Sunday, February 21, 2021

Let's talk Sunday Brunch! + #Giveaway!




LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Does anyone not love brunch? Or are they like people who claim to not like chocolate—we don't quite believe them, and we don’t quite trust them?

When I was a kid, brunch was for special occasions. My parents often took us to the Golden Belle, town’s fanciest restaurant, for the brunch buffet after Mass on Easter Sunday. The Easter Bunny himself greeted children, with a basket of candy, although I was more interested in Happy Herb, the magician who hosted a children’s show on the local TV station, especially when he brought Froggy Doo, his marionette. My memories of the food are less vivid, but I can picture Belgian waffles, eggs in many forms, and both ham and prime rib, carved by chefs wearing white toques, and an array of classic 1960s desserts. 

As a young woman living in Seattle, I started a holiday brunch tradition, inviting women friends over on a Sunday in December, cooking all the food myself. After I moved back to Montana and got married, my husband and I continued the tradition, inviting couples, though we let them contribute. It’s important to have friends who cook well, and happily, we do. The menu always includes my homemade caramel pecan rolls, a once-a-year treat, a fruit salad, and something eggy, though the other dishes can vary. These Omelet Muffins are a favorite, along with the Gorgonzola Stuffed Dates our friend Zhamal often brings. And of course, champagne—by itself or in a mimosa or Kir Royale.

Blog sisters, brunch traditions? Memories? What do you serve? 


🍰

VICKI DELANY: Count me as a Sunday brunch lover, but it's been ages (years!) since I've been out for one. It's never been something I've made or hosted (I love Leslie's idea!) but I enjoy brunch in a nice hotel or restaurant. When I was a child my parents took us once or twice out for Sunday brunch. It would have had to be a very very special occasion.  Just the enormity of the selection is what I remember. Plus dessert for breakfast!  Heaven.  Now that I'm an adult it's mimosas for breakfast that appeal to me.  Another lovely thing about brunch is that it's something to linger over with family and friends. Not a meal to rush though. Brunch implies a day when you have nothing much to do and no where in particular to do.  I share this beautiful recipe for COFFEE CAKE in 2019 as a suggestion for Chrismtas morning, but it would be perfect for an at-home brunch too. 


🌺

MADDIE: Another brunch lover here, but ones offered at home. For many years I've been hosting Easter brunch. Not last year, of course  and I'm afraid this year we'll have to move it to July.  We always have our close friends, and my sons if they can make it. 

I often make a cold poached salmon, and sometimes ham. Guests bring contributions, we sip chilled rosé, and there's always chocolate, too. One year I made a Flourless Chocolate Cake because a friend was coming who doesn't eat gluten. I topped it with fresh raspberries and shared the recipe here six years ago. Everybody loved it!


🐰🌷🍓


LESLIE KARST: I'm not a big Sunday bruncher, but I do love to host meals at my home! And one thing I used to do that was similar to a brunch was take part in a monthly French conversation group, where each person would take turns hosting, with dessert and coffee or tea. Of course once it got going, everyone started trying to out-do everyone else, so we started adding a cheese plate, olives, nuts, charcuterie... You get the idea.  Here's a photo of one such Groupe Français that I hosted some years back, with a raspberry tart (similar to this one) and chocolate mousse pie.


🍸

PEG: I love brunch and when I lived in New York City, we often went out to brunch--which didn't properly get underway until at least 11:00 a.m. if not noon, and ran to about 4:00 p.m.!  One of my favorite memories is a birthday brunch at the Café des Artistes on West 67th Street.  It was an extremely romantic restaurant with dreamy paintings of nymphs on the walls.  I don't remember what I ordered, but I'm pretty sure it was my usual brunch choice--eggs Benedict.  And I seem to remember some mimosas and chocolate cake for dessert!  If you want to make your own eggs Benedict, here is a quick recipe that is nearly foolproof!

🍇

LUCY BURDETTE: Me too on loving brunch! When we were kids, our parents and my mother's sisters and their families used to love an occasional Sunday brunch at a lobster restaurant in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. (Tina might know this place!) It was just hard to know where to start--the eggs? the baked goods? the seafood? the carving station? I remember staying for hours and hours...

