Though I’m the first to accept a brunch invitation, it’s a rare event for me to cook brunch at home. Let’s face it, getting up early on a Sunday morning and rustling up a full meal in the kitchen is hard work— compared to reading the paper and mixing another Bloody Mary. The way to improve upon this unfortunate situation, in my professional opinion, is to organize the brunch a day ahead. Then reheating, garnishing and arranging those pre-cooked items on a platter at the end is a snap. Although there’ll always be last-minute details, let’s keep them to a minimum.
Many of these dishes use seasonal ingredients, like the root vegetable tarts, a great item to start off any brunch, and sure to appeal to vegetable lovers. I love oysters, and this recipe with leeks and pancetta is so easy, you’ll feel guilty about the compliments you get. The poached salmon is delicious; the fact that you can poach it the day before, in less-harried conditions, makes it a great choice. I included saffron aioli instead of the traditional hollandaise sauce (temperamental if you’re not used to preparing it); it’ll keep for a couple of days, so you don’t have to stress out making it in front of your friends. The easy eggnog crème brulée can be made up to two days in advance.
So if you plan just a little ahead, and get the hard stuff out of the way the day before, you might even invite folks over for brunch all winter long— if they bring the Bloody Marys.