Archive for the 'Breakfast' Category

Crepecake roll-ups

crepecake roll ups

I seem to have a thing with rolled-up food at the moment. My mouth clearly thinks knives and forks are overrated-hands are the perfect shovel-it-in accessory.  Or perhaps it’s just that I eat far too many meals when I’m working. I’m not and advocate for working whilst you eat- but we all know sometimes it just, well, it’s unavoidable. And at other times- eating with your hands is just way more cool. Talk about being in touch with your food.

I’ve called these crepecakes because they are a cross between a pancake and a crepe. One of my oldest and dearest friends Robin introduced me to them and call me cheesy but it was love at first bite. I’ve invited myself over to her house on countless occasions since for crepes- and as a true friend she’s happy to oblige, even putting the coffee on too. Robin, you’ll note still calls them crepes but I think that’s deceptive. Not that you’ll find yourself unpleasantly deceived- but deceived nevertheless. They are based on a crepe recipe, though- from the Joy of Cooking, so I’m led to believe. Robin’s father took it upon his gifted self to alter the recipe and they morphed magnificently into crepecakes. I love how that happens.

They are thicker than a crepe but thinner than a pancake and I think they’re just divine. You can serve these anyway you like- my favourite is  to spread them with a layer of peanut butter, top with apples cut into matchsticks and rolled up. Don likes to fill his with crispy bacon, sharp cheddar and a drizzle of honey. Either way- you’re on to a good thing!  More recently Robin’s been making them gluten and dairy free and I think they’ve become something even better. She never actually gave me the recipe- I’ve been hassling her for about two years now- but never-you-mind, this is pretty darn close. Although I have to admit, they taste so much better when an old friend makes them for you.

I’m back off to West Virginia tonight for 3 1/2 weeks so please bare with me I will try to post as often as possible!

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Empty fridge fritatta

salmon & leek fritatta

Nothing gives me great satisfaction than clearing out the contents of my fridge. Don will ask what’s for dinner and I’ll simply reply the fridge (in a mad professor sort of way). There are a few lucky ingredients that I always try to have stocked and running out of them warrants immediate replacement- eggs, butter, greek yogurt, saracha chili sauce, dijon mustard, parmesan. But then there are those, which make fleeting appearances- flavours of the month, so to speak. I know, I’m so fickle with my favourites. Thank god for Don, I’m not fickle with my husbands.

This past month it was roasted smoked salmon- I had two large pieces and found myself scattering them over salads, into pasta and then finally the last 100g went into a brunch fritatta. Our friend Marc played victim to my tipping-the-entire-fridge-into-a-pan-experiment. We have a nice little routine going on with Marc- he comes over on Saturday mornings and plays personal trainer/army drill sargent to Don and I.  We in return reward him for having acheived making us do burpees and push-ups by making him breakfast. I can’t be certain but I’m beginning to think that he may have the better end of the deal.

We’re always ravenous on return so breakfast has to be on the table quickly. One weekend last month I ended up making this fritatta- which not only warmed and comforted our empty bellies but also served the dual purpose of clearing out my fridge. And that left me feeling rather chuffed.

salmon & leek fritatta

It seems as though there’s a little bit of everything in here- well I guess there is. It is an emptying the fridge fritatta after all. But don’t feel like you have to stick by my fridge contents- the first time I made it I actually used yellow peppers courgettes and onions in place of the leeks. If you don’t have the salmon, you could use ham or bump up the amount of chorizo. Or drop the meat altogether. Just don’t drop the eggs- they happen to be the important part- the glue, so to speak. And just because I called them glue doesn’t mean you should skimp on them- delicious eggs come from happy hens who roam grassy fields pecking for plump grubs. I try to buy mine from the farmer’s market. Serve it with a fresh loaf of bread or a simple green salad, depending on hunger levels. And if you’re daring a drizzle of saracha chili sauce wouldn’t go amiss either.

This recipe is a contirbution to winos and foodies LIVESTRONG with a taste of yellow in support of the Lance Armstrong Foundation and to raise awareness of cancer issues worldwide. It seemed appropriate to me to share a recipe that in the making involved doing something to keep fit and healthy. The official Livestrong day is October 2nd and you can go to winos and foodies to see all the entries.

salmon & leek fritatta

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A RECIPE: Peanut butter & almond granola

peanut butter & almond granolaIt is true I’ve posted something similar to this before. It’s also true that last week I said I would not  be making granola after previous issues with my snacking hand. I’m so bloody fickle.

In my defense, it was my dear husband who demanded the granola.  Of course as a good little wife I didn’t waste any time tying a bow in my apron and tottering off to the kitchen.  At least when he’s around, things don’t last long enough for me to get snacking. In any case I ran out of flour to make my usual Saturday loaf of bread, so really granola was the best I could do for him. And I must say, this is brilliant granola.

