Sarabeth Levine’s latest cookbook, Sarabeth’s Good Morning Cookbook Breakfast, Brunch and Baking (Rizzoli, 2015), turned one year old this month and I’m still exploring every delish page of it.
When this James Beard Award-winning chef, international restaurateur, and founder of an eponymous line of Legendary Spreadable Fruits set her sights on sharing her favorite breakfast and brunch recipes, I knew the results would be outstanding. Levine has included some tasteful cocktail recipes, because, really, what is brunch if not a well-lubricated breakfast?
Also included is her non-alcoholic Four Flowers Juice, the signature drink at Sarabeth’s restaurants, as well as Sarabeth’s House Bread and her famous Velvety Cream of Tomato Soup.
Just as Levine points out in the book, “In addition to the recipes, I share tips and the techniques that I’ve refined over the years. These dishes will make your breakfasts memorable and your brunches unforgettable.” Levine is a master technician in the kitchen, so don’t doubt for a moment that her seven steps to perfect eggs will render exactly that, but readers may be amused to learn the backstory of Levine’s Velvety Cream of Tomato Soup. She writes, “As is true of many great inventions, its current incarnation was a result of a few happy accidents. When I created the recipe, I sent a young cook out to buy onions for me. He came back with shallots, not knowing the difference. I found that the addition made the result even more delicious. A few years later, a collision in the kitchen caused the cheese for an omelet filling to drop into a bowl of soup…I took one slurp and went crazy for it.”
Levine is also a genuinely gracious hostess. Years ago, when I took my son to her Chelsea Market bakery and restaurant, Levine served him the best tuna fish sandwich of his life. In the face of this, he maintained his snotty teenager persona, and she remained absolutely welcoming and giving. Two years ago when I visited her Water Mill home while photographer Quentin Bacon shot this gorgeous book, Levine was doing all of the cooking herself but insisted on serving me tastes—even when her cooking triggered a very loud fire alarm that no one could turn off!
In “my book,” to know Sarabeth is to love her. But, I suppose, though you might see her at East End shops and farmers markets as she stocks up for the weekend, we can’t all get to know her well.
So, I’ve compiled below a list of a baker’s dozen of quotes from this cookbook that I think sum up what she’s all about. (Be sure to read them rapidly in an old school Great Neck accent to get the full effect.)
1. In 1981, my husband Bill and I opened our first tiny shop on Amsterdam Avenue in New York…It makes me happy to know that I have pleased so many customers for so long
2. The beauty of breakfast is that you probably already have everything you need to make a complete meal.
3. Sour cream is still my preferred accompaniment, but whipped cream—or even ice cream—tastes great …
4. the more fat the tastier
5. Undissolved sugar is the enemy of lemonade.
6. I like getting a variety of flavors all in one spoonful.
7. I love streusel and could put it on anything. So I did.
8. food tastes better when you touch it
9. While they are usually considered breakfast food, waffles are terrific for dinner too, and French toast can be special enough for dessert.
10. I believe in cake for breakfast…
11. Since we opened Sarabeth’s restaurants and bakeries in Japan, I’ve returned from each trip there with fresh ideas.
12. Shellfish may not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering breakfast, but shrimp is a great way to start the day.
13. I’ve built my career on “legendary spreads” because I truly believe that a finishing touch makes any dish infinitely better…Almost any dish benefits from a little smear of homemade jam.