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Mother's Day Brunch for 11 - everything make-ahead

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Help me! I started inviting parents and siblings etc for mother's day brunch, and eventually, my attendees list came up to 11. It's not THAT many people, but every time I entertain, I find myself making things at the last minute, making a mess of the kitchen, and overall hating myself instead of just enjoying having company. I have gotten better at weighting my dishes on the make-ahead or simply baked side, but I feel like brunch is something that will easily put you into the short-order cook category pretty quickly. As such, I am trying to make it so everything that we eat is either made ahead of time and great at room temp, can be baked and then sit at room temp, or be time/temp dependent, as this crowd is not skilled at getting places anything other than very early or very late. Please take a look at my menu and let me know if you think I should add/subtract anything. We will have 2 vegetarians there, one who avoids cow milk, but isn't actually allergic to it.

Iced Coffee
Minty Iced Green Tea w/ lime
Blood Mary Stuff
Orange Juice

Lox Flatbread (http://www.chow.com/recipes/11384-lox...
)Spinach, Mushroom, & Chevre Quiche
Quiche Lorraine
Chive & Sharp Cheddar Biscuits - OR - Chive & Medium Cheddar Raised Waffles (do these need to be served warm?)
Baked bacon or sausage
Fruit Salad w/ a mint simple syrup
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Key Lime Pie bars

I figure with this setup, I can bake off my pie, bars, and crusts for the quiches and flatbread the day before, prep everything up for the fruit salad and quiches, then the morning of, assemble and bake quiches and then toss the bacon in the oven.

I'm not really sure on this. I'm also thinking an asparagus and creme fraiche tart might be really pretty, I have one of those rectangular tart pans that doesn't get enough use. Too many baked goods/carbs? Making a primarily vegetarian brunch feels a little forced to me, but if I do it right, I'm sure nobody will be missing all that much meat.

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  1. Good list - a LOT of food. Responses:

    1. Yes, waffles *should* be served warm, IMO. But you could make them ahead and then reheat in the oven.

    2. Make the bacon the day ahead as well. A quick re-warm in the oven with the waffles should suffice.

    3. I think with two quiches, and the biscuits, waffles, fruit salad and bacon, you should be fine. I'd pass on the 3rd tart/quiche.

    5 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit

      I'm one of those people who's terrified of running out of anything, so I'll make a ton, then feel guilty eating the leftovers for the next week.

      1) I will definitely just make the biscuits, the waffles seem more high maintenance. Do you have a really good biscuit recipe?
      2) Good call on the bacon. I hadn't thought of that, but it's easy to pop into the oven to recrisp and then not have to deal with a sheet pan full of liquid bacon grease.
      3) Do you think if I removed one of the quiches, and didn't do waffles, it would be enough for 11? I am totally incapable of gauging the correct amount of food any group of people will go through.

      1. re: LaureltQ

        Are your 11 people all adults? Big eaters?

        1. re: biondanonima

          All adults, some are big eaters, some are not.

          1. re: LaureltQ

            I think you need both quiches, especially if you go crustless. The leftovers will be great reheated so no worries about things going to waste!

        2. re: LaureltQ

          Laurel, think about what could be frozen and reheated for later leftovers, vs. having to eat them immediately as leftovers. Bacon and waffles (or pancakes) are all freezable and you can have them later.

          Yes, definitely don't want to deal with the bacon grease during your brunch - cooking the bacon ahead seems to be the way to go.

          I definitely don't think you can remove a quiche and NOT do the waffles. Some other ideas if you don't want to do the waffles:

          Bagels and cream cheese and a few other spreads.

          Deviled eggs!

          A prep-the-night-before Oven French toast. Pop it into the oven before your guests arrive; done 50 minutes later.

          http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Wife-Sav...

          Coffeecake

          A homemade granola cereal with both regular and almond or soy milk as the stir-in.

