It is also a good make-ahead dish. Just prepare the rhubarb and keep it on the fridge until you need it.
Rhubarb and orange smoothie (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Everyday)
- 2–3 rhubarb stalks, about 175g, cut into 2cm lengths
- Finely grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
- 3–4 tsp honey
- 3–4 tbsp plain yoghurt
Put the rhubarb in a pan with the orange zest and juice, honey and 2 tbsp of water. Stir over a low heat until the honey dissolves.
Cover the pan and stew the rhubarb very gently for about 8 minutes, until it softens. Add a little water if it starts to look dry. Switch off the heat and leave to cool completely. (You can, of course, prepare the rhubarb a day ahead and keep it chilled overnight.)
Put the rhubarb mixture in a blender with the yoghurt and whiz until smooth. Taste and add a little more honey, if you like. Pour into 2 glasses and drink straight away.
Ratatouille is an ideal make-ahead recipe. After all it tastes even better the day after it is cooked. Combined with eggs on toast, it makes for a hearty brunch that could easily work as a light supper. Or, a snack, if you must. If you don’t like the bread option, you can also heat it in a skillet until it is hot and then make wells in the vegetable mixture. Just break one egg into each and cover the pan with the lid until they are set (about 10 minutes). So many possibilities…
Ratatouille Toasts with Fried Eggs (adapted from a recipe by Zoe Nathan found in Food and Wine Magazine)
- 150mL cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling (about 3/4 of a cup)
- 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and cut into 2cm dice
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 1/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- One 350g eggplant, seeds cut out and flesh cut into 2 cm dice (about 2 cups
- 2 small zucchini, cut into 2cm dice (2 cups)
- 2 large red onions, cut into 2cm dice
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 2cm dice
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup chopped basil, plus more for garnish
- Freshly ground black pepper
- eggs to taste
- Six 2cm-thick slices of rustic bread, toasted
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the tomatoes, 1 garlic clove and 1/4 teaspoon of the crushed red pepper and season with salt. Cook the tomatoes over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until just softened, (about 5 minutes). Scrape the tomatoes into a medium saucepan and discard the garlic clove. Wipe out the skillet. Repeat with the eggplant, zucchini, onions and red bell pepper, cooking each vegetable separately in 2 tablespoons of oil with 1 garlic clove, 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper and a generous pinch of salt until just tender and lightly browned, about 7 minutes per vegetable. Add the cooked vegetables to the tomatoes in the saucepan. Add the bay leaf, 1/3 cup of water to the saucepan with the vegetables. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Season the ratatouille with salt and pepper and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over moderate heat. Crack how many eggs you want into the skillet and fry until the whites are firm and the yolks are runny, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the eggs to a plate, season with salt and pepper and keep warm. To serve, spoon the ratatouille onto the toasts and top with the eggs. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and black pepper and serve.
A confession: I have been looking for gluten free recipes as of late. Apparently, i am gluten intolerant according to my doctor. Considering I am also lactose intolerant, this is making my breakfast more and more difficult. Even muesli *may* be an issue – especially if you live in the country who invented the thing and swears by it. But, one manages to find alternatives and eventually find happiness in dishes like this. For sure there is life beyond gluten…
Strawberry, nectarine and walnuts bake (adapted from a recipe found in the Minimalist Baker blog)
- 4 cups strawberries and nectarines, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup (app 85g) oats
- 1/2 cup (app 45g) almond meal
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup (app 50g) of light brown sugar
- pinch sea salt
- 60g of cold butter
- Plain yoghurt to serve
Preheat oven to 180oC (350cF).
Butter and flower a baking dish.
Chop the fruit in big chunks. Reserve.
Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix them until the butter is well incorporate (probably best done by hand).
Put the fruit in the previously buttered dish, making sure it well spread. On top of it, add a layer of the flour and butter mix
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the top is crisp and golden.
Let it cool. Serve with a dollop of yughurt
Your sunday brunch cannot get much better than this – this is a warm, comforting and tasty dish, which while please the toughest crowds. For extra points, the pepper and tomato sauce can be made in advance. Just a technical tip, though. Do not forget to cover the pan while the eggs are poaching. The steam will set the white on the top of egg leaving the yolk runny and golden, just like you want it.
Gordon Ramsay’s North African eggs (adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course) .
