Category Archives: breakfast

Oven baked strawberry French toast

oven baked strawberry french toast

When it comes to strawberries, I’m pretty fussy. I grew up in an area where you could pick your own strawberries. In summer. Not all year round. They tasted like strawberries. Sweet, soft and juicy, oozing fruity nectar with each bite. And they smelt like strawberries too. Fragrant and jammy. Now these berries are ubiquitous, in every shop, during every month of the year and they just don’t taste of my childhood anymore. They just don’t taste like strawberries. Or so the story goes until I found some succulent strawberries at the farmer’s market this week, and with much excitement bought more punnets than I sensibly needed. I ate them with cream, in smoothies, Thea ate some, Mark ate some and there was still some left. So I made this. Oven baked strawberry French toast.

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oven baked strawberry french toast

I’ve wanted to try a baked French toast recipe for a while now, thinking that it would make a great communal breakfast centrepiece. And let me tell you. When I invited the girls over to breakfast one day this week. This one did. The roasted seasonal strawberries provided lots of ooos and ahhhs and pauses of appreciation. Plus, it just looked so darn pretty, all yellow and pink, wobbly and crisp all at the same time. Everyone dug in, taking seconds and thirds.

oven baked strawberry french toast

Since becoming a Mama, I reckon breakfast parties are the way to go. For a start instead of the alcohol that you would expect at an evening event, in the morning there’s coffee. Sometimes more essential to a new parent than a glass of wine anyway. Also, babes can come along to breakfast parties, no questions asked, and small people are usually at their best first thing after a night’s sleep. Due to the presence of children, breakfast parties end on time too, as little ones are taken home for naps. A combination of winning factors. And the best thing of all. This oven baked French toast can be made the night before, so all you have to do for the party is put the kettle on.

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Oven baked strawberry french toast

Serves 6

Inspired by recipes from Butter baking and Pioneer Woman 

  • 1/2 loaf stale sourdough bread cut into rough cubes the size of large walnuts (about 4-5 cups bread once cut up)
  • 2 punnets strawberries hulled and halved
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup – optional depending on how sweet the fruit you use is. I didn’t need to use it here, but with for example raspberries, it might be a good idea.
  • 2 cups whole milk

For the crumble topping

  • 50g brown sugar
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g cold butter, cubed
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • pinch sea salt

This is so easy. The night before, put the bread in a baking dish and scatter the strawberries over the top.

Mix the eggs, milk and syrup, if using, together and pour over the bread. Cover and refrigerate.

For the crumble topping, whizz all the ingredients in a food processor until they resemble breadcrumbs and then also store in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, pre heat the oven to 180C. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the bread and cook the oven baked strawberry French toast for about 45 minutes until the crumble topping is browned.

Love seasonal fruit? Then you might like Apricot jam

Home made crumpets in under an hour

I have fond childhood memories of weekend breakfast’s consisting of hot toasted crumpets spread with so much butter and honey that the two would melt and run down through the little holes on the crumpet’s surface and onto the plate below. Let’s be honest. This is the only way to eat toasted crumpets. An occasional treat bought from the supermarket, crumpets are not something that you can easily make at home. Or are they? Seeing a recipe for them in this month’s Gourmet Traveller, I read the list of ingredients. All pantry staples. And the method looked straightforward too. Before I knew it, I’d measured everything out, mixed it all together and crumpet dough was sitting in front of the fire proving. Half an hour later it had doubled in size and I poured mounds of the mixture into a pan and proudly watched as tiny holes formed in the batter. My first batch of home made crumpets.

home made crumpets

Ok. So that’s not the whole story. It took me three attempts to perfect my home made crumpets. After my first fail, I considered writing to Gourmet to tell them that their recipe hadn’t worked. But I had kept the batter in the fridge overnight and tried to make the crumpets the next morning. So I reconsidered. Not one to simply give up, I decided to have a second try and this time make the crumpets without leaving the batter chilling overnight, but cook it straight after it had doubled in size. I didn’t have any egg rings though, so although my second batch of crumpets had the signature divots in their surface, they were quite flat and more like drop scones.

