The beautiful colours and light of Autumn herald nights drawing in and darker nights. The Husband hates the switching of the hour but I really embrace the changing of the seasons. Whilst, obviously, I love hot summer days and long summer nights, Autumn and Winter bring their own delights. Crisp, frosty mornings, firelight and drawing the curtains to snuggle down with The Cat and a good book (and not feeling guilty that I should be working in the garden!).
It’s a change of eating/cooking habits, too. Salads and barbeques (although The Husband has been known to be out on ours in snow and ice cooking the excellent flatiron steaks he does!) make way for stews and soups and comfort puddings. It’s also very easy to start piling on a few pounds, too, so I think the best way to avoid that is to start the day well with a good breakfast. Personally, I sit down to fresh fruit, porridge (jumbo oats, milk, a little brown sugar (and a tiny shake of salt), 1 slice of sourdough toast and honey and a large cup of strong coffee. I know breakfasts aren’t for everyone, so I thought I would just give a few suggestions to get you going. They don’t have to be eaten first thing – call them brunch if it makes you feel easier – but they will fill you up, giving you energy for the day and kick start your metabolism.
BREAKFAST SMOOTHIES – Smoothies are a great introduction to breakfast if you don’t normally have much of an appetite first thing. They are also a good portable option if you are off out. Compared with some hardcore recipes, this green smoothie is quite sweet and fruity whilst still giving a healthy serving of greens.
Green and Fruity smoothie
- 40g tinned peach slices (discard liquid)/fresh or frozen fruit
- 40g frozen spinach
- 1 medium banana
- 200ml water (or as required)
Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Add more water to achieve the desired consistency.
Banana and oats smoothie: transform your speckled bananas into an energy-boosting liquid breakfast. Blend 1 ripe banana with 2 tablespoons of oats and 100ml of semi-skimmed milk until smooth. This can also be made using a soya drink.
Very berry smoothie: take 1 banana, 140g of frozen summer berries or forest fruits, 40g of low-fat natural yoghurt and about 100ml of apple juice. Blend the banana and berries until smooth. With the blades whirring, pour in apple juice to achieve the consistency you like.
BREAKFAST PANCAKES – this makes quite a few pancakes, depending on size. However, they freeze beautifully and are also delicious toasted the next day!
- 200g self-raising flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp golden caster sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 25g melted butter, plus extra for cooking
- 200ml milk
- vegetable oil, for cooking
- maple syrup
- toppings of your choice, such as cooked bacon, chocolate chips, blueberries or peanut butter and jam
Mix 200g self-raising flour, 1 ½ tsp baking powder, 1 tbsp golden caster sugar and a pinch of salt together in a large bowl. Create a well in the centre with the back of your spoon then add 3 large eggs, 25g melted butter and 200ml milk. Whisk together either with a balloon whisk or electric hand beaters until smooth then pour into a jug. Heat a small knob of butter and 1 tsp of oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. When the butter looks frothy, pour in rounds of the batter, approximately 8cm wide. Make sure you don’t put the pancakes too close together as they will spread during cooking. Cook the pancakes on one side for about 1-2 mins or until lots of tiny bubbles start to appear and pop on the surface. Flip the pancakes over and cook for a further minute on the other side. Repeat until all the batter is used up. Serve your pancakes stacked up on a plate with a drizzle of maple syrup and any of your favourite toppings.
CHEESY FRENCH TOAST
- 2 eggs , beaten
- 1 tbsp milk
- 35g gruyère , grated
- 1 teasp chopped chives
- knob of butter
- thick slices of baguette loaf
- 60g cherry tomatoes on the vine
- olive oil , for grilling
- sliced ham – serrano is delicious!
- watercress , to serve
Heat the grill to high. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cheese and chives. Melt the butter in a large non-stick pan over a medium heat. Dip slices of bread into the egg mixture, then place them in the pan. Cook for 3-5 mins on each side, or until golden and crisp, then keep warm in a low oven if you need to. Place the vine tomatoes on a baking tray, drizzle with a little oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until they start to soften and blister. On a large platter, pile up the cheesy French bread, grilled tomatoes, sliced ham and a pile of watercress, and dig in!