Being that I’ve recently gotten involved in the BSI (bloggers secret ingredient challenge) I thought that peanut butter granola might be just the thing to make. The peanut butter makes for a really clumpy granola- or should I say chunky? Am I the only one who picks out the chunks first? The single toasted oats are always the last dregs in the jar to go- generally I’ve lost interest by the time I get to them.  I want a couple of nuts and a few seeds bounded together by cluster of toated and flavourful oats. This provides infinite more satisfaction than flakey granola. Plus it makes less mess when you knock back a fistful before pouring some into a bowl. You also get the added bonus of a healthy cereal tasting of peanut butter for breakfast (my mother would hate this idea).

Be sure to head over to Kim’s ordinary recipes made gourmet to see the other contestants and winner.

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A RECIPE: Summer oatmeal

Summer oatmeal

I’ve had to change my breakfast preference. This hot muggy weather we’ve been having in New York has made eating my usual porridge quite an unbearable exercise.  Whilst I revel in the pleasure of an occasional curry-induced sweat, sweating over breakfast is not a situation that I delight in. Follow a sweaty breakfast with the hairdryer and a long wait on the subway platform and you are in for one sticky day. Pit stains, no charge.

I tried to switch straight to yogurt and fruit- but it just would not suffice. No matter how big the portion, an hour later and my stomach was arguing with my head that it was about bloody time it was fed again. I could not cope with this mind/body disagreement so I went back to the oats. I toyed with the idea of making my granola, but the problem that comes with granola is my right hand. Have I not told you about my right hand? It’s my snacking hand and it takes some serious reprimmanding to set it straight. Put something like granola nearby and it’s like dangling food in front of a dog- my right hand is easily distracted.

Then I remembered the Pukkola (also known as bircher museli) that Jamie Oliver used to make. When I worked on one of his TV series it was always there for crew breakfast- a creamy rich cold oatmeal with grated apple and finely chopped nuts. I put on a few pounds on that shoot and I blame a couple of those extra inches on breakfast alone.

So, this one is lightened up a bit. I prefer to use a skimmed milk or almond milk to soak the oats in- water makes a gloopy mess so don’t even go there. I added some wheat germ and flax seeds and added few nuts and the grated apple after the soaking process to give some more texture. Then, instead of finishing it off with more milk I topped the oats with fruit and Greek yogurt. You don’t have to let the oats soak over night- really an hour will be long enough to absorb all the milk- but most people don’t have that amount of time in the morning. As I’m in the habit of eating the same thing for breakfast day in and day out, the planning in advance thing really hasn’t turned out to be such a problem for me. Plus, I love finishing one meal and planning for the next. A procrastinator, I am not.

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A RECIPE: Buckwheat & poppy seed muffins served with sour cream & brown sugar

buckwheat & poppyseed muffins

I’ve never really been a muffin-for-breakfast kind of girl. Oats– yes, multi-grain bread– yes, yogurt and fruit- yes please, croissants- oh, well I really shouldn’t but maybe just this once. Eating a muffin for breakfast has always struck me as rather a strange thing- like doughnuts. Muffins and doughnuts are sweets- the things you eat at tea-time or you at least have the decency to wait until elevenses for. Before that and my mind just boggles.  Like raiding the biscuit tin and calling it breakfast on the go- wickedly fun, perhaps but sensible no.

It’s confusing times like these when I’m reminded that despite my adoption of many Americanisms (eating with just a fork, walking on the right, sticking one finger up at traffic rather than two) I remain quintessentially very English. Especially when it comes to matters of food.

I confess I am yet to find pleasure in the likes of a street side hot dog, or nachos with fake cheese at the cinema, oh and I recently discovered that iced coffee makes me retch. Of all things American though, what I cannot get my head around, utterly refuse to get my head around is muffins for breakfast. Until today. Well, sort of.

Today, I made muffins with buckwheat flour- they are speckled with poppy seeds peppered with cinnamon and ever so plain. That’s plain not dull or flavourless, mind. No, perhaps plain really is the wrong word. They taste of what they’re supposed to- of buckwheat and poppy seeds with a hint of cinnamon and the warmth of brown sugar- plain and simple. Oh, geez- can anyone help me with a word other than plain here? They are the kind of muffins that demand to be cut in half and sandwiched with a sharp slab of cheddar. At tea time they are quite a different beast. They want to be lavished with a mixture of brown sugar and sour cream- tart and complex sweetness blended in holy matrimony.

buckwheat & poppyseed muffins

If ever a muffin was warranted permission to be served at an English breakfast table then I believe it would be this one. Not because of the plain part because we all know that English food has leaped heaps and bounds from its past reputation. In any case I adapted the recipe from one of Dorie Greenspan’s– a most reputable American baker. So, one could hardly call these English.

This was however, no easy task. The first batch I made turned out dry- crumbly even. So, I made a few adjustments- an extra egg and swapping the milk for sour cream. Abrahkadabarah! A moist delicate crumb- and one that tastes even better the next day.  They have very little sugar- 4 oz to be exact divvied up between a dozen. What? Did you think I was going to eat a sweet muffin for breakfast? Brown sugar has so much more depth in flavour than white- and I think you’ll find these have plenty, especially if you serve them with the topping. Plus, I’m saving my sugar cravings for these or I have to say I rather fancy the look of these. At more appropriate times, mind.

This recipe is to be entered into the Bloggers Secret Ingredient competition- head over to The Sophisticated Gourmet to see the line-up on Sunday!

