by Nusheen Orandi
I respect Brunch. It gives breakfast (my favorite meal) the attention it deserves. Weekends feature “the most important meal of the day” at trendy bistros, or coffee shops bombarded with extra bodies suddenly craving that melty breakfast sammie. Brunch drives the creativity that blurs the line between sweet and savory. But don’t let a fig and goat cheese breakfast pizza topped with a perfectly poached egg intimidate you. I’m here to help you DIY-Brunch, with simple tips that can help you enjoy this mid-morning meal, fabulously.
1. Make it a taco
Tacos are like jazz music: full of improvisation and good at putting everyone in a good mood. You can turn any scrambled something into a taco, and your fridge and pantry are bursting with toppings. My ideal breakfast tacos include scrambled eggs with chives and spicy Italian sausage, arugula, cherry tomatoes, avocado, crumbled ricotta salata, and lime piled into corn tortillas. It’s delicious, fun if you’re hosting, and only takes about 15 minutes to prepare!
2. Learn how to poach an egg
You can do this. Whether you desire to be stately like an Eggs Benedict, or just want to play dress-up with your toast, you can do poached eggs. Poaching is useful for cooking delicate foods, like eggs. Poaching an egg means cooking the egg in water just below the boiling point. The most common struggle is keeping the egg whites from going bonkers in the simmering water. To help, put a ring, like the band from a Mason jar (oh come on, I know you all have one somewhere) into the pot of simmering water to hold the egg together. So, here’s how you poach an egg:
- Put your Mason jar band(s) into a pot of water, and bring it to a simmer (NOT boiling). Keep an eye on the heat to make sure the water stays at a simmer.
- Crack an egg into a small bowl or cup.
- Slowly, and as close to the water as you can, pour the egg into the jar band. I find it easiest to do this one egg at time. Be sure to avoid that “plop” into the water to help keep the egg whites together.
- Let the eggs poach for about 5 minutes in the water. If you’re only doing one or two eggs, you can even just turn off the heat and let them poach.
- Remove poached eggs with a slotted spoon, and you’re all set!
When I’m in the mood for poached eggs I slather two pieces of toast with buratta cheese, then add prosciutto, spinach, red onion, and my poached eggs. It is a gooey, melty, delicious mess.
3. Bake your fruit
I don’t need a reason to have dessert for breakfast, but baking fruit is a good one. It makes your house smell good and allows you to multitask: while your fruit is baking in the oven, you can make the rest of your breakfast. Berries, figs, and stone fruit bake the fastest, while apples and pears take a little longer. If you’re in the mood for French toast (a breakfast favorite I like to make at 11 pm), waffles, or pancakes, adding baked fruit makes a big difference. Here’s an example of how I would bake plums for French toast:
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
- Slice your plum (or any stone fruit) into thick wedges
- Lightly butter a sheet pan, then sprinkle the pan with brown sugar and drizzle with honey
- Place your plum wedges flesh-down onto the pan and bake for 5-7 minutes, or until the fruit is tender and bubbling slightly, but not mushy.
- While your fruit is in the oven, prepare your French toast
- Top your French toast with mascarpone cheese and the baked fruit. Behold, your beautifully Instagram-able brunch dish.
4. Perfect the Parfait
How do you like your Greek Yogurt: whole or non-fat? Or, are you an Icelandic Siggi’s fan? This decade expanded our yogurt options, and it’s a breakfast favorite because it’s quick and easy to personalize. Whether you like to drown yours in berries or give it lots of crunch with granola, yogurt is an easy brunch that you can constantly improvise. I like to do a deconstructed parfait, especially in the summer when stone fruit is deliciously available. Try this one out:
- Pick out your favorite stone fruit (I like to do an apricot or yellow peach)
- Cut the fruit in half, and remove the pit
- Fill the de-pitted holes with plenty of your favorite yogurt
- Top with toasted coconut flakes, walnuts, and honey
It’s a light, sweet, and fresh way to start your morning!
5. When in doubt, just add cheese
Anything is better with cheese. My cheese drawer is always there for me, a reliable friend who will shred, slice, or spread to fit my endless appetite. When it comes to breakfast, I have three rules (well, they’re more like guidelines) that will help make a brunch dish even better:
- For egg dishes, use hard and crumbly cheeses—think cheddar, Gouda, manchego, feta, or bleu.
- A quick tip for scrambled eggs: put the shredded or crumbled cheese directly into the eggs as you are whisking them to maximize melt-ability when you start cooking. That way, the cheese incorporates better and not in one big cheesy bite.
- For sweet dishes like French toast, waffles, or pancakes, use soft, creamy cheeses like mascarpone or ricotta.
- You can put goat cheese on anything.
New England hosts a lot of awesome dairies, so Boston offers a multitude of local cheeses that I love digging into. Cheese just always wins.
There you have it: tips to maximize your breakfast cravings. If you’re in the mood to stay in for Brunch, hopefully you can now feel confident in the DIY-Brunch department. I’ll eat breakfast at any time of the day. So, whisk those eggs, flip those cakes, and invite me, please!
Nusheen Orandi is a second-year student from California in the Nutrition Communication program with a concentration in Agriculture, Food and Environment. She likes to spend her time tea-shop hunting, breakfasting, tensely watching the Tottenham Hotspurs, and cooking and eating with friends and family.