Weekend Breakfast

Weekend Breakfast

American pancakes, as you may well know, are a weekend family favourite.

I’m sure, were it on offer, they would be eaten regularly throughout the week, however, as a general rule, this breakfast is specifically created at some point during the weekend.

There are many reasons for this but if I’m totally honest, the main reason for only making American pancakes at the weekend is because I cannot get my head round putting it all together, sitting around the table to eat it, finishing a wonderfully made, Bialetti coffee, and then getting ready for the school/work day.  We’d have to be up at 6am which, for me, is a time reserved for going on holiday or an emergency only.

However, today being a Saturday, we did that thing.  And I discovered a lovely little combination of foods which I would like to share with you.  American pancake, bacon, maple syrup and strawberry.  Yes, you read that correctly, strawberry.  Who would have imagined this taste sensation could linger in the mind all day, but I’m telling you now, it’s an absolute treat and one that comes highly recommended.  Which is a good thing, as the repertoire of weekend dining has been severely slashed due to completely unforeseen circumstances.

Why?  Well, the oven has made a unilateral decision to go on strike without any prior warning.  And how, you may ask, did I find this out?  Whilst making a batch of sausage rolls which, having languished in a supposedly hot oven for over an hour, were still looking ever so slightly peaky.  Not right at all.

Thankfully the hob still works, and we are very close to summer which will allow us time to reassess the situation and begin our search for yet another vehicle of heated wonder.

Until then, prepare yourselves for an array of salads and one pot dishes…

Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup

I have been slightly distracted this week which I can pin down to three specific things.  Work, general election and an awful thing going on with a tooth that I can go no further into, for everyone’s sake.

Consequently time has done that peculiar thing of continuing as normal but feeling distorted.  It’s a funny old thing which many new parents experience, but when you are having a lot of hours in the day awake, the rhythm of life changes and, for me, makes it feel as though I’m living through blancmange.  I have many things to do that I just haven’t done, or do not have the energy to do, and, if truth be known, am probably, in actuality, doing very little, just thinking about it.

As the Americans say, ‘Go figure’

However, I have managed in some part, to continue to cook a semblance of regular meals, with only the odd quirk here and there.  Interestingly, sometimes these quirks work, and sometimes you look back and ponder,

‘Why did I think throwing everything we had left in the fridge into a pan and just adding tomato ketchup, was a good idea?’

Which is why soup is always a good thing to make.  It’s simple, nourishing and although doesn’t have the appeal to the wee boy of say, spaghetti, it does get eaten.  Almost.

I made a chicken stock with the carcass and usual bits and pieces, boiling for 8 hours or so, then leaving to cool overnight.  Now, here’s the thing.  Often when I make a chicken stock I congratulate myself on using up ever last bit of chicken wisely thus easing my conscience.  Invariably arriving at the cooling stage without a hitch.  And then, mentally having ticked the box in my head for ‘make chicken stock’, I leave it on the hob.

Sometimes for so long that I have to throw the whole lot away… (Oh God, the guilt, even now)

This time though, I was on it like a car bonnet, separating the bones and vegetables from the juice as soon as it was cool enough to do so.  Then awarded myself a medal for achievement.  It’s the little things.

Invariably when making a pot of stock, I divide it into those plastic container boxes that the take-away shops so very kindly donate when they bring you food, although to be fair, it would be a bit odd if they stood at the door waiting until you had emptied the food onto a plate so that you could return their boxes.  Mind you, that’s a pretty good idea don’t you think?

*files away under ‘when I rule the world’*

Anyway, this time I just used all the stock created and turned it into a soup.

Firstly I chopped and diced an onion and carrot and put in the pan with a little vegetable oil.  I then added a slice of bacon, chopped, for saltiness, and the rest of the chicken that had been picked off the bones before making the stock.  The stock was added and a potato, chopped and diced.

I then left the whole thing to simmer for twenty minutes or so.  Took down the trusty steed and whizzed up.

Alongside this we had hummus, carrot sticks and muffins.

I know, not what you’d immediately associate with chicken soup, but hey, I’m doing my best here, and as I say to the boys, that’s all you can do.

Breakfast Burger Bagel

Breakfast Burger #2

If you look for half a second with your eyes slightly squinted and the wind blowing in the right direction, do you not think this bears more than a resemblance to the Rolling Stones lips image which, until recently, became ‘a thing’ on almost every piece of cloth produced?  Just me then…

I have had the most indulgent morning hanging out with Nigel Slater.  Not him personally you understand, more specifically, his cookery books, ‘The Kitchen Diaries II’ and ‘eat’.  Both beautifully written, albeit in different styles, both leave me with a slight sense of being at the bottom of a mountain, looking up.

However, as the wee one and I were flicking through, I came upon a breakfast recipe in ‘eat’ and thought two things.  Firstly, I have a version of everything in that is required, and secondly, it looks quite easy.

You will need sausages, bacon, tomatoes, cheese and bagels.

Nigel suggests 3 herb sausages, but we didn’t have those in as my boys are not keen.  We do have gorgeous ‘I know where that pig grew up’ sausages though, which I reckon is just as good.  Similarly with the bacon. Nigel suggests 2 slices of smoked streaky bacon, I used non smoked back bacon from the same known stye.

