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 again!
But for some reason, less civilised nations prefer to kid themselves that breakfast is somehow supposed to be healthy:
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.
- Approximately 3 minutes 47 seconds. Includes rummaging in cupboard for cranberries.
- 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.)
The Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer. It’s a decision you have to make for yourself.
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.
- Normal omelette: 10 minutes
- World’s Fluffiest Omelette: 15 minutes
- 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.
One of my favourite places in the world is a little town two hours north-east of Cape Town called Montagu. It’s the sort of place you want to retire to immediately, even if you are not yet 40.
One of my favourite things about Montagu is waking up on a sunny Sunday and walking to the Montagu Country Hotel for breakfast. The highlight of the Montagu Country Hotel breakfast is the scones. Golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside; light, soft and fluffy on the inside. It didn’t matter how much I tried to resist, I always ate two and always thought longingly about eating a third.
It took me a while to summon the gumption to ask for the recipe but, with a thick spreading of flattery, the cook was persuaded to write down five ingredients on a scrap of paper:
- 500 ml buttermilk
- 1kg self raising flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- a pinch of salt
No instructions were provided, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out…
What to do
- Preheat the oven to 200 C.
- Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until they form a nice soft dough.
- Sprinkle some flour on a baking tray and press the dough out into a 5cm thick sheet. Cut into rounds using a mug or glass. (I do this on the baking tray to save cleaning up but you can do it on a floured counter top too.)
- Paint with buttermilk, milk or the egg white still left in the egg shells. (Use your finger if you don’t have a basting brush.)
- Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden on top. If you’re in doubt whether they’re ready, just break one in half to check.
- Serve hot with butter (not margarine. I will disown you if you use margarine on scones!), your favourite jam and – if you have it – double thick cream.
Since this is a hotel recipe, it makes about 5 million scones, so when I make this, I usually halve the quantities unless there are ravenous hordes in residence. Buttermilk comes in 500ml bottles, but it keeps practically forever, so you can stash the other half of the bottle in the fridge until the next time the scone urge hits.
Wine pairing suggestion
Du Preez Estate Maranda Cape Classique Rosé NV
Aha! You thought scones don’t go with wine? Anything goes with this stuff – and what is Sunday brunch without bubbly, after all?
- 10 minutes preparation
- 15 minutes baking
- 1 bowl
- 1 baking tray
- 1 wooden spoon
- 1 glass/mug