Breakfast dishes


Ethiopian omelette

I haven’t had much time to cook this week. It’s the first few days after the summer holidays, and so much work has piled up that I’m practically glued to my computer screen, replying to hundreds of emails and trying to get on top of things. You know the feeling well, right?

To be honest, I haven’t really cooked anything interesting worth sharing this week – except for this omelette. I first tasted the omelette – known as enqulal t’ibs – when an Ethiopian chef I once interviewed served it to me for brunch. She told me it could be eaten alongside ginfilfil, a spicy stew made from torn up, leftover injera bread – the soft, fermented flatbread of Ethiopia with a slightly tangy taste.

I have never made that stew – or indeed the bread – at home, but I do like to order it in restaurants. I like making this omelette for supper when I have little time to cook as it takes about 10 minutes from start to finish. As for the dried garlic and ginger – I wasn’t being lazy or too busy to use fresh: this traditional recipe really does require them to be dried and powdered.  Eat the omelette with some hot chilli sauce if you like, accompanied by baguette or crusty bread and a tomato-based green leaf salad. Serves 1.

2 large free-range organic eggs
2 tablespoons milk
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper
1 shallot or very small onion, trimmed, peeled and finely chopped
½ small green bell pepper (or a mild chilli), trimmed and finely chopped
½ small red bell pepper, trimmed and finely chopped
¼ teaspoon dried powdered garlic
¼ teaspoon dried powdered ginger
¼ teaspoon cardamom seeds, freshly crushed in a mortar
2 tablespoons corn, groundnut (peanut), or sunflower oil

1.    Lightly whisk the eggs with the milk until fluffy. Add all the remaining ingredients except oil and beat well.
2.    Heat the oil in a medium frying pan. When hot, add the egg mixture and cook for a few minutes until the omelette is set.
3.    Finish the omelette under a grill if desired. Serve hot.

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flower-frittata

I wasn’t planning to share another recipe until after Easter. But I made this gorgeous Italian-style sweet omelette for brunch, and was so seduced by the magical colours and delicate perfume that I decided to write it up, in case any of you are looking for special occasion brunch dishes for the Easter holidays.

There is something very charming and ultra-feminine about cooking with flowers. If you’ve never tried it before, this is a good recipe to start (yes, even if you are a guy – and especially if you are looking to impress somebody special!).

Buy unsprayed, chemical-free flowers from florists, large supermarkets, delicatessens, or some branches of Whole Foods – or just pick them from a garden (preferably your own!).

Serve the frittata with champagne (why not make it pink champagne?). Alternatively, cut into diamond shapes, and serve with afternoon tea in the garden. Serves 4.

8 large organic free-range eggs
Generous handfuls of edible flowers (any combination of unsprayed rose petals, pansies, violets, marigolds, chive flowers, courgette flowers, etc)
2 tablespoons double cream
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 oz/ 25g unsalted butter
Caster sugar (powdered sugar) for dusting

1.    Heat the grill (broiler) to medium heat.
2.    Crack the eggs into a bowl. Beat them lightly with a fork.
3.    Add most of the flowers (reserve some for garnish), cream and cinnamon, and combine everything very gently.
4.    Heat the butter in a small frying pan on medium heat. Pour in the egg mixture, and turn the heat down to low.
5.    Swirl the egg mixture around the pan, and stir it with a light hand until large curds form.
6.    Now do not disturb the egg mixture, and let it cook on low heat until the frittata is firm and the top is wobbly.
7.    Finish cooking the frittata by placing it under the grill until the top is just set.
8.    Remove from heat and let it cool in the pan for a couple of minutes.
9.    Slide the whole frittata onto a serving plate. Let it cool slightly. Sprinkle with caster sugar, and garnish extravagantly with the remaining flowers. Cut into wedges before serving.

passionfruit-muffins

These American-style muffins are quick and easy to make, and infused with a distinct tropical fragrance: the sweet, sharp, and hauntingly elusive tanginess of passion fruit will instantly transport you to a far-off island. They are ideal for breakfast for the day after Valentine’s Day…

You can make the muffins more elaborate by adding a splash of orange juice, a little finely grated orange zest, and a pinch of freshly ground allspice berries. You can ice them, too, with fresh orange or passion fruit flavoured icing if you like. I prefer them plain, however, accompanied by tropical preserves, and extra passion fruit pulp squeezed over the top.

