Summer entertaining should be easy — the fresh ingredients do all the work! Serve these make-ahead dishes buffet style for a leisurely brunch you can share with friends.
On a hot day, a glass of cold-brewed iced coffee hits the spot. Greet guests with our version, which is flavored with whole vanilla beans and can be made entirely a day ahead.
For the main course, choose a dish that easily serves a crowd. This strata with corn, chilies and Mexican chorizo packs plenty of flavor into one casserole. It can be assembled the night before and baked the next morning to cheesy, golden perfection. A frittata works well, too, as it can be served at room temperature — try this one with roasted red peppers, sausage and feta cheese. Alternatively, you can’t go wrong with a classic bacon and leek quiche.
On the side, serve homemade apple and sausage patties (assembled a day ahead) and summer fruit parfaits, with layers of yogurt, stone fruits and berries. For something sweet, bake a coffee cake made with fresh peaches or sweet-tart raspberry-lemon muffins.
- 1 to 2 days ahead: Prepare the iced coffee and refrigerate overnight. Assemble the strata, cover, and refrigerate. Make the sausage patties and refrigerate overnight. Make the coffee cake and the muffins (store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days).
- Day of: Make the frittata and/or the quiche. Strain and finish the iced coffee; refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Just before serving: Fry the sausage patties. Assemble the fruit and yogurt parfaits. Bake the strata.
In addition to the coffee, serve brunch cocktails for a festive touch. Mimosas and Bloody Marys are classics, but also try bellinis, which are perfect for summer. If serving wine, look for a crisp, medium-bodied white to complement the brunch menu.
Buffets can create a fun opportunity for unexpected serving ideas. Present the fruit and yogurt parfaits in balloon wineglasses; place muffins and coffee cake squares on a tiered stand. Stack plates and flatware sets wrapped in napkins at the beginning of the buffet for easy serving.
If you’re expecting a big crowd, consider setting up two serving areas: one for food, and one for drinks. Guests can help themselves to coffee and cocktails in the kitchen, then move on to the dining room for the food.