I have not always been a huge fan of Mollie Katzen. Not to say that I do not respect her writing, her menus or her presentations, I just did not seek out her work. Nothing personal, mind you. I like Moosewood but, it doesn't necessarily move me. Fast forward a few years and enter Sunlight Café, Ms. Katzen's latest.
No small work, some 300+ pages of breakfast fare. Before you walk away with a scowl about just another breakfast book, flip it open to unearth some of Sunlight's perks, persuasions and little purple suns. I explain the later in a sec. Mollie Katzen has used enough foresight to keep us out of the "Eggs Benedict is the matronly ruler of the breakfast table scene" and presented us with 12 succinct recipe chapters. Rather than an amalgam of non-sequitir and a seemingly unrelated hodge podge of breakfast table concoctions, we get "Eggs, tofu [!!!], Scrambles, Quiches & Soufflés". Did I hear soufflés? There is the Sunlight Souffle that I have replicated with much success and enjoyment. Laden with ricotta cheese and fresh fruit, it certainly is a ray of light on a chillier morning. Certainly Eggs Benedict is given its due, however, why quibble over making Hollandaise on a busy morning when a Fried Green Tomato Quiche is just a few steps to success?
As for the purple suns, they really are in there. The allure of Sunlight Café, beyond the Crispy Southwest Polenta Hash, Amazing Overnight Waffles or the Chai Oatmeal (don't laugh, its great!), is all the color Ms. Katzen has brushed into nearly every page. I am a sucker for history, regional allure and creative variations. Mollie, you got me hook, line and sinker with your purple suns. You see, the little suns pop up next to quips on the bygone days, procedural paranoia and "you can do this, this and this or just go with that, that and that". And when I mention the color she applies, its relevance is underscored by highlighting storage tips, product availability and the like. Now there are not any photographs to speak of within the pages of the Café, however, the accomplished Ms. Katzen shares her creative illustrations to give even more illumination to the Sunlight Café, as if it needed more. I rather prefer the space reserved for overly stylized photographs heed their space to her story on Julia Child's toast, telling me just exactly what the heck is tempeh and all the energy giving power of figs.
Breakfast has come a long way in gastronomic America. Better breakfast places are popping up, luckily. Weekend breakfasts are not the stand-alones in their communal powers to bring together the family before 9am Monday through Friday is open season for more than a donut and coffee. Sunlight Café gives 300 pages of reasons to wake up a few minutes early.