Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Breakfast at your desk - poached plums

A sweet treat recipe to use up the glut of summer fruit in your kitchen: poached plums.

It's been so hot recently I could hardly be bothered to turn on the oven or fire up the hob, but it has thankfully dropped a few degrees for me to make the most of all this beautiful summer fruit. These poached plums take about 15 minutes to rustle up and are a great breakfast to take with you to work the following morning.

For a punnet of plums, quarter, de-stone and place in a pan. Add three tablespoons of caster sugar (give or take depending on your sweet tooth – these are quite sweet), two big dollops of honey and a teaspoon of vanilla essence. Simmer for around 10-15 minutes until soft and the skins are just pulling away from the skin with lots of juice developing in the pan.

Beautiful plums ready for poaching

Just add sugar, honey and vanilla for a sweet breakfast treat

If you don't eat them all up as a tasty pudding that very evening, let them cool and place in a secure container to take to work the next day.

Breakfast always tastes better on pretty china

Sweet and substantial - poached plums for breakfast

In the morning, spoon over yogurt and top with some crunchy granola and perhaps some chia seeds. This also works as a perfect topping forovernight oats.

Enjoy x

Monday, 25 August 2014

Brecwast at The Marram Grass Café, Anglesey

The Welsh word for breakfast is ‘brecwast’ and this August Bank Holiday, I went back to my roots and visited my home island of Anglesey in North Wales.

And clearly number one priority after giving my Mum and Greyhound a big cuddle and making sure there was a roast dinner happening on the Sunday, was finding a good place for breakfast.

My friend suggested we tried The Marram Grass Café in Newborough on Anglesey and what a little gem this place is.

Summer days on Anglesey

Marram grass is the long greenery found on beach sand dunes which help to prevent coastal erosion. And the very aptly named cafe is tucked away on a camp site close to one of Anglesey’s many beautiful beaches as well as the romantic tiny island of Llanddwyn – great if you want to walk off your breakfast, which we tried to do before the famous Welsh weather decided to rain on our parade.

But don’t let Marram Grass being on a camp site put you off. I’m certainly very far away from being a happy camper. Glastonbury, while I enjoyed it, the mud put me off camping ever again. I’m much more of a breakfast in a chic B&B kind-of-girl, rather than warming up some beans on a camping stove dressed in wellies and a jumper. But Marram Grass’ breakfast was so far away from any kind of soggy camping grub.

Run by two brothers, Marram Grass has a relaxed countryside vibe - in fact it felt like it was set on an allotment. As you walk up to the café, there are picnic benches sat between tall sunflowers, wild blossoms, and even branches weighed down by luscious plump pears.

Outdoor seating at Marram Grass Cafe

Anyone for a pear?

Escape to the country

The café itself is adorned with colourful hanging baskets, and it has a porch area covered with heavy vines loaded with grapes. Rain battered garden furniture sits underneath, while we sat ourselves down on a wooden table made out of a recycled crate.

Indoors however, was cozy with a licensed bar selling local beer (it is open all day) decorated with kitsch signs.

The indoor/outdoor seating area at Marram Grass

Grapes hanging on the vines 

We settled down under the vines to a simple menu with six options, and I decided on the Full Welsh (£5.00 – yes you read that right £5.00, at those prices I can forgive the spellings mistakes on the menu!), while my friend had the Halloumi Breakfast at the same price.

The Full Welsh brecwast came with sausage, bacon, black pudding, beans, poached egg, roast tomato and chive mushrooms, as well as refillable tea or coffee – not bad at less than the price of a glass of vino in London.

Breakfast tea and dappled sunshine under the vines

Marram Grass Breakfast Menu

I know I’ve said, again and again how I’m not into my Full English Breakfasts, but I definitely wasn’t in a greasy spoon, so I gave it a gamble, and it paid off.

The Full Welsh at Marram Grass on Anglesey

Halloumi breakfast at Marram Grass
Making the most of Anglesey’s fantastic local produce, the sausage was thick and herby, the bacon crisp, while the roasted tomatoes were firm and satisfying, all mopped up with a crusty doorstep slice of toast. Topped off with some world-famous Anglesey sea salt, Halen Mon, on the table - I was rather impressed. 

Halen Mon sea salt

I may be biased, but the produce on Anglesey is some of the best in the UK. Sitting in the quiet countryside, enjoying my second cup of tea handed to me with a lovely smile, it was a pretty good way to spend a lazy Sunday morning on Anglesey. 

