Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

Lemon Madeleines

Posted: May 19, 2017 in baking, Breakfast, French

 


Picking sleep out of my eyes, ruffling my bed hair and negotiating my slippers, I shuffled to the kitchen and made myself a cup of coffee.  The morning silence broken only by the sound of the swifts catching their breakfast.

What was I going to ‘catch’ for my Sunday breakfast?

I didn’t fancy toast; anyway I’d forgotten to take the butter out of the fridge last night and even though I had some smoked salmon that would have been lush with scrambled eggs and smashed avocados, I didn’t fancy that either.  And then it hit me… lemon madeleines.  I know, I know, only I can go from toast to baking madeleines as my alternative breakfast at 8am on a Sunday morning!  Anyway, once I had the idea in my head there was no turning back.

Madeleines are ridiculously easy to make, as can be seen in the clip below.  Still in my PJ’s I set about preheating the oven and weighing out the ingredients.

Mix everything together and let the lemony batter rest whilst the oven comes up to temperature.

 

Madeleines are best served warm, so once you’ve got them out of their pan and cooling on a wire rack, make yourself another cup of coffee and your lazy, relaxed, weekend breakfast is served.  This amount of batter makes 12 madeleines – I scoffed 4 without even feeling guilty about it and later had another one with a cup of tea…

…the raspberries make it one of your five a day…don’t they?!

Note: even though madeleines are very easy to make (and even easier to eat!) I wouldn’t necessarily want to make these on a work day where you’re generally following a regular morning routine and you’re up against the clock.  Maybe having the batter in the fridge from the night before and the minute you wake up turning the oven on might be too organised even for me!  The recipe is perfect for morning shuffling, plodding around the house, listening to your favourite radio station; waking the house up, slowly.

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The perfect Bank Holiday breakfast!

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When you see how easy these churros are to make, you’ll keep thinking up reasons to make them.  Admittedly, you need a moderate expertise level to put these together or a foolproof Churro Battle Plan.

Churro Battle Plan

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Weigh out the ingredients specified below, and prep a large saucepan on your hob.  Prep a piping bag (or large ziplock freezer bag!) with a star shaped nozzle.

Mix the churro ingredients and put into the piping bag.  Clear the decks and tidy up your work area.

Fill up your saucepan with veg oil or alternatively use a deep fat fryer.  Heat the oil on quite a high heat until it shimmer, just before smoking, and squeeze 6inch/15cm strips of dough into the oil.

Fry for around 5 to 8 mins or until they are golden brown.  Take them out of the oil and dredge them through cinnamon sugar.

If you want to dunk your churros into molten dark chocolate as they do on the continent then make the following chocolate ganache.

Ingredients:
For the dough:
475ml water                                                   40g butter
25g sugar                                                        5ml vanilla paste
260g plain flour                                            pinch of sea salt

2 large eggs beaten into the churro mixture once slightly cooled
veg oil for frying

For the cinnamon sugar:
130g sugar
1 & 1/4 tspn cinnamon

For the ganache:
175ml double cream
140g dark chocolate
pinch of sea salt

bannerpancake

Nestled in the heart of Main Street, in-between old bottle green shutters and adjacent to the old butcher’s shop ‘El Ginger’, sits Pancake Factory; sited in the old Al-Andalus restaurant on College Lane.

A small but friendly place with approximately 8-10 tables inside and a further 5 outside. Pancake Factory is a pleasant place where you can hook up with friends for breakfast, have lunch with loved ones or meet clients for a meal.  The location is ideal as it is bang in the centre of town but remarkably quiet as it just misses out on the hustle and bustle of Main Street.

The decor currently feels like a mish-mash of different styles and I for one would perhaps like to see some more consistency in the approach.  There is a turquoise blue wall at the rear of the restaurant very reminiscent of 50’s American diners.  Perhaps developing this idea could be very fitting in the neighbourhood which has a hipster vibe going for it, complete with tattoo parlour.

Pancake Factory staff worked continuously and moved from table to table; taking orders, bringing food out and clearing place settings with a cheery disposition if somewhat nervous at times – they’ve only been open since 4th August 2016 but I am sure they will become much more confident as their experience grows.

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The menu opens as if the shutters to the windows on College Lane itself, however, there is no need to open the shutters should you be searching for pancake perfection.  The left shutter describing 8 crêpes from the traditional lemon and sugar crêpe “London Lemon” to the more decadent Hungarian special  served with walnuts, caramel and chocolate sauce “Budapest Gundel.”  The right shutter describes 8 American style pancakes such as: “Cote D’Azur” with blueberries and maple syrup and, “Tijuana Thrill” with strawberries and chocolate sauce.

