Hosting a spring brunch? Dish & Design dishes up tips

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

Hosting the ultimate brunch this spring doesn’t mean you have to spend the entire day in a hot kitchen while your guests have all the fun without you, mimosa in hand.

Central Avocado Toast, topped with a fried egg at Dish and Design, an event series presented by Homestyle at EuroAmerica Design in Troy.

Plan and cook your menu in advance as much as you can, suggests chef Kelli Lewton of Two Unique Caterers & Event Planners in Royal Oak and Detroit. Strawberry basil brie hand pies, for example, are fun but easy dessert that can be made a week in advance and frozen.

“Take them out the day of, put some egg wash on them and bake them,” said Lewton, during a cooking demonstration Wednesday at Homestyle’s latest Dish & Design event.

Lewton was one of several speakers at Dish & Design, a series of talks for readers that offer tips on entertaining, interior design and floral design. Sponsored by and held at EuroAmerica Design in Troy, Wednesday’s theme was about hosting the ultimate brunch, from spring-infused flower arrangements to unique dishes.

Christina Stanco, executive chef of Central Kitchen + Bar in downtown Detroit, whipped up a light spring dish, Central Avocado Toast. She mashed avocado and mixed it with lemon juice, mayonnaise, chopped dill and kosher salt. Then she layered the avocado on grilled, multigrain bread with heirloom tomatoes, topping it with a fried egg and caper vinaigrette.

“It’s easy, simple and people love it,” said Stanco.

When layering the dish, Stanco says don’t skimp on each element.

“You want to put sort of generous amounts of everything because there are so few ingredients,” said Stanco.

And as much as people love a Bloody Mary bar or mimosas at brunch, there are other options, says Nick Arrigo, Central Kitchen + Bar’s bar manager. Another option that’s less acidic and won’t give you heartburn is a basil grapefruit gimlet. It’s made with vodka, grapefruit juice, an elder berry liqueur, lime juice and a basil-infused simple syrup.

But don’t overcook the basil in the simple syrup, says Arrigo.

Cooked correctly, it’s “almost a basil-flavored Kool-Aid,” said Arrigo. “But pass 15 minutes and it’ll be like a Sour Patch Kid, so don’t cook it too long.”

When it comes to flower arrangements, think spring branches, said Jerome Raska, co-owner of Blumz by JR Designs, which has locations in Ferndale, Detroit and Holly. Now is the time to bring in branches such as forsythia. Cut branches with pruning shears, put them in water and you’ll force the branches to bloom.

And when it comes to putting together just the right arrangement, Raska says start with a good foundation, frame it and add a focal point. He designed five arrangements throughout the night, including one with fantail pussy willows and an orchid spray at the center.

Flower design “is like building a house,” Raska said. “You have to have a good foundation.”

A good foundation also is key in any good kitchen design. Bob Bouwens, a designer at EuroAmerica, said contemporary kitchen designs have become one of the most sought-after aesthetics. People want clean lines.

“Modern can be very soothing, very warm, depending on the way you finish the space,” said Bouwens.

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