Brunch has had a remarkable renaissance in the last 15 years.
Once a pithy portmanteau for which few had or made time, it can now be vegan, boozy and bottomless, as much the solution to a heavy night out as an indulgence of its own.
Merry and Pippin’s time has arrived: second breakfast is here to stay.
And in this world of endless brunching possibilities, I think it’s time to ditch the dinner party and usher in its new, cooler cousin: the brunch party.
If you’re anything like my age, the prospect of hosting a party that goes on beyond 9pm may fast be becoming daunting.
Plus, a lot of our friends have young children, making evening gatherings a good deal more inconvenient than they would have been five years ago.
As far as I’m concerned, hosting a late morning get-together has multitudinous advantages.
So here’s what I’d make.
Starter – Fruit Grazing Platter
You need to pace yourself with any kind of three course meal, so we’re starting light with a grazing platter of assorted fruits.
There’s something wildly indulgent about eating fruit that’s been chopped up for you (or is that just me?) – even though you’re getting well on the way to your five-a-day before the day’s really got going.
But aside from chopping time (or, ahem, opening pre-chopped fruit) arranging an aesthetic spread of strawberries, mango, apples, melon, orange segments, grapes, peach slices, kiwi, even dragon fruit, is easy peasy.
You could garnish with blueberries and pomegranate seeds, and add dipping pots of honey, Greek yoghurt and melted chocolate if you were so inclined.
Main Course – Baked Eggs, Chickpeas & Chorizo
I’d whip out my piece de resistance: Baked eggs with chickpeas and chorizo. It’s not a catchy title, but it’s a delicious dish, and a lovely savoury option to offset the sweet starter and pudding I’ve picked.
I’ve based this off this lovely recipe, adding the chorizo because I think the extra saltiness is delightful, reducing the cream slightly, and adjusting the timings because I for one cannot get an egg to poach in two minutes.
So, here is the recipe if you want to give it a go.
250g chorizo, diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
Sprig of rosemary
2 tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp paprika
300ml cream (single and double both work)
Generous pinch of salt
4-6 eggs (i.e. one per person)
In a wide, heavy-based frying pan or wok, fry the chorizo along with garlic and rosemary until it starts to release its oils. Add the chickpeas and tomato puree along with the paprika, and stir until the chickpeas are all coated in tomato. Then pour in the cream, season with salt, stir and simmer for a couple of minutes.
Now for the flourish: poaching the eggs. Keep the pan at a simmer, and make a well for each egg before cracking them inside – the diameter of your pan may dictate how many eggs you can nestle in. Cover with a lid for 3 minutes – I recommend timing this accurately, as it can be the difference between perfectly poached eggs, undercooked whites, and overcooked yolks.
(If you use an oven-safe dish, you could keep the dish warm in the oven during the starter, pulling it out with just enough time to poach the eggs).
Accompany it with pita breads, slices of prosciutto, and some slow-roasted red peppers (bake them at about 180 degrees centigrade with olive oil and salt for about half an hour, or until the edges start to blacken).
You can serve it in individual dishes, but I think some of the joy lies in sharing one big pot and dipping the bread into the yolks. It’s also slightly less washing up!
Dessert – Cinnamon Buns
It’s got to be a big batch of cinnamon buns.
I’ve used this cinnamon roll recipe several times now, and it consistently comes up pretty well.
These fit together in a tear-and-share setup, and if anyone isn’t mad on the icing you could leave it on the side. (Of course, you could buy a ready-made bake at home version instead!)
One of the crucial advantages of cinnamon buns is how easy they are to make ahead: you can spare yourself the headache of juggling three courses by getting these ready to go the night before, and just reheating them for a wee while.
They’re great with a second (or third) drink, or to take away with you if you’ve overloaded on chorizo, chickpeas and chocolate-coated fruit.
Along with tea and coffee (why not crack out the cafetière and teapot you only use once in a blue moon?) get a selection of juices – in my family, there’s an ongoing rivalry between OJ fans and Apple Juice die-hards, so we absolutely have to have both in.
But a smoothie might make a fun alternative, whether home-made or shop-bought.
If you did want to make it a boozy brunch, safe bets include Bucks Fizz or Kir Royale, both of which you can usually buy fairly cheaply (especially if it’s around the new year).
I’m personally keen on a peach Bellini: you can either fashion one from Prosecco and peach syrup, or you could go full on do-it-yourself and put a tin of peaches in syrup or juice through a blender, then sieve out the pulp (the less said about the time I woke up at 6am to pulverise peaches with a stick blender for 50 people, the better).
Now it’s over to you – are you team dinner party or brunch party, and what would you cook up to feed a crowd for elevenses?
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