Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Creating a Brunch Menu: A Call for Recipes

One of my favorite parts of having people over is that I get to cook for them.  Whenever I host brunch or dinner, I spend days in the kitchen baking and cooking.  I absolutely love it.  However, I have yet to do this in any real way since my son was born.  It is considerably more difficult to pull off making a multicourse meal from scratch when you have a small baby to care for.  Frankly, my six-month-old doesn't care if my onions are done caramelizing.  If he wants food or attention, he wants it when he wants it and not when I am done cooking.

Now, I will be making a meal for about 15-20 people for the first time at the end of May.  We are hosting a buffet-style brunch for my son's baptism and, being from an Italian family, it is crucial that I follow tradition and provide far more food than my guests can possibly eat.  The catch?  Everything needs to be able to be prepared in advance and it needs to be able to withstand the heat since we will be hosting brunch on our apartment's roof deck. 

So, I need some help.  I need:
  1. Cookie Recipes.  You know, those kinds of cookie recipes that produce elegant looking cookies that also happen to either freeze well once they are baked or is made from a dough that freezes well.  I will need to be doing much of the work in advance.
  2. Cupcake Recipes.  I am thinking of making a coconut cupcake with a vanilla buttercream icing, though I am open to other suggestions.  That said, I don't have a recipe for coconut cupcakes.  I want to make the cupcakes in advance and freeze them so that I can just ice them the day before.  As for decorating them, I am going to get plain brown cupcake liners and decorate them like this.
  3. Salads and Mains.  Especially true if you have any great gluten free, dairy free, and vegetarian recipes.  At least one guest has all of these dietary restrictions.

Just for fun, here is my tentative menu:

Spinach & Egg Strata
Mini bagels
smoked salmon
Gluten free bread
Banana bread
Blueberry bread 
Spreads (peanut butter, cream cheese, jam, butter)
Cheese Platter (including goat cheese & gluten free crackers)
Fruit Salad
Pesto Tortellini Salad
String beans & tomato salad
Quinoa & vegetable salad

Cupcakes (to be determined)

       Biscotti (almond & chocolate)
       Either cocoa sables or world peace cookies

Bomboniere (favors)
      White truffle boxes filled with blue and brown Jordan almonds and tied with blue and brown ribbon.

If you have any recipes, suggestions, or advice, please leave a note in the comments or shoot me an email.  Any help would be very appreciated.


  1. This is like the best cupcake recipe EVER:

    1. Mireia--I am going to make those cupcakes next week to see what I think. Thank you. The recipe looks really good.

  2. I do the same thing when entertaining....make a ton of food...way more than I need! But I'd rather have leftovers thank not enough. Your menu looks wonderful. I posted a great cookie recipe on Monday and another will post tomorrow if you want some more ideas :)

    1. I know--better to be safe than sorry, right? I think your toffee cookies look delicious. Thank you for the suggestions!

  3. Hi Julia,
    I know you're not looking for this kind of recipe, but I brought it to a brunch last year and it was a real hit! Giada diLaurentis' Amaretto Bread Pudding. Seriously delicious and you can lighten it up if you want by using egg beaters and milk lighter than cream. I think I've done this with half cream and half skim or 1%. Also, the sauce has amaretto but you could use almond or vanilla flavoring instead of the amaretto if you want to avoid alcohol. Finally, use cinnamon swirl bread instead of pannettone. Amazing. And I'm pretty sure she's Italian!

    For a nice side, a chickpea salad is great. Canned chickpeas, parsley, basil, all chopped up, and dressed with lemon juice and olive oil, and salt to taste.

    Whole Foods sells a nice fig preserves that goes great on the cheese platter, and also a nice hot pepper jelly for the same.

    La Tartine Gourmand has some great gluten-free recipes.

    1. Melissa, I'll check out that site later. The bread putting sounds amazing.

      I had completely forgotten about chickpeas. My family would definitely eat a chickpea salad. I'll throw one on the list.

      As for the fig preserves, I bought them for the first time a couple of months ago. They are absolutely amazing.

  4. I am not a big fan of cupcakes - I am still trying to figure out what makes people excited about them :) For a dessert that could be made in advance, how about a semifredo? For a salty nibble - taralli, they go so well with wine and keep well when made in advance? Caprese salad is elegant and requires no time to cook, you just need to chop the tomatoes and cheese. This is exciting to host such a party!

  5. Taralli sound great as does caprese salad.

    I like the idea of a semifreddo, but I think the cupcakes are going to be necessary. My family always gets a bakery cake for these things so the cupcakes are already going to feel like a huge departure from custom for some family members. I would make a layer cake, but that is just too labor intensive given how much else I will need to be doing.

  6. How did the baptism party go? Do tell :)