How to Host the Ultimate Brunch


You might remember, a couple of posts ago, that I let you guys into a little secret. I revealed that I was mildly obsessed with spreadsheets (#coolstorybro.) Okay, so it’s a little bit more than a mild obsession; me and excel have got a bit of a thing going on and to be perfectly honest, I’ve fallen hard & fast.

It started with a bit of excited holiday planning for Bali in September and escalated into spreadsheets for everything going on in my life – No YOU’RE a laugh a minute – I ended up with spreadsheets for my finances, fun things I want to do, factual information and food places I need to eat at (<<< obviously this is the most active spreadsheet because you know your baby gal loves her grub).

Yup, it’s safe to say I got a bit carried away on the ‘ole excel front and my head cheerleader, back of the bus, smoking behind the bike shed, cool AF credentials took a bit of a nosedive. Not that I really cared because excel is bae and that’s all there is to say about that.

 So when I decided to host brunch at my house for me, my sister, our pregnant pal Georgie and her mini-me Mollie – I, of course, excitedly fired up google sheets and created a new excel spreadsheet this time with the title…

ULTIMATE BRUNCH.

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Because how could one possibly organise the best brunch ever without a beautifully laid out spreadsheet?! A spreadsheet with columns and colour co-ordination and a two-pronged attack on how to be the queen of brunch forever and ever, amen.

I think the reason I went so batshit on the organising, was that this was the first brunch I’d really hosted. So rather than just throwing out a couple pastries and a pot of tea I set out to be the hostess with mostest. And I’ll admit I let my inner Stepford Wife take over (aka lost my goddam mind) and with the help of my trusty spreadsheet, she did everything she could to ensure that no detail was overlooked; because it’s the little things that really impress, isn’t it?  God I sound like such a twat.

Anyway, I personally think I nailed it and if you asked my guests (who are NOT AT ALL BIASED) they would definitely agree with that statement. As such I thought I’d share my ideas here on the blog – so here you have it my guide to hosting the Ultimate Brunch for you and your gal pals.

Let’s get to it shall we…

TAKE A TRIP TO TIGER

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Ahhh Tiger  – I literally never need to go in this shop but somehow I find myself in there daily, perusing the aisles and leaving with a bagfuls of stuff.

You never know exactly what you’re going to find in there and in fact, most of the stuff you end up buying you didn’t even realise you needed until you saw it but once you did there was no WAY you were leaving the shop without it.

Three weeks later and that cute heart shaped pot too small for anything to go in is still sitting there, unused, waiting to fulfill it’s little pot destiny while your boyfriend continues to scream at you WHAT THE EFF IS ALL THIS CRAP IN THE HOUSE, HARRIET?

Chill out boo – it’s for Instagram grid goals init?

Anyway, Tiger is the perfect place to go for a bit of pre-Ultimate Brunch inspiration and to stock up on cutesy bowls, mason jar glasses, ‘funky’ straws (FFS I am my mother) and all manner of rose gold items to take your table setting from plain to pinterest.

I nabbed an adorbs cat-faced bowl, a water jug for some infusing (more on that to come), those aforementioned ‘fun’ straws, a couple of place mats, some beaut napkins and about 354783 candles (because I can’t not buy candles when I’m in Tiger) and all of this cost less than twenty English pounds. Stick that in your Scandinavian pipe and smoke it Ikea! Who needs you for #homegoals anymore.

These cheap and cheerful items were the perfect accessories for my Ultimate brunch and the cute details I needed to ensure lots of audible naaaaaws from the girls when they arrived and saw my table set-up. So drag you’re ass to Tiger and take someone with you to help you carry all the unnecessary shit you’ll definitely end up buying…Oh look a marble chopping board!

BUY YOUR INGREDIENTS FROM A MARKET

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Now I get that in this day and age life is all about the fast, the cheap and the easy. And shopping at a market is not necessarily any of these BUT it is SO worth it.

For one, I believe that the food is fresher and better quality plus you’re supporting local businesses and real people rather than corporations and spending that little bit more on the stuff you fuel your body with surely can’t be a bad thing?