- 2 shallots finely diced (replaced by 2 medium likes finely sliced as one of the guests is allergic)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
- 1 green pepper, deseeded and sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon of flaked piri-piri (or red chilli finely sliced)
- 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
- 5 fresh tomatoes roughly chopped
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons chopped coriander
- 2 tablespoons finely sliced spring onion
Heat the oil in a heavy based pan until is piping hot. Add the chopped shallots, season with salt and pepper and let them sweat for 5 minutes. When the onions are soft, add the sliced peppers and continue to sweat for another 5 minutes more
Add the cumin seeds, garlic and chilli, give it a good stir to coat them in oil. Let them cook for a couple of minutes, and the then add the tomatoes.
Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until the mixture has the consistency of a thick sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Make 4 wells in the vegetable mixture and break an egg into each. Cover the pan and poach the eggs until set, about 10 minutes. Scatter the surface with the chopped coriander and a good grinding of black pepper. Serve immediately with crusty bread to mop up the juices.
Tortilla or frittata? You can go on for hours debating over the correct name for this dish… still, my strong recommendation would be to eat it straight away from the over with a bit of toasted bread and a dollop of yogurt.
Pea Tortilla with Mint and Yogurt (adapted from a recipe by Francis Mallmann found in Food and Wine magazine)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 250g of frozen baby peas—thawed, drained and patted dry
- 1 1/2 cups (=350 mL) plain Greek-style yogurt
- 8 large eggs
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Preheat the griller.
In a large, ovenproof, nonstick skillet, melt the butter. Add the peas and cook over moderate heat until warm, about 3 minutes.
In a large bowl, beat the yogurt with the eggs, mint, salt and pepper until smooth.
Pour the eggs over the peas and cook over moderately high heat until set on the bottom and around the edges, about 4 minutes.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and broil 20cm from the heat for about 3 minutes, until the top of the tortilla is set and lightly golden in spots. Slide the tortilla onto a plate, cut into wedges and serve with the remaining yogurt.
A no brainer for brunches… very easy to do and always a smashing success. Add a little bit of rum for a more festive occasion.
Breakfast pina colada (adapted from a recipe by Allegra McEvedy found in the Guardian)
- 1 400g can of pineapple pieces (no skin or core)
- 6-8 leaves Thai basil
- 400 mL of coconut milk
- 400 mL of coconut water
- Shredded coconut to taste
Put the pineapple and basil in the blender and top up with half coconut milk and half coconut water. Blend to form a liquid.
Taste and adjust the flavours if necessary. Add the shredded coconut.
Garnish with basil and serve
The name reads really well – the sort of high maintenance dish that requires hours of dedicated work in the kitchen. The truth is that it is a lot easier to bake than it sounds… After all, it is a slightly modified pound cake, with 2 very easy elements on the side. The cake itself has a pleasantly crumbly and grainy texture, ideal to combine with the rosemary infused honey. The creamy mascarpone sauce just makes everything come together. Try it with a double expresso for even better results…
Polenta cake with mascarpone and rosemary (adapted from a Eddie Russel recipe found in Food and Wine Magazine)
- 1 3/4 cup (=220g) flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 cup (=65g) polenta
- Pinch of salt
- 2 sticks (=220g) of unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup (110g) of sugar
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 1 cup (=225g) mascarpone, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (200mL) heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
Preheat the oven to 325°F (= 190°C). Butter and flour a metal loaf pan. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the polenta and salt.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon juice.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, beating the batter at low speed until just incorporated. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour, until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
Turn the cake onto a rack and let it cool until warm.
In a small saucepan, combine the honey with the water and rosemary sprigs and simmer over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Let the syrup cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Discard the rosemary sprigs. While the cake is still warm, lightly brush the top of the cake with the rosemary syrup.
In a medium bowl, whisk the mascarpone with the cream, sugar and vanilla-bean seeds.
Using a serrated knife, cut the cake into thick slices and transfer to plates. Top each slice with a large dollop of mascarpone, drizzle with the rosemary syrup and serve.
Stop. Start. But, start with a tradition: a lentil dish on the menu for the first post of the year. Of course it had to be a Yotam Ottolengi’s . Quick, easy and totally delicious, this is a hearty dish that will warm you to the soul in a cold winter day.
Crushed puy lentils with tahini and cumin (adapted from Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian)
- 200g puy lentils
- 30g unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 3 medium tomatoes, cut into 1cm dice
- 25g coriander leaves, chopped
- 4 tbsp tahini paste
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Salt and black pepper
- ½ small red onion, peeled and sliced very thin
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
Cook the lentils according to the instructions on the packet,until completely cooked. Then drain and set aside.
