Johnny D’s Chef Jamie Saunders shares tasty favorite recipes in her new cookbook
PHOTO: Chef Jamie Saunders of Johnny D’s Waffles and Bakery is the author of a new cookbook set to come out later this summer.
When Chef Jamie Saunders and her husband, Michael, left Coney Island, New York, and opened Johnny D’s Waffles and Bakery in Myrtle Beach four-and-half years ago, neither expected the overwhelming response from Myrtle Beach visitors and locals. The Food Network declared their Red Velvet Waffles the best in South Carolina, creating even more loyal followers. Grand Strand Magazine readers voted Saunders as one of the winners in the “Best Local Chef” category in 2017. Seven days a week, year-round, Johnny D’s is filled to overflowing with breakfast and lunch patrons as the number of happy customers, awards, national press and accolades grow each year.
Trained in the culinary arts, Chef Saunders worked in restaurants in upstate New York for around 15 years and is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America with degrees in baking and pastry. In addition to homeschooling her six-year-old special needs son, James, Saunders found time to create a cookbook loaded with comfort foods and creative takes on old favorites, as well as delivering a few new, delicious twists.
Making it Delicious, featuring more than 90 recipes on 106 pages, is scheduled to be available at Johnny D’s and many bookstores, as well as online, in late summer. Helping set this cookbook apart from the thousands already in print is the fact that Saunders thinks your kitchen should run like a restaurant. “The recipes, as much as possible, cross-utilize ingredients,” said Saunders from the couple’s Myrtle Beach home. “That’s how you run a successful restaurant.” In addition to keeping a family’s food costs down, Saunders thinks every kitchen can be more productive.
The opening pages offer advice on stocking a kitchen, tips from which every home cook, experienced or not, could benefit. A new cook could use Making it Delicious as a sole source DIY guide to great home-cooked meals, utilizing hints on kitchenware, spices every pantry should hold, and instructional tips on just about every aspect of making a salad, a snack or a meal for a family. “I don’t have a lot of time to cook at home,” said Saunders, who is in Johnny D’s early nearly every morning to help manage the already busy day. The cookbook is loaded with practical information and follows its own advice taken from the foreword. “Nothing wasted, nothing fancy, nothing you need to run to specialty supermarkets to find, and, most importantly, using ingredients you most likely already have.”
In addition to all the recipes—breakfast through salads and sandwiches, on to appetizers, snacks, dinner and dessert—you’ll find handy guides such as Basic Kitchen Equipment, Temperature Guide, Red Meat Cooking Guide and more. But the heart and soul of Making it Delicious are the recipes.
Huevos Rancheros (a classic Mexican breakfast dish of eggs, beans, cheese and guacamole served on tortillas) is Saunders’ favorite in the breakfast section. She lists the basic ingredients and step-by-step instructions any cook can follow. Trendy and delicious Avocado Toast recipes will appeal to Millennials, while Southerners will appreciate her take on Pimiento Cheese (complete with Duke’s mayonnaise, of course).
Spicy Honey Chipotle Crispers will make anyone a fan of chicken tenders. The Steak and Onion Melt is loaded with thinly sliced London Broil, garlic butter, cheddar cheese, onions and baby bella mushrooms. The FetaBerry Salad topped with grilled chicken breast includes blueberries, strawberries and enough fresh veggies to qualify as super healthy.
Rounding out the breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes and creating a fitting end to the cookbook, Saunders’ desserts, some 14 of them, include Mudslide Cookies, Blueberry Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce, Apple Crumb Bake, Chunky Monkey Blondies (brownies) and Just Like Grandma’s Banana Bread.
“I wanted this to be a family cookbook with easy recipes,” said Saunders, “and some that require a little bit of skill anyone could learn. I think it’s a good mix.”
About life here in Myrtle Beach? “I love it so much,” said Saunders, who is a tireless promoter of Johnny D’s and an advocate for SOS Healthcare and special needs children. “I like the palm trees and the fact that people will smile and wave to you on the street. And no snow.” Because Chef Saunders and her staff are regulars at Grand Strand Area Chamber of Commerce and Myrtle Beach Hospitality Association events, Saunders and Johnny D’s have quickly integrated into the community at large.
The recipes in Making it Delicious all include mouthwatering photos from Coastal Life Photography owner Maria Daskalis, who is, coincidently, Saunders’ sister. Looking for the recipe for those award-winning Red Velvet Waffles? “No, no, no,” she laughed. “Maybe after I retire.” For now, enjoy them at Johnny D’s. A lady has to keep some secrets.
Enjoy the recipes below:
Shrimp Tacos with Corn Salsa and Jalapeño Ranch
PHOTOGRAPHS BY COASTAL LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY