Weekend brunch is so over-rated. The line ups alone are enough to kill me. Seriously, I cannot even bear it. I see it all the time – huge lines outside popular brunch spots, folks just waiting around, probably hangry, to get a table. I’ve been guilty of the same thing, waiting sometimes up to an hour during prime brunch time to sit down with friends over coffee and eggs etc. And all the while, I always thought to myself, damn, with the same money and time I spent waiting for brunch, I could have just MADE brunch. In my PJs.
Now feeding a crowd can be daunting – I totally get that. I hosted a birthday brunch for my sister this past weekend and I made a lot of different things. I had some hearty eaters coming, 11 adults and 2 kidlets in total, and these included several food allergies / intolerances including: nuts, gluten, and sesame. To accommodate, I made a huge spread of sweet and savory dishes so everyone could enjoy a bit of something.
The menu included (clockwise from top left): Potato crusted quiche, chocolate chip waffles, mixed berries, croissant BLTs with brie, jalapeno cheddar cornbread waffles, melon kebabs, bacon, and berry stuffed french toast.
For me, I really had to plan ahead and I tried to be as organized as possible, especially to prepare all this in my tiny kitchen. Here’s how it went down:
Week Before: I mapped out my menu, figured out my colour theme (black, white,polka dots), and created a shopping list by store and item (Ie. Costco – bacon, cheese, etc.) and shopped for the groceries and decor during the week after work. I also set the table and got all the cutlery, cups, decor set up a couple days before. I made the waffles in the evenings and reheated them during the brunch which saved a lot of time.
Night Before: I baked the cupcakes and frosted them the night before and scooped out the melons for the kebabs. I also made the potato crusted quiche and ordered take out for dinner. D was a huge help and his puttering around after me and washing up made the whole process a lot easier.
Morning of Brunch: I made the french toast filling and pan fried them before keeping them warm on a baking sheet in the oven at 170 degrees for about 45 minutes. I reheated waffles, put out fruit, assembled sandwiches, and made a lot of bacon.
Whenever I’ve hosted a party, no matter how organized I tried to be, I generally had a bit of a meltdown about 20 minutes before guests arrived. Not this type of meltdown, more like this. This time it was over forgetting to get/make coffee. Oh well, it worked out in the end with my cousin doing a Tim Horton’s run on her way over. Despite my best efforts to be organized, invariably something always goes a little awry where I go a little mental, but thankfully, I tend to calm down once everyone starts to eat. D has also become very skilled at snapping me out of my crazy.
Brunch can be made a lot easier too by baking the bacon in the oven. You can make tons of it, and it comes out perfectly every time with almost no clean up. Menu-wise, your guests would probably be happy with a cup of coffee, boat loads of bacon and some simple eggs and toast. I know I would. But probably not as happy as these people.
Easy Perfectly Cooked Bacon (adapted from The Kitchn)
1 to 2 pounds of bacon
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cover baking sheet with foil for easy clean up. Lay slices of uncooked bacon side by side, close that they are just barely touching but not overlapping. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cooked to your desired crispiness up, to 20 minutes. Use tongs (or chopsticks) to remove bacon and place on paper towel lined plate to absorb excess fat and serve immediately.
For cleanup, let oil in tray cool slightly and pour into a container and refrigerate. To discard, let fat cool completely and discard in the foil.
For extra crispy bacon, lay a metal cooling rack over the foil and place bacon strips over top before baking.