Tag Archives: breakfast

Sicilian lemon cake with coconut, ricotta and polenta

In Sicily, we ate cakes for breakfast! Sometime, our plate looked liked a poem in praise of gluttony: In such a poem all the synonymous of “cake” would have to be used! Eclairs, marbled cakes, profiteroles, biscuits, tart, millefeuille, brioche…

This recipe is for Judy who enjoys cake for breakfast – and anybody looking for an almond-free version of my Sicilian Lemon cake. Here, I have simply replaced the almond with ground coconut and the result is a much more textured cake, a bit similar to a carrot cake, but with the intensely citrussy flavour of the sicilian lemons…

I think it works even better than the almond version: Coconut and lemon being such a winning pairing… It almost makes you glad to be almond-intolerant!

A sicilian breakfast in NOTO

A sicilian breakfast in NOTO

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Delicious sandwiched with lemon cream

Ingredients list:

  • Butter, 50g
  • Sugar, 280g
  • Eggs, 6
  • Fine polenta, 150g
  • Ground coconut, 200g
  • Baking powder, 1 and 1/2 tsp
  • Honey, 2 Tbsp
  • Zest of 5 lemons and juice of one
  • Ricotta, 300g

Pre-heat the oven to 160º.

Beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy and add the eggs one at a time.

Zest each lemon carefully – better to choose organic and unwaxed lemons if you can. Juice one of them and keep the others for a Granita de limone.

Fold all the remaining ingredients and pour into a lined and buttered cake pan.

If you have some lemon extract, you can add a few drops for a more intense lemon taste. Bake for just over an hour at 160 °. It is ready when the middle is still ever so slightly wobbly. The result is a dense and intense cake with a chewy texture. Irresistibly lemony… You can do a sandwich cake if you bake it in two sandwich tins and spread some lemon curd whipped with mascarpone in the middle! Try this for a posh party version!

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Serve cold with yogurt or on its own.

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Yogurt with orange blossom

Last year, I gave you my recipe for a homemade yogurt without yogurt maker. This year, I have perfected it by using my Thermomix and here is the adapted version. Of course, if you don’t have the machine, you can use last year recipe and still produce a lovely, creamy yogurt with just hob and oven. But the 2013 model is just a bit quicker!

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My set but fluffy yogurt…

  • Fresh full fat milk 1L
  • Live unsweetened yogurt 1 pot
  • Powder semi skimmed milk 1 potful (use the empty pot!)
  • Orange blossom water 2 Tbsp

Heat the milk for 20 min. at 80 degrees. Let it cool down to about 40 degrees (or touch warm if you have not got a jam thermometer).

Add the live yogurt, the powdered milk and the orange blossom. Mix 3 min at speed 3.

Re-heat at 37 degrees for 10 min. speed 2.

Transfer the mix into glass or ceramic jars and leave overnight in the oven heated at 40/45 degrees. You will need about 8 jars.

And that is it . You will have creamy, freshly churned yogurt ready for you in the morning! You can adjust the oven time depending on wether you like it more set or more liquid.

I take mine with a sprinkling of fruit and nuts and a dash of agave syrup. This yogurt will keep easily for a few days in the fridge.

Breakfast pancakes

Berrirs or Baghrirs are thick but cloud like pancakes that are consumed in Morocco, with a honey and butter sauce, for breakfast – or for pudding during Ramadan. They have a chewy and supple bite and keep only for 24h, but they rarely last that long.

Al fresco breakfast

Ingredients list:

  • Warmed Water 1l
  • Sel
  • Fresh bakers yeast 2 tsp
  • Milk 2 tbsp
  • Eggs 2
  • Flour 100g
  • Semolina 250g

Heat the water in the Thermomix bowl until touch warm. About 3min at 80 degrees will do.

Put all the ingredients in the mixing bowl of the Thermomix.
Mix at speed 4 or 5 for 4 /5 minutes.
Leave to rise until the mixture thickens and tiny bubbles appear on the surface. 15 minutes to start with.
If the mix is too thin, whisk some more and leave for a few minutes. It should have the appearance of a light custard and create a ribbon when the spoon is dipped in.

Heat a pancake grid or a cast iron plate on the hob and drop ladle-fuls of the batter to form round pancakes, the size of a pudding plate. They cook on one side and lots of bubbles appear on the top side.

Serve warm with some butter melted in honey. I thank Chaibia and Noheed for their kind help in teaching me this family recipe with patience and generosity…

My wild oats and funky seeds flapjacks

To get some healthy snack ready for school pick up is sometimes tricky and the offer of biscuits not always what I want to give my children… These flapjacks make a delicious alternative and they are quick to rustle up – plus they keep very well in a metal box.Ingredients list

  • Rapeseed oil 100ml
  • 50g butter
  • Treacle 1 tbsp
  • Porridge oats 200g
  •  Agave syrup 2 tbsp
  • Muscovado sugar 50g
  • Mix of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts and sesame seeds 150g or there about
  • Handful of dried raisins, apricots or cranberries
  • Golden linseeds, a one tbsp

Sadly, there is still a bit of butter in this new recipe, but only little and without it it seems the flopjacks do not hold and you get crumbs instead of bars in the lunch box…

Melt the butter and oil in a medium pan.

