Several friends and I started a semi-weekly tradition a couple of years ago called “ladies brunch.”
That tradition expanded to include many of our boyfriends — and of course, our discussions have become more co-ed friendly.
Last weekend, my boyfriend and I decided to host brunch instead of going to the market. We had hosted once last year, but for a smaller group. This time, we invited nine friends.
The night before, we played board games and had a few too many drinks with those same friends. The night ended a little later than expected, with one friend saying that we needed to go home because we had to cook brunch in 8 and a half hours. So true.
Little did he know, I was not worried.
I grew up working at my parents’ restaurant and several others throughout the years. My parents also have a knack for hosting — the reason why they opened Zaleski’s Clubhouse Café in Scranton almost 20 years ago. If you go there, try the wings, possibly the best in NEPA.
I learned how to cook for groups when I was 13 or 14 years old. My boyfriend, Dan, loves to cook breakfast. Before we met, he used to make a mini buffet every weekend — complete with eggs, potatoes, biscuits and gravy, and bacon.
Despite slight hangovers Sunday morning, we got to work.
We prepared an egg scramble with tomato and spinach, hash browns, a broccoli-cheddar-and-bacon quiche, bacon, turkey sausage, toast and fresh cantaloupe. We had two pots of coffee brewing by the time everyone arrived. Friends brought cookies. Thanks, guys!
We ate at tables, on extra chairs and a futon, and hung out for a few hours afterward. With almost zero stress, it was a great way to get friends together. While it might seem daunting, here are some tips for hosting a group for brunch:
– When figuring out how much food to make, it’s OK to underestimate. Everyone isn’t going to eat everything you prepare. For example, we made one quiche for 11 people, 20 eggs, 16 sausage links and 1 pound of bacon. I over estimated on potatoes because some were small, and I shredded 13.
– Speaking of potatoes, don’t try out a new technique on your guests. I shredded the potatoes in my new food processor instead of just dicing them and pan-frying them in onions and a little olive oil. I’m not sure if hash browns need to cook on extremely high heat, but mine turned out gooey. In the future, I’ll save culinary endeavors for days when I’m not entertaining.
– Depending on the number of people, have an extra coffee pot brewing so you don’t have to constantly refill it. Two 12-cup pots were just enough. We refilled them once throughout the morning.
– Don’t stress about minimal seating and mismatched flatware. Today’s 20-somethings don’t have complete dining-room sets and breakfast trays from Pier 1. Your friends will not mind your makeshift seating arrangements.
– We started prepping food about two hours before our guests arrived, and cooking about a half-hour before. This gave our friends a chance to chat over coffee while we waited for everyone to arrive.
– Delegate toast detail, and let friends help with answering the door. We live on the third floor, so it’s best not to walk away from a hot stove to run downstairs when the doorbell rings.
– Have fun! The more you host, the more comfortable you’ll be.