Throughout the week, I rarely make time for breakfast longer than 15 minutes. Sourdough toast topped with salty butter and black strong Italian coffee in a mocha pot, or a green smoothie with spinach if you’re into healthy eating mode. Only time allows this short interval before the eggs are installed for the boys and ready for the day. Weekends were different though.
He once had an editor who stated that there was no place in cookbooks for breakfast and lunch recipes. I beg to differ. I’ve always had romantic ideas for long, lazy, weekend brunches that flow easily with friends and family and that call for loose-fitting recipes.
It was one of the most memorable brunches by our friends in Los Angeles who arrived on our doorstep a week or so after the birth of our second little boy. Armed with thick, sugary homemade Liege pancakes, egg sandwiches with maple-glazed bacon, fresh orange juice, and a bottle of champagne, we were so grateful for the company and for a thoughtful little moment to celebrate the occasion. I’m still trying to perfect those pancakes!
Yes, dreamy brunches like this are what memories are made of, and for that reason, this week I’d like to arm you with three simple but totally awesome ideas for building summer weekends.
The first is a regular friends weekend fix, which I’ve been making since Sophie and I first moved in together: soft scrambled eggs, removed from the heat before set completely, with goat cheese gently folded. It’s assembled with arugula leaves into a warm croissant, which is easy to please a crowd.
A classic for a reason, Eggs Benedict is something I keep as a treat for two. There’s a bit of work in the sauce and poaching of eggs, but beyond that, it’s an easy build with delightful retro results.
Pancakes are always a winner in summer. Our two kids don’t have much time for American-style fluffy foods, so fluffy crepes are a summer weekend staple. Roll with jam and cream,
Swedish-style, or for something more special, try serving them with boiled fruit and mascarpone cream.
scrambled egg croissant
Time: 20 minutes Serves: 2
2 large croissants
2 arugula leaves
4 large eggs, free of poultry
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon butter
90 grams goat cheese
Few chopped chives, to serve
1. Open the croissants into slices and fill them with a generous amount of watercress leaves. Sit aside.
2. In a small nonstick saucepan with a handle, whisk the eggs together until combined. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and use a wooden spoon to slowly pull the eggs toward the center. Keep stirring until you get really creamy scrambled eggs. Make sure you don’t overcook the eggs – remove them from the heat while they’re still slightly liquid and creamy.
3. Season with sea salt and black pepper, add butter and goat cheese. Serve the exposed croissants with an extra sprinkle of black pepper and a few scraps of chives.
Time: 30 minutes Serves: 2
6 pieces of smoked bacon
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
4 large eggs
2 English muffins, split and toasted
butter for pancakes
Small handful of chives, chopped
To make the hollandaise sauce:
2 large egg yolks
150g cold butter, cut into cubes
juice of half a lemon
1. Cook bacon under a hot grill until crispy and set aside on a plate lined with kitchen paper.
2. To make hollandaise sauce, place egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Beat in the yolks and add the butter slowly, little by little after each one has melted, whisking constantly until completely combined and the sauce thickens.
3. Add lemon juice and stir well. Turn off the heat, but leave the sauce warm over the pot of water. To cook eggs, bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt and vinegar. Stir the water with a large spoon and then gently crack an egg in the middle.
4. Cook the egg on low heat for 3-4 minutes until the yolk remains liquid. Remove them with a perforated spoon and place them in ice water to prevent them from cooking further. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Just before serving, reheat the eggs in warm water for 1 minute.
5. Brush cakes with butter and assemble eggs Benedict by placing a few slices of bacon and eggs on each half and then top with warm hollandaise sauce. Sprinkle over chives and serve immediately.
Vanilla stuffed summer fruit stuffed crepe
Time: 1 hour 30 minutes Serve: 5
To prepare the fruit compote:
1 vanilla bean
4 peaches, cut into halves
4 nectarines, cored and halved
6 apricots, cored and halved
1 lemon, peel and juice
4 cardamom pods, lightly ground with the back of a knife
100 grams fine sugar
To prepare the pancake batter:
160g plain flour
3 large eggs, free of poultry
300 ml of milk
110 ml water
3 tablespoons melted butter
For mascarpone cream:
200 ml double cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Handful of chopped pistachios, to serve
1. Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.
2. Remove the seeds from the vanilla and put them in a small bowl, reserving them for later in the recipe. Place the capsule and the rest of the fruit compote ingredients in a large bowl and mix until combined.
3. When the oven is hot, transfer the fruit compote mixture, along with any juices, to a roasting pan and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until tender and turning into syrup.
4. Leave the compote to cool a little, then remove the lemon peel, cardamom pods and vanilla, then cut the fruit into coarse slices and put in a bowl, along with the juices, until needed.
5. For pancakes, put the flour in a large mixing bowl and use the spoon to make a hole in the center. Crack the eggs into the well and slowly mix them into the flour using a whisk. Don’t worry too much about lumps because they should disappear when you add the rest of the liquid. Gradually add milk and water until you get a light mixture.
6. Leave it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
7. For mascarpone cream, mix reserved vanilla seeds, mascarpone, double cream, and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until soft peaks form. Then transfer it to a bowl and put it in the fridge until needed.
8. To cook the pancakes, heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat, and add 2 tablespoons of melted butter to the mixture, stirring until combined. Add a ladle of the mixture to the hot skillet and move from side to side until evenly covering the surface of the skillet. Reduce the heat and cook for about 1 minute on each side or until the mixture begins to take a nice golden color.
9. To serve, brush the pancakes with a little mascarpone cream. Then add the pitted fruit compote to half of the pie. Fold in halves and then into quarters and serve immediately with drops of fruit juice and sprinkled with chopped pistachios.