Portable Breakfasts

This month, Mr W and I spent a few days in Cambridge to celebrate our two year wedding anniversary (the time has flew by). Usually, we would book into a B&B but this time we were room only which meant finding somewhere to eat. Mr W did a little research and found some good reviews for a little cafe tucked away in the centre. Although the breakfast menu was a little limited (only about four options and the closest to a cooked breakfast was toast) Mr W was happy to try it. Boy we were glad. We enjoyed it that much that we went for breakfast again the next day. As Mr W put it, you don’t want to finish a holiday going somewhere new for breakfast and potentially be disappointed when we can go back to somewhere we really enjoyed.

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Mr W decided on the fruit compote, natural yogurt and granola whilst I tried the apple bircher muesli. Although I have made my own takes on bircher at home, I’ve never bought one and was intrigued as to what the consistency was going to be like. I’ve followed recipes where these has been way too much liquid (think an island of oats surrounded by a sea of milk) or quite dry. For me, this one had the moist texture I like when I make it. It was a combination of oats, grated apple, raisins, cinnamon and topped with some fresh fruit. Mr W’s was strawberry compote layered with banana, natural yogurt and topped with a soft, flapjack like granola. I think it was the flapjack granola that sealed the deal for Mr W. For those ever in Cambridge, head to Stickybeaks Cafe (for this breakfast), the Pint Shop (try the homemade scotch egg), the Free Press (quirky little pub), Jack’s Gelato (always room for ice cream) and Meat and Bread (amazing sandwiches and tasty sounding brownies).

When we got home, I made my version of the yogurt and fruit jam jar breakfast. First up I mashed some fresh strawberries with some honey, chia seeds and cinnamon. This was to get a soft compote like texture which still had some structure to it to prevent it seeping into the yogurt. So, I put a layer of the strawberry compote in the bottom of two jam jars , topped this with a layer of sliced banana and then a layer of natural yogurt. I then repeated the layering so that there were two layers of each. I then topped with some Graze strawberry yogurt protein topper. This has a mix of small toasted oats, freeze dried strawberries and crispy yogurt balls. I did the layering the night before and stored in the fridge overnight. In the morning I then added the protein topper so that it still retained it’s crunch. You could always top it with shop bought or homemade granola or use a different fruit for the compote. I can imagine stewed apples would be nice for autumn. My version got the thumbs up from Mr W.

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The serving of the bircher and yogurt pots in jam jars got me thinking that I could make similar things for breakfast to take to work. Recently I seem to be rushing in the morning and don’t get t enjoy my breakfast. My thoughts were that I could prepare the breakfast the night before and divide into two jam jars and that would be two day’s of breakfasts sorted. So, over the last two weeks I have had a portable jam jar breakfast for eight mornings and have tried three different recipes. My favourite (the one I repeated) was one that I found in a Madeline Shaw cookbook that I adapted slightly. When I initially saw it, it reminded me of the one I had in Cambridge. In the recipe, the amount of oats stated is a little too much for me. I also made some slight changes the second time by not adding any honey or maple syrup as I found it sweet enough and adding some raisins to the bottom of each jar. So, the night before I mixed 100g oats with a grated apple, 250ml almond milk, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and some vanilla (I use a vanilla grinder as it gives the flecks of vanilla that I love). Get two jam jars or containers and add a spoonful of raisins to the bottom of each and divide the oat mixture between the two jars and keep in the fridge. The following morning I topped the bircher with some natural yogurt, blueberries and some Graze vanilla sunflower seeds (beware, these are addictive). Although it didn’t look as pretty by the time I transported in to work, it still tasted yummy. I kept the other jar in the fridge for 2 days before eating and it was still fine.

I also made a carrot bircher (another Madeline Shaw recipe) and a layered chia pudding. For me, these recipes still need a bit of tweaking, Although the carrot bircher was okay, the texture seemed a bit sloppy and it needs the addition of some raisins or nuts to give it a carrot cake vibe. The chia pudding wasn’t firm enough and by the time I got to work, the yogurt had mixed together with it. By slicing the strawberries, I seemed to make it more difficult to eat. A compote idea might work better. I have managed to find some other chia pudding recipes which I’m going to try this week. Chocolate and peanut butter…. As we are approaching summer, these jam jar breakfasts are a great replacements for hot porridge. Here’s to more flavour combinations!

French Toast

Last week  was a lovely long weekend for me. Mr W had booked us a weekend away in the Lake District. I took advantage and booked the Friday off work (too many days and not enough time to use them). As Mr W was only off in the afternoon, I decided to treat myself to breakfast out. It did take some persuading from Mr W and my sister to actually get me to go. Plenty of food in the house, the weekend away was going to be full of food treats and the idea of sitting in a cafe on my own eating breakfast scared me. But, there was a new cafe that had recently opened I Prestwich that I did really want to try and when would I get the chance anytime soon? (Forgetting that I have a week off in a few weeks lol). That was me all geared up to go, hoping that I could go again with Mr W if I liked it.

