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A Big Brunch and a Recipe for Louisiana Crab Cakes with Poached Eggs & Tabasco Hollandaise (In Partnership with Tabasco® Brand Pepper Sauce)

In Partnership With Tabasco Badge

Brunch! Boiled Eggs and Tabasco butter soldiers; Feta, Corn & Tabasco Cakes; Tabasco Crab Devilled Eggs; Louisiana Crab Cakes with Poached Eggs & Tabasco Hollandaise

Brunch is my thing. I have brunch everyday when I am at home. I am a sleepy morning creature and my body is not ready for anything except coffee for the first few hours. I have always been like this. My body likes evenings and night time, and while early morning is beautiful and, increasingly, I do wish I was a morning person, it is not when I am at my best.

I am great at brunch though. I love it. My body is awake and hungry and eager to eat. Often eggs. Almost always with some chilli. I love a brunch dish that packs some heat (as you will have seen regularly on my instagram). Eggs never cease to amaze me with the amount you can do with them. Fried, poached, boiled, gooey, oozy, spread on toast soldiers. Eggs are brilliant when you force fat into them, as you do when you make hollandaise or mayonnaise. Eggs also love Tabasco, so when Tabasco asked me to come up some recipes and host a brunch for my friends to showcase them, it had to be an eggy one.[Read more]

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Sunshine Rice & Eggs

Sunshine Rice & Eggs

Sunshine Rice & Eggs

Sunshine rice! Cheesy, isn’t it? But why is cheesy a bad thing when cheese is just so good? Shall we try and reclaim that? Like I was doing with Like a Girl when I decided to title this blog Eat Like a Girl . Which is now the subject of a viral advertising campaign, I notice, which is a very good thing. As Like a Girl is, and it is something to be proud ofNow, lets work on cheesy. Or, maybe we have other things to do? Like finish books and things. (Yes, nearly there with Project: BACON, and more on that soon!).

I looked at my breakfast this morning and thought, oh, that looks like a gorgeous perky sun, within another one peeking cheerfully from inside of it. And so, a sunshine breakfast was declared, and devoured.

The rice was leftover from my dinner the night before (pan fried mackerel with habanero, curry leaf & lime butter sat on top of it, that recipe soon, once I have tested it again). It is fairly speedy to put together though, and you should cheer your breakfast table with it so I will share the rice recipe here too.

I like to use short grain brown rice which is tense, fat and nutty, but really any rice would do here, so go with whatever you have in the cupboard. Turmeric gives it the underlying golden hue. I use turmeric because it is delicious (in small amounts though, and especially when using fresh turmeric), but also because it is so healthy. With anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, I hope that turmeric can somehow offset some of the more unsavoury habits of mine. Sweetcorn gives it further acute pops of yellow, spinach, finely shredded and added just as you turn the heat off, freshness and texture. I freshened it up by frying it in some extra virgin olive oil with some lovely diced ripe tomato and chilli. When hot and toasty, I cleared some holes, and fried some eggs in each. One egg per person is enough for me, but if you need more, go for it.

Enjoy! And do tell me what you have for sunshine breakfasts? :)[Read more]

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The BCKT (Bacon, Crispy Kale & Tomato Sandwich)

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I have been in Toronto for almost a week and I have learned a few things. Happily this trip coincided with fiddlehead season, again, so that was a treat. And I now see that everyone in Toronto is even more obsessed with kale than they were before. Green kale, purple kale, cavolo nero, baby kale for salads and kale juices (offensive, sorry, I tried and it was like drinking bile. Might work with some apple?). There are kale cookbooks, the Indian restaurant I am sitting at right now in Toronto airport has a kale salad but with an Indian twist. It is endless, and that is good, infernal stomach rotting juice aside, for kale, generally, is a very good thing. Especially when crispy.

(Mmmmm, crispy!* Now there is a word that polarises as much as kale. But I like crispy, even if incorrect and so I shall keep using it).

So, you all know I love bacon. I mean who doesn’t, at least who doesn’t that doesn’t have religious objections to it? I have never heard of anyone trying bacon and declaring it a terrible thing. When you hear stories about bacon, it is almost always that people ate it when they shouldn’t, just because they could no longer resist. And how could they? So, when concocting recipes for my recent sandwich feature, I thought a BLT will have to be in there, but what if it was with a twist, that made it even better? And so the BCKT was born. That being the Bacon, Crispy Kale & Tomato Sandwich. OH YES.

