Small things are great. My love of breakfast has found yet another friend in ramekins – small glass cups that you can make a miniature of just about anything in – ice cream, pies – and lovely eggs. These baked eggs are perfect for brunch, adapted from Jamie Oliver’s baked eggs with haddock. I like a bit of spice in my breakfast so went for smoked salmon with freshly grated horseradish instead. Together with silky creamed spinach and crunchy spring onion, it’s really quite delicious.
For two baked eggs, you need:
- 2 small oven-proof dishes (or try bake two eggs in a medium dish, it should work as well)
- 2 slices of smoked salmon
- a handful of shopped spring onion
- two handfuls of fresh spinach
- 1/2 dl grated horseradish
- Nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste
Start by setting the oven to 180 degrees. In a pan, wilt the spinach, then squeeze it dry in a colender, and chop it roughly. Grate the horseradish and chop the spring onion. Mix the spinach, spring onion and horseradish with some cream, and add nutmeg to it (freshly grated is nicest). Dish these out in two buttered ramekins, and place a slice of smoked salmon on top. Finish it by carefully cracking an egg on each, and adding cream around the edge of the egg whites so that the salmon is fully coated. Add some salt and pepper on top, and put in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the whites of the eggs have just set. Serve with toast, orange juice and coffee for a simple but delicious brunch.
Kedgeree is a slightly odd Anglo-Indian dish stemming from the Colonial era, encapsulating smoked haddock, curry powder, rice and milk. I know those taste combinations sound odd, but it is actually really nice: imagine a lemony and fresh biryani with smoked fish. The oddness of the dish, married with the fact that it is a breakfast classic (indeed so much of a classic people don’t make it much anymore), meant that it was predestined to end up as a Breakfast Fetishism item on the blog. I made my first attempt at making it this morning. This was brought on by Mr Meatball’s grandmother’s reminiscing about the dish the other day: born in Shanghai in 1928, she recalls this dish being served on silver plates in houses that had butlers!
The end result was very tasty: savoury and mellow through the smokiness of the fish but refreshing with the spices and the lemons. Admittedly it would perhaps not be the first thing I’d think to eat in the morning, but rice and fish are good ingredients to last you through the day so I may have to reconsider that. You need:
- 400g smoked haddock (I bought frozen dyed haddock from Waitrose – theirs is sustainable and good quality but much cheaper than the stuff you get in the fresh section)
- 450 g basmati rice (preferably good quality as rice is central to the dish)
- 2 green chillies, chopped into rings with their seeds
- 1 large onion (a sweet Spanish variety would work nicely)
- 1 large tablespoon mild curry powder
- 2 crushed cardamom pods
- A handful of chopped coriander and chives
- 3 hardboiled eggs
- 1 lemon, cut into slices
- 140 g butter (this is important, I did perhaps not use quite enough in my first attempt)
- Nutmeg (optional, to sprinkle on top in the end)
Start by putting the rice in cold water and let it stand for up to half an hour. There’s a whole school on being able to cook basmati rice properly and I’m still a novice, which explains why I use Mr Meatball’s coffee brewer to rinse the rice (some people have an angel’s patience with my kitchen experiments…). While the rice soaks, poach the defrosted fish gently by putting it in a pan on low heat, and cover it with 50/50 cold milk and water. After ten minutes (or until the fish is done, you want to be careful not to over-cook it), take it off the heat. Preserve the liquid milk/water is was cooking in.
Now, depending on if you want your kedgeree to be dry and fluffy, or wet and buttery you proceed through the next two steps differently. I made mine dry and fluffy, but Delia’s wetter version sounds quite nice and I think I might go along that next time.
For a wet kedgeree, you fry the butter in the pan, add your onions to soften for a few minutes and then add the curry powder, green chili and cardamom pods to fry for a few seconds. Then add your rinsed rice, and pour in 450 ml of the milk/water liquid. Bring to boil, and give a brisk stir before putting on a tight-fitting lid and cooking on low heat for 20 minutes.
