An Easy No-Cook Brunch
It's all done in the shopping.
It seems like every New York restaurant known for its brunch menu is always crowded. I think of Sunday mornings as a time for some peace and quiet so why stand in line for someone else's bagels and lox when I can have the same thing at home for less money and fewer crowds?
It's easy to make a Sunday brunch. The answer is entirely in the shopping. And other than making coffee and doing a little cutting and slicing, there's no cooking.
The Shopping List
Choose some combination of these items so to include a carb, some cheese/dairy, fruit, and fish or meat.
- Muffins and croissants
- Smoked salmon or lox (or other smoked fish, e.g., sable)
- Proscuitto (best quality e.g., Parma or Black Label) or slices of other cooked ham or roast turkey
- A large tomato, sliced -- the best looking one you can find given the season
- A large red onion, sliced
- Cream cheese: plain and pre-mixed with scallions or chives
- Other cheeses: creamy ones like Brie, Camembert, Pierre Robert or St. André (both very rich triple crèmes), or goat cheeses
- Jams and other fruit preserves
- Fruit for fruit salad: buy a selection of fruits that are at their best this time of year and that you think will taste good together. For example: berries and pineapple, or melon, bananas and kiwis, or one that is mostly tropical fruits like mangoes and papayas. When you choose, think about the texture of the fruits and their colors, anticipating how they will look and taste together. For me this usually means leaving out citrus which I think tastes best on its own instead of overwhelming more delicate-flavored fruits.
- Melon to serve on its own; cantaloupe is always nice but also consider Crenshaw or honeydew
- A large bunch of grapes
- Sweet red grapefruit to serve cut in half and drizzled with honey
- Coffee and Tea
- Milk or half-and-half
- Orange juice (fresh squeezed if you can find it or else just get some Tropicana)
- If you and your guests drink alcohol, cold prosecco or other sparkling wine can be served on its own or added to orange juice to make mimosas
Your goal is to put on your table a generous selection of fresh foods that you and your guests can select from and make your own brunch plates.
- Put the bagels and muffins in a basket; you can cut each of them in half first or else put a small cutting board and bread knife on the table so that everyone can slice their own.
- Slice the tomato (in nice 1/2" thick slices) and the red onion (sliced thinner than the tomato) and place on separate plates because some folks don't like onion and you don't want the flavors to mix.
- Present the cream cheeses, butter and jam in pretty dishes and add a knife and/or spoon for each. Same goes for the smoked fish or prosciutto: they will be sold to you already sliced so just transfer them from their wrappers to a large plate or platter.
- For the fruit: The trick in making fruit salad is to not use too many flavors so think about the combination of sweetness, texture, and colors. Also cut the fruit so that they are of approximately the same size, making it easier to eat. Don't make the fruit salad too much in advance or else the fruit can get mushy and some of them, like bananas, might darken a bit.
- If you don't have time for fruit salad, just serve a big bowl of freshly washed strawberries along with a platter of seeded and sliced melon. Add a few slices of lime alongside.
Make coffee, put the sugar and milk (or half-and-half) into pretty serving pieces, pour the orange juice, and let everyone help themselves. Play some Bach partitas and spread out The Sunday New York Times.
Now isn't that better than waiting on line at Sarabeth's?