When you cook for a crowd, use a menu that allows you to make dishes ahead of time and have enough stove and oven space to get everything cooked before the meal begins. Brunch needs to be hearty enough to serve in place of lunch but also include savory breakfast foods.
Egg casseroles are easy to make in large quantities to serve dozens of guests at a brunch. Plus, you can make them ahead of time so you only need to bake them on the day of the brunch. In addition to eggs, the casserole should contain cooked vegetables and meat to make it hearty and substantial. Make a strata by pouring a mixture of eggs and milk over bread cubes layered with vegetables, meat and cheese. Refrigerate it overnight so the bread soaks up some of the liquid before baking. For a quiche, make the batter of egg, milk, vegetables and meat the night before the brunch and pour it into a cooked piecrust just before baking. For a variation, flavor any of your egg dishes with a ranch seasoning mix.
Serve a variety of seasonal fruits as one of the main side dishes. Prepare a fruit salad the evening before the brunch and mix in a little lemon juice so the fruits don't brown. Dress up your fruit salad by mixing in a creamy dressing. Children can help with the preparations. Preschoolers can wash and dry fruit, young school-age kids can use a melon baller, and older school-age kids can carefully use knives to chop fruit.
Rather than serving greasy hash browns or cheese-coated breakfast potatoes, opt for oven-baked herbed red potatoes as a healthy brunch side dish. Cut potatoes into cubes and toss them in salt, pepper and your favorite chopped herbs. Ideas include rosemary, dill, parsley, chives, thyme and sage. To keep them low fat, spritz the baking sheet with olive oil and, after you spread the potatoes on it, spritz the tops of the potatoes with oil as well. Cook these the day before the brunch and reheat them in the microwave just before serving. Make these delicious potatoes more kid-friendly by providing an array of dips: honey mustard, ketchup and ranch will bring smiles to your kids' faces.
Keep this component simple by providing a variety of ready-to eat breads gently warmed in the oven after you take the egg casseroles out. Guests can choose their favorites to eat alongside the meal. Ideas include bagels, croissants, English muffins, cinnamon swirl, sourdough, rye and wheat breads. In addition to butter, provide cream cheese and jam for spreading on the breads. For more savory additions, provide hummus, a mixture of cream cheese and seasoning dip, smoked salmon and slices of ham as well.
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- "Cooking for a Crowd"; Susan Wyler; 2005
- "Joy of Cooking"; Irma S. Rombauer; 2006
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