When the days turn warm and balmy, the idea of entertaining by throwing a brunch is appealing. It gets a weekend morning off to a good start -- and you and your friends can gather out of doors to enjoy the sunshine, each other's company, and great food.
As much as they like it, people are confused by brunch -- can't decide if it's lunch or breakfast -- but everyone likes the dishes that traditionally are served. This menu is no exception: a robust egg dish, fresh-baked hot bread, a citrusy salad, and a simple cake for dessert. All delicious!
When to Serve Brunch
Just as some folks don't know if brunch is breakfast or lunch, they may not know when to serve it. Invite your guests to arrive mid to late morning. Depending on how early you like to rise and start preparing, this could be as early as 10 and as late as noon. After that, brunch truly does become lunch!
When your guests arrive, offer them a choice of beverages, including coffee, tea, orange or grapefruit juice, or iced tea. Some hosts like to serve alcoholic drinks such as Bloody Marys and Mimosas. The decision is yours, but regardless, always have a good supply of non-alcoholic beverages on hand.
Fun and Fresh
If the weather cooperates, serve brunch on a porch or deck. If it's too chilly, set the table inside.
Keep table décor easy and fun: bright colored mats and napkins, earthenware dishes, and large coffee cups. Don't forget a vase of spring flowers!
You may decide to set the cutlery and dishes on the table and let your guests help themselves before perching on deck chairs outdoors.
The menu we offer here is a simple one, which is appropriate for brunch. Most of it can be prepared in advance.
Bake the cake the day before and keep it wrapped or under a cake dome. Mix the dry ingredients for the cornbread and measure the liquid ingredients. Mix the batter just before baking.
Toast the almonds and wash the spinach for the salad the day before, too. Soak the spinach in a sink of cool water to remove grit and then spin it dry. Even "pre-washed" spinach from the supermarket should be washed.
The salad dressing can be mixed ahead of time but remember to stir or shake it before sprinkling it on the salad.
Toss together the citrus fruit and onions for the salad up to an hour before serving. Although the recipe suggests arranging the salads on individual plates, you can serve it tossed in a bowl or arrange it on a shallow platter instead.
The eggs can be mixed a little before time but should be cooked just before serving. If you have only one oven and one broiler, time the meal so that the cornbread bakes before you have to turn on the broiler to finish the eggs.
The frittata and salad recipes are for four - double them if you invite more people.
After the meal ends, your guests will leave in a leisurely way. If the weather is fine, they might want to stay around for a game of softball or croquet, or they might just usher in the spring afternoon with good conversation and laughter while the children play happily on the lawn.