My parents decided fairly last-minute that they were going to stop by for Saturday brunch last weekend. They aren’t usually the type to do this (no secret where I get my anal-retentive need to plan in advance), and certainly not the types to relinquish control of the cooking to me.
I did a bit of quick research, and came up with a game plan. SmittenKitchen has a pretty great overview for how to prepare and serve brunch without stressing, so I worked from that. My parents are fairly healthy eaters, and keep their sugar intake pretty low. I wanted to have a hearty main dish, whole-wheat, not-too-sweet baked goods, and finish with yogurt/granola/fruit bowls. I prepped most of the dishes the night before, and gave myself about 2 hours before their arrival to finish up (this included having coffee while waiting for things to heat up in the oven, very low stress). Alas, I forgot to take any pics, so the original website pics (and a stand-in for home fries) will have to do.
The Menu (I’m linking up to the recipes, and noting my changes/substitutions)
(1) Spinach & Cheese Strata –> [Used a multigrain baguette from TJ's. Subbed half the eggs for EggBeaters, and used skim milk. Added 15 minutes to the overall baking time.]
(2) Whole Wheat Muffins –> [Used 1.5 cups spelt flour, 0.5 cups all-purpose. Subbed 1 cup lowfat buttermilk in place of sour cream. Served with homemade Cinnamon Honey Butter made using Earth Balance.] Arrange on tray.
(3) Banana Bread Scones –> [Used 2 cups white whole wheat flour, 0.5 cups spelt flour. Subbed 0.5 cup lowfat buttermilk for yogurt. Added the optional walnuts.] Arrange on tray with muffins.
(4) Oven-Roasted Home Fries (my own recipe) –> Small dice 1 bag of potatoes (I think I bought Yukon Gold from TJs). Sprinkle liberally with salt and grill seasoning (or simply salt + pepper). Toss with about 3-4 T olive oil. Spread evenly onto baking sheet, cook at 375-400 degrees for 45-60 minutes, occasionally tossing.
(5) Olive Oil Granola –> [Subbed 1 cup chopped almonds for coconut chips. This recipe is very forgiving, as long as you stick with the proportions of add-ins and the spice/sugar/oil combination. It's wonderful with dried cranberries, cherries, or golden raisins.] Store and serve from mason jars.
(7) Beverages –> Cappuccinos (made using my stovetop Moka pot), Orange Juice, Freshly brewed coffee
The great thing about an egg strata is that you must make it the day before you plan to serve. I made this on Friday afternoon in a 1.5 quart baking dish, and stored it covered in the fridge. Also made the banana scones on Friday evening – shaped them on a silpat-lined baking sheet, flash froze, cut into 9 pieces, covered with plastic wrap and stored in freezer. I made the granola on Friday afternoon as well.
On Saturday morning, our coffee pot was set to brew a massive pot of coffee as soon as the alarm went off. First, I took out the strata to let it sit on the kitchen counter for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, I prepped and baked the muffins. Once these were done, I started cooking the strata. Meanwhile, I diced the potatoes and arranged them on a baking sheet. I popped these into the oven before the strata was done, and continued baking them through the scones (which went in after the strata was finished). There was a bit of planning beforehand to negotiate the cooking times and various temperatures, but luckily, everything (even the muffins and scones) was very forgiving regarding cooking time and temp.
I asked my parents to bring diced fruit (they always make the best assortment), and they arrived just as the scones were finished. This would be a great brunch for a small group, and is hearty enough to stand up to the addition of booze (mimosas or bloody marys). Everything was a big hit and the morning was a success! I was glad that I was able to make a great meal for my parents while they relaxed and enjoyed the morning at our apartment.