      2. Here's what I would do to make this easier:

        1. Eliminate one of the quiches (since you're making bacon anyway, I'd get rid of Lorraine).
        2. Eliminate the harder dessert. If you want another one, buy something from a bakery, ice cream, etc.
        3. Make the biscuits instead of the waffles since waffles need to be made individually.
        4. Forget the flatbread and just put out slices of the lox and cheese & accoutrements. You can make this chilled platter the day before and cover with plastic wrap.

        And personally, I would put out hot coffee instead of iced. I don't think this would add time at all, and you already have 3 chilled bevs (just my personal preference).

        Otherwise, this sounds AMAZING! I want to come!

        11 Replies
        1. re: BelgianBeerMistress

          1) I will drop the quiche lorraine. Thanks!
          2) I love making desserts, and am doing a strawberry rhubarb pie for sure. I thought coffee cake might be an OK second dessert, but my favorite recipe contains rhubarb, and my pie-hating husband love key lime.
          3) I was leaning towards the biscuits, but figured the waffles wouldn't be much extra effort, just have the iron running while I bake stuff off, and the batter has to get made the night beforehand. I'll just do the biscuits. I can make them days beforehand and freeze, then just toss in the oven first thing in the morning.
          4) I'm totally hung up on this flatbread thing. In fact, I saw the recipe, and decided that I'd make Mother's Day brunch so I could make it.

          Re: Coffee - I'm not sure an effective way to do hot coffee, short of either borrowing a coffee maker or getting a jug at starbucks (blech), as we have french press, aeropress, moka pot, and espresso machine, but no way to keep any of that stuff hot. I figured an iced concentrate could be added to boiling water for a hot cup of coffee or poured over ice and milk for a creamy ice coffee. Or should I just borrow a coffee maker?

          1. re: LaureltQ

            You can borrow a coffee maker or borrow/buy an insulated carafe or thermos - you'd have to make multiple batches of coffee to fill it in your various machines, but a good thermos will keep things hot for quite some time.

            1. re: LaureltQ

              You know, some of the best coffee I've made has been from a cold concentrate. You steep an entire can of coffee in a couple of quarts of water, in the fridge, for a few days. Shake it now and then. Then pour it all through, first, a fine sieve, and then a coffee filter. Keep the concentrate chilled (you can let it come to room temp the day of the brunch), then add boiling water for hot coffee, and cold + ice for iced. You'd want to do a test run before then, to get the proportions right. Search for
              "cold brew coffee" on this board and on General Topics. There have been a number of good discussions. I got out of the habit of cold brew when I discovered great whole bean decaf from Trader Joe's. My grinder only holds enough beans for 2 cups of coffee so I've been making it via drip, every day. A tip: have your coffee ground as finely as possible. It will make filtering harder, but you'll be able to use about a third less coffee, even if, like I do, you prefer a very strong brew. You can always dilute it if it's too strong, and use less the next time.

            2. re: BelgianBeerMistress

              Vanilla ice cream instead of the key lime bars. That way your guests have the option of pie a la mode, or topping the ice cream with the fruit salad. Or bake shortcakes in a muffin tin, or a pound cake, and instead of S/R pie make S/R compote so you have several options for ice cream shortcake topping,

              1. re: greygarious

                That sounds like a good idea. Maybe vanilla ice cream, RLB's Orange Glow Chiffon Cake, and strawberry rhubarb compote?

                1. re: LaureltQ

                  A vote of dissent on ice cream. I find it to be a big PITA for buffets, because either you have to find out who wants some and then go and dish it out yourself, or your guests have to go to the freezer and serve themselves, requiring messing with a carton, getting sticky fingers, etc. You'll also need extra utensils/bowls for serving.

                  1. re: biondanonima

                    Good Call. Hadn't thought of that. Stabilized whipped cream it is!

                    1. re: biondanonima

                      A counter-dissent: Eleven people at most would want the ice cream. Not a big deal to plop a dozen scooped balls into a bowl, keep in the freezer until the end of the meal, then bring it out and set it, "double boiler style", into a larger bowl/container filled with ice, or cold water containing frozen gel packs.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        I agree. Ice cream always seems festive.

