Recipe #14: Paddy’s Rancheros

I’ve always admired the way that bachelormen, or indeed most men in a situation not overseen by a woman, are able to streamline their eating habits. For instance, Warren Buffet stops at a McDonalds Drive Thru for his breakfast every morning. He bases his choice of a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit ($3.17) or a sausage McMuffin with egg and cheese ($2.95) on how the market’s doing that day. I know another, arguably healthier (although probably not wealthier) man who eats two Weetbix for breakfast every single morning of his life. He doesn’t bother with another option. Ever.

In contrast, not only do I never know what I’m going to have for breakfast, but I seldom remember to eat it before noon. This makes it difficult to decide whether to eat something breakfast-like, or to admit defeat and try to work out what to eat for lunch instead. The overwhelming concatenation of decision-making usually causes me to abandon all feeding efforts until around 4pm, when my stomach starts sending polite memos that it doesn’t care which meal is served, as long as it is served soon.

Which all goes to explain why I’m so enormously grateful to my friend Paddy, the clever bachelorman who gave me this recipe. Because you can serve beans rancheros as breakfast, lunch, or dinner – no matter what time you get around to eating them. And, with the unfortunate exception of the bread, the ingredients are all things you can keep in your fridge, freezer and pantry for several weeks. As long as you remember to keep a few basics in stock, Paddy’s Rancheros will always have your back.

There are two more very good reasons this meal has become my bachelorwoman go-to: it’s super easy to make, and it’s ridiculously tasty. Maybe too tasty, actually. Because, according to Paddy, you’re not really supposed to be able to eat the entire pan by yourself in one sitting. But then, he probably eats breakfast.


  • 1 packet chopped bacon bits (250g)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 or 2 cloves of fresh garlic
  • A gurgle of olive oil
  • 1 tin of red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 tin of tomatoes (I like chopped, Paddy prefers whole)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp smoked (or normal) chilli flakes (depending on how hot you want it)
  • 1 tsp smoked (or normal) paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 or 3 eggs
  • A couple of large handfuls of grated cheese (mature white cheddar is a good choice)
  • A loaf of Pugliese bread from The Real Bread Company in Muizenberg – The Official Bread of Paddy’s Rancheros
  • Some butter

What to do

  • Chop your onion and garlic and chuck them in an oven-proof stainless steel frying pan with the olive oil and bacon bits. (By oven proof, I mean don’t use one with a plastic handle as it might melt later.)
  • Fry the bacon, onion and garlic for a bit until they’re not raw.
  • Dump all the other ingredients in the pan, except for the eggs and cheese, and then simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and your stomach sends memos marked ‘URGENT’.
  • Turn your oven to 180 Celsius (360 for you Fahrenheit Freaks) and let it heat up, then crack the eggs on top of the bean mixture and sprinkle the cheese over it all.
  • Put the whole pan in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese is bubbling nicely. Remove the pan from the oven. Use oven gloves.
  • Toast a couple of slices of your Pugliese bread, butter it, and put it on a plate topped with a wodge of rancheros.
  • Try not to eat entire pan of rancheros in one sitting. It may help to invite a friend over.

Time taken

About 15 minutes of active preparation, plus a respectable amount of time for simmering – say 30 minutes. Total, around 45 minutes.

Dishes dirtied

  • 1 frying pang*
  • 1 knife
  • 1 chopping bored*
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • 1 cheese greater*
  • 1 tin opener

*Not typos. Me pretending to be an Ethiopian menu.


Recipe #12: Totally sugar-free alcoholic oats

A weird, but truly wonderful feature of living the Western world is that we like to eat pudding first thing in the morning. This is in contrast to the east, where a nice basket of dim sum or a large bowl of rice is considered the correct way to start your day. On the Continent, there’s no pretence that breakfast is anything but last night’s slightly-delayed dessert course:

Can anyone say 'boterham met hagelslag'?  I can NOT wait to get to Amsterdam so I can nosh this for breakfast every day!

Can anyone say ‘boterham met hagelslag’? I can NOT wait to get to Amsterdam so I can nosh this for breakfast every day again!

But for some reason, less civilised nations prefer to kid themselves that breakfast is somehow supposed to be healthy:

Mmmmm, squirrel poo with fruit. Yum yum.

I think the bran farmers heard about hagelslag and totally loved the whole ‘brown sprinkly things for breakfast’ concept, but ended up making squirrel poo instead. Which is quite appropriate, when you think about it. (Sorry.)

Worst of all, it’s considered démodé to include alcohol in any meal served earlier than, say, tennish.

Because of this, I’ve been avoiding breakfast for several months, as anything that remotely resembles good behaviour is anathema to me. And then I remembered whiskey oats.

Many years ago, in the snowy mountains of Lesotho, I was introduced to the proper way to prepare oats: cooked in milk, with a small pat of butter and a large dollop of whiskey (added after cooking obviously. You don’t want to destroy the alcohol.)

I thought I’d add a few extra items to this brilliant basic recipe today – mainly because I decided to bake some fancy bread several months ago and the ingredients have been clogging up my cupboard ever since.


