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Sunday morning breakfast is my favourite kind of party.  I turn into a pumpkin at about 8 pm, making me useless for evening parties, but a fine warm lazy Sunday, good friends, music, coffee and chai, and I’m happy.

Breakfast parties are easy to cater for too.  Often people bring a treat like fruit or homemade jam or a cake or bread.  I make something savory – a quiche or spinach and feta pie or a tart – and something sweet like pancakes or fruit bread. Fruit salad and yoghurt.  And this time, sourdough croissants.

The Recipe:

Makes about 36 mini croissants.

You need to start the day before the party.

Stage 1 – the basic dough:

Feed your sourdough starter and leave 3 cups of fed starter in a covered bowl on the bench overnight.

In the morning, mix in 1 teaspoon of salt and 1½ cups of bakers flour.

Flour the benchtop well and tip the dough out onto it.  Have another cup of bakers flour ready and knead in as much as you need to create a smooth, springy dough.

Put a good dollop of a mild flavoured oil (I use macadamia oil) in a bowl, swirl the dough around to coat, and leave it covered in a warm spot for the day.

Stage 2: Adding the butter

Croissants have lots of butter. For this size batch, you need about 200 grams of cold butter. It is important that it is cold.  I tried making croissants for Christmas Day breakfast last year, and with so much in and out of the fridge, the butter was soft.  They turned out like biscuits!

Flour the benchtop well and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until it is a big rectangle about 1.5 cm thick. Cover (more or less) half of the dough sheet with thin sheets of cold butter.  My grater has one side that is perfect for grating off wide thin sheets of butter.

Fold the dough over the butter, then cover half the new rectangle with shaved butter too.

Fold the dough over the butter again, and do it one more time.

Fold the dough over the butter again, then roll it out to 1.5 cm thick again.

Now repeat the whole process, shaving butter over half the rectanglfe of dough, folding, more butter, fold, more butter, fold, roll out to 1.5 cm.

Stage 3: Cutting and Rolling

Cut the dough into isosceles triangles – that is, triangles with one short side and two long sides.  Roll them up from the short side towards the point, then curl the two corners back to make the crescent shape.

Put all the croissants on greased baking sheets with a bit of space between them.  I fit 8 on a cookie sheet.  Cover and leave them out on the benchtop overnight to prove.  A cool night is best – you don’t want the butter to melt.  If you are trying to make them in summer, you might have to find space in the fridge.

In the morning they should be plump and smooth.

Stage 4: Baking

Brush with beaten egg and bake in a hot oven for around 15 minutes till they are just golden and crisp.

Serve with lemon curd or chocolate sauce or homemade jam or not-jam or just as they are.

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We picked the first of the new season’s macadamias yesterday. It’s a bit earlier than usual, but the warm wet weather seems to have been bringing them on, and they are starting to drop and be got by the creatures. I don’t mind the creatures getting some of them. Because they are a native to this region, we’ve included seedling trees in all the riparian native plantings.  But we also have some grafted varieties that were planted for human food, and I want some harvest from them! The first of the season nuts are so sweet.

Macadamia and fruit nut butters are one of my favourite recipes. I’ve posted Macadamia and Pear Butter and Turmeric and Mandarin Nut Butter, before, but the idea works with just about any sweet juicy fruit, and  Banana Macadamia Butter is one of the favourites.

Fresh nuts in season, unprocessed and in their shell, are one of the things that don’t seem to get appreciated enough to make it into the weekly fresh food shopping. With my family’s history of heart disease, I really like it that macas work as well as the “clinically proven to lower cholesterol” margarines that taste fake.  Their fats are the “good” kind  and they are also high in protein, fibre,  B vitamins, minerals and and antioxidants. Put it on Oat and Linseed Sourdough, and I feel so virtuous as well as happy.

The Recipe:

Dry roast a good handful of macadamia kernels in a heavy frypan over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, shaking the pan, till they just start to colour.

Tip them into a blender or food processor with a banana. Blend the mixture till smooth. Taste and add a little salt, or honey, or both.

Slather onto your favourite bread, toasted, and eat.

