Sunday, 28 December 2014

New Year’s Day breakfast hangover hash

I was trying to thinking of a breakfast recipe for New Year's Day that required minimal effort, yet really hit the spot if you'd indulged in one too many proseccos the night before. 

Poking around in the fridge after a week of Christmas festivities I realised there was plenty of food which needed eating up - why not throw it altogether to make a breakfast hash fit to cure the worst hangover?

As Nigel Slater points out in this video, there are no rules when it comes to a breakfast hash. Just choose your base meat (leftover ham, turkey, or sausages), add flavour (onions, garlic, salt and pepper, or spice if you dare), grate in potato or use leftover mash or chopped up roasties, and crack in eggs towards the end. 

Even easier than a fry up if you ask me, a breakfast hash is a one pan, chuck-it-all-in kind of dish, which you place at the centre of the table so guests can help themselves to the meaty, stodgy concoction. Add a bottle of ketchup or brown sauce and a Bloody Mary and it might perk you up enough to leave the house for a New Year's Day walk.

My recipe for three people

Fry bacon lardons and meat leftovers (goose and ham) in butter and a splash of olive oil.

Add half a chopped onion, a couple of chopped spring onions, and season with pepper, a grind of garlic and chili and just a little salt - don't overdo it as there's a lot of salt in the bacon and ham.

Add any leftover veg - I threw in chopped sprouts, carrots, roast potatoes.

Grate a potato into a bowl, squeeze out the excess water, and scatted into the pan. Add a few splashes of Worcester sauce.

Crack in three eggs, turn down the heat slightly and cover with foil.

Serve once the eggs are cooked (about five minutes which allows the bottom of the hash to crisp up nicely).

But seriously, use this recipe as a base and go wild clearing out your fridge. I really like the idea of cooking sausages a la Slater, but I wanted to use up the Christmas meat in my house. 

Want something a little more spicy to kick off your New Year? Try my Huevos Rancheros (Mexican Eggs) - eggs baked in a spicy tomato sauce with cheesy tortillas for dipping and a cool guacamole.

Here's to a great 2015 everyone! 
Enjoy x 

Monday, 22 December 2014

Breakfast aboard the luxurious British Pullman train

I was recently lucky enough to spend a day aboard the Belmond British Pullman - the sister train of the Orient Express.

This historical first-class train has been preserved to immaculate standards and now takes passengers around the country on day out excursions or luxury weekends away.

For my mother's 60th birthday we treated ourselves to a day trip to Oxford for a lunch at Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons. The journey from London Victoria takes around three hours each way, but as I quickly learnt as I sunk into my beautiful Art Deco velvet armchair was that it's all about the experience of travelling in style rather than arriving at your destination as quickly as possible.

A photo posted by Caroline Baldwin (@breakfastatcarolines) on

On entering our carriage - which was named Cygnus with its very own personality and decor- we were greeted by smartly dressed stewards who stowed our coats and bags on the brass luggage racks, and showed us to our seats. We had a table for two with crisp white linens, set with duck egg blue china and pristine silverware ready for breakfast to be served.

The Art Deco flourishes transported us to a grander year gone by.  And I could almost imagine the ladies in flapper dresses and pearls, sashaying across the thick carpets to jazz music, illuminated by the the maroon velvet lamps on each table.

We settled down to a Bellini cocktail in cut crystal glasses while the train crawled out of London and strolled past the English countryside - trust me, it doesn't usually take three hours to get to Oxford on a First Great Western. By 10am we had sunk three Bellinis and I was hoping breakfast wasn't too far away, but I wasn't to worry.

We started with a selection of Danish pastries, followed by a fresh fruit salad, while teas and coffees were poured from steaming silver pots. Next was a fresh bread roll and a selection of jams and marmalade, but this was just the warm up to the main event. 

Soon after we were served hot buttery muffins and presented with creamy chive scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and caviar - all by silver service. And it was the scrambled eggs which was the star of the show, melt-in-your-mouth, rich, and indulgent - what more do you want aboard a first-class carriage?

Now I've had my fair share of posh breakfasts, but while it was a classic and - caviar aside - nothing extraordinarily fancy, this was probably the most memorable and decadent mornings of my life. 

