HOUSTON It does take some planning, but you can host your own Easter brunch that is guaranteed to impress your guests. Karen Bussen's is one of the most sought-after event designers in the country. From elaborate weddings to quaint gatherings, she does it all. Today, she is helping Paige Dominey set up the perfect Easter brunch while transforming her table into a beautiful setting. "I kinda of run out of ideas, and I need some new ideas -- how to make it really special -- and a little different," Dominey said. Dominey also wants to create her brunch on a budget. "I can go way out of control, and now, I have to watch every dime," she said. Cooking at home always saves, but it can be a lot of trouble, so Bussen's first tip to creating the perfect brunch is: Keep it simple. "It's simple, great ingredients, easy to prepare," she said. Bussen will create three dishes and one beverage she says will be easy for anyone to make at home. The first dish is potatoes with chopped bacon and onions with a touch of balsamic vinegar. "With the bacon and the onions, it's going to phenomenal!" Bussen said. French toast sandwiches filled with ricotta cheese and honey is the second dish on her brunch menu. Lastly, she made a fruit salad with a hint of lemon and garnished it with fresh mint. Tip #2: Splurge on one or two quality ingredients to make your brunch a little more special. Bussen splurged on the peach juice and the bread. "We have a honey wheat bread that's nice and soft, and we have it thick cut," Bussen said. Tip #3: When it comes to setting the table for a brunch, shop your own home for accessories. We found placemats and matching napkins to set Dominey's table and a teapot to use as a vase for our fresh flowers. "It's about looking at things with a fresh eye," Bussen says. She also uses potatoes to make place holders for the table. "It's a wonderful little personal finishing detail that is going to make the brunch a little more special." Tip #4: Use white dishes or glass bowls on the table when possible. Bussen says the food will visually pop. After 30 minutes in the kitchen, Bussen was able to set the table, and the bottom line grocery bill for our brunch was $50 and feeds six to eight people. --------------------------------- Recipes LILLET PEACH BRUNCH PUNCH 1 750 ml bottle sparkling wine (Prosecco or Cava are great and affordable)
1 ½ cups Lillet
2 cups peach juice
1 cup fresh pineapple, cut into chunks
½ pint blackberries and/or raspberries (optional)
Place fruit in pitcher. Add other ingredients and stir gently. Serve chilled in pretty glasses. Note: because this is a sparkling punch, you¹ll want to add the sparkling wine right before serving, so if you like, prepare all the other ingredients earlier, then add the sparkling wine just before the party.
FRENCH TOAST SANDWICHES WITH RICOTTA AND ORANGE BLOSSOM HONEY
12 slices good bread (challah, brioche or other fluffy bread, sliced extra
12 ounces fresh ricotta cheese
10 ounce jar Orange Blossom Honey
6 large eggs
1 tsp nutmeg
Butter or margarine for skillet and serving Powdered sugar for garnish
Preheat oven to 250degrees.
Spread ricotta on all 12 slices of bread.
Drizzle honey over the ricotta, then put bread slices together, ricotta/honey sides facing each other, to make 6 sandwiches.
Heat your skillet and add 2 tbs butter.
Beat eggs and nutmeg lightly in a large mixing bowl.
Dip sandwiches in egg/nutmeg mixture to coat.
Cook sandwiches in skillet until cheese melts and bread is golden brown. Keep sandwiches warm in the oven until you're ready to serve, then finish with drizzles of honey and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
SKILLET POTATOES WITH BACON AND ONION
2 lbs baby potatoes (your favorite variety), halved
1 large yellow onion, diced
½ lb bacon, cubed
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the potatoes until fork tender but not over cooked. In the meantime, heat skillet and cook bacon until it starts to brown. Add onions to the pan and cook until onions are soft and translucent. Add potatoes and stir, letting the flavors come together. Add the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Serve warm.
Easter brunch on a time, budget crunch