Put the butter and oil in a large frying pan and place on a medium-high heat. Once the butter melts, add the garlic and cumin, and cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes, 20g of coriander and the cooked lentils. Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes,
Add the tahini, lemon juice, 70ml of water, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Turn down the heat to medium and cook gently, stirring, for a few minutes more, until hot and thickened. Roughly mash the lentils with a potato masher, so that some are broken up and you get a thick, porridge consistency. Serve warm with the hard-boiled eggs alongside.
Some dishes I chose because they read well and/or have a good combination of flavours. Others, because the story they have attached to it. This is one I picked after reading Yotam’s editorial. It just explained so well what brunch should be about: “It’s a long meal that takes up a large chunk of the middle of the day, a proper celebration of food, but without the fanfare and worries that come with a full-blown dinner party“. Never better said… Every now and again, we get together for brunch, who tends to end up into a several hours long marathons, usually ending when the host runs out of bubbly. Or coffee. Or both…. Happy memories – and hopefully many more to come.
As usual, it was a super dish. A bit laborious, but nevertheless worthwhile the effort. This was served with (fried/baked) eggs to order. Still feel a bit insecure to venture into poached eggs, as the original recipe called for.
Aubergine, potato, tomato (adapted from Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian)
- 4 medium tomatoes cut into 1cm dices
- 1 tbsp white-wine vinegar
- 1½ tbsp hot savoury chilli sauce (Yotam recommends Sriracha, I used piri piri)
- Salt and black pepper
- 2 aubergines, cut into 3cm chunks
- 250ml olive oil
- About 300ml sunflower oil
- 600g waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 3mm-thick slices
- 80g tahini paste
- 2½ tbsp lemon juice
- 1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1 tbsp coriander, chopped
(1 onion was omitted for humanitarian reasons. A. is extremely allergic to them)
Put the peeled, diced tomatoes in a colander for half an hour to drain. Transfer to a medium bowl and add vinegar, parsley, hot sauce and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Mix gently and set aside.
Mix the aubergine with a teaspoon and a half of salt, place in a colander and set over a bowl for half an hour, to drain off any excess liquid. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and pat dry.
In a 26cm sauté pan, put 200mL of olive oil and as much sunflower oil as you need to bring it 1cm up the sides of the pan. Place on a medium-high heat and, once hot, add the aubergine in batches and fry for three to four minutes, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and repeat with the rest of the aubergine. Remove the left over oil and wipe down the pan.
Bring a medium pan of water to a boil, add the potatoes and cook for three minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water and set aside to dry. Add two tablespoons of fresh olive oil to the skillet and place on a medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and fry for 10 minutes with a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a crack of black pepper, until cooked through and golden brown; turn them over from time to time. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Put the tahini, 60mL of water, a tablespoon and a half of lemon juice, the garlic and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl, and whisk to a thick, pourable consistency. Spoon half the sauce over the potatoes and spread the aubergine on top. Follow this with the remaining tahini, then the tomatoes. Poach the eggs just before you are ready to serve and lay them on top of the tomatoes, along with a drizzle of the remaining oil, a sprinkle with sumac and coriander, and the last of the lemon juice. Bring to the table in the pan.
A dish specially dedicated to B., who passionately loves quinoa. (not). Much for his despair, quinoa invaded the summer salad world and then slowly start to creep up into brunch domains and now makes an appearance in pudding-land. Actually, this is a sort of upside down deconstructed crumble (minus butter) also ideal for a brunch menu… It is very tasty, filling and it can even be considered * gasp * super healthy.
Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Bake (adapted from a recipe found in fitsugar.com)
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 apples, peeled, diced
- 1/4 cup (app 50g)raisins
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups (500mL) milk with the seeds of 1 vanilla pod
- 1/4 (50mL) cup maple syrup
- 1/3 (app 75g) cup almonds, chopped
Preheat the oven to 200oC. Lightly grease a baking dish.
In a small bowl, mix the uncooked quinoa with the spices. Pour into the greased dish. Sprinkle the apple and raisins on top of the quinoa.
In that same small bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the milk and maple syrup. Pour the egg-and-milk mixture over the top of the fruit and quinoa. Lightly stir to partially submerge the fruit. Sprinkle the chopped almonds on top.
Bake for 1 hour or until the casserole is mostly set with only a small amount of liquid left.
Allow to cool, and then cover and refrigerate.