Put all the dry ingredients together 
in a big bowl, then pour in the melted butter and mix while adding the 
agave syrup and the treacle. Use a warm spoon to spoon out the treacle easily: just dip the spoon in boiling water a few seconds and use immediately!
Spread into an oiled tray so that you get 
a depth of about 1 cm. Put in a hot oven at 180〫for about 20min. The edges 
must look brown and crispy before you take it out. Let it cool down 
then cut big squares with the tip of a knife. Enjoy with a cup of tea … 
Blissful!

Nutrition notes:
Oats are very good at lowering your cholesterol and are a superfood, especially for active children. The agave syrup is a healthy option because its low glycemic load means that your glucose
levels won’t shoot up too quickly, so no hunger pangs straight after
and more long term energy. You can replace the seeds with fruit and nuts but some linseeds will be very kind to your colon and help your overall digestion. And it is a good way to get your chicks to eat their seeds! The butter is a bit of a trade-off but children need its vitamin A and fatty acics- in limited quantity…

If you want to know more about healthy eating for children and are looking for an Easter holiday activity for under 14, do contact me. I am soon launching The Healthy Cooking Club for children! Do join in for funky and healthy cooking classes.

This blog is supporting the Restaurants du Coeur and the fantastic work they are doing in France at the moment! Do go and support them at http://www.ensemble-pour-les-restos.fr/, where all the best posts are put together.

>TEA AND BARE NECESSITIES

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On Friday, I spent the morning cooking a full English to a TV crew from a French channel (more on that soon!) and it got me thinking about Englishness and things… What is “English”?

Listening to the radio while cooking later in the day, I caught a young student who was wondering about “What constitutes English culture” and he clearly did not know… He even claimed “English” culture did not exist anymore. As a French woman living in London, I feel there is a strong national identity surrounding me. But how would I define it? So I wondered… and pondered…
…And listed a few things that are Truly English :
A full fry-up early morning in a greasy-spoon caf’
Bunting and cream teas, especially served at a village fete – or a Royal Wedding!
Tolerance and sympathy (preferably given with a cup of tea again)
The Monty Python
The red pillar box above
Upstairs-Downstairs
The class system – And being proud of it, whether you’re working class or upper stock
Public schools (that are anything BUT public)
Contradictions in terms (see above)
Feeling free to add new words to the vocabulary – and not being hung for these neologisms
A kind of stubborn bravery against adversity (as in the Blitz, The IRA Terror years…)
Absurd and charming eccentrics…

I was in John Lewis earlier this week (very English, that) and encountered a man who was putting up with tremendous care and patience little standing labels on multicoloured boxes.
-Could you please, Sir, tell me where I can find bedding and things? I ask.
-Sorry Madam: I am a customer! Says he with a short self-excusing giggle and he still progresses with straightening the small wobbly labels, in his steadfastly manner.
“Very English, I though: A polite refusal of service.”
He could just as well have been a true OCD afflicted customer, of course. Who knows?!..

So back to what constitutes proper “Englishness”… In her funny and well observed book “Watching the English”, Kate Fox tries to give a pretty complete answer in 400 or so pages! My radio caller could have done well to read her but I myself have the answer in three little letters:
TEA.

“Tea-making, writes Ms Fox, is the perfect displacement activity: whenever the English feel awkward or uncomfortable in a social situation (that is, almost all of the time), they make tea. It’s a universal rule: when in doubt, put the kettle on.”

Trying to explain the components of the full English breakfast to the TV crew yesterday, I felt I never quite got to convey properly the delicate nuances and the paramount importance of tea-making in the English culture. Tea is what fortifies and bonds the nation, before you even mention the Queen. Republicans and anti-monarchists – if they exist- would agree with that: Tea is the essence of Englishness. Being of equal importance to a Chelsea supporter, a financier or a builder, it is the drink that suits every possible social occasion and every possible setting. It is “le mot juste” whenever a word is needed and even more apt when none are required. In “The silence of Colonel Bramble”, André Maurois, describes the return from the Front of two new recruits clearly suffering from post-traumatic stress and the Colonel first and only order is to “fix those boys a good cup of tea”!

The English like their tea either the colour and taste of cement with plenty of milk and sugar or a light golden brew with neither. It is the drink of choice with a full English breakfast or with an afternoon tea – two meals the English have mastered to perfection.
These are my own two favorite mealtimes, which is lucky because I live here!

On Sundays, my British husband proudly cooks up the traditional spread best loved by the children: fried eggs, black pudding,  Cumberland sausages, baked beans, roasted mushrooms, eggy bread and bacon rashers… The list is endless and frequently changing depending on our imagination or degree of hunger.

But whatever is prepared is always served with plenty of strong tea and lots of warm … baguette- this is certainly my influence, I confess. All in a spirit of “Entente Cordiale”, bien sur.

So where do you get the best fry-up in London? Obviously, in a “greasy spoon caf’, of which only a few remain around Spitalfields or Bermondsey markets essentially… I have one current favourite and this is where I took my French TV crew to sample a full fry-up: A quaint little number in Hammersmith, Plum cafe on Crisp rd, one of the best places to sample the best meal in Britain with the day’s newspaper.

PS: The pillar-box picture is from a sweet little blog called “Little devil’s adventures”, with thanks.