Summer brunch. Two words that, when taken together, tell a welcome story of easy and relaxed mornings. And, when it comes to having friends over, it has all the hosting advantages you want: the weather is still cool, the dishes are easy, the vibe casual. It can accommodate families with kids and those without, as it’s a come-as-you-are affair. You can make it a potluck, if you like, or make the dishes ahead if you’d like to keep it stress-free. Then set the table outside, if you can, and come together for the best kind of summertime gathering. Here’s how to make yours fabulously memorable.
When was the last time you walked up to an outdoor affair and the plateware and tablecloth over-delivered? You deserve that. Check out all our outdoor goodies, from melamine plates that conjure a Sicilian wedding to oilcloth table coverings that make you feel like you could throw the brunch shower of the century.
There must be drinks, icy ones, and they must be pretty much self-serve. You are not going to want to be coddling someone with a hangover at 9am. Let her preserve her dignity with plenty of good juice, cold-brew coffee, tea and seltzer kept chilled on ice. We’re also partial to brunch cocktails, smoothies and the like.
Here’s where you can turn it up a few notches with a massive variety, or actually enjoy yourself and ask folks to bring their best work. Want to DIY? Cover produce-centric, carb-centric and protein-centric, and you’re golden. A nice touch is to have little cards saying what’s inside of each dish. And remember! No one judges if you order fried chicken and ask everyone to bring a bottle of bubbly. Some of the very best chefs do. (Or check out all our brunch recipes, right this way.)
1. Dutch Baby
Sure, it’s a little bit of a diva, as it employs the stove, but it’s hard to beat a Dutch baby with summer fruit for beauty. You can make the batter in advance, if need be, to save time.
The frittata is the leftover-consuming, easy-as-can-be dish that must be at a brunch party. Use the knobs and bits of ripe tomatoes you have kicking around, plus whatever greens and herbs you’ve got. You can fold in sautéed summer squash. Everyone into the pool! The frittata is so forgiving.
Sure, sure, the expression is “easy as pie,” but perhaps it should be… “easy as quiche?” It’s just so good, so adaptable, so leftovers-friendly, as is the frittata. And it doubles as both starch and protein; the ultimate win-win of the brunch buffet.
“Waf-fles. Waf-fles!!” Kids love them; adults will snarfle them if they spy them. Who can resist a good waffle? You can even make them the centerpiece of the whole brunch spread, treating everything else (fruit! bacon! syrup! whipped cream!) as a potential garnish to a waffle. And remember that they can go savory!
5. Baked French Toast
Five-star, make-ahead baked French toast, anyone? Anyone? We thought so. Real vanilla bean is in the mix here, and you can garnish it with strawberries, blueberries, or whatever fruit gets you pumped if raspberries just aren’t your jam. Make it the night before you need it, serve it the day you need it, redolent of vanilla, and love your life.
6. Fruit Tart
We’re not gonna lie. A good fruit salad is stunning in its own right, but there’s something kind of magical about baking something that causes a sharp intake of breath and a muttered, “Who Made This?” at a party. With this apricot-pistachio tart (or any of our glorious fruit tarts), that experience could be yours. This recipe employs frozen puff pastry, that designated hitter of freezer staples, so kick back and enjoy the 30-minute prep time. Now get on out there…