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A Remedy for a Head Cold & Jet Lag: Eggs Poached in a Simple Homemade Curry [Recipe]

Eggs poached in homemade curry - perfect for a cold

Eggs poached in homemade curry – perfect for a cold

Singapore was great. My first visit, I was greeted by a vibrant and very friendly city that is obsessed with food. I ate what I could, but never enough. There are so many different dishes to try. I am heading back quite soon on a stopover to complete my list. Which is lost, but more on that in a minute.

As great (and brief) as the trip was, it didn’t end well. My phone, with so many of my photos, all my notes and recorded interviews was MIA. I left without it and have had no luck tracking it down. When I got home my flatmate asked if I had a cold and I realised, fark, I do! I had put it down to hay fever the previous days. I don’t like to moan – especially on here – but after a night of absolutely no sleep and a stonking head cold, with a missing phone, and falling behind with work as I can’t think straight, I feel like crap.

But, there is a solution. There always is. Cosy pjs and a cupboard raid rendered a lunch that I could actually taste, and one that is healthy too. My first thought was turmeric, I need to have it, it is so good for many things, being anti-inflammatory and great for all things intestinal like stomach pain and bloating. It is particularly good for colds too and one of the annoying things about a cold is not being able to taste anything, so I decided that a good, simple and bolshy homemade curry might sort me out. Or ease the torture for fifteen minutes, at least. My second thought was eggs. Eggs are brilliantly comforting and speedy too. They are also terrific in a curry. [Read more]

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Duck Confit Hash for Sunday Breakfast [Recipe]

Confit duck hash for Sunday breakfast

Confit duck hash for Sunday breakfast

Two favourite things, no three. Lazy Sunday mornings with a big pot of coffee, the Sunday paper and an indulgent breakfast, trips to Paris and the duck confit that I bring home. Every time I go to Paris, I visit G Detou and buy several things, two of which are a tin of duck confit from Les Landes and a tin of pork sausages, confit in goose fat.

Lets start with the duck confit. An essential cupboard staple, I save mine for evenings where I am tired and in need of comfort. I open the tin, prise out a leg, and crisp it in the oven until the duck, tender under its canopy of bronze crisp skin is ready to be devoured. The skin too of course, it is the very best bit. Perfect with buttered greens and crisp potatoes, on Friday I had it with an intensely gratifying mash, where potatoes tenderly mixed with slow cooked leeks and some truffle mustard (from Maille, available on tap at the Maille shop in London, and it is very, very good). That leaves one leg for Sunday morning breakfast / brunch, and lots of fat to cook it all in. I cook the second leg at the same time as the first and keep it, patiently, trying not to feast on the skin, because the skin is an important part of my Duck Confit Hash. [Read more]

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Raised Waffles with Beef Shin and Mushroom Ragu & Gremolata

Raised Waffles with Beef and Mushroom Ragu & Gremolata

Raised Waffles with Beef and Mushroom Ragu & Gremolata

Do you like this? Huh? You do, don’t you? And it is a little confusing, isn’t it? Is that breakfast colliding with dinner? Just a bit, but as a flavour and texture combination, it is sensational.

Let me tell you how to spend a glorious weekend afternoon. Maybe one with the rain dragging outside, better again, a day with that horizontal rain that drives into your face and makes the outdoors utterly inhospitable. One of those days that is best approached in pyjamas and a big jumper, slippers and no desire to do anything but stay inside. A day, like this one, is a day for ragu.[Read more]

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Crisp and Fluffy Raised Waffles [Recipe]

Homemade Raised Waffles

Homemade Raised Waffles

So hopefully you have all got your waffle irons right now, and are ready for some waffle slinging action. I have another waffle recipe and it is a cracker.

The US and Europe have distinct culinary influences. I never heard of Julia Child until I was obsessed with cookbooks, well into adulthood, and foraging for inspiration amongst culinary bookshelves. I grew up with Darina Allen, and later other grand dames like Claudia Roden, Madhur Jaffrey and Elizabeth David. In the US, Julia Child was the first port of culinary call for most, and similarly their different cultural influences point to different everyday recipes, which brings me neatly to the raised waffle, or waffle at all, in fact. [Read more]

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Spelt & Almond Waffles with Lemon Ricotta & Maple Syrup

Spelt and Almond Waffles with Lemon Ricotta and Maple Syrup

Spelt and Almond Waffles with Lemon Ricotta and Maple Syrup

Well, that was a mouthful wasn’t it? But a very tasty one, so I am ok with that. Welcome to the good ship waffle, folks. I am obsessed. I cannot get enough of them and instead of the usual 3 recipe tests, I find myself doing 5 or 6.