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devil's eggs huevos diablos

I wasn’t going to post until the new year, but my love for patterns got in the way, and it seemed a pity not to make it a clean sweep – a Breakfast Challenge recipe for every week of the year.  And this is one I’ve been waiting all year to get to! It is my partner’s very favourite breakfast, and cooked tomatoes are specially good for blokes – there is good evidence the lycopene in them is strongly protective against prostate cancer – but there’s lots of reasons for women to like them too.

It has been an interesting challenge. We have had a few favourites, recipes that made an appearance several times a week in their season, and variations on the same theme that flowed into another season.

Some version of a lhassi or smoothie, based on yoghurt and whatever fruit is in season has been a recurring theme – I posted Mango Lhassi and Custard Apple and Orange Juice Smoothie, but I skipped the Pawpaw and Strawberry Smootie,  Strawberry Milkshake, Mulberry Smoothie, Banana Smoothie and all the other fruit smoothies.

Some version of oatcakes, based on fruit in season, eggs and rolled oats has also appeared on our breakfast table most weeks of the year. I posted the Mango Oatcakes, and the Banana Oatcakes, but Peach Oatcakes, Blueberry Oatcakes, Apple Oatcakes, and Pear Oatcakes have also been favourites in their season.

Some version of omelette pikelets, with vegetables in season mixed with egg yolks and whipped egg whites are another standard.  I posted Sweet Corn and Capsicum Omelette Pikelets and Spinach and Feta Omelette Pikelets, and Fresh Pea and Mint Omelette Pikelets, but there have also been Broccoli and Lemon Omelette Pikelets and Pumpkin and Cheddar Omelette Pikelets and Zucchini and Feta Omelette Pikelets that haven’t made it onto the recipes yet.

Some version of a breakfast compote made from fresh fruit in season, with yoghurt and an oat-nut-seed topping comes up in our house at least once a week.  Tangelo Breakfast Compote, Apple and Peach Breakfast Compote, Pink Grapefruit Braised with Vanilla and Nuts are examples of the genre.

Nut butter on sourdough toast, made with macadamias and fruit in season was a favourite all the way through from April to August through maca season. I posted Macadamia and Pear Butter and Turmeric and Mandarin Nut Butter, but it felt a bit mean to post the Banana Nut Butter in this year when the bush turkeys ravages on our bananas were nothing compared to the effect cyclone Yasi had on prices.

Citrus curd – lemon curd, mandarin curd, lime curd, orange curd – on toast or pancakes came up much more often in real life than in the blog, but since the technique is the same it didn’t seem worth another recipe.

And of course there were eggs every which way, and a good few of my favourite ten minute vegetable recipes that are good for breakfast but also for a quick easy lunch or dinner. It’s been fun, it has made me a little more creative, a little less likely to just go with a piece of toast, and I hope it has shifted someone just a bit towards the idea that packaged breakfast cereals are a complete waste of everything – money, kilojoules, health, joy, food miles, packaging, water, and even, somewhere way back in the process, a little bit of agricultural land. Life’s too short for bad food!

The Recipe:

(For two.  But this is a good recipe for breakfast for lots of people if you multiply the recipe and use a very big pan, because it doesn’t require too much multitasking to get it all out at once.)

Toast on to cook and a heavy frypan on to heat up with a little olive oil.

Add (in this order):

  • An onion, diced
  • A zucchini, diced (or not – just we’re not allowed to eat anything without zucchini in it this time of year!)
  • A capsicum, sliced thinly
  • Chili to taste, finely diced (not too much – there’s not much to mellow it out in the recipe – I like spice and I only go for one mild-ish chili)
  • Garlic – two or three cloves crushed
  • Half a teaspoon of cumin seeds

Saute for a minute or two until the cumin seeds start to pop, then add tomatoes. If you have cherry or grape tomatoes, just add them whole. If you have Roma or beefsteak tomatoes, roughly chop them.  Cover the bottom of the pan with tomatoes – a good cup or two per person.

Add a little salt and pepper and cook for a minute or two till the tomatoes start to soften, then mash them roughly with a potato masher to release the juice.

Simmer for a couple of minutes, just to get it all hot then turn it down to medium low.

