If you love to entertain, but want to do it within a conservative budget, a festive brunch party is a great way to play hostess without breaking the bank. With the holiday season approaching, a fall-themed brunch party is the best way to start a weekend day.
I don’t consider brunch to be a B-list meal. In fact, if you do it right, weekend brunch can be the only meal you need to eat all day. You can eat sweet and savory foods together and you can drink cocktails before noon.
What could be better?
As we look ahead toward the holiday weekend, I’m going to hazard a guess at some point between now and the end of the year, you’ll spend a least one weekend morning skipping your usual “stay-in-bed-til-noon” routine in favor of preparing or attending a meal that is equal parts social and juuuust substantial enough to make you want to follow said meal with an immediate nap.
The staples of any brunch party menu, whether you’re throwing the party or bringing a dish to a potluck, are pretty consistent:
Something fresh, like a bright green salad with all of the seasonal fixings. In the fall, I like to toss mixed greens with walnuts, blue or gorgonzola cheese, walnuts and dried cherries or cranberries. Toss the whole thing together with a simple balsamic vinaigrette.
Something rich, savory and preferably egg-based, like a spinach, cheddar and bacon quiche. If you don’t have time to go all quiche on your kitchen, buy a simple, ready-made pie crust and do the filling from scratch. No one will know, unless you tell them, and if anyone judges you, then you’ll know who not to invite back next year. I like this egg, spinach and two cheese crustless quiche recipe that you can bake into a store-bought crust…or go crustless to save valuable appetite real estate for…
Something baked and delicious. I’m a fan of pumpkin and/or apple cider doughnuts, because they require absolutely zero baking, unless you’re an overachiever and feel like making our baked pumpkin doughnuts. If you opt for store bought, check your farmer’s market because a lot of farm stands have delicious from-scratch doughnuts for sale in the fall and they will do all the work for you for a fair price of around $5-10, depending on whether you live in a major metro area.
Something that you put on a bagel. There are few things I love eating more in the morning — weekday or weekend — than an everything bagel with lox and cream cheese. Get a dozen bagels (or however many bagels are appropriate to your crowd) and make a beautiful bagel and lox platter. It couldn’t be easier to assemble — red onion, capers, and cucumber are a must for me — and take a bar of regular cream cheese, spin it in a food processor or blender for a few minutes with some freshly chopped chives and you have yourself the beginning of a beautiful day.
Something you can graze on. Chips, dips, mixed nuts…sky is the limit here, but in my experience, hungry people like to nosh, especially if you’ve got your oven going and things are talking a little longer than you planed to get cooking. I like to buy a round sourdough boule from any bakery, and stuff it with your favorite dip: french onion dip with caramelized onions and thyme, white bean and artichoke dip, or a classic spinach and artichoke dip.
Finally, you need something boozy. Sangria is always a good brunch choice, a nice departure from your standard issue mimosas or bloodies. Instead of red wine, which can be intense in an A.M. beverage, I like to use white wine as a base. Spiced apple cider and ginger ale give this delicious and festive fall flavor, while the addition of wine and white rum give it a nice kick.
- 1 bottle or 750 ml of dry white wine (Pinot Grigio or Vinho Verde)
- 1 bottle or 750 ml of dry sparkling wine (Prosecco or Cava)
- ½ cup light rum
- 2 cups spiced apple cider
- 1 cup ginger ale
- Apple slices
- Cinnamon sticks (optional)
- In a large pitcher, combine all ingredients and stir well. Top each glass with apple slices and if desired, garnish with a cinnamon stick.