breakfast

mince pie porridge

It’s everything you think it will be.

It’s everything you think it will be.

Friends, I’m writing this from the hotel near Heathrow Airport where Tom and I are spending our last night in the UK!

In a matter of hours, I’ll swapping winter for summer - and this breakfast won’t exactly be seasonally appropriate. But with Australia’s changeable weather, you never know! I made up this breakfast last year, as the first snow was falling in London and I wanted something hearty and warming but indulgent for breakfast on one of my work-from-home days. It was so delicious I simply had to share it! I’ve never seen anyone else make this so I guess it’s a PM original, haha! You can probably tell by the lack of approximation in the recipe I’ve given below. I’m just a whack it all in kind of cook, and I’m assuming you already know how to make porridge, so this is easy!

It has become my favourite thing to eat for breakfast this time of year in the lead up to Christmas. It’s festive, indulgent and delicious! If you’re a mince pie fan, give it a try. You will be delighted from the first mouthful to the last.

Mince pie porridge

Serves 1 hungry or 2 less hungry people

2 cups rolled oats/porridge oats (I have used Sainsbury’s organic Scottish porridge oats)
Milk of your choice (I like to use oat or almond) - quantity will depend on runny or thick you like your porridge
An appropriate sprinkling of festive spices to your taste - I use a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, but just mixed spice is fine if that’s all you have
Pinch of sea salt
Flaked almonds, or other nuts or seeds you have lying around (I like to add chia) (optional)
2 mince pies
Greek yoghurt or soy cream to serve

Place oats, milk, spices and salt in a small saucepan and stir to combine. Place the pan on a medium heat and stir regularly as it heats up, the oats cook and the porridge thickens. Add more milk if you need it. Add more oats or some chia seeds if it’s too wet!

When it’s nearly ready, add any nuts/seeds (if using) and then crumble the mince pies into the porridge mixture, stirring well. Leave on a low heat, stirring constantly, almost whipping it, to break up the bigger bits of pastry and filling (but be careful!). Once it is all well combined, check for the consistency you like (I sometimes add a little more milk at this stage if it’s got too thick) and then pour into your bowl/s. If you’re feeling very indulgent, you can place another mince pie on the top.

Drizzle with yoghurt or soy cream (my favourite!) and eat! Preferably with Kate Rusby’s Christmas album The Frost is All Over playing softly in the background and watching snow fall.

What’s your favourite festive breakfast?


chilli cheese toast with a fried egg

chilli-cheese-toast-fried-egg

My standard brunch tends to go through phases. After having one of the tastiest breakfast rolls in my life in Sydney in December 2011, my standard go-to Sunday brunch for years was a ciabatta roll with pesto, halloumi, red pepper and a fried egg. For which I am still happy to provide the recipe. It really is so good - for a time, I considered setting up a stand outside Amersham station (which was our local station for a while, in 2013-14) to rival the bacon sandwich man. I thought it would be a lucrative venture. Seriously, those egg-halloumi-pesto rolls were the best. 

But lately things have shifted and chilli cheese toast with a fried egg on top is what Tom and I find ourselves eating on the weekends. I had a similar dish at Dishoom for brunch and loved it so much, making it at home was the next logical step. 

The chutneys that I make this toast with are something of a revelation, and making them has become an obsession of mine. I have embraced my inner Mary Berry and become something of a chutney-maker this last year. There's something so satisfying about putting a pan of ingredients on to simmer on a Sunday afternoon, coming back after an hour and the house has been infused with the sharp smell of spices, ginger and chilli and the sweetness of garlic and tomato.

I much prefer chutneys to jams. They are so versatile, you can put a dollop on top of a curry, soup, a piece of grilled tofu, halloumi or fish. Or spoon directly out of the jar, as I sometimes do.

The two I currently make in regular rotation are: the tomato kasundi from Anna Jones' excellent cookbook The Modern Cook's Year, which I highly recommend; and the aubergine and tamarind chutney from Jackie Kearney's Vegan Street Food, which is also one of my most cooked from cookbooks. Both of them are spicy and have a fierce kick from the chilli, and a tangy sourness that I find so addictive. I couldn't find these specific recipes made available by their creators online but if you google the names, you should be able to find something similar (or buy the books, they are both wonderful and I cook from them a lot). Or use a store-bought chilli chutney, they are very easy to find. But it goes without saying that you should buy the best you can afford. This not a dish on which to skimp, particularly the cheese!

Cheese on toast was one of the first things I learned to make as a child (Anzac biscuits were the first, then pancakes) and while what follows here is hardly a recipe, this is how I do it. 

Chilli cheese toast with a fried egg

For 2

4 pieces of good sourdough bread
Your favourite chilli-spiked spicy chutney or sauce, as much as you like
Some piquant mayonnaise (optional, but does help offset the spiciness. I like to use Japanese Kewpie mayo)
Grated mature cheddar cheese, as much as you like
2 or 4 eggs (depending on whether you're having one or two each)
Olive oil or cooking spray
Freshly ground black pepper
Sprigs of fresh coriander or parsley, or finely chopped spring onion (optional)
A side of wilted, lemon-dressed spinach if you're feeling virtuous (optional)

Preheat your oven to 220 C (fan-forced).

Line a baking tray with foil or baking paper. Place the bread on the tray. Top each slice of bread with spoonfuls of your chosen chilli chutney and spread around to cover the surface of the bread. Evenly squeeze on a little bit of mayonnaise, if using. 

Top the bread with grated cheddar to completely cover the bread.

Bake in the oven for 5 minutes or until golden and bubbling. 

While the toast is in the oven, heat a splash of oil in a frying pan over high heat (or spray the frying pan with cooking spray). Once the pan is hot, crack in your eggs and fry until they are cooked to your liking. I usually cover the pan for a minute so the top of the egg steam-cooks but the bottom remains lacy and crispy.

The toast prior to egg being put on top! 

The toast prior to egg being put on top! 

Put the chilli cheese toast on plates, place the fried egg/s on top, grind some freshly ground pepper on top and scatter the fresh herbs/spring onion if using.

Allow the toast to cool slightly. Then prepare for a taste sensation.