Brunch: A Happy Feast to Start the Day

Is there anything better than the promise of sleeping in, only to replace your morning coffee with a mimosa, and your breakfast bowl of cereal with a divine feast? And you don’t have to worry about lunch, because what you eat will keep you going until dinner. Across the world, we all look forward to brunch.

When Guy Beringer first coined the term “brunch” in his 1895 essay Brunch: A Plea, he spoke fondly of its social aspect. “Brunch … is cheerful, sociable, and inciting. It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper; it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings. It sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week”.

At the time, in 19th-century England, brunch was reserved for Sunday mornings. Invented largely to ease the transition from lively Saturday evenings, brunch is a fusion of breakfast and lunch, starting later in the morning and often stretches well into the afternoon. It certainly seems like sleeping in on Sundays has been the everlasting dream of humankind.

The luxury hotel brunch trend caught on with the American elites in the 1920s, moved into the middle-class homes in the 1930s, and exploded once the women entered the workforce after World Word II. Not only did brunch relieve them from housework on their day off, it also awarded them some quality time with their loved ones, along with an excuse to drink during the day.

Today, brunch may include anything from croissants and marmalade to dim sum and truffles. Most importantly, any self-respecting brunch will have eggs. And drinks. As Guy Beringer put it 125 years ago: “Beer and whiskey are admitted as substitutes for tea and coffee”. Bloody Marys too, we might add.

All is allowed when you are celebrating the day ahead with a brunch.

Poached eggs with black truffles

  • 4 eggs
  • 30g fresh black truffles
  • 4 slices of ham or bacon
  • 4 slices of white bread or bun halves
  • Hollandaise sauce aromatised with truffle oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • peppercorn
  • 10g butter
  • 125ml vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped chives or basil

Take a mental break by preparing the water for poaching. Put bay leaf, peppercorn and vinegar into a pot, add water and leave on the fire until it has been boiling for 10 minutes. Best set a timer, as ten minutes is enough to forget about it. Remove the spices (with utensils, not hands), then grow a third arm. You will need it to poach the eggs.

Break the egg into a small bowl or ramekin ever so gently, so that it can’t tell its shell is being replaced. Submerge everything in hot water, channel the chicken inside you and, using two spoons, keep the whites and yolks close as if they were still in the eggshell. Once they start firming, let them cook for another four or five minutes. Be productive while you wait: melt some butter in a pan, and fry ham or bacon on both sides. Toast the bread; you can use the same pan or a toaster.

Then get playful and build a tower. Bread goes on the bottom, then fried ham or bacon, then the poached egg. Pour Hollandaise sauce over it and add some colour by sprinkling chives and grinding fresh truffles on top. Don’t forget to take a photo and enjoy without guilt.

Cow ricotta with asparagus on crispy potatoes cakes

  • 50g blanched wild asparagus
  • 100g cow ricotta
  • 50g walnuts
  • 5 larger potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 onion
  • 3 spoons of flour
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 spoons of extra-virgin olive oil

This is easy to make yet so fancy to taste that it’s going to make you look like a master chef!

First mix ricotta, asparagus and chopped nuts, spice with salt, pepper and olive oil. Half of the work – done!

Next up, peel and grind potatoes. Time to get your hands dirty: mix the potatoes with eggs, chopped onion, flour, salt and pepper. Wash your hands before grabbing a pan. Heat up the oil. Spoon the blend you made, drop gently in the pan and wait until it becomes sunset-hued and crispy on both sides.

Do a fancy restaurant plate and serve with yogurt.

Focaccia with cherry tomatoes and salted anchovies

  • 450g strong (bread) flour
  • 6g dry yeast
  • ½ spoon dry oregano
  • 180ml lukewarm water
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 3 spring onions
  • 15 pcs cherry tomatoes
  • 70g of olives (of your choice)
  • 80g salted anchovies
  • coarse sea salt

Proof the yeast by adding sugar, flour and lukewarm milk in a bowl. Make it cosy and leave in a warm spot. Wait for the magic: the yeast will foam.

Now remove your rings and bracelets; we’re going to knead dough! Mix flour, salt, olive oil, raised yeast and lukewarm water… Could it be “lukewarm” that does the magic trick? Knead until it doesn’t stick to your fingers… add a bit more flour if necessary. Good luck with that.

Now the really fun part: beat the dough. Yes, it’s not a typo. Beat it against a surface of your choice. Or throw from great heights. Then round it into a ball, cover with a clean cloth and wait for the rabbit to pop. Wait, no! But there will be magic again. Give or take, in 30 to 60 minutes, the dough will rise.

Next, make some mess: dust the counter with flour and shape the dough into the baking sheet doppelganger. Cover the baking sheet with parchment paper, transfer the dough and leave to rise a bit more.

Cut cherry tomatoes in halves and drain olives if necessary. Press them lightly into the dough. If you’re an artsy kind, this is your moment.

Sprinkle chopped herbs, oregano and olive oil on the top, and leave it rise for another 15-20 minutes. Before putting in the oven preheated to 180°C, sprinkle coarse Adriatic salt on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Before serving, top warm focaccia with anchovies. Cut into larger pieces – much easier to eat. Bon brunch!

Bloggers, journalists, tourist guides, artists, entertainers and all kinds of hospitality experts and enthusiasts have gathered under the ValamArtists handle to lovingly bring you the best out of the Croatian holiday experience. Enjoy the ride!
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