Like most New Yorkers, I love brunch. However, like most broke New Yorkers I am of two minds about brunch when it comes to price. Brunch can either be a. a good deal and a great way to check out a new restaurant without having to fork over the better portion of your paycheck for dinner or b. brunch is an incredible rip off. What?! That much money for eggs, carbs and a measly salad? No thanks. Lately, we’ve found the better solution of hosting brunch at our house. Brunch food is easy to prepare and can be prepped or fully made ahead of time. Plus, brunch at home is way more relaxing than being hurried out of some restaurant full of pushy people and crying babies by a harried host and can ease into an all-day hang out or allow you to get up, out and on with your day.
Here are highlights from three of our spring brunches: the parental, the out of town guest, and the vegan, along with easy recipes and seasonal ideas. The greatest thing about brunch is how flexible it is and it can really allow you to throw something delicious together using what is left in your fridge.
My parents came to visit and we whipped this up before going to see the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City.
On the menu: Egg fritatta with spinach, mushrooms, and cheddar cheese; Fruit Salad; Hashbrowns; Turkey Bacon
I love fritattas. They are like omelettes without the fuss of flipping.
8 eggs (or more, or less)
1 small onion
2 to 4 cloves of garlic
Spinach (or any green that you want) washed and chopped
1-2 cups of cheddar cheese, grated (or cheese of your choice)
Olive oil, salt and pepper
Chop onions and garlic and saute until onions are translucent. Add mushrooms and saute. Add spinach and cook briefly, until it begins to wilt. Remove from heat.
Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk with a splash of milk, salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms, garlic, onions, spinach and cheese and mix. Let sit for 5 minutes or so. Pour a table spoon of olive oil (or more, if you like) into the pan (I like the re-use the pan I cooked the onions and garlic in without washing it out for great flavor). Pour the egg mixture in and let cook over medium heat. Cover to cook the top. Cook until pulling away from the sides and set all the way through. Put under the broiler for 1 minute to brown the top. Slide onto plate and serve in wedges.
West Coast Style Hashbrowns
I’ll let SMH tell you the full hashbrown story in a future entry, including how he figured out this easy and delicious recipe, but I’ll share it with you now in the short version.
Peel 6 (or more, or less) large Russet potatoes, wash them and grate them (I find the Cuisinart most useful for this part of the process)
Soak the grated potatoes in a bowl of cold water for 10 to 15 minutes (key)
Drain and rinse the potatoes
In a large sauce pan put a generous amount of the cooking oil of your choice
Add the potatoes and start out on medium-high heat until the potatoes become golden brown on the bottom
Decrease the heat and cover to cook the potatoes through (about 20 to 30 minutes)
Flip over a plate to reveal golden brown “crust” and serve in wedges with plenty of hot sauce and ketchup
The Out of Town Guest
Our friend Jen was visiting from the West Coast and when we told her we had no money to go out to brunch she gladly came over. It turned into an all day hang out that ended with ordering tacos for dinner delivery.
On the menu: Egg fritatta with goat cheese, ramps and tomatoes; Hashbrowns; Cranberry Cinnamon scones; Turkey bacon; Bloody Marys
See a pattern? The fritatta was made the same as above, but using my favorite seasonal produce: ramps (wild, garlicky leeks, incredible!). We cheated on the Bloody Marys and made them from a mix, but with the addition of our friend’s Neal and Colette’s homemade Worchestershire sauce that they gave us for Christmas.
Dairy-free (or not) Cranberry Oatmeal Cinnamon Scones (adapted from The Settlement Cookbook)
The vintage edition of the Settlement Cookbook in our house is all about entertaining and pleasing your man, so they are my go-to source for adaptable, straightforward recipes (and plenty of vintage sexism).
1 1/2 cups flour (and more for rolling)
1/2 cup roll oats
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6-8 Tablespoons frozen vegan margarine (or butter, if you are not going the dairy free route)
2 eggs (or equivalent if going vegan)
1/3 cup soymilk, ricemilk, cream, milk or water (whatever works for you)
Dried or fresh cranberries (or blueberries, raisins, currents or whatever you like)
Making these in the food processor made it mush easier, but it can be done with good old elbow grease.
Sift together dry ingredients. Cut in margarine/butter with fork or food processor until it looks like cornmeal. Add well-beaten eggs and liquid of choice. Add more flour if the batter is too sticky. Add cranberries. Try not to over mix. Toss on floured board and pat or roll to 3/4 inch thick. Cut into wedges and place on well oiled baking sheet. Brush with egg white (if using) and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Wade, an old friend I met when he set up a show for my band 10 years ago, visited from DC. Before he caught his Chinatown bus home I treated him to a simple, quick vegan brunch.
On the menu: Curried tofu scramble; Sweet biscuits with strawberries; Orange slices
Curry Scrambled Tofu
An extremely flexible dish that even non-vegans like! I ate the leftovers later mixed with rice. Yum!
Red and green peppers
Spinach (or not, whatever)
Cayenne pepper and/or hot sauce
1 pound of tofu (or more)
Chop the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent. Dice and add the mushrooms and then the peppers. When both have cooked through add the tomatoes and spinach and cook until soft and wilted. Crumble in the tofu and add the soy sauce, cumin, curry powder, salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. Let cook on medium-low heat until the tofu is warmed through and the spices have a chance to infuse. Some vegans might want to add Nutritional Yeast at this stage, but I did not have any. It gives it a more “cheesy” flavor, if that’s what you are after (and if you have it).
Vegan Sweet Biscuits (adapted from How It All Vegan)
These are probably one of the first vegan baked goods I ever made and have been an oft-requested favorite since. Serve them with chopped strawberries and real or vegan whipped cream and you have strawberry shortcake! They are also delicious re-heated with jam and butter/margarine. Careful, though, they are crumbly!
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup dry sweetener
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup vegan margarine (or butter, if going the non-vegan route)
1 cup soymilk/regular milk
Stir together dry ingredients and add the margarine/butter and stir until it looks like cornmeal. Add the milk and stir until “just mixed.” Spoon into lightly oiled muffin tins and bake at 400 degrees F for 12 to 18 minutes until the tops are golden brown.
Enjoy your brunches and don’t forget the good coffee or tea!