And not forgetting when we arrived at our destination we had to manage a three course meal cooked by Mr Raymond Blanc himself - he even came out to say hello afterwards! After a few delicious foodie hours and more wine, we were bundled back on the train to enjoy the leisurely three hour journey back where we were served cheese and biscuits, as well as dessert accompanied by champagne and port.

And a very Happy Birthday it was. Magnifique!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

A lighter Christmas morning breakfast

Christmas day is a marathon, not a sprint. And when it comes to breakfast, you don't want to overdo it on the first meal of the day, especially when there's a feast awaiting you as well as consistent grazing on chocolates, biscuits and cake.

A bacon sandwich or - God forbid - even a fry up would completely ruin my appetite. So when it comes to Christmas morning breakfast I think light canapes to nibble on accompanied by bubbles while opening the presents will keep you satisfied without peaking too soon. And if like many you have Christmas lunch between 1pm and 4pm these canapes - as well as obligatory chocolates from your stockings - will keep you going until the smell of the bird roasting in the oven disturbs you from Tom Hank's dulcet tones in The Polar Express on the tele.

And the best thing about these breakfast nibbles? Most of the prep can be done the night before, because who wants extra cooking on Christmas day?

Breakfast at Caroline's Christmas morning menu

Spinach and goat's cheese mini croissants

Smoked salmon pinwheels

Bucks fizz

I've made these spinach and goat's cheese croissants before and they go down a treat. Accompanied by smoked salmon pinwheels (which also make a great starter or a New Year's Eve canape) and a glass of fizz, how can you go wrong? 

Serves six.

The night before: For the croissant mixture, fry off a finely sliced shallot in butter, once translucent add three quarters of a large bag of spinach and stir until wilted. Then stir in a log of goat's cheese (around 300g) and leave to melt down.

Place the mixture in a bowl to cool, and then put in the fridge over night.

Then for the pinwheels, take a 500g tub of cream cheese and empty into a bowl. Add the juice from half a lemon and a good grind or two of pepper. Stir together until combined, taste and add more pepper/lemon if need be. Take 4-6 shop-bought savoury pancakes (or make your own), and spread the cream cheese mixture over the pancakes. Layer half the pancakes with smoked salmon and then roll up to form a long sausage shape. Pop on a plate and refrigerate until morning. 

Christmas morning: Turn your oven on to 150 degrees celsius, slice your six mini croissants in half and spread the goat's cheese mixture from the fridge and sandwich together.

Pop in the oven for 5-10 minutes until the croissant is heated through and serve immediately. 

Slice the salmon pancake into 2cm rounds, and plate up. Let guests help themselves.

In champagne flutes pour half a glass of orange juice, and top up with bubbles.

Merry Christmas x

Monday, 15 December 2014

Baked apple and cinnamon porridge

We're halfway through December and winter is finally here. That means thick scarfs, red noses and seeing your breath as your leave the house on these frosty mornings. And all I seem to be craving to eat is warmth and spice.

That's why my breakfast of the summer is no longer viable -  overnight oats are out, but comforting baked porridge is in.

This time of year Londonites are filling themselves up with warming porridge before leaving the house in the morning, or picking up a ready-made tub on the way to the office. But by the weekend I’m tired of porridge and honey and I want to experiment with other flavours. I recently saw people tweeting and instagramming about baked oatmeal and thought it was worth a go and similar to the overnight oats I played around with this summer, but this is a hearty, weekend alternative.

Just as easy as overnight oats, but with a little more hands on time, this recipe is best made at the weekend in bulk  to carry you through the week. And you can still easily experiment with different flavours that suit you.

In this recipe I've used winter flavours - apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, sultanas. Baked porridge can be as sweet as you like, but for my taste I only added a little brown sugar to the baking apples.

Once it's baked it has the consistency of bread and butter pudding - but not nearly as sweet until you bite into a piece of apple or sultana and experience a burst of sweetness. You can also serve with more sugar at the table which I think that's the best compromise so you don't overdo it in the baking.

Once chilled, you can almost cut up the porridge with a knife, and it's delicious cold or warmed up in the microwave.

Baking porridge also gave me an excuse to try out my brand new Emma Bridgewater baking dish - I'm a firm believer that all food tastes better served from pretty china, but surely this heart shaped crockery takes it to another level of kitsch?

Recipe: Baked Apple &  Cinnamon Porridge. Serves 4-6

Take two apples - one braeburn and one granny smith to shake it up a bit, and slice into chunks (if you like reserve one slice for decoration at the end).

