Gatherings from The Kitchn

A Cozy, Mellow New Year's Day Brunch at Home

Image Credit: Peter Frank Edwards

Every year we tell you to skip the fancy prix-fixe menus and crowded restaurants in favor of a home-cooked meal on New Year's Eve. But the same advice rings true for New Year's Day brunch. Instead of waiting two hours to spend $20 on a plate of French toast, you can host a cozy, festive gathering from the comfort of your own home (in your pajamas, if that's your thing).

Whether it's just you and your sweetie or you're inviting the whole gang over, this easy brunch menu will ensure you start 2019 on a delicious note.

Image Credit: Peter Frank Edwards

A Cozy, Mellow New Year's Brunch from Northern Hospitality

This brunch menu comes to us from Briana and Andrew Volk's new cookbook, Northern Hospitality with The Portland Hunt + Alpine Club: A Celebration of Cocktails, Cooking, and Coming Together. The husband-and-wife duo own two wildly popular spots in Portland, Maine (Portland Hunt + Alpine Club and Little Giant), and the pages of Northern Hospitality are filled with the same innovative cocktails and irresistible small bites you'll find in their restaurants.

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New Year's Eve is the Volk's wedding anniversary, and they've spent the past six years celebrating at home. They always make sure to see their friends the following day, though, by hosting a low-key New Year's Day brunch. Here are some of Briana and Andrew's best tips for making it all happen.

Image Credit: Peter Frank Edwards

Make It Easy

The most important thing to remember when hosting a New Year's brunch is to keep things as easy as possible. Maybe you had one-too-many glasses of Champagne the night before, or you're just not a morning person — either way, embracing the make-ahead and big-batch potential of these recipes will ensure you're relaxed and can enjoy the festivities instead of spending the whole day in the kitchen.

Briana says the oven pancake batter, for example, can be made the night before and stored in the fridge. You can also prep the components of your open-faced sandwich board — slice some cucumbers, flake some smoked trout, hard-boil some eggs — ahead of time so assembling it the next day is much simpler. The Finnish fruit soup is also totally fine to make ahead; set it out the day of your brunch with yogurt or rice pudding.

The Volks also shared with us the pitcher version of their dangerously sippable White Noise cocktail, which is the equivalent of six drinks, so you don't have to individually mix cocktails for everyone and can instead let friends help themselves.

Image Credit: Peter Frank Edwards

Make It Cozy

Hygge, or the Danish buzzword that captures "a cozy sense of being," is what we're going after here. After all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, you want this brunch to feel like a big, warm hug.

The Volks have a fire going at their house, but if you don't have a fireplace, we have some other ideas for you. They put out games and make sure there are plenty of blankets on the couches and chairs, in case anyone needs to curl up for a post-brunch nap. Briana even tells me that her great-grandmother knitted socks and used to keep a basket of them by the front door of her house for guests to slip on — and that she'd love to do that one day, but with a basket of slippers!

Image Credit: Peter Frank Edwards

Make It Mellow

Briana shares that their guests usually arrive around 11 or noon, and leave by 3 or 4 p.m.; no one feels pressure to get there too early or stay too late. She sets up a "calypso-y, birdland jazz" playlist beforehand, with artists like Django Reinhardt, Hall & Oates, and Xavier Cugatto, and then just lets it play throughout the afternoon.

She doesn't fuss over decorations, either — most of her Christmas stuff is still up, and she says the real decoration is the spread of food on her dining room table. And because the table is being used as a smorgasbord, she encourages guests to build plates and just find a comfortable spot around the house — on a floor pillow, on the couch — to sit and eat.

"It's not a formal sit-down thing," Briana tells me. "It's basically the antithesis of all the holiday stuff you have to do; it's something you get to do with friends."

Image Credit: Courtesy of Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc.

Buy the book: Northern Hospitality with the Portland Hunt + Alpine Club, $20

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