The art of home cooking is about making life easier for yourself, not harder, whether you’re making a Scandi-style brunch or a coconut rice pudding
Fri 24 Feb 2017 17.00 GMTLast modified on Tue 9 Jul 2019 09.35 BST
Thomasina Miers’ poached eggs with melted leeks and chipotle-tahini dressing.
Thomasina Miers’ poached eggs with melted leeks and chipotle-tahini dressing. Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay
Breakfast and brunch are among my favourite meals, and equally delicious in all their forms, whether sweet, savoury, salty, healthy, fried, poached or baked. They have the advantage that the rest of the day stretches ahead, so even if you eat a little too much, you can still recover by bedtime.
Puddings weren’t a big thing in our house when I was growing up, so once I got to an age where I could cook myself, I had a whole world to discover. I started with creme brulee, which in the 1980s seemed the height of sophistication: what could be better than the magic of cracking through a golden sugar crust? Next came profiteroles, a real showstopper for a born showoff and a fine way to eat lots of chocolate ganache. From choux pastry I ventured into shortcrust and rough puff, and from there into any other pudding I found in my parents’ cookbook collection.
Now, with children in the equation, it seems churlish not to have some sort of pudding at the end of a weekend lunch. With work, family and friends pulling you in all directions, there isn’t lots of time to spare, so I tend to stick to a list of puddings that I feel are definitely worth the effort. It doesn’t need to be a great undertaking; it just needs to hit the spot when your tastebuds are searching for a hit of something sweet at the end of a meal.
Poached eggs with melted leeks and chipotle-tahini dressing
Watch Thomasina Miers cook her poached eggs with melted leeks and chipotle-tahini dressing
This is for those days when you’re shattered, but crave something healthy and not too heavy. In a way, it’s a tour of my culinary life: my granny lived in Wales and always made leek quiche when we came to stay, so the smell of leeks frying takes me back to the warmth of her kitchen and that quaking, cheesy tart; the tahini and za’atar make me think of my time pottering around the Middle Eastern food shops of Shepherd’s Bush; and the chipotle, one of Mexico’s classic ingredients, is the final touch. Feeds two to three.
Thomasina Miers: the ultimate roast chicken and six other easy recipes
3 large leeks
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
The juice of 1 lemon
1 heaped tbsp chipotle in adobo, finely chopped
75g natural yoghurt
2 poached eggs per person, to serve
2-4 slices sourdough or rye bread
Olive oil, to serve
Za’atar, to serve
Top and tail the leeks, then peel off and discard the outer layer. Cut the leeks in half lengthways, wash under cold running water, drain and cut into finger-width rounds.
Put a large, heavy-based frying pan on a high heat and, after a few minutes, add the butter. When it is melted and sizzling, add the leeks, turn down the heat to medium, season generously, and saute for five to 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until collapsed and soft.
Meanwhile, put the tahini, garlic and half the lemon juice in a small bowl with the chipotle, and beat with a fork until smooth. Stir in the yoghurt, taste and season; add more lemon juice if it needs brightening.
Poach the eggs and toast the bread, drizzling it with a little olive oil afterwards. Top the toast with the leeks, eggs and a sprinkling of za’atar, and eat with great dollops of the dressing.
Thomasina Miers’ Scandi-style breakfast.
FacebookTwitterPinterest Thomasina Miers’ Scandi-style breakfast. Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay
Thanks to Snaps & Rye, a Danish restaurant in west London, I’m getting sucked right into the current Scandinavian food craze. This typifies its fresh, sharp flavours, and with a bloody mary makes a great grown-up brunch. You will need a sharp knife, a box grater and, ideally, a mandoline. Feeds four.
For the rösti
½ celeriac (about 350g), peeled
300g floury potatoes (such as maris pipers), peeled
½ onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp salt
2 heaped tbsp plain flour
Vegetable oil, to fry
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For the rémoulade
Juice of 1 lemon
½ celeriac (about 350g), peeled
4 tbsp creme fraiche
1½ tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp grated horseradish (fresh is best; avoid horseradish cream)
1 small handful dill fronds, finely chopped, plus extra to serve
2 green apples
200g smoked salmon
1 lemon, quartered
To make the rösti, coarsely grate the celeriac and potatoes, then mix with the onion. Add half the salt and put in a colander set over a bowl, to drain off any liquid. For the rémoulade, fill a bowl with cold water and add half the lemon juice. Cut the celeriac into 2- to 3mm-thick slices (with a mandoline, ideally), then into matchsticks, and add to the bowl (the lemon stops it discolouring).
Whisk the creme fraiche with the rest of the lemon juice, mustard and olive oil, season generously, and add the horseradish and dill.
Peel and coarsely grate the apple, then stir into the dressing. Drain the celeriac, tip it on to a tea towel and dry. Add to the dressing and toss to coat. Check the seasoning, cover and refrigerate.
Squeeze out any excess liquid from the potatoes and celeriac. Whisk the egg with the flour and remaining half-teaspoon of salt, and combine with the vegetables. Use your hands to form the mix into small patties; you should end up with about eight.