Another favorite group brunch dish that I haven't made in years was Moosewood's blintz casserole. Maybe from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest? It was a lot of work, because the blintz skins were made individually from scratch. But oh how delicious! I'm going to have to track that down...


🍳

MIA P. MANANSALA: Breakfast and brunch are probably my favorite meals to eat out--there's something so wonderfully decadent about it, particularly if there's a mimosa bar. My biggest problem is that brunch tends to favor sweet dishes, which I think of more as a dessert than a meal. I prefer eating out with a decent-sized group so we can all share our food: my go-to's are smoked salmon eggs benedict and chilaquiles (if we're eating a place that offers Mexican breakfast dishes). 

I went through my phone to see if I could find any brunch pics, and the most recent one I could find was from Left Coast Crime 2019 in Vancouver. I can't remember who I shared this meal with, but it was likely members of my beloved crime fic crew. I can't wait till we can all get together in person again!

Smoked salmon eggs benedict! Like I said, it's my go-to brunch order


CLEO COYLE: Leslie B., your buffet memories ring true for me too. When I was young, special occasion brunches with my family were all about hotel chafing dishes of scrambled eggs and bacon; and tables mounded with pastries, croissants, and muffins. Foodie heaven. (Diet hell!)     
     Peg, your memory of an elegant New York brunch is truly beautiful, and New Yorkers do love their brunching. Marc and I are decidedly downscale here at our beloved Queens diners, which is how we like it, relaxed and casual, brunching on Belgian waffles, lox and bagels, stacks of pancakes, or hot pastrami sandwiches with sides of onion rings.
     Sadly, because of the Covid restrictions, eating inside any restaurant here in NYC (until very recently) was outlawed. And I never thought I’d live to write that, let alone live it. Last week, our restaurants were (finally!) allowed 25% capacity. Here’s hoping the strict restrictions will soon ease because our fellow New Yorkers are worried about the financial survival of the long-suffering restauranteurs and their staffs (and so are we). Looking forward to indoor diner brunches in the near future! Until then, DIY brunch at home is always an option, and we're happy to share our recipe for Ancient Grain Pancakes with gluten-free and dairy-free options. May you eat with brunch joy! ~ Cleo


🍓

TINA KASHIAN: I like brunch as well. I grew up in a family restaurant in South Jersey, and Sunday breakfast and brunch was our most busy day of the week. I often worked as a waitress as a teenager on Sunday mornings, but after my shift was done, I sat down with my sisters and the other staff and enjoyed brunch. Eggs Benedict was my favorite! Our chef’s homemade Hollandaise sauce was to die for. Years later, I enjoyed having friends and family over for Sunday brunch. It feels like forever since we have gotten together, but I’m looking forward to hosting again.


🍳

MARY JANE MAFFINI: So happy to join you all in Brunchville. I adore brunch and look forward to returning to our favorite local spot for Eggs Bennie when we can. In the meantime, we have found a technique to get Bennies through take-out and transport them for three minute drive without disaster. We're doing this today! I notice that Eggs Benedict are a bit of a theme here today. They always seem special and seem too much trouble to make at home, IMHO.

I also have a brunch tradition to share: a group of friends from various parts of the book industry in our community have gathered regularly for many years. We call ourselves The Pink Bra Society and our sole goal is to meet and yak over food. Usually we remember to wear our pink bras. In recent years, I’ve hosted our Pink Bra Christmas Brunch. Because it happens bit early in the day, some wag suggested we should be a pajama party and so a new tradition was born. The get-ups range from sporty to hilarious to elegant. Not everyone got the memo! There are lots of brunch dishes, including Make Ahead Christmassy French Toast but we all wait for the desserts. Here we are around that table in 2019.


You can see our little Chocolate Almond Semi-Freddos and and our pink bra cookies (sugar cookies with pink sprinkles). Can you spot the bra cookies in the photo? You can get a cookie cutter for anything! That recipe first appeared here as Toasty Ghosties one Halloween. I will share the gluten-free almond-orange cake in an upcoming post. Ignore the pooch at the table. We're a relaxed household.

It’s been such fun sharing Brunch ideas here. Everyone has tasty traditions and I wanted to be invited to everything. Thank you, Leslie, for picking a topic that really hit home. 

📖 

MAYA CORRIGAN: I like brunch as long as lunch food is an option, not just dishes usually served for breakfast, my least favorite meal. One brunch stands out for me. 

