Posts Tagged ‘breakfast’

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

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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

 

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!

Before any of you ask, this was not a student creation from my University days gone by!

Kedgeree is at its most basic, a dish consisting of boiled rice, flaked fish, curry powder and hard boiled eggs.  It is thought to have originated from an Indian rice and bean/lentil dish called Khichri, and widely believed that the dish was introduced to the Uk by returning British soldiers who enjoyed it in India whilst serving there during the British Raj.

During Victorian times it was served as a breakfast dish, as part of the very fashionable colonial Anglo-Indian cuisine that was sweeping Victorian Britain.

It is one of many breakfast dishes that, in the days before refrigeration

“converted yesterday’s leftovers into warm, hearty and appealing breakfast dishes.”

Kedgeree can take on many guises; some people fry onions until crisp to scatter over top before serving, others add sultanas into the mix, some use a variety of fish (e.g. smoked haddock).  Celebrity chefs have turned the recipe from a simple putting together of ingredients into a much more decadent dish by using every ingredient in your spice rack or by using ingredients that you need to spend your lunch break searching for!

My advice: keep it simple

Kedgeree

1st: Boil eggs until they are hard boiled.  Set aside and allow to cool.

2nd: Place a salmon fillet per person into a saucepan.  Cover with water and add peppercorns, salt and bay leaves.  If you’re feeling adventurous add a few crushed cardamom pods.  Simmer gently for 10mins.  Allow to cool in the liquid.

3rd: Chop a medium sized onion and fry in some butter.

4th: Once the onion is soft, add a couple of teaspoons of curry powder to the saucepan and stir.

5th: Add the rice (I use basmati) and coat the grains with the buttery, curried onions.

6th: Use the poaching liquid and top up with any extra water to cook your rice using the 2:1 method.  For depth of flavour I always use a stock cube – if you leave this out check for seasoning later.

7th: Once everything is cooked* it is just a case of assembling the dish:

a) remove the skin off the salmon and flake into pieces (take care with any bones)

b) sprinkle with fresh parsely

c) mix everything with the back of 2 wooden spoons and serve

d) squeeze a lemon over the rice

e) peel the eggs and chop into quarters but serve these equally to avoid argument!

*I like mine to have peas, so once the rice is cooked and whilst assembling the dish, I add frozen peas to the saucepan to cook them quickly in the residual heat.

Even though its intention was to be a breakfast dish, and it is relatively simple to make, it is just not practical for me to want to cook this for breakfast – not even at the weekend!  But it does make for a great light supper or a fantastic weekend brunch; especially a late-Saturday-morning-hangover-looming-brunch!  However, let’s simplify this even more: dispense with stages 1 & 2, don’t bother with the hard boiled eggs and poached, flaked salmon and just open a can of tuna into the boiled, curried rice.

When you see it in little white bowls in Starbucks and conversation turns to whether it’s best made on the hob or in the microwave, or whether you favour it hot or cold, or what topping you prefer on yours – you know that porridge is back!

Porridge has been around for yonks but in recent years has lost out to cold, cardboard tasting cereals in colourful packaging of fun promising toys and treats.

But before this revival, porridge was an austerity food, associated with prisons and workhouses.  It was the focus for Dickens’,

  “Please Sir, I want some more.”

An offense for which the workhouse Governors wanted Oliver to hang.  Imagine that – hanged for wanting more porridge!  Goldilocks also caused a furore in the Bear household for trying Papa Bear’s and Mama Bear’s porridge and finishing Baby Bear’s porridge which was, “Just right.”

Historically, the Ancient Greeks and Romans found the grain inedible and dubbed it ‘barbarian’s food’ and fed it to their animals.  Samuel Johnson subsequently mocked it as, “a grain which in England is given to horses but in Scotland supports the people.”  Apparently he only said this to annoy the Scots.

Porridge has always been associated with cold winter mornings where cupping bowl in hand, you feel its warmth spread through your hibernation-broken body.  It is one of the most spirit-lifting ways to start the day; a huge hug in a bowl.