Place into a baking dish with a few knobs of butter and a sprinkling of brown sugarBake for 20 minutes.

While it's baking whisk together the wet ingredients in a bowl (two eggstwo cups of milkone cup of double cream) and then stir in two cups of oats, one cup of sultanas, one tsp of cinnamon, one tsp of grated nutmeg, one tsp of baking powder and one tsp of vanilla extract.

Note: When I say 'cup' it's a way of using a ratio of ingredients - just use a small mug, it doesn't really matter about exact measurements.

Once the apples are ready to come out of the oven, add the liquid oat mix and stir to incorporate. Bake for a further 30-40 minutes.

Take out of the oven and lay a slice of apple on the top before sprinkling with a little brown sugar. Then whack under the grill for five minutes to caramalise

Take to the table with extra brown sugar for those who want it a little sweeter and steaming mugs of tea and coffee. 

I think of this recipe for baked porridge as a weekend treat, but I'll be experimenting with a healthier version in the next week or so. I'm thinking, banana, almond milk, coyo and goji berries. Watch this space.

Enjoy x

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Mug of the Month - Christmas comforts

Christmas mugs are like Christmas jumpers - they only emerge few weeks each year and everyone has their favourite which makes them feel warm and cosy.

Book? Check. Blanket? Check? Mug of steaming tea in a Christmas mug? YES!

My advice to you, if you don't already have a Christmas mug, is to go and buy one this week. Go on, treat yourself to a cup of cheer. From tacky and ridiculous to tasteful and refined, drinking your morning tea or coffee out of a seasonal mug will transform you from a Scrooge to an Elf in an instant. And come January, wrap it up with your Christmas decorations and if you're anything like me, by next year you will have probably forgotten all about it.

Christmas mugs can also be used for sipping hot mulled wine and cider while snuggled under a warm blanket. Well... 'tis the season.

A stylish 12 Days of Christmas design - perfect for mulled wine 

"Nine ladies dancing"

Cheers! x

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The Riding House Cafe’s chorizo hash brown

Chorizo is one of my favourite foods. Vibrant, vivacious, spicy, sizzling - what's not to love?

It took me a mere 30 seconds to choose the chorizo hash brown from the breakfast menu at The Riding House Cafe a couple of weeks ago, and the comforting dish stayed with me for some time.

The decoration in The Riding House Cafe is questionable...?

I wanted to try and recreate it, and after a little research online , I spotted the recipe on The Riding House Cafe's blog. I decided to give it a whirl one Saturday morning when I hadn't emerged from the warmth of my bed until 11am - definitely brunch time. 

Not a bad start to the weekend if you ask me. The chorizo permeates the potato hash brown beautifully and the spicy warmth perked me up on a chilly winter's morning. The chives and spring onions added freshness and a poached egg laid lovingly on the top finished it off nicely. 

That said, my egg disappointed me, as it wasn't runny enough, and even if it had have been, I think this dish deserves a sauce of sorts. Maybe I've been eating too many eggs benedicts recently, but something warm and gooey would take this to the next level. But I'm still not sure what that is, a white sauce? A tomato passata? Or maybe just a simple dollop of creme fraiche would moisten the hash brown.

The recipe called for grated potato, but if like me you couldn't get hold of a firm spud, my grated tatties turned into mash anyway - I reckon if you've got some leftover mash potato from the night before that would make this recipe a lot quicker and would work just as well. 

Also, I think there might be a mistake with the recipe, as it asks for an extra egg, which isn't used in the instructions, I used that spare egg to bind the cooked potato, chives and spring onions before popping it in the pan. 

Why not give it a go this weekend? Or head to The Riding House Cafe for the real deal.

Enjoy x

The Riding House Cafe
43-51 Great Titchfield St, London W1W 7PQ
020 7927 0840

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Breakfast at Milk Bar & Bistro, Barcelona

The scent of incense hung in the air and funky blues music droned gently in the background as I walked into Milk Bar & Bistro tucked away on a side street in the centre of Barcelona.

I love original cocktail bars in the evening which turn into boutique breakfast joints by the morning serving a ‘recovery brunch’ until the middle of the afternoon. And this trendy Milk Bar didn’t disappoint.

