Dulce de leche – Argentina’s iconic sweet spread.

Every country has some foods that are instantly recognised as being associated with it – for instance, in England  it is going to be roast beef and Yorkshire Puddings, or maybe fish and chips; Japan is probably  sushi. France? Maybe Foie gras or cheeses such as Camembert and Brie.

Argentina is famous for its meat, of course, and especially for the beef, but all Argentineans have a deep longing for sweetness….. because wherever you go in Argentina you will find dulce de leche (literally “sweet of milk”)  – the most delicious caramelised milk, made from sweetened condensed milk. Sweet, sticky, almost softly caramel toffeeish…

When you go to breakfast, there are little pots of it, waiting to be spread on toast… when you have a pastry or a biscuit, there’s usually dulce de leche involved somewhere, either as a filling or a flavouring. You can buy lovely large pots of artisan made Dulce de Leche or commercially produced packets. Whatever you get is guaranteed to taste delicious.

One of our dearest friends is from Argentina and he always looks wistful at the mention of dulce de leche when he is far away in cold, wet England.

The thing is, it’s not difficult to make… it is, however,  (usually) time consuming… and, in my eyes at least, just a bit scary.

The traditional way is to take a large quantity of milk and sugar and, after pouring it in a pan, slowly simmer it until it thickens as the water evaporates and it caramelises to a wonderful golden brown. Thing is, you have to stir it constantly – you can’t walk away and leave it.

Another way is to take a tin of sweetened condensed milk and boil it, unopened, in a pan for a couple of hours. You can’t walk away from that, either. If you let it boil dry the tin will explode and the kitchen (and any unwary inhabitants) will be covered in superheated caramel. If you avoid that fate then you have to take care to leave the tin to cool properly before you open it.

See what I mean about it being a bit scary? And if you went down the boiling tin route, how would you know that it had caramelised perfectly?

So, I was content to eat it but too afraid to try making it.

Until I found, whilst idling around various food blogs, (one of my favourite activities) an article by David Lebovitz telling me how to make it safely and quickly!

He says to make it in the oven in a bain marie and that it only takes one and a quarter hours…… what’s to lose, I thought? I just had to try it out.

I needed an oven proof dish and a tin of sweetened, condensed milk.

The oven needed to be preheated to 220 degrees C/200 degrees if fan assisted) 425 degrees F

I put the oven proof dish inside a large metal roasting dish and then poured in the milk.

A sprinkle of Maldon sea salt was stirred through.

I wrapped tin foil tightly over the dish and poured hot water into the roasting pan until it was half way up the sides of the dish with the condensed milk it.

And that was it.

Into the oven for an hour and a quarter, or thereabouts.

And no standing over it, terrified that it might boil dry and the tine explode… no standing for hours, stirring it slowly. Just as well because this was a Friday night after my first week back at work with jet lag and all I wanted to do was slump on the sofa.

I did check after about 40 minutes that it hadn’t boiled dry (it hadn’t) and I couldn’t resist having a peek at the colour…..

It was turning golden!

And, oh, the smell….. delicious, rich, sweet caramel aromas coming from the oven… Someone should make that smell into a scented candle or room perfume…

And then… just an hour and a quarter after putting it in the oven

It looked good.

But it was too hot to taste so I had to leave it to cool. David said to whisk it to get out lumps out but it was fine.

Oh my word.

Thick, delicious, spoonable delight. It was dulce de leche.

And I had such plans for it…..

But I needed a real assessment to be done – was it good enough? Did I have to go back to the traditional way of doing it?

As I said, we have a very dear friend from Argentina. It was his marvellous mother who organised all of our travels around the country (Thank you, P!) and he was with us for most of them. Who better, I thought, than N?

That was it – when I saw him, I marched up with a spoonful held out in front of me and demanded he tried it.

He liked it! Not only that he said it was delicious!

N’s fiancee, L, had made it the traditional way before now and both of them reckon that this way produces dulce de leche of comparable deliciousness with a minmum of effort.

So, there we have it – quick, safe and easy. Delicious and moreish. Rated by people who know what it should taste like… and by those just want to scoop it into their greedy mouths!

