Boy, what a breakfast!
Victoria Prever suggests breakfast buffet for brit milah guests
With many new mothers lucky to find time to take a shower and run a brush through their hair, it is no wonder even the most seasoned hostess is going to find catering their own child’s bris pretty trying.
Despite the nine-month run-up, the actual bris is a last-minute affair as you generally have little idea when the guest of honour is actually going to arrive and allow you to get a date in the diary. He also may hold up proceedings with jaundice or other health issues. That makes it very difficult to choose a day of the week and to know who will be able to make the simchah.
It is not surprising that most of us buy in - where budget permits — or lean on family to help cater this milestone event.
If you do want to cater it yourself — and know you are expecting a boy — there are many brunch dishes you can prepare weeks ahead. To make life easier while still giving the simchah a home-cooked feel, you can mix your food with a smattering of catered food to lighten the load.
Your freezer will be your best friend. Bagels — full-sized and mini ones; bridge rolls, croissants and other Viennoiserie freeze brilliantly. The
breakfast pastries will only require warming up on the big day. Bagels are a bit more work as they need filling, so you may want to spend your money on platters of filled bagels and bridge rolls. If you really do want to do it yourself, then serve warmed mini bagels in napkin-lined baskets along side platters of smoked salmon and bowls of egg mayonnaise, hummus and other spreads and let your guests help themselves.
Other easy savoury options are savoury miniquiches and filo parcels, which can be baked and frozen up to three months in advance.
For sweet brunch options, the obvious candidates are home-baked cakes, muffins and biscuits. The cinnamon banana muffins below are ideal. Bake a batch each time you have brown bananas to use up and you’ll have enough in no time. Muesli bars or flapjacks also have that brunchy feel – oats always feel like nutritious fare, even if paired with less healthy butter and sugar.
Scones also work well, either savoury like cheese and mustard or sweet versions; and are as good warmed from the freezer as they are freshly baked – but do freeze them soon after they are first baked.
It also pays to keep the menu streamlined. It looks far more stylish to offer a few generous options; no one needs an Israeli hotel-style breakfast. The amount you need to serve will depend, to some extent, on the day of the week your bris falls.
A weekday will mean an early affair - before mohel and guests go on to start their working days; and has the benefit of being a bit of a drive-through, in catering terms. Your guests may be starving – after their early start - but will most likely need to eat and run. They will want fast, filling finger food.
So you’ll be able to restrict your menu to filled mini bagels, mini skewers of fresh fruit with yoghurt and honey to dip them in, with some baskets of muffins and oaty biscuits or muesli bars. Serve them with a variety of juices plus tea and coffee.
Should you end up with a weekend simchah, you can plump for a more leisurely brunch style affair. You may have a little more time on the morning to prepare, but that may bring a commensurately higher dining expectation.
Guests will have time for more relaxed noshing. Granola sundaes – layers of plain or vanilla yoghurt, fruit compote and granola in small wine glasses or tumblers and topped with a few fresh berries look elegant and attractive. You could also provide bowls of fresh berries or fruit skewers on sticks.
For savoury options, frittata converts well to finger food. Once you have the basic recipe – see below – you will be able to substitute different fillings and cheeses in them – try finely diced roasted vegetables with goat’s cheese. These can be cooked ahead and served warm or at room temperature.
Again, the traditional Jewish breads are always welcomed, but if you fancy a change, serve baskets of brioche rolls or mini bread rolls.
Or, for a really easy ready-made but elegant finger food snack made entirely of ready-made ingredietns, top bagel crisps with slivers of gravadlax or smoked salmon rolled into rosette shapes. Finish with a dollop of readymade sweet dill mustard sauce or a smear of honey balsamic mustard.
For a sweet finish to proceedings, serve trays of brownies or lemon drizzle cake cut into tiny squares alongside the fruit. You can bake roasting tin-sized batches of these, freeze them whole, and then defrost the night before, cutting them up to order.
To drink, serve a variety of juices, plus sparkling wine or champagne. For the drivers, provide jugs of elderflower cordial mixed with sparkling water. Teas and coffees are an option only if you have invited only a handful of guests or, if serving a crowd, you possess an urn as well as suf- ficient hands to pass cups around. In common with most new mothers of the star of the show, you probably will have little recollection of what is going on — but at least everyone else will enjoy the proceedings.