It is my 800th post today. That is 800 times over the last 6.5 years where I have sat down and written a missive, where I have planned a meal around it, photographed it, tried to find the best light in the room, wandered outside with my lunch and photographed it in the winter cold in the garden, rushed back in to eat it still warm, travelled to another country to write about it, hunted down something random in London because I needed it or because I needed you to try it. 800 moments of distraction, and joy. I am so happy that I decided to start this blog of mine, and that you like to read it makes me happier still. Every time.

Getting a recipe right is very important for me. When someone reads something here, and decides to make it at home, I want the experience to be joyful and perfect, and the resulting bite to be glorious. Whether that is a waffle or a big hunk of pork, a stew or a cake. I would hate to think that someone would go out and buy ingredients and then be upset with the results. So, I test everything, and try to explain everything as directly and simply as I can. These waffles went through six versions, not just because I wanted to eat them (and they were good at version 1), but I thought that I could improve on them each time. I love this recipe, the waffles are grounded and nutty, yet light. The citrus fluffy ricotta and the sweet rich maple syrup are a perfect play of sweet, sour and luxurious on top.

Spelt & Almond Waffles

Spelt & Almond Waffles

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Food Memories & a Recipe for Black Sticky Rice with Banana & Coconut Cream

Black Sticky Rice with Banana, Coconut & Flaxseed

Black Sticky Rice with Banana, Coconut & Flaxseed

My life is peppered with food memories, I suspect most of our lives are. From crisp potatoes, boiled, peeled and then deep fried before being eaten with a sprinkle of salt, that I used to love when I was a child.

Marietta biscuits with butter, two biscuits pressed together so that the butter would squirt out of the holes like hair. Homemade fudge, buttery rich. I always tried to make it but could never work it out (I didn’t know about thermometers then). Stewed rhubarb and stewed apples, big bowls full, supplied by fruit from the orchard nearby.

Everything good or significant that I have eaten, I can remember. For my confirmation lunch, I remember the vegetable soup, and my shock as I watched my grandfather add white pepper to it. My first slice of pizza in Rome when I was 19, with potatoes and taleggio, I remember how bright it was outside the big window as I sat down and ate it. I remember how delicious it was, every last bite. I remember my first proper ice cream, and my childhood ice cream treat sliced and served with wafers.

I gather these memories all the time. They are scattered all over the world now and I fantasise about jetting back to Beijing for peking duck and egg yolk dim sum, to Hong Kong for delicate, gorgeous xiao long bao, to Bangkok for crisp divine chicken wings and to Seville for some jamon iberico.

Lots are restaurant based and one recent one that resurfaced was a black rice breakfast dish from Nopi (Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurant). I craved it, and even more so as I worked on my Thai coconut sticky rice and mango dish. I couldn’t get it out of my head. So, off I went to Chinatown, and purchased a bag of black sticky rice for £2. I was set.

This is another terrific breakfast dish, like porridge but with more texture, reams of flavour, creamy and flaxseed provides a lovely texture contrast, as well as being absurdly good for you.

I can’t stop eating it. It felt only right to share.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Black Sticky Rice with Banana, Coconut &  Flaxseed
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Recipe: Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango

Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango

Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango

This dessert was one of the best things that I ate in Thailand. Not the most complex by any means, or in any way challenging. For comfort, straight forward deliciousness and a dish that makes you feel brighter about life as you leave an empty plate behind, look no further.

I ate it many times in Thailand. I couldn’t resist it. However, I usually had to order it holding my nose with a lemon sucking face while trying not not barf, for it was almost always served from stalls that sold its vicious smelly neighbour durian.

DURIAN. Does anything smell more foul? Yes, rotten meat, cadavers and sewers but durian smells of all three. It is like a demon that has digested them and is burping it for your displeasure.

Walking down the streets of Bangkok admiring beautiful colours, delicious smelling street food, watching passing monks gilded in orange robes, I would suddenly feel squeamish and sure enough shortly after I would see a durian stand. Spiky green fruit, bloated and proud. If they were a cartoon character they would have an ill fitting suit with buttons popping from their shirts.

Now, I know you will say – BUT THE TASTE! And yes, I hear the taste is amazing, but I have a fierce sense of smell and even the mango sitting nearby has a lingering taste of durian. So I could not do it. Next time, I will force myself. With a clothes peg on my nose and a doggy bag.

I have gone off track. Back to sublime mango. Cheerful, bright and sweet. Coconut sticky rice is sold as a dessert in Thailand but for me, it makes a sublime breakfast. This really is best if you can soak the sticky rice overnight but don’t worry if not, it is still worth making it. Get a rich ripe mango dripping with syrupy sticky sweetness. Alphonso mangoes are in season, and are in the shops in Tooting now, that is what I am using.