The Beautiful North – Part One

As some of you know, I was born and brought up in the far north of England. I’m only living in the Midlands now because I married the Bear…… I try and get back there at every opportunity. That’s where my family and and also where some of the most stunning places in the UK are. The Bear, being a Cockney, from the south of the country, doesn’t  know much about the North and hasn’t really travelled around there. I kept saying I had to show him how beautiful and wild the countryside is and how stunning the coastline.

As you might also know, it was my birthday recently and we decided to make the most of it, so both of us had time off to celebrate and to head north… which kind of explains my absence from the kitchen and the blog. This then, isn’t about cooking… just eating and travelling. Travelling to somewhere that most people know nothing about and have never visited.

Maybe it will inspire you to visit Northumberland.

Before we started out on our trip north we had a meal at Iberico World Tapas – one of my favourite ways of eating…. what greedy person wouldn’t love tapas? Instead of having just one delicious thing to eat we chose lots of delicious things – cheeses and hams; salted squid and stuffed courgette flowers; patatas bravas and beef…… and belly pork…so many wonderful tastes, textures and flavours. The menu is on the website if you want to look…..

The next day we started driving north.

To those that don’t know, the industrial towns of the north can look dark and grim and people assume that is all there is, but once you get past Newcastle and take the coast roads heading further north you get to some of the wildest and most spectacular coastline anywhere. All I ask is that you look at the pictures and follow the links for more information. I am so proud of the north and its wild beauty and I hope that some of you will make your way there at some point.

On our way North we stopped, first of all at Alnwick (pronounced Annick, for those of you not brought up in the North) because there is the most wonderful secondhand bookshop there called Barter Books and one of the things I wanted to do was to see if they had any old cookbooks to add to my collection. What you can do is bring your old books (if they are good quality) and barter them for credit or other books…. It is the most fascinating place – in the old railway station at Alnwick – with a model railway running round the top of the bookshelves in one part of it. It is the perfect secondhand bookshop, with tables and comfy chairs amongst the stacks. Imagine the bliss….. look at their website and you will get a far better idea than I can give you.

And look what I found  in the cookery book section…

… an old cookbook, printed just after 1963, “The First Ladies Cookbook – Favourite Recipes of all the Presidents of the United States”

It starts with George Washington and goes right through to Lyndon B Johnson who was President of the USA at that time.

All those Presidents…. all those recipes!

I had to buy it. Well, when I say buy… I had arrived with two bags of books I didn’t want and handed them in – Barter Books assesses whether they want them and if they do, how much they want to pay for them and that amount is put into your account… so you can spend it on books in the bookshop. So, not exactly bought, but bartered.

At first, I thought I would play Cookery Lotto , thinking that would really broaden our cooking experience, but as I started leafing through it I realised that this may mean I was being forced into making something like this

Calvin Coolidge’s favourite… Pineapple Salad, which involved covering a fresh pineapple with cream cheese, glace cherries and strawberries…..

I have to say, that just isn’t going to work for me.

(But you see that tea pot? My mother has one like that… it has a little burner underneath to keep the water hot!  Isn’t it gorgeous?)

Anyway, the more I looked, the more danger I was in of having to cook something that really wouldn’t be to our taste at all, so Cookery Lotto was out.

There were recipes I was interested in… how about this…

Tomato Pudding.  Adored by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

If you can’t quite see the recipe, here it is

1  10-ounce can of tomato puree, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1 cup of white bread, cut into 1 inch cubes, 1/4 cup boiling water, 1/4 cup of melted butter and 6 tablespoons of light brown sugar.

Add sugar and salt to the tomato puree and water and boil for 5 minutes. Place bread cubes in a casserole. Pour melted butter over them Add the tomato mixture. bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 375 degrees F (that’s about 190 decrees C for us in the UK) Serve with quail or roasted meats.

Not written to be the world’s most tempting recipe, but, you know, I can see that Dwight may have been onto something.

I bet that bread goes deliciously soft and develops a lovely crustiness to the top… the tomato would make it savoury…..and to serve it with meat?

Well, I am going to give it a whirl.

I may have to tweak it a bit, perhaps using chopped plum tomatoes to lighten the texture and decreasing the amount of sugar… but there’s something about it that appeals. What do you think?

And then I looked at Herbert Hoover…

Well that’s not Herbert Hoover, obviously. That is a picture of his Maryland Caramel Tomatoes.

