Friday, 13 January 2017

Mug of the Month: Twit twoo

Are you feeling the January blues? I sure am. As the Christmas decorations get taken down, so does my mood in this miserable month. But these two owl mugs from Emma Bridgewater perk up my tea time. I like the yellow one for my English breakfast tea, while the moody blue mug suits my afternoon coffee. And these beautifully intricate designs even come with matching plates for my slabs of buttered toast. 

Any recommendations for Mug of the Month - don't hesitate to get in touch. Drop me a hoot via Twitter @cl_baldwin

Monday, 2 January 2017

Baked porridge with leftover Christmas mulling spices

I don't know about you, but I seem to accumulate mulling spices by the bucket load at Christmas.

Every year I receive a new pack of teabags to infuse a cheap bottle of red wine or a spiced sugar to add to a plain bottle of cider, both in the aim to create festive mulled drinks for people who can't be bothered to buy a cinnamon stick, an orange and some cloves. The thing is, I never use up the previous year's supply of milling agents before receiving another. And I end up opening the pantry cupboard in June only to be attacked by tumbling Christmas spices as I rummage around for a tin of beans.

Now Christmas has come and gone and the new year is upon us, I really can't face any more mulled beverages, but I wanted to use up my surplus spices to make sure they don't live in the back of the cupboard for another year. One frosty winter's morning I fancied baked porridge as an indulgent weekend breakfast (it really is like morning rice pudding!) As I reached in my spice rack for the cinnamon, I stopped and remembered about my mountains of ready-mixed seasonal spices.

Spiced baked porridge - Serves 3-4

Take 100g of rolled porridge oats and pop into a baking dish, add 400ml of milk and 100ml of double cream (omit the cream and use a total of 465ml milk if you're on a January diet).

Stir in 2-3 tbsp of mulling spices with a tsp of vanilla essence or the seeds from one vanilla pod.

If you're using the teabag variety of spice, before adding the milk to the porridge oats, gently infuse the spices in the liquid over the stove for around five minutes, taking care not to burn the milk.

I also added a chopped apple and pear, as well as some sultanas I soaked in Earl Grey tea while I was preparing the above. But the beauty of porridge is you can use a variety of ingredients to keep it seasonal and make it your own - see my recipes for overnight oats. 

Bake at 180 degrees celsius for around 25 minutes, then remove to check the porridge is turning a nice golden colour - you can add a splash of milk if you think it looks a little dry and it will sink into the porridge during the remaining cooking time. Before returning to the oven, scatter over a handful of nuts and seeds, and if you're being naughty a little brown sugar to help colour the dish and bake for another ten minutes.

When bubbling and golden, remove and enjoy with a steaming mug of tea.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Christmas tea & gin cocktail

Unfortunately, there aren't many days in the year when it is acceptable to drink gin for breakfast. But thanks to those lovely guys at T2 as well as Baby Jesus, Christmas morning provides you with the best excuse to fuse gin with tea for a breakfast aperitif.

The star of the show here is T2's Passionfruit Cheesecake fruit tea. I was noseying around its Bath store at the weekend with my friend and two days before payday, I was definitely browsing, not buying. But after one taster of this limited edition tea, I was digging out my credit card to make sure I had some in for Crimbo. 

The passionfruit in the tea tastes like a good quality fruit tea, but then as you savour the taste you get a biscuity kick of the cheesecake. I couldn't quite believe how T2 makes a sip of liquid taste like an excellent dessert, but when the store assistant said he brewed his up as a mixer for gin, I was sold.

You normally brew this tea for five minutes, but as per his instructions I let it infuse for eight hours overnight. When I woke up in the morning, I chucked it in the fridge before work and on my return added it to gin with a splash of tonic. So far, it's a love it or hate it combination, but the more you drink the better it tastes. I'm a fan, my boyfriend is not - but that just means more for me!

Now, go and put your feet up and enjoy your cocktail with a big fat Danish pastry, while watching Christmas special repeats of your favourite TV shows. For the record my faves are Gavin & Stacey, Vicar of Dibley Christmas Lunch Incident and the OC's Best Christmukka Ever.

Friday, 16 December 2016

#Shelfie: Toast Hash Roast Mash by Dan Doherty

The lovely Dan Doherty released his second cook book earlier this year - Toast Hash Roast Mash. And after living with it for a couple of months, I know it's going to remain a firm favourite.

I just adore this book. It's going to be one of those I keep by the side of my bed to flick through before I fall asleep, or reach for to cheer myself up at the end of a long week - well, toast, hash, roasts and mash are all the very best comfort food, if you ask me.

It is Dan's second book and unlike its Duck & Waffle predecessor, these recipes are simple to follow and cook from your very own kitchen. The book has a perfect balance of wholesome and naughty recipes to see you through the darkest of British winters. I particularly love how there is a section dedicated to hangovers - how about some Smoky Bacon Sloppy Joes or a Scotch Bhaji the morning after the office Christmas party? And Dan's philosophy to top nearly everything with an egg, which means a good chunk of this book is breakfast-friendly, hurrah!

The first recipe I tried out was his version of Mexican Eggs. A simple step away from huevos rancheros. Unlike the traditional recipe which involves a spicy tomato sauce which the eggs are baked in, Dan's recipe calls for a tasty Mexican chipotle salsa to drizzle over a couple of lovingly-fried eggs.