Enjoy!

Note on the recipe: all ingredients are available in Thai shops, Chinatown in London (specifically New Loon Moon which also sells fresh young coconuts and every Thai ingredient I have ever needed for Thai cooking incl recent recipes). I also spied Thai sticky rice and palm sugar in my local Waitrose. It is best to make this when you are going to eat it as the rice is best just after it is cooked. It can soak up the coconut milk and get soggy over time too.

RECIPE: Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango
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rhubarb-rose-porridge
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Recipe: Rhubarb, Rose and Pistachio Porridge

Rhubarb, Rose and Pistachio Porridge

Rhubarb, Rose and Pistachio Porridge

I had the weirdest day yesterday. In the middle of Balham, in broad daylight, a random stranger kicked me up the arse.

I KNOW.

I was shocked too.

He kicked me hard too. Very aggressive and actually quite scary, he thought I had hit my shopping trolley off his car, started roaring at me. I explained that I hadn’t, that I had merely hit the kerb. He roared “HANG ON! WHERE ARE YOU FROM?!” and was suddenly further incensed.

At this point it was obvious that he was out of control and I said that I would call the police if he didn’t stop. So he went for me.

I am so thankful that someone intervened. It is all in the hands of the police now but WHAT A WEIRD DAY.

I am tired and sore and in need of nourishment. I am also startled. If it weren’t so in line with a Fr Ted episode (kicking Bishop Brennan up the arse), it might not be quite so bizarre. As awful as it was, the constant reminder of Fr Ted brings a chuckle. How can it not?

So I made this.

January is joyless in many regards. Grey, moody and lacking lustre. But Nature comes to our rescue via some clever Yorkshire Victorian farmers, who decided that they would force rhubarb. Force rhubarb to do what? Well grow in the dark under large terracotta forcing urns  to be harvested by candle light. The lack of light forces the terracotta to grow long, lean and bright pink. Sweeter than normal rhubarb and so very tender. It is divine.

Rhubarb loves rose, rose loves pistachio, pistachio loves rhubarb too. The three together, and in my porridge mean everything is right with the world again.

Notes on the recipe: if you are planning this, soak the porridge in the milk overnight, it makes a difference. I prefer rose extract to rose water as it is punchier, if using rose water, use a tablespoon and adjust to taste. I use a lot of milk as I find these steel cut oats just drink it and I like my porridge to be soft and a little runny. I subscribe to the school that more-is-more when things are delicious so there is a lot of rhubarb and pistachio here. For extra luxury, add a little cream.

Update: if using normal rhubarb, use more honey as it is a lot more sour. It will still be lovely though.

Recipe: Rhubarb, Rose & Pistachio Porridge

Feeds: one hungry person / two normal not so hungry people

Ingredients

50g steel cut oats (I used Flahavan’s)
300ml full fat milk
150g rhubarb, cut into inch pieces – forced rhubarb if you can get it
25g pistachios, shelled and chopped
3 drops or so of rose extract – to taste (or 1 tbsp rosewater)
2 tbsp honey – to taste

Method

Poach half of the rhubarb with 1 tbsp of the honey in just enough water to cover it. It will take only a few minutes. Take off the heat when soft, and before it surrenders and collapses.

Put the oats, milk, rosewater, the rest of the rhubarb and the other tbsp of honey in a pot over a low heat and allow to cook gently for about 10 minutes until the oats are tender and the rhubarb soft. Adjust the honey and rose to taste.

Serve immediately with poached rhubarb and pistachios on top. The poaching water is gorgeous – fragrant, delicious and bright pink, so I add some of this too.

Enjoy!

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Recipe: Quail Eggs Diablo with Chorizo

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Brunch! Quail Eggs Diablo with Chorizo

January demands delicious comfort. More than any other time of the year. It is so grim. All your money is gone, you have just seen all of your friends and now everyone is hiding at home. A spring clean no doubt looms after the Christmas chaos. I hate spring cleaning.

It just sucks, doesn’t it?

So why then, would you deprive yourself of the only nice things available to you? Nice food and drink?

Well that is my theory anyway. January should be a fun month. A month to evade the low grey sky hanging so gloomily over our heads and brighten things up a bit. Red tights with black dresses, yellow umbrellas. Whatever you can do to add a bit of sparkle, just do it.