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A RECIPE & VIDEO: No-knead multi-grain bread

multi-grain bread

When I first met my husband I thought I’d impress him by baking him bread for lunch. I was only two weeks into starting cooking school and feeling a little cocky- bread would impress a man of Don’s stature. A well travelled Cambridge graduate, a management consultant- well, lets face it, I was never going to impress him in a political debate. Bread would not only impress but it would be a great conversation starter. He would of course want to know how I made such a perfect pillow of doughy goodness and I would oblige him with only the most bashful modesty; of course.

Don, on the other hand, thought that he would impress me by presenting me with stargazer lillies – the ones’ with the really long stamens that splash you with stains of orange if you go within five feet of them. I was impressed- a man had shown up at my door with flowers and that was a first for me. Needless to say married life is yet to present me with any offerings of the sorts.

My first loaf of bread for Don was foccaccia- and it was completely horrifying. To say doughy pillow would be an understatement- this was a monstrosity of a  pillow- fitting perhaps only for the BFG. The bottom was burnt and the middle still raw. The tomatoes that were supposed to be delicately nesting in said doughy pillow had exploded and in their deconstruction had left behind craters and a few charred skins.

And, yes I served it- I was too stunned by my own unprecedented failure not to. Plus I didn’t have a back-up, save for a few gooey cheeses. I need not have worried though- Don was impressed. Not only had I shown that I had balls by making bread on a first date but I had been plucky enough to serve such a frightful mess and call it lunch.

For our second date he took me out to eat.

Nearly five years later, a few unfruitful affairs with natural sourdough starters, some rather uncouth experiments with my Kitchen Aid dough hook and many, many duds thrown into the rubbish bin later (and breathe) and I have finally come to an peace agreement with bread. I will not torture it further so long as it willingly plays by my rules. And they follow. I will not keep natural starter in my fridge (or anything else that requires feeding for that matter) and I will not get fussed about kneading, risings and waiting for it to cool before I slice. Seeking out perfection has never been one of my strong points.

All I wanted was a bread that I could make in two hours rather than days and it had to make great toast. I went back to the one I made at University- a Delia Smith recipe that was simple, for simple souls like myself. Back then it used to last me a whole month- sliced very thin and kept in the freezer. Now that I live with Don it doesn’t last more than 24 hours- another good argument for making such an undemanding loaf.

I’ve changed things up a bit- adapted Delia’s method to my own cause- the squirrel that I am, I scattered in some seeds and I like to use a mixture of whole wheat flour and malted grain or multi-grain flour. This gives it more texture and flavour- which is more than can be said for my first foccaccia. The recipe I’ve provided makes one heavy unweetened loaf (just enough to feed the yeast), which is something that’s quite hard to find in the States. It’s solid and rustic and it makes smashing toast.

That’s not to say that I don’t have the greatest respect for those who do take more care and time in making bread- and one of these days I plan to have another go at it. You can read about Clotilde’s adventures here. But, for now I’m sticking to my rules and the results are satisfying to say the least.

Did I mention it’s practially effortless to make?

Keep reading for the recipe and watch the video to see how it’s made……

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A RECIPE: Banana loaf cake

banana loaf cake

There are some things that everyone has an opinion about. Who should win American Idol, Mac or PC, how I should plan my wedding (that’s a whole other story), and of course, bananas. For starters, do they taste better unripe, just ripe or going black, and can it really be called bread, when it’s obviously a cake? Oh, and then there’s what should go into the bread/cake.  Raisins? How awful. There’s no chocolate in this? Scandalous. No cinnamon? What were you thinking? Margarine?!?! Now you’re really pulling my leg!

I’ve tried them all sorts of variations over the years, even one from BBC Good Food that was studded with chewy toffee sweets. It was delicious- one of those cakes where you find yourself picking the best bits out and saving the plain parts for last. I’ve gobbled and enjoyed most of the though- and then I went to stay at my lovely Auntie Nicky’s house and she presented me with a very plain looking cake in a large tin saying: “you must try this”.  I stared at it from all angles, prodded it with a kitchen knife, took a sip of tea and thought, oh what the heck, don’t judge the poor mite just because it looks so plain.  And it was plain- plainly delicious. So simple- you could actually taste the banana in all its unadulturated glory. No spices or nuts or chocolate were getting in its way. And it was so moist! Even the outer crumb was squidgy and soft, not dry or cumbly. Of course I had to ask for the recipe and when she presented me with the Orchard cookery school book, lo and behold there it was again- margarine. And I thought things only tasted good with butter.

banana loaf cake

I forgot at the time to jot the recipe down, perhaps I was too horrified by the second occurrence of margarine in so many weeks. I can’t remember. But I did remember how good it tasted and when I came home I tried to replicate it, in some form.  I based the quantities on Nigella’s banana loaf recipe and the one in the Art & Soul of Baking– taking elements from each that I liked, but mostly just for guidance on quantities. You could view this like a blank canvas recipe to work from- but I would highly recommend opting for the plain version first.

But before you get started lets just get one thing straight – there’s nothing bready about this mix, it’s pure cake. Got it?

banana loaf cake

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