The next bit is easiest with a helper.  If you don’t have one handy, you’ll need to break eggs into cups first. Use an egg flip to make a little hollow in the tomato mix and quickly break an egg into it. Repeat for one or two eggs per person.

Put a lid on the pan and simmer for about three minutes till the whites of the eggs are set but the yolks are still runny.

Serve hot on toast.

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I love stone fruit season.  We’re too far north for the best of it  – I’ve learned that it is futile trying to get decent apricots or cherries this far north. But we get good local peaches and plums from within my “100 mile diet” range, with most of the 100 miles vertical, up onto the Northern Tablelands where there is enough chill factor and less fruit flies.

We do have several very early plum varieties that we can pick early enough to beat the fruit flies.  And we have several seedling peach trees that bear beautifully fragrant peaches with a thickish skin, that protects about half of them from fruit fly.  Trouble is, you don’t know which half until you bite into them.

I’ve tried baiting and bagging and netting with some success, but it’s a lot of work. I remember reading a report years ago where someone was bagging out organic gardening by calculating that a tomato cost something like $10 in resources and labour, and I thought, well you’re just growing the wrong type at the wrong time.  My basic garden philosophy is that if you want a garden that yields quality as well as quantity with a viable amount of time spent overall,  you have to go with your climate and environment. For me, that means virtually effortless mangoes, but peaches that are half for me, half for the chooks.

But, the end result of all that is that, this time of year, I have lots of really nice peaches that need to be cut, and I don’t want to make jam because then I’d just eat it and I really don’t need that much sugar. This is our favourite way to use them.

The Recipe:

Cut the peaches in half and stone them.

Put them, skin side down, on an oven tray. If you have a real sweet tooth you can sprinkle with sugar, but I don’t.

Bake in a very low oven for an hour or two until they are semi-dried, like semi-dried tomatoes.  I put them on the bottom shelf of my (not fan forced) oven while it warms up for bread baking, take them out for half an hour while the oven is hot, then put them back in with the oven turned down very low while it cools down.

Blend the semi-dried peaches in a blender or food processor, adding a (very) little butter, oil, or just or water if needed to get a smooth spread.

It will keep for a few days in the fridge, and I imagine would freeze well, but we eat it fresh, spread thickly on toast.

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It looks like dessert rather than breakfast doesn’t it?

My daughter came home from a sleepover at a friend’s house when she was little, with a very exciting story to tell.  They had apple pie and custard, for dinner, first! And apparently they did it often in her friend’s house and why couldn’t we have just dessert for dinner?

Once I established the details, I thought, why not?  It was home-made real apple pie with wholemeal crust, with real egg custard.  A perfectly balanced nutritious dinner.

We don’t often have dessert for dinner, but I quite like dessert for breakfast.  Real egg custard is sooooo easy, I really don’t get custard powder. Eggs are also a superfood, high in protein, B12 and choline, which is brain food.

The Recipe:

There are lots of methods for custard.  This is my super simple, working morning fast method.

For one – multipy by the number of serves.

  • Put ¾ cup of milk  in a pot with one teaspoon of sugar and half a teaspoon of (real) vanilla essence.  Low fat milk works fine, as does soy milk or oat milk, and I like to substitute treacle for sugar, though it does make the custard a dark colour.
  • Heat till it is very hot, just before it starts to rise.
  • While it is heating, blend together one medium egg and a good teaspoon of cornflour (or corn starch in USA).  I use a stick blender, but you can use a blender, food processor, or an egg beater (though the latter means you need a helper for the next bit).
  • With the blender going, pour the hot milk into the egg.
  • Tip the mixture back into the pot and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for literally one minute until it thickens.
That’s it.  Now why on earth would you use custard powder?
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(The Breakfast Cereal Challenge is my 2011 challenge – a year’s worth of breakfast recipes based on in-season ingredients, that are quick and easy enough to be a real option for weekdays, and that are preferable, in nutrition, ethics, and taste,  to the overpackaged, overpriced, mostly empty packets of junk food marketed as “cereal” .The Muesli Bar Challenge was my 2010 Challenge.)
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This one is cheating really.  It’s not a new recipe at all. It’s just Broad Beans on Toast blended. We are still picking lots of broad beans but it is getting towards the end of the season, and there’s been six weeks now when, if I ask  “what would you like for breakfast?” the answer is inevitably, unequivocally, eagerly “broad beans”.

