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Brunch menu ideas, please

  • j

My boyfriend and I are having my father and his girlfriend over for brunch and I'm trying to figure out the menu. Neither of us are huge cooks but living in NYC we have access to all the best ingredients. I'd like to do something where we can prepare as much as possible ahead so we don't have to be in our tiny kitchen while we have guests. My dad will eat anything but he's very critical and prefers simple yet excellent execution. (As an example, last time he made us dinner we had a salad with all sorts of interesting greens, pasta primavera with the freshest veggies and the sauce was simple garlic/shallots in olive oil). His girlfriend normally eats incredibly healthy but I have seen her eat pancakes.

I was originally thinking about a frittata, possibly some roasted asparagus, fruit salad...

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  1. this is a brunch menu i made recently for friends:

    Asparagus Quiche
    Potato Leak Soup
    Vegetable Salad (Greens, cucumbers, beets, avocado, radishes, corn, beans)
    Blueberry coffee cake

    The quiche was surprisingly easy (especially if you can buy a good frozen crust). Almost any vegetables (or some ham) go well in it. Both frittatas and quiches can be made ahead and served at room temperature.

    I made the soup the night before, and got all the vegetables prepped, so there wasn't much to be done in the morning.

    1. My favorite brunch food is bagels and smoked salmon, etc. If you can go to the UES, I love the smoked salmon at Sable's. Certainly it doesn't get any easier. I would serve that, and make a frittata, possibly an asparagus frittata. You can make the frittata a day ahead and serve at room temperature. With a fruit salad, the whole thing easy and delicious.

      This is a recipe for the frittata:


      4 Replies
      1. re: valerie

        This frittata looks delicious -- thanks for the link. Do you think I can halve the recipe? What size pan would I use?

        1. re: JennS

          Although I haven't done it, you can halve the recipe according to some of the reviews on Epicurious. I would use an 8 x 8 baking dish.

          1. re: valerie

            Thanks again to everyone for all the suggestions. I made the Asparagus and Yellow Pepper frittata from Epicurious (link in post above) and made some adjustments per the comments from other cooks. I halved the recipes, used 7 eggs instead of 5 and lowered the ratio of vegetables. I substituted baby portabella mushrooms for the zucchini and also added 2 cloves of garlic and 1/2 cup of grated asiago cheese (many people said the recipe was bland as is). It was delicious. We also had bagels and nova lox (from Russ & Daughters -- best place in the city) with all the trimmings, a green salad and a fruit salad. And coffee and mimosas. What a success and I will definitely make that frittata again!

            1. re: JennS

              Glad it was a success! Like I said above, bagels and lox is a favorite of mine -- maybe my most favorite meal of all. Now that I think about it, I haven't had it in a while. Maybe this Sunday...mmmm.

      2. Ina Garten on her Food Network show has done a number of episodes about brunch with some pretty yummy sounding items that look great! Some of the recipes I know she also stressed that she made them ahead of time so she would be able to enjoy the time with her guests. The link to the list of brunch recipes she has made follows:

        Hope the day turns out nicely!

        1. I think a frittata would be great. I am a really healthy eater but always enjoy one whenever the opportunity presents itself. Try making one with just veggies (maybe asparagus, haricots vert, etc) and a mixed green salad. Also, making it with just egg whites makes it somewhat healthier.
          Also, some sort of coffeecake or muffins might be a good idea.

          1. Quiches and/or frittatas are great if you want to pre-cook them and then just reheat when you're ready to eat. My favourites are parmesan, spinach and mixed mushroom quiche/frittata, spinach and chorizo quiche/frittata, and sundried tomato and zucchini quiche/frittata.

            I usually serve quiche/frittata with a salad of lettuce, dill, mint, and parsley, with a dressing of garlic, lemon, and olive oil. Or if there is a cheese plate on the table, I'll do a salad that has something fruity in it (e.g., green salad with apples and pecans, or green salad with fresh berries).

            I also do a roasted starch of some sort - potato, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, etc. You can be creative with those as needed (herbs, spices, etc.).

            Or else, I also very much enjoy a large salad nicoise at brunch (but using fresh broiled fish instead of the traditional canned tuna). The fish can be broiled the night before and stored in the fridge and served cold the next morning (or you can choose to warm it through before serving). Just remember to use a fatty fish like salmon for this, or else the fish comes out overly dry.

            1. French toast is easy and has many variations
              Grilled pineapple, oranges, peaches
              Roasted veggies with baby potatoes
              Love the frittata/quiche idea for an egg item; even scrambled with a nice cheese is good..

              Have you thought of including a punch, brunch cocktail or spritzer?