A few years ago, when I was invited to talk to the Brandeis Women’s Mystery Book Club about Poe and my newest mystery, The Tell-Tale Tarte, the members surprised me by preparing a brunch from the five-ingredient recipes in my mystery series. What a treat that was! 

Brunch included crustless spinach quiche, an avocado-hearts of palm salad, a sausage strata casserole, lime chicken, pecan mini-muffins, and a warm chocolate tart.

We talked not just about books but also about food. The club members gave me suggestions for variations (I think they meant improvements) on my recipes. 



GIVEAWAY!


Readers, talk to us about your brunch traditions, memories, and favorite foods. Bonus points if you’ve ever invited a frog puppet to brunch! One lucky reader will win a basket full of goodies -- books, that is! 


Murder on Cape Cod by Maddie Day

Shot in the Dark by Cleo Coyle

Too Hot to Handle by Mary Jane Maffini

Hummus and Homicide by Tina Kashian

Death Al Dente by Leslie Budewitz

🔍

89 comments:

  1. Yum. Who doesn't love brunch? Quiche, omelets, and yes, the mimosas. Thanks for the hollandaise recipe. Years ago I used to do brunch for the church ladies. They were so much more elegant in their entertaining from the 1950's and 1960's and brunch felt like trying to copy a little of that. Of course now that I qualify as one of those long-time church ladies we have COVID and things are generally more casual anyway.
    sallycootie(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  2. My mom and me would go to brunch right before going to see a Broadway play at the Bass Hall in Fort Worth. One of our favorite brunches was at the Bird Cafe. They had a wonderful brunch menu and a cocktail called Brunch Punch.
    Kitten143 (at) Verizon (dot) net

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fondest memories of a brunch are when I was a child. My Dad was stationed at Fort Ord, CA. On Sundays we would drive over to Salinas to the a restaurant that was a smorgasbord. This was way back in the age where an AYCE place was unheard of (although portion sizes were a lot bigger so you always had AYCE just not in variety) and the price was dirt cheap ($1.99 which included everything from drink to dessert). It started early in the morning and went on all day. Sundays were special because there was two of the buffet lines (and there were like 10 and they were much longer than what we have now) that were entirely breakfast type foods. Loved the way you could eat your way through waffles, bacon and eggs and then move on over to the taco bar, southern style dishes of comfort food or even oriental food before ending with decadent desserts. We learned quick to take small portions so you could sample more items before you felt like your belly was about to burst. Even as a child, it was fun to try something new knowing you didn't have to eat it all if you didn't like it. I discovered a lot of foods that way that I might not have ever gotten to try.

    As for the frog to inviting a frog puppet to brunch, although it wasn't a "puppet", Kermit the Frog attended a lot of brunch accompanied by our daughter. She was a small child just as Sesame Street became the craze and Kermit was her absolute favorite. For a few years, she never went anywhere without him. In fact, I still have that particular Kermit. :)

    Have a wonderful Sunday! We are beginning to thaw out from the major blast of several snows and unreal low temperatures. Think we have made it around the bend and I am hoping spring in about the show up in the home stretch.

    Shared and hoping to be the extremely fortunate one selected.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kay - Your Kermit the Frog memory will surely tickle Leslie B. (Gotta love Kermit!) LOL on that $1.99 AYCE price tag, too. Thanks for sharing your memories. Good to know those freezing temps are starting to thaw for you. Here's hoping spring comes soon.

      Delete
    2. Kermit! What a hoot! Fun to hear the memories.

      Delete
    3. Kermit was a favorite in our house!

      Delete
  4. Love brunch - especially if it includes Bloody Mary's!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love brunch..so fun to hear everyone’s memories, great recipes.
    cmeier2001@live.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. My favorite brunch quote: Brunch without champagne is just sad breakfast. Not true, really, but funny.

    ReplyDelete
  7. My husband's parents used to treat us to Sunday brunch at the officer's club. It was so elegant and everyone was dressed in their 'Sunday best'. I prefer savory rather than sweet so eggs benedict and all the sausage I wanted was on my plate!!
    sharonquiltsatyahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, those were dress-up occasions, weren't they? I admit, I dressed up for a radio interview this week just to remember what it felt like!

