The national mood is a little grey right now, so bring some sunshine to your table with these brunch recipes by Australia’s “king of breakfast” Bill Granger.
Home cooking has taken on a new dimension in 2020, as our social lives and eating patterns are disrupted by ever-changing pandemic restrictions. But while you’ve probably experimented with making banana bread, focaccia or Dalgona coffee over the last seven months, you may not have focused so much on brunch recipes.
Which is a shame, because a no-holds-barred brunch is one of the most cheering meals one can prepare. Brunch is an uncompromising treat, featuring food that’s bound to make you smile (sunny eggs, spicy condiments, fluffy pancakes), that signifies you have the luxury of time (you don’t sit down to a languorous mid-morning meal on a day of stressful deadlines, after all). And as new lockdown restrictions come into force in many places around the UK, banning indoor restaurant dining with anyone outside your household or ‘bubble’, a sunshiny DIY brunch is an easy way to bring some joy to your weekends.
Bill Granger, otherwise known as Australia’s “king of breakfast”, is one man who knows about brunch’s joyful potential. With a no-rules approach to dining and dishes that sing with the energy of an all-day cafe, the chef’s name has become synonymous with Australia’s enjoyably relaxed food culture – as you’ll know if you’ve ever visited a branch of Granger & Co, his famed London restaurants in Chelsea, Clerkenwell, Notting Hill and King’s Cross.
Feel like your brunch repertoire could do with a pick-me-up? Below, you’ll find three recipes from Granger’s new cookbook, Australian Food. If pancakes are your go-to brunch pick, try his signature dish: ricotta hotcakes topped with honeycomb butter and banana. For a sunny, savoury recipe that will instantly brighten a grey autumn morning, go for his iconic sweetcorn fritters with roast tomatoes, bacon and avocado salsa.
And for the ultimate low-maintenance brunch, follow Granger’s recipe for baked green eggs with roast tomato and chilli salsa – a fresh, colourful traybake that epitomises his easygoing cooking style. Cool Sydney cafe vibes at your kitchen table, coming right up…
Ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter and banana
Bill says: “This is the original fluffy ricotta hotcake, on the menu at the first bills, on the first day. In Japan these were credited as the start of the trend for the cloud-like soufflé pancakes described as fluffy or fuwa fuwa – surely the world’s best onomatopoeia? Our Japanese kitchen teams have turned them into an art form and now we get letters from people wanting to train as dedicated ‘hotcake chefs’.”
For the honeycomb:
- light-flavoured oil, for greasing
- 150g caster sugar
- 75g golden syrup
- 1 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
For the honeycomb butter:
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons runny honey
- 90g honeycomb, above or shop-bought, crushed
For the ricotta hotcakes:
- 300g ricotta
- 175ml milk
- 4 eggs, separated
- 125g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 50g butter
- icing sugar
- 1 banana, halved and sliced lengthways
To make honeycomb, lightly oil a 20cm cake tin. Put the sugar and syrup in a heavy-based pan over medium–low heat. Swirl the pan to dissolve the sugar, then stir with a spatula until all dissolved – this might take 10–15 minutes, so be patient and do not let the mixture bubble at this stage.
Turn up the heat, use a sugar thermometer if you have one and heat the mixture to 155˚C or until a dark amber caramel. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the bicarbonate of soda until golden and foaming. Be careful not to overstir: you want to retain as much air in the mixture as possible.
Carefully pour into the tin. Leave to harden and cool for about 90 minutes. Break into chunks and crush with a rolling pin. If you are making honeycomb butter, you will need half the amount, so store the rest in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. You can dip it in melted chocolate and sprinkle over ice cream. Or make double the amount of butter and freeze.
To make the honeycomb butter, blend the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Roll into a log, wrap in greaseproof paper and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.
To make the hotcakes, mix together the ricotta, milk and egg yolks. Sift the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt into another bowl. Add the ricotta mixture and stir to combine.
Beat the egg whites in a clean dry bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold into the batter in two batches with a large metal spoon.
Melt a little butter in a large non-stick frying pan. Add 2 tablespoons of batter per hotcake, cooking in batches. Cook over low–medium heat for 2 minutes, or until golden underneath.
