Filled with savory and sweet dishes, brunch is a delicious special occasion meal best shared with family and friends. However, the endless variety of brunch dishes can also be an intimidating task for many home cooks. Thankfully, help has arrived in the form of Chef Chris Valdes, a brunch expert and author of the new cookbook, .
Brunch is an all-encompassing culinary event, often featuring a variety of fruit, drinks, pastries, and savory dishes. That’s a lot of work. To tackle this, a good piece of advice is to prep your ingredients ahead of time. This could mean anything from whipping eggs and cutting vegetables to setting the table in advance. Not only will these steps save time, but they will also give you a head start when it’s time to cook your brunch dishes.
Another valuable tool is the oven. While many brunch dishes like omelets and French toast requires a stove, the oven can be used to make a variety of excellent brunch dishes. As a bonus, utilizing the oven will free up the stove for cooking and also saves cleaning time. The oven is also great for warming up food. To keep your food at a perfect serving temperature, Chef Valdes recommends an oven setting of 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Finally, brunch should be a time to relax with family and friends. For Chef Valdes, an ideal brunch get together should be tasty, fun and painless. “When I’m making brunch for a crowd,” said Chef Valdes. “I always think of how to make my life, and others’, easier.”
A great brunch is a exciting balance between hot and cold dishes. For cold dishes, anything from pasta salad, to deviled eggs, to ceviche is great. Most of these cold dishes can also be made the day before to save time. For hot dishes, waffles, Latin style Tortilla Española, and various sausages are all fantastic.
A big reason why brunch can seem very difficult to tackle is the amount of different foods involved. For instance, making customized individual omelets for an entire family is not anyone’s idea of a relaxing Sunday morning. Instead, try making dishes that are meant to be eaten family style like an egg frittata that’s perfect for sharing. After all, the social aspect of brunch is just as important as the food and serving dishes family style is a perfect way to accomplish that.
For Chef Valdes, he prefers making family style egg dishes, like his egg muffins or Tortilla Española in the oven. As a bonus, these can also be made the day before. Simply warm up the dishes in the oven before eating. A great part of a dish like Chef Valdes’s egg muffins (eggs mixed with heavy whipping cream and ham, cooked individually in a muffin tin) is the customization. Like omelets, these egg muffins can be customized with ingredients like prosciutto, cheddar cheese, feta, avocado slices, cherry tomatoes, and even sliced cooked potatoes. These types of diverse egg dishes will mimic the flavor and customization of an omelet without the time-consuming effort of making a different omelet for every member of the brunch party.
One of the best and most fun aspects of brunch is the drinks. Brunch is a perfect canvas for a variety of colorful nonalcoholic and alcoholic drinks. Chef Valdes recommends making drinks like sangria or a Bloody Mary in pitchers for easy self-service.
The classic brunch mimosa or mojito are also refreshing choices. For a fun twist, try making a mimosa or mojito bar. The best part about these drinks is that almost any type of fresh juice will work. Grab pineapple, watermelon, or even guava juice for a fun and creative mojito bar. For nondrinkers, these juices can also be blended and mixed with seltzer water for exciting mocktails.
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