The brunch bunch

Pea pancakes with crab and home made baked beans with rarebit that you can make ahead of time

Sat, Dec 21, 2013, 01:00

You have to love brunch. It’s so completely, well ... I guess civilised is the word. Or maybe it’s just so aspirational? A sign that you’re really “together” in the morning and that whipping up a casual feast for friends really is no bother.

Brunch should be laid-back, relaxed, almost louche. And if someone wants to leave the table every now and then to check the match results or catch the end of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, well, it’s not a complete catastrophe. As its name implies, to me brunch is the best of both worlds – the perfect occasion to have friends over (particularly if you have kids that get on – the whole gang can come then), but also the perfect excuse to turf them out politely when energies start to flag and you want the evening to yourself. Brunch doesn’t start too early, or finish too late. See what I mean by civilised? Or are we back to aspirational?

And because it’s neither lunch nor breakfast but something halfway between, brunch gives the cook maximum flexibility when it comes to choosing what to serve. Really, almost anything goes, especially if it has eggs in it – or bacon. It seems an unwritten rule that you don’t have to be too pedantic about portion sizes either, with the best brunch recipes being just as nice in small quantities (for the delicate appetite) as large helpings.

It also helps if you can prepare at least some elements a bit in advance. The day before is ideal, but even an hour or two before your guests arrive is a big help. It’s for this reason that I settled on the two recipes below for this week.

For the baked beans with rarebit (and yes, there’s bacon in there), you can make the bean mix the day before; it’ll be nicer the next day. The pancakes are a twist on a classic – peas with seafood, in this case, crab. Made ever so slightly sweet by the peas, and with the savoury crab mix piled on top, the pancakes look very pretty on the plate. Both the crab and pancake mixes can be made an hour or two before you’re ready to serve. The beans are a bit more robust, almost macho, and with the rarebit on the side, are very moreish indeed.

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