                  2. re: greygarious

                    While you're making biscuits, just cut some of them "shortcake-sized." The fruit salad would make a great filling.

                    1. re: ChefJune

                      The biscuits are chive and cheddar.

                2. I would have something to munch on during the iced tea/coffee, BMs, as everyone arrives at different times.
                  ie, crackers with a shrimp spread, antipasti type plate.

                  2 quiches
                  Bacon & sausage
                  Fruit
                  Cheddar biscuits
                  Dessert

                  Quiche is great at room temp too. Since your quiches have crusts, I might think of something else for dessert. Strawberries are lovely now on angel food cake or ice cream. Cookies along side if you want.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Gail

                    I am counting on just having everything out buffet style and having people help themselves, and chat, snack some more, etc, so there will be no time separation between drinks and food.

                    1. re: LaureltQ

                      Can you borrow or buy a small sterno set-up, to keep some things warm (overnight french toast, as I noted above, or the waffles)?

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        My mother in law has buffet-style hotplates from when she just got married, but I'd rather not fuss with trying to keep anything warm.

                        1. re: LaureltQ

                          Then perhaps deviled eggs and bagels/cream cheese & other spreads would be the way to go, along with the salad and/or roasted veggies suggested downthread.

                  2. This sounds delicious! However, most of your choices involve a crust of some kind, which makes this feel a bit repetitive and carb heavy.

                    If I were you, I would keep the lox flatbread but make the two quiches crustless. They can then be eaten as slices on their own or as a filling for the biscuits (which I think are a much better idea than the waffles if you don't want to be doing a la minute cooking). I'd do sausage patties instead of bacon - they also make a nice biscuit sandwich, and you already have bacon in your quiche Lorraine.

                    If you want to incorporate asparagus, a simple side of roasted asparagus would be a nice compliment to the other dishes, perhaps with a drizzle of a creme fraiche-based sauce. In any case, I would try to include some type of vegetable item, especially since you have vegetarians coming who might want something other than carbs and eggs.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: biondanonima

                      A simple green salad can be prepared in advance and dressed at the last minute. Good for the vegetarians and omnivores alike.

                      1. re: masha

                        This is a great idea! Baby kale, english cucumber, feta, and maybe a toasted nut and/or shredded carrot would be great with a balsamic or red wine vinaigrette.

                      2. re: biondanonima

                        I actually often do crustless quiches for just us, as we tend to avoid extraneous flour most of the time. Maybe I'll cook them in square pans and then preslice into rectangles and set out on a platter.

                        1. re: LaureltQ

                          That sounds perfect. Then you can keep your lovely dessert ideas with no worry about crust overload.

                        2. re: biondanonima

                          Yes, definately add a veg. Asparagus would be perfect, although for 11 could get expensive quickly. Roasted veggies are great room temp, the OP could roast zucchini, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, etc the day before and arrange in stripes of color on a platter for pretty presentation and an easy veggie option

                          For the fruit i would avoid a fruit salad- if you have any leftovers it turns very quickly. A bowl of whole strawberries, clementines or oranges cut in wedges, bunches of grapes, thick sliced cantelope would make a great presentation and also not turn as quickly at room temp for a while during the party and/or if there are leftovers.

                          Ps
                          Keep the veggie quiche dairy free for your veg non dairy guest. Unsweetened almond milk or soy milk works as a sub if your recipe includes dairy

                          1. re: Ttrockwood

                            Good point on the fruit salad. Fruit salad also sometimes looks kind of mushy and sad.

                            I have had great luck with arranging rows of fruit on a long oval platter. It looks very nice. If the OP still wants to use a mint syrup, it could be served on the side or drizzled over the entire platter. Or, just a few scattered mint leaves would eliminate the need to make the syrup.

                            Rows of melon, pineapple, and strawberries looks nice.

                            EDIT: This type of fruit keeps better as a leftover.

                            1. re: sandylc

                              I love the idea of keeping the fruit separated. Such a pretty presentation, and if guests prefer some fruit to others, they don't have to take it. I'm definitely doing this.

