A Make-Ahead Holiday Brunch

One of our favorite indulgences on a special holiday is brunch. While certainly more breakfast, than lunch, one of the best distinctions of brunch is that wine is definitely welcome to participate.

New Year's Day Brunch - Clementine and Rosemary Upside Down Cake #LaCremaStyle

For me, a solid  brunch should be a holiday morning constant, year after year. Of course, special holidays also mean that your time is limited, which is why make-ahead recipes are ideal for hosting a crowd.

For this brunch I have two new recipes up my sleeve—a vegetarian wild mushroom strata and a clementine upside-down cake—both of which can be prepared the day before so that all you have to do in the morning is put on the coffee, pop the strata in the oven, and uncork the wine.

New Year's Day Brunch - Wild Mushroom, Goat Cheese, and Roasted Garlic Strata #LaCremaStyle

Strata makes the eternal “do I want eggs or french toast?” brunch question easy by giving you the best elements of savory, cheesy, egg dishes and custard soaked bread in the same recipe.

With a goat cheese and rosemary sauce, sauteed wild mushrooms, roasted garlic, and tuscan kale simmered in La Crema Chardonnay, the strata feels upscale and seasonal while still being absolutely craveable and satisfying.

New Year's Day Brunch - Clementine and Rosemary Upside Down Cake #LaCremaStyle

For dessert, a clementine and rosemary upside-down cake makes the most of juicy winter citrus in an easy and wonderfully pretty dessert. Since it’s un-frosted and not too sweet, serving this for brunch feels enough like serving coffee cake that you can get away with it. A hint of nutmeg in the cake batter punches up the wintery feeling, and enhances the sweet citrus and piney rosemary.

Both the strata and the cake are perfect for serving with La Crema Monterey Chardonnay. The richness of both dishes complements the Monterey Chardonnay’s lush notes of custard, while the citrus and tropical fruit flavors in the wine pair with the profile of  both dishes—orange, rosemary, mushrooms and goat cheese—making it a a natural serving choice. Here’s to starting a special holiday off right!

New Year's Day Brunch - Wild Mushroom, Goat Cheese, and Roasted Garlic Strata #LaCremaStyle

Wild Mushroom, Roasted Garlic, and Goat Cheese Strata

Recipe type: Brunch
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8


  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 lb. day old crusty bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1 TBS finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 TBS dijon mustard
  • 6 oz. soft goat cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 3/4 lb. wild mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 large bunch tuscan kale, tough ribs removed and leaves roughly chopped
  • 1/2 c. La Crema Monterey Chardonnay
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 c. shredded gouda cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cut the top 1/4 inch of the head of garlic off, exposing the cloves but leaving them encased in their papery skin. Place the garlic in a piece of aluminum foil and make a little pouch for the garlic. Drizzle with the olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Roast until cloves are soft and fragrant, about 40 minutes. Set garlic aside.
  2. Place the bread cubes in a large bowl. Add the cream and the rosemary to a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for 1 minute, then turn off the heat. Whisk in the mustard, then add the goat cheese and whisk until the sauce is smooth. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper, then pour over the bread cubes.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and whole milk until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, then pour over the bread. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their papery skins into the bread mixture, and mash gently against the side of the bowl with a spoon. Stir to combine everything. Set the bread custard aside to soak while you prepare the mushrooms and kale.
  4. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Saute mushrooms until they are soft and golden brown in places, about 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the sauteed mushrooms to the bread mixture and return the frying pan to the stove. Add the chopped kale, the chardonnay, and the red pepper flakes to the pan and simmer over medium heat until the kale is tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and add the kale to the bread mixture.
  5. Add the shredded gouda to the bread mixture and stir until all the ingredients are evenly mixed. At this stage, you can either bake the strata immediately or refrigerate the bread custard overnight.
  6. When you are ready to bake the strata, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Generously grease a 9×13 inch casserole dish, then spoon the bread custard evenly over the bottom of the prepared dish. Bake until the strata is golden brown on top and the custard is solid, about 45-50 minutes. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Good served hot or at room temperature.

Clementine and Rosemary Upside-Down Cake

Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8

Note: The basic cake recipe has been adapted from multiple sources, including Bon Appetit and David Lebovitz.


For the cake:
  • 1 stick salted butter, softened
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. AP flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 TBS finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 c. whole milk, room temperature
For the topping:
  • 4 TBS butter
  • 1/3 c. light brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. white sugar
  • 4-6 clementines or mandarin oranges, peeled, white pith removed, and sliced into 1/4 inch circles


For the cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×2 inch round cake pan and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the softened butter until pale and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue beating until the sugar is fully incorporated and butter mixture is no longer gritty. Beat in the vanilla extract, then add the eggs one at a time, beating the batter vigorously for 60 seconds between additions. The batter should be pale yellow and airy.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and rosemary. Add half of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Add the milk to the batter and stir until combined, then add the remaining flour mixture to the batter and stir until just combined. Set the batter aside.
For the topping and assembly:
  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and white sugar to the melted butter and stir until sugars are melted, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the caramel from the heat and pour into the bottom of the prepared cake pan, spreading evenly over the bottom of the pan with a spatula. Place the clementine or mandarin slices in a single layer over the caramel, overlapping the edges slightly. Press down lightly on the clementines to embed them in the caramel. Spoon the prepared cake batter over the fruit and caramel, using a spatula to spread it out evenly. Place the cake pan on top of a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any bubble ups) and place in the oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the top of the cake is golden brown, about 45-50 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately place a plate or serving platter over the top of the cake pan, and invert the cake onto the plate so that the caramel and fruit layer is on top. Let cool before serving.