Spine to Spoon: Over Easy by Joy Wilson

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“Spine to Spoon” is a series that digs into our Library’s rich stock of cookbooks and culinary collections. Each month, I’ll pick a book, try it out and write about it. I can’t share my dishes with you, but I’d love to share our books! Follow the “Spine to Spoon” tag to keep up with my kitchen.

As someone who inevitably fills every hour of the day with some kind of odd gig or pet project, I often find it hard to leave an entire chunk of time totally free and set aside some time to savor summer while it’s here. But exploring a new cookbook is a great excuse to take a break in the kitchen, and you can always justify taking a break to cook (everybody’s got to eat sometime, after all). Recently, I was lucky enough to be able to spend an entire morning with Joy Wilson’s Over Easy: Sweet & Savory Recipes for Leisurely Days. Based on title alone, it sounded like the perfect companion for a belated break from a busy week.

Joy Wilson—or, as she’s known by fans of her blog, Joy the Baker—has roots in both California and the French Quarter of New Orleans, and both of these rich food cultures peek out from the pages of this book. There are Huevos Rancheros with Elote, a Cajun Souffle, Pan-Fried Plantains and more and more and more. Even the most complex recipe in Over Easy hums with the easy-going, laissez-faire, take-a-load-off attitude of a cook who knows how to save a day for herself. Loved for her photography almost as much as the food she shoots, Wilson tucks a slew of irresistible images into her newest collection.

This is a page from Joy Wilson's Over Easy.

If I could bottle up and sell the smell that lingered in my kitchen after I cooked her Anything Skillet Hash, I would just give it away for free. It was that good. A classic breakfast dish, hash is famously flexible. Wilson gives you a lot of freedom here, suggesting her favorite meats and veggies to toss in. Her recipe, though, results in the perfect pile of savory goods. She emphasizes technique and timing over ingredients in this case, and it pays off big time. (It tastes even better than it smells. I “accidentally” ate both servings.)

This is a page from Joy Wilson's Over Easy.

A new favorite found in this book is the Beer-Braised Kielbasa, Potatoes and Onions. If you’re looking for a great dish to take to your next cookout or sunny-day potluck, this is it. Plus, the recipe only calls for a cup of beer, which leaves you the rest to enjoy while you listen to that sweet, sweet sizzle. Simple enough to throw together quickly and satisfying enough to guarantee you come home with an empty dish, I’ll be keeping this one in my back pocket through the summer and straight into fall.

Of course, living up to her moniker, Wilson has included plenty of baked goods, from Mashed Potato Skillet Scones to Overnight New Orleans Beignets. If you want something super decadent on your day off, try the Brown-Butter Doughnuts with Brown-Butter Glaze. Regarding brown butter, Joy the Baker offers this morsel of wisdom: “More is more is exactly enough.” Agreed, but this recipe should definitely include a nap in the cooking time. Along with her best brunches, she also gives us some incredible cocktail recipes, with and without alcohol. From beginning to end, Over Easy’s got your leisurely day covered.

Pick up Joy the Baker’s new cookbook!

Check out Over Easy

Tess Wilson works in Civic Information Services at Main, and occasionally assists Teen Mentors during programming at the Labs. She is a collector of anything from big dictionaries to small rocks, and her latest acquisition was an MFA in Creative Writing of Poetry from Chatham University.