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Jul 4, 2011 05:49 PM

Last minute brunch ideas?

Hi all,

Having a small get-together in a small apartment with a small kitchen. I was thinking a buffet would be the easiest way for me to handle this.

I don't entertain very much, so would love your input on what I could serve for this small gathering. It will be under 10 people, most likely 6-8.

I've already decided on a large salad with a simple vinaigrette, and something like a fruit crostata for dessert. Just not sure what the main dish or dishes could be. Anything made in advance is preferable.

Thanks so much,

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  1. I post this recipe often 'cause it's one of my most loved foods. You can put it together the day before, keep it in the fridge overnight and then just stir it & pop it in the oven. Does better in shallow casseroles than deep ones. I sometimes sprinkle the top with smoked paprika.

    Brown Rice & Cheese Casserole
    A classic, courtesy of Oma (Elisabeth Wiley), and perhaps my favorite casserole of all time...
    Kinda halfway between a soufflé and a risotto. I still need to have this at least a couple of times a year, and honestly would be happy eating it a couple of times a week.

    2 eggs, lightly beaten
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    1/3 cup water
    1½ cup cooked brown rice (3/4 cup uncooked) [Oma says to use a bit more than this]
    1¼ cup freshly grated Cheddar (10oz bar = 2½ c)
    salt to taste (preferably Herbamare seasoned salt...)
    1/4 cup chopped bell pepper (½ med. pepper, can use green, red, or both for a festive look)
    2 Tb grated onion {Oma uses a little more here too}

    Preheat oven to 350°. Beat eggs together with cream and water. Stir into cooked
    rice. Add cheese, salt, green pepper & onion. Mix well. Turn into an oiled casserole
    dish and bake 45 minutes or until set.

    serves 2 - recipe times 9 is enough for 20 people

    tender variant uses 1/2 cup water and steamed, skinned peppers
    Other ideas:

    Lots of strata type casseroles out there, ideal for brunch and well-suited to your needs because they chill overnight. There's a good Smoked Gouda Veggie Strata at this B&B website, along with a tasty-looking Italian Breakfast Panini, though the panini isn't a make-ahead recipe.

    There are some good recipes out on the Web for savory bread puddings.

    A fast, easy, crustless blender quiche:,1826,159177-...

    Deviled eggs get done beforehand, and are always popular. Usually the first thing to disappear. Huge number of variations, too- if you were feeling ambitious you could make several different kinds. Some fifty or so good ideas at

    Crab salad. Again, made ahead of time. Could be a relatively simple one, or a more elegant version. I like the type with a few hard boiled eggs, I use the chopped whites in the crab salad and put the yolks through a sieve to garnish the top. Or a molded salmon salad, tasty & easy and it looks nice on a buffet.

    Baked Brie in puff pastry- don't know, though, if that would be too much like your fruit crostata.

    Slow cooker could be handy for your brunch, if you have one. Chicken Newburg, maybe. Or chili. Or this easy Mexican crockpot posole:

    Or crockpot Cafe Chicken:

    For something a little fancier, the McCormick's Spices website has a good slow cooker recipe for Spicy Pulled Pork In Tart Cherry Sauce With Vanilla Slaw...

    1 Reply
    1. re: eclecticsynergy

      Thank you SO much! Lots to choose from. I do like the crustless blender quiche and the Brown Rice and Cheese casserole looks good too. Thanks for taking the time to post everything. Now off to finalize the menu and go shopping.

    2. I keep frozen pastry sheets and/or large wonton wrappers on hand for quick egg cup recipes.

      Cut your pastry sheets or wonton wrappers to fit inside a muffin tin you've either sprayed with PAM or oiled a bit. Crack an egg in each tin and add a bit of cheese, some s&p, fresh herbs and bake in a 350 degree oven until the egg is cooked to your liking. These pop out of the muffin tin nicely and make for a lovely quick meal and pretty presentation. One six count muffin tin size works beautifully. Enjoy!

      1 Reply
      1. re: HillJ

        Thanks Hill and Chocolate. Also both excellent suggestions. I have never made a strata and might give that a whirl. I also love the egg cup recipe too.
        Now I've got plenty of things to choose from.
        You guys and gals rock!

      2. I second the strata suggestion. I make mine the night before, stick it in the fridge and then just pop it in the oven the morning of.

        Quiche is also a nice idea -- and you can make a few different flavor combinations, in case you have vegetarians etc.

        1. Another vote for a strata. This spinach and gruyere one is very good.

          1. Quiches and stratas are your friend for make ahead brunch crowd pleasers. My favorites are quiche lorraine (bacon, onion & swiss); spinach, leek and gruyere sometimes add bacon, but you can really do anything. I've even done quiche with leftover roasted cauliflower and butternut squash, which was delicious. Find a basic quiche recipe that you like and play around with ingredients. My basic recipe, not too rich, is a storebought pie crust (whole wheat is good too) par baked then filled with ingredients -- veggies and meat (if adding) first, then topped with shredded cheese. Make a custard with 1.25 to 1.5 cups milk, 4 eggs, salt, pepper and dried thyme. Pour over and bake at 350 for 45-55 mins. For special occasion brunches I made a richer custard. Epicurious has a recipe for Ham, leek and 3 cheese quiche that calls for creme fraiche in the custard. It's very rich, but sublime.

            Also good to make ahead for a crowd is Ina Garten's Potato Basil Frittata, made with ricotta cheese. Very simple to put together and delicious. Very easy to make ahead.

            Sometimes I throw in a sweet/mapley dish to round things out -- Grand Marnier french toast casserole, maple french toast bread pudding, etc.

            the only Brunch menus I plan are those that can be done ahead (quiches, stratas, frittats, french toast casserole, etc. + fresh fruit, quick bread or muffins and strong coffee).

            1 Reply
            1. re: MAH

              MAH, Yes! Until I posted here, I never even though of quiches or stratas. Now I will certainly choose those for my menu. I always love Ina Garten's philosophy of making things in advance.

              Your idea of the quiche with roasted cauliflower and butternut squash is fantastic. I am always roasting veggies and that really sounds wonderful.

              Also love the idea of having a sweet dish too.

              Your ideas are fab and much appreciated.