In the past three months we've cooked two different Christmas dinners for a combined total of 29 eaters. We've also hosted not one, two, three or four, but six different birthday dinners/parties. There's been a handful of Sunday suppers, and then the regular rotation of ordinary events like sleepovers and Super Bowl, and nieces who pop by for pancake lunches. Winter is clearly the season for feeding our friends and family, wouldn't you say?
After months and months of having so many food-centric events on the calendar it's a little odd to having nothing scheduled until the end of April. We're taking a little break from Sunday suppers right now while our extended family members keep occupied with their own activities, so it looks like, with the exception of the odd day here or there, it'll just be the five of us around the table for the coming weeks. The wheels are already beginning to turn over ideas for an occasion I can create in which to get everyone over to my house again, but there's also a part of me that's willing to embrace the quiet - mostly for the sake of my introverted housing companions - and just accept that spring is not our season for feeding others.
If I were to invent a reason to invite people over, I'd say that spring is the perfect time to host a breakfast or brunch. In fact, those of us with wee ones will gladly attest to the fact that mid-morning events are right up our alley right now, especially if you happen to have a baby that wakes up before the birds. It's sad to say, but late-night dinner parties lose a little lustre for a year or two, or until you finally start to log more than four hours of sleep a day and feel a little less like the movie character you’re quickly resembling. I have a few ideas of the kind of menu I'd put together if such an event were to occur, and a self-serve bagel bar would very likely make it to the top of list.
Bagels freeze amazingly well so you can pick them up early in the week, and store them until needed. They can be toasted by the half-dozen on a baking sheet set under a broiler, and served with a variety of toppings like thinly sliced meat or smoked salmon; cream cheese, goat cheese, sliced cheddar cheese or ricotta; and fun, flavourful additions like sprouts, sliced avocado, tomato, cucumber, radish and capers. For the kids, I'd add peanut butter and Nutella, and apple and pear slices, because few of them are likely to want the more traditional items the adults enjoy.
Oh, and don't forget to include some flavoured butters! One of our favourites is an "everything" bagel butter. Of course you could just buy everything bagels and serve them with plain butter, but why not switch things up and purchase plain bagels to slather with flavoured butter? If we step away from the faux bagel brunch I've just concocted (once a party planner, always a party planner), and think about the other practical applications, it's a great way to get that beloved bagel flavour in other bready bits. For example, it can be smeared over toasted English muffins and served with soup (how we like to eat it), or spread on dinner rolls later in the day for an unexpected twist on something ordinary. The very best thing about this butter is that it can be used for so much more than bagels. Try melting it over roasted veggies or chicken, or tossing it with hot pasta and freshly grated Parmesan.
Everything Bagel Butter
Makes ½ cup
- ½ cup salted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- ½ teaspoon dried garlic flakes
- ½ teaspoon dried onion flakes
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
2. Spoon the butter onto a piece of plastic wrap and roll into a log.
3. Chill until firm (about 2 hours) and ready to use.
Note: Be sure to buy the best salted butter you can afford - you won't regret using a top-quality product in this recipe.