              1. How about some baked goods? I'm going to an Easter brunch potluck and bringing three little baskets of homemade goodies, including some savory and some sweet -- simple but excellent is my goal here too:

                lavender shortbread
                cheddar-jalapeno scones (or cheddar-chive) - use high-quality cheddar
                orange-ricotta muffins

                All are delicious recipes and fairly simple to make (less than 30 mins active work). As new cooks you could definitely do these and they would be impressive. Let me know if you want the recipes. Good luck!

                1 Reply
                1. re: foxy fairy

                  could I have the recipes by chance?! those look delicious! Thanks!

                2. I made strata once for a crowd and it was fantastic--something you can definitely make the night before, refrigerate, and pop in the oven about half an hour before you plan on eating. also, it can sit on a buffet for hours and nothing bad will happen! I'd never even heard of such a dish before (I'm from CT/NYC), but it's like a savory bread pudding with veggies, cheese, whatever you want to put in. so so so simple, and everyone raved.

                  1. One of my favs for brunch is a fruit cocktail cake...it's not too sweet but so easy even my husband can make it for me!!! Here's the recipe
                    2 eggs
                    1 ½ cup sugar
                    2 t baking soda
                    ½ t salt
                    14 oz can fruit cocktail with juice
                    2 cups flour

                    ¾ cup sugar
                    ½ cup milk
                    ½ cup butter
                    1 t vanilla or 2 T rum

                    Beat eggs and add all ingred except flour and mix. Add flour and mix again. Grease a 9 x 13 or bundt pan and pour in mixture.
                    Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. To make sauce, heat sugar, milk and butter in saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour over hot cake. Serve warm

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: LoN

                      I'd love a recipe for those orange ricotta mufins mentioned earlier. They sound awesome.

                      I make a spinach-cheese (gruyere) strata for family brunches. Last year they wasn't a bite left. The recipe is from Cook's Illustrated. You do all prep the night before and then bake it the next morning.

                      1. re: newbatgirl

                        This strata sounds delicious -- I'd love the recipe. Thanks!

                        1. re: JennS

                          I'll type it out and post it by morning. I can't link to it b/c you need to be a member at CI.

                    2. Thanks for all the ideas and recipes. Keep 'em coming! Right now I'm thinking I'll do a vegetable-heavy frittata or strata.

                      I'm considering making these Cream Biscuits with Caramel Syrup as the starch (see recipe below -- it's from my boyfriend's mom) but would this be too sweet? I could do some other type of muffins or just get a great loaf of bread.

                      A simple green salad to round it out. Fruit salad for dessert. Mimosas, juice and coffee. Am I leaving anything out? I want to have a nice spread but not a crazy amount of food for 4 people.

                      Cream Biscuits with Caramel Syrup
                      2 cups all-purpose flour (White Lily or other low protein flour is best)
                      3 tsp. baking powder
                      1/4 tsp. salt

                      Mix together with a whisk.
                      Stir in 1-cup of heavy cream just until moistened.

                      Turn out on floured board and knead lightly and pat to ½ inch. Cut with sharp small, (1 ½ inch) cutter. Press straight down to get the highest rise. Alternatively, pat into two circles ½ inch thick and cut each into 6 triangles. Brush cream on top. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes or lightly browned.

                      While biscuits are baking, make the syrup.
                      1/3-cup brown sugar
                      1/3-cup white sugar
                      1/2 cup heavy cream.

                      Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes until sugar is dissolved and mixture is slightly thickened.

                      With fork, carefully break biscuits apart in middle. Drizzle syrup over plate. Place biscuits on plate with top offset and drizzle with a little more syrup. Serve with strawberries or raspberries or other fruit of the season as garnish and to complement the flavor of the caramel. These are best hot, but the cold biscuits are great for very thin slices of country ham.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: JennS

                        Epicurious has a whole bunch of great fruit salad ideas -- if you do a search by ingredient (I have searched on there using pomegranate seeds, and there was also one that was exceptional with canteloupe, that I believe was linked on here) you'll come up with some good fruit salad recipes.

                      2. I like the idea of quiche (love quiche lorraine!). Serve with a side salad of baby greens. Also, what about eggs benedict? That's just a personal favorite.

                        1. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: polenta is awesome for brunch -- you can put spinach on top of polenta and top it all with a poached or soft-cooked egg and a sauce to your liking (I've eaten it with both marinara and chipotle type sauces), and it's just awesome. I've also done it without the sauce and shaved some parmesan between the spinach and the egg -- I eat this a lot for dinner. It's excellent.

                          1. You could make vol-au-vents - you buy the shells already made, then heat and fill them right before serving. Anything saucy makes a great filling. If you're feeling indulgent, creamed crab is the way to go. You can make florentine filling or a ratatouille for veg options.

                            If you like the eggs theme, you can use hollowed crusty rolls as "baskets" for baked eggs. Top with chives and shaved cheese.

                            Both would be good with a green salad and some fruit for dessert.

                            1. My favorite is Spanakopita!