Thursday, 29 July 2010

Rise and Shine

This post is a tribute to my little sister for several reasons, the first being that she has a horrible habit of rising with the larks - something that I have never been particularly good at. The second is that Australia (where she currently lives) is, in my humble opinion, breakfast heaven. So Kettle this is for you, hopefully it will make a change to your porridge habit.

A meal that is often rushed, or even skipped altogether, breakfast is sadly overlooked as a celebration of fresh and delicious ingredients. Too often in this country our imagination only stretches to the full English (or preferably the full Scottish!) - and even though I cannot disregard the time honored traditions, sometimes it is good gain inspiration from our Antipodean cousins. So lets make a big deal of the first meal of the day, whether that means sunrise or noon.

Ricotta Hot Cakes with Honeycomb and Banana

Bill Granger is a bit of a hero, his restaurants and cafes are an integral part of Sydney culture. bills in Darlinghurst is a welcoming, sunny delight and the centre of breakfast heaven. My brother gave me Bills Sydney Food for my Christmas last year so it was the first place I looked to gain ideas for a lazy weekend breakfast. This dish is Sydney sunshine on a plate. The hot cakes are crisp on the outside, light and fluffy in the middle. It calls for honeycomb which you can buy but I decided to be brave and make my own. Give it a go, its worth it.

Serves 6

This recipe is in cups, something that I come across quite often. I bought a set of measuring cups in our local pound shop, a worthy investment

For the hot cakes
1 1/2 cups ricotta
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs separated
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
Butter, for frying

To serve
Honeycomb butter, sliced (see below)
Icing sugar, for dusting

For the honeycomb butter mix 250g of softened unsalted butter, 100g of finely crushed honeycomb butter and 2 tablespoons of honey. Roll and seal in clingfilm, refrigerate for 2 hours before serving. Keep any leftovers in the freezer - its lovely on toast and future pancakes.
Add the ricotta, milk and egg yolks in a large bowl and mix to combine. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt on to the ricotta mixture and mix together. Place the egg whites in a clean dry bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites through the batter in two batches, with a large metal spoon.

Lightly grease a large, non-stick frying pan with butter and drop 2 tablespoons of batter into the pan, add more hotcakes but don't over-crowd the pan. Cook over a medium heat for a couple of minutes until golden underneath. Flip over and repeat on the other side. Transfer the hotcakes on to a plate, add the banana and put one slice of the honeycomb butter on the top. Dust with icing sugar.

- Any leftover hotcake mixture can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours as long as it is covered.

The next day I was still feeling a little brunch hungry so I decided to try out something that I saw on the brilliant Willie's Wonky Chocolate Factory. Willie Harcourt-Cooze is bringing proper cacao to the UK and having lived in Venezuela learning the cacao trade he is a master at everyday Venezuelan food. This cooked breakfast was served to his whole family and couldn't be further removed from a full fry up. He grates pure cacao into this dish and which I would have loved to have tried but the Dairy Milk in my fridge would not have sufficied. The main reason that this caught my eye is that it includes almost all of my favorite ingredients. Eggs, avocados, tomatoes, peppers, red onions, garlic and chilli - heaven...

Venezuelan Brunch

This actually has to be one of the most delicious things I have ever made. Hovered up in seconds it was fresh, filling, semi healthy and couldn't be easier to make. Never mind breakfast, it would be perfect for a quick lunch or light supper too.

Serves one - because I don't like to share.

Half a red pepper
2 fresh plum tomatoes
1 small red onion
1 clove of garlic
Half an avocado
1 egg
Small bunch of coriander
A large slice of crusty bread
A pinch of dried chilli
Salt and pepper

Slice the red pepper into strips and the red onion into half rings. Crush and chop your garlic and roughly chop the plum tomatoes. Put a medium sized frying pan on the hob with a good glug of olive oil. Fry the pepper and onions on a medium heat until soft and add the garlic and chilli. Add the tomatoes and cook down until soft. Add a little vegetable stock or water to keep moist. Once the all the ingredients are a chunky sauce constincy add the coriander and season.
Make a large well in the centre and crack the egg in the middle - keep on a low heat while the egg cooks. You may need to add a little water round the edges so the sauce doesn't dry out. While the egg is cooking toast the bread on a griddle or frying pan. Drizzle a little extra olive oil on the surface of the bread.

Slice the avocado, put the bread on a large plate and transfer the egg and tomato sauce on top of the bread. Serve with the avocado on the side.

Eat immediately.

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