Beach House Brunch: 100 Delicious Ways to Start Your Long Summer Days, written by Lei Shishak, features easy recipe ideas perfect for entertaining guests during the summer(plus a few for winter) and enjoying relaxing weekends with the family. Highlights include Jasmine Lime Iced Tea, Watermelon Pops, Jumbo Morning Glory Muffins, Humble Egg Sandwich, Chocolate Tiramisu Crepes, Toasted English Muffins with Roasted Strawberry Jam, Skillet Home Fries, Loaded Burritos, and Mixed Berry Sorbet. I will also be sharing her recipe for Nutella Pop Tarts following the review.
Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book from Skyhorse Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Lei Shishak grew up in rural Pennsylvania. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, she moved to California and fell in love with the beach. She opened her own bakery, Sugar Blossom Bake Shop, in 2010 and has been featured in People, Riviera Magazine, Sunset magazine, Coast, the Los Angeles Daily News, Fine Living, and more. Lei is also the author of Beach House Baking (I reviewed this book last year) and Farm to Table Desserts.
Chapters are divided according to the following: Beverages, Fruit Reconsidered, Sweet Pastries, Savory Breads, Grains, Egg Dishes, Foods You Flip, Hashes, Surf-n-Go, Salads and Casseroles, and Sweet Endings.
Lei had beginners completely in mind when putting Beach House Brunch together. Tips and helpful hints are included throughout the pages for techniques such as basic knife cuts, setting the table, and all the basic ways to prepare eggs (with an easy chart of boiling times for reference). Towards the end of the book, she even includes brunch menu ideas for Lazy Summer Afternoons, Misty Mornings, Formal Gatherings, Springtime Showers, Gal Casual, and Winter Socials.
The photography is provided by Chau Vuong and Brent Lee. Many of the recipes are accompanied by a full page photo of the finished product or highlighted ingredients. Measurements are provided in US Customary with conversion charts and oven temperatures before the index. Each dish has a headnote with background information, inspiration, tips, and serving size.
This book is a great pick whether you are always entertaining for others or are just looking for new ideas to share with the family. In general, the recipes come together easily without too much effort (though a few may require prepping the day before or chilling time in between steps). I especially love all the fun ways to use fresh fruit such as the super easy Watermelon Pops or combining fresh strawberries with cabernet sauvignon and black pepper. Most of the ingredients are readily available in the average American grocery store. Some that may be more difficult to locate include flaxseeds, barley malt syrup, farina, shiitake mushrooms, pepitas, orange blossom honey, cardamom pods, Cotija cheese, and key lime juice.
Nutella Pop Tarts
Lei states that the pairing of Nutella with the flaky pastry crust in these Nutella Pop Tarts is an unforgettable combination and I definitely agree. I couldn’t stop at just one. They are fairly simple, yet delicious with no fancy glazes or toppings needed- just a Nutella filling enclosed in a buttery, flaky pie crust.
The pastry crust comes together with the help of a mixer with a paddle attachment (I have also used a large food processor with a dough blade). After chilling in the refrigerator for an hour, the dough is rolled into two rectangles, sliced into individual 5×3 inch pastries, and chilled again for another 20 minutes. Half of the chilled rectangles are topped with a dollop of Nutella before covering with the remaining rectangles and sealing shut. They are chilled yet again before baking until just cooked through and barely golden. Top simply with a dusting of powdered sugar right before serving.
I also made the Cafe Au Lait D’almande, Chive and Cheddar Omelet, Scallion Hash Browns, and Giant Sugar Cookies.
The Cafe Au Lait D’almande takes a couple of days to prepare. Homemade almond milk is prepped the night before by soaking whole almonds in water overnight before blending and straining the resulting milky liquid. Freshly brewed dark roast coffee is combined with the warmed and sweetened almond milk (in a pinch, store-bought almond milk can be used as a substitute) right before serving. Drink lovers will also enjoy the Roasted Beet Bloody Mary, Vanilla Bean French Press Coffee, White Cocoa with Cinnamon Marshmallows, Prosecco and Guava Bellini, and more.
The Chive and Cheddar Omelet was wonderful for a quick and filling breakfast with only a handful of ingredients. The soft egg omelet is studded with fresh chives and filled with a layer of sharp cheddar cheese. It paired perfectly with a light salad.
I have always had difficulty with hash browns, but I think I am finally starting to get the hang of them with these Scallion Hash Browns. The trick is to dry the shredded potatoes completely to remove all the moisture before pan-frying. This creates that crisp outer layer and creamy center. The hash browns are seasoned simply with scallions, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. I personally topped them with fried eggs for a delicious start to the day.
I made these Giant Sugar Cookies at the end of the school year and they were a big hit. The balls of cookie dough are coated in a layer of sugar before pressing down on baking sheets and baking until crisp and lightly golden.
Nutella Pop Tarts Recipe
Excerpt from Beach House Brunch
Nutella Pop Tarts
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter cold and cubed
- 1 cup ice water
- 1 large egg separated
- 1/2 cup Nutella
- Powdered sugar for garnish
- In a large mixing bowl with the paddle attachment, add the flour, sugar, and salt. Mix on low speed and slowly add the butter cubes. Increase speed to medium and continue until butter breaks down to pea size. Whisk together the water and egg yolk in a small bowl and add all at once to the mixer. Mix on low speed just until dough comes together. Form dough into two discs and wrap each in plastic. Let chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. Set aside another piece of parchment of the same size.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disc of dough into a 13 × 11-inch rectangle. Trim down to 12 × 10 inches with a sharp knife and then cut out eight 5 × 3-inch rectangles. Place on prepared sheet tray and cover with the extra parchment sheet. Repeat this step with the remaining disc of dough, place cutouts on the top parchment sheet, and then place sheet tray in refrigerator for about 20 minutes to chill the dough cutouts.
- Slide off the top layer of parchment and its cutouts. These will be the tops of the pop tarts.
- Poke some holes into the bottom cutouts with a fork. Whisk the egg white and, using a pastry brush, moisten their edges. Spread a tablespoon of Nutella down the center. Lay a top cutout over the filling and rub your fingertips around the edges to seal. Use the tines of the fork to double seal the edges and poke some holes on top. Place sheet tray in freezer for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely. Garnish with sifted powdered sugar before serving.