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The Business Breakfast

February 06, 1986|BETSY BALSLEY | Times Food Editor

Taking a tip from wage earners who find that holding business meetings over breakfast is a constructive trend, volunteer groups are adapting the idea for their own use. Choosing the right menu can make such a home session successful.

Since it seems to be terribly trendy to be organized these days, it's no surprise that the business world has suddenly discovered what time- and effort-savers breakfast meetings can be.

There really isn't anything new about meeting clients or friends for breakfast. It's been going on for years. It's just that, suddenly, getting together over coffee and Danish early in the morning is fashionable.

Early-morning breakfast meetings are no longer simply sociable coffee klatches, however. Business breakfasts are just that--a time to discuss plans, projects and other aspects of the daily 9-to-5 world when nearly everybody's energy level is high and more can be accomplished.

There's a lot of merit in this particular trend. Spare moments are rapidly entering the luxury category as most everyone seems to be short on time these days. We're busy, busy, busy, dashing in all directions like the Mad Hatter--but unlike that literary legend, trying to make each minute count.

Whether you're getting paid for your contributions to society, or fall into that much-too-frequently overlooked group called volunteers, breakfast meetings can make your role easier. Particularly if you can conduct them in the less frenetic atmosphere of your home. And believe it or not, it really is as easy to fix breakfast for a group as it is to go through the hassle of getting to and from a restaurant and putting up with all the noisy clamor that is present when you dine out.

Breakfasts for the most part are simple meals. Fresh fruit or juice, coffee and an entree are all that's needed. Plan to serve buffet style and keep things informal so that all can concentrate on the important things at hand, such as the reason for the meeting. Do everything that can be done in advance the night before, including setting up the serving table and getting the coffee pot prepared and ready to be plugged in. Above all, choose a menu that can be prepared in advance. Or, if you can't find something appealing that can be done at least 95% in advance, serve something that is quick and easy to make.

Belgian waffles or a blintz souffle or an old-fashioned bread pudding all are good choices for company breakfasts. The blintz souffle and bread pudding can be made the night before and either baked or reheated just before serving. The waffle batter will take only a few minutes to toss together and the waffles can be cooked right at the table if desired, or they can be made just before guests arrive and kept warm in the oven.

Still other good food choices for a breakfast meeting include a spiffy orange-flavored French toast dish that is baked rather than fried, or a more elegant version of that tried-and-true brunch dish, the strata. Made with buttermilk waffles rather than the traditional cubed bread, this version calls for ham and cheese to be mixed in with the waffles before the final baking.

The blintz souffle recipe is one of those wonderful finds that every cook needs in his or her permanent file. It's almost impossible to ruin. From Marlene Sorosky's "Cookery for Entertaining" (HP Books: $7.95), it survives all sorts of adversity in the kitchen.

A friend served it at a brunch recently under less-than-desirable circumstances. She prepared the recipe to the point where it was ready to be cooked the night before, planning to pop it in the oven just before her guests arrived the following morning. Good planning, bad timing.

The oven declined to cooperate. It wouldn't heat. Faced with total disaster, the heroine begged the use of her next door neighbor's oven, figuring that a cooked-but-slightly-fallen souffle was better than no souffle at all. She needn't have worried. The cooked souffle held up well for the hour or so it took everybody to arrive and was still delicious for snackers who decided to have a second helping several hours later.

Next time you're responsible for setting up a committee meeting or club luncheon, why not follow the trend and schedule the event earlier in the day. You'll be amazed at how much quicker plans are formulated and decisions are made. And just think of all the time you'll have left for other things that day. HOME-STYLE BELGIAN WAFFLES

1 3/4 cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 cups light beer

1/4 cup melted butter or margarine

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine flour, sugar, egg, beer, butter, salt and vanilla, blending well. Allow to stand at room temperature at least 2 hours or refrigerate overnight.

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