Conquering hollandaise

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I can’t express adequately how much I love hollandaise. Often when I go for brunch I tell myself I can’t possible have Eggs Benedict again, then find myself picking it – how is one meant to resist?! Sometimes pancakes win, and that’s okay, but there’s something so divine about the combo of poached eggs and hollandaise. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures.

However, until last weekend I had only ever had hollandaise when out or out of a jar (yes, I know – but the Maille stuff is pretty bloody good!). Buoyed by having made a successful first attempt at madeleines the night before I got to work. And I’m not going to lie, I was surprised by how well it came together.

I used the recipe on BBC Good Food website and halved the quantities, still plenty for two! Word of warning; if you’re sensitive to salty food (like I am) you may want to use unsalted butter or a butter you know not to be overly salted, then season yourself. Mine was delicious but I prefer it to be tangier. Live and learn.

I’ll definitely be making it again, just with my trusty Yeo Valley butter instead. Yum.

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Porridge with apple and natural yoghurt

Three ways to make porridge delicious

Porridge is something that only came to me in later life. I shunned Ready Brek as a kid and breakfast altogether as a teenager, unless you count tea and biscuits at Munch (me and my school friends favourite haunt, conveniently opposite school!).

For years I’d been put off by the consistency, colour and blandness of it all (I mean who doesn’t want bacon every day?!). But, then I went to uni. And at uni I discovered my love for cooking and eating was having a dramatic battle with my love of vintage clothes, charity shops and going out (constantly).

Porridge with apple and natural yoghurt

Porridge with apple and natural yoghurt

Although me and my housemate, who’s still one of my close friends, subscribed to our own little private members’ club in second year, known as “Gourmet Thursdays”, corners had to be cut somewhere. And it is the same girl I have to thank for getting me into porridge. She convinced me it wasn’t all bad, “just try it’. She was, of course, right. I’d just been scarred by early experiences of glue-esque gunge masquerading as porridge.

And once my love had been ignited, there was no stopping me. It became my saviour once I started working after uni. Those little sachets you can cook in the microwave = desk breakfast = more time in bed = my kind of heaven.

Porridge with berry compote

Porridge with berry compote

It’s been about six years since this love affair began, and I’ve had plenty of time to try out different toppings and cooking methods. One thing’s for certain, how you prepare your oats is a matter of great debate, and I think entirely personal, but if you have time to cook them on the hob then you’re already winning in my opinion. I use a 50/50 ratio of water and semi-skimmed (organic) milk – if you give it enough love and stir a lot, your oats will be creamy anyway without needing to use 100% milk. Of course, you can use any dairy alternative. I like Koko Coconut milk if I don’t use cow’s milk. No salt for me, thank you. If I wanted a savoury breakfast I would have some aforementioned bacon.

If you don’t like one of these three porridge combos, then you might as well give up now; there’s no hope for you.

1) Sultanas, currants or raisins and cinnamon

I’m indiscriminate about which of the small dried grapes you use. I normally chuck a small handful in with the oats as they puff up during cooking. Make sure you go wild with the cinnamon.

2) Berry compote

No brainer. Berries are most definitely my favourite fruit – raspberry normally wins for me, but in the bowl above the compote is a combination of frozen blackcurrants, blackberries, redcurrants and raspberries, cooked down with minimal sugar and a dash of water – compotes keep for a week or so in the fridge.

3) Grated apple and natural yoghurt

This one couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is pick your favourite apple, wash it, grate it. Stir through cooked porridge and dollop some yoghurt on top. I really love Yeo Valley’s natural yoghurt. If you like it sweeter, drizzle on some honey. As a total aside, use honey from local beekeepers if you can, it tastes nicer and is kinder to the bees!

Mustardy baked eggs with finn crisps

Mustardy baked eggs

For me the ultimate breakfast always involves eggs in some form. Filling, unctuous and delicious, and as simple or complex as you like, what’s not to love?

A baked egg has to be one of the most indulgent and easiest ways to enjoy eggs. Simple and quick to prepare, the oven does all the work for you and the result is delicious.

Mustardy baked eggs with finn crisps

I’ve made this multiple times before but have never been entirely happy with the results, but now I feel like I’ve finally cracked it… The addition of Dijon really made it.

This popped into my head while I was prepping, and I couldn’t stop singing it:

How you like your eggs is completely personal, but it’s important to note that cooking time will vary depending on your oven and how you want your egg.

I initially cooked it for 15 minutes. For me, the white was just too underdone. As much as I like a runny yolk, I can forsake this for a cooked white. After a further five in the oven, plus a few minutes resting on top of the oven in the water-filled roasting tin, the white was set and the yolk was like a soft boiled egg; perfectly spreadable.

