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Home Cooking 41

Winter brunch menu

debbiel | Dec 27, 201403:07 PM

ETA: This is a ridiculously long post. Sorry about that. Just trying to lay out all the specifics.

This past spring I started hosting a monthly brunch but have skipped November and December. January brunch is back on. I try to highlight local foods at these brunches; I don't go all local but try to have something local featured in most dishes. For some reason, I'm feeling bored and uninspired trying to come up with the January menu. I could use some ideas.

How my brunches work: Cocktails, coffee, tea available upon arrival, but hardly anyone ever asks for coffee or tea. I usually have two cocktails I'm prepared to make or just pour someone a glass of bubbly with or without a splash of fruit juice. Something is set out in the living room for pre-meal munch--yogurt and granola or scones typically. Then we sit down to the table and eat and drink family style, typically with a good bit of wine or bubbly plus lots of water. After the main meal is done, I clear dishes and we have more bubbly or spiked coffee with dessert. I usually have two desserts to choose from. Brunch tends to be a 4 or 5 hour affair, with 10-14 people. I have a tiny kitchen, but at least for the winter brunches, I'll be able to use my oven later than 7 am the day of brunch. I always ask one guest to come an hour early to help me with final prep, greeting, cocktails.

Limits: I hate fish and seafood. I have a tiny kitchen. I don't mind some time in the kitchen while guests are here but don't want to be stuck there. I'm relatively new to cooking meat (used to be a veg). I'm learning, but I'm not consistently great with meat dishes that require finesse and/or great attention to detail and timing. January group may be a bit less adventurous than most of my friend groups in terms of trying new things.

What I know I can get at the local market the day before: beets, potatoes, turnips, carrots, onions, winter squash, berry jams, eggs, chicken and pork though cuts unknown.

What I may be able to get: kale, arugula, spicy salad mix, radishes, beef lamb and goat though cuts unknown, a variety of herbs.

Other local I can get or have: honey, cornmeal, a variety of cheeses but sadly not chevre at the time, a few different breads. Might be able to get local yogurt.

This brunch: 10-12 people. Two non-drinkers (no problem--I can do some nice NA cocktails). One vegetarian (ovo-lacto).

So far I'm thinking:
Arrival cocktails: French 75s (showcasing nothing local except for a widespread love of this drink) and milk punch (featuring local amazing milk). Could do an aronia berry juice and bubbly cocktail.

Arrival food: homemade granola (featuring local honey) and yogurt (possibly local). I'm wishing I had frozen some berries this past summer.

Sit down: ugh. help, please. Bacon and egg dish and potatoes seem boring to me right now but also seem obvious. Help me make it not boring? I've been doing frittatas at these brunches because I could make them ahead (I serve them room temp). I change up the guest list each month, so it's not like I've been serving these same people monthly frittatas, but still.... Roasted squash salad? Baked french toast? Green salad if I can get lettuce at market?

Dessert: Likely a chocolate olive oil cake (local feature...just the whipped cream). Maybe a honey buttermilk pie. ??? Bread pudding? Cornmeal cake? Carrot cake?

Would love your ideas!

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