Category: Breakfast

Breakfast bread & butter bake

held back on the alliteration in that title – after all, I used brown bread, and British vegetables, and considered some bonus bacon. But I figured just the four Bs would be cheesy enough.

Having the time and space to make a proper breakfast feels like a funny little luxury to me. It’s the pottering around in a quiet kitchen, coffee brewing on the table while I whisk ingredients. It’s the joy of keeping one eye on what’s cooking and your mind on how the day might unfold. Breakfast is the reason I dream of having a big kitchen with lots of natural light – as much as I love the challenge of a layer cake or the satisfaction of making a complicated dinner, it’s those mornings sipping sweet tea and flipping pancakes in pyjamas that I fantasise about.

There’s a possibility it’s the wrong week to suggest making breakfast in your oven, but I’ll say this: at least it isn’t waffles. I spent Monday morning sweating away in the kitchen making waffles for breakfast, stood over the iron and in front of the oven keeping them warm and occasionally putting my head into the fridge. Worth it? Yeah, especially when I realised I had leftover crumble topping to throw on them, but I can’t say I’ll be repeating it while the weather is so warm. This recipe means you can pop it in and leave the room to avoid overheating.

It makes the most of leftovers – the half pack of mushrooms, a handful of spinach, a few slices of bread, however much cheese you’ve got kicking about – and uses the vegetables that are in season right now.

We do it like this.

Serves four, or three quite hungry people.

Breakfast bread & butter bake // The Dinner Bell

Ingredients

100g mushrooms, sliced
12 asparagus spears, woody ends removed and stems cut into thirds
3 large eggs
375ml milk
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
6 slices old bread, halved diagonally
A generous handful of spinach
Chunk of cheese (as much as you like! I did not get these thighs by measuring cheese)
Seasoning
Butter, for greasing

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C, and grease a medium sized baking dish.
  2. Over medium heat in a large pan, cook the asparagus pieces and mushroom slices until just softening. As they cook, whisk together the eggs, milk, and mustard.
  3. Remove the mushrooms and asparagus from the heat. Dip a slice of bread in the egg mixture, transfer to the baking dish, almost-standing, and layer with mushroom, asparagus and spinach, and repeat. When all the bread and vegetables are arranged in the dish, grate as much cheese as you fancy over the top. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until deep golden brown.
The lady behind The Dinner Bell! I’m that person who doesn’t let you leave their flat without eating something, and will probably press a parcel of cookies or cake into your hands as you head to the door.

I’m a sub-editor by day, avid book-reader by night, and octopus fan always. I live in north London, but little bits of my heart still belong to Norfolk, where I grew up, and Sheffield, where I went to uni and finally lost my bumpkin accent.

Almost Virtuous Waffles

“I,” I declared to my flatmate, four and a half years ago, “am going to get a waffle iron, to celebrate moving to London.”

Spoiler: I did not get a waffle iron. Until this month, when my lovely colleagues bought me one. I am an idiot, and it is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Admittedly, I once said that about a pod coffee machine too, but we have all been young and foolish (and then older and foolish).

Anyway, a waffle habit is a hard one to sustain, due to the fact that a lot of the recipes out there use a load of butter. I mean…enough butter to make a 12-person cake with, some of them. A horrendous quantity.

So! Waffles, made fluffy with egg white, with minimal, and even then, optional, butter. A lil bit of sugar. A good basis for fruit and yoghurt, or avocado and eggs, or cheese, under the grill.  Read More

The lady behind The Dinner Bell! I’m that person who doesn’t let you leave their flat without eating something, and will probably press a parcel of cookies or cake into your hands as you head to the door.

I’m a sub-editor by day, avid book-reader by night, and octopus fan always. I live in north London, but little bits of my heart still belong to Norfolk, where I grew up, and Sheffield, where I went to uni and finally lost my bumpkin accent.