Mustardy baked eggs close up

Anyway, here’s the recipe. It’s really easy to scale up for multiple people and is the perfect indulgent solo breakfast. Enjoy!x

Ingredients (for one person)

1 large free-range organic egg
3-4 tbsp crème fraîche
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 piece of ham (optional)
Parmesan, grated – to taste
Salt and pepper
A few fresh thyme leaves (you could use chives or indeed any herb, totally up to you)

Method 

1)   Preheat your oven to 180. Put your kettle on to boil.

2)   Mix the crème fraîche with the mustard, salt pepper and a few thyme leaves. Dollop half on the bottom of the ramekin and stir in the ripped/chopped piece of ham.

3)   Crack the egg on top of this and put the rest of the crème fraîche mixture on top, along with a few more thyme leaves and some pepper.

4)   Fill a deep-sided baking dish with water so it comes halfway up the ramekin and put it in the oven for about 20 minutes.

5)   Serve with some Finn Crisps (my preference), crusty bread or whatever takes your fancy.

courgette hash brown fritters with poached eggs

Courgette hash brown fritters with poached eggs

Brunch is probably my favourite meal-time, and these little courgette hash brown fritters with poached eggs, topped with fried chilli and a crispy piece of Serrano ham did not disappoint.

courgette hash brown fritters with poached eggs

Ingredients

1 medium courgette
1 medium potato (desiree or something similar)
1 large white onion
1 garlic clove
Dried thyme
Bouillon powder
Salt and pepper

2 medium eggs
white wine vinegar
½ a small chilli

1 slice of Serrano ham (optional)

Note: this makes ample fritters to feed multiple people, serve two eggs and one piece of ham per person.

Method

  1. Grate courgette and potatoes, put in a colander with a plate and something heavy on top. Leave to drain for about half an hour.
  2. Finely dice a large white onion, fry gently in a large heavy bottomed pan on a medium heat till translucent.
  3. Add garlic, salt, pepper and any other flavours you fancy e.g. bouillon powder. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
  4. Remove from pan, put in a large glass mixing bowl and allow to cool for a couple of minutes.
  5. Add the grated courgette and potato, stir with a spoon till combined.
  6. Form into patties/fritter shapes and place on a baking tray, evenly spaced.
  7. Cook in the oven at 180 (gas mark 4/5) for about 15-20 minutes, or until the outer edges are crispy and the fritters are golden. Leave on the tray to cool.
  8. Pour boiling water into a pan with a 1tsp white wine vinegar, swirl the water and pour the egg in. Turn the heat down and poach for about 3 minutes till the white is set. Remove with a slotted spoon and put on kitchen roll to drain.
  9. Place one egg on each fritter, scatter with fried chilli and serve a piece of ham on the side (this is optional and can be left off for veggie friends!)
Breakfast (or more likely brunch, seeing as I'm not a 'morning person') is without a doubt one of my favourite things. And avocado on toast is right up there with the best. Not only is it ready in a matter of minutes - ideal when you're in a rush - it is also nutritious, packed full of good fats, protein and slow-release carbs. Oh and most importantly it's so delicious (if you are intrigued as to how much I love avocados, check out this older post). My current winning combo, pictured in the snap above, calls for spelt, sourdough or soda bread (rye works well too, but not the chewy type), toasted till golden brown. Spread one slice with butter (organic, salted - I don't eat too much dairy, so try and make sure it's as unprocessed as possible!) and a bit of Bovril, top with avo and black pepper. No need for salt, the Bovril does it for you. And on the other, smush avo straight on (no butter) and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, tabasco / hot sauce and lemon juice, plus a sprinkling of Maldon Sea Salt and black pepper. Et voila! Breakfast is less time than it took me to write this post. Enjoy! Ps - how do you eat your avo on toast? Let me know below!

Breakfast: Avocado on toast

Avocado on toast

Breakfast (or more likely brunch, seeing as I’m not a ‘morning person’) is without a doubt one of my favourite things. And avocado on toast is right up there with the best. Not only is it ready in a matter of minutes – ideal when you’re in a rush – it is also nutritious, packed full of good fats, protein and slow-release carbs. Oh and most importantly it’s so delicious (if you are intrigued as to how much I love avocados, check out this older post).