Watching the world go by at Marram Grass Cafe

Marram Grass
White Lodge, Penlon, Newborough, Isle of Anglesey, LL61 6RS
01248 44 00 77

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Breakfast at your Desk: 10 overnight oats recipes

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you will have seen over the last couple of weeks my breakfast journey documented with many stylish filters.

I’ve pulled together this roundup of my favourite overnight oats recipes, including a fabulous traditional Bircher Muesli recipe. It is a perfect Breakfast at your Desk recipe -an easy, nutritious and oh-so-tasty start to the day.

Overnight oats - aka Bircher Muesli
I started getting very excited about these overnight oat jars (or Bircher muesli) at the beginning of the summer. This chilled alternative to hot porridge is made by letting the oats soak overnight in combinations of milk or fruit juice and yoghurt.

The raw oats need to soak up the liquid overnight, so I make mine in the evening to take with me the next morning for a decent breakfast at my desk. You can even make it in bulk as it lasts for a good few days in the fridge.

My basic recipe is equal parts of oats, yoghurt and almond milk, with variations of fruit and flavours added to the mix. Here's my round up of the top 10 overnight oats recipes:

Let me know what you think on Twitter, Instagram or email:

Enjoy x

1. The first attempt - coconut yoghurt, raspberries, chia and pomegranate

2. Raspberries, goji, and honey 
Use raspberry yoghurt to give it an extra fruity kick.

3. Coconut, cacao and banana
A little bit exotic, mix coconut yogurt, with raw cacao powder and add slices of banana.

4. Ginger and pineapple
Basic overnight oats recipe using Rachel's lovely ginger yoghurt, add fresh pineapple in the morning.

5. Summer cherry delight
De-stone some fresh cherries and add to a fruit yoghurt of your choice

6. Chia seeds and poached plums
Basic overnight oats recipe with a teaspoon of chia goodness, serve with poached plum for a sticky start to the day.

7. Rocky road
The most unhealthy one on the list: chocolate yoghurt with mini marshmallows and chocolate chips. Serve with a crumbling of biscuit.

8. Berry good for you 
Add blueberries, goji berries and strawberries to natural yoghurt, include chia seeds and raspberries if you want an extra antioxidant boost.

9. Barmy banoffee 
Toffee yogurt with slices of banana – add chocolate chips for a treat

10. Traditional apple Bircher Muesli
For number ten, I thought I'd go back to the roots of Bircher Muesli and try a more traditional recipe.

Mix together the following:
  • Grated apple
  • Tsp cinnamon
  • Tsp chia seeds
  • Dollop of honey
  • Tbsp seeds of your choice
  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1 cup of unsweetened apple juice
  • A dash of almond milk
  • 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt
Serve with fresh berries.

NOTE: Over the last couple of months, I've played around with different recipes and different yoghurts. If you use fat free yoghurt I've found this often gives a looser consistency, so you may need to add more oats if you like your Bircher to be thick and satisfying.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

One for the weekend - baked eggs royale

I recently told you how easy it is to make baked eggs for an impressive weekend brunch.

It's one of those recipes you can just play around with and use whatever is in your fridge. And last weekend, I managed to create a really posh version of baked eggs by adding smoked salmon.

The finished product was baked eggs royale.

Eggs Benedict Royale is when you switch the ham for smoked salmon, so I took the same theory and added a little smoked salmon and spinach to my baked eggs.

It's only August, but already our summer seems to be drawing to a close. But if you see some sunshine trying to escape from the clouds, quickly rustle up these little pots of pure breakfast indulgence and eat al fresco while you still have a chance. I love the sultry pink of the salmon, the bright greens and the golden yellow yolk, bound to bring a smile to your face in the morning.

Baked in a bain-marie for about 12 minutes,
this was seriously tasty brunch

Enjoy with golden buttered toast

Baked eggs royale, perfect for al fresco dining

Dunk your soldiers into the brightly coloured baked eggs

For the basic baked eggs recipe, check out my post here.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Breakfast at the Modern Pantry, London

When my brunch chums and I turned up at The Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell, London for breakfast one recent weekend morning I was surprised at how distinct the building was from the rest of old London town.

While navigating my way through East London with the aid of Google Maps I was slightly worried about getting lost, but honestly you can’t really miss it, with its brick walls and greenery a stark contrast to its modern neighbours.

Outside The Modern Pantry

I’d been looking forward to this Monthly Breakfast Club brunch at The Modern Pantry for a long time and I rang up and booked a table two weeks prior. I must say I was disappointed when we were shown to a table on the second floor shoved in the darkest corner of the restaurant.

