Recipes and images by Fiona Hugues
How I do love to attend a brunch soiree, as it leaves the rest of the day to do great things, undoubtedly fuelled by drinking bubbles at breakfast time. Hosting an early gathering is, however, the cause of much anxiety and heart palpitations among most, and there’s a few that won’t even bother such is the torture the mere thought of playing host brings. Fear not my friends, help is at hand. Here is my completely stress-free, prepared in advance brunch so that you too can enjoy bubbles for breakfast without sweat or tears.
A FEW DAYS BEFORE
Order pastries, the best you can afford.
Decide on your table colour palette and try to stick to it. I’ve used an old rose and mustard floral theme here led by a piece of linen I used as a tablecloth because those usual garish pink and environmentally hazardous get-ups garnered from a reckless trip to a $2 shop make me grimace.
Don’t be afraid to mix old and new tableware, but try to keep it all within colours you can count on one hand. I added black and white striped napkins for some graphic chic, but all similar shades are worth a crack too.
The pretty Karen Walker side plates I used were the perfect match for my $1 op shop pink champagne flutes. The floral linen fabric was a good match with my handmade pottery plates. Same goes for flowers – mix garden and roadside finds with a few bunches from a florist for relaxed hostess happiness shown off in a vase.
Buy ingredients for my brunch recipes and add some seasonal fruit to appease any vegetarians or vegans on your guest list.
THE DAY BEFORE
Make the bagel spreads, rillettes and potato salad, and chill in the fridge.
Prepare your table, wash and iron linens, put out plates, glassware, cups for coffee and cutlery.
Cut stems of flowers and arrange in vases of fresh water.
Chill champagne … dairy and oat milk too if offering tea and coffee.
ON THE DAY
Put on your daytime jazzy playlist – I usually play Spotify French café or bossa nova lists.
Light a few scented candles.
Pile pastries, toasted bagels and brioche and stack onto serve ware or into baskets. Add butter and preserves to accompany the croissants. (Trick – put jams in small bowls or vintage jars so your guests think you made them.)
Fill a press with ground beans or get your filter ready for coffee.
Pull everything out of the fridge and place on the table.
When guests arrive, chat, socialise and pour champagne.
And in a rather magical fashion when ready to eat, with no stress at all, casually point guests towards your buffet brunch table so they can help themselves.
Voila! You’re welcome.
Salmon in the morning is such a delicious thing. Most days I prefer savoury flavours early, and this ticks all my boxes. Rillettes pronounced ‘ree-yet’ is a French classic made with smoked and poached salmon, flavoured with delicate fragrant things all buttery and rich. It is sublime on brioche toast but equally great on a bagel, and it keeps well in the fridge for a week (pop it on blinis for aperitif time later in the day or serve portions individually as an entrée with sliced baguette). My recipe here is more of a guide, so don’t forget to taste as you go.
300–400g approx. fresh salmon fillet, deboned
4 x spring onions, 2 roughly chopped, 2 finely sliced
⅔ cup white wine
zest of a lemon, plus the juice
250-300g hot smoked salmon fillet
1 x shallot, finely chopped
2–3 tbsp crème fraiche
⅓ cup good mayonnaise
2 tbsp whole seed mustard
1–2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
¼ cup salted capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
salt & pepper
Place the wine, fresh salmon, lemon zest and roughly chopped spring onions in a saucepan and add water just to cover. Bring to the boil, turn off heat and set aside to cool and infuse.
In a bowl mix together the chopped shallot, finely chopped spring onion, mayo, mustard, capers, dill and crème fraiche.
Drain poached salmon and discard liquid. Flake in the cooled gently cooked salmon (it should be dark pink and only just cooked) and add the smoked salmon and stir to combine. The key is keeping chunks of glorious pink fish, so don’t over mix. Have a taste. Season with a little salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon and more tart crème fraiche if you need.
Place in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour so the flavours can get to know each other.
Serve on toasted brioche, crostini, bagels or whatever bready thing takes your fancy.
To read the rest of the recipes for this brunch spectacular visit Nourish magazine.
Recipe content is supplied to The Feed by Nourish – thanks Vicki!