Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Mrs Muesli Lover and Jones...

Mr Muesli Lover took me to his favourite brunch spot in Dubai. Here's the review he wrote last year, and above are our dishes - sweetcorn fritters, omlette and superb, dense, doughy, sourdough toast and jam...

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Muesli, fields, and feeling blue

Muesli Lover hasn't always been an urbanite. She was once a country mouse, living life cheek by jowl with nature and following the seasons by the colour of the fields. Where once Wiltshire was a canvas of gradually yellowing seas of corn, with the 90s came farming subsidies and a patchwork of blue and yellow - linseed and rapeseed sown side-by-side.

This year the fields are gold again and the only flash of violet comes from a swathe of woodland bluebells in the foreground of a rapeseed field. Sadly that won't last too much longer and the farming landscape will return to a single hue once the bluebell carpets wither.

But the blues aren't lost forever... You can only imagine my joy, when, on venturing out of the Big Smoke I stumbled upon a linseed farm that makes stunning muesli. Sadly the blue fields will have to wait another day, but the stall was comfort enough at the monthly Farnham farmers' market. It was the flaxjacks that drew me in, but the muesli that clinched it.

The flax, lauded for its good omegas and all manner of healing properties, is a wholesome and nutty addition to this fine milled muesli and adds texture where some supermarket brands just taste 'dusty'. I'm eeking out the pack but have already had to start mixing it with an inferior brand to make it stretch... Either that or I'll have to go for the muesli-by-post option, but then with their fruity porridge, gluten-free and quinoa muesli tempting me too, this could end up costing me more than a greedy Sunday morning in a farmers' market.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Recipe: Paprika egg toast with herby mushroom sprinkle


Muesli Lover isn't one for slipping into breakfast malaise, but every now and again it's not such a bad thing to be given a little nudge to get creative. This particular sharpened elbow came from an unlikely source, a bread company that challenged me to use their product in a recipe.

A little promotion for Allinson, and a creative opportunity for Muesli Lover. Everyone's a winner...

The challenge was to use their product, plus herbs, to create a delicious dish (they're offering herb garden kits to people who collect tokens, hence the connection). Being a breakfast blog, ML reckoned on having an edge, but not to be complacent, wanted to think of at least two ways of using the bread in one, easy, healthy recipe.

With chives and thyme bursting out of the herb pot at ML HQ, they were an easy choice, and a natural pairing with breadcrumbs and parsley and with roasted mushrooms, respectively. Eggs are the best bet for a crowd pleaser, being the most satisfying and wholesome breakfast choice, and the paprika addition is a little phase ML is going through after picking up some superb La Chinata Spanish paprika at Brindisa. The remaining challenge was how to make the presentation fun, yet practical... and that's where the cookie cutter came in...

The outcome? Paprika egg toast with herby mushroom sprinkle. 

Ingredients (serves 2)
6 medium-sized chestnut mushrooms
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp olive oil (or a knob of butter)
2 slices of Allinson's wholemeal bread
4 slices of bacon (or 3 tbsp pancetta) (optional)
A few stalks of chives (finely chopped)
A few sprigs of parsley (finely chopped)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Mini plum tomatoes and basil leaves to garnish


Set the oven to about 140 degrees C to use a a warmer.

Lay the mushrooms in a shallow dish and drizzle with olive oil or place a small knob of butter onto each one. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with thyme leaves. Place on a large baking tray with the bacon or pancetta on the other half of the tray. Place under a hot grill for 6-9 minutes until the bacon is cooked and crisp and the mushrooms have softened and darkened. Leave in a warm oven once cooked (or below the still-warm - but switched off - grill if you don't have a separate oven).
Meanwhile, lightly toast two slices of the bread, remove from the toaster and use a cookie cutter to cut a circle in the centre of the pieces of toast. Place the two circles of toast in a food processor or mini-blender and refine to coarse breadcrumbs.

Mix the breadcrumbs with the finely chopped chives and parsley. Fry in a little oil or butter for a few minutes and add the cooked bacon. Place in a warm oven and use the same pan to fry the toast-with-the-hole. You can use Bake-o-Glide or a similar product in the pan to avoid using oil, or use a dash of oil for a fried bread finish.

Place the toast-with-the-hole in the pan, crack an egg into the hole and repeat on the other side of the pan if there's room for your second slice (or do in batches and keep the first one in the oven if not).

Sprinkle a pinch of paprika over the egg. Once the egg has solidified enough on the underside (about 3 minutes on a medium heat hob) turn over the bread-and-egg to cook on the other side. Sprinkle the upturned side with paprika and cook for another 2 minutes or until cooked to your preference (leave the egg a little soft and glossy if you plan to leave it in a warm oven while you cook the second one as it will cook further in the oven).

Once cooked, serve immediately, together with the thyme-grilled mushrooms sprinkled with the breadcrumb, herb and bacon mixture. Use halved cherry tomatoes and basil leaves to garnish if you wish.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Best cafes: Moment, West Hampstead

Right there, right under Muesli Lover's nose, all this time, was yet another West Hampstead brunch supremo, but with a twist... Moment has long been championed by our former neighbours as the best place to head when, owing to the vocal output of a small child, you want coffee while everyone else is still getting their zeds (I'm not sure if I ever said thank you neighbours, for sparing us the alarm call).

We finally made it there this week, and were delighted to find half decent coffee, but more enticingly, world breakfasts - shakshuka, a North African baked eggs dish and an Isreali take on milkshakes (banana and date) and the fry-up (eggs, pitta, cucumber/tomato/olive salad).

The shanshuka, pictured above was served in a shallow dish of pizza proportions and came with toasted fresh pitta and Israeli salad. It was rich, gently spiced and hearty. The other dish pictured is the 'healthy breakfast' option of scrambled eggs (passable), ripe avocado, mozzarella, tomato and toast, a tricolore delight.

Moment, you've had yours, but we will be back... apologies for the tabloid pun.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Eggs Royale at Fortnum & Mason

A gratuitous little smart phone montage here, snapped by Mr Museli Lover of some recent breakfast-time corporate hospitality... Eggs Royale: poached hen eggs with London smoked salmon on toasted English muffin with hollandaise sauce.

Cue exhaltations about a Great British Institution, and a Great British breakfast... well, barring the fry-up (also pictured).

More London breakfast spots