A Fortnight of Joy: 14 days, 14 Breakfasts!

I have fantisised for years about what would happen if I actually made lovely homemade breakfasts.  But I just carried on miserably munching my way through dull bowls of weetabix and porridge.  And then FINALLY, I committed.  For two weeks I would cook a different breakfast every day and just see how I got on.

To my surprise it’s been delightful, fun and rewarding. And bloody delicious! My morning tastebuds don’t know what’s hit them. And probably the funnest thing is how excited people have been on my social media channels.  It’s seems to have really struck a chord with people – some have threatened to defriend/unfollow me for making them hungry, others have sent me pictures of their breakfasts or offered me suggestions as to what to cook next.  Whenever I posted my brekkie photos on instagram in the morning I’d be excited to see the likes and comments come flooding in.

Every single breakfast has been tasty and relatively easy.  I expected at least one fail, but they’ve all been winners.  Luckily I’m a freelancer so weekday brekkies taking half an hour to prepare hasn’t been a problem – so most of these recipes you might want to save for the weekend.

Favourites

  1. Sweet potato, black bean and avocado burrito, Simply, Nigella Lawson. Our absolute favourite – bascially mexican dinner for breakfast – full of spice and flavour and kept me full for hours.
  2. Spiced baked eggs, Rachel Allen, Easy Meals.  Beautifully simple and easy – bung eggs in ramekins with spices and a blob of creme fraiche and bake for 12 minutes.  Superb.
  3. Banana pancakes and berry compote, Delicious Magazine.  Another easy one – blend batter ingredients (rolled oats, bananas, eggs) and fry your pancakes, serve with compote (heated up frozen berries). We loved this and it was so filling.
  4. Bellinis, salmon, creme fraiche and chives, Great British Dinners, James Martin. This was a light and fresh way to start a saturday.  You make bellini batter with 5 egg whites beaten to stiffness, so as you can imagine the bellinis are wonderfully airy.
  5. Rice porridge and caramalised bananas, Every Day, Bill Grainger.  This is effectively a sweet risotto – it did require 30 minutes of stirring, but it was well worth the wait, creamy and satisfying.

If you’d like to make spiced baked eggs why don’t you check out my YouTube video?

Also Very Goods

  1. Raspberry and lemon muffins, Domestic Goddess, Nigella Lawson. Tart, sweet and yummy.
  2. Sweet potato, chilli, cheese and seed muffins, Everyday Super Food, Jamie Oliver.  Lots of different flavours going on here and I loved how super healthy they were.
  3. Raspberry and pistachio trifle, Glorious British Grub, The Fabulous Baker Brothers.  This was a tremendous looking dish as you layer up raspberry compote, granola and greek yoghurt and top with chopped up pistachios. Gorgeous!
  4. Baked eggs in popped beans, cherry tomatoes and ricotta on toast, Everyday Super Food, Jamie Oliver.  You fry up fennel seeds and cannellini beans and chuck in cherry tomatoes macerated with basil and lemon then finally throw in an egg to bake at the end.  The lemony, basily tomatoes are sensational and the fennel seeds give it a lovely taste.
  5. Apple and cinnamon muffins, Kitchen, Nigella Lawson. Appley autumnal deliciousness.
  6. Tahini and tomato on toast, Every Day, Bill Grainger.  Very lazy and wholesome.
  7. Wholemeal and sesame scones, Rachel Allen, Easy Meals.  Really nice – there’s treacle and sesame seeds in the batter which give the scones an interesting flavour.
  8. Thin omlette rolls with cottage cheese and apple, The Green Kitchen, David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl.  A sweet cinnamony apple filling to the omlette wrap is an interesting concept and I liked it.
  9. Sweet potato hash, egg and pancetta, Perfect Plates, John Whaites.  A divine and decadent breakfast
    Breakfast 2
    Apple and cinnamon muffins, sweet potato, chilli, cheese and seed muffins, rice porridge and caramelised bananas, raspberry trifle
    Breakfast 3
    Baked eggs in popped beans, cherry tomatoes and ricotta on toast, banana pancakes and berry compote, raspberry and lemon muffins, spiced baked eggs
    Breakfast 4
    Wholemeal and sesame scones, sweet potato, black bean and avocado burrito, tahini and tomato on toast, bellinis, salmon, creme fraiche and chives
    Breakfast 5
    Thin omlette rolls with apple and cottage cheese
    breakfast 6
    Sweet potato hash, egg and pancetta

    The breakfast blog challenge has been a gift. Starting each day with a tasty exciting breakfast has made my mornings very colourful. I’ve adored doing it and I intend to incorporate new breakfasts into my routine far more regularly now (just not every day).  Does anyone out there fancy setting themselves a breakfast challenge?  How about a Saturday and Sunday breakfast challenge? Send me the pictures if you do.