home made crumpets

With two trials under my belt, on the third go, I even impressed myself with the results. Using buttered egg rings to cook the batter in made a huge a difference and my home made crumpets were tall, fluffy and perfectly dimpled.  I flipped a couple over in the pan to brown the tops and immediately spread them with rather a lot of butter and twirlings of sticky honey. Delicious.

home made crumpets

It’s very comforting when someone is able to try something out for you and report back that whatever it was is easy. Straightforward. Uncomplicated. It makes you feel safe and gives you confidence. I am now able to do this and tell you that home made crumpets are easy. That the recipe in the magazine does work. That a non stick pan will make the process a lot easier. That egg rings aren’t vital, but they do make a taller crumpets. That from start to finish, making crumpets will take under and hour. And they freeze beautifully. So go on. Have a go. PS. Thea is under the impression that Vegemite is best on crumpets.

home made crumpets

Home made crumpets

Recipe by Sean McConnell from August 2015 edition of Gourmet Traveller

  • 7g dried yeast
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 30ml warm just above blood temperature water
  • 500g plain flour
  • 3 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 50g butter
  • 800ml milk

Combine the yeast, sugar and water in a bowl and leave to stand in a warm place for 15 minutes.

Combine the flour and bicarb in a large bowl.

Melt the butter in a pot with 200ml of the milk. When the butter has melted, add the remaining 600ml of milk and when the time is up, the yeast mixture.

Add the yeast and milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Now leave this mixture in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until the batter has doubled in size.

Heat a non stick pan over a medium heat and pour the batter into buttered egg rings inside the pan. Cook for about 10 minutes until holes have appeared and the surface of the crumpet is set.

At this point, the crumpets can be stored for future use, either in the fridge or freezer or toasted right away, smothered in butter and honey and enjoyed.

How to make scrambled eggs

It happened at 7.10pm on Friday 26th July 2013. Two years ago today. Under bright lights, in a bustling room, with morphine coursing through my veins and Mark’s cheek pressed hard against mine. I became a mum. Even writing that sentence brings a lump to my throat. It’s a big deal becoming a parent. Your life is no longer your own, as the wellbeing of a tiny human becomes the centre of your universe. And Thea was tiny. 576g. That’s a little over two blocks of butter. As a cook, I always I think of it that way.how to make scrambled eggs

Tears were rolling down my face and my heart was sinking in my chest as Thea entered the world. Momentarily she was revealed to us, delicately cupped in latex covered hands, before being taken to the resuss team. 29 weeks was too early to be born, and at just over a pound she was incredibly small, even for her gestation. Yet, she cried out with reassuring kitten like screams. Mum, dad, I’m ok. I’m itty-bitty, but I’m ok.how to make scrambled eggs

Having a premature baby is an odd experience. Instead of holding my new bundle of joy on my chest, feeling delirious and exhausted, gazing at her with utter love and amazement as I had always imagined I would, I was able to have a fleeting glimpse of her propped on a little nest of carefully arranged turquoise sheets, inside a warm perspex box. Mark had cut her umbilical cord and told me how she had tightly gripped his little finger with all of hers. He had said that she was perfect. Absolutely beautiful. All I could see was a tiny, fragile looking creature whom I didn’t know how to care for. All of my motherly instincts were useless.

how to make scrambled eggs

After a few hours sleep, breakfast arrived on a tray, as it had done for the duration of my stay in hospital, an occurrence I remember now with fondness. Who doesn’t love breakfast in bed. Under a brown plastic cloche were scrambled eggs. A bland, solidified, pale yellow mound, swimming in a little pool of liquid on a white plate. I ate them, but without much gusto. I still wasn’t quite sure how to feel about having become a mother, but I stoically kept my smile in place. Everything would work out for the best. Two days later, I left hospital after my three and a bit week stay, relieved to be going home where I felt safe and away from all the constant monitoring. I was leaving my brand new daughter behind though and all of the careful preparations that I had made for her arrival; washed and folded newborn onesies, cot sheets with little blue clouds, a giraffe painted on the wall overlooking her cot, were redundant. A reminder of her absence. (Yes, I had made all these preparations, even so early on. I was so excited be having a baby and organising was a joy).

