Meet the Winners of VT's 2013 Best of Brunch Reader Recipe Contest | Vegetarian Times Skip to main content

Meet the Winners of VT's 2013 Best of Brunch Reader Recipe Contest

Meet the Winners of VT's 2013 Best of Brunch Reader Recipe Contest

Best of Brunch

Get to know the talented home cooks behind the delicious dishes featured in this year’s Reader Recipe Contest, “Best of Brunch.” The winning recipes are featured in the September issue of Vegetarian Times.


First Prize: Mary Shore, Brevard, N.C.
Vegan Oatmeal Pancakes   

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? About your cooking style?
I grew up about 20 miles from Columbus, Ohio, where my mom and dad grew about an acre of vegetables every summer. We kids were pressed into service for everything from weeding to harvesting to washing what seemed like hundreds of canning jars. My mom was a great cook, and every meal in the summer was fresh and very local. That's where I got my taste for vegetables and learned my way around the kitchen.

How did you come up with this recipe?
I have been experimenting with vegan cooking for a couple of years. Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan with a Vengeance taught me that it was possible to make pancakes without eggs. After I started eating as a vegan, I wanted to develop a vegan version of the oatmeal pancakes from a favorite local restaurant. The regular (not quick or instant) oatmeal ensures that the taste and texture of the oats will shine through. Mom taught me to substitute a little vinegar in sweet milk when there was no buttermilk in the house, and the cider vinegar in soymilk has the same effect of lending a little zing to the recipe.

Do you have any serving suggestions for your recipe? How do you serve it yourself?
In the spring, I top these pancakes with fresh berries and warm maple syrup. Strawberries and blueberries are really pretty. In the winter, I'll top them with blueberries, granola, and peanuts.

What's your favorite way to enjoy brunch?
I'm the first one up in my house, and I love easing into the day on Saturday, walking with the dog, making coffee, and reading the New York Times on my iPad. Cooking comes later, and we try to keep it simple so the relaxed mood lasts throughout the morning.


Second Prize: Josie A.G. Shapiro, San Francisco   
Sweet Potato Masala and Egg Mile-Highs

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? About your cooking style?
I am a full-time working mom with two kids under five, so my cooking style revolves around simple, gourmet dishes that can be made quickly, and preferably with very little grocery shopping and minimal clean up. I'm always inventing dishes that use one pot or one pan, or that can be made with ingredients that are easy to keep on hand, like sweet potatoes. I'm pretty picky about cooking with canned goods, but Eden canned tomatoes are a total staple in my house. Arugula is heartier than you'd imagine and can last quite a while before wilting.

How did you come up with this recipe?
I like to involve my older daughter in the kitchen, and she loves to grate things. It's a simple job for a child and requires a surprising amount of arm strength, so it's sort of a work out too. So we decided to make potato pancakes for brunch, and when we only had sweet potatoes in the house, I thought spicing them up with an impromptu masala accent might be fun. I'm always trying to sneak new flavors to my children. It doesn't always work, but this one did. The canned tomato chutney came to life because as usual, I hadn't had time to grocery shop in days, and didn't have any fresh tomatoes in the house. After that, the eggs were for extra protein and the arugula for beauty and bite.

Do you have any serving suggestions for your recipe? How do you serve it yourself?
The recipe plates up beautifully on individual dishes, but if you're going family-style, just arrange it all on a large central platter. A great accompaniment is a Pomegranate Mimosa—half orange juice, half pomegranate juice, and champagne. Delicious!

What's your favorite way to enjoy brunch?
We love having other families with young kids over. We let the kids have a "picnic" under the table while we dine like half-civilized human beings up above.


Third Prize: Brooke Jones, Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Cherry Cream French Toast with Agave-Almond Butter Drizzle

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? About your cooking style?
I first turned vegetarian in high school because I love animals and can't eat them, and also because it was the cool thing to do in the 90's. In college, someone from Vegan Outreach handed me a "Why Vegan?" flier, and I've been vegan ever since (for roughly 11 years). I love to prepare as many fresh, whole foods as possible (veggies, fruits, beans, etc.), but sometimes I just crave something slightly sweet and creamy, so I always keep a stack of really good comfort food recipes, like French toast.

How did you come up with this recipe?
I have an amazing recipe for a "stuffed" French toast that has been my quick, go-to breakfast or brunch recipe for years. I read through the brand sponsors that we had to pick from and started adding variations, such as the Eden dried cherries as well as the agave and almond butter for the drizzle, which is a great, healthier version of traditional maple syrup.

Do you have any serving suggestions for your recipe? How do you serve it yourself?
I think this recipe can be served as a quick, casual breakfast for yourself as well as for guests depending on how it is presented. If serving casually, I like to drizzle the agave-almond butter right over the sandwich. This can get messy (in a good way), but if you're serving guests that like to keep tidy, just place the drizzle in a little dish on the side for dipping next to the sandwich. It's very substantial on its own, but a nice handful of fresh berries on the side goes perfect with this.

What's your favorite way to enjoy brunch?
Relaxing at home with my dog, Indie, is my idea of a great way to enjoy brunch.


