Delicious Event: Joy the Baker Over Easy demo & book signing

Mini ham and bourbon-peach jam biscuits from Joy the Baker Over Easy cookbook
Mini ham and bourbon-peach jam biscuits from Joy the Baker Over Easy cookbook

Joy Wilson started Joy the Baker in 2008, one of the very first food blogs I started reading regularly, so it was surreal to finally meet Joy in person. Her blog has been a go-to resource for any manner of baked goods (especially cookies) and savory dishes (her summery peach tomato mozzarella crostini were captured in my very early Instagram days). Her pancake recipes also never disappoint, including the peanut-butter-bacon-banana pancakes that showed up on this blog a few years back.

The event was held at Read It & Eat in Lincoln Park, a culinary bookstore that also holds cooking classes and author demos like this one. Joy was in the middle of a tour to promote her third cookbook, Over Easy, which celebrates all things brunch.

Joy the Baker cooking demo
Joy assembling the biscuit sandwiches during the demo

During the demo, Joy showed us mixing methods for butter and buttermilk that would ensure maximum biscuit fluffiness. For the jam, she jazzed up canned peach preserves by adding lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, and bourbon (as you do). Two jam-slathered biscuit halves and a slice of country ham combined for a lovely two-bite sandwich.

Throughout the event, Joy was just as friendly, sharp, and playful as her writing had suggested all these years. When she signed my book, we chatted like we’d known each other a while; she just had a way of making everyone feel at ease (a shared love of good food will often do that). I can’t wait to start trying some of these brunch recipes – first stop: French toast breakfast burritos.

Over Easy cookbook signed by Joy
My cookbook, signed by Joy, plus a donut Joy the Baker patch

The details: Joy the Baker at Read It & Eat, 2142 N. Halsted St., Chicago.

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2013 Best Bite #3: Peanut butter, bacon, and banana pancakes from Joy the Baker

Each day in December, I’m celebrating the rest of the best bites (and sips) that I didn’t get to blog about in 2013, posted in chronological order. Browse all of this year’s Best Bites, or look back at 2012’s Best Bites.

Peanut-butter-bacon pancakes with bananas
Peanut-butter-bacon pancakes with bananas

Why it’s another 2013 Best Bite: My roommate whipped these up using her favorite online source for creative pancake recipes, Joy the Baker. I think the peanut butter-bacon-banana combination speaks for itself – three of the greatest breakfast flavors fused together in a sweet-and-salty griddled disc. It was also one of those blissful spring mornings in Chicago, when the thrill of doing anything outside is still fresh, so it was a no-brainer to devour them out on our balcony alongside red grapes and big mugs of coffee. I’m convinced that everything tastes extra-special when eaten in that sunny spot.

The details: View the original blog recipe on Joy the Baker.

2012 Best Bite #18: Summer crostini and watermelon salad

Each day in December, I’m celebrating my best bites (and sips) in 2012, posted in chronological order.

Summer crostini
Summer crostini
Watermelon salad
Watermelon salad

Why They’re Best Bites: These two dishes epitomized summer cooking for me, so I’m combining them into one post. Both came from recipes that caught my eye online, and relied almost exclusively on ingredients from my neighborhood farmers’ market. For the crostini, I subbed in local nectarines instead of peaches, along with local mozzarella, local bread, and the juiciest local heirloom tomato I could find. With basil, balsamic, and freshly ground pepper to top it off, these crostini were bursting with flavor and could stand alone as a meal. The watermelon used in the salad also came from the market, its sweeter-than-normal flesh contrasted against the salty feta and crunchy pumpkin seeds. The salad paired great with grilled meat, but would also make an excellent first course on its own. Both dishes involved minimal preparation and just let the seasonal produce speak for itself, exactly how summer meals should be.

The details: Check out the crostini recipe from Joy the Baker and the watermelon salad recipe from Top Chef contestant Grayson Schmitz.