A world of brunches
Grab the newspapers and put the coffee on. There’s nothing like a leisurely brunch on the weekend, no matter what country you are in. For more rise and shine recipes, check out our breakfast collection and our gluten-free breakfast collection.
They may not have had the maple syrup then but waffles have been around since the early Middle Ages when large round wafers known as oublies were made in Europe from grain flour and water. By the 11th Century orange blossom water and honey were added and, by the 16th century, beer yeast was added in Belgium - the first leavening agent.Eaten throughout continental Europe and Scandinavia, the taste for waffles took hold in the USA in the early 20th century with the arrival of home waffle iron.
Today there are many varieties of the crisp, batter-based, grid-shaped wafers - most served with sweet accompaniments that range from maple syrup and bananas (as here) to chocolate chips, caramel sauce, apple butter and ice-cream. Berries and berry jam and whipped cream toppings are popular in Scandinavia. Belgium, meanwhile, goes to town with many types of waffle including the lighter, crisper Brussels waffle and the denser, sweeter and chewier Liege waffle which was adapted from brioche dough and which is sold by street vendors in plain, vanilla and cinnamon flavours. Making waffles at home is easy but a soft waffle is not a pleasant thing. Eat immediately or hold in a hot oven so they remain crisp.
One of the star dishes on the Edwardian breakfast table, along with kedgeree, an array of pies, ham and oysters. These days devilled lambs’ kidneys are just as likely to be served for lunch, a light dinner or as an entrée as for brunch. The ‘devilling’ refers to the spicy seasonings – the mustard, cayenne pepper and Worcestershire sauce used in the sauce. Some recipes include curry powder, too, and often a slug of sherry or brandy to add balance, especially if the sauce contains cream.
This recipe calls for a squeeze of lemon juice at the end. When choosing kidneys, pale ones are often milder than dark. Always take care to snip off the white cores to stop the kidneys from curling up during cooking and don’t overcook them. They should be pink, even a bit bloody if you are up for that, but never cooked through which will toughen them. Always serve on good sourdough or artisan toasted bread or even rice if for a meal later in the day. To vary: Try a little bacon or a few mushrooms, cooked and added to the dish or served alongside. One tablespoon of redcurrant jelly adds a fresh sweetness.
This might be a popular breakfast dish now but cilbur is no new fad. It was eaten as far back as the 15th century but these days the poached eggs, served on garlicky yoghurt, are topped with butter infused with aleppo pepper. Can’t find any? Smoked paprika may be substituted instead. Cilbur (pronounced chillber) is best served with warmed pide or pita bread. Just ensure you use unsweetened Greek-style yoghurt and don’t overcook the eggs. You want runny yolks to swirl deliciously into the yoghurt to be mopped up with chunks of bread.
Eggs Benedict consists of two halves of an English muffin, topped with ham or bacon, poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce. No one is quite sure how it originated but a popular story has it that it was created by Lemuel Benedict, a retired Wall Street stock broker, who ordered buttered toast, poached eggs, crisp bacon and Hollandaise sauce as a breakfast hangover cure at the Waldorf Hotel in 1894. Apparently Oscar Tschirky, the maître d'hôtel, was so impressed with the dish that he put it on the breakfast and lunch menus but substituted ham for the bacon and a toasted English muffin for the toast.
Today there are myriad variations: eggs Florentine with spinach instead of bacon and (take your pick of names) eggs Atlantic, Hemingway, Copenhagen, Royale or Montreal - with smoked salmon instead of bacon. Eggs Blanchard substitutes béchamel sauce for the hollandaise and Eggs Mornay swaps the hollandaise for mornay.
A couple of tips:
- If it seems too tricky juggling trying to poach eggs while keeping your hollandaise sauce from splitting, make your sauce first and set it aside in a clean thermos to stay warm while you attend to the rest of the dish.
- Should the sauce curdle, immediately scrape the mixture into a clean bowl and whisk in 1 tablespoon icy water, then continue whisking in the remaining butter, a ladleful at a time.
A Mexican farmers’ late breakfast dish, huevos rancheros translates as eggs ranch-style. Traditionally the eggs are served atop a lightly fried corn tortilla and covered in a tomato chilli sauce or salsa with a side of pinto or black beans, avocado or guacamole and sometimes various meats.
Variations of the dish have become popular, particularly in the southwest United States where huevos rancheros is often served with sides of rice as well as black beans, with extra peppers, sometimes flour tortillas and lots of grated cheddar cheese or sour cream. Although the eggs are traditionally fried, some recipes, such as this one, call for scrambled or poached eggs and they may even be served on toast instead of a tortilla.
Other variations include coating the eggs in a tomato and bacon sauce, including pork in the eggs, and serving refried beans instead of black beans. Nadia Lim’s international version eschews the tortilla completely, the egg being contained in a pita pocket for an easy breakfast on the go.
A crumpet (or two), dripping with butter and honey, is the perfect British comfort food and simply begs to be served with a pot of tea. Homemade ones are much better than bought. Written about as early as 1382, crumpets then were hard pancakes cooked on a griddle. Today we favour the softer chewier version made with yeast that originated in Victorian England. As well as yeast, a little baking soda is added to the dough to form the characteristic holes which let the toppings seep through.
Generally circular, about 8cm in diameter and 2cm thick, crumpet dough is poured into a shallow ring set on a griddle or frying pan. The rings can be bought from kitchen stores but you can make your own at home. Simply wash and recycle small cans and remove the tops and bottoms (a tin of pineapple or water chestnuts would be an ideal size). To serve, crumpets can be eaten straight from the pan but they may also be slightly undercooked for toasting later. Savoury toppings include grilled cheese and Vegemite. Butter is de rigeuer!
A traditional Chinese porridge that is known by many other names across Asia. It is made from short or long grain rice, and many other grains besides. Congee is cooked in a high water to rice ratio on the stove top in a crockpot or rice cooker until it breaks down to a comforting, gloopy porridge.
Accompaniments in China include everything from salted duck eggs to fish to chicken to pickled tofu and shredded vegetables and, often, with fried bread sticks called youtiao. A breakfast stalwart, it is also fed, without salty accompaniments, to babies and is given to the sick and also to the hungover! A sweet version may also be made with the addition of Chinese dates and rock sugar.
Pho (roughly pronounced as fuh) is a typical Vietnamese breakfast soup sold by street vendors early each day. It sells out mid-morning. The term refers to the white rice flour noodles not the broth which is usually made from beef bones (pho bo) or chicken bones (pho ga) Good broth is essential and seasonings for the clear and spicy liquid include cinnamon, star anise, ginger, cloves, fennel seeds and star anise.
Along with the thinly sliced meat, the pho is topped with an array of herbs such as Thai basil, Thai chillies, bean sprouts, coriander, spring onions, culantro (a herb not to be confused with cilantro) and lime or lemon wedges. Fish sauce, hoisin sauce and chilli sauce may be served alongside. Pho originated in the early 20th century in Northern Vietnam, the noodles made from gao te rice - famous for its fragrance.