I have been kick starting my 2013 mornings with firey brunches. Chorizo has been my best friend, and I have been combining it with all sorts of things, always eggs, sometimes braised lettuce, often smoked garlic. This morning I loved my brunch so much, I thought that even though I just have a photo on my phone, I must share it.

Picture the scene. Slothful in the flat in a giant pink dressing gown (think a pink Bear in the Big Blue House, it is a BIG dressing gown). Almost out of coffee but there is just enough. There is chorizo, but I am out of normal eggs. But I have quail eggs.

They will do. In fact this is better as the ratio of yolk to white is higher and I get 4 delicious yolks to dip my chorizo in.

I finely slice a small red onion and fry it gently for maybe 10 minutes, until it starts to crisp. I then add the chorizo, 75g, sliced in half and then sliced small. Slowly cooked for about 5 minutes. 1 tsp of a firey Mexican smoked chilli paste which I have come to use lots, Gran Luchito, is added and stirred through.

The bass notes are sorted so to lift this, I add a sprig of fresh rosemary, pines removed from the branch and finely chopped, and a finely chopped clove of smoked garlic. Then while this is cooking slowly, I gently crack the shells of four quail eggs with a sharp knife, and slide each egg slowly into a ramekin. I don’t want to break those precious yolks.

I stir the chorizo mixture one last time and make a hole in the middle (I use a small frying pan which is best for my brunches for one). Then in with the eggs, and on with the lid. These cooking gently for 2 minutes or so until the white is set and the yolk still fluid.

Handsome and delicious. I loved this spiky colourful brunch.

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Lazy Grazy Brunch: Eggs in Tomatoes, Iberico Ham, Chorizo & Black Lentils

No egg is an island, at least not for long

I love to travel. I am at my most content when on a train or ferry, calm and relaxed and heading somewhere new with no strains on my time. I enjoy plane journeys for this reason too. It is a rare pleasure to be inaccessible. A short period of invisibility is good for the soul. Times like this are when I come up with most of my ideas, informed with experiences past and anticipated ones of the future, notebook and pen at the ready.

As much as I love being away, I also love to come home. Towards the end of a trip, if I have been away for a bit, I start to need it. Time in my kitchen, lazy days in my pyjamas, indulgent weekend brunches, endless coffees over the weekend papers and in the evening a glass of wine (or two). I especially love the evenings in Autumn, closing in early with a crisp chill. So, even though I have just left the heat of summer behind in Sevilla and British Columbia, I am very happy to be home.

Another joy of travel is the ingredients that I bring home. From Sevilla particularly, I brought jamon, lots of beans, glorious shiny black lentils (lenteja caviar – caviar lentils), Iberico lard, a little bottle of manzanilla, olives and lots of other loveliness. A sleepy afternoon at home, with no plans and little ambition resulted in a cooking marathon that brought me right back home.

This morning, I surveyed the leftovers with a rumbling stomach wondering what would be my brunch. A gentle mound of black lentils cooked in Iberico lard, jamon and chorizo would have to be the centre. Some fresh tomato sauce that I had made to go on pizzas would soften it out and provide some liquid to poach some eggs in. I combined them and tasted, added a little honey to balance, a little worcester sauce for va-va-voom. I cracked in two eggs, and let them cosy in there and cook gently until the white was done, and the yolk was still dripping.

Pyjamas still on, coffee in hand, and these lovely eggs for brunch, the day is mine, and I am taking it.

Happy Sunday.

PS excuse the photo, it is a lazy speedy one from my phone

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Ode to the Humble Spud & a Recipe for Kale & Potato Cakes

The Humble Spud

I love the spud. I love it, I love it, love it, love it! How I love the Irish spud especially.

Now, when I say this, people look perplexed. A potato is a potato, right? Not so my friends. I miss the fluffy Irish potato, boiled until just at the point of bursting its jacket or roasted until fluffy inside in a bold crisp crusted suit. A friend used to call them laughing potatoes, as they looked like they were laughing their heads off. I remember a large metal tray covered in jostling laughing potatoes at the centre of my grandmother’s table. A little butter – maybe a lot – placed on top and left to ooze, and that was all I wanted to eat. Literally, I refused to eat anything else for a time in my childhood.

I especially miss the potatoes that grew in the field in front of my house, and the new season potatoes that would proudly be displayed outside shops when the season started. Before seasonality was a trend, when it was just the way things were. Ballinacourty new potatoes were something to be proud of. The humble spud has terroir too and Irish ones – especially my local Ballinacourty ones – are just so much better.

So much so that I do mad things, like pay €20 to check a bag in on a flight home. The bag has nothing in there save 10kg of potatoes. 10kg potatoes and weeks of joyous dinners. Weeks of fun as my bag of spuds slowly depletes.

