The Courier-Mail

WINTER BREAKFASTS

It takes a special dish to tempt people out from under the covers on a cold morning. Try these yummy ideas

- MATT PRESTON

Up with the lark, waking to sunshine dappling the covers, and a lovely warm blush in the air … Dream on, that my friends, is a long way off.

So the big question is, if dark and icy mornings persist, what comforting and warming winter breakfasts can coax us to spring out from under those toasty covers? See what you can steal from these ideas to make your winter breakfasts even more heartening.

PORRIDGE

Traditiona­l: Maybe it’s because my ancestors used to wield claymores and run around in plaid kilts with the heather tickling their nethers, but when I think of winter breakfast, I think of porridge. Traditiona­lly, this would be spoons of hot porridge dipped into a mug of icy-cold creamy milk. Try it – amazing! Of course, the porridge would be made with water as the starch of the oats makes them creamy the same way the rice starch makes risotto creamy.

Exotic: If you are looking for a change from oats, think about using other grains, such as spelt or barley, or even seeds like quinoa, millet, or chia instead. But note that chia seeds will give you more of a slippery pudding.

Rice: Rice porridge is breakfast around the world for many people as it gives the same warming bulk that an oat porridge does. In the Spanish-speaking world, you might have it flavoured with cinnamon and lemon rind in the old Moorish part of southern Spain, or swirled with orange peel, egg yolk and cloves in Peru or Chile. You might also find raisins soaked in pisco or whisky garnishing that Chilean one, or a swirl of sweetened condensed milk in Peru, which I’m not sure should catch on here. In Scandinavi­a, their rice pudding will have whipped cream folded through it just before serving with a warm sauce of cherries or raspberrie­s. While congee, a savoury rice porridge, is served across Asia.

BEANS

Baked: Chunks of salty pork, the charry sweet bitterness of a touch of molasses, and the warming weight of navy beans … homemade Boston-style baked beans are a brilliant touch to any cooked breakfast. Remember that those beans can take a host of other flavouring­s, such as chicken, cheese or other pulses, just so long as the bacon is always there to tell everyone that this is a breakfast dish.

EGGS

Whole: I feel that eggs need some help if they are to become a truly winter dish, whether that’s serving them on golden, crunchy potato cakes fresh from the pan, coddled in the warmth of a spicy tomato sauce in a bake – just remember to warm the oven, the baking pan and the sauce before adding your eggs – or presented on thick, buttered, lumberjack pancakes crowned with loads of smoky bacon and a good slosh of maple syrup as a Canadian breakfast. Admittedly, you’ll need to spend all day running from grizzlies to work that off.

Beaten: Also think of eggs beaten so bread can be dunked in the mixture to make eggy bread, or perhaps mixed with sugar or condensed milk added to make French toast. Both of these are only a short step away from a sweet or savoury breakfast bread-and-butter pudding.

CHOCOLATE

Melt: It seems that winter breakfasts have a fair amount of high sugar or high-fat bribery on offer to lure people out of their bedrooms. With this in mind, try Belgian waffles or bowls of hot chocolate with hot croissants, pain au chocolat or Italian doughnuts to dunk in them. For something different, see if melted chocolate toasted sandwiches splashed with a little salt and olive oil have the same result. They do in my house.

BREAD

Bake: Much of the lure of a winter breakfast is the nagging aromas that waft up from the kitchen and under the covers, whether it’s sizzling bacon or the smell of hot bread baking in the oven. I find that mixing up a batch of no-knead bread dough before bed means I can make fresh rolls in the morning. If that’s too much planning, I make quick scones using a mix of yoghurt and self-raising flour, and a greased muffin tin.

Toast: This is another one of those aromas, but it’s coming from the toaster, from the sandwich press – where cheese is melting on ham, tomato softening into the tanning white bread – or from a pan where flatbreads are cooking to be served wrapped around everything. Oh, by the way, give that toast and marmalade a winter boost by sandwichin­g it with split and grilled pork sausages. The pig and marmalade works so well together between the sheets of toast. Thanks for the idea Ms Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune, New York City.

FRUIT

Cooked: You can turn that summer breakfast standard of fresh fruit into something much more wintry if you cook it. Sprinkle brown sugar on a grapefruit half to grill it and make a bruleed grapefruit, or poach everything from pears, apples or citrus in a spiced and raisined sugar syrup to toss on porridge or rice pudding.

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