casserole. This roundup from yesterday is wonderful if you'd like something beyond your basic egg-and-sausage casserole. But breakfast casseroles or stratas are often supposed to be made the night before. They provide a hearty, hefty, fill-er-up meal that serve a lot of people and require nothing more than 45 minutes or so in the oven in the morning.
• Or a quiche. Again, these can be baked, frozen (or just chilled), and reheated the morning of. They are good room temperature. Here's a recent roundup of good ones.
• Serve a quick bread. This one or this one both look amazing; both can be made in advance and even frozen.
• If you have a bit more time, make Faith's Lemon Sticky Rolls. Have you tried them yet? Because they're unbelievable. And you can do all the mixing and rising and filling the day before; just pop them in the oven in the morning. Here's another tutorial on making any sort of sweet breakfast roll ahead of time.
• But don't overload your oven. Think about how many things need to cook in the morning. Unless you have two ovens, you want to keep it to two dishes, in our opinion. Cook the breakfast casserole first, since it usually takes longest and is fine to serve warm rather than hot. Same goes for quiches (although if you're just reheating one, it might be quick and you can bake sweet rolls first). Cinnamon or lemon rolls are best hot, so cook them last. Bonus: you'll have the smell of them baking wafting through your house as people arrive.
• Serve fruit salad. Vary the fruit based on the season. You can do this citrus salad in winter (or maybe this one with pears and dates). In summer, go with berries and melon. Pick fruits that keep well and don't turn brown. Toss with a bit of lemon juice to keep it fresh overnight. Slice bananas into it in the morning, if you want.
• Go with a store-bought wildcard. If you don't feel like making an egg dish, buy some smoked salmon to serve as a protein. Or get that great sweet bread that the bakery on the corner is famous for. Or, for an extra something to have on the table, serve good, store-bought granola alongside some vanilla yogurt. Swirl a little cinnamon into the yogurt to give it a homemade touch.
• Set the table ahead of time. Have your pitchers, plates, glasses, and platters ready to go.
• Have friends bring juice or champagne. Your refrigerator is going to be full of casseroles and sticky buns. If there's no room for a big jug of freshly squeezed OJ, ask friends to bring it when they come. Mimosas take no time to whip up; people can even serve themselves.
What other tips do you have for making brunch hassle-free?
Related: The Thanksgiving Report: A Pie Breakfast (pictured above)
(Image: Faith Durand)