Brunch is one of those fancy meals that everyone loves to pin on millennials, but it's truly been a Sunday tradition in the South that goes hand-in-hand with mid-morning church services. Joy Wilson of Joy the Baker knows that brunch is luxurious and leisurely, best enjoyed over a long wooden farmhouse table with main dishes of eggs, waffles, pancakes, sausages, and cocktails aplenty. Joy the Baker: Over Easy, released this spring, is her ode to brunch in its full glory, with sections including: Cocktails and Coffee, Eggs, Griddle, Sides, Sandwiches and Salads, and Baked Goods.
Over Easy is photographed by Jonathon Melendez of The Candid Appetite, whose own cookbook The Slider Effect: You Can't Eat Just One is visually stunning and crazy delicious, too. Because the JTB cookbook itself centers around brunch, I decided that I would spend Sunday morning making (and promptly eating) a full brunch menu.
Snippets from a Home Cook: Joy Wilson
Before fully diving into the recipes, let's just have a little chat about how playfully gorgeous this cookbook is. If you're a longtime follower of JTB, you'll recognize her touches on every single page, from the witty and whimsical recipe descriptions to the bright photos just straight up bathing in natural light.
It's inspirational in its layout, beginning with brunch liquids (all fairly simple to whip together) and ending with more technical baked goods. Each section flows in a natural rhythm, and the variety of recipes alone make this cookbook worthy of a spot on your shelf. On one page you'll find a Summer Pimm's Cup Cocktail and in the next section you'll find secrets to perfect eggs, with detailed instructions on poached eggs, fluffy scrambled eggs, and more.
My Brunch Menu
I wanted to choose dishes that were seasonal, fresh, and just dang delicious. Admittedly, I live in the tiniest apartment in the world with my cat and
boyfriend professional recipe tester, Scott so there isn't a whole lot of room. Meaning, if I can successfully make a full-course brunch menu, then you can, too!
While there is a beautiful section on the Griddle, full of waffle and pancakes recipes that had me drooling, I skipped this section of the book because I don't have a waffle maker (read: no room), and I chose cinnamon rolls over pancakes (um, brioche, hello).
I started with the Watermelon-Mint Sangria since all of the flavors needed to come together in the refrigerator. JTB recommends a melon baller (like this one for $5), and she's absolutely right. There's something to be said for balls of watermelon and cantaloupe (my own addition) floating in a refreshing glass of sangria.
I made a half-batch of the sangria in a large mason jar, which was perfect for storing in the refrigerator so it could cool down and become even more delicious. Watermelon juice is not the easiest juice to extract from a fruit, but her tip for blending the fruit, then straining it worked like a charm.
This recipe was delicious and is something I'll be bookmarking for the next brunch, river float, or backyard barbecue. The combination of watermelon and mint is a classic summer pairing, and the lime and orange slices added a nice citrus touch to cut through the alcohol.
Chocolate Brioche Cinnamon Rolls
At the Over Easy cookbook signing, when asked what recipe should we first make from this book, JTB answered, "The Chocolate Brioche Cinnamon Rolls." So obviously I had to add them to the brunch list. For a baked good, especially one as precise and delicate as cinnamon rolls, these were surprisingly easy to make.
Two hours of proofing coincided nicely with the sangria refrigeration so by the time I was ready to knead and roll, I had a nice cocktail to sip on. I think Joy would approve. The only ingredient you might not regularly keep on hand is a packet of yeast, but all of the ingredients mentioned are likely in your pantry right now, even for the glaze.
I'll admit I was intimidated -- I don't have a stand mixer (read: no room) so all of my kneading, even the 5-7 minutes of stand mixer kneading, was done by hand. I'm not someone who takes great pleasure in working dough for longer than 5 minutes, so if you have a stand mixer, just let it do the heavy lifting for you.
Despite the arm workout, these cinnamon rolls were so delicious, my professional recipe tester said, "There's something just so good about them, I can't stop eating them." High praise, y'all.
Spicy Brown Sugar Sausage Patties
I knew this had to be on the menu because I had never even considered making my own sausage patties before. Is this a thing? Let's discuss. Luckily of the kitchen appliances I lack, I do own a spice grinder and ground the seasonings down to a powder that was so aromatic, I was wondering why I had never done it before.
It was a snap to make these patties, and took me about five minutes once I had all of my ingredients in the bowl. They fried up so delicious in a cast iron skillet and per Joy's advice, I froze the leftover patties we didn't eat. I'm looking forward to Saturday morning already because of them.
Shrimp and Grits (Minus the Poached Eggs)
Shrimp and grits is a timeless classic that can be easy to butcher if you're not careful. The grits should be cooked perfectly, as should the shrimp with seasoning abound. I found it easy to manage both browning the sausage and subsequently the shrimp in my cast iron skillet as the grits bubbled away in the saucepan off heat.
The best part about this particular recipe is the addition of spicy Italian sausage which, according to my professional recipe tester, is the best ground meat ever.
You'll notice this recipe is sans poached eggs, due to the fact that I was lacking some burner space and also was just not in the mood for eggs, which actually added to the experience of cooking from Over Easy.
There are so many recipe variations that you never even have to touch an egg for breakfast, if you don't want to. But you probably should because the Poached Egg Tutorial is in-depth and easy to follow. If you're in the mood and all.
I made a full brunch menu in about an hour and a half total, not including the proofing times. I woke up at 8:00 a.m., made both the sangria and the brioche dough, and was able to relax and lounge until 10:00 a.m. when both finished cooling and rising, respectively. By the looks and tastes of the entire meal, you would have thought I spent the entire morning toiling over the stove, but that's just not the case. Everything was ready for tasting by 11:00 a.m., the best brunching hour.
Brunch is made accessible and simple in Over Easy, but it doesn't lack a single necessary brunch item. Praline Bacon and the Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches are next on my list to make, which is a great sign. This cookbook is one that you can return to for old favorites (the Watermelon-Mint Sangria), while still finding new recipes to whip up all the time (Muffaletta Brunch Salad).