Le brunch, anyone?
Brunch parties are one of the least bothersome and most inexpensive ways to go, whether you are planning an event as important as a wedding or as casual as a neighborhood bash.
"You are basically dealing with inexpensive foods: dairy things, crepes, omelets, fish, sausages, blintzes and breads. We're not talking about a costly meat menu," said Joann Roth of Someone's in the Kitchen in Tarzana.
Roth pointed out that a daytime party works better when there is some type of on-the-spot cooking activity going on. Omelet bars, crepe and pancake bars, in which guests participate, are typical.
Mary Miccuci of Along Came Mary catering in Los Angeles suggests a grilling station for some of the items on an outdoor party menu. "One of the most popular ideas is grilling sausages--either homemade or store-bought fancy sausages, such as New Orleans andouille, which are now available in gourmet markets."
Here are other food ideas from Miccuci, Roth and other sources.
--Frittatas, Italian omelets usually mixed with cut vegetables and cheese can be made well before guests arrive to serve at room temperature. Beat eggs, fold in sauteed vegetables and some of the cheese (shredded Jack, mozzarella, goat cheese or a combination of cheeses). Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake. You can garnish with sauteed vegetables or even fruit.
--Have guests make their own pancake or crepe stacks by layering them with soft cheeses, such as Mexican crema, whipped cream cheese or fresh goat cheese, assorted sausages and fruit.
--Serve large country biscuits in a basket with a leg of honeyed ham and assorted exotic mustards or butters (add orange juice and peel, other fruit juices or chopped apple and cinnamon to softened butter).
--Nestle assorted flavors of yogurt in cups in a huge silver bowl filled with ice.
--To serve French eggs in custard, pre-assemble the cups ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to bake. Individual baking dishes with deep sides or souffle dishes are fine. First layer bottoms of buttered dishes with slices of ham, cured salmon or other fish, add an egg or two broken on top. Then pour cream, mixed with an egg, over all. When guests arrive, pop eggs in the oven and bake until the custard is firm. Delicieux.
--Omelet bars these days offer makings that are interesting and exotic. Try filling omelets with baby Bay shrimp, fresh or smoked oysters, crab or lobster, sauteed mushrooms with shallots, apples and Cheddar cheese.
--Having crepes, beignets or fritters? Serve them with maple butter. Simply whip a small amount of maple syrup into unsalted butter.
--Try the newest drink in town: New Jersey Peach Kiss. Pour one jigger of peach schnapps and six ounces orange juice over crushed ice; add a splash of soda and a drop of grenadine and stir. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
--Fill corn cups (cornmeal batter pressed against sides of muffin tin and baked) with scrambled eggs mixed with broken, cooked chorizo or other sausage.
--Stuff flour tortillas with scrambled egg mixed with sausage or other cooked chopped meats, fish, cooked cold cuts, vegetables or herbs. Also try adding lox, caviar and sour cream to scrambled eggs.
--Fill a bread basket with assorted fruit breads (banana, blueberry, pumpkin, zucchini, carrot, date or cranberry) and surround with whipped butter and assorted marmalades.
--Serve assorted fruit juices in jars nestled in a tub of ice.
--Great breakfast drinks: Mimosas (champagne and citrus fruit juice); champagne and berries; fizzes of all kinds (liquor, citrus juice, sugar shaken with ice and strained into tall glass, which is filled to rim with seltzer or club soda. Egg white may be added for Silver Fizz, egg yolk for Golden Fizz or whole egg for Royal Fizz); blender fruit drinks of all kinds (using fresh fruit, with yogurt, milk or fruit juice).
--For health-minded guests, serve cereal and yogurt parfaits. Alternate layers of cereal, yogurt and fruit in parfait glasses.
--A do-ahead French toast sandwich idea: Spread bread slices with a soft butter spiced with sugar and a touch of Southern Comfort. Sandwich and cut into large cubes, dip in egg and half-and-half and fry.