Taking my obsession thus far, it will come as no surprise that I had some Irish potatoes sent over last week for Paddy’s Day. From Keogh’s Farm precisely. They asked which ones I wanted. All food knowledge escaped my head immediately to be replaced by enthusiasm and joy and I burst out – your fluffiest ones please! And so I got them.

Big, bolshy, pink Golden Wonders. Thick dusty pink jackets, creamy fluffy flesh. I have been busy cooking with them since. Today, I share with you my potato and kale cake recipe: enjoy it.

One thing I will suggest to you, if you haven’t one already, is to invest in a potato ricer. With one of these you will get the best mash, will be able to make gorgeous light mash, gnocchi and anything else that requires light fluffy potato. They are cheap so no excuses, haven’t you ordered one yet?

Potato & Kale Cakes

Potato & Kale Cakes

Ingredients

500g potato (I used fluffy golden wonders, maris pipers would be good too)
100g plain flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
handful of kale: blanched in hot water for 2 minutes, squeezed to get rid of excess water, and chopped
tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of light oil

Method

Boil the potatoes until just tender. You should be able to stick a knife through them.

Drain and mash until fluffy or pass through a potato ricer. Spread out flat in a large dish or tray, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and sift the flour over it. Add the two lightly beaten eggs and kale and bring together with a fork gently, until you get a dough. This is much easier to achieve with a ricer.

Shape into cakes – approximately 4 – but this will depend on how big you want them.

Fry over a medium heat in the butter and oil for abot 3/4 minutes on each side until cooked through and crisp outside.

Serve hot with whatever you fancy, I had mine with bacon and eggs.

Enjoy!

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Recipe: Naughty But Nice N’Duja Devilled Eggs

N'Duja Devilled Eggs

What, what, what? N’duja devilled eggs! What are those pray tell?

Well, dear reader, I think the devilled egg is much maligned. I love it in every form from the most simple, to one that’s been pimped with anything from spices to pork (or pork and spices), as I have done with this n’duja one.

I have written about n’duja many times, I even have an n’duja pig. It’s a spicy spreadable sausage from Calabria in Italy and is so utterly addictive, that I worry what is in it. This week, I have been working on some recipes that use it as an ingredient as I want to enter a competition (you know how I love them). So it’s been an n’duja kind of week.

I had a little left over at the end of my n’duja frenzy, and fancied something brunch-like and snack-like, so I pimped my devilled egg. This is simple, spicy and meaty, and is in an egg. What’s not to love?

Eggs love chilli and spices (egg curry, huevos rancheros), pork and eggs are a dream team (bacon and eggs etc.). I kept this simple, working with the strengths of the n’duja, the spiciness and richness, adding a little red wine vinegar to cut through the richness, a little fresh oregano to lift it and a fresh juicy seasonal English tomato, to give it some fruitiness.

It’s easy, quick and a little different for a weekend brunch. I think some little quail ones would make a lovely pre dinner canapé too.

Notes on the recipe:

    N’duja is widely available through Waitrose and good Italian delis.

    If in a rush you can substitute a tbsp of tomato puree for the tomato, but be sure to cook it through. A fresh tomato in season is fruitier though and will give better, lighter results.

    To peel the tomato, cut a cross through the skin at the bottom and pour boiling water over for 15 seconds or until you see the skin at he cross start to pull away.

    I think oregano works really well here but parsley would be a decent substitute.

Recipe: Naughty But Nice N’Duja Devilled Eggs

Serves approx 4 – they are quite rich

Ingredients

6 eggs
50g n’duja sausage
1 good tomato, peeled deseeded & diced
1 tbsp fresh chopped oregano leaves
1 tsp good red wine vinegar

Method

Sauté the diced tomato gently for about 10 minutes in a little olive oil until soft.

Chop or tear the n’duja and add it to the tomato. Stir thoroughly and let it sit over a low heat.

Add the oregano and vinegar, stir and taste, adding more vinegar if necessary (that depends on your n’duja and tomato).

Boil the eggs until hard boiled (about 6 – 7 minutes from room temperature with boiling water from the kettle to start).

Cool by submerging in cold water (they will continue to cook otherwise). Peel , half, scoop out the yolk and mix with the n’duja mixture. Season to taste although you may not need any.

Put a teaspoon of the egg yolk and n’duja mixture back in each egg. Leftovers are chefs spoils.

Serve cold. Enjoy!

