Hosting an Easter brunch is a great way to bring friends and family together. And it doesn't have to be hard or expensive. Here are some simple things you can do to ensure a memorable celebration without the hassle.
Get Set. Pull out the dishes, platters, silverware and glassware to make sure you have what you need. If needed, spruce up any silver and table linens a few days before, so you can concentrate on other things the day-of the brunch. To reduce cleanup time, consider using Easter-themed paper goods in lieu of china and silverware.
Get Ready. For creative place cards, try Easter eggs. Put a narrow strip of tape around the middle of each egg before you dye it. When it's dry, peel off the tape and write each name in the white space with a thin line permanent marker. Sprinkle the table with colorful jelly beans and
other Easter goodies. For an inexpensive centerpiece, fill a glass bowl or vase with colorful Easter eggs real or plastic or place a potted plant inside an Easter basket.
The Menu: Go! Apply the age-old adage: keep it simple. To minimize the work, don't hesitate to use store bought items and recipes that can be made ahead of time. Try these simple time savers to allow more time to relax to enjoy your guests:
• Buy instead of bake. Bagels, muffins, pastries and seasonal Easter breads can all be found in the bakery section of your grocery store.
• Add a light side dish like as a simple fruit salad. Squeeze lemon or orange juice on the fruit to help it keep from turning brown.
• Create a simple, yet special main dish (like the two below) and serve it as a buffet. You can prepare the mixture ahead of time, cover the baking dish with foil and keep it in the fridge until just baking. Remove the foil, bake as instructed and watch your guests enjoy.
==B Challah Baked French Toast==
1 loaf Challah bread 2 cups half-and-half
2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cup granulated sugar
1. Slice the Challah into 1/2-inch thick slices. In a saucepan, heat the half-and-half, cream, salt, and vanilla bean over medium heat, stirring occasionally to make sure the mixture doesn't burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. When the cream mixture reaches a fast simmer (do not let it boil), turn off the heat. Set aside to infuse for 10 minutes.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together. Gradually add the hot cream mixture. Strain into a large bowl to smooth the mixture and remove the vanilla bean.
3. Take the Challah slices and shingle them in a 9x13 baking dish. Pour the custard over the slices and soak them. Cover and put them in the refrigerator for 4 hours or (better) overnight.
4. Preheat oven to 350F. Place the baking dish in a hot water bath. Bake until just set and very light golden brown on top, ~35-40 min. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.
==B Crustless Quiche (serves 12)==
1 package smoked beef sausage
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1½ cups heavy whipping cream
1½ tsp dry mustard
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1½ cups (6 oz) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut sausage into 1/2-inch cubes; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, cream, dry mustard, salt and black pepper until smooth.
3. Stir in sausage, 1 cup of cheese and the green pepper. Pour egg mixture into a greased 13" x 9" baking dish.
4. Bake 40-45 min. or until eggs are set. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Let stand 5 min. before serving.