how to make scrambled eggs

For 12 weeks until Thea came home, I diligently returned to the hospital every day. To say it was easy would be a lie. I cried, I laughed, I hurt, I got angry, I was impatient and confused. The traffic to and fro drove me crazy. But I wouldn’t change the experience. Not for anything. In fact I’m thankful for it. I had the privilege of meeting Thea early. I was able to watch as her eyelashes and finger and toe nails grew (she was born without any). She reached a kilo in weight and I baked all the nurses a Chez Panisse chocolate cake to celebrate the milestone. She started to fit into tiny clothes that friends and family bought for her. We persevered together to master breastfeeding. Her wires and tubes became less. She became more and more beautiful every day. And she was alive. She wasn’t sick or injured. She was just small and growing, ready to come home. She gave me perspective and strength and a view on life that I would not otherwise have. I am grateful, humble and oh so proud to be her mum.

How to make scrambled eggs

For 2

  • 200ml cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 20g butter
  • pinch sea salt
  • non stick pan
  • silicon spatula

Crack the eggs into a bowl, add the cream and whisk gently to combine.

Melt the butter in a non stick pan over a medium heat. As soon as it’s liquid, add the egg mix and leave it to sit for about 10 seconds.

Using the spatula, go around the outside of the pan moving the egg that has set to the centre and then take the spatula through the centre of the egg mix, making sure to run it against the base of the pan. Do this a few times and then leave the eggs to sit for another 10 seconds, before repeating the process.

Remove the eggs from the heat before they are fully set as they will continue cooking as you portion them on to pieces of hot buttered toast. Season with a pinch of sea salt and enjoy.

If you liked how to make scrambled eggs, you might like this carbonara recipe.

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Gluten free granola in 10 minutes.

gluten free granola

I have a confession to make. Some recipes scare me. A few because I have tried them and failed. Others simply intimidate me with their seemingly complex steps. These types of recipes, I avoid. Jam actually falls under the category of scary recipe, which now seems a funny thing to admit, seeing as the apricot jam I made in my previous post was a great success. Even Grandma Elma, veteran jam maker, who I gave a jar to agreed. Delicious. So with my new found confidence I embarked on a gluten free granola recipe that I had stumbled across a while back. Granola comes under the scary heading. Even though I love eating it, I avoid making it. So many times my efforts have resulted in charred, inedible birdseed, instead of lovely, chunky, toasted clusters of nuts and seeds. Not this recipe. It’s easy. It’s quick. It’s delicious.

gluten free granola

The original recipe is very straightforward, and I managed to make it even simpler by chopping the nuts in the food processor, after I’d made the pineapple paste that all the dry ingredients are mixed with. I swear. From picking up my knife to chop the pineapple, to putting the trays of gluten free granola in the oven took 10 minutes. And an hour later, as my oven is as hot as the inside of a volcano, which is great for cooking meat, but not for baking delicate morsels, the gluten free granola was done. A lovely golden toasted colour, with clusters of crunchy goodness. It was a success! So much so that Thea, who was in my arms when I checked it for the final time, spied it and demanded some then and there. She has recently become very good at demanding and is so persistent that she almost always gains what it is that she wants. This is not something that I was prepared for as a parent, little people being so insistent upon what they want. Still, it’s nice to know that I have one fan of my latest scary recipe conquest.DSC_0312

Another thing that scares me that I’ve been doing more of recently is surfing. I’ve been meeting up with a wonderful group of surfing mums. Being a complete novice, I panic when I’m in the water among experienced and competent surfers. And when I catch a wave I balk. Wide eyed I freeze on my knees as I’m propelled forwards. Thoughts like, should I try to stand. Surely I’m too late to stand. Am I really on this wave. Am I going to hit someone, go through my head. So I bail. Don’t get me wrong. This whole process just described is so much fun. To be out in salt water, fresh air, free, is the best. The feeling of exhilaration when it all comes together is such a rush, the smile on my face hurts it’s so wide. And I guess thats what this post is about. Overcoming fears. Doing the things that you are scared of. Because you never know. You might just succeed. And that feels great.

gluten free granola

Pineapple gluten free granola.

