The Shabbat table – Let’s spring forward with brunch!

Orange pecan overnight French toast from Husbands That Cook: More Than 120 Irresistible Vegetarian Recipes and Tales from Our Tiny Kitchen. (Copyright © 2019 by Ryan Alvarez and Adam Merrin and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Griffin)

Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! The days are finally getting longer and this weekend the clocks will be set ahead by an hour. It’s time to spring forward and look forward to enjoying warmer days ahead!

Husbands That Cook: More Than 120 Irresistible Vegetarian Recipes and Tales from Our Tiny Kitchen by Ryan Alvarez and Adam Merrin (St. Martin’s Griffin)

Husbands That Cook: More than 120 Irresistible Vegetarian Recipes and Tales from Our Tiny Kitchen (St. Martin’s Press) was co-authored by the award-winning creators of the popular travel inspired cooking blog, Written with the same endearing spirit of their blog, the husbands present more than 120 brand-new recipes―plus some greatest hits from the site―that yield delicious results every time. Each entry in Husbands That Cook is a reminder of how simple and satisfying vegetarian meal-making can be, from hearty main dishes and sides to healthy snacks and decadent desserts and drinks.

For breakfast or brunch, enjoy Spring Tarts with Asparagus, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Goat Cheese, Spiced Apple Blintzes, and Orange-Pecan Overnight French Toast. Soups include Tortilla Soup, Thai Coconut Curry Soup, and Husbands’ Penicillin Matzo Ball Soup. In the mood for salad? Enjoy Kale Quinoa Tabbouleh with Crunchy Spiced Chickpeas or Roasted Rainbow Beet Salad. Main dishes include Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese, Moo Shu Vegetable Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce, and Cuban Empanadas. And let’s not forget about dessert! Enjoy scrumptious sweets such as Vegan Chocolate Puddle Cake, Toasted Hazelnut Fudge, or Strawberry Apricot Rugelach.

Ryan and Adam also outline common pantry items and everyday tools you’ll need to fully stock your kitchen. Whether you’re cooking for one or feeding the whole family, this book is chock-full of great creative recipes for every day of the week, all year long.

Here are some terrific dishes that are perfect to serve for Sunday brunch. Enjoy!

Spring tarts with asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, and goat cheese from Husbands That Cook: More Than 120 Irresistible Vegetarian Recipes and Tales from Our Tiny Kitchen. (Copyright © 2019 by Ryan Alvarez and Adam Merrin and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Griffin)


Makes 10 to 12 4-inch tarts

Set your clocks one hour ahead and spring forward with these zesty tarts. The sun is shining and love is in the air, so open the windows, dust off those cobwebs, and throw an equinox extravaganza with sparkling cocktails and seasonal hors d’oeuvres. In this spring celebration, tender asparagus spears are lightly sautéed with garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and rest on a bed of creamy goat cheese. Sprinkled with lemon zest and red pepper flakes and nestled in a flaky, buttery crust made with fresh thyme, these irresistible mini tarts are a ray of springtime sunshine.



1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (165 g) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, minced

1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

1/4 cup (58 g) Greek yogurt or sour cream

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup (59 ml) ice water



2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 cups (150 g) asparagus cut into 1-inch lengths

2 large garlic cloves (10 g), minced

3/4 cup (100 g) thinly sliced sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper



8 ounces (227 g) goat cheese, warmed slightly in the microwave to a spreadable texture, about 10 to 12 seconds

a few pinches of flaky sea salt

a few grinds of black pepper

a few pinches of red pepper flakes

lemon zest, for garnish



In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and thyme leaves. Add the cold butter cubes, and use a pastry cutter to blend in the butter until the largest pieces are the size of peas. In a measuring cup, stir together the yogurt, lemon juice, and ice water, then pour over the flour mixture. Stir until the dough comes together, using your hands to gather any loose scraps into one ball of dough. Form into a rough disc shape, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 400°F/204°C. Roll out the dough on a floured work surface until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Place a mini tart pan face-down on the dough, and cut a circle of dough about 1/4 inch around the pan. Repeat and make additional circles of dough until it is all used up, gathering the scraps and rerolling as needed. Press the circles of dough into the bottom and sides of the mini tart pans, trimming off any excess. Fill as many tart pans as you have available; they can be reused after baking to make additional rounds of crusts as needed.