They are my partner’s very favourite breakfast, which creates a problem.  I can’t get past the flavour combination of fresh broad beans (fava beans) with lemon, garlic, onion and olive oil.  And he can’t get past broad beans.  How many ways can you do broad beans with lemon, garlic, onion and olive oil? This way makes an appearance a couple of times a week.

Broad beans are a good source of low GI complex carbs, protein, and fibre, which means that they keep your blood sugar stable for a long time, so quite apart from the  l-dopa, a broad bean breakfast makes you feel good all day.

The Recipe:

Makes enough for two breakfast bowls.

It’s fastest in a pressure cooker, but a pot with a tight lid is fine.

Saute an onion, diced, in a good swig of olive oil.  When the onion is starting to brown, add

  • two (or more) cloves of garlic, crushed,
  • a cup of shelled broad beans, (I don’t double-peel – too finicky for me, and the fibre in the outer bean is the bit that’s really good for you).
  • a cup of water,
  • juice of half a lemon
  • a grinding of black pepper
  • and a good pinch of salt

Bring to pressure and pressure cook for 5 minutes, or put the lid on and simmer for 10 minutes watching it at the end.  You want the beans to be very soft in just a little liquid.

While it is cooking, make some toast and cut into dipping fingers.

Tip the broad beans into a blender, or use a stick blender to blend to a thick dip consistency. Taste and adjust the salt and lemon juice.

Serve with soldiers for dipping for breakfast or for supper, or, they also work well like this as a side dish with meat (reminiscent of mushy peas), or cold as a dip or spread.

[relatedPosts]

(The Breakfast Cereal Challenge is my 2011 challenge – a year’s worth of breakfast recipes based on in-season ingredients, that are quick and easy enough to be a real option for weekdays, and that are preferable, in nutrition, ethics, and taste,  to the overpackaged, overpriced, mostly empty packets of junk food marketed as “cereal” .The Muesli Bar Challenge was my 2010 Challenge.)

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We picked the first of the season’s paw paws this morning (papaya in USA).  And Brian brought me a bucket of mulberries from their magnificent tree – the earliest around.  After months of citrus and custard apples, the berry season is here!

You don’t get to enjoy mulberries unless you have a tree (or know someone like Brian, or can find an unharvested neighbourhood tree) – one of the many fantastic foods that have never made it into our commercialised system only because they are too soft to transport and store.  Mulberries are  hugely healthy – most foods with that deep colour are rich sources of anti-oxidants, and mulberries are also a really good source of iron along with a batch of other vitamins and  minerals.

The best way to eat mulberries is to be ten years old and sitting up in the fork of the tree,  near naked to save clothes from stains, maybe with some other kids to chat with or maybe just with your thoughts, selecting the fattest purple berries to go directly from tree to mouth.  Failing that though, paw paw, strawberry, mulberry and citrus fruit salad is one of those made-in-heaven combinations.  With home made yoghurt and oat nut crumble….

Oat Nut Crumble

Get all the ingredients assembled before you start.  This cooks really quickly and is easy to burn.

Put a heavy bottomed fry pan on over a medium-high heat.

Add just 1 teaspoon honey and 1 teaspoon macadamia oil, then, as soon as they are warm and mixed,

  • 2 dessertspoons rolled oats
  • 3 dessertspoons seeds and nuts – I used one each of pepitas, sunflower seeds, and macadamias.

Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes until they brown and the seeds start popping.

Best fresh made, and it only takes a minute.

(The Breakfast Cereal Challenge is my 2011 challenge – a year’s worth of breakfast recipes based on in-season ingredients, that are quick and easy enough to be a real option for weekdays, and that are preferable, in nutrition, ethics, and taste,  to the overpackaged, overpriced, mostly empty packets of junk food marketed as “cereal” .The Muesli Bar Challenge was my 2010 Challenge.)