Cardamom and date wreaths

T

he pub was where I realised it: with just over 100 days to go, I am on a crash course for relearning patience. CardamomDatePerhaps not relearning; perhaps stretching through deep breaths and pressing outwards, like yoga. 100 days until the referendum, I mean, of course. Referendum debate is unavoidable now, whether it’s through facebook — oh god, facebook — or thrust into your actual face by a man waving The Sun, in a strangely accusatory manner, in a south London boozer.

Because that’s how the conversations start. Not through a natural topic change, but as a result of one person brandishing their opinion, treating their anecdotes like knuckledusters, as if when they hit you enough, they’ll win.

It won’t relent over the next three months; the same old arguments will continue to be trotted out by the same people, often unprompted, and unnecessary when we both know neither will change their mind. And  I will be there thinking, “We could be talking about books right now, or food, or anything, honestly anything, else.” So we breathe, and we press at the barriers of our tolerance, feeling them expand, and we let these next few months run their course.

This bread, too, requires patience, and the ability to know when it’s time to walk away and let things play out. All the grinding and rising and warming and soaking and blitzing that has to be done before you can enjoy the waft of butter and spice from the oven.

But it’s worth it.
Read More

The lady behind The Dinner Bell! I’m that person who doesn’t let you leave their flat without eating something, and will probably press a parcel of cookies or cake into your hands as you head to the door.

I’m a sub-editor by day, avid book-reader by night, and octopus fan always. I live in north London, but little bits of my heart still belong to Norfolk, where I grew up, and Sheffield, where I went to uni and finally lost my bumpkin accent.

The definitive guide to making perfect poached eggs

That’s right, perfect poached eggs. It’s time, I think, to pull together *dramatic movie dun-dun-DUUHNN* a definitive guide to poaching eggs, beyond the pods.

Since I started writing this blog, through its evolution from pure baking to a more rounded focus, one thing has been a constant. The typefaces have changed, my home has changed, and the URL has changed, but this one thing has, for almost three years, remained the same.

I have consistently been haunted by poach pods.

A little how-to on silicone poach pods has been my most popular post for a long time, and by a huge margin. They’re there 11 months of the year, hanging out at the top of blog stats. Tripping me up when I’m looking at actual recipes. Because, let’s face it, we can do better.

Read More

The lady behind The Dinner Bell! I’m that person who doesn’t let you leave their flat without eating something, and will probably press a parcel of cookies or cake into your hands as you head to the door.

I’m a sub-editor by day, avid book-reader by night, and octopus fan always. I live in north London, but little bits of my heart still belong to Norfolk, where I grew up, and Sheffield, where I went to uni and finally lost my bumpkin accent.

Honey-roasted peach and cinnamon muffins

Sometimes, the things you love most are the things you fear. I adore enormous bookstores but sometimes when I walk into them my heart beats faster, because Oh, excellent, there are so many books! but also Oh no. There are so many books and there’s no way I’ll ever be able to read even a small percentage of them all, why isn’t there more time in the day? 

PeachportI love holding my niece, who is six months old and squishy, with big blue eyes and very little hair, and she is wriggly and I. Must. Not. Drop. The. Squirmy. Baby. I stand her on my lap, one tiny, ticklish foot on each thigh, and I do not know what to say to her. Small talk is hard enough with a fully-grown human.

I will always want crispy bacon on my burgers, but if I grill it, I will watch it, cross-legged and unblinking on the floor like I’m on the Bake Off, just in case the fat catches and bursts into flames like it did that one time when I was a kid.

There’s a big place in my heart for huge, fluffy muffins – the properly craggy-topped ones, not supermarket double chocolates, all sticky on top and dry at the bottom – and I am convinced that I can’t make them. Read More

The lady behind The Dinner Bell! I’m that person who doesn’t let you leave their flat without eating something, and will probably press a parcel of cookies or cake into your hands as you head to the door.

I’m a sub-editor by day, avid book-reader by night, and octopus fan always. I live in north London, but little bits of my heart still belong to Norfolk, where I grew up, and Sheffield, where I went to uni and finally lost my bumpkin accent.