With the festivities behind you, wind down with brunch

“There’s a time and place for everything” as the saying goes, and a weekend filled with b’nai mitzvah activities is definitely not the time for fussy, complex, elaborate entertaining.

To wind down all the events — starting with Shabbat dinner for out-of-towners, oneg Shabbat after services, kiddush lunch following the b’nai mitzvah service, and a Saturday night motzi Shabbat party to celebrate — a relaxing Sunday brunch before your guests are rushing off to the airport can be the perfect ending to a hectic weekend.

The key is to create an atmosphere that’s special, yet casual enough so that everyone, host included, is relaxed. Select a menu that won’t keep you in the kitchen all day, then serve it on simple plates with no-nonsense stemware and wash-and-wear linens.

Planning a menu for brunch is fun because it allows such a wide range of food. It can be a breakfast-brunch with egg dishes and appropriate accompaniments or a lunch-brunch with heavier afternoon food.

This menu is meant for a “noon-ish” brunch. Greet the guests with a tray of pineapple mimosas and have a smoked salmon spread set out surrounded by crudités and mini bagels.

The main dish is baked eggs with mushrooms, which can be assembled the night before and baked at the last minute. A green and gold salad of avocado and papaya is a colorful side dish that will tastily brighten up the plates.

Hot coffee should be available to accompany a moist coffee cake for dessert.

Smoked Salmon Spread | Serves 8-10

1/2 lb. smoked salmon, cut into strips
1/2 lb. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbs. prepared white horseradish
2 Tbs. fresh dill weed
salt and pepper to taste
Combine ingredients in food processor until a rough paste forms. Serve with an assortment of raw vegetables and mini-bagels.

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. balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
salt and pepper
3 cups arugula or other greens
Cut avocados and papayas with melon baller to make one-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 one hour.
Place greens on serving platter and arrange fruit mixture on top. Garnish with additional mint leaves if desired.

Baked Eggs with Mushrooms | Serves 8

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 lb. mushrooms chopped
1 red pepper, diced
8 oz. mild goat cheese, room temperature
5 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
2 cups half and half
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
In large skillet, heat oil. 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 until just blended. Stir in 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and reserved vegetables. Taste for salt and pepper.
Pour mixture into greased 12-by-8 baking dish. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese on top. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven 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].