Eggs, tomatoes, bread, feta, maple syrup, fresh fruit, lemons, my kids, my friends … and coffee. If I were to come up with a top 10 of “things I love”, it would pretty much read like that (note to my children and friends: not in the order listed, I promise). It also happens to act as a checklist for my perfect brunch, when bringing all these things together around one table is, to me, the very best way to start the weekend. I love everything about brunch: its informality, its generational mix and its “anything goes” nature when it comes to what’s being served (so long as there are eggs, tomatoes, bread and feta, of course).
Egg rougaille (pictured top)
Rougaille is a Mauritian Creole sauce that’s often paired with prawns, chicken and frankfurters. My Mauritian colleague Chaya likes hers for breakfast, preferably in a warm, sesame-seed-crusted baguette. Serve this with a big green salad.
Prep 10 min
Cook 30 min
6 large eggs
Salt and pepper
6 tbsp (90ml) olive oil
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped (360g)
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp picked thyme leaves
30g coriander, leaves picked and stalks finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
For the green chilli pickle
1½ tbsp lemon juice
2 green chillies (20g), thinly sliced on an angle
First make the pickle by mixing the lemon juice, sliced chillies and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt in a small bowl, then set aside to pickle gently while you get on with everything else.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with an eighth of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Put a tablespoon of oil in a large saute pan on a medium-high heat and, when hot, pour in half the egg mixture and swirl to coat the base of the pan. Leave to cook undisturbed for about two minutes, until the underside is golden, and the egg is fluffy and has set on top. Using a spoon, break up the eggs into large, 3cm-5cm, chunks and tip out into a bowl. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and repeat with the remaining egg mix, transferring it to the bowl when done.
Return the pan to a medium-high heat, add the remaining four tablespoons of oil and, when hot, add the onions, garlic, thyme and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt and saute, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and golden. Transfer half the onions to a bowl and set aside.Advertisement
Add the chopped coriander stalks and tomato paste to the remaining onions in the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for two minutes, until nicely coloured. Stir in the tinned tomatoes, add a good grind of pepper and cook, stirring from time to time, for about 10 minutes, until the tomato mixture is thick and starting to stick to the bottom of the pan. Pour in 150ml boiling water, stir to combine, then bring up to a simmer. Return the eggs to the pan, then leave to cook for three to five minutes, until the sauce has thickened and been absorbed by the eggs. Off the heat, stir in the coriander leaves then top with the reserved onions and half the chilli pickle.
Serve warm, straight from the pan, with the remaining pickle on the side.
- UK readers: click to buy these ingredients from Ocado
Leek and cheese pita with roasted pepper and tomato dip
Across the Balkans, “pita” is a broad term that covers the family of leaf pastry that is usually layered or rolled with all sorts of fillings; it’s not to be confused with the Middle Eastern pitta bread, and goes by lots of other names, too: borek, spanakopita and so on. These are best served on the day they’re baked, but you can get ahead by making the dip and filling in advance. In the unlikely event that you have any unbaked pita left over, wrap them well, then freeze and bake from frozen (in which case give them a little more baking time). With thanks to Irina Janakievska for the recipe.
Prep 25 min
Prove 1-2 hr
Cook 1 hr 50 min
For the dough
1½ tsp fast-action dried yeast
1½ tsp caster sugar
150ml lukewarm water
250g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
Salt and black pepper
½ tsp olive oil
60g unsalted butter, melted, then cooled to room temperature
1 egg, lightly beaten
For the filling
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 leeks, trimmed, white and light green parts finely chopped (200g net weight)
200g feta, finely crumbled
1⅓-1½ tbsp (5g) finely chopped parsley
For the dip
1-2 plum tomatoes (150g)
1 red romano pepper (100g)
15g shelled walnuts, lightly toasted and finely chopped
1⅓-1½ tbsp (5g) finely chopped parsley
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red-wine vinegar
In a small bowl, mix the yeast, sugar and water, then set aside for five to 10 minutes, until frothy.