Skin the sausages and chop the bacon in a bowl.   I added some black pepper at this point, because I really like that little kick it gives.  You may not.  Squidge together. Make into patties.

Put a little oil in a pan and fry on a medium heat, turning regularly.  At Nigel’s suggestion I put a lid over the patties inbetween turning.

Toast the bagels, add slices of ripe tomato onto the bottom piece of bagel, place the cooked burger on the top and cover with cheese.  Today I used mature cheddar which was very complimentary to our burgers, but I reckon a beautiful, nutty, mild cheese such as Jarlsberg or Emmental would be just as delicious.

Put the loaded bagel bottom back under the grill, to melt the cheese.  Place the other empty half of the toasted bagel on top.

Eat.

Cowboy Beans

Baked-beans-007

 

You may have gathered by now that our routine has gone slightly asunder.  This is due, in the main, to something which is referred to as the Summer Holidays, but as some of you may well have experienced recently, that summer warmth has dissipated into a ‘slight chill in the air’ and, not everyone is on holiday.

However, as always I somehow manage to juggle things around so that we can do holiday things, whilst still essentially contemplating and occasionally doing, work things.  And of course, holidays allow time for small people to make a choice about what they would like for dinner and then change their minds many times over before making a final choice, often similar if not identical to their first choice, without me taking so many deep breaths and counting to ten’s that I have completed a numerical marathon.  As a consequence of this, some of the food over the past four weeks has been chosen by people aged ten or under.  Today is no exception.

I have a love hate relationship with baked beans.  I understand their qualities, and often relish them, but sometimes, just sometimes, they completely fail to satisfy, and I find myself eying them with lethargic nonchalance.   Therefore, in order to give baked beans a lift, we have a meal which is grandly named Cowboy Beans and refers directly to the image of American men and women in big hats, around coal fires, with a backdrop of vast sky, eating beans.

Now I must be clear here, in no way do we recreate the aforementioned scenario. Instead, my culinary translation of the aforementioned is to have sausages or bacon bits popped into the beans.

‘Nothing new there’, I hear you cry.

Ah but wait, those beans in tins you may be referring to are not called Cowboy Beans are they? Oh no, those beans  in tins are called ‘Beans with Sausage’.  Hmmm, now there’s innovation and creative thought, right there…

So this evening we are having Cowboy Beans and toast.  All that’s missing is the camp fire, which must be saved for special occasions, which roughly translated means, when I need to up the anti of excitement.

Oh yes, I know, living La Dolce Vita.

Indulgent Cooked Breakfast

photo (41)

 

Every now and again, we indulge in one of the most wonderful of meals.  That of the cooked breakfast.  For me, it can only be made and eaten in certain circumstances. Firstly, it must not be rushed, and therefore by default, is usually made in one of three situations:

1.  Weekends

2.  Holidays

3.  Camping

I have tried to make a cooked breakfast on work days, and even in the evening, but it is never the same. Time restraints, sun positions, day possibilities and so many other quirks only lead to disappointment if this meal is orchestrated at any other time than the breakfast slot.  And just to make it clear what I mean by breakfast.  Breaking your overnight fast.  Which means that it can be eaten at any time of the morning all the way up to one o’clock in the afternoon, in my book.  But it’s a personal thing.

Right, back to the meal ingredients.  Bacon. Always best from the butcher, acceptable if ‘thick cut’ from the supermarket.  Sausage.  There is a bone of contention in our household regarding sausages.  Himself prefers the ones with less meat content.  I am happier with a higher meat content.  One thing we can both agree on, is that for a cooked breakfast to be at it’s best, the sausages with herbs, tomatoes or any other added nonsense must be left on the shelf for alternative meals.  As far as which sausage we have goes, it is totally dependant on who goes out to buy them.

We occasionally have fried bread, black pudding, devilled kidneys or spam, but these I see as extras, and not part of the main event.

Eggs.  I absolutely adore everything about eggs.  Their taste, their versatility, their shape, I could go on.  The one thing I insist on is that they are from free range hens. There is absolutely no need in this day and age, for chickens to be mistreated.  We always have them fried at home, sunny side up.  The eggs that is, not the chickens.

Mushrooms.  Chopped and cooked in butter with heaps of black pepper and a sprinkling of salt.  Tomatoes.  Tinned plum.  Beans.  Heinz.  Bread and butter.  Tea.  In a mug.

And here’s how I put it all together.  Put the kettle on.  Fry the sausages until browned, then pop in an ovenproof dish, and into the oven.  Put the mushrooms, butter, salt and a good splodge of black pepper into a pan with the lid on and simmer.  Warm through the beans and tomatoes.  Fry the bacon, add to the sausage dish in the oven.  Make the tea.  Fry the eggs.

Plate up.  Enjoy.

Just as a final thought.  I know many see the cooked breakfast as an overindulgent heart attack on a plate.  I am not about to disagree, but what I will say in its favour, is that it nourishes the soul and sets you up for the day.  And what is so wrong with a little indulgence every now and then, eh?