Nowadays we can cook our porridge oats in 3 microwavable minutes.  No longer do we need to remain stove-side, spurtle in hand stirring in a sunwise direction, for 20-30mins until each pearly grain releases its sweet starch.  I mean, come on, who has 30 free minutes to stir porridge before work on a school day?!

“In our recessionary world, porridge is a cheap and easy breakfast.”

Here are five reasons why you should take the oat oath and switch your breakfast to these wholesome whole grains:

Oats boast an impressive nutritional profile: high in fibre they help protect our bodies from any number of potential health problems. They are also packed full of minerals and vitamins which support healthy bones.

Oats fill you up: only 147 calories per cup of plain cooked oats.  When you eat oats, your body will digest and absorb them slowly, keeping you feeling full, controlling your appetite and keeping hunger pangs at bay.

Oats may help reduce cholesterol: yielding a high proportion of soluble fibre they create a gel-like fibre which transits your intestinal tract helping to trap substances associated with high blood cholesterol.

Oats are diabetes friendly:  In the same way that fibre in oats helps to stave off hunger, it also helps to steady the glucose levels in the bloodstream.

Oats support healthy digestion: the insoluble fibre in oats scrubs through the intestines, moving food along and helping to prevent constipation.

So next time you go shopping for breakfast – why not give oats a try?

Of all the places I have travelled to, New York aka New Yoik, is still one of my favourite destinations.  Having been there on three seperate occasions with three different groups of people, I can encouragingly recommend this place to everyone.  Other than the typical tourist attractions statue of liberty, times square, central park, etc which I will gladly visit again, it is the food that stays with me the most!

But what actually is American food?  Historically, as Europeans gradually colonised the Americas they took with them ingredients and cooking styles from their native lands.  These influences continued expanding proportionally with the influx of immigrants from many foreign nations.  It is this influx that has developed a rich diversity in food preparation throughout the country.

As these immigrants passed through Ellis Island, many of them settled in New York City.  Creating a melting pot of cultures, race and food.

On my second visit to NYC we stayed at the Beekman Tower Hotel, near the United Nations building.  Opposite our hotel there was a cafe – I think it was called Union Cafe – which severed food all day from 6am to 11pm (I may be exaggerating).  My NY breakfast of choice was french toast with maple syrup fried bacon and eggs, sunny side up 🙂

What can I say?  If you don’t want to have to keep stopping for mid-morning snacks delaying your itinerary to your next tourist queue this is the sort of breakfast you are going to want, no, correction, need!

But this food obsession does not just stop at breakfast.  From a city that boasts ~23, 500 active restaurants (figure taken from nycgo.com) there is food for all pockets and tastes.

This figure also incorporates food stands selling the quintessential hot dog with relish, burger stands and the other New York City staple, the pretzel.

When you first buy a pretzel you welcome its warmth and bready smell.  Holding it in your hands you feel victorious that you have found the answer to keeping warm in New York in Winter – but when you take your first bite you realise you should have asked the guy for relish!  It is too dry therefore hard.  However, for me, it is the rock salt that covers it that makes it an unpleasant experience.  Each bite you take makes you wonder whether your fillings are being hacked out of your teeth!  Not content with this the first time (or wondering whether I was sold a dodgy pretzel), I have then bought pretzels on my other two visits to NYC and found the same unpleasant, salty experience.

Actually make a point of adding relish to anything you buy from a food stand/hot dog cart/burger stand/pretzel stand as generally the sweet relish masks the taste of what you are consuming!

NYC does sweet very well.  Not only is it a mecca for cupcakes and muffins which are amazing.  Stop in any deli and get a coffee (cu-o-ffy) and a slice of cheesecake that lifts you spiritually as well as providing much needed respite from walking the streets of Manhattan.  And it was with this uplifting memory of NYC and those indulgent if not calorific breakfasts that I made American Style Pancackes for my Saturday breakfast!

American Style Pancakes

1st: Mix plain flour, milk, melted butter, eggs, bicarbonate of soda, sugar and salt in an electric foodmixer until everything is mixed well.

2nd: Pour the mixture into a jug as they are easier to pour onto the pan than spooning them out.

3rd: Cook on both sides.

4th: Serve with maple syrup like a waterfall, cascading over its sides!!

YUMMERS!!