FullSizeRender (4)The American Style pancakes arrive as a very decent stack of five fluffy pancakes soused in delicious syrups and sauces and a scoop of ice-cream should you wish.  As recommended by our waitress, I tried the Montreal Madness with apple, cinnamon and maple syrup; this can very easily become my new favourite flavour combo.

The menu itself has a good selection of various breakfast items such as DIY sandwiches, omelettes, granola and English Breakfast staples, however, American pancakes need crispy, streaky bacon on them and I was surprised to see that this was not one of the extras you could add to your pancake stack.  The Cote D’Azur with blueberries and maple syrup was crying out for this.  I do believe they are trying to rectify this issue.  The lunch dishes sound appealing – I hear the Hungarian Goulash is delicious – there is a good choice of starters, mains, salads, pasta dishes and savoury pancakes on the menu.

Pancake Factory opens from 9am to 5pm and is great for breakfast or lunch.  Alternatively, if you’re booked in for lunch somewhere else, Pancake Factory is an ideal place to stop for a quick dessert before you get back to work!

Good luck focusing on your spreadsheets and presentations after dining on pancake glory.

Gastrorob

as published on www.yourgibraltartv.com

 

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I know this is probably an over-generalisation but in my travels in the USA (both in the past and more recently) I feel as if eateries in USA make a great deal of brunch as opposed to a normal breakfast – like a pumped-up breakfast; on steroids – You still get fresh OJ and a cup of coffee but you’ll also get fries with that!   Ask for plain toast and butter and some establishments would be offended that there was nothing in their extensive brunch menu that you wanted and they would struggle to provide this measly option for you as the toast would be considered a side to accompany your pancakes, Eggs Benedict or ommelette!

Some of the simpler breakfast options were a French patisserie and a cup of coffee to eat on the go, however, these occasions were few and far between.  Hence, on some days we were only able to have brunch and dinner as we were so full-up.

Eggs Benedict
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Eggs Benedict

One of my all-time favourite breakfast/brunch dishes is Eggs Benedict.  Poached eggs sitting on roast ham, resting snugly on English Muffins and covered with hollandaise sauce.  At least that’s the way they come in New York; which is magnificent.

On the West Coast, Eggs Benedict was an adulterated version of the classic and arrived on food platters to feed a family of four!  In LA, these were served with a side of oil drenched French fries and toast!

Hash House a Go Go; Las Vegas

Hash House a Go Go, advertises itself as “Twisted farm food” – saw its popularity rise after IMG_2355a Man V Food Challenge and is almost as much a tourist attraction as it is a 24hr cafe.  The menu choices and portion sizes are out of this world; if somewhat vulgar.  Drink combos such as their BLT Bloody Mary which arrives in a tall glass with a romaine lettuce leaf and a slice of bacon sticking out of the glass – I could do with one of those now – are just as obscene.

HHaGoGo’s extensive brunch menu of pancakes and waffles also has 4 different versions of Eggs Benedict.  I gave Andy’s Sage Fried Chicken Hash House Benedict a go – the very same one that Adam Richman ploughed through on Man V Food.  I was amazed that the waitress could carry the huge platter in her hand with such ease and set it down delicately in front of me (let’s not forget she was carrying two dishes to the table at the time).

I remember holding my head in both hands and whispering, “Dear Lord, what have I done?!”

Picture a platter, filled with mashed potatoes topped with wilted spinach, slices of tomato, more bacon and a mountain of scrambled eggs; sitting proudly on this, a huge sage fried chicken breast escalope skewered in place with a rosemary spear, all smothered in a chipotle cream sauce.  Oh I forgot to mention the English Muffin that was in there somewhere as well…

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…as you’ve probably gathered, on 19th July; food won.

Seafoodseafood risotto OLIVES

The other ubiquitous West Coast food staple is seafood, more specifically prawn and lobster.  In Vegas, most restaurants have a plethora of lobster/prawn inspired dishes on their menu – you could devour a plate of prawns whilst playing on the slots if you wanted.

Of all the meals I had in Vegas, the stand out dish was at Bellagio’s Olives by celebrity chef Todd English.  A stunning seafood risotto that arrived loaded with clams, razor clams, shrimp, fish, crab and lobster set in a saffron broth.  Delicately divine.

Los Angeles

San Francisco

I’ve never experienced a winter so cold as a San Francisco summer!  – Mark Twain.IMG_2789 (Edited)

And on cold, misty days by the sea – a bowl of heart warming soup hits the spot.  I know
that clam chowder is a New England culinary creation but serve it in a hollowed out Boudin sourdough bread and you’ve got something that is totally San Francisco.  Even though the locals don’t eat this, tourists queue up at all of Fisherman Wharf’s seafood establishments for a taste of their chowder.  Boudin’s Bakery being one of the most popular.

