Cooking The Books
Breakfast, Brunch, and Baking
In 2014, local writer Shawn Micallef wrote a book called “The Trouble with Brunch”. The book is a more sophisticated political commentary than the title would suggest, but he is not alone in dissing brunch. Well, you know what they say about haters. Me, I love brunch; brunch is breakfast on steroids. According to Micallef, brunch is a ritual of conspicuous consumption based on a façade of income and leisure that is not a reality for most of us. And I get that, but it’s precisely because my time is limited that I appreciate it so much.
While I do like to go out for brunch, the Good Morning Cookbook makes it easier to enjoy this ritual at home. Author Sarabeth Levine started as a pastry chef and jam maker in New York City, opening her first shop in 1981. She is now the owner of 16 restaurants across the world. You can buy her preserves in major grocery stores in Toronto.
The book covers weekday breakfasts as well as brunch and includes a number of Levine’s preserves, jams and spreads. There are pancakes, waffles, French toast, baked goods as well as savoury egg dishes. You can be healthy with Pear, Ginger and Yogurt Parfaits or a variety of hot cereals. Or you can indulge in Souffléd Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes, Strawberry Shortcakes or cute little Feta Cheese and Spinach Hand Pies.
Everything I tried turned out great. The directions were easy to follow and the recipes worked well. (Remember that you should always increase the amount of salt for maximum flavour). Levine’s Cornbread was flavourful, with a soft, cakey texture. It was great with eggs or peanut butter but I liked it best plain with butter.
If you like savoury, Potato Waffles made with mashed potatoes, sour cream and chives were awesome. They were soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, just how waffles should be. I served them first with sour cream and homemade applesauce and the second time with poached eggs, which was even better.
Gingerbread-Coffee Waffles were another fun twist. The coffee served as the back note and really they tasted like gingersnap cookies rather than gingerbread, but does that matter?
I couldn’t resist trying the Apple-Cinnamon Bread even though, like all bread, it was a bit of a production. This bread was slightly sweet with a distinct apple flavour and a soft brioche-like texture.
You may or may not have an issue, as Shawn Micallef does, with being served more than a day’s worth of calories in a crowded restaurant by hungover, underpaid servers. But Sarabeth Levine knows her stuff and you can try these recipes at home guilt-free. You won’t regret it.
Naomi Bussin is a lawyer, mother of three and accomplished cook. Food is her favourite subject and she reads cookbooks in her spare time.