The bar takes centre stage with an array of brightly colour liquor bottles standing to attention. One wall was decorated with brightly patterned wallpaper, while every other wall surface was covered in quirky frames displaying prints ranging from an antique map of Spain to back and white vintage postcards. While taking in my surroundings, I spotted a faux stag's head on another wall by the bar. This chap was more teddy bear than road kill but added a hipster charm to the venue.

The menu ranges from a ‘sweethearts’ choice of pancakes and French toast, to classics including eggs Benedict and omelettes which come with oven home-style potatoes.

Reasonably priced for such a trendy place in the middle of town, I was stuck between the hamtastic omelette (€9.00) and the huevos rancheros (€7.95), but then I remembered I was in Spain and I could whip up an omelette any old day...

I settled back on the brown sofa which lined the outer walls with brightly colour scatter cushions for comfort and waiting for my fresh orange juice (€3.50). I’ve been told this place gets very busy on the weekends so get there early like I did and you'll get the place almost to yourself, with a couple of early birds dropping in for a strong coffee and a big breakfast.

My huevos rancheros arrived very quickly, and although it wasn’t the prettiest plate of food I’ve eaten (no amount of Instagram filters was going to improve the watery pool of the guacamole), it was very tasty. It had a nice heat of chilli without blasting my head off at that time in the morning, and while I did find the consistency of the guacamole very strange, it tasted good and the eggs were cooked to my liking. And the dish was topped off with a huge dollop of sour cream, and while it was a little early for crisps, the tortilla chips were handy to mop up the breakfasty goodness.

Milk Bar & Bistro,
Gignas 21, Barcelona, Spain
+34 932 680 922

Breakfast at Café Veranda, Hotel Arts, Barcelona

For the rest of the week I was consigned to the Hotel Arts on the seafront in Barcelona for a conference. It was such hard work being forced to stay in a five star hotel with matching five star food and where the beds are made of clouds. But most importantly the breakfast buffet was insane! Everything you could want for breakfast ... And more!

On the first day I had the sweetest, delicious Bircher muesli. The second I choose smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and my last morning I paid a visit to the pancake station. Yes, that's right pancake station. Oh happy days! I made have had enough space to fit in a cheeky churro or two as well. 

Instagram perfection.

A photo posted by Caroline Baldwin (@breakfastatcarolines) on

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Celebration French toast

This indulgent French toast is a recipe you will want to whip out for a special occasion breakfast or brunch. My celebration French toast is fit for a birthday or anniversary, when you want to show someone you care through a heart-stopping amount of sugar which is oh-so worth it.

I turned 26 the other weekend and this was what I chose to make as a birthday breakfast for my friends.

I suppose it is technically a French toast sandwich - you layer two slices of eggy brioche either side of sweetened cream cheese and fruit. But ideally you could buy an unsliced loaf to cut in doorstep chunks and then make a pocket to fill with the creamy fruity filling. Sadly my M&S didn't have any unsliced loaves, but this sandwich idea works just as well, you just need to be a little more careful to keep it tidy - but a good blueberry compote drizzled over the top hides any imperfections.

Celebration French toast - a portion for one greedy person, or share between two with extra berries

Start with the blueberry compote - place two handfuls of blueberries in a saucepan with a little sugar and a splash of water. Prick some of the blueberries so they release their juice and heat on high. Keep an eye on it, it might spit. And after about five minutes when it has thickened, take off the heat.

Now the French toast - whisk up two eggs with a dollop of double cream and one tsp of ground cinnamon. Pour the mixture onto a plate and lay two slices of slightly stale bread (brioche is best for this sweet recipe) turning every now and again for 5-10 minutes to soak up the maximum amount of egg.

Heat a frying pan on high and melt a good knob of butter. When hot, place the two slices into the pan and turn down the heat slightly. Now, if you make French toast as much as I do, you'll notice brioche burns quicker than normal bread, so keep an eye on it. Once it is golden on one side (after around two minutes), flip and cook the other side.

Quickly mix two tbsp of cream cheese with two tsp of icing sugar in a bowl.

Remove the cooked brioche from the pan onto a plate and spread one slice with the sweetened cream cheese and dot over with raspberries. Sandwich together with the other slice and carefully return to the pan for 30 seconds to heat through.

Plate up and slice in half. Drizzle over the blueberry compote, a scattering of fruit and a dusting of icing sugar.

Serve with a bellini cocktail, and perhaps consider eating salad for the rest of the week.

Enjoy x