Arrange the tarts on a baking sheet, place a small square of foil over each one, and fill each tart with pie weights, dried beans, dry rice, or metal coins to keep the crusts from puffing up. Bake until golden and crisp, 14 to 16 minutes. Remove the weights and the foil, and let the tarts cool on a wire rack. Remove the crusts from the tart pans and repeat the process with any remaining unbaked dough.



Set a large skillet over medium heat, and when hot, add the oil. Sauté the asparagus until crisp-tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, salt, and pepper, and cook for 60 seconds, then remove from heat.



Spread a generous layer of goat cheese in each crust, then top with spoonfuls of sautéed vegetables to fill the tart (a 4-inch tart will use about 2 to 3 tablespoons). Garnish with pinches of flaky sea salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest. Serve warm, and enjoy!





Serves 6 to 8

Gluten-Free Option

Having brunch is fun, but let’s be honest, spending all morning cooking is not. The solution? Overnight French toast. In this easy recipe, all the work is done the night before: you assemble the dish in the evening and let it chill overnight while you get your beauty rest. The next morning, you just pop it in the oven and bake, leaving plenty of time to relax­—or frantically clean the house before your guests arrive, like we usually do. With crispy edges, a soft custardy interior scented with orange and vanilla, and a crunchy spiced pecan topping, this dish will have you wondering why you don’t host brunch more often.



1 loaf brioche or challah (about 1 lb / 454 g)

6 large eggs

2 tablespoons orange zest (from two large oranges)

2/3 cup (158 ml) orange juice, fresh squeezed if possible

1/3 cup (79 ml) milk of your choice

1/4 cup (59 ml) maple syrup

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 tablespoons Grand Marnier liqueur (see note)



3/4 cup (85 g) coarsely chopped pecans

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon pinch of salt



maple syrup

fresh fruit

powdered sugar, if desired



Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan (or similarly sized baking pan), and set aside. Slice the bread into 1-inch-thick slices, and lay the pieces in the prepared baking dish, overlapping to fit them in as evenly as possible. In a medium bowl or quart measuring cup, mix together the eggs, orange zest, juice, milk, syrup, vanilla, salt, nutmeg, and liqueur until combined. Pour over the bread slices, coating them evenly. Cover with plastic or foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat the oven to 375°F/ 191°C. Place the dish in the centre rack of the oven uncovered and bake until fully cooked, about 30 minutes. You can test if it’s done by inserting a knife into the centre of the casserole and moving it slightly to make a small hole; if you see liquid inside, it is not finished cooking.



Place the pecans in a dry skillet, and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they become toasted and fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. When finished toasting, transfer to a heatproof bowl to stop the cooking process. Let cool briefly, then pour over the butter, cinnamon, and salt, and toss to coat.


Once the French toast is done, top with the pecans and serve along with syrup, fruit, and powdered sugar, if desired, and enjoy!


  • Grand Marnier is an orange-flavoured brandy liqueur. If you don’t have it, you could substitute another orange liqueur, such as triple sec, or leave it out entirely if you’d like to omit alcohol.
  • To make this Gluten-Free: substitute gluten-free bread for the brioche.




