By Becky Billingsley
Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012 - It’s a good thing we all know not to judge a book by its cover, because whoever chose the photo for the cover of a new cookbook titled “Sunday Brunch,” by Betty Rosbottom, made a poor decision. Thankfully, the book’s fabulous recipes redeem it.
The decision was made to feature on the book’s cover a plate of sautéed mushrooms, a slice of toasted sourdough, one fried egg and a few sprigs of rosemary. There is no sauce or jelly or any condiment at all anywhere in sight, even on the side. It looks like a dry, barren and Spartan meal.
Inside the book is a photo of the same dish with more of the scene revealed, and it shows a small dish containing butter. That’s much better.
Because brunch, after all, is all about a weekend splurge. You can’t have a bowl of fresh fruit and granola-topped yogurt and call it brunch. That’s just breakfast.
Brunch is Hollandaise and potatoes and cream and extra-special breads slathered in compotes and jams. It’s a hearty late-morning meal that’s supposed to carry you through until suppertime.
There is an Eggs Benedict Recipe, one with “New Orleans Accents,” (it’s spicy) and the photo does show Hollandaise sauce. But it is an odd shot taken from straight overhead, and the reader can’t see the dish’s composition well.
But mostly the photography stays away from sauces. However, this shortcoming should not take away from the fabulousness of Rosbottom’s recipes, because they sound extraordinary, and the resulting dishes would be welcome on any brunch menu.
Gratin of Eggs, Leeks, Bacon and St. Andre Cheese certainly sounds wonderful, along with Caramelized Shallot and Ham Tartlets. Grape Tomato and Blue Cheese Tart has a wonderful-sounding crust containing cayenne and cream cheese, while Golden Pecan Waffles with Warm Salted Caramel Sauce and Bananas sounds appropriately decadent.
Want brunch items with a holiday theme? There are Baked Eggnog French Toast with Cranberries and Apples, Cranberry-Pecan Scones and Twice-Ginger Gingerbread Muffins.
Delectable-looking bread with a crumbly streusel topping is Espresso-Scented Coffee Cake, and fellow southerners will appreciate the hearty pleasures of Sausage-Studded Cornbread.
Eating light doesn’t have to mean being deprived with treats like Poached Apricots and Greek Yogurt with Pistachios; or Plum Parfaits with Yogurt and Granola. Even the strictest of dieters might relent if offered Wine-Glazed Grapefruit Cups.
Delicious side dishes are also included, like Roasted Sweet Potato Hash Browns; Skillet-Roasted Potatoes with Mushrooms and Pancetta; or Smoked Salmon, Fennel and Potato Hash. A side dish that will appeal to coastal dwellers is bite-size Heavenly Little Crab Cakes made in mini muffin tins and topped with a dollop of mustard aioli.
Many brunch lovers wouldn’t consider the meal complete without a cocktail, and in addition to classic brunch beverages like Mimosas and Bloody Marys, this book also has the recipe for Bellinis (it involves peaches and a sparkling dry white wine called prosecco) and non-alcoholic Fresh Citrus Spritzers.
“Sunday Brunch” is a fine cookbook with a pleasing amount of southern touches – the author grew up in the south. Most of the photography is fine and will inspire home cooks to get their aprons on and get cooking.
If you’d rather have someone else do your brunch cooking, you can check out THIS LIST of the Myrtle Beach area’s Top 10 Brunch Restaurants.
From “Sunday Brunch,” by Betty Rosbottom
Eggs Baked with Crème Fraiche, Crab and Tarragon
The success of this dish depends on using fresh crab meat. Canned pasteurized crab will not produce the same bright flavor.
½ cup crème fraiche
½ tablespoon unsalted butter
4 eggs, preferably large or extra large
Salt and pepper
4 ounces cooked fresh crab meat, picked over and brought to room temperature for 30 minutes
4 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
With the rack in the center position, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the creme fraiche in a small saucepan and set over low heat just to liquefy, 1 minute or less. Set aside.
Generously butter 4 crème brulee dishes. Break an egg into each dish, and then place the dishes on the center rack and bake until the white of each egg is firm and the yolk is thickened (but still runny), 8 to 12 minutes. Start checking the eggs at 8 minutes. Watch carefully and, when done, remove from the oven. (Note: Although the eggs are cooked in this recipe, the yolks are still soft.)
Season each egg with salt and pepper. Sprinkle some fresh crab in a ring around each yolk, and then spoon 2 tablespoons crème fraiche over the crab. Garnish each serving with a sprinkle of tarragon and serve.