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At our house, Christmas Eve is often a race to the finish line of what has already been a hectic season: Final presents to be wrapped, stockings to be stuffed, and Santa presents to be hidden, complete with corresponding handwritten letters to each child outlining clues to finding the treasures. So, on Christmas morning, while everyone opens their presents, I want to savor my coffee without worrying about what we’re going to eat afterward. Over the years, I’ve learned that planning ahead for Christmas morning brunch provides a stress-free morning that everyone can enjoy. Great restaurant take-out options for such a meal abound in central Arkansas, and there’s still time to place your orders!
If it were up to me, I would probably go ahead and dig into the roasted beef tenderloin and creamy potato gratin with pancetta that we order from Boulevard Bread in Little Rock. But my family members are traditionalists, so those dishes must wait for the more formal Christmas dinner. Breakfast casseroles or quiches are a great solution for a brunch menu because you can throw one in the oven while presents are still being opened, and it’s substantial enough to stand on its own. Trio’s is featuring a special Christmas menu with an egg and sausage breakfast casserole in addition to its standard quiche Lorraine (bacon and Swiss) and Greek quiche (spinach, feta and tomato). Raduno is once again offering its quiches with bacon or local veggies. (Some years we order both to accommodate the non-pork eater in our household.)
This year At the Corner in Little Rock has planned a full Christmas menu that pays tribute to Ruby Jones of the famed Jones Café in Pine Bluff. The Christmas morning options include a sausage, egg and cheese casserole; French toast casserole; ham, spinach, mushroom and three-cheese blend quiche; and shrimp and grits casserole. Its vegetarian counterpart, Flora Jean’s, is offering a mushroom, spinach and gruyere quiche. Boulevard Bread offers a variety of quiches that can be pre-ordered year-round.
Although the breakfast casserole or quiche theoretically could be the only dish on the table, it’s more fun to have sides from which to graze. Trio’s brunch-worthy side options include maple glazed brussels sprouts, spicy spinach dip, hummus and loaded hummus, hot crab dip, Mediterranean tapenade, chilled shrimp, beef tenderloin cocktail sandwiches, cheese and bacon stuffed mushrooms, and a strawberry cheddar ring. At the Corner is also going all out, with options such as cheesy grits, buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy, biscuits with blackberry jam by the half dozen, hashbrown casserole, and brussels sprouts with bacon jam. Raduno is also doing brussels sprouts, as well as deviled eggs by the dozen. Flora Jean’s is preparing biscuits and sugar plum jam by the half dozen, as well as their signature sunflower cheddar grits.
Pastries are standard fare for Christmas morning brunch, and Searcy’s Wild Sweet William’s is selling its famous cookies, scones and cinnamon rolls in take-and-bake format. This includes mini cinnamon rolls, mini and standard-size scones, and small and large cookies — all by the dozen. In addition to standard favorites, seasonal scone offerings feature gingerbread, peppermint white chocolate and chocolate cranberry.
Raduno and At the Corner are also in on the take-and-bake cinnamon roll action, and Flora Jean’s is offering take-and-bake orange blossom cinnamon rolls and rosemary cherry hand pies, both by the half dozen.
Since there are no other rules to eating this time of year, dessert after brunch is also allowed and even encouraged. At the Corner has a full menu of options, including pecan pie, pralines, butter pound cake, cream cheese cookies, and peppermint pie or peanut butter pie with fudge sauce. Flora Jean’s features a vegan pecan pie, turtle dove cheesecake, chocolate rosemary cookies by the dozen, vegan chocolate pecan brittle, vegan chocolate hazelnut tart, and coffee cake, which is vegan and gluten-free. Boulevard Bread has coconut pie and chocolate ganache pie on its Christmas menu, but its standard whole cakes — coconut, carrot, triple chocolate ganache and sour cream chocolate fudge — can also be ordered in advance.
Raduno is offering half or whole cheesecake and chocolate torte, as well as bread pudding with cinnamon whip and tiramisu.
Happy Christmas to all, indeed!
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