Sunday, November 19, 2017
Cooking

Make-ahead Easter brunch of creme brulee casserole, sliders, quiche

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Brunch is my favorite meal these days, and I know I'm not alone.

One of my favorite spots recently said it would be more than an hour before we saw any eggs or pancakes. The Portlandia episode in which a long line evolves into a brunch village complete with an overlord suddenly doesn't seem so outlandish. For our next Sunday out, I reserved a table.

Wait, what? Brunch is supposed to be easy. Lazy. Indulgent. We smooshed two words into one for this thing and yet there's nothing shortened about the meal itself.

I propose a new plan: brunch at home. No reservations. This is an especially nice way to celebrate Easter.

We told our friends to show up at noon and we'd have breakfast: something eggy; bacon; coffee, and a mimosa-ish drink, definitely. At home, the drinks really can be endless, and soon brunch morphed into a dance party. The dance party turned into dinner.

Going out for brunch is still fun and means trying something new, but brunching at home means kicking back and losing track of time and your shoes. And since having people over for brunch isn't as pricey as a dinner party can be, we could have friends over more often.

Our tiny apartment kitchen belies the late-morning feasts it has turned out, including creme brulee French toast and all kinds of quiches. Our dinner table seats four, but we've had a dozen people over on a Sunday. Friends kept asking about the next brunch, and I realized we'd inadvertently formed a sort-of brunch club.

Grace Parisi, a James Beard-nominated cookbook author and former senior test kitchen editor at Food & Wine magazine who is now executive food director for publisher Oxmoor House in Birmingham, Ala., said she prefers brunch to dinner when entertaining. It's more relaxed and nothing has to be fancy if you don't want it to be. Plus, eating at home when you have kids is easier than hustling for busy tables in Brooklyn only to get what she calls the biggest crime of going out for brunch — mediocre coffee.

"On Sunday morning, do you really want your blood pressure getting that high hoping you get a table?" she said.

No, she'd rather be home sipping a Bloody Mary made with gin and the right balance of tart lemon juice, spice and aromatics.

Parisi's rule for brunch is to avoid anything that has to be cooked individually or plated. Parisi's favorites include a Monte Cristo sandwich strata, the egg-poached-in-tomato-sauce dish shakshuka, a big upside-down caramel apple pancake to satisfy a crowd of pancake lovers, and casseroles of huevos rancheros or chilaquiles.

Let's join her. The brunch-at-home club has room for more, and there is no wait time. Consider this your invitation.

Ileana Morales writes the In Our Kitchen column for the Taste section. It publishes on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. She also blogs at alittlesaffron.com.

   
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