Happy Holiday Brunch

by Rona Berg

Hosting a gathering of the clan for brunch over the holidays can be stressful! That’s why we consulted an expert, for guidance.

Plant-based pioneer, Joy Pierson, who, with her husband Bart Potenza, opened two renowned New York City restaurants: Candle Cafe in 1993, and the more upscale Candle 79 in 2003. We spoke with Joy, and asked her to share some favorite brunch recipes for the holidays. 

RB: Putting together a holiday brunch can be stressful. Any tips on how not to stress?

JP: Do as much prep as possible the days before your holiday brunch.  Some dishes can even be made in advance and cooked/baked on the day of, which saves time and reduces stress. I love to have fruit compote and flavored maple syrup and butters on hand to enhance a holiday brunch.

RB: What should be top of mind when thinking about what's on the menu? Crowd-pleasers?

JP: Essential to menu planning are color, flavor and fun.These components are a trifecta of crowd-pleasers. They include Danish, donuts, pancakes, French toast, crepes, coffee cake, cinnamon buns, seasonal fruit muffins, quiche, and so much more. Mocktails, cocktails and fresh, organic juices are always crowd-pleasers

RB: Any tips on presentation--how to make the table--look pretty? 

JP: Presentation is key. We eat with our eyes, which gives people the power of taste before they even open their mouths. I like to serve family style so I can plate large dishes for everyone to share. Use fresh fruits, vegetables or herbs, and/or edible flowers to garnish. Centerpieces can include a bowl of clementines, or red and green apples, or pomegranates. Entertaining is an expression of your inner chef.

RB: Joy, you were a pioneer in plant-based eating. How does it make you feel to see so many more people making the shift?

JP: As the founders of Candle Cafe in NYC, we have been on the forefront of this exciting trend for the past 25 years. So many people are making the shift to organic, plant-based eating, including those in Stamford, CT, where Bart and I have just launched a series of cooking classes at Mike's Organic Delivery, a new organic market and hub for food education. Our monthly participation classes are intimate, informative, delicious, and fun. We are so excited for the opportunity to teach and love to spread and share the vegan magic wherever we go


Joy Pierson and her husband, Bart Potenza.

Tofu Turmeric Scramble

  • 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth                                
  • 1 clove garlic, minced   
  • 1/2 cup ea: diced red, green pepper   
  • 4 mushroom caps, diced                               
  • 2 Tblsp. broth or non-dairy milk  
  • 14-16 oz firm or extra firm tofu, squeezed dry
  •  1/2 tsp. each turmeric, onion powder                               
  • opt: smoked paprika, salsa, sour cream
  • 1 Tblsp. ea: nutritional yeast, tamari                                   
  • Pinch or more kala namak (black salt)
  1. Heat skillet. Add broth. Sauté garlic, peppers, and mushrooms for 3 minutes.
  2. Add broth or milk to pan. Crumble tofu and add to pan. Sprinkle with turmeric and onion powder.
  3. Stir fry until most of the liquid is evaporated and tofu begins to brown.
  4. Add nutritional yeast, tamari, kala namak, and smoked paprika if using.
  5. Serve mixture with breakfast sausage or tempeh bacon and toast.  You can also assemble a breakfast burrito and wrap scramble in tortillas. Top with salsa if desired.

Plant Power Granola

  • 1-1/2 cups organic rolled oats                                   
  • 2 Tblsp oat flour     
  • 1/3 cup ea: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, untoasted coconut flakes
  • opt: 1/2 tsp. cinnamon or 1 tsp. vanilla                       
  • opt: pinch sea salt                                                                               
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tblsp. maple syrup                
  • opt: add after baking: crystallized ginger, dried organic fruit, chopped dates, raisins, toasted coconut flakes                                                                        
  • opt: add 1-2 tblsp coconut sugar                    
  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  1. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  2. Put sweeteners in a glass measuring cup and heat for 30 seconds. Add to dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon to incorporate.
  3. Line a large baking pan with unbleached parchment paper. Spread mixture evenly in pan.
  4. Bake 20 minutes. Toss granola and bake another 10 to 15 minutes. Please watch carefully, especially during the last 10 minutes, as mixture can easily burn!
  5. Remove from oven and cool for 20 minutes. Then add optional ingredients, if desired. 
  6. Store in a glass jar, covered in fridge. Best eaten within a week. Freeze extra. 


Share your holiday brunch photos with us!

 @organicspamag

You may also like