Turn and cook the other side until golden and cooked through. Serve dusted with icing sugar, with sliced banana and honeycomb butter.
Sweetcorn fritters with roast tomatoes, bacon and avocado salsa
Bill says: “Tex Mex was huge around the time we opened Bills [Granger’s first restaurant, which opened in Sydney in 1993]. Tinned chipotles were flavour of the month and Navajo blankets were being dragged down every fashionable catwalk. These sweetcorn fritters were my nod to that, but they outlived the phase and are still on the menu. With its combination of crunch and big flavours, this is my own favourite breakfast dish.”
For the roast tomatoes:
- 4 ripe roma tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For the avocado salsa:
- 1 large avocado, diced
- 1 ½ tomatoes, deseeded and diced
- 2 tablespoons chopped coriander
- 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped spring onion or red onion
- 1 dash Tabasco sauce, optional
For the sweetcorn fritters:
- 125g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 100ml milk
- 2 corn cobs
- ½ red pepper, diced
- 2 spring onions, sliced
- 1 large handful mixed chopped coriander and parsley
- 4 tablespoons light-flavoured oil, for frying
- baby spinach or rocket
- 4 grilled bacon rashers
- extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
To make the roast tomatoes, preheat the oven to 180˚C. Place the tomatoes on a baking tray, cut side up, and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes.
To make the avocado salsa, gently toss together all the ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
To make the fritters, sift the flour, baking powder, salt and paprika into a large bowl, stir in the sugar and make a well in the centre.
Mix together the eggs and milk and pour slowly into the well in the dry ingredients, whisking to a smooth, lump-free batter. The batter will be quite stiff.
Slice the kernels off the corn cobs and place the corn, capsicum, spring onions and herbs in a mixing bowl. Add just enough batter to lightly bind them. (Any leftover batter can be kept in the fridge for 3 days; do not mix with the corn until you are ready to cook.)
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and drop in 2 tablespoons of batter per fritter, cooking 4 fritters at a time. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the undersides are golden. Turn and cook the other side. Transfer to a plate and keep warm while cooking the rest.
Serve the fritters with roast tomato halves, avocado salsa, a little spinach or rocket and a rasher of bacon. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil if you like.
Baked green eggs with roast tomato and chilli salsa
Bill says: “Baked eggs are the organised entertainer’s dream. (I always think I’m going to be ‘the organised entertainer’ but I can never quite be that person. If there’s ever a chance that I’m being organised, I get over-enthusiastic and add something else into the equation, causing chaos.) What you need here is an oven tray with lots of little baking dishes. You can even fill the dishes and keep them in the fridge overnight, ready to bake the next day.”
- 2 large roma tomatoes
- 1 large red chilli
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
- 500g swiss chard
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons cardamom pods, seeds removed and ground, or ground cardamom
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 200ml double cream
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 8 eggs
- 4 heaped tablespoons sour cream
- sweet smoked paprika, to sprinkle
- sourdough toast, to serve
To make the roast tomato & chilli salsa, using tongs, hold the tomatoes and chilli directly over a gas flame, or cook over a hot barbecue or under a hot grill, for 5–10 minutes, turning frequently until blackened. Remove from the heat and place in an airtight container.
Leave for 5 minutes, then peel away the charred skins and any stalks. Halve the tomatoes, discard the seeds and chop the flesh. Finely chop the chilli and add to the tomato with the oil and sweet smoked paprika. Set aside until ready to serve.
Shred the chard leaves and set aside; finely slice the stalks. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, add the chard stalks, garlic and spices and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the stalks are tender.
Add the shredded leaves to the pan with 2–3 tablespoons water and cook for 5–8 minutes, until the leaves are wilted and soft. Increase the heat, pour in the cream and lemon juice and simmer for 3 minutes to reduce the cream. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Spoon the chard mixture into four 250–300ml ovenproof dishes. Make 2 holes in the mixture and crack an egg into each hole. Cover with foil and bake for 12–15 minutes, or until the whites are set and the yolks runny.
Add a spoonful of sour cream and roast tomato and chilli salsa to each dish. Sprinkle with smoked paprika and serve with sourdough toast.
From Australian Food by Bill Granger (£20, Murdoch Books), out now
Photography: Mikkel Vang