Breakfast, lunch, and dinner all happen on a daily basis, albeit with varying degrees of decadence, but brunch? Brunch is special. It's a weekend-only affair, and really, only the best weekends are punctuated by brunch. Brunch is for sleepy days that just float by; for days when it seems wholly un-extraordinary to stretch a meal from 10am to 2pm. But isn't it, though? Brunch feels good on sunny days and rainy days, when it's chilly and when it's warm, when you've spent all of yesterday baking and when five minutes is plenty of time to put some eggs and toast on the table. Brunch is anything, so long as it's relaxed and filled with pleasant company.
[passing the eggs]
On Sunday, I had a few friends over to celebrate the occasion of brunch and, perhaps, the (hesitant) arrival of spring. The sole shortcoming was that Jonathan wasn't here to join us; he's out hiking and camping his way around the distant desert of Utah for the week, which, ironically, was one of the things that motivated me to host the brunch in the first place. And while he surely is enjoying his wilderness adventures, he missed a memorable afternoon. Which I suppose means I'll just have to host another brunch when he returns.
His absence afforded me a solitary Saturday afternoon of baking and preparation, which I do love (the baking and preparation, not his absence). After the hustle and bustle of the week it's easy to settle into a few quiet hours of measuring, mixing, and waiting. I don't turn on the TV or listen to music; just tune in to the chop-chop of the knife and subtle purr of the oven.
[serving sweet potato home fries]
My guests arrived on Sunday at noon, just as I was setting out the plates and starting to crack the eggs. And although it was chilly outside, there was plenty of sun streaming in through the big windows, and tucked away on the 9th floor, I could have been convinced that outside was just as warm and cozy as my little kitchen, perpetually on the verge of overheating from the work of the stove and the oven.
Kara was gracious enough to come with an armful of tulips, which made the table truly come alive. As much as I'd like to be a plant person, it's still something I'm aspiring to, and it didn't even cross my mind to put flowers on the table. Maybe next time I'll remember, because they somehow made the whole day that much better.
[and she hasn't even eaten yet!]
The thing about brunch is that I tend to go overboard with the food preparations. I wouldn't say I had too much food necessarily (I would hate to not have leftovers!), but I certainly provided ample variety. Biscuits or muffins? Why not make both?
And in addition to the chive biscuits and mini citrus corn muffins, there were herby scrambled eggs, homemade granola with my favorite plain yogurt, fresh berries, asparagus with mustard-lemon dressing, sweet potato home fries, and juice. Jonathan is the resident coffee guru, so we did suffer in that respect. But all in all, it had everything that brunch should.
Although brunch can often be decadent, I prefer a homier, heartier menu. Eggs for me are a must-have; any other main affair - pancakes, french toast, waffles - can result in a bread overload, especially if combined with pastries (and how can you not have pastries?) That said, I don't have a particularly interesting brunch recipe to share. The citrus corn muffins are suspiciously similar to my sunny citrus cake; nobody, I'm sure, wants to hear more about granola; and the scrambled eggs? Here's a hint: add chives, stir, cook, serve.
[At least somebody thought my eggs were exciting]
Instead, how about a recipe for a brunch menu? I'll leave out the pinches of laughter and handfuls of good friends, but here are the basics:
Mia's Guide to a Lovely Brunch Menu
Fresh-squeezed juice (it's OK if Whole Foods does the squeezing)
Tea or coffee
1 variety of pastry: muffins, biscuits, scones, coffee cake, bagels, etc.
1 main dish, preferably a protein: eggs, filled crepes, poached salmon
1-2 vegetable side dishes: green salad, blanched asparagus, home fries (make sure to have something green in addition to potatoes, though)
Fresh fruit: whatever is in season
Optional: granola, yogurt, oatmeal, toast, champagne
And if you remember, or have lovely, thoughtful friends to remember for you, try some flowers for the table. Who wants to come to my next brunch?