Rise and shine

Bart Beek | VOLUME 29, ISSUE 6
Breakfast can be so much more than vegemite on toast and a cuppa... start your day in style with this selection of healthy and varied choices.
Breakfast can be so much more than vegemite on toast and a cuppa... start your day in style with this selection of healthy and varied choices.

You may have noticed how busy cafés and restaurants have become in the morning... heading out for breakfast is a trend that's on the rise and the early morning weekend trade is almost as good during the working week.

The aroma of great coffee and freshly grilled bacon is very tempting but gone are the days of plain old bacon and eggs served on square white toast, with cafés now producing a breakfast list as long as a lunch or dinner menu. They're offering café-baked breads, poached eggs with hummus, avocado and dukkah, pesto scrambled eggs with soft goat's cheese, and many other exciting and delicious breakfast choices.

Start a romantic breakfast for two with my champagne cocktail - I love the added orange flavour imparted by some Grand Marnier, plus a hint of bitters and the lemon zest.

If you desire a healthier start to the day, try a delicious chilled smoothie. They're tasty, nutritious and the perfect way to start your day - like my fresh berry and garden mint combination or the banana and passionfruit version with a touch of honey and finished with nutmeg.

For a breakfast dish that's packed with flavour, try the layered ratatouille with scrambled eggs. This one is just like the version created in the 2007 Walt Disney Pixar epic Ratatouille. It's sensational and best made the day before. I present it with creamy scrambled eggs served on toasted honey and oat bread.

Or try my grilled, herbed mushrooms served on grilled pumpkin-seed sourdough with roasted tomatoes and torn buffalo mozzarella with basil.

Crispy butter puff pastry, slow-roasted onions, fresh thyme and soft poached eggs are delicious, but add to that a little salsa verde and you're in tastebud heaven!

Champagne cocktail

This cocktail is perfect for that special breakfast occasion. Slightly sweet, rich and tangy - the perfect way to start a special day!

1 sugar cube
1/2 tsp Angostura bitters
15ml Grand Marnier
120ml champagne
1 twist of lemon rind

Place the sugar cube into a champagne flute and moisten with the bitters. Pour in the Grand Marnier and fill the glass with champagne. Present with a twist of lemon rind.

Summer berry and mint smoothie

1/2 cup strawberries, washed, hull removed
1/2 cup raspberries
1/4 cup blueberries
1/2 cup apple juice
50g natural yoghurt
4 mint leaves
8 ice cubes

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into chilled glasses and serve.

Banana and passionfruit smoothie

1 banana
200g natural yoghurt
1 passionfruit, juice and pulp
1 tblsp honey
8 ice cubes
1 pinch ground nutmeg
Mint sprigs, to garnish

Place all ingredients except the nutmeg and mint sprigs into a blender and process until thick and smooth. Pour into chilled glasses, dust with the ground nutmeg, and finish with the mint sprigs.

Poached eggs on herbed onion tarts with salsa verde

In this dish, the hero ingredient is a stunning salsa verde made with Spanish sherry vinegar. At home, I also serve it as a dip with delicious bread.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4

2 small brown onions, peeled and sliced 1cm thick
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tblsps fresh thyme leaves
2 tblsps extra virgin olive oil
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tblsp butter, melted
1 sheet butter puff pastry, cut into discs the size of a small pan
4 large free-range eggs

Salsa verde
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 cup basil
1/2 cup mint
1 tblsp Spanish sherry vinegar
1 tblsp capers
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine the salsa verde ingredients in a small blender. Check the seasoning and store in a lidded container in the refrigerator.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Line an oven tray with baking paper and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle on the cumin seeds and the thyme leaves. Cover with the onion slices, season, and bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Heat a small crêpe or blini pan and brush with melted butter. Place several roasted onion slices onto the pan and top with a disc of puff pastry. Place into the hot oven and bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Remove and place onion-side-up onto a serving plate.

Poach the eggs until soft (about three minutes), drain away any water and place onto the onion pastry.

Drizzle a spoonful of the salsa verde over the top and serve immediately.