From a recipe by Nom Nom paleo

  • 1 cup cubed fresh pineapple
  • 5 pitted Medjool dates
  • juice and zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tbs vanilla powder
  • 1 tbs ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 cups raw whole almonds
  • 1 cup raw whole cashews
  • 1 cup flaked almonds
  • 3 cups shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes

Place the pineapple, dates, orange juice and zest, vanilla, cinnamon and coconut oil in a food processor and whizz to a paste.

Add the whole almonds and cashews to the processor and pulse three of four times until the nuts are coarsely chopped.

In a separate large bowl, place the flaked almonds, shredded coconut, sunflower seeds and salt and then add the contents of the food processor and mix well.

Spread the pineapple coated nuts and seeds out over two baking paper lined trays and put the trays into an oven pre heated to 100 degrees C.

Bake the gluten free granola for one to two hours, but make sure that every 20 minutes during this time that you toss the granola to make sure that it cooks evenly.

When you feel that it is sufficiently coloured and dry, turn the oven off and leave the gluten free granola to cool inside. When cool, transfer to storage containers with a good seal. Consume within about two weeks.

Love granola. Then you might like to try this savoury granola recipe

Steel cut oats make your life easier.

I am hopeless when it comes to routine. Beyond getting out of bed each morning, for the rest of the day, nothing is ever the same. I could blame this on Thea and the fact that she wakes at different times every morning and I usually always wait until she calls out to me before I get up, to try and capitalise on sleep. I could accuse my job for my irregular attitude to the day, always working for different clients on a range of ever changing culinary tasks. Or I could just take accountability for the fact that I get easily bored and have always stated that I never wanted a nine to five lifestyle. That said though, as a mum, I can now see the  advantage of familiar daily events. And that has become ever clearer since returning from a holiday to Bali.IMG_2303

Don’t get me wrong. The holiday was great. Uninterrupted time spend with the contemporary builder and Thea (who started to crawl and stand up while we were away) was beautiful. But it was also exhausting. Thea just hates sleeping. Or rather, she has never really had much of a routine to be able to recognize that she is supposed to nap. I vowed to myself that on our return, Thea and I would commence a regular daytime pattern, involving set activities, punctuated by sleep. And what better set activities that breakfast, lunch and dinner, just like on our family holiday.

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Now Thea’s breakfast, lunch and dinner at this stage of her life, eight months give or take, is pretty easy. Pureed meat and veggies. Yes, even for breakfast. I have tried banana and yoghurt and eggs for brekkie, as is more the norm, but she won’t have any of it! Chicken is her preferred start to he day. So while she is taken care of in the form of pre prepared frozen cubes of sustenance, my first meal of the day can take a bit longer (I like to have something more nutritious and sustaining than toast or commercial cereal) and when its preparation is hindered by the demands of a small person, I can end up eating at midday. Again, all routine out the window. That is until I discovered steel cut oats. A revelation. I can soak a cup on a Sunday night and I’m set for the week. Just add some milk, blueberries (Thea does like to share these), coconut oil and panela, reheat and my morning meal is ready. However, I do have to wait until after Thea’s first nap before we can go out and get coffee, but one step at a time. At least we are making progress. To be continued…DSC_0253

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Steel cut oats

In the evening, simply combine one part oats to four parts water in a pot. Bring to the boil and then turn off heat. Cover pot and leave to stand overnight.

In the morning, just take the amour that you want from the pot of soaked oats, add more water or milk, fruit, sugar, nuts, whatever you fancy, and reheat.

Refrigerate the remaining soaked oats and repeat the process every morning. Easy!