Makes about 15 blintzes

Ryan and I come from different backgrounds, and over the years, we have introduced each other to all kinds of new dishes. Before we met, he was unfamiliar with traditional Jewish food and had never experienced the magic of a blintz, while I hadn’t discovered the wonders of Spanish and Cuban cuisine. When I was growing up, my mom did all the cooking. Today, she is a health-conscious pescatarian on a low-sodium, low-sugar diet, but in the 1970s and 80s, our eating habits were quite different: packaged frozen dinners and canned vegetables were weeknight staples, with Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond in heavy rotation, and on evenings when she was too busy to cook, my brother, Josh, and I were treated to drive-throughs with chocolate milkshakes, cheeseburgers, and French fries. Nowadays, she would never dream of ordering fast food and is an excellent cook who takes pride in preparing recipes and puts thought and love into every presentation.

One of my favourite dinners during those carefree days were packaged frozen blueberry blintzes: thin crepes lightly brushed with butter, with a sweet blueberry filling. I would cover mine in powdered sugar, of course, and although it felt more like a dessert than an entree, I most certainly kept that secret to myself, not wanting to spoil the party. In this easy breakfast inspired by those fond freezer-food memories, Granny Smith apples are sautéed until soft and ultra-tender. Spiced with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and vanilla, and snuggled in a delicate crepe blanket, these blintzes are topped with a dollop of honey-whipped goat cheese, making all your childhood dreams come true. —Adam



2 pounds (907 g) Granny Smith apples (about 4 medium)

4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/2 cup (106 g) brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (237 ml) apple cider (see note)

4 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla extract



1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (444 ml) milk, at room temperature

6 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (180 g) all-purpose flour

heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt

4 1/2 tablespoons (64 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly



8 ounces (227 g) goat cheese, at room temperature

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (148 ml) cream



Core, peel, and slice the apples as thinly as possible, less than ⅛-inch thick. Place the apple slices in a medium saucepan with the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and salt. Toss to combine, and place over medium heat. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until the apples have softened to your liking, about 20 minutes. In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine the cider and cornstarch, whisking well to dissolve the starch completely. Add the cider mixture to the saucepan with the apples, stir to combine, and cook for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla, and let cool. The apples can be used immediately or cooled completely and then stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. If storing, be sure to warm them thoroughly in a saucepan or the microwave before use.



Combine the milk, eggs, flour, and salt in a medium bowl, and whisk until smooth. While whisking, slowly add the melted butter and whisk until combined. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour, or up to overnight, but no longer.

When ready, heat a nonstick (or very well-seasoned cast iron) skillet over medium-low heat. Test if the temperature is correct by flicking a few drops of cold water from your fingers onto the skillet. If the droplets don’t move, it is too cool. If the droplets immediately evaporate, it is too hot. If they dance and sizzle, you’re ready to start making crepes. Pour about 1/4 cup (59 ml) of batter in the skillet, using the back of the measuring cup or ladle to spread the batter into a 6- to 8-inch circle. Cook until the bottom begins to turn deep golden brown in several spots; you can tell it is getting close when bubbles on top of the crepe start to pop and stay open. Check for doneness by carefully lifting a corner of the crepe. If it’s done, flip onto the second side and cook until lightly browned, another 30 seconds. Stack finished crepes on a plate and cover to keep warm.



Combine the goat cheese, honey, and cream in a small bowl and whip with a whisk or fork until blended and fluffy. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Return to room temperature before serving.



Lay a crepe flat on a plate or cutting board. Scoop about ¼ cup (59 ml) of apple filling onto the lower third of the crepe. Begin rolling the bottom edge of the crepe over the filling, then fold the sides in and continue rolling up, creating a sealed blintz. Repeat until you run out of crepes or filling. Heat the skillet over medium-low heat, and lay as many of the blintzes as will fit comfortably seam-side-down in the pan, with at least an inch between them. Cook until lightly browned on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes, then flip and repeat on the other side. Serve warm, topped with whipped goat cheese, any extra apple filling, and a sprinkle of powdered sugar, if desired, and enjoy!


  • For the apple cider, look for non-alcoholic, unfiltered, unprocessed apple juice.
  • The apple filling and whipped goat cheese can both be made days ahead, and the flavour of the batter tastes even better when allowed to rest overnight.