Veggie Baked Eggs with Cheese

These are very quick to put together and are delicious any time of day, but make a particularly good brunch dish, served with hot buttered toast to dip in the soft egg.

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Ingredients:
Knob of butter and a little oil
1 finely chopped onion 
2-3 large Portobello mushrooms, chopped
150ml double cream
150g of a good melting cheese – grated (I used a mixture of cheddar and Monteray Jack)
6 spears of Cavolo Nero kale, tough stalks removed and roughly chopped
1 red pepper – chopped with seeds and ribs removed
4 large eggs
Parmesan
Salt and black pepper
Hot buttered toast, to serve

Baked eggs

Method:
Heat the oven to 190°C/375°F

Place the butter and oil in a pan and add the chopped onion, red pepper, mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté the vegetables for around 10 minutes until softened. Add the kale and stir until wilted. Turn off the heat and stir in the double cream and cheese, the heat will melt the cheese.

Divide the mixture evenly among 4 ramekins and make an indentation in each one with the back of a teaspoon. Crack an egg into each and top with a little freshly grated parmesan.

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Bake for around 10 minutes, but keep an eye on them. The white of the egg should be just set and the yolk runny.

Serve straightaway with hot buttered toast.

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Baked Pumpkin French Toast

This is full of warm autumnal spices, brown sugar and pumpkin. The inside is soft, fluffy and smooth – all topped with a crisp, brown sugar and pecan streusel.

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I think this is the perfect weekend breakfast or brunch dish to make you feel warm and cozy on a chilly autumn day with the family.

It’s super easy to prepare and is actually better if it is prepared the night before you want to bake it. Just whisk the custard ingredients together, pour over the bread cubes and refrigerate. The streusel topping should be scattered over the casserole just before baking.

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Ingredients:
Butter for greasing the dish
1 large loaf of brioche or challah, cut into cubes
8 large eggs
1 ½ cup/360ml of whole milk
1 ½ cup/360ml of double/heavy cream
Zest of one orange
1tbs vanilla extract
½ cup brown sugar – lightly packed
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree (about half a can)
2tsp pumpkin pie spice
1tsp cinnamon
½ cup raisins
Pinch of salt

Streusel topping:
2/3 cups/80g plain/all-purpose flour
2/3 cup packed soft brown sugar
Small handful of pecans, roughly broken into pieces
1tsp cinnamon
113g/4oz/1 stick of cold butter cut into dice

Warm maple syrup for serving

Method:
Butter the casserole dish

Streusel:
Mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon together in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment fitted. Add the butter and mix until the topping resembles rough breadcrumbs. Stir in the pecans and set aside. This step can easily be done by hand by rubbing in the butter. Set aside while you make the pumpkin custard.

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Method:
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, pumpkin, vanilla, spices, zest and sugar in a large bowl until fully incorporated and smooth.

Pile the bread cubes into the casserole dish, scattering a few raisins throughout. Pour over the custard, making sure all the cubes are soaked. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours, or overnight if this going to be baked for breakfast.

When you are ready to bake the casserole, pre-heat the oven to 180°C/360°F and scatter over the streusel. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and then bake for a further 30 minutes or until the custard is set and the top is crunchy, browned and caramelised.

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Serve hot with warmed maple syrup and good hot coffee for a perfect Autumnal weekend or holiday breakfast.

Poached Eggs on Sourdough Toast with Tomato and Basil Compote

This recipe was inspired by a vist to the Welbeck Estate near Worksop, Nottingham.  I went with my friend Serena to the Christmas Market and we had brunch in the Harley café, next to the art gallery.  I had total food envy, as she ordered these amazing looking poached eggs on toast with a little pot of tomato sauce that was served with it.  I didn’t actually taste the sauce, but decided to recreate something similar at home.  These poached eggs are on hot buttered sourdough toast and served with a quick tomato and basil compote.

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Serves 2

Ingredients:
4 large and very fresh, free range eggs
Sour dough loaf
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 onion, finely chopped
Small bunch of basil
1tbs olive oil
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
1tbs ketchup
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Cut a cross in the bottom of each tomato and place in a pan of boiling water for a minute or two to loosen the skins.  Plunge into iced water and remove the skins.  Cut them in half and de-seed.

Gently sauté the chopped onion in the oil until soft.

Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to the pan with salt, pepper, ketchup and the Worcestershire sauce.  Cook for around 5 minutes.  Roll up the basil and finely shred with a sharp knife.  Add this to the tomatoes and keep on a low heat while you poach the eggs.

Poached Eggs – 2 ways

The proper way:
To poach the eggs and have them all ready at the same time.  I make them one at a time, cool them down quickly and then reheat them gently.  In order to do this, have a bowl of iced water ready and put a deep pan of salted water onto the heat until simmering.

Break the egg into a cup and using a long handled spoon, swirl the water and gently place the egg in the middle.  Cook gently until the white has just set around the still runny yolk and carefully remove with a slotted spoon and place in the iced water.  Repeat with the other eggs.

When you have all the eggs ready and waiting in the iced water, you are ready to assemble.

Pop the bread in to toast and gently place all the eggs in the hot water.  They will take around 2 minutes to heat up.

When they are ready, butter the toast and lift out the eggs one by one, blotting any excess water onto a paper towel and place on the toast.  This will ensure everything is ready at the same time. Serve the compote on the side.

You can easily make this recipe ahead by refrigerating the tomato compote and keeping the eggs in cold water and storing in a leak-proof container for up to 3 days in the fridge before re-heating.

The cheat’s way to poach eggs (as shown in the photograph):
Put a pan of water on the heat and bring up to a simmer

Place four squares of cling film on the counter top and brush very lightly with vegetable oil – nothing with a strong taste.  Place your lightly oiled squares over 4 ramekins and carefully break the eggs into each one.

Gather up the cling film, leaving no air in the parcel.  Twist to secure each of the eggs within the plastic and lower into the simmering water, leaving the twisted ends standing proud, so you are able to pull them out again.

Leave for a few minutes, until the whites have just set, leaving runny yolk, and then carefully and very gently take them out again.  Unwrap your perfectly cooked eggs and place on the waiting toast.  Season with a little salt and pepper.

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