(Listed in order of chucking into bowl)
  • 1/2 cup of Jungle Oats. These were originally bought for my hamster Mervyn, but since my cat Hunter got hold of him, eating the oats is up to me.
  • Pinch of salt. I use that pink stuff, because I’m posh like that, and also I eat so much salt that I need to tell myself that it’s healthy salt. (Although I do worry that if we all use pink salt, Mt Everest will shrink. But then again, that would make it easier to climb. Not that I was thinking of climbing it.)
  • A handful of dried cranberries. You could use raisins, but that would be a bit economy class.
  • Some warmish water from the kettle that’s left over from making your coffee. Use just enough to cover the oats. Don’t go crazy with that water – it’s tasteless and has no nutritional value.
  • Some milk. Not low fat. (I mean, what is the point?)
  • A banana. If you’re lucky, you’ll have bought a bunch of bananas, kept them in the fridge until their skins are black and hideous looking, and then discovered they’re at the perfect mushiness to mash. With your fingers, if you’re channeling your inner child. If you’ve just got normal bananas, slice one. This would be the perfect opportunity to use your banana slicer, if you have one.
  • A little pat of butter. This is optional. If you already put butter in your coffee, as I do, butter in your porridge too might be overkill.
  • Some pecan nuts. Or walnuts. I don’t care. Just not peanuts, okay? (Pistachios are probably not going to work either.)
  • Some whiskey. With an e, because you should obviously use Jammies, seeing as you’re still in yours. Don’t you dare use a single malt. I don’t care how extravagant you’re feeling, that stuff is not made for you to put in your porridge.
  • The teensiest half teaspoon of honey, for its miraculous anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-cancer, anti-minnesotan-dentist properties.

What to do

  • Put oats in bowl. Put salt in bowl. Put dried cranberries in bowl. Put water in bowl. Put bowl in microwave.
  • Microwave for a minute(ish) until water is no longer watery.
  • Put enough milk in bowl to get oats to loosen up.
  • Put bowl back in microwave until milk is no longer milky.
  • Add mushed up (or sliced) banana and a bit more milk.
  • Put bowl back in microwave until you think the banana has warmed up. Cool bananas are not what we want here.
  • Sprinkle with pecan nuts, honey and a dollop of whiskey. Stir and serve.
  • Congratulate yourself on incorporating alcohol into your morning meal, while simultaneously avoiding anything that could be labelled sugar.
Seriously people, it's a frikkin bowl of oats with some nuts on top. You don't need a picture to work out what that looks like.

Seriously people, it’s a frikkin bowl of oats with some nuts on top. You don’t need a picture to work out what that looks like.

Time taken

  • Approximately 3 minutes 47 seconds. Includes rummaging in cupboard for cranberries.

Dishes dirtied

  • One bowl
  • One spoon
  • One banana slicer – optional. (I don’t use one myself, as it’s had mixed reviews, although I might buy one if I get another hamster. I’ve included some reviews, to help you decide for yourself.)

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 2.48.31 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-06 at 2.49.00 PM

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The Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer. It's a decision you have to make for yourself.

The Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer. It’s a decision you have to make for yourself.


Recipe #5: The World’s Fluffiest Omelette

This is no ordinary omelette.

This is no ordinary omelette. This is the Hamley’s teddy bear of omelettes.

Today I’m going to do something I would never ordinarily do. I’m going to complicate a recipe – but just a little bit, and only because the reward is totally worth it.

Have you ever wanted to be known as ‘The Best Something-or-Otherer’? As in, ‘Oh, Alison? Why, yes, she’s the world’s best drunken night-time rollerblader!’ (I believe I was, once, a long time ago.) Well, here is your chance to become known by anyone you come into breakfast-time contact with as the World’s Best and Fluffiest Omelette Maker. From now on, ex-boyfriends (and/or girlfriends) will sigh mournfully over their stodgy eggs and remember the golden, happy days when you served them this…




  • 2 eggs
  • Splash of milk/cream/sour cream
  • Knob of butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Half a tomato
  • A handful of excellent vintage cheddar, grated (Remember – NEVER skimp on cheese!)
  • Some chopped parsley or chives

What to do

There is a slightly tricky skill you’re going to need to achieve World Omelette Domination. You need to be able to separate eggs.

Until recently, I was absolutely convinced that if I got so much as a molecule of egg yellow into my egg white when separating them, the game was up and I would have to start all over again. This resulted in a large number of eggs being scrambled instead of meringued. But fear not! When I told this to a friend recently, she poo-pooed me so vigorously (and Google-proved it to boot) that I actually tested it today (accidentally). I am happy to inform you that egg whites do still beat into proper peaks, even with bits of yellow in them.

So, let’s get started!

  • Turn a plate on your stove to medium and turn on your oven’s grill.
  • Separate your eggs, and don’t despair if you get some yellow in the whites. Beat the whites until they form fairly stiff peaks (secret strategy no. 1) and then add the yolks and some milk, cream or sour cream.


  • Heat a small frying pan with the knob of butter in it. You want it to be medium hot before you put the egg mixture in.
  • Wait a couple of minutes and then very, very gently, sprinkle the cheese, parsley/chives and tomatos on top of the eggy mousse in the frying pan.


  • When the underneath is golden brown (lift it up and peek underneath to check) put the pan under the grill (secret strategy no. 2) so that the top gets a little bit cooked too. (Remember not to put the pan handle in the oven, and use an oven glove to take the pan out again.)


  • Carefully flip one half over with the egg lifter and slide onto a plate.
  • Pause for audience applause.

Time needed

  • Normal omelette: 10 minutes
  • World’s Fluffiest Omelette: 15 minutes

Dishes dirtied

  • 1 chopping board
  • 1 knife
  • 1 frying pan
  • 1 egg lifter
  • 1 bowl
  • Another bowl*
  • A beater*

*Not required for Ordinary Omelettes

To sum up: 5 extra minutes and 2 extra things to wash up. That’s all it takes to become World Omelette Champion!

Wine pairing suggestion

Backsberg Brut MCC


Unlike scones, omelettes are a manly breakfast, even when they are soft and fluffy. No pink bubbles for this then! The creamy, smooth mousse of the Backsberg MCC will be as frothy as your amazing omelette.