Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Chilli cheese cornbread with spicy scrambled eggs

Baking cornbread has been on my breakfast list for several months now. I gave it ago once before, but it was a complete disaster. And I don't know about you, but I always get disheartened when meals don't go according to plan - it's such a waste of time and food. But this weekend, I took up the challenge one more and decided to give cornbread another whirl, choosing to follow Jamie Oliver's Chilli Cheese Cornbread recipe. 

This takes a good hour from start to finish, so its more of a late weekend brunch if you love your lie-ins like I do. And if you can just about face an hour in the kitchen the morning after a few drinks, this spicy cheesy bread will blow away the cobwebs and soak up any alcohol left in your system.

Jamie Oliver's recipe is for 10 people and baked in a cake tin, but I decided to halve his recipe and bake in a loaf tin which was easier to slice and looked a little more kitsch and aesthetically pleasing. This American delicacy consists of cornmeal (or polenta) and it was in fact a dish from Native Americans who have been grinding corn for thousands of years.

Add more cheese and sliced chilli for the last ten minutes

Jamie's sea salt and knife

When I think of cornbread, I conjure up an image of a cowboy eating a wedge he's cooked on an open fire in the middle of the desert, or as a staple to a southern family meal alongside fried chicken. Needless to say, cornbread matches perfectly with a hearty chilli, but to make this a brunch dish I served it with spicy scrambled eggs and fried halloumi. I realise the addition of halloumi was a little bit of a culture clash, but I had some that needed using up. This dish would also sit happily next to sliced avocado, and I advise placing a pot of sour cream on the table because it has quite a kick!

Baking cornbread finally gave me an excuse to crack open my oh-so-hipster purchase of chilli bacon jam which I bought on an impulse a couple of months back and has been in my fridge ever since. You only need the slightest slither of jam because the salty, caramalised jam is quite overpowering, but I found a little paired nicely with the spongey cornbread.

For Jamie Oliver's chilli cheese cornbread recipe, head to his website.

Enjoy x

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Breakfast at Kopapa Cafe and Restaurant, London

Kopapa is a fusion Cafe and Restaurant near Covent Garden in Central London. A Maori word for ‘a gathering, to be crowded, and a building to store food in’, Kopapa is a chic and tasteful restaurant, with an extensive breakfast menu.

I visited Kopapa early one weekday morning, keen to try its extensive breakfast menu. I settled in at a table and took in the surroundings: the venue was softly playing funky soul music in the background and its marble-topped bar and stylish lighting paired elegantly with the decorative tiled Mediterranean style-floors.

From Kopapa fry ups to granola with greek yogurt and blossom honey, and not forgetting the ever popular avocado smash - which I’m seeing pop up on most London breakfast menus at the moment. It was also nice to see a variation of lighter options like soft-boiled eggs, toast and fruit salad, rather than a long list of heavy fry ups.

That said, I went straight for the ‘Turkish eggs’ from Changa restaurant in Istanbul – 2 poached eggs, whipped yoghurt, hot chilli butter & 2 slices of toast’ (£9.50), while my colleague chose the ‘Kopapa’s hot-smoked salmon, toast, spinach, 2 poached eggs, yuzu hollandaise’ (£12.50).

Washed down with a strong Assam tea, my Turkish eggs were pretty special. I've tried them once before at Brew Cafe, but Kopapa's version with its spicy melted chili butter and whipped yogurt was really delicious.

Meanwhile, the hot smoked salmon on toast was a slightly lighter dish, with a generous portion of fish. What I did especially like about both of these breakfasts was the chargrilled toast, it's not burnt, but the blackened edges give the toast a smokey flavour which I would find difficult to recreate at home without setting off the fire alarm!

Just beautiful! Keep a close eye on the blog as I'm going to give this tasty breakfast treat a go myself very soon.

Kopapa Café and Restaurant
32-34 Monmouth Street
Seven Dials
Covent Garden
London, WC2H 9HA

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Yotam Ottolenghi's shakshuka for brunch

A couple of weeks ago I finally got around to eating breakfast at Ottolenghi in North London. I’ve been keeping an eye on his culinary journey for a couple of years now, admiring his namesake restaurant as well as sister establishment Nopi's predominantly vegetarian menu. 

Now, I'm not vegetarian - I enjoy a rare fillet steak far too much to ever give up meat - but I do believe we should all try and eat less meat, stepping away from the mentality that every meal should include something that was once alive and kicking. Firstly, it's expensive (and if your meat meal is cheap - it's not good quality. Put down the chicken nuggets!), it's better for the environment, and good for your health.

But mostly I admire Ottolenghi because this vegetarian attitude isn't shoved down punter's throats. It's not a veggie restaurant, there is meat on the menu but the focus is on all the wonderful flavours he creates from vegetables.

Checking out the menu while sat in its almost scandi-looking restaurant with very clean, sharp, white lines and toasters sat on the table their sockets suspended from mid-air, I knew I was going to have to order his Shakshuka, this is the dish I remember of from reading many articles on Ottolenghi over the years.

Ottolenghi in Islington

Toasting your own bread is a new trend taking over London brunch spots

Ottolenghi delights to take away

Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon enjoyed by my colleague

Ottolenghi's shakshuka

This North African dish is a regional variation of baking eggs in a tomato passata, which you can see in the likes of Huevos Rancheros  (Mexican eggs) or Italian baked eggs, each different geography just put their own stamp on this breakfast by using local herbs and spices. On a frosty February morning, the warmth from this spicy soupy breakfast mopped up with toast was very comforting - and the cumin and coriander really hits the spot.

Shakshuka recipe

Ottolenghi has kindly offered up his shakshuka recipe on the Guardian’s website, so the other weekend I decided to give it a whirl at home for a lazy Sunday brunch.

The good thing is if you get the base spices and herbs right (cumin, saffron, parsley and coriander) you can play around with other ingredients - I had some chorizo left in the fridge, so fried that off with the onions (Yes, I know – meat. But I'd sooner turn this meal away from its veggie roots, than waste food).

It takes a little care and attention, so this is a recipe definitely worth waiting for the weekend. While the eggs poach, warm up some pitta bread to mop up all the tomatoey, eggy goodness.

Ottolenghi, Islington
287 Upper Street
London N1 2TZ
Tel: 020 7288 1454

For more of Ottolenghi’s recipes, visit his website:

Liking the Middle Eastern vibe? Check out my post on Honey & Co, a cute little cafe near Warren Street, which is an unofficial spin off from Ottolenghi and Nopi with former chefs starting their own venture.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Mug of the Month: Happy Easter

I was thinking about an Easter themed Mug of the Month the other day, could I find a mug decorated with bouncing lambs, fluffy yellow chicks, or spring blooms? Then I remembered from my childhood boxed Easter Eggs with mugs. I recall our kitchen cupboard bursting at the seams with these brightly painted mugs - mostly royal purple due to my love of Dairy Milk.

And these still exist! Keep an eye out when you go Easter Egg hunting this weekend.