How to serve a summer brunch on a budget {here is my 40th birthday brunch menu}

You may have noticed that I recently turned the big FOUR OH and with that of course there was a fairly smashing celebration. Originally I had not intended on doing anything at home for my big day, nevermind actually catering it myself, but after a few unforseen hassles the plans changed.

Having a birthday party for a milestone birthday should be very special, it should really be one you and your guests remember, so I was pretty torn up about the fact that I could no longer take my guests out for a spoil brunch at a local bistro on a wine estate like I had intended.  I was even less impressed with the idea that if I didn’t take anybody out, I would need to do something at home and the last thing I felt like doing was standing in my kitchen for hours making it all and then serving it as well as trying to entertain and keep my guests happy. That wouldn’t leave much time for me to bask in the actual reason for the party. I really wanted to enjoy my birthday rather than feel I worked though it.

Please bear in mind that I am the daughter of a Gourmet Chef and before he died, my Dad has spent the majority of his life as a father teaching me the tricks of the trade, and the entertainer gene was difinitively instilled in me, which leaves me never to do anything at half measures, so if I couldn’t do it properly then I didn’t want to do it at all.  The other issue I had with doing it at home was having my three kids (Bless them) around my ankles all day while I was trying to get everything ready by 10:45 in the morning on a Saturday and then trying to enjoy my actual party too.

That all being said, with careful planning and budgeting and a little.. no make that a lot of help on the day from a very hands on member of my family, I ended up with a really great and not too costly brunch menu, and I decided to share it all with you.  I wanted to keep it simple yet stylish and modern… I wasn’t looking for mini quiches, pies and brunch casseroles with that whole bring and share 70’s potluck vibe, and so I spent a fair amount of time of Pinterest, you can check out my board here, where I found some really easy to achieve yet extremely attractive looking and tasting ideas.

Because my birthday is in January (midsummer in South Africa) the menu needed to reflect a light summery feel, and so I immediately knew I needed lots of fruit, light pastries, Patê’s and frittata to name a few things. Essentially you could make this menu as cost-effective or expensive as you wish, it really is up to you.  I opted to keep the budget as close to under R1000 as possible and the total headcount was eighteen.  If you had to look at the pictures or had been there on the day, you probably would not have guessed I could do it for that little and still have it look as good. There was more than enough to go around, and there was a wide variety to select from. Along with the food I served Herbal Teas, Coffee as well as Champagne, Zari Sparkling Grape Juice (Non alcoholic sparkling wine) and Orange Juice so that we could make mimosa’s.  I also had Ice cold water with Cucumber slices. If I can give one piece of advice to anybody looking to cater an event on a budget, that is do your research first, look at visuals, get ideas on garnishes or presentation.  That old adage “Looks good enough to eat” is true.  People eat with their eyes, so even if you were just serving French Toast, but pimped it up with Bacon, syrup and cheese and some fresh mint or lashings of powdered sugar it will be a sight for sore eyes and I am sure everybody will be dying to dig in. So there in lies the secret….and that is that presentation is key.

There is really  nothing more left for me to say here, than just to show you the images of the food that were taken on the day.  As far as preparation and ingredients go, they were all really simple.  I was able to prep pretty much everything in advance the night before. I was very lucky to have two of my guests contribute in the way of the tuna terrine as well as the delicious Rosemary mini muffins with Peach and ham filling too which made it all the more special. I will try to give a brief description of what is going on in each photo, so that you can get an idea of the recipes.  I really think this type of entertaining whether it be for a birthday, mothers day or Easter is really the way to go.  You can have so much fun on a shoestring or on a lavish budget. I did not get a shot of the whole table at once, but lets just say my eight seater table top was groaning from end to end.


Left: Rosemary Mini muffins filled with Creamed cheese, ham & Peach Salsa, far right/top An Apple & Blueberry pie made with frozen Short crust pastry. Right: Selection of puff pastry tarts with various toppings, Bottom centre: watermelon slices with feta cheese & balsamic reduction.
These pastries are so easy to make. For 18 people I used 4 Rolls of pastry and cute each into 12 portions. Bake as is and then top with anything you like. I made Roasted Roma tomatoes over Mozzarella with balsamic reduction, Scrambled eggs with Smoked Salmon and Sour cream, topped with fresh dill. Caramelized Onion, Rocket and Bree. The options are endless. I did a similar pastry board on Friday for an office picnic with Smoked Chicken, Watercress and sweet chilli sauce as well as Roasted Vegetables with Feta and fresh Oregano. You can really go to town. Don’t forget that you can do sweet toppings too, like fresh fruit or chocolate. I haven’t done this yet but I will be trying soon.
Serve mini Croissants (I bought mine at woolworths) with Preserves and Cheese and fresh butter. heat them slightly before serving if you bought them the day before. I also bakes fresh brown bread in my bread machine that morning so it was delicious. I served it along with the croissants and made some fresh Smoked Salmon Patê to accompany the bread.
This was the gorgeous and delicious Tuna terrine that a friend of mine made. It was simply divine and everybody kept going back for more and couldn’t stop talking about it. Bear in mind that this is something that needs to stay cold or it starts to melt a little. There are plenty of amazing ideas for terrines similar to this on pinterest.


These are just a few pictures of some of the things I made.  I also had a lot of fresh fruit, I made mini frittata with baby marrow, cheddar cheese and parsley and also baby spinach and feta. I prepared all of the pastry toppings the night before and the muffins and watermelon were assembled right before the party while I was baking the pastries.  I chose to serve everything on wooden cheese boards to give a rustic yet also sophisticated appearance and it also made cleaning up a breeze.  You will find boards like this at most craft markets these days.  To give the table a feminine appearance I used White Table clothes and a floral table runner with white roses.  I was able to use some antique serving knives and cake lifters which also added to the feminine feel.

I hope you enjoyed my post and that it inspires you to plan a brunch for a special occasion too.

Take Care

Being Me - With Celeste







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6 thoughts on “How to serve a summer brunch on a budget {here is my 40th birthday brunch menu}

  1. My goodness – this looks utterly scrumptious! Totally drooling here :)
    I’m sure the food was a hit – and I hope you enjoyed your special day to the max!

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