Truthfully, I wasn’t expecting to be impressed by the creativity of the recipes, assuming it would be a condensed cousin of Sandra Lee’s “semi-homemade.” Boy, was I wrong. Not only does Martinelli include ricotta in two of her recipes–my favorite!–but the recipes themselves surpassed my expectations. Each is simple but thoughtful, and, thankfully, she only includes two turnover-like recipes. I was worried turnovers would fill the book, but they didn’t, and when they were included, her two fillings were unique, homemade, and tempting.
The ideas are straightforward and often involve replacing puff pastry dough for a more time-consuming (and less flavorful) crust or dough, as with the quiche. Yet, many suggestions are ones I would not necessarily have thought of, like using the pastry in lieu of English muffins in Eggs Benedict. The revelation made me chuckle, but, more importantly, made me want to try the recipe. And, yes, she even tells you how to make the Hollandaise sauce yourself! The cinnamon buns, too, were completely unexpected, and probably the easiest to make!
Martinelli’s step-by-step explanations are concise and appropriate even for those of us with no puff pastry experience. It is well thought out without being redundant, making it quite evident that she has put time into perfecting the recipes before urging us to try them. The book doesn’t take itself too seriously either, offering easy pre-made options for some of the fillings, meatless ideas for vegetarians, and alternative flavors for almost every recipe.
For me, the biggest appeal is that the majority of these recipes can be used as canapés or appetizers, sides at a party, or (as with the pinwheels) sides to soup. And because many are freezable, I might even make some for my own breakfasts during the week. Only a couple are more inherently brunch-specific but would also go well with a fun afternoon tea, such as the breakfast galette with scrambled eggs or the smoked salmon Eggs Benedict.
Martinelli intends for this little set to be a starting point for related ideas, and it really does spark some pastry-making creativity. So if you are a fan of easy brunch, nervous about working with puff pastry, or simply looking for a fun cookbook, I highly suggest you take a look at Puff Pastry at Brunch. Then invite me over when you test the recipes!