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Antidote to Bacon Jam: Greek Yogurt with Berries, Toasted Oats & Pecans

Greek Yogurt with Toasted Oats, Pecans and Berries

By now, I expect that many of you will have spent a few days shovelling bacon jam down your gullets and are now anxiously clutching your hearts wondering, what if I have gone too far? I need more! What do I do? You little bacon addicts.

Here’s what you do. Make yourself a nice healthy breakfast. (Then more bacon jam)

This is simple and feels righteous. It tastes good too. Per person, spoon 2 tablespoons of greek yogurt into a bowl and add a tablespoon each of raspberries and blueberries. Toast a tablespoon of oats and pecans in a dry frying pan with a teaspoon of brown sugar, stirring as you do so they don’t burn, for a few minutes until the oats start to crisp. Serve on top of the fruit and yogurt.

Feel better? I know I do.

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A Quick Recipe for a Glorious Brunch: Turkish Eggs

Turkish Eggs 009-1
The first time that I had Turkish Eggs at The Providores in London, I was hooked. Hooked and a little obsessed. I ordered it as I just didn’t know how it could work, but knew that it wouldn’t be there if it didn’t, right?

The Providores version is non traditional, poached eggs on thick yogurt with chilli butter. It is utterly divine. It prompted me to go home and do some research on Turkish Eggs. I wanted to know more, I wanted to make it, I needed to eat them often! What would I get in Turkey? I found out, and this brings me to this recipe, traditional Turkish Eggs.

The rewards are huge for such a simple dish. Greek style yogurt at the bottom of a bowl, 2 poached eggs on top, and sage leaves fried until crispy in a decent chunk of butter. You won’t regret the extra butter I promise you! Scatter the crispy sage leaves around the eggs and drizzle the butter. And swoon and eat. Now I want some more.

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A Brunch Classic: American Style Pancakes with Bacon & Maple Syrup

BRUNCH! Pancakes with Bacon & Maple Syrup

BRUNCH! Glorious brunch. Is there any better meal?

I could write a book on brunch recipes, I’ve made so many. I utterly adore lazy weekend mornings, they’re possibly my favourite time. Still in pjs, mixing and stirring, weighing and baking, frying and sizzling. Making coffee, drinking coffee. The huge weekend papers. What’s not to love?

This weekend, both brunches were the same. I rediscovered the joy of American Style Pancakes, those gorgeous pancakes that are fluffy and light, with crispy streaky bacon and ridiculous amounts of maple syrup. The sweet soft pancakes are gorgeous with the crispy salt bacon. The maple syrup is the magical cherry on top.

The recipe is very easy, it’s all about 1’s. 100 ml flour, 100ml milk, 1 big pinch salt, 1 tsp brown sugar, 1 heaped tsp baking flour 1 egg. I use Old Cotswold Legbar eggs which are large, so use a large egg to substitute if you can’t get them. They are deliciou though, seek them out if you can.

This recipe will give you enough pancakes for one greedy person – 3 or 4 depending on how big you like them. The batter will be quite thick, you want it to be, but it will be fluid enough to pour, plop and spread.

Fry and devour greedily while you read your paper, or watch your omnibus. Hey, I’m not going to judge you! Weekend mornings are glorious and for the lazy. I hope you’ve enjoyed yours :)

American Style Pancakes with Bacon & Maple Syrup

Serves 1 – multiply as required

Ingredients

100ml milk
100g plain flour
1 heaped tsp baking powder
1 tsp brown sugar
a generous pinch of sea salt
1 egg, separated into yolk and white
bacon – streaky for me, but whatever you prefer, and as much as you want to eat. I had 6 slices.
Maple syrup
butter, for frying

Method

Sift the flour and baking powder. This is important as the sifting introduces air and will make your pancakes fluffy instead of leaden.

Whisk the egg white until it stiffens and forms soft peaks.

Add the salt and sugar, and create a well in the middle. Place the egg yolk in the centre and add the milk. Stir until you get a batter consistency which has no lumps.

Fold in the egg white gently taking care not to knock out the air you’ve introduced.

Grill the bacon and keep it warm in a warm oven while you cook your pancakes. About 100 degree celsius should suffice.

Heat a frying pan to a medium/high heat. Melt a knob of butter and add a ladelful of pancake mixture. Drop from a few inches above andit will spread to form a circular pancake, or close enough to one.

They will cook quite quickly. As soon as you see bubbles in the batter they are ready to flip. They will cook quickly on the other side too and will need just a minute or so. Take a peak, if browned, they’re done.

Keep warm in the oven with the bacon while you cook the rest of the pancakes, adding each pancake to the oven as they cook.