Alright pipe down Hazza! We get the message. Markets are good for your soul and the earth and the circle of life blah blah blah. Now bugger off a make a skirt out of hemp.

But seriously knowing that you’re being a jolly good fellow by shopping at a market sure you hunt out your nearest local one and go this weekend… whether you’re hosting hosting ultimate brunch or not!! You can get some some unreal food and rest happy in the knowledge that you’re sticking it to the man (aka Tesco’s evil overlords).

When I hosted my Ultimate Brunch I took a stroll down to Broadway Market in East London (which I’ve blogged about before here). Luckily my flat pretty much backs onto it so it’s as easy going there as it is to Tescos. I went super early (9am is early for a Saturday) to get my ingredients and also snap some pics coz look at me so quirky and cool shopping at a market.

Top of the shopping list were some incredibly fresh avocados from the fruit & veg stall and I have to say not only were they twice the size of supermarket ones, they were actually cheaper AND they were P E R F E C T L Y ripe too. Uhhh, can we just get a minute’s silence for how perfectly ripe they were. The holy grail of avocado ripeness.

Also from the F&V stall I bought a punnet of blueberries and strawberries, a couple of lemons, some limes and nice fresh sprig of mint and further along the market, a big crusty loaf of sourdough from a bakery stall.

I then picked up some INCREDIBLE dips from Borough Olives that I didn’t even need for ultimate brunch but I couldn’t help myself because they’re so good. Seriously I’ve told pretty much everyone I know and a lot of people I don’t about these dips because YOU NEED TO TRY THEM.

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I got a Moroccan Chermoula which is – coriander, garlic, lemon juice, ground paprika, ground cumin, crushed chillies, salt and rapeseed oil – UHHH yum, and the Sweet Chili Paste which is – Red Chilli Peppers, Feta Cheese, Garlic, Basil and rapeseed oil – equally incred.

These dips go beautifully with bread or drizzled on a medium / rare steak and would you believe it, they win in a fajita wrap too! They aren’t cheap – setting me back about £8 for the two and meaning I had no more cash for any of the other things on my list. FFS. A minor bug-bear of shopping at a market is having to leave the contactless at home.

With no cash machine immediately nearby I, erm, had to finish my shopping off in the supermarket but I WASN’T HAPPY ABOUT IT and I’ll tell you that for nothing. *shakes fist at Evil Tesco Overlords*.

Don’t be an idiot like me, make sure you bring enough cash for everything you need and buy only what you neeed. Don’t get sidetracked by rainbow coloured bagels or expensive dips. Unless your Ultimate Brunch could benefit from either of these which thinking about it, it probably always could.

Update: Unless it’s raining – in which case fuck the market off. Ain’t nobody got time to be juggling an umbrella, bags of shopping and trying to pay with cash in the pissing rain. Nah just go to the supermarket and be done with it.

BUY SOME FLOWERS FOR DECOR

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So as you read above, I spent all my money on Borough olive dips and didn’t have any cash left to get the big beautiful bouquet of flowers I’d envisioned getting from the market, like a proper Suzie home-maker. Boo. Hiss. #firstworldprobs.

After an initial panic, I sucked it up and told myself; nae bother, I’ll get a bunch from the supermarket, I’m SURE they’ll be just fine. Only, when I got to the express shop at the end of my road they had nothing left apart from a few sad looking bunches of daffodils and I could not have been more fuming.

But it turns out that I was fuming for nothing. The three not-actually-sad-at-all bunches of daffs looked beautifully Spring-y and bright in my hair clip jar* and were the perfect small centrepiece for the table (me, discussing ‘centrepieces’ *eye roll*). Couple this with the fact that they were £1 per bunch and really they were more than worth it.

(*funny story: This ‘hair clip jar’ was my Christmas present from Nicky; he bought me a jar engraved with the words ‘Harriet’s Hair Clip Jar’ – to use for all those ‘fucking hair clips that end up all over the house / in the washing machine / down the back of the sofa’. Ha. Ha. Ha. hilaaaaarious isn’t he. Seriously though – where’s my real present?)

