Let’s Brunch: Italian Baked Eggs and Grapefruit, Champagne, and Vodka Spritz — Recipes from Belinda Smith-Sullivan’s New Cookbook

After years of working as a project manager for Coca-Cola, Belinda Smith-Sullivan was ready for a change, so she got a degree in Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University. But it’s hard to leave old habits behind, so she started her own spice company, and then started “reverse-engineering” cookbooks. “I’m used to working backwards from the finished product,” says Smith-Sullivan. “What do I want it to look like? I do the table of contents first, which acts as my GPS. Where am I going with this? It helps me order my thoughts.” Time to break out those critical-mass charts!

Belinda Smith-Sullivan

A monthly contributor to South Carolina Living, and soon to be featured in Better Homes and Gardens’ January issue, Smith-Sullivan’s first book, Just Peachy, focused on her favorite fruit. Let’s Brunch, her second cookbook, is inspired by her early years working in New York City. Although she herself is allergic to eggs, Smith-Sullivan shares that brunch was the only way she could entertain. “I lived in a sixth-floor walkup, and I was the only one of my friends that cooked,” she says. “Brunch was the one meal I could afford to make for a crowd.”

GIBBS SMITH/SEPTEMBER 2020

Smith-Sullivan honed her brunch skills on friends and neighbors, and Let’s Brunch is the result of years of recipe testing. Her proud Southern heritage is evident in recipes such as Sweet Potato Buttermilk Biscuits, Blackened Catfish on Herb Grits with Pineapple Relish, Southern Succotash, and Fried Green Tomatoes with Aioli. Save room for the Red Velvet -Pecan Waffles with Fried Chicken — it’ll knock your socks off! 

Italian Baked Eggs and Sausage in Marinara Sauce
Serves 4

Photo by Susan Barnson Hayward

This is an easy one-pan meal that is great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and goes from oven to table in less than 30 minutes!

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound bulk Italian sausage, or links removed from casing
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups marinara sauce, store-bought or homemade
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, divided
1⁄2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1⁄4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 large eggs at room temperature
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Heat oil in a cast iron or ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Crumble sausage in skillet and cook, stirring, until brown. Make a well in center of sausage and add onion; sauté until soft.
  • Add garlic and cook an additional minute. Stir until meat, onion, and garlic are well combined. Stir in marinara, pepper flakes, and half of basil and bring to a simmer.
  • Top evenly with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
  • Make 4 dents in sauce and crack an egg into each dent, leaving space between each egg. Season eggs with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer skillet to oven and bake 15 minutes or until eggs are desired consistency. Remove from oven and garnish with remaining basil and additional Parmesan. Serve with lots of crusty bread.

Grapefruit, Champagne, and Vodka Spritz
Makes 1 Cocktail

A spritz is a cocktail made with Champagne or Prosecco, a bitter liqueur, and soda water. Aperol is an Italian bitter aperitif, though sweeter and fruitier than its elder sibling Campari. Aperol gets its name from the Italian slang word apero, which means aperitif.

1 ounce Aperol
4 ounces Champagne
1 1⁄2 ounces grapefruit juice
1⁄2 ounce vodka
Ice
Club soda
1⁄2 grapefruit wheel, for garnish

  • Into a tall wine glass pour Aperol, Champagne, grapefruit juice, and vodka.
  • Add ice and a splash of club soda. Stir gently; garnish with grapefruit wheel.

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