To serve, stack the pancakes with bacon in between and on top. Drizzle the maple syrup on top to taste. And you’re done.

Enjoy!

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A Fine Brunch: Homemade Soda Farls, Morcilla & Eggs

Soda Farl, Morcilla & Eggs Brunch

I am quite lazy in the morning, but quite demanding of what is put in my mouth. I only want good bread, to scoop up the runny yolk from my Old Cotswold Legbar eggs, but don’t want to travel to get it. In my neck of the woods we have some great Jewish bakeries but Saturday is Sabbath and they are all closed.

What to do? I don’t want to spend ages proving bread (even though I know I should). So, back to my humble roots I go, it’s time for soda farls. Fried Irish bread, especially for breakfast.

That statement is not dismissive. Soda farls are terrific, and so easy to make. The same as making soda bread, bar the cooking process which is so quick. The farls are cut from the round of dough, and fried on each side for up to 8 minutes over a moderate heat, delivering crisp bronzed farls , perfect for tearing and dipping into your gorgeous egg yolk and scooping some morcilla. I defy you not to chomp into the fluffy interior immediately.

Soda Farl, Morcilla & Eggs Brunch

I added a Spanish twist this morning having recently had some gorgeous Spanish morcilla delivered from Orce Serrano Hams. It really is the good stuff, vacuum packed to order and couriered so that it’s very fresh. This morcilla is extremely soft and almost pliable, with lots of cinnamon and walnut and onions. It can be difficult to source good morcilla like this outside of Spain, especially one so fresh, so I’ll be using them again.

I find the earthy dense morcilla (or black pudding if you’re using that) goes very well with sweet small tomatoes. English tomatoes are so good right now with the summer we’ve been having, I would recommend that you source some.

Start to finish this breakfast, including home made farls, takes no more than half in hour.

Note on the recipe: if you don’t have buttermilk, don’t worry, just acidulate some milk with a teaspoon of lemon or vinegar and this will do fine. You just need something to activate the bicarbonate of soda. Feel free to substitute the morcilla with black pudding or boudin noir.

Homemade Soda Farls, Morcilla & Eggs

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Soda Farls

225g plain flour

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

150 mls buttermilk

1/2 tsp salt

Serve with:

2 large morcilla sausages or a round of black pudding

a handful of small sweet tomatoes halved

1/2 eggs per person, depending on how hungry you are

Method:

Start with the soda farls. Sift the flour with the salt and the bicarb. Create a well in the centre and add the milk a little at a time until it’s holding together but not too wet.

Knead very briefly (half a minute or so, no more). Shape into a ball and flatten into a circle about 1 cm thick. Divide into 1/8th’s.

Soda Farl, Morcilla & Eggs Brunch

Heat a frying pan, when hot add a little flour and fry on each side on a moderate heat for approx 8 minutes, until golden brown on each side.

While the farls are cooking, fry the morcilla with tomatoes for about 5 minutes and fry the eggs to your liking.

And, there you have it. Fresh bread and a lovely brunch. Enjoy it.

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Chorizo, tomato, cannellini bean & coriander brunch

I’m all about the brunch at weekends, and at the moment as I am not working during the week, I am all about the brunch all the time. It’s got to stop, my waistline is not so forgiving of my brunch whims, but what’s one week of indulgence? 2 inches you say?

A recent trip to Brindisa means I have lots of their gorgeous cooking chorizo. I like the hot one, and this is the one I have today. A recent trip to Celia Brooks Brown‘s allotment affords me some really delicious and juicy tomatoes, which diced and fried with the chorizo, create the most wonderful sauce. I had a pot of home cooked cannelini beans, soaked overnight and boiled for just over an hour, scooping the white scum from the top as soon as it gets to the boil. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, home soaked and cooked beans are infinitely superior to tinned ones. They have a firmer texture and don’t have the oversweet flavour that most tinned beans have. A cupful of these with the tomatoes and chorizo, and this looks like a very robust and delicious brunch. It needs something else though. It’s tasty but needs something to blend with the strong flavours and give it a bit of a lift. I have fresh coriander, and it’s the missing jigsaw piece. The citrus notes pair perfectly with the juicy sweet tomato base.

I liked it so much I made it again for dinner. Easy-peasy. If you want to recreate, I used two chorizo sausages per person, one big and very good tomato, a handful of beans and a tablespoon of fresh coriander added at the end. Fry the chorizo in some oil for about 5 minutes, add the tomato and beans, and cook for a further 5 before adding the coriander at the end.  Really great with some good bread to scoop up the sauce. 10 minutes, one delicious brunch.