I very rarely cook brunch dishes.
Not only is brunch a quintessentially American tradition but it is also the meal that most New Yorkers will always opt to eat out rather than cook themselves. Brunch is what you do every weekend, as both a hangover remedy and an excuse to day-drink.
The art of brunching is something I only really learned here. I remember awkwardly at first making brunch plans to meet with friends at 11am because I thought that brunch was meant to be between “breakfast” and “lunch” as the name indicates but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Nobody in their right mind has brunch before 1pm – and even that is considered to be early! For traditionalists, brunch always includes eggs as well as either Bloody Mary’s (my favorite), Mimosa or Screw Driver. Basically some kind of cocktail that can be sipped on in a leisurely manner, rather than straight hard liquor or wine.
A few months ago, my friend Tomas invited me over to his place. He used to work for me a few years ago and we have remained in touch and become very good friends (I guess I wasn’t such a horrible boss after all!). He is currently looking for another job and invited me over to help him out with a presentation and his boyfriend and him made the loveliest brunch for me: eggs Benedict, which is my favorite brunch dish of all time.
I had never had them over at my place so when I reciprocated the invitation, I felt like I should be making some brunch dishes as well.
I made some herbed goats cheese muffins which I had experimented with before. I am not a baker – it is far too precise of a science for me – but these are so easy and tasty and I knew the boys would gobble them up while we were waiting to sit down for our meal, which they did.
My mum has been making “oeuf en cocotte” for years so I made some too, adding truffle oil to follow a Nigella Lawson recipe. Sadly I over-cooked mine a little and would recommend checking on the eggs every couple of minutes after their first 5 minutes in the oven to avoid the same mistake. And I love to make crostinis so I topped them with smoked salmon and a dollop of horseradish cream. I am very fortunate to live on the Upper West Side and minutes walk away from Zabars – the infamous Jewish deli which happens to stock probably the best smoked fish in the city, if not in the country!