8 ripe tomatoes of equal size, white pepper, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar 1/4 cup of butter


Skin the tomatoes. Carefully cut off the tops. Place them in a buttered baking dish, suitable to serve them in. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and brown sugar. Dab each of them with butter.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C in the UK) and bake for half an hour. Then, remove to the top of the stove and over a low flame, reduce the juice until it is a thick syrup. The, once again, balke them in a hot oven (400 degrees F/200 degrees C) for half an hour. Serve hot.

Again, it might need a tweak or two… AND a baking dish that can go in an oven and on top of it…. but perhaps to serve alongside pork?

So. Pretty much of a result. A fascinating book and potentially a few great ideas in there. I was feeling very happy with myself and really, we hadn’t even started our little holiday.

We left Alnwick and carried on heading north… driving out to the coast, first of all to  Craster, a tiny village famous for its kippers, with a tiny harbour

and walked from there, along the coastline to the ruined castle of Dunstanburgh

before driving further north to Bamburgh where we were staying for the next two nights. Bamburgh is a beautiful village, once the capital of Northumbria, with yet another huge castle, high above the village.

Click on the links and see just how lovely the Northumbrian coast is.

That night, sitting in a tiny restaurant, we toasted each other and congratulated ourselves on choosing the far north as my birthday trip.

And there were even more lovely things to do the next day!

Breakfast egg and polenta and a new camera

When I made cheesy polenta  I made sure I had made enough for more delicious meals. My greediness makes sure I always make extra of everything. There’s something about leftovers that is so appealing….

I had plans for a small portion of it –  breakfast! I had a lot to do and I wanted a quick, really quick breakfast.

Apart from racing round the apartment to get everything looking lovely for the Bear’s return, I also wanted to play with my new camera, which arrived this week.

My lovely friend, L, suggested it for me and, on the grounds she has known me long enough to recognise just HOW inept I am at technical things and how much I need things to work properly and not torment me with wicked technical tricks, I bow to her superior wisdom and all round good taste.

She has had to put up with so much from me over the years, times  when I’d ring her wailing that the computer hated me and was deliberately ignoring me, me claiming that I was jinxed and that all computers and technical gadgets were only built to make my life a misery. There was one time she listened to me run over a particularly evil mobile phone…. I had been talking to her and was just enraged at what a rotten piece of equipment it was. It would cut out and refuse to do things, oh it was maddening. It wasn’t just me, mind you. These phones were notorious for being useless. Everyone who was unfortunate enough to have one hated them.

Because it was on a contract I had to keep it – unless it was broken beyond repair. I’d tried “dropping it” but it was always fine. It just carried on cutting in and out of conversations, driving me to distraction. That day it was particularly bad. In the end I pulled into a layby, jumped out of the car, put the phone under the wheel and drove back and forth over it. L was still on the other end…..I was certain this would kill the vile phone and then I could get another one…. but what happened? I got back out of the car, picked up the phone and heard L laughing.

Say what you like about that now-departed mobile phone manufacturer – the phones were rubbish, but by golly they were sturdy.

So, L knows I need something that will be kind to me and take pictures easily. She doesn’t want to have to go through the saga of me shrieking in temper as something goes wrong. She knows I need foolproof. It has to take close ups of food and it also has to take horizon shots. L said the Canon IXUS 200 would be the one for me and there are all sorts of options – even (and this is a real plus point) even an option for fireworks!  If you have read this blog in the past you will know that our wedding anniversary is on Bonfire Night and we like to toast each other with champagne as we watch the fireworks going off from the city below us. Try as I might I hadn’t been able to take pictures successfully.

So, I now have a super-duper camera that even I, with my fumble fingers and low tolerance level for fiddling about,  can operate with some degree of success – all I have to do is learn how to use it.

That’s why I am up so early. I need to get everything ready for the Bear, I need to have breakfast …. but first, I just had to try the sunset setting. OK, so it’s dawn but it’ll be all right, won’t it? Same sort of thing?


 Isn’t that pretty?

Now, I really must get on. I like a savoury brekkie, rather than a cold one and I didn’t have time to make breadbuns so I could have a fried egg sandwich. I always feel that a weekend breakfast should include eggs somewhere along the line. I like them boiled, scrambled, poached, baked and best of all, I like them fried. I love the way the yolk dribbles out when you cut into it, all deep gold and glistening.