On the way to the tram stop I called in to the shop to get a magazine so that I had something to do over breakfast. I then realised that the trams were cheaper after 9.30 (time check and it was 9.20) so cue long way round to tram stop and waiting with other people at the station for the time to change on the machines. I don’t even know if my fare was any cheaper but it made for a fun wait of commuters against the machine.

This cafe I wanted to try (All The Shapes) had come through on my Instagram feed a few weeks ago and the food looked yummy. A mooch at the menu had me drooling over breakfasts like homemade granola, toasted banana bread and sweetcorn fritters. On the walk over, I started to panic that I would be the only person in there (as it was hidden away off the main street) eating breakfast on my own. Talk about looking like a loner. But I didn’t need to worry, there were a few groups in there. It was only a small cafe and I managed to grab the last available table (okay, it was meant for four people…).20170203_100730

I am very indecisive when it comes to ordering food (Mr W and my family hate it. I sit there having an internal dilemma about it and over analyse all my options. It’s something I need to work on but it’s difficult. As much as I love food, I have an awkward relationship with it 😦 ) So, I asked the waiter what he would recommend which were the green eggs (sourdough, healthy greens, griddled avocado  and fried egg) or the cooked breakfast (filling but not greasy). I really wanted him to recommend the french toast so decided that must be what I wanted. French toast with griddled pineapple, mango and mascarpone. Now, I’ve never been been a big fan of french toast (bad experience of eggy bread growing up) but OMG, this was delicious. Whilst I was waiting for it, I was eyeing up the neighbouring tables green eggs with envy. But then when mine came out, they were envying mine. I was so glad that I went for that option, although now I need to go back with Mr W to try something else. I would never think of making french toast at home, but having tried this, it made me want to give it a go. 

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So, yesterday morning I decided to try a french toast recipe that doesn’t use egg. It’s a recipe from Madeline Shaw that I adapted slightly. Although Mr W likes eggs, he isn’t a fan of dishes like omelette or quiche because of the texture. I was worried that if I gave him eggy bread for breakfast he wouldn’t like it. Madeline’s recipe was a vegan friendly so used a mix of almond milk and chickpea flour instead of egg. It was easy to make and was hit with both me and Mr W. This is how I made it.

Serves 2

180ml skimmed milk

1tsp vanilla essence

2tbsp chickpea flour

1tsp cinnamon

4 thick slices sourdough

1/2 tbsp coconut oil

blueberries and strawberries

Pour the milk and vanilla essence into a baking dish and whisk together. Sieve in the chickpea flour and cinnamon and whisk together. Place the bread in the mixture and soak on each side for 2 minutes.

Whilst the bread was soaking I warmed the blueberries in a pan with a little bit of sugar, water and a teaspoon of cornflour to make a gloopy warm compote.

Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan. Add the soaked bread and cook on each side for two minutes (turning over every one minute). This will give the coating a nice golden colour. Serve two slices of toast per person and top with the blueberry compote and sliced strawberries. Enjoy!

GBBO weeks 3 and 4

So, the third week of this year’s Great British Bake Off was bread week. Now, as I’ve admitted on here before, bread isn’t my strongest baking area. I never seem to get a good rise. But, I had seen in a recipe in one of my Jamie Oliver cookbooks that I’d been wanting to try, so week 3 theme seemed a good time to try. It didn’t fit in with any of the categories (a sweet dough, a steamed bake or contain three flours) but who cares?

The recipe was for a ‘Figgy Banana Bread’ from Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Super Food cookbook. It’s a suggested breakfast idea so we actually had our first try of it before the bake off episode (yum yum yum). The recipe is relatively easy with everything going into a food processor. It also doesn’t contain any yeast so does not need to be proved and can be ready in under an hour and a half. Rather than being a typical bread, it comes out looking more like a cake. I don’t think it helps that it is baked in a cake tin. I found it easier to slice the bread into the recommended number of wedges so you can grab a piece each morning. Jamie suggests serving it with a dollop of nut butter and a dollop of natural yoghurt. I did this and loved the combination of salty peanut butter with the sweet figgy bread.  I sliced my piece of bread in half, topping one with the peanut butter and the other with yoghurt. I also had it with home made strawberry chia jam instead of the peanut butter and it was still yummy. Mr W had his with sliced banana instead of the nut butter so the combinations are endless. I strongly recommend having it with something to make it more into a meal rather than a snack. Although the recipe doesn’t mention anything about freezing the bread, I froze a couple of pieces for about a week and they were just as good as fresh once defrosted. The bread until stays fresh for a few days in a tin and I didn’t want to have to throw away the leftovers (I liked it too much). Below is the recipe taken from Jamie’s book.

