Make-Ahead Holiday Brunch

food | brunch

If you host anything between now and New Year's, make it this pretty, please-all brunch, much of which you can take care of days before (good morning to you).


Recipes By Sarah Copeland, Lindsay Hunt, Charlyne Mattox, and Chris Morocco
Photos by Anna Williams food styling by maggie ruggiero prop styling by pam morris

The Timeline

up to 2 days before
  • Make the fish spread. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
  • Make the dip (but do not stir in the lime juice). Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
  • Make the coffee cake. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature. (Or make and freeze up to 2 weeks in advance.)
  • Make the granola. Store at room temperature in an airtight container. (Or make and freeze up to 2 weeks in advance.)
up to 1 day before
  • Make the grapefruit mixture for the spritzer (but do not strain). Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
up to 12 hours before
  • Assemble the strata (but do not bake). Store, covered, in the refrigerator.
2 hours before
  • Remove the strata from the refrigerator.
1 hour before
  • Bake the strata.
  • Remove the fish spread from the refrigerator.
  • Assemble the vegetables on the crudités platter; cover with a damp paper towel.
Just before
  • Strain the grapefruit mixture and top with the seltzer.
  • Spread the fish spread on the toasts and sprinkle with the chives.
  • Mix the lime juice into the dip.

Rosemary Grapefruit Spritzer

HANDS-ON TIME | 15 Minutes TOTAL TIME | 4 hours, 15 minutes (includes chilling) Serves | 8

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 6 fresh rosemary sprigs, plus more for serving
  • 6 strips grapefruit zest, removed with a vegetable peeler
  • 6 cups grapefruit juice (from 12 grapefruits) Seltzer, for serving

1. Muddle the sugar, rosemary, grapefruit zest, and ½ cup of the grapefruit juice in a bowl until the sugar dissolves. Add the remaining 5½ cups of juice and chill, 4 hours and up to 24 hours in advance.

2. Strain. Serve chilled over ice, topped with the seltzer and a sprig of rosemary.


Sausage, Egg, and Kale Strata

HANDS-ON TIME | 30 MINUTES TOTAL TIME | 2½ HOURS SERVES | 8

  • ¾ pound breakfast sausage, casings removed
  • 7 cups chopped curly kale leaves (from 1 bunch)
  • ½ loaf multigrain bread, cubed (about 5 cups)
  • Unsalted butter, for the baking dish
  • 12 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 8 ounces Manchego or fontina cheese, grated (about 2 cups)

1. Cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it into pieces, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add as much kale as will fit. Cook, tossing and adding more kale as there is room, until wilted but still bright green, 1 to 3 minutes.

2. Place the bread in a buttered 3-quart or 9-by-13-inch baking dish and top with the cooked sausage and kale.

3. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in the milk, mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Stir in the cheese. Pour over the bread mixture; cover and refrigerate for 1 hour and up to overnight.

4. Heat oven to 350° F. (If the strata is refrigerated overnight, remove from the refrigerator 40 minutes before baking.) Bake until golden brown and set around the edges but still slightly wobbly in the center, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Smoked Fish Spread

HANDS-ON TIME | 20 MINUTES TOTAL TIME | 20 MINUTES SERVES | 8

  • 8 ounces smoked whitefish or mackerel fillet (sold near the smoked salmon in the supermarket), skin and bones removed, broken into pieces
  • ½ cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, plus more for serving
  • ¾ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Black pepper
  • 4 slices sourdough bread, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Combine the fish, crème fraîche, chives, lemon zest and juice, cayenne pepper, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

2. Drizzle the sourdough toasts with the oil and cut into triangles. Spread the fish on the toasts. Sprinkle with chives and serve with the lemon wedges on the side.


Creamy Feta and Cumin Dip with Winter Crudités

HANDS-ON TIME | 20 MINUTES TOTAL TIME | 20 MINUTES SERVES | 8

  • ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 6 ounces Feta, crumbled (about 1¼ cups) Black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice Olive oil, for serving
  • Radicchio leaves, broccolini or broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower florets, for serving

1. Cook the cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and pulse twice to chop lightly. Add the buttermilk, ½ cup of the Feta, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and process until smooth, 20 to 30 seconds. Add the remaining ¾ cup of Feta and pulse twice to combine. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

2. Before serving, stir in the lime juice. Serve the dip drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkle of black pepper alongside the vegetables.


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Brown Sugar Pecan Coffee Cake

HANDS-ON TIME | 20 MINUTES TOTAL TIME | 1 HOUR, 40 MINUTES (INCLUDES COOLING) SERVES | 8

For The Streusel

  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt

For The Cake

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for the pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream

1. Make the streusel: Heat oven to 350° F. Combine the pecans, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a medium bowl until well combined; set aside.

2. Make the cake: Butter a 12-cup Bundt pan and dust with flour, tapping out the excess. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. Beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla, scraping down the sides twice. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and sour cream in alternate additions, mixing well between additions and ending with the flour mixture. Spread half the batter in the pan and top with half the streusel; repeat.

4. Bake, rotating once, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap and store for up to 2 days at room temperature (or freeze for up to 2 weeks).


Applesauce Granola

HANDS-ON TIME | 15 MINUTES TOTAL TIME | 1 HOUR, 15 MINUTES SERVES | 8

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped raw cashews
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • ½ cup chopped dried pineapple chunks Yogurt and chopped apple, for serving

Heat oven to 275° F. Combine the oats, cashews, applesauce, sesame seeds, brown sugar, butter, ginger, and salt in a large bowl. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, tossing twice, until golden brown, 55 to 60 minutes; cool. Stir in the pineapple. Store at room temperature for up to 2 days (or freeze for up to 2 weeks). Serve with the yogurt and apple.