All I had to do was heat, quickly, in the microwave, a few decent sized spoonfuls of the lovely cheesy polenta…. maybe a minute, if that. While that’s spinning round, I got out the frying pan and fried an egg.

The fastest cooked breakfast imaginable!

All it needed was a grinding of black pepper over it and a cup of strong black coffee to wash it down and I was in breakfast heaven.

Simple? Check.

Tasty? Oh yes.. oh very, very yes. Check.

Fast? Two minutes, so a definite check.

Economical? Oh, very much of a check.

Try it. It was delicious.

Saturday – snow bound breakfast

Even though it is the weekend, I still wake up before 6am, just as I do for work.  And, just as I always do, I go, quietly, upstairs to our kitchen to make coffee and look out at the city below us.

It’s been snowing again and even though we are right at the top of our apartment block and even though it is bitterly cold with the wind howling past, the snow is piling up against the windows.

I know I said I wanted to be snowed in but this is ridiculous.

This is not the morning for having a cold breakfast. This is the kind of morning that something like a fried egg sandwich, say, is just what is called for. White bread, all soft and giving, with a hot, fried egg, sizzling as it drops on to the bun, then oozing golden egg yolk down your chin as you bite into it.

There is, as there so often is, a problem…. we have no white bread. There’s time enough, though, to make some buns  – and, as an added bonus, putting the oven on will help warm the place up a bit.

As I get the flour out of the larder, I see there’s a recipe on the back of the Hovis bag. I usually make slow risen bread, bread that has some texture, taste and strength to it, but today I want soft, white rolls. I just want fresh white bread that will mop up buttery, eggy, tomato saucy dribbles…….

Good old Hovis, eh?

500g of flour, 25g of butter, 1 and a quarter teaspoons of salt, 1 and a half teaspoons of fast action yeast (that’s one sachet of the instant yeast),  300 ml of warm water and 2 teaspoons of sugar ( that adds flavour and thickens the crust, apparently)

Add the dry ingredients to the flour and mix them through (it’s the only way to make sure it all mixes evenly before you add the butter and the water) Then add 25g of butter – cut it into pieces so it is easier to deal with

Then, using the tips of your fingers, rub the butter through the flour – you need to get the bits of butter evenly distributed through the flour… just rub it through till there are no more big bits left

Then add 300 ml of warm water and stir it together.

I wanted to go and read the papers on line while I drank my coffee (that weighing and mixing everything together only took a few minutes) so I put it all in my mixer, with the dough hook and set it away to knead.

You can do it yourself, of course, but luckily… I don’t have to! I left the Kitchen Aid  whirring softly, at a gentle speed, for five minutes as I read about the widespread snow and the probability of more.

There you go… beautifully silky dough, ready to make into buns and let it rise.

A quick roll into bun shapes, then pop them onto a silicone sheet on a baking tray and cover them with a dampened tea towel to stop the dough getting a crust before it is ready to bake.  The buns need to rise for an hour or so before you bake them

But it was, still,  just after 7 am so there was plenty of time before I needed to make breakfast… and it was snowing again.

The oven went on at 230 degrees and when the dough had doubled in size… in those buns went for half an hour so so…

Oh they were lovely! The kitchen was warming nicely, the smell of baking bread was filtering downstairs to wake the Bear….. beautiful little plump, white breadbuns emerged from the oven… time to get the breakfast ready

There are some lovely free range eggs from the farm shop….

some butter to spread on those warm buns….

a squirt of tomato sauce…..

Breakfast bliss…….now that was an easy way to happiness.

Boxing Day Breakfast Bonanza

Boxing  Day is so much more relaxed than Christmas Day, because there’s time for idling about. I can’t be bothered, nor can I afford, to go shopping in the sales, so Boxing Day to us means a slow start.

And with a slow start comes a desire for a proper breakfast. None of this leaping up before 6 am and having a fruit smoothie in a rush to get ready for work. Today involves a gentle amble round the kitchen, looking out of the windows at the snow piled up outside, while drinking a coffee.

A slow start means you are more than ready for a more substantial breakfast… smoothies are fine, delicious even, but somehow on days like this your mind wanders towards some sort of fry up.

As it is Boxing Day there are leftovers from Christmas Day… sprouts, carrots, roast potatoes… and a couple of pigs in blankets.