Another delicacy is crab – Dungeness Crab – served whole either steamed or roasted in garlic butter or in crab cakes, or served with garlic noodles.  I enjoyed my snow crab legs thoroughly as they poked out of a mountain of shrimp and whitefish in Bubba Gump’s “Boat Trash”.

Cycling from Fisherman’s Wharf, through the Marina district, over the Golden Gate Bridge and into the village of Sausalito, you work up a pretty good appetite and the Seafood Peddler’s Daily Special of Clam chowder (in a bowl) and pound of lobster served with ‘slaw and corn on the cob was exactly what I needed.  Clearly not conducive to cycling back.

Therefore, a ferry trip back to Fisherman’s Wharf is essential to help the food settle as well as breathing in the sea air to open up your appetite for the next onslaught of sea-crustacean delights.

Please note that the photos above are only some of the food memories I’ve experienced throughout the past two weeks, more often than not, either excitement or greed, or a little of both would take over my usual self-control and I’d forget to take the photo before ploughing through the dish.

It has now been a week since I got back from my hols in Las Vegas, LA and San Francisco and even though I enjoyed every mouthful of food I am glad to return my belly (and gout!) to a proper food regime with enforced portion control.

I walked up to my front door to find that there was a bright red present tied with white and blue ribbon waiting at its feet.  It felt as if I had just received my first valentine card…the excitement, the joy, the intrigue.  Ripping through the wrapping, I found myself faced with a metal madeleine tray with 12 scallop-shell shaped moulds staring up at me.  Now if like me, you’re a food obsessive, you’d know what to do with it – otherwise you’d be taking it down the beach to decorate your sandcastles with.

the excitement, the joy, the intrigue

But I still hadn’t figured out who left it there!

The card that accompanied the tray made everything clearer; it was a gift from my friend, Pie.  On the card were suggestions as to which madeleine recipe to follow and who to youtube should I need direction, so that I too could enjoy the delights of a fresh, warm madeleine with a cup of coffee as a weekend breakfast.

I must place this in a context for you; my friend Pie, bakes delicious madeleines (or so she tells me as she’s never managed to invite me round for Sunday breakfast!)

So what is a madeleine?


A madeleine is a French patisserie favourite.  A small, buttery sponge cake to enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee.  Classically they will either be lemon or almond flavoured, however, they now come in a variety of different flavours; dunked in chocolate or filled with jam/fruit/curd.  But what sets a Madeleine apart from a standard sliced tea-time sponge cake, is the scallop-shell impressed pan they are baked in.

Having taken Pie’s recommendations and done some research myself – Michel Roux Jnr’s recipe is a good one to start with:

Madeleines

Ingredients:
2 eggs

100g caster sugar

100g plain flour + extra for dusting

1 lemon

¾ tsp baking powder

100g melted butter

Method:

1st: Preheat the oven to 200˚C.  Brush the Madeleine tray with melted butter, shake in a little flour to coat the shells and tap out the excess.

2nd: Prepare your dry ingredients in a bowl and the lemon zest.  Pour the lemon juice into the melted butter and set aside.

3rd: Whisk together the eggs and the sugar in a bowl until frothy.

4th: Pour in the melted butter and lemon mixture and lightly whisk in the flour.  Leave to stand for 20mins before carefully pouring the batter into your prepared madeleine tray.

5th: Bake for 8-10mins until risen in the middle and fully cooked through.  The madeleine should be golden brown around the edges.  Transfer the madeleines to a wire rack and leave for a few minutes to cool slightly.

Madeleines are best eaten within the hour – barely warm and sprinkled with icing sugar.

I recommend you set your timer for 8mins and then watch the madeleines like a hawk as they’ll go from pale and white to dark brown within the 2mins left!
Renowned food writers, such as David Lebovitz, who is known to “pop a few for breakfast” drizzles honey into the mix and gives his batter a generous wait time.  Rachel Khoo, from Little Paris Kitchen, drizzles in some honey and prods a raspberry into the centre of the batter mixture before baking, then piping lemon curd into the centre of the baked madeleine.  Julia Child’s recipe calls for salt, vanilla extract, 2 drops of lemon juice and 2 drops of bergamot extract as well as boiling the butter first to turn it brown – why would any home cook want to have to go through all that?!