I've also tried his Middle Eastern Veggies, which were a delicious treat for a mid-week supper.

And high on my list of recpies to cook in the coming months are:

Shakshouka with Mint Yoghurt & Toasted Buckwheat (p.125)
Oven-roasted Tomatoes & Goats' Cheese (p. 28)
Banana Bread French Toast, Maple-roasted Apples & Creme Fraiche (p.185)
And, omg yes, Harissa Bolognese Baked Eggs, Runny Cheese (p. 50)

Monday, 12 December 2016

Mug of the Month: Borough Market

Just check out these two cuties. Perhaps I've been watching a little too many episodes of Planet Earth this month, but I had to stop by this stall while exploring Borough Market at the weekend, to check out its selection of animal designs - my favourite and therefore my Mug of the Month had to be the penguins. 

They make a perfect Christmas gift for a fellow foodie (large mugs £12 or two for £20, small mugs £9 each or two for £16). So head on down to Borough Market, grab a mulled wine and have a meander until you find this cracking trader. 

And what's a mug without a biscuit for dunking?

If you want to submit your favourite mug for next month's Mug of the Month, do get in touch via social media... @cl_baldwin on Twitter, @breakfastatcarolines on Instagram, or email me:

Monday, 14 November 2016

Breakfast at Canteen, Southbank, London

The very spacious Canteen is hidden behind London's busy Southbank, right behind a pretty decent food market which runs Friday through to Sunday, so keep your eyes peeled as it can get lost behind all the stalls selling brownies and chorizo. Part of the Royal Festival Hall, I'm glad to say Canteen's primary-coloured decor doesn't reflect school canteen food in the slightest. 

I've popped in here a few times and made my way through the menu and have had many tasty breakfasts, always thinking it's prices are on the London-side of "reasonable".

The menu may seem simple, but a few unusual breakfasts lie between the English breakfast and eggs florentine. May I present Welsh rarebit, roast tomato and poached egg (£6.50)...

Or some black pudding on sourdough, roast tomatoes (£6.50) and extra bacon (£2.25) - don't forget to check your teeth after this meal!

Maybe you fancy something a tad more comforting now the weather has dropped like a zillion degrees. Try Canteen's porridge, banana, honey and poppy seeds (£5.50), which I swear kept me warm and cosy until lunchtime.

And of course, the coveted avocado, poached eggs and chilli on toasted sourdough (£9.50).

Don't forget to take a walk around the food market after your breakfast. Food, followed by food - my perfect kind of Saturday.

Royal Festival Hall, 
Belvedere Rd, 
London SE1 8XX

Monday, 7 November 2016

Breakfast at Milk, Balham, London

Look at this dish, go on, take it in. Isn't this just autumn in a pan? Butternut squash baked eggs with crispy sage and crumbled feta. The golden yolks perfectly runny to be mopped up with charred toast. And I must say, Butternut squash for breakfast was a bit of a revelation for me.

This is what Milk in South London's yummy-mummy territory, Balham, is really good at - very tasty, well thought out, unsual meals. Oh and the corner premises on Hildreth St market with its huge floor to ceiling windows has the perfect light for Instagramming your brekkie.

But I'm not really sure what Milk is trying to be. It feels very hipster, with its white-washed brick walls and specials menu scrawled straight onto the kitchen tiles, yet it is full of mums with prams, catching up with other mums with prams.

Known for the hoards of South Londoners who queue for an age every weekend for brunch, I went with my friend during the week, so perhaps it had a different vibe. That said, I'm not really a fan of the hipster brunch anyway, I prefer a friendly cafe where I can have a leisurely coffee and sit reading my book. But Milk is more about the uncomfortable wooden stools, squished intimately too close to your neighbour so they can turn around tables as quickly as possible.

So after trying to get as comfortable as possible in my seat and pouring over the menu, I decided on the butternut squash and eggs combo, while my anti-egg brunching friend decided on the corn fritters with some Indian-spiced sauce and corriander topping - I'm sorry, Milk's minimalist website doesn't offer their menu, so I'm struggling to remember ingredients, never mind prices a week later. Her meal arrived in a stark metal dish and she tells me it was very tasty.

While I can't fault the food and its extensive brunch menu (of which I can't remember as there were so many options), we were rather annoyed by the policy of 'no swaps'. My friend wanted to switch her avocado for mushrooms, which were the same price on the menu if you wanted them as extras, but we were told she would have to pay extra for mushrooms as they did not offer substitutions. This really got our goat. In a city where you pay between £8-15 for a decent brunch dish, I felt that was rather cheeky. And the thing is, it's the kindness of ensuring your customers enjoy their meal that will get us returning again and again. And when we have so many brunch options and places we want to try on our list, I feel Milk has been ticked off and I'll go onto the next, rather than popping in again in the future.

But as I wander by one Saturday morning a weekend later and note the throngs of people waiting in the chilly November morning for a table, I don't think Milk is worried right now about breakfast loyalty.

Milk (M1lk)
The corner of Hildreth St & Bedford Hill
SW12 9RG
(no reservations - obviously)