My current winning combo, pictured in the snap above, calls for spelt, sourdough or soda bread (rye works well too, but not the chewy type), toasted till golden brown. Spread one slice with butter (organic, salted – I don’t eat too much dairy, so try and make sure it’s as unprocessed as possible!) and a bit of Bovril, top with avo and black pepper. No need for salt, the Bovril does it for you. And on the other, smush avo straight on (no butter) and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, tabasco / hot sauce and lemon juice, plus a sprinkling of Maldon Sea Salt and black pepper. Et voila! Breakfast is less time than it took me to write this post. Enjoy!

Ps – how do you eat your avo on toast? Let me know below!

Healthy courgette muffins…

 

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I say healthy through gritted teeth, as to me baking embodies so many of my favourite things: eggs, sugar, butter, cream, chocolate etc. But, having a healthy courgette plant growing in the garden inspired me to veer off course and try something ‘healthy’, or healthier as I like to think of it.

Not being experienced in this field I turned to Google. A ‘Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard’ recipe cropped up and I decided to give it a whirl. But I made some considerable alterations, making the recipe dairy-free (what’s the point in going slightly healthy, when you can go all the way) – you can find the original here if you wish to try it!

Having dabbled with vegan baking before, I decided to replace the eggs with mashed banana (use one ripe banana per egg) – a simple swap that provides some lovely natural sweetness. And instead of normal (cow’s) milk, I used my current alternative preference: Koko coconut milk.

My final amendment was to ditch the suggested seeds (not a massive fan in sweet things, unless they’re tiny think lemon and poppy seed) and swap them for a tablespoon of chia seeds, which are apparently a ‘super food’.

Not being convinced the end product would taste nice enough without butter, sugar or eggs (is it really a cake?!), I decided even more sweetness was required in the form of one of favourite ingredients: nutmeg syrup. On reflection, I didn’t add enough for my palate – or rather, I found the saltiness overwhelming. When I make these next, I will only use ½ tsp or less of salt and I might add an extra tbsp of honey. Another point to mention is the texture is not like a normal cupcake or muffin, but on a plus note they rose a lot more than I expected them to!

So, here’s to being healthy. These were surprisingly nice, incredibly simple to prepare and can legitimately be eaten for breakfast, without a single ounce of guilt. I might even be converted…

Ingredients

225g wholemeal self-raising flour
1 ½ tsp gluten free baking powder
2tsp cinnamon
1 tsp maldon sea salt, ground – or to taste (see above!)
1tbsp chia seeds
200 ml coconut milk alternative (or any other substitute which takes your fancy: soya, almond, brown rice are just a few options!)
2 mashed bananas
4 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp clear honey (local if possible – I use Essex honey)
150g courgette, grated
Oats to sprinkle on the top

Method

1)   Preheat your oven to 180 and line your muffin tin with cases, ready to fill.
2)   In a large bowl, mix together your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, spices, salt and chia seeds).
3)   In a large jug (I used a big Pyrex), measure out 200ml of your milk – then add all the other liquids (banana, oil, honey), along with the grated courgettes. Stir to combine (as much as possible!).
4)   Slowly pour the liquid into the dry bowl, and stir until combined using a large metal spoon.
5)   Evenly distribute the mixture among your paper cases, sprinkle a few oats on top and put into the oven to bake.
6)   After 25-30 minutes they should be done (a skewer should come out clean). Drizzle a bit of honey over while they’re still warm if you like. Let them cool and enjoy!

 

Simple things…

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Sometimes the simple things provide the most pleasure. This is definitely true of this delicious, quick and, most of all, healthy breakfast.

On mornings when I wake up hungrier than normal, I like to indulge in a nice creamy bowl of porridge. But, recently I have decided to cut down on dairy for multiple reasons.  I was worried my morning porridge would become mundane and tasteless, but I was wrong… Coconut milk (not the stuff you put in curries, but free-from milk alternative) and raspberries to the rescue!

I love raspberries an inordinate amount and decided they’d taste great cooked into porridge. I wasn’t wrong. They break down and become almost jam-like. Yum. Oh and I did I mention this recipe is vegan friendly, filling and full of goodness? Try it for yourself and see…

Ingredients

  • Organic porridge oats
  • Any milk alternative – I personally like coconut milk, but you could use soy or nut milks – plus water to cook the oats
  • Handful of raspberries per person
  • A few tablespoons of chia seeds
  • Cinnamon and agave syrup to serve

Method

  1. Cook your porridge oats as normal, with the coconut milk and water
  2. Add the raspberries and chia seeds half-way through (when the porridge begins to bubble)
  3. When it is creamy, turn off the heat and serve into bowls
  4. Sprinkle cinnamon liberally (it has many health benefits!) and squirt on agave syrup to taste (this is what keeps it vegan) – et voila, quick and delish brekkie!