I have a confession to make: as soon as I received my copy of this book I immediately put it up on my VIP Kitchen shelf. As I flipped through the pages I realized without stepping into my kitchen that this cookbook would become one of my favourites. I am happy to say that it has completely lived up to my expectations! Full of mouth watering photos and a variety of breakfast staples as well as some new twists, Gale Gand’s Brunch! offers something for everyone.
So why did I bestow such an honour on an unfamiliar cookbook and how did it earn the right to remain on my coveted shelf? The answer is simple, elegant, failsafe recipes that are easy to put together and a delight to put in your mouth. The overall tone of the book immediately puts you at ease and makes you feel as if you’ve stepped inside the cosiest kitchen in the world and been given a nice, steaming cup of hot chocolate. Except for the fact that this is Gale Gand so the hot chocolate is made with quality cocoa, brown sugar to impart a rich caramelized flavour, and of course topped with a homemade marshmallow. Heaven.
The first thing you read upon opening the book is Gale’s dedication to her husband which is a witty appreciation for his fortitude in putting up with the infinite number of recipe tests for his pastry chef wife. A beautifully written introduction follows, where readers are offered a glimpse into this celebrity chef’s life and given a symbolic invitation to join her for brunch. Stating that brunch is the new dinner party for busy parents with small children, Gale comes off as both approachable and engaging. This also holds true for her recipes, which are simple without appearing to have been ‘dumbed down’ for us mortal cooks.
So what are you waiting for? Get your hands on a copy…I dare you not to want to make everything in this book!
To read my interview with Gale Gand please click here
Baked Cinnamon-Apple French Toast
RATING: 5 out of 5 (if I could rate this higher I would!)
THE TEST: Since originally testing this recipe I have subsequently made this dish again on numerous occasions, each time revelling in the glorious smell of caramelized apples that wafts through my kitchen. Typically I use a French loaf but find that one is not quite enough bread to fill my 9×13-inch baking dish. While there are more steps involved than other French toast bakes, the extra effort pays off and I highly recommend making both the apple topping and the honey butter topper.
THE RESULTS: Gale Gand describes this recipe as a cross between traditional French toast and bread pudding. I couldn’t agree more. While there is no mistaking that this is indeed French toast, there is a lovely custard texture that gives this classic breakfast dish a refreshing (yet subtle) twist. No need for syrup if you make the suggested flavoured butter – absolutely divine!
Baked Eggs in Ham Cups
RATING: 4.5 out of 5 (quick to make, impressive to behold)
THE TEST: It must have been an easy decision to put a photo of this recipe on the cover of the book. It is a show stopper of a dish! Given the visual fabulousness of this recipe, it came as a bit of a surprise just how easy it is to put together. The only challenge I had involved the ham: Because I purchase my meat from a local butcher who only uses non-medicated free range product, I found without all of those nasty fillers that the ham was more difficult to shape into the muffin tins.
The meat kept breaking but eventually I managed to kind of ‘jam’ it into the proper shape, only problem was that because of the cracks the eggs leaked and made clean-up of the muffin tin a bit of a pain. But in terms of the taste difference in ham there is no comparison. Worth the extra hassle!
THE RESULTS: This is a wonderful way to start your day! They may look deceptively small, but with two eggs in each cup I found one was enough to fill me up. I loved the depth from the pesto, although be careful not to add too much as it can quickly overpower the dish. The acid from the tomato and the creaminess of the cheese were complimented by the saltiness of the ham. Can’t wait to make this dish again – might even try experimenting with different flavours by using a stronger flavoured cheese and perhaps a sun-dried tomato pesto.
RATING: 5 out of 5 (my new favourite muffin)
THE TEST: Okay to be completely honest with you, the only reason I chose to test this recipe is because I wanted to make the suggested Autumn Spice Cream Cheese to serve with the muffins! I’m not really a huge fan of dates, finding their sweetness too intense for my palette. But aside from the cream cheese, I was also fascinated by the idea of chopping an entire whole orange in a food processor and adding it to the batter.
The recipe itself takes no time to whip up, and I’ve made them quite a few times since the original test. My two year-old and I love making these together before the rest of the household is awake, although we usually end up scrapping over the dates as she has a hard time ‘sharing’ with the batter.
THE RESULTS: If you’ve been following along with my blog you will know that I kind of have a thing for muffins. I am always on the lookout for a tasty muffin and this recipe is my new favourite! The flavour that comes from using the whole orange is pure and not at all intense. The citrus also balances out the sweetness of the dates nicely, while the pecans give the muffin a nice crunch. Even Mr. Spock – not a huge muffin fan – couldn’t stop eating these and thought they would hold their own in any coffee shop.
As for my original impetus for testing this recipe in the first place? Ah yes – the cream cheese. Let’s just say it was as lovely as I imagined it would be, and complimented the earthy muffin with its subtle spices. Delish!