It’s damn well bloody over! 69-er is COMPLETE.

And it ends with mixed feelings (and an expanded waistline!).  I’m sorry that there’s no longer going to be anything pushing us out of our comfort zone of routine dinners.  That there won’t be anything that motivates me to whip up a cake or some scones after dinner when I normally couldn’t be arsed.  That it may not occur to me any more to sling together a casual salad or soup for a saturday lunch instead of a sandwich.  However I am relieved that I stand a chance now to lose the weight I’ve put on in the last 9 weeks.  And that I can do other things in life other than cook and pick recipes!

So what have been the wins?

Engaging with cookbooks I normally can’t be bothered to open has been a wonderful discovery.  Who’d have thought that cookbooks without photos actually work?  I love a visual demonstration of a dish to inspire me but a number of my cookbooks didn’t help me out with that. And guess what? The food tasted just as good without the photo.

If a cookbook is old it doesn’t stop it from being excellent – Jamie Oliver’s Naked Chef (1999) helped me to make the best beer bread in the world and Nigella’s How To Eat (1998) provided the recipe to an exquisite mushroom ragu.

Even if I don’t particularly like a chef on tv (Rick Stein – I find him very whingey) doesn’t mean that they can’t write an amazing cookery book. I was literally blown away by Rick’s creamy leak cannelloni.

It’s forced me to try different sorts of cooking – I often avoid my Asian/Indian/Chinese cookbooks because the ingredients can be difficult to source.  But we managed and the dishes were a joy.

Conquering bread was a HUGE deal for me.  I’ve talked about making bread for YEARS and with this challenge I made pitta bread, beer bread and potato bread.  My fear of breadmaking has gone.

It’s confirmed to me that some of my favourites will remain favourites.  I refer to them again, but Nigella and Jamie never failed to deliver amazing food throughout the challenge.

And what will I be taking with me going forward?

I’m going to be more curious about my cookery books and not stick to my comfort zone of my three favourite healthy cook books. Different styles of cooking have different merits and it’s fun to mix it up.  I hope to make an attempt to return to as many of those 69 books as possible.

Finally let me talk you through the last eleven recipes of the challenge. They were all pretty lovely – apart from the Basil and Mango Smoothie (Innocent Smoothie Recipe Book) which was a bit bland.  You can look at all the dishes on the collage below, but I’ll pick out my top 3 faves.

  1. Beetroot and Feta and Mint Salad – Fabulous Baker Brothers.  A bit faffy to make as you had to roast the beetroots then de-skin them with rubber gloves.  Messy work I can tell you. But this was a beauty of a dish – fresh and wholesome and deliciously oniony.
  2. Leek Cannelloni – Rick Stein.  This took ages to make and involved four pans on the go at once.  Every element required steeping and simmering and several stages (eg infuse the milk for the cheese sauce for 20 mins with bay leaves, onions & garlic before you even make the cheese sauce!).  And the lasagne sheets we had to boil in a pot ended up stuck together so we had to chuck them out and have a pasta-less cheese bake. However this didn’t matter and the effort was worth it.  It was out of this world.  The tomato sauce was rich, the leeks with ricotta were a great combination and the cheese sauce was so  flavourful and creamy – it was the icing on the cake.
  3. Baked Cheesecake – James Martin.  I went through a phase about six years ago when I’d have people over for dinner and I’d ALWAYS make a cheesecake.  I was obsessed – I must have tried ten different varieties of cheesecake.  So since that overkill, I don’t make cheesecakes, until the challenge that is.  As it turns out I think it’s the best cheesecake I’ve ever made – the lemon zest and whisky soaked sultanas added a subtle and sophisticated twist to a traditional recipe.

So now 69-er is over, what next? Well certainly for the next two weeks before my holiday I’m going to be doing a lot of healthy eating recipes to lose those extra pounds I’ve gained. So expect a post about that.  And for the next challenge – I’m not quite sure yet, but it would be nice to start another juicy challenge in September.  A food waste challenge or mastering a cuisine are appealing ideas.  Do comment and let me know if you have any suggestions for me!

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