Brunch Break

15 Apr

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I have been keeping baker’s hours this week, and today was no exception, but with all the cooking done for the events and the market I was free to get out into the garden at first light. With pyjamas and wellies on, a pot of tea under a cosy and accompanied only by the dawn choir of birdsong in their cathedral of beech trees, I make a start on the planting.

The beans which have uncurled themselves and are now reaching joyfully skywards are the first to go under the polytunnels, carefully tucking a little fleecy blanket at one end to stop the draft. I know I sound like an anxious mother but I am new to this! I flirted with
vegetable gardening to get me through a tricky patch some years ago, then like many flirtations it became a dalliance and then a heady passion! Although any skill or success I may have is due to a religious adherence to the RHS allotment handbook and asking very nicely! I have yet to have anything but beginners luck but my annual sense of pride at the tangle of beans and regimented lines of lettuce is disproportionate!

After several hours spent happily absorbed I picture myself finishing the task with a foot on my fork and a hand on my hip in a triumphant ‘Dig For Victory’ pose. The reality is a bit different, I am as stiff as a board and bent round like a corkscrew, time to call it if not a day then a brunch break!

We don’t eat brunch often enough in my opinion, and I hold this opinion very strongly until, that is, I begin to cook it and I remember just how labour intensive it can be! Brunch requires not only what seems to be half the contents of the fridge but also the timing of a swiss watch and enough equipment for a field of battle. It doesn’t help either if you are slightly queasy from low blood sugar (understandable if you have been digging the garden in your pyjamas during the hours that most people still regard as night!) and I think this is an important point, brunch cooked in the spirit of ‘I’ve been up for hours’ righteousness really does not convey the right tone of relaxation essential for a lazy sunday morning of table cruising!

That said, there is something very cheering about the creation of a good brunch, there is an almost unending variety of dishes to choose from, from simple eggs benedict to a full mouthwatering line up of sticky sausages, sweet cured bacon and pancakes, creamy frittatas and so on. For today though we have kedgeree! I am keen to stress that this is ‘something I made earlier!’ Not just pre- made though, but pre- spurned, I had made it misguidedly, (some would say mischievously,) for some french friends for breakfast and it succeeded in frightening rather than feeding them!

Kedgeree warming gently, I set about making a really simple but delicious accompaniment to any brunch. Slice Irish soda bread and butter both sides. Place on a baking sheet and slice several tiny tomatoes over the top of the bread. Sprinkle with salt pepper and sugar and roast gently in the oven until the tomatoes are caramelised and the bread crisp.

Soda bread is quick and easy to make and cosy to eat, it is wonderful if you are short on time, energy (or have rickety table legs!) because this lovely bread does not require vigorous kneading or proving.

My mother’s soda bread recipe is hand written on the back of a flour dusted envelope. It is one of the treasures of her legacy and I would like to share it with you in her honour.

Soda Bread
450g Plain flour or wheatmeal flour or a mixture of both.
1teaspoon caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
300 mls buttermilk
10 mls full cream milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees and then reduce the heat to 200 degrees

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and combine the milk, buttermilk, and lemon juice in a jug and pour into the flour mixture.
Mix well and put the stick mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and form into a rough ball.
Take a round ended knife and slice the bread almost all the way through in a cross to divide the bread in four , then sprinkle flour into the incisions.
Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes
Tap the bottom of the loaf, it will sound hollow when cooked.
Cool on a baking tray.

One Response to “Brunch Break”

  1. Nona April 16, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    I think the last time I might of tried Kedgeree might of been Blomfield Rd, I think I might still be with the French friends on this. Mind you I wish I had some nice bread and tomatoes around tonight because reading this has made me wish for a quick snack!

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