Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter Brunches: A Three Part Series

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If there are any two times in the year intended for the sole purpose of families breaking bread together, it would have to be Christmas and the Easter weekend. Think about it - retail doors remain closed, so no Sunday food shop, no working teenagers & no retail therapy = uninterrupted family time. 

My love for family breakfasts & brunches is definitely no secret - what I've found over time is that when preparing lunch or dinner, there is an unadulterated abundance of options, be it noodles, stir fry, fried rice, curry, pasta, pizza, burritos, jackets, bakes, hot pots, gratins, burgers, chips... so it's really a matter of deciding what type of cuisine you fancy on any particular day. Of course on the other hand as breakfasts go, the question is more "how do you like your eggs?" - there is a certain 'ingredient set' traditionally associated with the first meal of the day and I find profound satisfaction in rising to the challenge of reworking these staples in as many ways possible to invent creative, varied and inspiring breakfasts. 

My breakfast/brunch staples: Potato, peppers, onions, egg, baked beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese of every variety, avocado, bread (a.k.a flour, so this includes pancakey/muffiny type concoctions too), milk, cereals, yogurt, fruits & fruit juices. Now, considering there are no preconceived notions on what stereotypically constitutes a lunch or dinner, relatively speaking you'd think this is a fairly limited repertoire. Think again, bearing in mind this key phrase - permutations and combinations. 

Potato fritters topped with fried egg and roast tomatoes. Hash browns, poached eggs and sauteed mushrooms. Spanish frittata with avocado on toast. Boiled eggs and soldiers. Scrambled eggs with baked beans on toast. Need I continue? 

With it being Easter and all, it's lovely having all the extra time to experiment - so here's recipe 1 of 3 (I was working on Saturday so breakfast was coffee & toast... yerrr, didn't think you'd need a recipe for that), Twice Baked Potatoes

What you'll need: 

- baking potatoes (1 per person)
- eggs (2 per potato)
- olive oil
- butter
- milk
- grated cheese (cheddar, parmesan or gruyere)
- salt & pepper
- chives or coriander & chilli flakes (optional)

What to do: 

1. Bake the potatoes until soft in the centre - I fork-pricked and then microwaved mine to the al dente phase, before rubbing them in olive oil, salt and pepper and flashing them under a hot grill for 10 minutes to crisp up the skin. 

2. Once they are soft, slice them length ways in half and scoop out the centre. Turn down the grill temperature to around 180 degrees.

3. In a bowl, mash the insides you have just scooped out with a little milk, cheese, butter, salt + pepper. 

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4. Part fill the cavities in the potatoes (you probably won't use the whole mash-mix) and make a little well for the egg to fit in. It might be an idea to crack the egg into a small bowl and remove part of the whites if theres too much egg or too little cavity :)

5. Sprinkle on some black pepper, chilli flakes, a smatter of salt, cheese and coriander, before putting them back under the slightly cooler grill. If you want your yolks to be runny then just bake for an additional 2-3 minutes. If you want the eggs cooked through then leave them in for longer; the colour of the yolk will lighten to a softer yellow. 

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Here you can see I wasn't feeling soft yolks this morning so I cooked them until they resembled hard boiled eggs. I'm a bit odd like that - sometimes I LOVE runny eggs (over crispy hash browns!) and other days I just want them cooked through. Talk about fickle with my eggs. Enjoy!


P.S. Happy Easter!

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