IT MAY be a meal that has its origins in Britain, but the rest of the world has picked up the brunch baton and run with it, as this selection of recipes from some of London’s finest restaurants demonstrates.
Contrary to popular belief, the Americans did not invent brunch. Guy Beringer, writing in Hunter’s Weekly in 1895, first used the word.
“Instead of England’s early Sunday dinner, a post-church ordeal of heavy meats and savoury pies.” he wrote. “Why not a new meal, served around noon, that starts with tea or coffee, marmalade and other breakfast fixtures before moving along to the heavier fare? By eliminating the need to get up early on Sunday, brunch would make life brighter for Saturday-night carousers.”
The Americans picked up the idea after the Second World War – Hollywood stars breaking up their journey from either the west or east coast would stop in Chicago on Sundays for “brunch”. It quickly became a fixture on the American dining scene, but has taken longer to catch on in Britain.
“I remember us cheering when we first did 100 covers for brunch in a day,” Anna Hansen, the chef and founder of the Modern Pantry in east London, says. “That was in 2008. Now we regularly do 300 each day over the weekend.”
Martin Morales, the owner of Ceviche and Andina, the Peruvian restaurant chain, says that the popularity of brunch is such that “in the future it will be something that we start on a Thursday or Friday.”
Breakfast in general is on the increase. Figures from the market research company NPD Group show that last year the amount of people eating breakfast out grew by 2.4%, while dinner visits only grew by 0.2%.
“Britain has always had a breakfast culture, with the greasy spoons and local caffs,” Miles Kirby, one of the founders of the chain Caravan,” says.
“People like brunch because it’s an easy way for people to get together at the weekend. You can meet your friends, have something to eat and go off and do something.”
It is a sentiment that echoes Beringer.
“Brunch is,” he wrote, “talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.” – The Telegraph
Baked eggs and chorizo
SPICE up your breakfast eggs with a tomato and pepper ragout and make brunch out of breakfast.
This recipe for baked eggs and chorizo with tomato ragout is from Miles Kirby, of the British restaurant, Caravan.
“I think it’s because it’s a really warming dish – it warms the soul a little bit – and you feel like you’re doing something good for your body,” he says of its popularity on the Caravan menu.
4 chorizo sausages
200ml olive oil
½ red pepper, chopped
½ yellow pepper, chopped
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
½ teaspoon ground cumin seeds
½ teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 pinch saffron
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoon Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp parsley leaves, chopped
1 tbsp chilli flakes
Preheat the oven to 200°C/ gas mark 6.
Cut each sausage into three, lengthways. Heat a frying pan, and add the chorizo strips without any oil.
Fry for about five minutes so they cook through, turning regularly. Set aside.
Meanwhile, warm the oil in a large ovenproof pan over a medium heat. Add the peppers, onion and garlic and let them sweat for five minutes, until softened. Add the cumin, coriander and saffron, giving everything a good stir. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and let the mixture bubble for 5-10 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated and you are left with a thick tomato sauce. Season to taste.
Break the eggs on top of the sauce and allow the pan to simmer for a few minutes until you see the whites of the egg begin to cook.
Carefully place the chorizo on top of the eggs, trying not to break the yolks. Put the pan in the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes, or until the whites are cooked and the yolks are still runny. Remove from the oven and add a few dollops of Greek yogurt around the eggs, then top with the parsley and chilli flakes. Serve with crusty bread.