J's Birthday Brunch Spread

Friday, April 25, 2014

Happy Friday! I thought that the brunch recipes would be most inspirational right before the weekend - although, knowing many of you readers, I'm sure the prosecco is the most tantalizing feature at this point. I'm with you. What a week!

The menu consisted of the following:

1) Fruit salad
2) Cranberry Buttermilk Breakfast Cake
3) Ham, Asparagus, & Cheese Strata
4) Bloody Marys
5) Bellinis
6) Birthday Boy's Special Request

Let's talk fruit salad. I give a general MEEEHHHH to fruit. I have an allergy to stone fruits which are, unfortunately, some of my favorite fresh fruits to eat and otherwise I'm kind of non-plussed. I like a good pressed or blended juice, I am down with grapes paired with chicken or sausage, but I regularly struggle with getting a variety of fresh fruits into my diet. This salad was sliced strawberries, fresh raspberries, green and red grapes, and store-diced mango. Have you ever tried to cut a mango? Kill me now. The extra money is worth it. I basically mixed all the fruit together and threw it in a bowl. Luckily, Fruit Lovers in attendance devoured most of it and I used the rest in a breakfast smoothie.

This cranberry cake? A staple. I currently live in NYC but I grew up in Massachusetts. As such, an affinity for cranberries courses through my veins. Whenever the bags of cranberries appear in grocery stores ahead of Thanksgiving, I BINGE on them and buy them in bulk and freeze them until I want them. Right now, our freezer contains several trays of ice cubes, a loaf of rye bread for breakfast toast, a Corksicle, and two and a half bags of frozen cranberries. I live a glamorous life.

Our dear friend Kat whipped up this cake for us one weekend when we visited them in Connecticut and I dream about it. It's tangy from the cranberries and buttermilk, but sweet and fruity from the sugar and orange zest. It's very easy to make and a definite crowd pleaser. Adults, adolescents, and toddlers alike scarfed this down at the birthday brunch. You can find the recipe here.

On to the strata! My cousin Tori first introduced me to strata about seven years ago and it is everything I love about breakfast/brunch in one dish: eggs, meat, vegetables, bread, and cheese. This version? Ham and cheese (gruyère specifically) with asparagus. You prep it the night before, let the eggs and milk soak into the bread French toast-style, and then throw it in the oven until it's done.

I know. That's what the cranberry cake looks like when you slice into it. I'm telling you: it's quick, foolproof, beautiful, and tasty - make it. Thank me later.

For the bar, we went with His and Hers. He makes a mean Bloody - in lieu of the traditional horseradish and hot sauce, he uses Old Bay and cayenne pepper. I make a killer bellini - and by "killer" I mean "absolutely basic peach nectar and prosecco and it is a classic for a reason". However, serving drinks on my Royal Engagement Tray makes anything that much fancier.

So what was the Birthday Boy's one and only request for the brunch menu?

Pigs in a blanket. With ketchup. For this and innumerable other reasons, I love my husband more than words.


  1. Is it possible to love everything about this post? Because I DO. I am totally laughing about the mango-- I bought my first whole mango EVER a couple of weeks ago and nearly lost a finger just trying to cut into the damn thing. After numerous YouTube videos that made actually getting the mango out of the skin seem super simple, I had a mangled mess. Pretty, it was not.

    And amen for our men with those simple food requests. Brian starts a new job on Monday so I asked what he would like for me to cook for his celebratory dinner this weekend. His response? "Maybe beans and hot dogs? Not like in a can, but that sounds awesome." Bless him. If I'm needed tomorrow night, I can be found with a glass of chard, slicing hot dogs into a pot of Boston baked beans (homemade is the least I can do). Loving this new blog, my dear! :)

  2. Dying over the pigs in a blanket--so great!

  3. That strata looks killer. And I love the idea of hosting a birthday brunch. #mentalnote

  4. 1. that cake. want. now.
    2. pigs in a blanket. I lol'ed.
    3. one of my fav go-to recipes is a mango chutney but so-help-me-god cutting mangoes is death. I'm glad even a kitchen queen such as yourself struggles with this epic task.

    this post made me smile--hope you have a great week!


You can be sweet or spicy, but no sour grapes.

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