I’m sure I’ll come across a face here, but I’m not the biggest fan of brunches …
Most of the reason for that is because I think I still get a Sunday in my twenties when I would spend half a day waiting in line with my friends to pick up a table for some popular New York place and then spend, like, thirty dollars, for a plate of scrambled eggs. And I never really recovered from reading Kitchen confidential, then-restaurant chef Anthony Bourdain, where he famously admitted his disgust with the meal, calling it a “horrible, cynical way of unloading leftovers” made from “old, nasty chances and the end”.
But brunches at home are a different story. Over the years, I’ve had to host my share of showers for brides and babies and, of course, lunches for Mother’s Day, and unlike the dinner menu, I’ve somehow nailed down the formula for the perfect spread. Here’s how it goes:
Main + apple cakes and smoked salmon spread + fruit salad
If I feel ambitious, I’ll throw in a baked good or ask one of the guests to stop by a local bakery for muffins or a decadent coffee cake.
For an egg main course, you can go with a classic quiche (like spinach and sweet onion below), a frittata (like the one shown above), or a simple roast like this Leek, ham and cheese from Smitten Kitchen). For rolls and salmon you want to make sure you have all the hardeners (cream cheese, minced red onion, capers, lemon wedges) and the fruit should be in season: a big bowl of just strawberries at this time of year would be beautiful. In winter I would go with pineapple, oranges and pomegranates. Simple, sweet and completely made.
Spinach and sweet onion quiche
You can consider this the basic formula for quiche, replacing kale, broccoli or chard for spinach, and feta or Gruyère for cheddar. He makes one 9-inch pie.
Buy purchased pie dough, like Pillsbury, to fit in a 9-inch pie pan (you may need to roll it out a bit)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic, sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 cups loosely packed fresh spinach (or 1/2 cup thawed frozen spinach, dry squeezed)
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup half-half or light cream
4 large eggs
Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup)
Preheat the oven to 375 ° F. Set the oven layout to the middle position.
Place the dough in a 9-inch pie pan, then prick the bottom with a fork. Bake for 8 minutes.
While the crust is parbakes, combine the olive oil, onion, salt and pepper in a pan over medium heat. Cook the onion for as long as you can, stirring occasionally, for at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes, to caramelize as much as possible.
Transfer the onion to a cutting board, spreading it on one side of the board to cool slightly. Add the spinach to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted. (Skip this step if you are using frozen spinach.) Transfer to the same cutting board as the onion and allow to cool slightly, then coarsely chop both the onion and the spinach.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, half-and-half, eggs, and more salt and pepper.
Remove the pie pan from the oven and pour in the egg mixture. Lightly add the onion and spinach. Pour the cheese over the whole thing and bake until golden, and the knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
Notes on advance planning: If you do this ahead of time, let it cool completely, then cover with foil and put in the fridge. To heat, place in the oven, then set the heat to 350 ° F to heat (placing the pan in a cold oven allows for gradual heating with the oven) until the knife inserted in the middle comes out hot, about 25 minutes. I also think quiche works at room temperature, so if you make it in the morning, let it sit on the counter until breakfast time.
(Photo by Jeff Wasserman / Stocksy.)