It's a big call, but I have to say brunch is just about my favourite meal. Sure, there is beauty and skill in dinner and in baking but on the weekends, especially a long weekend, there is nothing I would rather do than have friends for brunch. Not too early so as to be called breakfast, and definitely not specifically lunch, this is a meal that encourages relaxed dining over a few hours.
You can approach it in different ways. If there are just one or two of you, a breakfast salad is a great option. If there are more, I love doing a few different things and setting them on the table for people to help themselves. Some fresh fruit, toast and eggs, muesli, something baked - you can do anything. Pancake parties are fun as everyone can bring a different topping.
It should be relaxing for the cook. A big tray of baked eggs can go into the oven and straight on the table and if you've made the mixture beforehand it's even easier.
Likewise, Bircher muesli only requires a bit of assembly, and makes the most of bountiful summer berries. This recipe is an adaptation of my friend Anne's, which I got addicted to on a holiday a few years ago in Awaroa, in the Abel Tasman. We would wake up and have her bircher muesli, go for a bush walk, then come back to the house for a big brunch cooked on the barbecue.
Bircher is also great to have in the fridge during the working week as it's such a good breakfast. You can mix it with your favourite fruit, nuts and seeds.
A mix of sweet then savoury is great, and again, easy to please a crowd with. Put on some coffee, pick some relaxing music, pop some bubbles if you're celebrating, and enjoy a healthy, filling feast. Happy long weekend.
Haloumi Breakfast Salad
For the roasted cherry tomatoes
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt, and cracked black pepper
Place all ingredients in a small dish, and roast in a hot oven for about 25 minutes, while you're preparing everything else.
For the basil dressing
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Juice of half an orange
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
Small bunch fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
Place all ingredients in a small bowl, and whisk well with a fork or whisk.
For the haloumi
1 block haloumi cheese
¼ cup flour
2 tbsp black sesame seeds
1 tbsp oil, for frying
1 Slice the haloumi into about 6 thick slices. Dust with flour, then press in the sesame seeds to one side of each piece.
2 Heat the oil in a cast-iron frying pan to a medium-high heat.
3 Cook the haloumi on each side until golden. Serve immediately on the salad.
To assemble the salad
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp almonds, chopped
1 cup cooked white quinoa
(cooked according to packet
1 handful rocket or baby spinach leaves
1 ripe avocado, sliced
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Optional: serve with a soft boiled egg
1 In a frying pan, heat the pumpkin seeds and almonds until golden.
2 In a mixing bowl, add the quinoa, rocket or spinach and the almonds and pumpkin seeds.
3 Add the basil dressing and mix gently.
4 Evenly distribute the salad mixture onto each plate.
5 Spoon over the cherry tomatoes, then lay slices of haloumi on top. Add the avocado slices to the plate, and serve immediately with the lemon wedges. Add a soft boiled egg if you wish.
Spiced Baked Eggs
You can make the base mixture ahead, just ensure you heat it before adding the eggs to help them cook
1 tbsp oil
1 red onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 red capsicum, sliced
1 red chilli, seeds removed and thinly sliced (optional)
1 chorizo, sliced in long diagonal pieces
2 tins tomatoes
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup cooked lentils, or 1 tin lentils, drained
Small bunch each of fresh flat-leaf parsley and coriander, roughly chopped
Greek yoghurt, to serve
Pita breads or sourdough, toasted, to serve
1 Preheat oven to 190C.
2 In a medium frying pan, heat the oil to a medium heat, and add the onion. Saute for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic, capsicum, chilli and chorizo. Increase the heat slightly and fry for a few minutes.
3 Add the tomatoes and the paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the lentils. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.
4 Take a medium-sized oven dish and carefully transfer the mixture into it.
5 Make six indents in the mixture for each egg. Crack each egg into a small dish, then slide it in to the indent.
6 Put tray in the oven, and cook for about 20 minutes, until eggs are cooked. Keep a close eye on them, and cook them soft or hard according to your preference.
7 Before serving, garnish with the fresh herbs. Serve with thick natural or Greek yoghurt and warmed pita breads, or toast.
Summer Bircher Muesli
Begin this recipe the night before.
2 cups oats
¼ cup raisins
¾ cup water
1 green apple, grated
1 cup natural yoghurt, plus more to serve
½ cup flaked almond slices
¼ cup pecans or walnuts
Small handful each blackberries, blueberries, raspberries (or berries of your choice)
1 nectarine, cut into small chunks
Honey, to serve
1 In a bowl, place oats, raisins, water, and grated apple. Leave to soak in the fridge overnight.
2 In the morning, add the yoghurt, almonds, pecans or walnuts, berries, and nectarine. Mix together well, ensuring some of the berries colour the mixture.
3 Keep in the fridge until you're ready to serve it.
4 To serve, place a scoop in each bowl, and add a small dollop of yoghurt. Drizzle over some honey and a few more berries.