It’s often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well, that’s probably true with regard to nutrition and a balanced diet but it’s also the most eagerly-awaited meal of the day – at least by me.
Even those who insist they have no interest in that first meal will be coaxed into at least semi-conciousness by the aroma of freshly brewed coffee or toasting toast, and not many can remain under the duvet when a bacon sandwich beckons from below.
I have a broad taste in breakfast foods. Idli hot from the steamer and a bowl of spicy sambar is one of my favourites. I have enjoyed American biscuits (like scones) and gravy (creamy sauce made with sausage), and Eggs Benedict is always high on my list. I have been known to eat last night’s takeaway, kippers and Mexican refried beans and chilli before dawn, but I have never gone out of my way for a cornflake.
500 Breakfasts and Brunches offers just what it says: 500 temptations from Europe and America. Each recipe has its associated picture and several versions. There are healthy crunchy bars and sustaining smoothies for all those who want a noble start to the day. Those bars could easily be packed for a breakfast on the run …or jog.
Britain and the US have a love of cooked breakfast foods. Any trip to a real New York diner will have you scanning the morning menu and finding stacks of pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, eggs over-easy, and coffee that might not always be the best you would have tasted. This book gives recipes for some favourites from both sides of the Pond. The British fry-up is included and one of the variants has fried bread, but cooked in vegetable oil. This is a modern attempt at presenting a light option but if one wants the authentic fried bread then one needs lard. Make this meal an annual event but enjoy it when you have it.
Fresh berries on the side
Apple and Pecan French Toast is another calorific start to the day. Well, at least it contains some fruit so it’s not an entirely guilty pleasure. Classic Blueberry Pancakes also has its fruit, and the syrup is optional: one could serve thick Greek yoghurt instead with perhaps more fresh berries on the side.
Brunch offers a casual entertaining experience for friends and family, and the chance to present a variety of dishes that would be just too much trouble to prepare when there’s only a couple. Banana Cranberry Loaf is something you can bake the day before. Present slices hot from the toaster. An exotic alternative would be Tropical Pineapple and Coconut Loaf; that would be ideal served with a fresh fruit salad.
My pick of the book is Crabmeat Strata – another brunch special but a savoury one. It has a light and fluffy texture rather like a cross between a bread-and-butter pudding and a souffle; but it’s that seafood that elevates this dish to posh brunch fare. It’s true that it’s not cheap but it’s the one to choose for a celebration weekend. Smoked salmon could be used instead and that would be quite economic, as one could use salmon scraps rather than the more costly slices.
500 Breakfasts and Brunches is another in that celebrated series from Apple Press. These books are good value for money and practical – lots of information in a compact format, and these books will spend more time in the kitchen than on your bookshelves. Well worth setting the alarm a little early.
500 Breakfasts and Brunches
Author: Carol Beckerman
Published by: Apple Press
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018