Brunch is a long-established American tradition. It’s easy to understand why it has become so popular. It is an activity that combines social interaction and delicious food… or a way of entertaining friends and family without the fuss and arduous preparation of a full-scale dinner party.
Sunday morning (unless you are a priest or a vicar) is often a time devoted to walking the dog, washing the car or cutting the lawn. Those pleasurable (yeah, right) tasks could be postponed till the afternoon, allowing pleasant morning hours of convivial companionship shared with loved ones… and fabulous food.
Brunch food should be easily prepared, a delight for the eye and present the kinds of dishes that can be consumed in an unhurried fashion. Gale Gand’s Brunch offers recipes that tick all the boxes. Not only are all those boxes ticked but it’s done with style and imagination. Brunch isn’t an excuse for an unreasonably early Sunday lunch or a late breakfast. Somehow the English “Full Monty” (that fried breakfast of legendary proportions) doesn’t have the class of Gale’s marvellous spreads.
Gale Gand will be a familiar name to all US Food Network viewers. She was the presenter of Sweet Dreams, the network’s first daily show devoted to baking. Gale is an award winning pastry chef and co-owner of the celebrated Tru restaurant in Chicago so it’s no surprise that the dishes here are delectable. There are around 100 of them so you’ll be hosting many a brunch before you need to cover the same territory again.
This book leads you through basic brunch favourites like Omelettes but continues through a whole plethora of toasts, baked goods, savoury dishes to salads and soups. There is enough variety here to cater for the dietary whims of all the family …even your nephew who will only eat red food. Start him off with a Bloody Mary and feed him Gazpacho. (It’s probably only a phase he’s going through… although he is 46.)
Popovers will be something new for many of my British readers. Think of the lightest imaginable Yorkshire Pudding and add some flavour. Gale has Mini Popovers that are airy with a delicate hint of herbs and irresistible with Lemon Butter. If you have a Yorkshire pudding tin or muffin tin then you’ll be able to make these.
Baked Camembert has become a classic but Gale suggests a Cranberry-Black Pepper Compote to serve alongside. That would add some zing to a dish that is otherwise quite heavy. Caramelized Onion Tarts are also inspired by the French and this is a fine example using zucchini (courgette) and feta cheese. This recipe uses ready-bought puff pastry, as does Peanut Butter and Jelly Turnovers which are bound to be winners with the kids!
My favourite recipe from Gale Gand’s Brunch is that for Torta Rustica. This is the most amazing layered pie of vegetables and ham (I am sure you could make a vegetarian version.) This dish will impress your guests and have them begging you for the recipe. There is more than a full page of instructions but don’t be put off. It’s a simple recipe but one of those that has several elements. A novice cook would gain confidence and compliments.
Gale Gand’s Brunch will have us all inviting friends over for an amazing feast. The cook will be able to enjoy the day as much as his/her guests. I wouldn’t, however, reserve these brunch delights for Sundays at 11am. You’ll find much here that will be equally well received at lunches, picnics and dinners. Brilliant.
Gale Gand’s Brunch
Author: Gale Gand
Published by: Clarkson Potter
Price: $27.50 US
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018