Before this weekend’s New York City Wine & Food Festival came to a close, fans flocked to Midtown Manhattan on Sunday afternoon for one final indulgent feast, this time a hearty Southern-style meal that only country superstar Trisha Yearwood could offer. Set in an elegantly adorned hotel ballroom, Trisha’s Down-Home Country Brunch offered classic Southern fixings, like grits, greens and fried catfish, a Bloody Mary bar complete with traditional toppings, and a musical surprise from the host that brought the sold-out crowd to its feet. FN Dish was on hand to take in the sights, sounds and tastes, and we caught up with Trisha to find out what the weekend brunch scene looks like at her house.
Brunch and farmers markets: When it comes to weekend events, they’re right up there with sleeping in. FN Dish recently caught up with the chef/owner of The Lambs Club and The National, both in New York City, and asked about his strategies for shopping farmers markets and hosting a weekend brunch.
FN Dish: What are your top tips for navigating a farmers market?
Geoffrey Zakarian: First things first: Don’t buy anything for the first half-hour. See what you see. Ask for samples of everything. Then sit down for a minute and have a coffee and write down what you’re going to buy. Don’t be manic — everybody buys way too much. They get excited, they buy this and then say: “Why did I do that? This chocolate looks better, but I just bought this chocolate!” Just take a deep breath.
FN Dish: You’re hosting a brunch at your house. What do you make?
GZ: I make a roast with a bunch of vegetable side dishes that are all cooked together in one pan. Then I make a garden salad and maybe some cheese and salumi — done.
FN Dish: What’s your go-to brunch drink?
GZ: At brunch, I like rosé champagne. Bloody Marys are great, but if you start on Bloody Marys and then you want to have wine or champagne later, you’re just going to get trashed. So it’s best to start with rosé champagne; you can do champagne for the rest of the evening.
On a lazy weekend morning, whether you set an alarm or not, what better way to wake up than with melted cheese stringing from a pan to your plate? FN Dish is down for cheesy dishes all day long, but some of our favorite cheesy sides are a match made in heaven for eggs, sausage, toast and more. Especially with these recipes on your plate, you can bet a weekend brunch featuring cheesy sides is in the works.
Peeling and shredding potatoes can be a process, especially when you wake up hungry. Buy frozen hash brown potatoes — pre-peeled and shredded — to satisfy a last-minute potato craving. Easy Cheesy Potato and Sharp Cheddar Hash is so crispy and good that you won’t need ketchup.
This Southern staple is made that much better when a cheesy trinity is involved: Food Network Magazine’s Bruleed Cheese Grits are rich with a blend of cheddar, Gruyere and gouda. Placing the grits in the broiler at the very end leaves the cheesy top nice and bubbly.
Mother’s Day is just a few weeks away, and if you haven’t yet decided on a gift for Mom, there’s still time to commit to making her an extra-special meal at home. While holiday dinners carry with them a certain level of pressure, daytime get-togethers can be casual and relaxing, which makes Sunday brunch an ideal time to celebrate Mom. For a go-to brunch option that can feed a crowd, try making hearty quiche; it’s an egg-based main that’s often baked, so there’s no need to cook guests’ scrambles or over-easy eggs to order. Plus, quiche is endlessly versatile, as you can add nearly any cheese, vegetable or meat you happen to have on hand. Check out Food Network’s top-five quiche picks below to find deliciously satisfying recipes from Alton, Trisha, Bobby and more of your favorite chefs.
5. Mini Chorizo Quiches — Start with buttery crusts and fill them with a bold mixture of chorizo, Manchego, potatoes and eggs to create individual servings of Marcela’s Mexican-inspired quiche.
4. Crepe Quiche Lorraine — Instead of baking his bacon-and-cheddar-laced quiches inside a tart crust, Alton builds them inside herb-studded crepes, which support the egg-based center when assembled in a muffin tin.
When you imagine brunch at an Iron Chef’s house, you might picture a lavish affair complete with an overflowing spread of all manner of croissants, made-to-order omelets, thick-cut French toast and the bubbliest Bellinis. But according to Geoffrey Zakarian, “less is more” when it comes to this midmorning meal, and it can be surprisingly easy to execute. As he explained, “Everything at brunch is done the day before.” FN Dish recently caught up with Geoffrey in Miami as he hosted his own brunch event, and we chatted with him about what it takes to pull off the ultimate crowd-pleasing meal. Read on below to learn his top tips for entertaining and thoughts on classic brunch picks like eggs, waffles and mimosas.
What’s a go-to rule of thumb to remember when preparing brunch?
Geoffrey Zakarian: I always say less is more. What people do with brunch is they overwhelm you with too much stuff that’s, like, throwaway. They pile breads and pastries and all this stuff, and no one eats it anyways. You end up throwing it away. So I say just be very focused and really edit what you’re going to do. Do seven, eight things maximum. Make people just eat those things, and make them really delicious and different, and it’ll be a very successful brunch.