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I picked the first broad beans of the season this morning, and I cannot remember why I ever thought broad beans boring.  There was a time though, when I grew them just because they were so healthy and treated them as a filler.   Maybe I’ve just become a better cook? But we fought over the last piece of this sourdough toast with broad beans and herby labne this morning.

Broad beans are a super food.  They share all the good stuff in legumes in general –  low GI and good source of protein, fibre, several vitamins, potassium and iron. Their special claim to fame though is that they contain lots of l- dopa, a precursor to dopamine. There’s lots of research around about broad beans for Parkinson’s and some about broad beans for depression and anxiety, but at the least, they make you feel good.

(The Breakfast Cereal Challenge is my 2011 challenge – a year’s worth of breakfast recipes based on in-season ingredients, that are quick and easy enough to be a real option for weekdays, and that are preferable, in nutrition, ethics, and taste,  to the overpackaged, overpriced, mostly empty packets of junk food marketed as “cereal” .The Muesli Bar Challenge was my 2010 Challenge.)

The Recipe:

Makes enough for three slices of toast (which is why we fought over the third!)

It’s fastest in a pressure cooker, but a pot with a tight lid is fine.

Saute a small onion, diced, in a good swig of olive oil (don’t be stingy with the oil – there’s no fat anywhere else in the recipe.)

When the onion is starting to brown, add

  • two cloves of garlic, crushed,
  • half a cup of shelled broad beans,
  • half a cup of water,
  • a grinding of black pepper
  • and a good pinch of salt

Bring to pressure and pressure cook for just 4 minutes, or put the lid on and simmer for 10 minutes watching it at the end.

Squeeze in the juice of ¼ lemon and simmer for another couple of minutes to reduce till there is barely any liquid left. Taste and adjust salt and lemon juice to taste.

While the broad beans are cooking, blend together

  • ¼ cup labne, quark or fromage frais (or any kind of low fat yoghurt cheese)
  • a few leaves of chives
  • scant teaspoon fresh thyme
  • scant teaspoon lemon rind
  • pinch of salt

Spread the herby cream cheese spread on toast (I used my homemade megagrain sourdough) and then the broad beans on top.

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It’s not fair.

My partner went to the doctor for a minor thing, and because he is a male of a certain age who almost never goes to the doctor, and because she is good and thorough, he came away with a blood test.

Which gave him a clean bill of health and very good cholesterol levels.

This week I had a blood test but (and he’s still gloating about it) mine came back with high cholesterol.  The good news is that it was high for both kinds, good and bad, and higher for the good than the bad.  But still, coming from a family with a history of heart disease, I’d rather it was lower.  Here’s hoping our kids inherited his cholesterol genes.

So I have a newfound enthusiasm for oats for breakfast.

Oats are a super food, full of a soluble fibre that lowers bad cholesterol and keeps blood sugar stable. They also have lots of  B vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. I use oats in bread and baking, but I’ve only had one porridge recipe in the Breakfast Challenge series because I find porridge a bit bland without lots of sweetener which undoes some of the benefits.

I actually like my oats better savory than sweet, and in a pressure cooker, steel cut oats will cook quickly enough to be a good option. Steel cut oats are whole oats just chopped a bit.  They look like this.  They are available in supermarkets and health food shops. This recipe looks more complicated than it is.  It comes together within about 15 multitasking minutes.

The Recipe:

(For a single serve – multipy by the number of people)

  • In a pressure cooker or saucepan, sauté half an onion, finely diced, in a little olive oil.
  • Add a bit of diced carrot and keep sautéing.
  • Use a garlic crusher or a grater to crush in a clove of garlic, a little knob of ginger and a little knob of fresh turmeric (or a pinch of turmeric powder).
  • Add a third of a cup of steel cut oats and two cups of water.
  • Put the lid on the pressure cooker. bring to pressure and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Or put a lid on the saucepan and simmer for around 30 minutes.
  • While it is cooking, dice about two thirds of a cup of other vegetables.  I used peas, snow peas, and broccoli.
  • Release the pressure, stir, add the vegetables and a little dash of soy sauce, tamari or miso. Put the lid back on and cook for just a minute or so longer.
  • Serve into a bowl and add more soy to taste.

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