I love a bit of brunch. It feels more sociable than breakfast – firstly you can start that little bit later (which, to be honest, is a rare luxury when you have five kids and are up at the crack of dawn) and since you’re marrying breakfast and lunch, you get the best of both worlds. The Aussies and Californians seem to still be owning the brunch scene, but the good news is we’re really ramping up our efforts over here, too. So, instead of going out for brunch, get your mates round for an epic homemade spread. Big, bold and shareable is where it’s at – think stacks of hot toast with a whole load of toppings everyone can help themselves to, jugs of smoothies and a big dish of sausages and beans you can serve straight from the oven. The joy of brunch is it’s something you can take your time over and, if it goes really well, it might last well into the afternoon! So, welcome to my ultimate brunch – I hope you guys love these dishes as much as I do. Tell me your favourites, and let’s keep this convo going…
If you like your smoothies to be extra cold, you could drain and freeze the lychees in advance.
- 1 x 425g tin of lychees in syrup
- 1 ripe banana
- 25g blanched almonds or macadamia nuts
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 250ml coconut water
Drain the lychees and add to a blender, discarding the syrup. Peel and add the banana, followed by 1 handful of ice, the almonds or macadamias, and the vanilla extract. Pour in the coconut water, blitz until smooth, and serve.
Per serving 89 cals, 2.4g fat (0.2g sat fats), 1.4g protein, 15.8g carbs, 15.3g sugars, 0.02g salt, 0.7g fibre
Toast & toppings
When you’re hosting brunch, the key is not to be a slave to the kitchen. Pop a toaster on the table, next to stacks of freshly sliced bread or bagels and a selection of topping options. Let your guests get stuck in, toasting their own and piling them up with their choice of toppings. If you’re short on space, set up a side table as a mini brunch station. Here are some of my favourite combos, but feel free to throw a few of yours into the mix, too:
1. Mash 250g of vac-packed beetroot, then mix with 1 x 300g tub of cottage cheese, a good squeeze of lemon juice, half a bunch of finely chopped fresh dill and a pinch of sea salt and pepper.
2. Toast 50g of hazelnuts in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until golden, then finely chop and tip into a bowl. Mix in 1 x 300g tub of cottage cheese, 2 teaspoons of runny honey and 100g of raspberries, breaking them up slightly with the back of a spoon.
3. Mix 250g of full-fat cream cheese with a generous pinch of black pepper. Pick, finely chop and stir through 1 bunch of fresh soft herb leaves, such as flat-leaf parsley, dill, or chives. Serve alongside waves of good-quality smoked salmon, with lemon wedges.
4. Peel and destone 3 ripe avocados, then mash with the juice from 1 lemon and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Deseed, finely chop and scatter over 1 fresh red chilli and drizzle with olive oil.
5. Serve a good wedge of Lancashire cheese alongside a handful of quartered fresh figs and a pot of runny honey, for drizzling over.
Sicilian lemon coffee
Go Italian, like Mr Gennaro Contaldo, and serve freshly ground black coffee with strips of Sicilian lemon peel. I don’t have sugar in my coffee, but a drizzle of honey balances the lemon out beautifully here.
Breakfast beans & sausages
For the very best results, make an effort to source jarred beans – they’re packed full of wonderful flavour.
- 2 red onions
- 16 Cumberland sausages
- 1⁄2 bunch of rosemary
- Olive oil
- 100g diced pancetta or smoked bacon
- 2 x 660g jars of cooked white beans, such as haricot, butter, cannellini
- 1 x 190g jar of sundried tomato pesto
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Peel and slice each onion into 12 wedges, then scatter into a large casserole dish along with the sausages. Strip in half the rosemary leaves, drizzle lightly with oil, then toss to coat. Roast in the oven for 20–25 minutes, or until golden and cooked through, tossing occasionally and scattering in the diced pancetta after 10 minutes.
2. Remove the tray from the oven and pour in the beans (juice and all) and pesto. Season with pepper and gently mix to combine.
3. Pop the tray back in the oven and cook for a final 20 minutes, or until golden and bubbling. Pick and toss the remaining rosemary leaves in oil, scattering over the beans for the last 5 minutes. Serve with hot toast and a good dollop of mustard or chilli jam.
Per serving 577 cals, 34.6g fat (10.5g sat fats), 33.8g protein, 31.8g carbs, 5.1g sugars, 2.3g salt, 10.5g fibre
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