Make-Ahead Holiday Brunch

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Easy and enjoyable holiday entertaining? It’s not an oxymoron. We’ve got your game plan, complete with a simple-but-impressive menu, for an easy, festive holiday brunch that’s all done ahead of time—so you can actually enjoy the party this year.

photo by Visual Cuisines


MENU

Greens and Cheese Strata

Citrus Salad

Florida Winter Mimosas

Bacon

Top-Your-Own Toast Bar

  • Whipped Goat Cheese
  • Purchased locally made smoked fish dip (Wild Ocean Seafood Market and Lombardi’s make ones we love.)
  • Cinnamon-Sugar Butter
  • Sliced Toasted Almonds
  • Thinly Sliced Pear
  • Capers
  • Sliced Shallot
  • Honey

Greens and Gruyère Strata

Serves 8

1½ cups cooked fresh greens of your choice, such as spinach, tatsoi, kale or collard greens (from about 1½ pounds)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

8 cups cubed (1 inch) French bread (about ½ pound)

2½ cups shredded Gruyère

2 3/4 cups whole milk

9 large eggs

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1. Butter a 3-quart ceramic baking dish. Set aside.

2. Lightly squeeze any excess liquid from greens and chop; set aside.

3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add onion and cook until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add greens, stirring to combine.

4. Spread 1/3 of bread cubes in baking dish. Top evenly with 1/3 of spinach mixture. Sprinkle with 1/3 of cheese. Repeat layering twice (ending with cheese).

5. Whisk together milk, eggs, mustard, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl and pour evenly over strata.

6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, up to 12 hours.

7. In the morning, let strata stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F.

8. Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Citrus Salad

Serves 8

4 navel oranges

2 pink grapefruits

21/2 cups fresh orange juice

3 tablespoons orange blossom water

2 tablespoons honey

1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise and seeds scraped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1. Using a sharp knife, peel the oranges and grapefruits, removing all of the bitter white pith. Cut fruit into thin rounds. Place rounds, slightly overlapping, on a large, rimmed serving platter.

2. Combine orange juice, orange blossom water, honey and vanilla bean seeds in a large bowl, whisking to combine. Drizzle mixture over citrus. Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

3. Garnish with chopped mint just before serving.


Florida Winter Mimosas

Makes 12

1 cup fresh blood orange juice, pulp strained and discarded

1 cup passion fruit juice, fresh if possible

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and set aside

3 bottles brut sparkling wine, such as cava or Prosecco

1. Combine blood orange juice and passion fruit juice in a medium pitcher. Whisk in vanilla bean seeds. Place vanilla bean into juice. Refrigerate overnight. Remove vanilla bean.

2. Pour about 3 tablespoons juice mixture in the bottom of a Champagne flute or coupe glass. Top with sparkling wine.


Bacon for a Crowd

Serves 8

2 pounds thick-cut bacon

1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line two rimmed baking sheets with heavy-duty foil.

2. Place bacon in a single layer on baking sheets. Bake in center of oven until golden brown and crisp, rotating trays halfway through cooking, about 10 to 20 minutes, depending on thickness of bacon.

3. Transfer cooked bacon to a plate lined with paper towels.


Toast for a Crowd

Serves 8

16 thick slices good bread

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.

2. Place bread on two rimmed baking sheets. Bake 5 to 8 minutes, turning bread over halfway, until golden brown.

3. Transfer to a basket lined with a clean cotton towel and lightly cover to keep warm.


Toast Bar

Goat Cheese Spread

Smoked Fish Spread

Cinnamon-Sugar Butter

Thinly Sliced Pear

Sliced Toasted Almonds

Capers

Thinly Sliced Shallot

Thinly Sliced Radish

Sprouts

Honey


Goat Cheese Spread

Serves 8

12 ounces soft goat cheese

3 ounces whipped cream cheese

2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest

Combine goat cheese, cream cheese, and lemon zest in the work bowl of a food processor. Process 60 to 90 seconds, until whipped and smooth. *Can be made up to 24 hours in advance.


Cinnamon-Sugar Butter

Makes 1/2 cup

1 stick salted butter, softened

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl, mashing with the back of a fork until well combined.



GAME PLAN

2 days before: Gather all serving bowls, platters, glassware, flatware and napkins.

1 day before: Make mimosa juice mixture. Refrigerate.

Night before:

  1. Assemble strata; cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  2. Set out butter for cinnamon-sugar spread to soften. Combine cinnamon and sugar in an airtight container.
  3. Make Goat Cheese Spread; transfer to serving dish. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  4. Make Citrus Salad; refrigerate.
  5. Set sliced toasted almonds in a serving bowl. Cover tightly.
  6. Pour about ¼ cup honey in a serving bowl. Cover tightly.
  7. Place sliced shallots, sliced radish, sprouts, and capers into small serving bowls. Cover each bowl tightly and refrigerate.
  8. Set up buffet area. Set out the items that can sit at room temperature overnight.
  9. Refrigerate sparkling wine.

Morning of:

  1. Take whipped goat cheese, shallots, radishes, sprouts and capers out of fridge.
  2. Take strata out of fridge; let sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Make a pot of coffee.
  4. Combine softened butter and cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  5. Bake strata. Remove, and raise oven temperature to 425ºF. Bake bacon.
  6. Lower temperature to 400ºF and make toast.
  7. Dissolve 1 tablespoon honey in 1 cup lukewarm water. Thinly slice 3 pears and soak in honey-water solution 1 minute. Place pear in serving dish.
  8. Pour Florida Winter Mimosa juice into a serving pitcher. Put sparkling wine and sparkling water on ice.
  9. Take Citrus Salad out of fridge.
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