      Delete
  8. I love a brunch. Especially since i like to have my coffee and morning devotion and wait a while to eat breakfast. And I have several casserole dishes I make for Christmas morning brunch. I grew up non traditional- the equivalent of modern day foster care as I lost both my parents to different circumstances before I was 8. I learned later in life to cook different recipes than the few things we ate in care. I love to cook now and try recipes. I enjoy your blog as I’m a retired librarian so I benefit from book suggestions and food 🥰. What a better combo. Got my masters just before I turned 40 and loved my job as a librarian. Anyway thanks for sharing your stories and recipes. Joliver284@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Roving Oliver - Just want to send a note of gratitude your way for your service as a librarian. We all love libraries and truly appreciate all they do for our communities. Cheers and thanks also for your kind words about our blog.

      Delete
    2. I am a 'lapsed' librarian myself and I also benefit from the book and food suggestions here, Roving Oliver. What could be better?
      Glad you also like brunch casseroles! Hugs. MJ

      Delete
  9. I love brunch. My extended family would plan to get together at least one time a year to do brunch. I love to do brunch now with my family. bmedrano34@yahoodotcom

    ReplyDelete
  10. Welcome ladies. Thank you for sharing your brunch stories. Growing up on the farm, some of the moms got together and put together a brunch once a month. They would trade houses. Every family brought a lot of food to share because it was an all day event. It just started out with brunch. When we moved to Illinois, other people were too busy to commit to something like this. So we did it as a family, once a month mom would have something special that we would do, starting with brunch. When I got married I continued it with our two families. It was a lot of fun to see the families grow and become close. As we got friends, they were invited also. Many didnt come. But those that did, are still there. (Ok except this last year) Our son got a Winnie Pooh and he brought it everywhere. Our daughter got a Kermit frog and she took it everywhere. Even the bath tub. Fond memories.
    quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lori - What a fabulous tradition to have a potluck brunch once a month. When Covid restrictions are over, I hope more families and friends will adopt that idea. Getting together in person is so important for our feelings of connection and mental health. Thanks for sharing today!

      Delete
    2. Another well-traveled frog -- love it! And yes, we'll be busting out in brunch when the time is right!

      Delete
  11. When I lived in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, there was a wonderful deli just down the street that had the best bagels and lox - we would have that almost every Sunday as our splurge of the week. My favorite brunch place was a Greek restaurant in the heart of Old Town - everything on the menu was so delicious, especially the after brunch baklava.

    My current favorite brunch spot is Poppycocks in Aspen, Colorado. They have the most amazing oatmeal pancakes I've ever eaten ~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. bobandcelia at sbcglobal dot net

      Delete
    2. I can never turn down a fresh warm bagel with cream cheese or lox.

      Delete
  12. Living in the South you don't have to go far to find a calories laden breakfast or supper so we usually save our calories up for brunch and call it a cultural good outing. My family is originally from the South although I grew up in Southern California, not a lot of places have grits out there, or properly prepared grits at any rate. So being back in the Raleigh area to raise a family has given me the opportunity to enjoy a proper bowl of shrimp and grits with a side of eggs benedict and some pecan (pronounced pee*can) sweet rolls with a nice cold glass of sweet tea with a lemon wedge. I usually finish my meal with the traditional mimosa. Tupelo Honey is where we usually go to enjoy brunch or at least is out number one choice. No frogs or magicians for us, just some great friends and excellent food!

    ReplyDelete
  13. My dad used to take us out to Brunch for special occasions at a restaurant called "The Elephant Walk". The amount of food was over-whelming! The fruit was always my favorite - especially when they had the chocolate fountain going. cindystamps(at)juno(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a fun name for a restaurant! (And after dipping into that chocolate fountain over and over again, that's what I'd be doing on the way home, lol.)

      Delete
  14. Brunch to me means a whole lot of food and I can't eat very much. I like all of the choices. It's like being a kid in a candy shop. But, I never feel like it's worth paying all of that money for the small amount I am going to be able to eat.
    And, I'm the one who can't eat more than one or maybe two pieces of chocolate either. No chocolate cake, ice cream, pie or anything else. It's way too much for me. Really.
    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm with you, Linda. Those enormous buffets they have at restaurants are wasted on me, as after one go-through, I'm usually done. (I always say that buffet places make their money on the women and lose it on the men.)

      Delete