There are even some carrot and parsnip parcels wrapped in Parma Ham

All of  that would fry up nicely. Not exactly bubble and squeak but as near as possible….

So start chopping those vegetables

You want lots of edges so they can brown and crisp in a big frying pan with a spoonful of oil

Give it all a good stir round

Now those browned bits are slightly carmelised… there’s a sweetness and a hint of charring.  And who on earth would not like fried potatoes?

What other day of the year would you look at a cold Brussels sprout and say to yourself that it would be all the better for frying up for breakfast?  All you need for breakfast perfection is a fried egg

5-a-day fruit smoothie

The Met Office is amazing, I’m sure. And if I was out at sea I would value their shipping forecasts… actually, I love them when I am at home – there’s something so soothing about listening to the litany….

“Forties Cromarty:
Mainly north or northwest 3 or 4, increasing 5 or 6 later. slight, increasing moderate later. Occasional rain. Good becoming moderate or poor.

Forth Tyne:
North or northeast backing northwest 3 or 4, increasing 5 at times. smooth or slight, occasionally moderate later. Occasional rain. moderate or good”

What it actually means, of course, I suppose I could puzzle out but it’s enough for me to hear it. Good work, men at the Met.

 But what about yesterday’s forecast? What about all the warnings of minus three degrees? Freezing fog and bitter cold and ice? Reports of road gritters on standby?

I went to bed, thinking about what to cook today, anticipating there would be a need for warming and sustaining food, maybe porridge first thing and something with dumplings later on… and got up to this…

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That’s not freezing fog. Nor is the temperature below freezing. Looks quite bright, actually.

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So, I think,  we will have a fruit smoothie for breakfast.

I love to give the Bear a smoothie to start his day with – it’s a brilliant way to get extra fruit and vegetables into his diet. I always have a bag of frozen fruit in the freezer, either for putting in his porridge as a treat or for making desserts or smoothies with. We always have banana and yoghurt… and there’s always juice…

I started off making his smoothie with fruit juice to loosen it and then discovered that vegetable juice was a brilliant way to get more of his 5-a-day in… and V8 has just so many things that a Bear would balk at… look at them all

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And do you know what? He doesn’t even notice!

So first of all, get some frozen fruit… half a glass full is about right.

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You’ll need yoghurt, a banana and some juice

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Put the fruit into the blending jug and add a couple of spoonsful of yoghurt

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and a good sloosh of V8

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Then blend….

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….. look at how it all goes together…..

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Then pour.

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And does he know he is drinking spinach and carrots and tomato with his fruit smoothie? No, he doesn’t. Everything blends together beautifully – the fruit and yoghurt are all he can taste. The V8 stops it being too sweet, really. It is a great improvement on the days when I added fruit juice.

Has he got his fair share of  his 5-a-day? Yes, he has. 

And does he  enjoy it? Yes, he does.

Bone Idle Bread

Sometimes a simple breakfast is all we want… maybe tea and toast. And sometimes we want a sort of fruity nutty feel to the toast, and Nigella’s Lazy Loaf is just the thing.

Like most things I make, this is simplicity itself – we call it Bone Idle Bear Bread because it is so easy.

All you need is bread flour… I have been working my way through a range of seeded and grain bread  flours… some yeast, some muesli, a pinch or so of salt  and milk and water.

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To bake it in you’ll need a loaf tin and one of those silicone paper liners. Either that or line the tin with greaseproof paper but that is so fiddly, so go and buy some liners… you will thank me for it

In a big bowl, put 200g of muesli (we particularly like Dorset Cereals Really Nutty) and 325g of bread flour. This week I am using Allinsons Seed and Grain Flour and stir it round…. put a sachet of yeast.. or a teaspoon or so in

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 and stir round, adding a pinch of salt

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You’d better do this before you add the 250 ml of milk and 250 ml of water… you get a better mix

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That’s just under a pint, mix the milk and water together and pour straight in

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Stir it round.. it becomes a gloopy mix very quickly

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Then pour it (I tell you, this is pourable.. don’t panic!)

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Then… you won’t believe it but this is right.. put it into a cold oven

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THEN, and only then, turn the oven on to 110 degrees C and walk away for 45 minutes. This allows the bread mix to start to rise…..