Of all the traditions my husband and I have started since getting married, our annual New Year’s Day brunch is my favorite. It started as an informal thing, just a few friends gathering to eat homemade waffles and watch the television coverage of the Mummers Parade (a beloved Philadelphia institution). However, over the years, it has grown into something of an event.
The festivities start at 11am and run into the late afternoon. Friends bring their kids and something for the table and we eat, watch the parade and share our hopes for the fresh, new year.
Guests show up with sweet rolls, deviled eggs, fruit platters and makings for mimosas. I fill in the gaps with whole-wheat waffles, a big green salad and a few quiches of various types. I particularly like making the quiche, because they can be prepared and baked the night before and then just warmed in the oven a bit before we eat.
Because I’m something of a planner, I start mapping out my menu well before the big day. I’ve already settled on one of the quiches I’ll be making for the party. It comes from recent Food Network Star winner Damaris Phillips: Quiche with Country Ham.
While Christmas dinner may be the centerpiece meal in most homes come next week’s holiday, brunch isn’t to be forgotten, as it’s often quicker and simpler to prepare than supper, even if you’re cooking for guests. This year, whether you’ll be hosting a crowd on Christmas morning or simply unwrapping presents with your family, enjoy a spread of sweet and savory brunch picks, like crispy peppered bacon, Alton’s golden-brown French toast and Ina’s indulgent bread pudding. Check out Food Network’s top-five Christmas brunch picks below to find these recipes and more to complete your holiday celebration.
5. Breakfast Casserole — Filled with all of your favorite breakfast components — bread, eggs, sausage, potatoes and gooey cheese — this big-batch casserole can be assembled the night before and baked when you’re ready to enjoy it on Christmas morning.
4. Maple-Pepper Bacon — No matter what else you’re serving at brunch, be sure to round out the meal with a batch of Food Network Magazine’s crispy bacon, baked instead of fried, with a sweet and savory topping of maple syrup and pepper.
This Sunday, families all across this country will be gathering to honor their mothers (and grandmothers, too). Some do this with flowers, plants or gifts of fancy soaps. Others make reservations well in advance for special brunches at favorite restaurants.
In my family, we tend to go the homemade route, with a nice brunch at home. This saves on money and on the frustration of restaurant dining on a particularly busy day. The menu typically includes eggs of some kind (a quiche is always good), a green salad, roasted potatoes and some kind of sweet bread.
I like to switch up the sweet bread each year — to keep things interesting. Last year I made cranberry orange scones, and the year before, bear claws (that was not my most successful venture). This year I decided I wanted to do a sweet roll of some sort and settled on The Pioneer Woman’s Orange Sweet Rolls.
It’s a lightly sweetened, yeasted dough that you fill with melted butter, brown sugar and plenty of orange marmalade. Rolled, sliced, tucked into pans and allowed to rise, these rolls bake up into a most-fragrant, gorgeous treat.
It’s Easter morning, your kids have just finished opening their baskets and guests should be arriving for brunch in a few hours. What comes next is the mad holiday dash that inevitably involves tidying the house, setting the table and quickly prepping, cooking and serving a meal, all while attempting to enjoy the morning with your family. Sounds like Easter Sunday at your home, right?
This year, instead of settling for a hectic holiday, look to already made dishes to pull off a stress-free celebration. The secret to easy entertaining is doing as much of the prep work as possible before the day of the event so you can enjoy the party like a guest and not as a frenzied host. That means tonight is when to begin preparations for tomorrow’s brunch. Before you go to sleep, put together a few ready-to-go classics, then look forward to waking up to only the very last steps of cooking to complete. Check out Food Network’s favorite brunch standbys below to find crowd-pleasing recipes from Alton, Paula and Giada that can be made well in advance of tomorrow’s meal.
A deliciously gooey treat that kids and kids at heart will enjoy, Alton’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls (pictured above) are a top-rated treat bursting with indulgent sweetness. After making a soft, moist dough from scratch, he wraps it around a center of buttery cinnamon sugar, then slices it into a dozen plump rolls. Let them chill in the refrigerator overnight, then bake them in the morning before finishing them with a thick spread of rich cream cheese icing. Watch this video to see Alton make them.
I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but I can no longer bear to go out to brunch. I hate the long waits and the fact that once you do get a table, your meal proceeds at breakneck speed so the restaurant can turn your table. (I don’t dispute their right to do so. I just don’t enjoy rushing through a meal.)
And then there are the prices. As someone who does a lot of grocery shopping and cooking, I know just how much things cost, and the markups on things like pancakes, scrambled eggs and toast make me a little twitchy.
So these days, I stay home and have people over for brunch instead of meeting at a restaurant. It keeps my blood pressure in check and means that I get to flex some underutilized cooking skills.
In pursuit of brunch excellence, I’ve worked my way through crepes, homemade bagels and English muffins. While I’ve got my sights set on conquering the aebleskiver in the somewhat near future, at the moment I’m focused on making a great quiche. The thing that’s so great about quiche is that it can be made ahead and reheated. Served with a green salad and a slice of crispy bacon, it makes for a fairly fuss-free entertaining experience.