If you want a fluffier kedgeree, you fry the onion and spices in the butter separately to the rice, and cook the rice with a tight-fitting lid on according to your harshest basmati-instructions (these are usually on the packet: for me it included not opening the lid of the pan for 25 minutes and then letting it rest on a wet towel, still with the lid on, for five minutes).
Once the rice cooking is done, for both methods, you add the flaked fish (which you remove the skin from whilst the rice is cooking), boiled eggs and lemon juice. Serve with mango chutney and scatter coriander across the top.
(If possible, find some silver in the house, stream Downton Abbey from itv player and pretend your name is Phyllis or Marguerite, and the butler just brought this to your table.)
Settling into my new home in “Highbury approach” (aka Holloway road…), I’ve already found a little gem worth some extra attention: The Acoustic cafe, serving up Mediterranean (mainly Turkish) cuisine with some bits of British tucked in. Whilst not unknown to locals, its humble outside doesn’t draw as much attention from North London c-list celebs as The Blue Legume does. However, dare I say it, the breakfast here is more fusionesque and adventurous, and actually better (and being a longtime fan of the mediterranean breakfast at the Blue Legume, that’s a harsh statement coming from me).
On the day we went, Mr Meatball had the Bubble breakfast treat, which was a rather British plate with grilled tomato, fried field mushrooms, bacon and sausage as well as a little hill of potato bubble and poached eggs with hollandaise sauce on top. At £5.95 this is a filling, creamy option for a tender hungover stomach.
I had the classic mediterranean breakfast with amazing spicy lamb chipolatas (best chipolatas I’ve ever had), perfect buttery scrambled eggs, grilled halloumi, round pieces of grilled bread and a salad of grilled artichokes, olives, tomato and avocado. This was lovely and since I’m a massive artichoke love the £6.95 I had to trade for it didn’t feel very expensive. And those sausages! They were just sublime. I’m going to inquire about their sources next time I go.
To this little feast we also had freshly squeezed orange juice and grapefruit juice which were just as refreshing as they should be. It took a while for our water to arrive but it was sunny and busy on the day of our visit, and the service was very nice overall. It’s got a lovely spot next to Newington Green to sit and watch people, but sadly you don’t have the view of weddings found outside Islington town hall that the Blue Legume does (surely weddings are the ultimate people watching?). Nevertheless, The Acoustic Café is awarded 8 meatballs out of 10.
Another good reason to go here is that it’s in crawling distance to Newington Green Fruit and Veg, also known as The Best Greengrocers Ever, which is always worth a visit. Acoustic cafe is walking distance from both Highbury & Islington and Dalston Kingsland, and can be found here on the map:
Since our last post on healthy breakfast ideas was so popular (especially in Sweden for some reason) I decided to write a second post. Breakfast is definitely one of my most important meals: usually I have to either stock up for several hours in a library where it is forbidden to eat, or prepare for a five hour shift with no eating breaks. This means my breakfasts have to be good (how else am I gonna motivate myself to do either of those two things…) and filling… and they also have to comply with beach prep strategy (although I can be flexible on that… a lot of hollandaise would definitely make me forget this strategy). Here are some suggestions, all egg based:
Egg crepes with asparagus
This ‘recipe’ came from the idea of thin egg omelettes used in some Vietnamese recipes. I decided to adapt it and use it as breakfast pancakes or crepes. All you need is: eggs, a splash of milk, a handful of finely chopped parsley, some butter or olive oil to fry and cooked asparagus or your choice of cooked vegetables or meats. Start by whisking the eggs, the milk, and the parsley together. Heat up a frying pan with some olive oil or butter. When the pan is quite hot ladle a small amount of the mixture while rotating the pan (as if you were making crepes) to evenly and thinly spread out the mixture. Cook for a few seconds, add your vegetables and fold over. Serve two or three for a filling breakfast.
Crustless quiche with tuna and watercress
Unfortunately I have no photo for this dish but it’s really easy to make. For a big round oven dish (enough for 4 people) mix 6 eggs, a big splash of milk or creme fraiche, a tin of tuna in olive oil (drained), some watercress (or rocket), salt and pepper. Put in the oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes and voila – easy, effortless and healthy breakfast.