So yes flowers are a must for the Ultimate Brunch. They look beaut, if they’re something like sweet peas then they’ll smell amazing too and everyone actually loves flowers, even those people who pretend they don’t and say things like ‘uhh what’s the point they’ll be dead in a week’ yeah those annoying people, they love a good flower too.

Soz Daffodils for snap judgement on your ability to brighten up my brunch table. I’ve bought a couple bunches of you since so I hope we’re cool now.

SERVE SOMETHING WITH AVOCADO

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Like every other good basic 20-something female, I’m totally obsessed with avocados at the moment and therefore I assume everyone else is too.

This meant it was an obvious ingredient for my ultimate brunch menu. I settled on serving it mashed up bruv and with it’s mandem of the moment: poached eggs, crispy bacon and toasted sourdough slices.

I also decided to get some buttermilk pancakes (pre-made from M&S, don’t judge me. Or do, I don’t really care?!)  with toppings galore because nothing says brunch goals like a pile of pancakes drizzled in maple syrup does it? I also bought some all-butter croissants too because goodbye waistline, HELLO OBESITY. <<< Just decided that will be the tagline for my ultimate brunch business.

The pancakes & croissants were put out on table for people to help themselves to either before or after the main event. Mollie (my mates unbelievably cute 18month old kid – and that’s coming from someone who isn’t cray cray about little humans!) decided she wanted all the pancakes before, during and after and tugged the totally not-child-safe tray towards her at every opportunity. Aww toddlers eh, the nutty little masochists…always trying to injure, maim or kill themselves when no-ones looking.

I also put out bowls of blueberries & strawberries along with my one true love Nutella, some Maple Syrup & a bit of lemon juice for those shameful shop bought pancakes. Aaaaand had a pot of jam & the butter out for the croissants.

I’m basically an Italian mother just feeding my guests until they die of gluttony.

With the girls happily gorging themselves to the croissants at the table I started on the main event by mashing up that aforementioned amazing avocado I bought from the market.

Little tip, use an actual potato masher instead of a fork and save you arm energy for drinking Prosecco. Lazy girls guide to cooking 101.

I drizzled the avo with lemon juice and sprinkled it with salt & pepper and a pinch of chilli before spreading it onto some grilled and expertly sliced sourdough (thanking you Georgie, my gorgeous pregnant assistant – anyone else unable to slice bread evenly or is it just me?). Then I just had to wait for the bacon to get nice and crispy and the eggs to finishing poaching.

Now my Stepford Wife skills are gonna take another nose-dive here (I know the pre-made pancakes did me no favours) when I tell you that I used a poaching pan to get the perfect eggs. SORRRRY to the Martha Stewart Fam, I’m a big fat egg-poaching cheat and I know it.

The problem is I’ve tried and tried and tried to poach eggs like the pros – with the clingfilm, by swirling the water, pouring the eggs from a small cup but alas I still can’t fucking do it and I don’t have time to keep trying, coz there’s social media to be scrolling through. So instead of doing it the pro-way I use a poaching pan like this crazy cheap one from Argos and it’s so much easier and the eggs come out looking perfect.

I don’t really do timings (I know some people are militant about 5mins and not a second longer but…) I just judge the eggs by eye and when they don’t have that gross slimy look to them and recently I’ve NAILED it nearly every time. As in the yolks are still gooey and runny and beaut kind of nailed it.

…Except on the actual Ultimate Brunch day itself,  when I overcooked them so the yolks weren’t runny BUT this turned out to be perfect for my pregnant friend because pregnant ladies can’t have undercooked yolks!!!!! My inner Stepford Wife obvs had a 6th sense about this and that’s why I overcooked them. God I’m good.

Once the eggs were overdone and the bacon was nice and crisp – (did this in a griddle pan FYI, not sure if that’s important?!) I piled them up on the sourdough and avocado and served a plate each to my guest.