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Serves 12

  • 250g dried figs
  • 75ml cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • 125g natural yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 eating apple
  • 50g whole almonds
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Line a 25cm cake tin with a scrunched sheet of wet greaseproof paper. Place 200g of figs in a food processor with the oil, yoghurt, vanilla extract, peeled bananas and eggs then blitz until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, ground almonds, poppy seeds and turmeric and pulse until just combined. Be careful not to overwork the mixture. Coarsely grate the apple and stir into the mixture.
  2. Spoon the mixture into the tin and spread out evenly. Tear over the remaining figs and chop the almonds, scatter over the top of the mixture, pushing them down slightly. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool a little. N.B. I found it difficult to remove from the greaseproof paper. Don’t panic if it sticks, just slowly peel it away.

This is definitely a  recipe I want to bake again. It was slightly indulgent having essentially cake for breakfast but it made a nice change.

Now, GBBO week 4 was batter week with the making of Yorkshire puddings, lace pancakes and churros. The obvious option for something to make was pancakes. This year, I never made the traditional pancakes for Shrove Tuesday so took this week as a chance to do so. Now, what a disappointment. Maybe I’ve gotten too used to having slightly thicker, flavourful breakfast pancakes. These crepe style pancakes were plain, bland and boring. Even the addition of lemon, sugar and ice cream didn’t help matters. Not something I will be repeating anytime soon.

 

 

Apple and cinnamon pancakes

I thought I would try a variation of my single serve pancakes. Rather than use half a mashed banana as an egg substitute, I tried apple sauce. Adding cinnamon seemed an obvious pairing. I also added some sliced apples to the top of each pancake before flipping. They made a lovely alternative to my usual pancakes.

  • 1/4 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • Sliced apples
  1. Mix dry ingredients together in a jug.
  2. Mix wet ingredients in a mug. Adding wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. Grease a frying pan and heat. Pour in batter to make pancake. Top with some sliced apples. When underside browned and bubbles form on surface, carefully flip pancake. Once browned on second side put on plate and cover to keep warm. Make more pancakes until batter used up.
  4. Serve with an optional dollop of natural yoghurt and sprinkling of ground cinnamon.

Overnight Oats

I don’t know if many of you have heard of this quick and easy breakfast solution. It’s great if your short on time in the morning as all the preparation is done the night before. Essentially it’s porridge oats soaked overnight in some form of liquid and then the desired extras added. Once the basics are mastered, the combinations are endless meaning breakfast can get a little more exciting.
It takes a bit of trial and error to get the ratio of liquid to oats right for you. Some recipes suggest an equal amount of liquid (milk or juice) to oats, others throw yoghurt in the mix. Personally, I prefer 1 part oats to 1 part milk to 2 parts plain Greek yoghurt. You can then add any fruit, spices, nuts or seeds. These can be mixed into the bircher and left overnight or added to the mix just before eating. Sometimes when I’m mixing the oats, milk and yoghurt, I will add in a grated apple or mushed banana with a spoonful of chia seeds.
Once you get the right ratio to get a consistency that you like, you can then work on the actual amounts. I found recipes online made way too much for me to eat in the morning. I think oats are quite filling and therefore you only need a small amount. Therefore, my recipe below is what I make for myself. Adjust if you want.
Now, the reason I wanted to blog about overnight oats/bircher pots is because I finally got round to making one that sounds a bit crazy for breakfast (it has veg in it!!) but it tastes amazing. Carrot cake overnight oats.
I found a number of different recipes for this so I took some of the ingredients suggested and made my own. It really does taste like carrot cake. Yummy.
Carrot Cake Overnight Oats – 2 servings
50g porridge oats (not instant)
50ml milk (normal, soya or nut)
125g low fat Greek yoghurt
50g carrot, finely grated
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon raisins
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Sprinkle mixed spice
A few chopped walnuts
1. Mix together the oats, carrot, chia seeds, spices and raisins.
2. Add the milk, yoghurt and vanilla extract and mix together. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
3. Next morning, transfer half into a bowl and top with the walnuts.
This will keep in the fridge for up to three days. Adding the toppings before eating prevents them going soft. These can be heated in the microwave before eating (though I haven’t tried thus yet).
By finely grating the carrot, you can’t notice it texture wise as it is similar to the oats. Also, it’s the spice combination that makes this taste like a carrot cake.
Give it a try. I dare you ☺
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