But the rest of the establishment is light and airy - making me even more miffed at where we were seated – and on a gorgeous Saturday morning most people were sat with sunlight beaming through the open windows. 

The bright and airy entrance of The Modern Pantry

My view

The Modern Pantry is indeed very modern, but in a clean-cut way that felt very welcoming. Across three storeys the rooms feature a grey and white décor, with wooden floorboards and a couple of dashes of colour coming from the odd single-stem flower in a vase. Tables were simply set with heavy silver cutlery, quality white napkins and little pots of brown sugar. It felt like a little bit of Chelsea in EC1.

The Modern Pantry swag

The waiting staff wore crisp white shirts with long grey aprons down past the knees, but sadly what they didn’t wear was a smile on their faces. But despite a slightly surly service the food was fantastic.

We looked through the vast breakfast menu, taking a while to make our way through the choice of 12 teas and many other beverages.

We started with smoothies, and mine was a deliciously fresh passion fruit, orange, banana and honey concoction (£4.50). The citrus notes cut nicely through the banana and was smoothly rounded off with a good helping of sweet honey.

Smoothie-licious at The Modern Pantry

For brunch, three of us went for the sweetcorn, feta, green chilli & curry leaf waffle, with smoked streaky bacon (£8.80).

The food took quite a long time to arrive, but as usual my brunch chums and I were whiling away the time with a good gossip. When the food arrived – pushing 30 minutes after ordering – everyone’s food arrived apart from mine, and while we were waiting for the remaining plate my friends politely waited for me. But after a good few minutes the waiting became awkward, and with my friends all gazing longingly at their food I encouraged them to go ahead without me before it went cold.

Mine arrive a minute or so later, and then my friend’s had to go back to the kitchen because on closer inspection and comparatively to the rest of ours, her waffle was burnt and crispy down one side. Luckily a replacement came out in seconds.

Sweetcorn, feta and chilli leaf waffle at The Modern Pantry

The Modern Pantry is known for its unusual inventions and combinations of flavours and the waffle lived up to the hype. The doughy-waffle was thick and soft,  enveloped in maple syrup and stacked on top was a few rashers of deliciously crispy bacon. Inside the waffle was sweetcorn, chilli leaf and feta. At first I couldn’t taste the chilli, but after a couple of bites a warming sensation crawled up my tongue, and it was surprisingly very pleasant. But the best bit of the waffle was the feta cheese, which my friends and I would have liked to have seen more of. It was like feta roulette with every mouthful, praying for a salty treat with each bite.

It was worth the trip to see what all the fuss about – chilli leaf and waffle, who would have thought?!

Another dish ordered at The Modern Pantry - halloumi eggs benedict

English muffin and marmite

47-48 St John's Square, Clerkenwell, London EC1V 4JJ

Thursday, 14 August 2014

One for the weekend – marmalade on (French) toast

French toast is my breakfast weakness, it genuinely makes me go weak at the knees (or stomach)! Whatever you call it – French toast, pain perdu, gypsy toast or eggy bread – if it’s on the menu I’m most likely going to choose it.

I love French toast mainly because there are so many variations. This simple breakfast (or supper, I’m not here to judge) can be accompanied by crisp, salty bacon, sharp berries, or indulgent clotted cream. Not to mention a favourite tea-time staple - tomato ketchup.

This recipe for orange French toast takes your average eggy bread to another level. A perfect weekend brunch which looks more impressive than it actually is. I like to call it my Paddington Bear Breakfast, thanks to the lashings of marmalade I spread on the freshly cooked bread which melts into a sticky syrup. Delicious!

Marmalade French toast - sticky orange goodness

Orange French Toast Recipe:

Makes two slices (you can decide whether that’s the appropriate amount for one person or two!)

Whisk two eggs in a bowl with a heaped tsp of ground cinnamon and a tbsp of light brown sugar. Cut an orange in half and give it a good squeeze into the egg mixture – but don’t use all of the juice or it will become too wet. Then finely add about a tsp of orange zest into the bowl.

Pour the mixture onto a shallow bowl or plate and place two stale pieces of white bread (fresh slices will disintegrate!) into the egg and allow to it absorb the mixture – turning now and again – for about five minutes.

Maybe don't eat anything else for the rest of the day...?