I have suggested you remove the seeds from the fruit because I personally don’t like the crunch of the seeds in this recipe – but you can leave them in if you wish. Makes 12 muffins.

6 passion fruits
2 oz/ 50g softened butter, plus extra for greasing
10 oz/ 250g plain white flour, sifted
1 heaped tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 heaped tablespoon sugar
8 fl oz/ 250 ml milk
1 egg, lightly beaten

1.    Pre-heat the oven to 220C/ 425F/ gas mark 7. Thoroughly grease 12 large paper muffin cups.
2.    Halve the passion fruits. Scoop out the pulp, and put through a fine mesh sieve, pressing it down firmly with the back of a spoon. You should be left with only pulp and juice. Discard the seeds.
3.    In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar, and mix well.
4.    In another bowl, mix together the passion fruit pulp with milk and egg.
5.    Tip the liquid ingredients into the dry ones. Mix everything together quickly with a light hand, just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not beat the mixture.
6.    Divide the mixture between the greased muffin cups, and place each in a 12-cup muffin tray. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until they are well-risen, and a skewer inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.
7.    Remove the muffins from the tray, and leave them (in their paper cups) on a wire rack for 2 or 3 minutes to cool.
8.    Serve warm or cold with butter and preserves (particularly Jamaican guava jam, if you can find it, or pineapple or papaya jam). Fromage frais, or thick creamy yoghurt with extra passion fruit pulp poured over it, goes well with the muffins, too.

stack-of-breakfast-pancakes

This recipe isn’t traditionally Swiss – but the original, rather plain and straightforward version (simply comprising Swiss muesli, eggs and milk) was given to me by a Swiss chef in Switzerland. Hence ‘Swiss inspired’. I have adapted it quite a bit, adding fresh and dried fruit. I have suggested apricots and figs to keep with the ‘Swiss muesli breakfast’ theme, but use any dried fruit of your choice.

The batter for these pancakes should be fairly thick, but add a splash or two of more milk if you think it needs it. The pancakes are similar in concept to drop scones. They are ideal for a leisurely weekend breakfast, especially when you have guests staying over. Serve with fresh fruit or fruit compote, honey, or thick creamy yoghurt. Makes around 24 small pancakes/ serves 6.

2 oz/ 50g medium oatflakes
1 large egg, beaten
5 fl oz/ 150 ml milk
Small pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped
2 ready-to-eat dried figs, chopped
2 tablespoons sultanas or raisins
1 tablespoon chopped mixed nuts
1 small apple, cored and coarsely grated
1 small baby carrot, trimmed, peeled and coarsely grated
Small pinch of cinnamon powder

Mixture of unsalted butter and light, unflavoured oil for frying

Icing sugar for dusting

1.    Combine well all the ingredients for the pancakes in a bowl. Leave the mixture to rest for 30 to 60 minutes, so that the oatflakes have a chance to plump up.
2.    Heat a mixture of butter and oil in a non-stick frying pan, a little at a time. Turn the heat to very low. Drop in the pancake batter by tablespoonful, two or three at a time. Flatten the pancakes into circular shapes with the back of a spoon. Cook gently for approximately 3 minutes until the edges begin to set. Flip over and cook the other side until lightly browned. Repeat the process until the mixture is used up, working as quickly as you can (use another frying pan if necessary).
3.    While you are making the pancakes, place the cooked ones on a warmed plate, and wrap them in a clean tea towel so that they don’t go cold.
4.    Dust the pancakes with icing sugar. Serve as warm as possible.