Sift the flour and half a teaspoon of salt into the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook in place. Add the yeast mixture and beat on a medium-high speed for eight minutes (scraping down the sides as you go, if need be), until the mix comes together into a smooth, shiny and elastic ball of dough that springs back to the touch. Transfer to a large, well-oiled bowl, cover tightly (I use reusable food wrap) and leave in a warm place to prove for at least an hour, until the dough has doubled in size.Advertisement
Meanwhile, make the dip. Put the tomatoes and pepper on a small oven tray lined with greaseproof paper, then roast for 45 minutes, until blistered and slightly blackened. When cool enough to handle, peel and discard the tomato and pepper skins, pull out and discard the pith and seeds from inside the pepper, then finely chop the flesh of both. Put the pepper and tomato flesh in a small bowl and mix with the walnuts, parsley, oil, vinegar and a good pinch each of salt and pepper.
Now prepare the filling. Heat the oil in a medium saute pan on a medium heat. Add the leek and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and fry, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until soft and jammy but not browned. Transfer to a small bowl, then stir in the feta, parsley and a good grind of black pepper.
Transfer the risen dough to a lightly floured work surface. Divide into seven roughly 55-60g pieces and shape each one into a ball. Using a floured rolling pin, roll five of the balls into 15cm-diameter discs and the other two into larger, 17cm-diameter discs.
Lay one of the two large discs on a lightly floured surface and brush the top with melted butter (you’ll use up about two-thirds of the melted butter while stacking the discs). Stack a smaller disc on top, brush with butter and repeat with the remaining four small discs. Lay the second larger disc on top, but do not butter the top of it. Stretch out the edges of the top and bottom discs, then pinch them together all around, so they encase the smaller discs.
Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Flour the work surface and rolling pin again, then slowly roll out the stack of dough into a roughly 48cm x 32cm rectangle, then cut it lengthways into four strips. Working with one strip at a time, brush the middle of the strip with some of the remaining melted butter, then top evenly with a quarter of the filling. Fold the dough over to encase the filling, then pinch together the seam and both ends to seal. Repeat with the remaining strips.
Gently twist each strip seam side down around itself into a spiral, then tuck the end under to make a swirl. Place the swirls on a large baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, brush the top with the beaten egg and bake for 30 minutes, rotating the tray once halfway, until golden and cooked through. Remove, leave to cool for about 10 minutes, then serve warm or at room temperature with the dip in a bowl on the side.
- UK readers: click to buy these ingredients from Ocado
Grilled pineapple with maple lime dressing and chilli salt
This makes more chilli salt than you need here, but it keeps very well in a small, airtight jar. Sprinkle it liberally on fruit salads or eat with slices of fridge-cold cucumber. If you would like to get ahead, you can grill the pineapple the day before and leave it to marinate overnight.
Prep 15 min
Marinate 30 min+
Cook 10 min
1 large pineapple (1.8kg)
2 limes, 1 juiced, to get 1 tbsp, the other cut into wedges
80ml maple syrup
3 fresh makrut lime leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or the scraped seeds of ¼ vanilla pod)
Coconut yoghurt, to serve (optional)
For the chilli salt
1 tbsp aleppo chilli (or 1½ tsp mild chilli flakes)
1½ tsp flaked sea salt
Put a griddle pan on a high heat. While it’s heating up, cut the crown and tail off the pineapple, then cut off all the skin and cut out all the “eyes”. Cut the pineapple into four lengthways, then cut away and discard the core. You should be left with about 900g pineapple wedges. Cut the four wedges in half lengthways, so you now have eight roughly 2cm-thick wedges.
Grill the pineapple in two batches for about two minutes on each side, until nicely charred, then transfer to a large bowl and add the lime juice.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan on a medium-high heat, gently warm the maple syrup with the lime leaves and vanilla for two minutes. Pour the warm maple syrup mixture over the pineapple in the bowl, mix together gently, then leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the chilli salt by grinding the chilli and salt in a mortar until well combined.
To serve, arrange the pineapple pieces on a large, lipped platter and spoon the syrup and juices from the bowl over the top. Sprinkle with some of the chilli salt and serve with extra chilli salt and coconut yoghurt, if using, in bowls alongside.