Diana Henry pre­pares brunch for a hun­gry bunch

The Sunday Telegraph - Stella - - CONTENTS - pho­tog­ra­phy: haar­ala hamil­ton food styling: valerie berry

Brunch. It’s hav­ing a mo­ment. Some cul­tural com­men­ta­tors see it as ev­i­dence of the mil­len­ni­als’ re­jec­tion of adult­hood (the week­ends are now for get­ting up late then drink­ing cock­tails and eat­ing eggs and pan­cakes all day). I’m not a mil­len­nial, but I do love brunch (and am not averse to drink­ing cock­tails at 11am). Drop me in New York and I will go out for brunch ev­ery day (I never walk so fast as when I’m on my way to Lo­canda Verde). I like the re­laxed na­ture of brunch, that there are no rules, that it’s served from break­fast time un­til four in the af­ter­noon, and that you get clas­sics you love ( just put those eggs Bene­dict down and let me pierce the yolk).

A restau­rant, though, isn’t the only place to have brunch, or even the best (un­less you want eggs Bene­dict – I’m not mak­ing hol­landaise sauce for eight). Chefs fa­mously de­spise it (they’ve al­ready done a late ser­vice the night be­fore and now they have a din­ing room full of peo­ple with hang­overs). It is per­fectly suited to en­ter­tain­ing at home, es­pe­cially if you’re an anx­ious cook. Peo­ple have a re­laxed at­ti­tude to brunch. There are no huge ex- pec­ta­tions. They might get bagels, smoked salmon and a jug­ful of mi­mosas, or they might get some sprawl­ing Mid­dle Eastern feast (and any­thing in be­tween). Food writ­ers are al­ways say­ing ‘keep it sim­ple’ (while ex­hort­ing you to cook 10 dishes that need recher­ché in­gre­di­ents), but brunch is the per­fect meal for do­ing a few easy dishes your­self and then buy­ing ev­ery­thing else.

It can be Amer­i­can, but doesn’t have to be (they didn’t in­vent brunch, an English­man did). The world oéers some great al­ter­na­tives – I didn’t know whether to oéer In­dian, Scan­di­na­vian or North African dishes here – and sum­mer is the per­fect time to throw a brunch get-to­gether, as fresh fruit can be cen­tral and looks sump­tu­ous. In the end, I went for a Turk­ish-Greek/ Mid­dle Eastern-type spread. Make the main dishes and buy Arab flat­bread or Greek sesame bread, good yo­gurt, honey, feta, toma­toes and maybe some hot pick­les and olives. Add ripe melons – a mix of colours is good – or baked apricots. In­vite a crowd and have it in the gar­den if the weather’s good. Brunch is the eas­i­est, most re­laxed meal of the lot. And what is life if you can’t, once in a while, drink cock­tails all day?

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