I followed Michel Roux Jnr’s recipe adding more lemon juice than expressed.  Next time I’d like the madeleine to have a stronger lemon taste therefore adding more juice or perhaps adding some lemon curd to the batter mixture.  I prepared the batter before I went out the night before and placed in the fridge.

Make sure not to fill the moulds too much as they will spill over and engulf the madeleine next to it if you’re not too careful.


I suppose, like the old Chinese proverb: give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.  Pie has provided me with the tools and wisdom, so that I too can eat madeleines as often as I want.

Cue accordion music

 

Like something that Robin might shout at Batman, this summer gave me: Frozen Bananas!

In a bid to rescue my waistline and save me from the evil Dr. Hart E. Tack I’ve been peeling, slicing and freezing bananas since June.  Actually I have also frozen raspberries, blackberries and blueberries throughout the summer.

So what have I been using my frozen fruits for?

My weekday summer breakfast has been an ice-cold smoothie of bananas and summer berries; packed with summer fruits (high in antioxidants) and thickened with porridge oats.

For those of you that haven’t seen through the charade; imagine a bowl of ice cold porridge in drink form!  A smoothie though normally chilled with ice-cubes, this can dilute the smoothie in both taste and consistency; hence substituting this for frozen bananas which become slushy when blitzed.

You can buy packets of frozen summer berries but I prefer to buy punnets of fresh summer fruits and freeze them in bags.  That way I can add more of one kind of berry than the others.  Also remember that our grocery stores do not always stock fresh varieties of summer berries, so purchasing them when they are available and freezing them means you can have a regular supply.  Plus fruits bought in season tend to be cheaper than at other times of the year.  Do not use canned fruit as they are generally disappointing.

The recipe couldn’t be simpler:

  • pour ¾ of a glass of milk into a blender and add a handful of frozen banana slices as well as any other fruit you wish.  Add ¼ cup of porridge oats and blend until smooth.  Pour into a glass and drink!

A nutritious alternative to summer berries is to add a tablespoon of peanut butter which combos perfectly with bananas.

I know that summer will officially come to an end in the next few days but the temperature doesn’t necessarily reflect that – so I can see myself breakfasting on summer berry-banana smoothies for a few more weeks to come.

Blitz away!

 

The pagans knew how to party!  They marked every festival with mirth and merriment but above all food.  Food playing a central part to their festivities.  So it isn’t really surprising that the Christians adopted this ethos before embarking upon a period of abstinence and denial.

Throughout the 40 days of Lent, people are called to fasting and prayer.  However, the week preceding Lent has become a time of merrymaking, culminating on Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday.

One way to use up the eggs, milk and fats in the house is to add flour to make pancakes.

How to make the perfect pancakescrepes

  • 120g plain flour
  • pinch salt
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 210ml milk
  • 90ml water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • butter/oil for frying

1st: Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and create a well in the centre.  In a jug mix the milk and water.

2nd: Crack the eggs into the centre and beat into the flour.  Gradually pour the milk and water mixture until you get a smooth liquid.

3rd: Stir in the oil and allow to stand for approx 30mins.

4th: Heat a non-stick frying pan until very hot and then add the butter or oil until the pan is slicked in the butter/oil.  I tend to drain the excess and then wipe nearly clean with a paper towel.  Lower the heat.  Keep checking the heat as you go as you need the batter to cook before you toss/flip it.

Through experience I normally have to sacrifice my first one to the pancake gods before my batch is to prove bountiful

By the time bubbles are forming and popping on top, and the edges look slightly dry the underside should be golden brown.  Only once golden will it be easy to slide the pancake around in the pan.

photoTo toss or not to toss?

All I can say at this stage is to give it a go.  Flipping a pancake is fun.  And that is what being in the kitchen should be about.  Don’t be afraid.  Tip the frying pan away from you and in one quick movement with a flick of the wrist, toss your pancake into the air towards you – always remembering that you need to try and catch it!!

If you are not going to toss it into the air – once the underside is golden brown you are going to need to flip the pancake over.  Slide a metal spatula quickly under the centre of the pancake and flip over quickly and purposefully.

 

 

Toppingscrepes1

  • Caster sugar and lemon juice
  • Nutella, bananas and hazelnuts
  • Jam (with an extra sprinkle of sugar!)
  • Golden syrup
  • Ice cream
  • Greek Yoghurt and honey

As these are more French crêpes than American hotcakes I wouldn’t go for maple syrup nor crispy bacon as it really does not work here.  Think sugary, chocolaty, rich, decadent and fattening, and you’re on the right track.

At the end of the day, if you’re going to give up sweets and/or chocolate for 40 days why not gorge on them until you’re ready to burst?!

Flipping marvellous!