Generously oil the base of a large frying pan and heat over a medium-high flame. Fry the rösti in batches for five minutes a side (make sure they’re not touching), until crisp and golden, then drain on kitchen paper. Keep warm in a low oven while you cook the remaining rösti.
Serve with creme fraiche, a few slices of smoked salmon, a sprinkle of extra dill, a wedge of lemon and the fiery rémoulade on the side.
Unbelievably dark and delicious chocolate cake
Thomasina Miers’ unbelievably dark and delicious chocolate cake.
FacebookTwitterPinterest Thomasina Miers’ unbelievably dark and delicious chocolate cake. Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay
This cake is very popular among my friends, possibly because it has a sophisticated edge thanks to a mere hint of cinnamon and a generous scrunch of sea salt. I stole the recipe from a friend of my parents when I was eight, which gives you an idea of how easy it is. Over the years, the cake base has undergone numerous makeovers: as a tray of brownies drizzled with mescal and salted caramel, for one, as well as in all sorts of shapes with crazy toppings for children’s parties. Most recently, I bathed it in a Mars bar sauce and topped it with chopped-up Flakes, a handful each of Rolos and M&Ms, and a dusting of edible glitter – the things we do. No matter what it looks like when it goes into the oven, it always comes out looking and tasting outrageously good. Makes one very large cake.
380g butter, plus extra for the tins
380g dark 70% cocoa solids chocolate, roughly chopped
380g caster sugar
2 small pinches ground cinnamon
Several large pinches salt
200g plain flour
450ml double cream
Heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5 and butter and line the base of two 20cm nonstick cake tins.
Melt the butter in a medium pan on a low heat, then stir in the chocolate, taking care not to burn it. When the mixture turns smooth and velvety, add the sugar, cinnamon and salt, stir until the sugar dissolves, then slowly sift in the flour, stirring to combine. Beat the eggs, then beat into the chocolate mix a little at a time.
Pour into the tins and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the outside is dark and a skewer comes out just clean. Leave to cool for 15 minutes, then turn out on to wire racks.
Whip the cream until it just holds its shape, then sandwich the cooled cakes together. Add any topping you fancy – salted caramel or chocolate sauce, say, or dark berries and a scattering of icing sugar – though I usually wolf it down just as it is.
My favourite apple cake
I grew up eating this at my friend Jo’s house. It’s a fluffy, pillowy sort of cake, the kind you want to eat warm with creme fraiche or vanilla ice-cream. The apples can be as bashed up as you like, so it’s great for autumn, when there is a glut; mix up the varieties for a more varied texture. To make it gluten-free, replace the self-raising flour with a mixture of ground almonds and gluten-free flour. Feeds six.
150g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
225g self-raising flour
1 level tsp baking powder
200g caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp almond extract
2 tbsp rum
350g apples (use a few different varieties, if possible), peeled and cored
25g flaked almonds
Heat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3 and lightly butter a deep 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin. Put the flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs, cinnamon, almond extract, rum and melted butter in a bowl, mix until blended, then beat for a minute. Pour half the mixture into the tin and spread out evenly.
Thickly slice the apples and lay on top of the batter in the tin, piling them mostly towards the centre. Using two spoons, roughly spoon the remaining cake mix over the apples: this is quite an awkward operation, so just make sure it covers the centre of the cake properly – it will spread out while baking. Sprinkle the almonds on top, then bake for 90 minutes, until golden and shrinking away from the sides of the tin. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out, cut into slices and serve warm.
Coconut jasmine rice pudding
Talk about comfort food. If you can’t get wholegrain jasmine rice, which has a lovely nuttiness, stick to white. Coconut sugar is available in delis, healthfood shops and online, and has a gorgeous butterscotch flavour, but soft brown sugar works, too. When mangoes are out of season, serve with a spoonful of strawberry or raspberry jam. Feeds four to six.
150g Thai jasmine wholegrain rice
25g coconut sugar
30g caster sugar
400ml coconut milk (plus the empty can full of water)
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 limes
2 handfuls unsweetened flaked coconut
2 ripe alphonso mangoes
100-150ml coconut yoghurt, Greek yoghurt or double cream
Heat the oven to 150C/300F/gas mark 2. Mix the rice, sugars, coconut milk, can of water, vanilla extract, orange blossom water (if using) and lime zest in a 500ml ovenproof dish. Stir in a tablespoon of lime juice and bake for an hour and a half, until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid but is still moist; give it a stir every half-hour or so. Check the grains: they should be plump and tender. If not, cook for 15 minutes more.
Meanwhile, scatter the flaked coconut on a baking tray and toast in the same oven until pale golden.
Once cooked, remove the rice from the oven and leave to cool, then cover with cling-film and chill for at least two hours.
To serve, peel and dice the mangoes, then toss with the rest of the lime juice. Stir the yoghurt or cream through the pudding: you want a lovely, loose consistency that drops easily from a spoon, like a runny risotto. Top with mango and coconut, and serve.
• This is an edited extract from Home Cook, by Thomasina Miers, published next week by Guardian Faber at £25. To order a copy for £17.50, go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846.