                              1. re: LaureltQ

                                I always do this, mainly because my son has allergies to many fruits, but there are some he can eat. I also find it easier to deal with repurposing any leftover fruit if they are segregated.

                        3. Roxlet made this cake and shared on "What are you Baking" thread - would be perfect for Mother's Day brunch:

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9710...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: herby

                            There is a similar cake in the Craig Claiborne NYT Cookbook, called Hungarian Crème Cake. I'd planned to make it for Easter dinner but could not find good strawberries in Chicago

                          2. OK - Updated Menu:

                            Drinks:
                            Hot Coffee (borrow coffee maker from MIL)
                            Iced Tea
                            Bloody Marys
                            Orange Juice (maybe someone will bring champagne!)

                            Food:
                            Lox Flatbread
                            Crustless Quiches:
                            spinach, mushroom, chevre
                            lorraine
                            Chive & Sharp Cheddar Biscuits
                            Ruhlman's Ginger Sage Breakfast Sausage
                            Baby Kale Salad w/ feta, cucumber, something crunchy

                            Sweet stuff:
                            Fruit Salad w/ mint(or ginger?!) simple syrup (on the side)
                            RLB's Orange Glow Chiffon Cake
                            Stabilized Whipped Cream
                            Rhubarb Compote
                            Macerated Strawberries

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: LaureltQ

                              I think it looks perfect except that I'd go back to the strawberry rhubarb pie rather than the compote and macerated strawberries. They're too much like your fruit salad. Plus, what is better than rhubarb pie????? You don't need the whipped cream but it would go nicely with both the cake and the pie (and the fruit salad, probably) so keep it if you like!

                              1. re: biondanonima

                                Well geez, I got all excited about the chiffon cake....But you're right. Strawberry rhubarb pie is one of my "things." lol

                                1. re: LaureltQ

                                  It's a very good "thing" indeed! BTW, I just reread your OP and noticed that one of your vegetarians avoids cow milk - that being the case, perhaps you should make your vegetarian quiche with goat milk (or almond/rice/cashew/whatever milk) instead of cow. You could also offer a vegetarian sausage in addition to the real deal. Can't wait to hear how it turns out!

                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                    Yes, it struck me that there were a lot of dishes containing cheese, especially considering that one of your guests tries not to eat cow's milk -- in addition to the quiches, there is cheese in the biscuits and the salad. While I realize that true "feta" is goat/sheep's milk, there is a lot of cow's milk cheese sold as "feta."

                                    1. re: masha

                                      Agreed. I would leave the cheese out of the salad and liven it up with nuts or seeds instead.

                              2. re: LaureltQ

                                Looks really good! I would add a sweet bread/muffins or coffee cake to replace the waffles that you took out. Your main dish items are all rather savory, so offer something sweet that is not specifically dessert.

                                1. re: LaureltQ

                                  I won't add more input on the menu since you've already gotten a lot of feedback. For simplicity on quiche, I mix it up in advance in a zip lock bag and then pour and bake. If you make one or several different types, just add them, pour over egg mixture and bake. The bags can be thrown away w/ less to wash when you're busy.

                                2. Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I think you have too many things on your menu! For 11 people, those are a lot of options. People would only be able to take a couple bites of each thing if they wanted to try all/most of it.

                                  I would pare it down -- not only would it be easier for you, but easier for your guests as it wouldn't be so overwhelming. Plus you have a lot of cheese on the menu -- sharp cheddar, chevre, feta... those are all very strong flavors, and for the guest with the milk issue, would not allow them to eat many of the foods served.

                                  I'd go with:
                                  Quiche Lorraine
                                  Sausage
                                  Roasted potatoes with onions and potatoes
                                  Mixed green salad with vinaigrette and maybe some candied nuts (the dressing will cut the richness of the sausage and quiche)
                                  Fruit Salad with mint
                                  Hot coffee
                                  Orange Juice
                                  Bloody Marys

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: boogiebaby

                                    need both quiches for the vegetarians though