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At the 45 minute stage, turn the oven up to 180 degrees C and leave for an hour.

Then.. take it out and leave it to cool on a rack

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This is a substantial bread…

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And it is wonderful toasted…..

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Put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea while you wait.. then spread your bread with butter…

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And then, because the Bear loves the taste of Marmite on fruited and nutty bread, a lovely mix of sweet and savoury….

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Try it with jam.. or honey….but whatever you do, try it. Easy as anything and that, my friends, is all we ask!


I do so love a good breakfast and when breakfast almost turns into lunch that’s even better. That means you are up later so you missed breakfast and  you are hungry but it’s too early for lunch. That’s why they call it brunch.

Weekends and lazy days. like today (our anniversary)  are perfect times for relaxing, celebrating and enjoying cooking and eating  food and one of the perfect things to make on days like this? Kedgeree 

So get some basmati rice, an onion, some curry powder (yes, I know, but this is one recipe that just needs it…no need for grinding lots of spices), maybe some ground cumin (but no need to worry if you don’t have it) some eggs, some smoked haddock, coriander leaves and a red chilli and some cream. I have a mix of natural undyed smoked haddock and some smoked cod there. Not for any reason other than  there was only a small bit of smoked haddock available when I went shopping, so I had to get some extra fish…. You have to do that sometimes. Just be flexible and don’t worry.

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First of all, in a large frying pan, gently cook some chopped onion in some oil and butter. This softens the onion nicely . If you like coriander as much as I do then chop in some of the coriander stems as well.

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While that is gently cooking, put your smoked fish in another pan with some water and poach at a soft simmer. I was going to say a gentle simmer but I realised I had said “gently” far too many times already. There again, I suppose it is a theme of the day…. this is the sort of breakfast that goes with a relaxed mood.

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Put 4 eggs in a pan and start boiling them for 4 minutes. As soon as the time is up, put the pan under a cold tap and run the water to cool them quickly. This will stop them cooking, keeping them just slightly soft and making sure there’s no horrible black rings round them.

Measure your basmati rice – for four people, I use 1 mug of rice, and add a mug and a little bit of water. Bring this to the boil then turn the heat down. Basmati rice cooks quickly so keep your eye on it. If you have measured the water then it should all have absorbed

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Thing is, it won’t be perfectly fluffy rice just yet. What you need to do is to get a clean tea towel and put that over the pan (taking it off the heat, of course) and then put the lid on top…. this absorbs the last bit of steam

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While that is on one side, the onion will have softened so stir in a teaspoon of curry powder, a pinch or so of cumin (if you are going to add it)  and a knob of butter. This deepens the flavour and makes it taste rich and delicious.

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By now the fish will have poached so take it out carefully with a fish slice and let it cool enough so you can remove the skin and flake it into bits.

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And, when you peek under the tea towel,  the rice will be perfectly fluffy

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Your eggs will be cooled so peel and quarter them.

Now? Now you start to put everything together…… First, the rice gets stirred into the oniony mixture in the frying pan

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Then, if you have cream, stir in a couple of tablespoons of cream… or failing that, some mayonnaise. Not too much, just enough to smooth out the flavours of the curry powder and onion and rice

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Then, carefully (you don’t want to break the fish into shreds and you have, I know,  flaked it so carefully) fold the fish into the rice mix

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Then… add the eggs

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Chop the coriander leaves and scatter over the top

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Smell that……. maybe a quick squeeze of lemon juice to sharpen things up and then…. into a bowl

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Doesn’t that look delicious? I always chop a bit of chilli to scatter over the top – very finely chopped chilli, not too much, just enough to leave tiny red specks of heat in the occasional mouthful

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If you haven’t made it before… try it. Honest, it’s good.

A perfect brunch on a perfect day.

Eggs for breakfast?

When it comes to weekend breakfasts, there’s something very nice about having eggs of one sort or another. I was a bit bored with scrambled eggs and boiled eggs didn’t quite seem to hit the spot and what about fried eggs? Well, you needed bacon to go with fried eggs. What if you didn’t have bacon? What could you do then?

I liked the idea of baked or coddled eggs, where eggs are cooked in a little pot, usually in a bain marie in the oven. Thing about that was, first of all, I didn’t possess an egg coddler and secondly, even if I did, I didn’t want to be standing around in the kitchen waiting for the water to gently simmer round my little pots. I like breakfasts to be good and tasty I know… but I don’t want to spend hours trying to do it.

