Brunch is my favorite meal of the week. I absolutely love it—and apparently I’m not alone. As I’ve traveled around America listening to all the enthusiastic eaters in this country, Brunch is the book you’ve asked me to write.
In New York, where I believe brunch was invented (I could be wrong, but it feels that way since I’ve lived here my whole life), restaurants are filled on the weekends with people drinking mimosas made with cheap sparkling wine and eating some version of eggs Benedict with overcooked poached eggs and neon-colored sauce from a box. They linger, reading the entire New York Times
from cover to cover, as people hover over their tables, waiting for them to get up so that they can sit down and do the same exact thing.
People love brunch so much they are willing to endure the epic waits, the often so-so food and drinks, the hoverers. Now that I just don’t get. Why not just invite your friends over and make it at home? The drinks won’t be watered down, the food will be amazing, everyone will be comfortable, and you can keep the party going as long as you like.
You know I always kick things off with a cocktail—and brunch at my house is no exception. Often I set out a Bloody Mary Bar (page 32) so guests can customize their own, from the alcohol—gin or vodka—to the garnishes, which can go way beyond your typical celery. Or you can set out a pitcher of delicious, refreshing Blackberry-Bourbon Iced Tea (page 28). I also like to spice up the must-haves of coffee and tea by serving Spiked Iced Chicory Coffee (page 16) and Coconut Chai Tea Lattes (page 24). Fun drinks keep everyone entertained while I fry up a batch of light and airy Lemon Ricotta Fritters (page 169) with a sauce made from fresh raspberries. Everyone stands around my kitchen island, ready to pounce on the crisp yet fluffy fritters once they are out of the bubbling oil.
I am pretty detail oriented when it comes to brunch. I like a selection of breads, muffins, and sweet buns, such as Pumpkin-Cranberry Scones (page 177), Buttermilk Biscuits (page 154), and my favorite, Blackberry-Hazelnut Sticky Buns (page 158). That combination would make a great brunch bread basket, especially when paired with flavored butters, like Roasted Peach Butter (page 57) or Homemade Cinnamon-Sugar Butter (page 60), and interesting jams and preserves.
My brunch “musts” don’t stop with a custom bread basket. Egg dishes must be cooked with care, sauces hand-whisked to velvety consistencies. If a “Benedict” is your go-to, try my crab cake version with Old Bay hollandaise
on top of Johnnycakes (page 111), or take a trip to the south of Italy by serving up some Calabrian scrambled eggs on bruschetta (page 140). Pancakes should also be light and fluffy throughout with a subtle crust around the top edge. Carrot Cake Pancakes with Maple–Cream Cheese Drizzle (page 74) have become a cult favorite in my family. If waffles are your thing, Gingerbread Pumpkin Waffles with Buttermilk-Bourbon Caramel Sauce (page 89) take the classic to a new level.
Side dishes should never be an afterthought. Bacon should be crisp, of course, and it can even take on another flavor to balance out its intoxicating smokiness. Sometimes I glaze mine with maple and mustard (page 244) and guests ask me for the recipe over and over. They’re always shocked at how easy it is! However, if you’re going to make only one side dish to go with your eggs, you have to try Cast-Iron Home Fries with Roasted Green Chiles and Creamy Garlic Dressing (page 223). These potatoes are addictive and there’s a chance they’ll even steal the brunch show at your house.
Beyond the brunch classics, it’s important to have in your arsenal a few dishes that lean more toward lunch than breakfast. Southern-inspired Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp Rémoulade (page 235) are just so satisfying; I love to serve them as a family-style platter. For an egg sandwich that’s several notches up from your classic diner offering, make Country Ham and Fried Egg on Angel Biscuits (page 195). It’s hard to stop at just one.
It’s not quite breakfast and certainly not lunch. It’s a special couple of hours that come only once a week. Brunch . . . savor it! And I look forward to seeing photos of all of your spectacular brunch dishes on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!
Copyright © 2015 by Bobby Flay with Stephanie Banyas and Sally Jackson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.