Apples, pumpkins, figs, cinnamon and maple--what could be more comforting than these colors, flavors and aromas of the fall season? And one of the best ways to enjoy them is by throwing a brunch!
Normally I like to host a fall brunch in early November. It’s a perfect time to hang with friends before we all get on that roller coaster hurtling toward Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah and New Years’. This year, with Covid-19 breathing down our necks, and the inadvisability of indoor holiday get-togethers, we need to squeeze in outdoor socially-distant time with friends before it gets too cold.
So, while the weather is still lovely—even if it’s a bit crisp--why not host an easy early fall brunch on your patio or in the backyard? Set the table with a seasonal theme: woven natural fiber placemats and earth-toned plates and napkins. Your centerpiece could be a bowl of tiny pumpkins, apples, pears or artichokes; a sheaf of wheat, or an unfussy vase of greenery. If it’s chilly, toss a light blanket over each chair or roll them into a nearby basket. For more people just throw neutral tablecloths over a couple of folding tables. That way everyone can stay socially distant. No need to overthink it or overdecorate--simple is best.
To anchor your menu, start with a quick, but delicious Sausage-Apple Frittata. For side dishes you can offer Sauteed Apples, and Figs with Goat Cheese. Pumpkin Muffins, redolent of fall spices like cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg are a must. And (while it’s not really a fall flavor) if you can get ripe, creamy avocados, most everyone enjoys a slice of Avocado Toast with their eggs. Finish off it off with a simple dessert of homemade Chewy Maple Cookies—or make it easy on yourself and just pick up something yummy from the bakery.
Of course, no brunch is complete without coffee and a cocktail--traditional fresh-squeezed orange juice mimosas are delicious. If you want to be a bit more seasonal, try mixing equal parts champagne/prosecco with fresh pressed apple juice. Pour into a glass rimmed with a mix of cinnamon and sugar. That’s it—brunch is served!
SAUSAGE-APPLE FRITTATA (Serves 6)
1 tbsp olive oil
½ lb breakfast sausage links
12 large eggs
¼ cup milk
1 diced Granny Smith apple
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup chopped dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 375F. In a large bowl beat the eggs and milk together, then stir in the apple, cheese, dill, salt and pepper. Set aside. Next, heat the olive oil in a 10” oven-proof skillet—cast iron is perfect. Cook the breakfast sausages until brown, then pour the egg mixture over the top. Bake for 30 minutes, until puffed and set. Serve directly from the skillet.
I apologize for not having a photo of this frittata, because it's beautiful! I made it for a brunch last weekend and forgot to take a picture :(
(Recipe adapted from one published in Food & Wine magazine in June 2016: https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/sausage-and-apple-frittata-dill.).
Warm Figs with Goat Cheese
I put this recipe on my blog last week; find it here:
Mash two avocados in a bowl, leaving them a bit chunky. Stir in a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt (and if you like a little heat, 1/4 tsp of harissa spread). Serve alongside toasted slices of country bread.
Chewy Maple Cookies
-You may want to welcome your guests by serving a cocktail and offering a platter of Warm Figs with Goat Cheese as an appetizer.
-Harissa spread is a Tunisian condiment made of ground peppers, garlic and other spices. It has a warm, smoky, spicy flavor. Careful though, with subtly flavored avocados, a little harissa goes a long way!