Normally I use the microwave only rarely – to reheat vegetables say or defrost something  – but I wanted to work something out. Eggs and microwaves can be tricky with the yolk going rubbery and the white staying runny. Not an appetising start to anyone’s day.

You wouldn’t believe the amount of times I tried this. You wouldn’t believe the variable results I have had from this… but now I can finally share with you one of our favourite Sunday breakfasts. A breakfast that can be made in just about ten minutes and then taken back to bed to eat while you read the papers and enjoy the fact that it is Sunday.

And what do you need?

220See that bread? That’s No Knead Bread, that is. Brilliant for using with Eggies because the bread has a great strong texture that holds the eggs well. And that butter? Well, I made that too!

In my many experiments I realised that while eggs can go in the microwave, they need some kind of insulation in the pot to stop the dreaded rock hard yolk scenario which clashes so badly with the gloopily wet white.

So, first of all, slice some bread


Then scrape some butter over the slices… this sort of waterproofs the bread


(The butter was straight from the fridge so it was hard, but really these are thin scrapes of butter)

Then, using a small pot with a lid, roughly line the inside with the bread


The aim is to get a layer of bread round the outside of the pot so the eggs can drop into the middle. If you have any cream, just put a spoonful in the bottom with a pinch of salt


Then, crack in a couple of lovely eggs….


See how the eggs are kept in the middle of the pot? Protected by the bread?

You can put another teaspoon of cream on the top and then… well then you scrape the tiniest anount of butter over the rest of the slices of bread, sprinkle with salt  and lightly put the bits of bread on top – no pressing down! You are making a little lid for your bread liner



Then, lid on and then put one at a time in the microwave.

First of all – ONE minute on medium and then 30- 40 seconds on high. Take out the pot and do the other one…..

They will still cook a little bit in the residual heat.  Lift the little bread lid and look…


You can see the white is cooked… but what about the yolk?

Well, The Bear, being devoted to tomato sauce insists on his egg being squirted with it and then he shoves his spoon in….


PERFECT!  Breakfast in less than ten minutes… 

Benefits? You have sort of baked/coddled Eggies; with no messy frying, or boiling, or poaching;  using the timer so you can lean against the bench while your cup of tea brews…. and the Eggies are cooked in the pot you eat them from, saving you washing up later!

It’s not the most elegant of breakfasts but it is fast and tasty and oh so comforting. The kind of breakfast a person might need if they had had a lively night and needed something restorative…….. some of you may know the feeling……

Breakfast for a Bear

I do my best to make sure that Bear is fed properly and the most important meal of the day, as my Granny always said, is breakfast.

What else would I make The Bear, then, but porridge? But it is no good just making him healthy food – it has to be delicious as well….. so here is how to make Porridge for a (sometimes) Grizzly Bear!  This sweetens an early morning start and makes sure he starts the day properly, because boys and mornings aren’t always the best mix

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First, get your oats….. and your spurtle.

A spurtle is, as I am sure you are aware, a porridge stirring stick. Surely you have one? And if not, surely you are now inspired to get one? It makes the porridge smooth and creamy…. There’s even a porridge making championship where the winner of the most delicious porridge is awarded The Golden Spurtle.

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A tiny pinch of salt added when you put the milk in rounds out the flavour.

Porridge is all well and good but to make it delicious then you have to add good things to it

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At the moment, one of the Bear’s favourite things to have in there are sweened, dried cranberries

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And I always have frozen fruit in the freezer so as the porridge nears the end of the cooking I add a handful of cherries, blueberries, raspberries and redcurrants to the bubbling mix… the heat from the porridge thaws out the fruit to perfection

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Another gentle stir with the spurtle and you are ready to put it in a bowl

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… but not quite ready to serve…..

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A dollop of yoghurt on the top

And then the finishing touch

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I used to put syrup on his porridge but I have started using Agave Nectar, which a natural sweetener from the Agave cactus… less calories but really, really gorgeous, rich and deep, sweet and delicious

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So there you have it.. healthy and delicious. Guaranteed to feed even the hungriest Bear and keep him going for hours.

And it takes maybe 5 minutes to make. Oh the brownie points you can score with this…..