Honorable Mention: Elana Richman, Shrewsbury, Pa.
Stuffed French Toast Bread Pudding   

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? About your cooking style?
I love being outside, doing things like hiking, biking, tending my garden, and helping with my CSA's harvest day. Professionally, I work at an environmental non-profit. I'm currently learning how to make things on the pottery wheel.

I tend to cook seasonal, simple meals with lots of high-quality local ingredients. I have a big garden, a CSA share, and go to farmers’ markets and local farms, as well as do a ton of food preservation in the summer and fall. I like cooking dishes that highlight those foods. Most of my dishes use a lot of homegrown herbs and garlic.

How did you come up with this recipe?
My husband and I really liked getting stuffed French toast at restaurants, and I wanted to find a relatively easy (and healthier) way to make it at home, especially after the local restaurant that used to serve it stopped doing so. We have an orchard near us where I buy great apples in bulk, so apples were a natural fit for this. We also like bread pudding, and the more I made the recipe, the more like bread pudding it became.

Do you have any serving suggestions for your recipe? How do you serve it yourself?
We eat it with maple syrup. It makes great leftovers for Monday morning too.

What's your favorite way to enjoy brunch?
Relaxing with my husband Alex, in our P.J.s! A homemade mocha to go along with the morning always helps!


Honorable Mention: Paul Bulman, Chino Hills, Calif.
Savory Oatmeal with Ricotta, Fried Egg, and Sriracha   

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? About your cooking style?
I live in Chino Hills, Calif. with my wife and two daughters. I enjoy spending time with my family; long walks and hiking with my two Australian Shepherds (Levi and Copain); deepening my yoga practice and lifestyle; and reading books on history, health, spirituality, and cosmology.

My cooking style has evolved over the last 15 years. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, my education focused mainly on French cuisine, based on the teachings of Auguste Escoffier's Le Guide Culinaire. Early in my cooking career I decided to trade in my toque to cook for the people most important to me—my family and friends. Consequently, we dine together as a family each and every night—no screens allowed. Today, I follow the conventional wisdom of Michael Pollen, "Eat food, mostly plants, not too much," and focus on simple, fresh ingredients, using simple cooking and preparation techniques.

How did you come up with this recipe?
I came up with this recipe to save a mistake. Toward the end of the work day, I called my wife to request that she begin preparing red wheat berry pilaf in advance so that I could focus on the last-minute preparations when I got home. Accidentally, I directed her to use a container that contained steel-cut oats rather than the red wheat berries. When I arrived home and examined the pilaf, I realized the mistake. Not wanting to throw away the oatmeal, I was determined to find an application. Earlier that same day, a colleague and I made a cheese run to a local manufacturer for low-moisture ricotta. Intent on preparing a meal using both the savory oatmeal and the low-moisture ricotta, I came up with the Savory Oatmeal with Ricotta, Fried Egg, and Sriracha the following morning. Today, this is one of my wife's favorite meals.

Do you have any serving suggestions for your recipe? How do you serve it yourself?
I serve it with cracked black pepper, herbs, and mesclun to enhance the look and give definition to the ricotta and egg. Otherwise there would be too much white on the plate.

What's your favorite way to enjoy brunch?
Living in Southern California, I greatly enjoy brunch outside in the backyard with my family—next to the flowerbeds with some light music playing in the background. Often in the morning we receive visits from the local wildlife—hummingbirds, lizards, coyotes, and an occasional bobcat, which provides for some lively entertainment.

Comments on this Blog

But, but, but....WHERE are the recipes?!!!!! Please post them, or post where I can find them!

Where are the recipes?!?!?!

these are all boring, same old and much less interesting or healthy than the one i submitted for a baked matzo. i am very disappointed, not in losing, but seeing same old stuff all my life.

Where can I find these recipes?

Congratulations to the winner! I have been eating vegan after 20 years of being a vegetarian after I saw Animals Australia's video 'what you never knew about dairy'. Cooked breakfast minus the eggs is quite a challenge - just look at all the runners up. It takes more imagination and creativity to only use plant based foods. I admire you giving first place to a vegan recipe. It's the reason I think your veg magazine is the best in the world; because Veg Times has an emphasis on healthful foods there are less recipes that are covered with or filled with cheese or suggest the ubiqious quiche/vegetable omlette. I would, however, have liked to see an entry that wasn't in the traditional breakfast vein (pancakes/toasts etc). Thankyou for the years of inspiration and help with cooking! May all beings be safe and happy.

I agree...where's the recipes? Let the general public try and rate them!

where can we find the recipes?

How do we access the winning recipes???

Recipes? Please!

I just made the pancakes this morning (recipe is in the magazine). I had high hopes because I, like the recipe creator, love Isa Chandra Moskovitz recipes (Vegan Brunch is my fave). But omg, these pancakes were so bad. I followed the recipe but ...big fail. Do not recommend. I don't know if it was a misprint or not, the 1tsp of baking powder AND baking soda...? Also I think soaking the oats overnight would be a big improvement as well.

Congratulations to all the winners! My friends and family have enjoyed your breakfast recipes. Absolutely fantastic! Now someone please stop little ungrateful Leba Freed Pierce from crying into her baked matzoh. Thank you!

Josie's Sweet Potato Masala has been my favorite. My husband and the entire family has enjoyed them on many occasions. I do agree with previous poster about ungrateful, poor attitude of Leba Freed whining about her loss. GET OVER IT.