EVENT: Elyssa’s 26th Birthday Brunch
VENUE: Elyssa’s Apartment, West Villge
PARTY SIZE: 24 girls, 1 boy
TYPE: BFF-BGSK Catered Brunch Buffet
MENU: Individual Huevos Rancheros with Chipotle Black Beans and Creamy Avocado; Baked French Toast with Blueberry Compote; Fruit Platter; Assorted Bread Basket with Raspberry Butter; Moosetracks Cupcakes
One of the downsides of catering is that it’s cooking for strangers, and we really love cooking for people we know (and love). So it’s always a treat when our client is actually one of our best friends. Last year, Sarah asked us to cater her 25th birthday party, which meant we acted as both chefs and guests. While this is certainly more fun for us than hiding in the kitchen, it brought on another set of contingencies: the food needed to be room temperature and made in advance so we only had to replenish once or twice during the party. And there needed to be a lot of it.
Recently, Cara’s camp friend Elyssa asked us to cater a brunch for her 26th birthday on a Sunday afternoon. There’s nothing we love more than hosting brunch parties. But breakfast food presents a few more challenges when it comes to making everything ahead of time, and you certainly would never want your eggs room temperature.
Our solution for Elyssa’s was to create two large assorted platters to tide the crowd over while we finished cooking, assembling, and plating the hot brunch entrees. One included a beautiful and colorful variety of sliced fruit, which Cara had the task of prepping, since Phoebe doesn’t endorse this food group. (More on affordable fruit plates soon.) The second was a platter of assorted breads: brioche rolls, baguettes, raisin-walnut loaves, and Cara’s freshly baked biscuits with a side of raspberry butter.
There was also Baked French Toast with Blueberry Compote, a recipe Cara made from our book. This was easier to time, since it simply sits in the oven til guests are ready. More difficult: the platter of individual huevos rancheros. Usually our make-ahead egg dish of choice is a savory strata. For the huevos rancheros, we went stove-top. Phoebe is a pro at scrambling big batches of eggs for a crowd, and finds it fairly low-stress, as the act of scrambling can easily be executed with a mimosa in hand. The chipotle black beans were made the night before, and the creamy avocado—basically a no fuss guacamole—is no more work than mashing avocados and dousing them with a lot of lime juice so they don’t get brown. The main portion of the labor was in the assembly, and if you have a few friends on hand (or just one member of BGSK), that too is a breeze.
As at Sarah’s, we set up the buffet and then grabbed a plate, gabbed with Elyssa and our other besties, and settled in to a perfect Sunday afternoon, highlighted by the arrival of Elyssa’s brother, the only boy at the ladies’ lunch.
From our kitchen, albeit small, to yours,
Phoebe and Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOKS
Individual Huevos Rancheros with Chipotle Black Beans and Creamy Avocado
Makes 24 servings
Three 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 chipotle chile pepper*, minced
1 tablespoon adobo sauce*
½ teaspoon cumin
Cayenne pepper to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 limes
¼ teaspoon salt
2 dozen eggs
1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
24 small flour tortillas
cilantro (for garnish, optional)
*From a can of chipotle in adobo sauce
Make the beans: Combine the beans, chipotle, adobo sauce, and cumin in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cook slowly, covered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are warm and soft and the flavors have melded, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you want them). This can be done a day before. Simply reheat in the microwave.
Make the creamy avocado: in a small food processor, puree the avocado, garlic, the juice of one lime, and the salt. Taste for seasoning. Squeeze the remaining lime over the top. Can be made 2 hours in advance if kept in an air-tight container. (if you don’t have a food processor, mash with a fork.)
Make the eggs: Preheat the oven to 250F.
In a large bowl, crack and beat the eggs with ½ teaspoon of salt.
Wrap the tortillas in foil and heat them in the oven while you scramble the eggs.
Coat a large non-stick skillet with olive oil and place it over medium-high heat—you will need a bit more oil if you are using cast iron or other metal pan. Carefully pour in the eggs. When the eggs begin to form curds, turn the heat down to medium-low. Using a rubber spatula, continuously scrape the bottom of the pan, displacing cooked pieces of egg as they form. Since you are dealing with a lot of eggs, the scrambling process may take up to twenty minutes. Once all the eggs are almost cooked, but still too runny to serve, add the cheese. Cook for 2 -3 more minutes until the eggs are no longer runny and the cheese is melted.
To assemble, place a generous spoonful of eggs in each warm tortilla, followed by a tablespoon of black beans, and a dollop of creamy avocado. Serve on a platter, squeezing in as many tortillas as possible, so they stay folded. Garnish with cilantro, if using, and serve alongside sour cream and salsa, if you want to go all out.