I was actually meant to pour hollandaise sauce over the whole thing too but I forgot all about this (oh so shoot me!) and the packet is still sat in my cupboard. Bummer. Not a massive problem but it would have been nice to have a kinda eggs benny & avocado hybrid, don’t you think? Next time sweets. Next time.

 Each tower of eggs, avocado and bacon was demolished in minutes and the plates wiped clean. Then the remaining pancakes were inhaled with a number of different topping variations – I went for all the toppings at once because #fattyforlife. We then all had at least one croissant – I mean who’s counting by this point! –  and didn’t feel even a little bit guilty for the over-consumption that was taking place. My boyfriend was amazed when he came home at what we’d managed to put away and we all felt very pleased with ourselves indeed.

So yeah avocados, pancakes and generally more food then you need are the key to the Ultimate Brunch.

INFUSE SOME WATER

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(I forgot to take a pic of my infused water and have repeatedly forgotten meaning this blog post hasn’t sat in my drafts for weeks. So I thought fuck it, I’ll borrow a bloody picture and then I can publish this amazing read for you!!!!)

As I mentioned right up at the beginning of this post, I bought me a glass jug just for the purposes of infusing some water. I know right, who am I and what have I done with that cider swilling lunatic that used to go by the name of Harriet Killen? Well I’m still here and I do love a nice strong cider still but, despite being every bit as wanky as it sounds, infused water is the one.

I loved it, the girls loved it, it was refreshing AF and it made us feel full of the good stuff too – I mean, who knew that water could be so damn impressive?

For my infused H20 I chopped up some lemon, lime and fresh mint and poured in cold water from the tap; stuck it in the fridge for an hour or so and then plonked it on the table for people to help themselves.

We were all in agreement that it was an inspiring addition to the table and oh god why don’t we do this all the time? It was ideal thing to be enjoying when our glass of champers wasn’t in hand.

Which brings me nicely onto my final Ultimate Brunch suggestion…

CRACK OPEN THE CHAMPAGNE

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I mean, does this point need any explaining??! Nah. Don’t think it does really. Because obviously Champagne makes everything a little bit better so crack open the bubbly.

(…Unless you or your pal is pregnant in which case make sure you have bought a big bottle of that peach, camomile & green tea drink from M&S. Trust me, it is the nicest thing you’ll drink that’s not champagne or you blummin’ lovely infused water.)

So yeah, crack open the champagne Or Prosecco…I mean either will do and let’s be honest Prosecco is cheaper. The only reason I had champs was someone bought it for me…I’m not some absolute baller who just keeps it in the fridge at all times or anything, just in case you were thinking “what a champagne charlie wanker.”

And if you reaaaally wanna up the Ultimate Brunch stakes then don’t just serve champagne or prosecco – make champagne or prosecco cocktails. Go all out and have Bellinis or Mimosas and feel all smug and sassy as you sip them down.

Or y’know just stick a lychee in each glass like I did and then call them Lychampagnes – which is like minimum effort, maximum impact. Because lychees are a bit weird and more exotic than a strawberry people will be like, oh wow what’s this? Huh, that’s so clever. Mmm my champagne tastes amaze. Long live the lychee! #Ijustwonatbrunch

And finally, get your guests to bring a bottle of the sparkly stuff too so there’s never any fear of running out because that would be a total Debbie downer on what should be the most amazing brunch everrrrrr.

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And that guys is my six-step guide to having the Ultimate Brunch.

What do you recks…wanna come over for the next one? Well guys, you are all more than welcome; just don’t show up empty handed (#bringsomeprosecco) and I will shower you with food and table goals and LOL my-god-this-girl-is-funny chat.

p.s. I had a lot of *eye roll* my god look at what you’re typing thoughts throughout this post. Like ghhad when did my life become about hosting brunch and caring about table settings and can you not just be really hungover on the weekend and go to McDonalds already? But meh, this is what happens post 25 – so any of you young’uns out there this is what you have to look forward to.

Don’t worry avocado & Champagne makes it all bearable.

Thanks for reading!

Harry x

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