Get casual with a light summertime brunch

Everything has its season — and while summer brings many reasons to celebrate, it is not the time for fussy entertaining.

For instance, brunch on the patio can be a delightful experience. The key is to create an atmosphere that’s special yet casual enough so everyone, including the host, is relaxed. Select a menu that won’t keep you in the kitchen all day, then serve it on simple plates atop washable linens.

The following menu is meant for a noontime brunch. Greet the guests with a tray of pineapple mimosas. Pass the cheese crisps and have smoked trout dip set out surrounded by crudities. The baked eggs with mushrooms can be assembled the night before and baked at the last minute. A green-and-gold salad of avocado and papaya makes a tasty, colorful side dish.

Both hot and iced coffee should be available to accompany a moist coffee cake for dessert.

Smoked Trout Dip | Serves 8-10

1/2 lb. smoked trout, skinned and boned
1/2 lb. cream cheese, room

1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbs. prepared white

2 Tbs. fresh dill weed
salt and pepper to taste
Combine ingredients in food processor until smooth. Serve with an assortment of raw vegetables.

Avocado and Papaya Salad | Serves 8-10

2 avocados
2 papayas
1 small red onion, cut into rings
2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint leaves
2 Tbs. raspberry vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 cups arugula or other greens
Cut avocados and papayas with melon-baller to make 1-inch balls and place in bowl. Add onion rings and mint. Combine vinegar, oil, salt and pepper and pour over fruit mixture. Toss and let marinate at room temperature 1 hour. Place greens on serving platter and arrange fruit mixture on top. Garnish with additional mint leaves if desired.

Cheddar and Chive Crisps | Makes about 16

1/4 lb. butter, room temperature
6 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup flour
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup chopped chives
Combine butter and cheese until smooth. Beat in flour, then add the cayenne pepper, salt and chives. Dough will be soft. Shape into log about 2 inches in diameter and 8 inches long. Wrap in plastic and place in refrigerator overnight or freezer one hour to firm. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut log into slices 1/4 inch thick. Place on baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool about 10 minutes before removing from cookie sheet. Place in napkin-lined basket and serve.

Baked Eggs with Mushrooms | Serves 8

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 pound mushrooms,

coarsely chopped
1 red pepper, diced
8 oz. mild goat cheese, room temperature
5 whole eggs
3 yolks
2 cups half and half
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs.

grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
Heat oil in a large skillet. Cook onions, mushrooms and red pepper until soft. Set aside. Beat goat cheese until smooth. Beat in eggs and yolks one at a time. Add the half and half and beat just until blended. Stir in 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and reserved vegetables. Taste for salt and pepper. Pour mixture into a greased 8×12 baking dish. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese on top. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven about 35 minutes or until top is brown and a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve hot or room temperature.

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Rebecca Ets-Hokin. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].