Lei Shishak’s ‘Beach House Brunch’

Beach House Brunch 9781510702899You might know Lei Shishak from her Sugar Blossom Bake Shop in San Clemente, her four years as pastry chef at Michael Mina’s Stonehill Tavern, or from her first cookbook, “Beach House Baking” (Skyhorse Publishing, 2014). (You can read what I wrote about it in Taste of Orange County here.) Now, the Culinary Institute of America-trained chef ventures into savory territory with a new book, “Beach House Brunch” (Skyhorse Publishing, $25).

Not to worry, sweet breakfast fans—Shishak has plenty of recipes for you in the new book, from simple treats like filo-crust Easy Apple Turnovers and mini doughnuts, to croissants and cheese Danish. Shishak makes the latter two more like rough puff pastry, with butter cubes mixed in before rolling out, rather than the usual multi-step lamination that starts with a block of butter between dough layers. Much more approachable for a home cook. She does include an important pastry chef pro tip: Use high-butterfat Plugra butter, something that can make all the diff.

But what about those savories? Lots of good stuff, from breads and grains to detailed egg cooking instructions covering fried, boiled, and poached, plus dishes like Eggs San Clemente on a potato-cake disk, with creamy avocado and runny egg yolk combining to replace Hollandaise. I love that Shishak devoted a chapter to Hashes. Yukon gold potatoes figure into several, both with meat and without, including cheddar-, kale-, and bacon-enriched Heavenly Hash, which Shishak says is based on a popular dish at a Dana Point marina-side restaurant. A truc she employs for this dish and others in the book is baking the potato first, which once done makes short work of breakfast prep. Like most hash, it would welcome an egg on top, seems to me. See if you agree—the recipe follows.

Heavenly Hash from Beach House Brunch

(Makes 4 servings)

1 large Yukon Gold potato

Canola oil and salt

4 strips cooked bacon

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ medium yellow onion, diced

½ bunch curly green kale, stems trimmed

Salt and pepper

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash potato under cold running water with stiff brush. Dry thoroughly. Poke holes in potato with fork. Coat with canola oil and salt. Place directly onto middle oven rack, with a foil-lined sheet tray on the bottom rack to catch drippings. Bake 1 hour or until skin feels crisp but flesh beneath is soft. Remove from oven and set out on counter to cool.

Heat butter and olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it starts to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Roll up kale leaves and chiffonade. Add to pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Rough cut the baked potato into small cubes. Cut bacon into bits. Add both to pan along with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and gently stir in half of cheese. Top with remaining cheese, cover, and let sit for 2 minutes before serving.

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