Christmas Day, New Year’s Day or any day this winter that you’d like to host a brunch or open house is a good day to try this Spanish holiday brunch menu. Some of the dishes require no cooking and most can be made the day before. Below are hints on what to prepare ahead of time.
Remember food safety rules – If you leave food out on a buffet table for more than two hours, you risk getting sick from food poisoning. So, we recommend serving the dishes above in stages. Bring out a dish every 15-30 minutes and make sure to have plenty of warm slices of bread to accompany the food. Discard any uneaten food after 2 hours on the table.
Coffee, Tea, Juice and… Cava!
First, you’ll need lots of fresh, hot, strong coffee or tea to wake you up and keep you warm. Make strong coffee ahead either in an espresso maker or electric coffee maker and keep it hot in an insulated thermos. Heat the milk in mugs in the microwave, then pour in your coffee. That’s the easy way to make café con leche. Don’t worry if the coffee has cooled some, because the hot milk will warm it up!
Fresh-Squeezed Valencian Orange Juice is a real treat on a festive morning. Before your guests arrive, make plenty of juice using a juicer and store in an air-tight container until you are ready to serve. Make sure to shake or stir vigorously in case the juice settles. If you can’t make fresh squeezed juice, look for the freshest cartons in your grocery store.
Cava is Spain’s sparkling wine and readily available in most supermarkets in the USA. Keep it on ice or in the coldest part of your refrigerator until ready to serve. There are six types of cava, from the sweetest, called Dulce that contains more than 50 grams of sugar per liter to the driest, Extra Brut that contains 0-6 grams of sugar per liter.
Ruby red pomegranate seeds combine with green lettuce, yellow and green avocado and pink shrimp to make a very attractive salad for your table. The pomegranate can be seeded the day before and stored in the refrigerator. The shrimp can be peeled, cooked and refrigerated as well. The morning of the brunch, simply lay out the lettuce leaves, cut the avocado and orange and put it all together with the shrimp and pomegranate. Making the dressing takes less than 5 minutes.
Note: If the salad will be left out on the table, chill the shrimp on ice in a separate bowl and let your guests add it to the salad on their plates.
Put together a tray of different Spanish cheeses. Try a variety of types, such as goat, cow and sheep, as well as the textures – soft, moist, dry or hard. Some examples of the various types you can find in supermarkets are:
- Majorero - A goat’s milk cheese from the Canary Island of Fuerteventura, it is semi-cured and usually covered in paprika.
- Manchego: This sheep’s milk cheese is probably the most famous Spanish cheese and has its own Denomination of Origin. It is piquant and buttery and has a nutty flavor, as well.
- Idiazábal: A Basque hard cheese made from the milk of the long-haired Lacha sheep. It is made from un-pasteurized sheep’s milk.
- Tetilla: A very light, mild, creamy cheese from the region of Galicia in the Northwest.
- Arzua-Ulloa: A semi-cured cheese, from the region of Galicia, similar to Tetilla, but with a slightly stronger flavor due to longer ripening.
More details about Spanish cheeses:
- Introduction to Spanish Cheese
- Spanish Sheep Milk Cheeses - Manchego, Zamorano, Roncal, Idiazabal
- Spanish Goat Milk Cheeses
- Spanish Cow's Milk Cheeses - Tetilla, Mahon, Arzua-Ulloa
Tortilla Espanola and Tortilla con Chorizo
Although you can make the omelets ahead of time, we recommend that you make these the morning of the brunch. If you have to prepare the day before, peel and cut the potatoes and onions, then fry them and drain. Store in the refrigerator overnight and allow the mixture to warm to room temperature before mixing with the beaten eggs and cooking in the frying pan.
The Tortilla con Chorizo (with no potatoes or onions) can be made in a jiffy, so no need to prepare that ahead. Simply chop Spanish chorizo sausage into pieces and mix with beaten eggs.
Swiss Chard and Egg Menestra - Menestra de Acelgas
If you don't want to prepare an omelet, try this great egg dish, most of which can be prepared ahead of time. It is a colorful and tasty mixture of Swiss chard, ham, potatoes, garlic and eggs. Prepare everything but the eggs the night before, then mix in the eggs and bake until eggs are cooked - about 10 minutes. Here's a tip: If you do not have Serrano ham, substitute chorizo sausage, Canadian bacon or ham.
Bacalao con Tomate - Cod Fish with Tomato Sauce
The salty flavor of the cod combines well with the sweeter flavor of tomato sauce, garlic and roasted red pepper. It requires that you soak the salt cod in water for at least 24 hours to leach out the extra salt. Prepare this dish a day ahead because the tomato sauce mellows overnight. Heat just before serving.
Because this recipe makes 7 dozen cookies that melt in your mouth, there should be plenty for all your guests. We recommend setting out a couple dozen at a time, so they don’t disappear so fast. If it is a small group, make half the recipe.
No cooking involved here! Purchase the turron over the internet or at a local ethnic or speciality food store. There are literally hundreds of styles of turron available now – not just the traditional hard nougat and soft turron. This year our care package from Spain included “yema” or egg yolk flavor, several chocolate varieties and a marzipan turron covered in chocolate, not to mention the right cream style with walnuts.