This is definitely one of my favourites! It’s a pretty flexible ‘recipe’, all you need really are tortillas (corn tortillas are the best), eggs and tomato salsa. I usually add whatever I have in the fridge: sharp cheddar, home-made refried beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, asparagus, etc… This is a really filling breakfast and a good way to use up your Mexican leftovers.
Despite the chorizo this dish remains healthy by using it sparingly, simply to flavour the tortilla. You will need:
- 1/4 of a Spanish or Portuguese chorizo, chopped in small cubes.
- 4 medium eggs
- 1 large potato, preferably maris piper.
- Half an onion, sliced finely.
- Two handfuls of parsley, chopped.
- Salt and Pepper.
This dish takes longer than the other ones and so might be better done in advance – as it can be eaten both hot or cold. Start by peeling and slicing your potato. Drop it in salted boiling water and cook for five minutes. While the potato is cooking fry chorizo in a little bit of olive oil to render the fat. After a few minutes add the onions and cook until soft. Reserve the onion and chorizo and keep the pan hot. Now mix the eggs together and incorporate the rest of the ingredients. In the same pan where you fried the onion and chorizo (on a medium-high heat) drop the mixture and cook, slowly, until the top of the tortilla is almost cooked. At this point you will need to get ready for some flipping skills: put a large plate on top of the frying pan, turn it around (dropping the tortilla in the plate) and return the tortilla to the pan to finish cooking the other side (2 minutes). Serve straight away or keep in the fridge to eat cold.
Soft-boiled eggs with asparagus soldiers
This is obviously very simple. All you need to do is to soft-boil your eggs (this hilarious website can help) and to cook the asparagus. I like to cook them in butter for 5 minutes until they are slightly burnt to get a nutty flavour. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy.
Obviously these are also great cures for Euro 2012-induced hangovers.
As most Portuguese girls when it reaches March/April I go into beach-prep mode. I know it all sounds very superficial and silly but if you’ve lived in a country where the sun shines 80% of the time and people start going to the beach as early as March you know there is some preparation ahead of that…haha. Whether you’re on beach-mode like me or are just looking for some alternatives to butter on toast (my most favourite breakfast) here are some slightly healthier breakfast ideas (no none of them include eating just carrots or juicing…):
Easiest breakfast ever! All you need to do is fry and egg or two (you could poach it to be even healthier but I love the combination of the salty fried egg and tomato), slice one big tomato and season with lots of salt and pepper. I sometimes add a piece of toast to this.
This breakfast asks for a bit more prep but is fairly easy too. You will need around 60 grams of smoked salmon (or two slices of ham), a whole avocado sliced, a poached egg and, again, lots of salt and pepper. If you’re a bit weird like me you can add a bit of tabasco or chilli sauce to the avocado…yum! This also works with a whole mango, sliced.
Home-made granola with Greek yoghurt. (Sorry no picture!)
While this might seem like a lot of effort you can make the granola ahead of time and it lasts for a really long time. For the homemade granola you will need:
- 500 grams of rolled oats (you can buy big bags at big supermarkets).
- A handful of dried nuts
- 50 grams of butter (this might not seem very healthy but is much healthier than ready-made versions)
- 3/4 tablespoons of honey
- Some cinnamon (optional)
All you have to do is melt the butter and then mix it with everything. The mixture then goes in the oven at 180 degrees until it looks golden. Then all you have to do is wait for it to cool down and put it in a container. Serve it with Greek yoghurt, some honey and whatever fruit you have lying around.
Make sure you have some fatty meals the rest of the day to balance out all the healthiness…
The Blue Legume in Islington serves cheap, tasty and beautiful breakfast dishes, mains and lush fruit juices. It is very popular with fashionable mothers and their sustainable designer-wear babies, but despite of (or perhaps because of) the background noise of the odd child it is a place that leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Read the rest of this entry »