Golden and beautiful French toast

Melt a knob of butter in a pan until it starts to foam, then add the slices of bread to the pan. Fry off in the butter until golden and flip to cook the other side. It takes a couple of minutes each side, so keep an eye on it.

Serve straight away with a good helping of your favourite marmalade.

Marmalade French toast - a breakfast fit for Paddington Bear

Enjoy x

Monday, 11 August 2014

Breakfast at Latana Café, London

Latana Café is one of three Antipodean cafes offering great breakfasts for Londoners: Latana is in Fitzrovia, Salvation Jane in Shoreditch and Ruby Dock in Camden.

I am lucky to have Latana about five minutes away from my office, and I’ve recently visited twice for breakfast in a fortnight. Tucked away deep in the heart of Fitzrovia, the café is divided into Latana IN and Latana OUT, those in a rush can grab some pastries and coffee on the hoof from Latana OUT on the way to work.

Lantana Cafe: Australia in the depths of Fitzrovia

In, out, in, out, shake it all about

Takeaway pastries

Sitting inside Latana there’s a definite Scandinavia feel to the café, with unvarnished wooden table tops, mismatched chairs and even one table in the corner with an IKEA-style fold away table. Outside there are wooden benches with little stools to sit on, and away from the street on Charlotte’s Place, when the sun shines it’s actually a nice little area of London to be in.

The café feels fresh with whitewashed walls and at the end of the café a fantastic grey wall mural of a butterfly. While we perused the extensive breakfast menu, nameless chill-out music played in the background and we drank water from jugs filled with mountains of mint.

Artwork inside the cafe 

Lantana's pastries and muffins look too tempting

The café heralds its coffee, and while I’m not a massive coffee connoisseur, my colleague wasn’t bowled over by the beans. The food on the other hand is a different story…

On my first visit I choose the slow braised beans with ham hock, served on corn bread with grilled chorizo, a poached egg and spinach (£8.50). It was like a ranch breakfast – or cowboy breakfast – with the smoky beans and chorizo creating warmth to my morning chow down. Sadly I felt it slightly overpowered the ham hock, but it was really delicious and the egg was poached to perfection. The meal was served on top of a dense grilled cornbread and ever since one of my first breakfasts in San Francisco I’ve been a fan of this unusual carb-loaded bread. Absolutely delicious – I will be trying that at home.

Breakfast fit for a cowboy

My colleagues chose the house cured salmon on organic dark rye roast with a poached egg, pickled beetroot, lemon crème fraiche and chervil (£9.50) and smashed avocado and streaky bacon on a sourdough toast with a poached egg and rocket (£7.50) both of which went down very well – especially the avocado on toast which was presented like an indulgent butter, check out my recipe for this energy boosting breakfast.

House cured salmon on organic dark rye

Mashed avocado and bacon

On my second visit a week later, my dedicated colleague and I returned at opening at 8am on a Thursday as a pay-day treat and there was already a queue forming with desperate Fitzrovia media-types waiting to be let in.

This time I choose the toasted courgette bread with grilled halloumi, slow roast tomatoes, a poached egg and chilli jam (£11.50), while my colleague chose the maple French toast with streaky bacon, grilled banana and toast pecans (£10.00).

Round two at Lantana

It was the courgette bread which caught my eye in the breakfast, and it didn’t disappoint – the substantial portion was cakey, yet firm and was a different take on my much-loved cornbread. Again, the egg was perfected poached, and the sweet chilli went brilliantly with the bread. But it was the halloumi that was a slight let-down as I felt it just didn’t bring anything to the dish.

I’ve had this before with meals where halloumi is added to the dish at quite a significant mark up in price and so many people (myself included) think of the last amazing halloumi burger they ate and order it in a hurry. But halloumi is only as good as the sauces and seasonings it absorbs, and while the rest of this breakfast was amazing, the halloumi was just average.

Was the halloumi necessary in this Lantana breakfast?

But I’ve saved the best until last. The French toast here was incredible. I couldn’t believe the architectural genuis as the plate was placed in front of my colleague. The double thick doorsteps of bread were standing beautifully like a castle, with a ravine of buttery maple syrup acting as a moat surrounding it. Throw in the saltiness of the bacon and you have a breakfast of heart attack inducing strength, but at least you will die happy. Very very happy.

Lantana's French Toast is a heart attack on a plate, but a welcomed one

It’s only been a couple of months on this breakfast journey of mine, but so far this place has to be my favourite little café – a foodie haven right in craziness of central London. I urge you to give it a go.

13 Charlotte Place, Fitzrovia, W1T 1SN