David Hagedorn's brunch makeover, step by step, for the Smith family:
THE DAY BEFORE THE BRUNCH
(Prep time: 4 hours)
* Make a list of ingredients you need to buy and do the shopping.
* Clear space in the refrigerator for storing the finished dishes.
* Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
* Set a kettle of water (for water bath for souffles) and a large pot of salted water (for blanching asparagus) on the stove to boil; set a large bowl of ice water next to stove (to "shock" blanched asparagus).
* Spray dessert ramekins and a large rectangular glass baking dish with nonstick spray oil.
* Brown the sausage for the Chicken Sausage and Three-Cheese Egg Casserole and drain off the fat. Set aside to cool.
* Prepare the Lemon Pudding Souffles mixture, fill individual ramekins and bake.
* Prepare the egg casserole; cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate.
* Prepare the Confetti Vegetable and Smoked Salmon smishes; cover and refrigerate.
* Blanch and shock asparagus for the Chilled Asparagus With Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette. Drain on paper towels and allow to cool.
* Prepare hard-cooked eggs (for the asparagus garnish, if desired), in the blanching water. Cool.
* Transfer the ramekins of baked souffles to a rack to cool; prep for the Fresh Fruit and Berries. Cut melons, pineapple, grapes, mango and/or papaya into two-inch chunks and refrigerate separately in resealable plastic bags, removing as much air from the bags as possible. Storing the fruit together can provoke maceration that will turn some fruits soggy. (Fruits that turn brown such as apples, pears and bananas should be cut just prior to serving.)
* Transfer the cooled asparagus to a large resealable plastic bag. Prepare the vinaigrette, pour over the asparagus and refrigerate. Prep the marinated tomatoes and refrigerate.
* Grate the hard-cooked eggs, if desired, and refrigerate.
* Prepare the orange "sauce" for the souffles, cover and refrigerate.
* Set out the necessary china, silver and glassware (check for dishwasher spots), cups, saucers, serving platters and utensils, napkins; fill resealable plastic bags with ice from ice maker or trays and place in the freezer. Refill trays, if using.
* Fill, run and empty the dishwasher.
THE DAY OF THE BRUNCH
(Prep time: 11/2 hours)
* Remove the casserole from the refrigerator; preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
* Thirty minutes before the guests arrive, bake the still-covered casserole for 40 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more.
* Set up a bar area with fruit garnishes, stirrers, mixers, filled ice bucket and tongs; prepare coffeepot and sugar/sweeteners and cream for the coffee service.
* Choose background music and have it ready to play; check bathrooms and their supplies.
* Toss the chilled, cut-up fruit together with a little sugar, if desired, to brighten the flavor. Place it on a serving platter, top with berries and refrigerate until just before serving.
* Place the smishes on serving platters with crackers, etc. Cover with plastic wrap until just before serving.
* Place the chilled asparagus on a serving platter. Cover with the marinated tomatoes and garnish with the grated egg, if using. Cover with plastic wrap until just before serving.
* Straighten up the kitchen. (Wipe sinks dry for extra "impress" points).
* At the first doorbell, start the coffeepot and the music.
* When the casserole is done, transfer to the counter to rest for 10 minutes. Turn off the oven, then place souffles inside to warm in the residual heat. Spoon the orange "sauce" over individual souffles and serve extra on the side.