Back when the kids were small enough to need a morning nap, we used to invite friends over for Sunday brunch every so often. These casual gatherings made our baby-driven captivity pleasurable and allowed us to feel adult by entertaining in a relaxed, unfussy manner. But now that no one has a great excuse for napping half the day away, we are usually out and about early. I began to miss both the act of making a home brunch as well as the cozy, familiar socialization it provided. So we recently invited a few neighbors we’d been meaning to have over for far too long and revived The Sunday Brunch.
In my book, the ideal Sunday Brunch has a few non-negotiable components: something eggy, something bready, a huge fruit salad, mimosas and more coffee than one should admit to having in a day. Chocolate is optional, but always welcome. This is my magic formula. It’s not the only formula, it’s just the one I prefer. This past Sunday, I chose a few old favorites to ease myself back into brunching mode:
1. Something Eggy
I went with this prosciutto and gruyere strata because it can be assembled the night before and left in the fridge. I have no interest in getting up early on a Sunday to cook despite my very real interest in eating. Other good choices include this herby frittata and this decadent dish I often unveil for a holiday brunch (also meets criteria for something bready…see #2!)
2. Something Bready
Even though raspberries are not in season and I was all out of pastry flour, I thought this maple raspberry coffee cake laced with fresh herbs would be a pleaser. Indeed it was. Frozen raspberries are lovely here and I used the whole wheat flour I had on hand with satisfactory success. For those of you who have tried this recipe in the past and found it to be a flop, my sincere apologies. I was burned by my own hapless recipe writing (I didn’t say when to add egg or vanilla and discovered this in a most unfortunate way). I have since updated the recipe so it’ll never happen again. Sorry, loveys. Other good bready things to consider include my friend Chris’ moist sour cream coffee cake, this fall-spiced pumpkin bread, this lemon herb cake or once again, the bread pudding. Yes, that bread pudding. Trust me here.
3. The Fruit Salad
My fruit salads rarely vary. I am quirky with fruit salad. I don’t like banana in it. No seeds of any kind. Grapes need to be halved and fruit cut uniformly – no ungainly chunks that need to be bitten in half. And though my mother always insists on adding sugar “to bring out sweetness” – which in my opinion ruins the darn whole thing – the only additions I permit are lemon juice to keep colors bright and maybe a few torn mint leaves if I’m feeling fancy. It goes something like this: get a large bowl. Start by cutting one apple, one semi-ripe pear and if in season, a juicy peach into bite-sized pieces. Lay along the bottom of the bowl, then drizzle with fresh lemon juice (pick out any seeds! No seeds!). Next add any combination of bite-sized pineapple, mango, melon, citrus or halved (seedless!) grapes. Finally, top the whole mess with berries. Since they are most delicate, leave them on top or they will get mushed and gross. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries (none of which are in season now…) or even pomegranate seeds. I also like peeled kiwi cut into attractive rounds. Add mint if using. Serve yourself and your guests repeatedly.
Serve mimosas (or orange juice) when guests arrive. Offer coffee and tea. Have milk (or cream) and sugar ready. Smile. Be grateful for friends and food and Sundays. Ahhh. That’s what I’ve been missing.