Category Archives: Breakfast

Real baked beans and a walk in the woods

_DSC6717Last weekend my kitchen turned into a baked bean factory. A great friend of mine, Clare Hargreaves, who runs Feast with a Chef (bringing amazing Michelin-starred chefs out to strut their stuff in a village hall),  was organising a dawn chorus walk in the woods and a fabulous breakfast to follow. Clare asked me to provide some proper baked beans to accompany the carefully sourced sausages and bacon and, since she addressed me as the “bean queen”, how could I refuse? I promised early risers that I’d post the recipe and here it is,  if you nip down to the bottom of the page.

For those of you who might need a bit of encouragement when it comes to getting out into the woods here’s a quick glimpse of our little walk earlier on today; there are bluebell woods all over Britain and now’s the time to get your wellies on. If you’re reading this blog abroad then please forgive my showing off a little, we may have plenty of dank, dark days in the UK but we get our rewards too; there really is nothing more beautiful than a glade of bluebells.

Prior’s Wood sits above the village of Portbury, just a few miles from Bristol. There are carpets of wild garlic, just beginning to flower with its lacy  white starbursts of blossom, and then the swathes of bluebells. It’s unimaginably beautiful.

There’s a carrot dangling at the end of the walk too, just to help you up the hills. Every year there’s a fabulous cake stall set up in the driveway by the footpath; villagers bake cakes in aid of St Peter’s Hospice, the church and school. Let me tell you, there’s quite a selection: fruit cakes, lemon drizzle, brownies, marmalade cake, chocolate cake, banana and chocolate chip, coffee and walnut, Victoria sponge and the cakes just keep arriving. This year we actually managed the walk before the cake, but it does take some self discipline. The cake stall will be open this year until 15th May 11am -5pm at weekends and on the bank holiday Monday ( I thoroughly recommend the banana and chocolate chip)


Should cakes not be your thing, or perhaps you can manage a quick cider after your cake (we did), then just a couple of miles down the lane is one of the West Country’s most glorious pubs, The Black Horse at Clapton-in-Gordano. It’s a proper pub that’s managed to escape the poncey -fication of recent years, no light oak and carefully placed prints, just an open fire, old chaps downing the scrumpy and the odd Adge Cutler ( he of Wurzel fame) album cover on the walls.

So that’s your next weekend’s walk and refreshments sorted and now I’d better get down to the beans.

Real Baked Beans

Serves 4 -6

750 g preferably home-cooked or 3 x 14 0z tins haricot beans
1/2 tsp English mustard powder
1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
2 tbsp black treacle
1  x 400 g can of chopped tomatoes
200 ml of good beer (I used Bath Ales – Gem)
2 small onions, peeled but left whole
4 cloves
350 g pork belly, in thick strips, rind removed
salt and pepper
Worcestershire sauce (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 140 c/275 F/Gas Mark 1

Drain your beans, if using home cooked you’ll be using the liquid as stock later, if using canned just tip the gloop away and give the beans a rinse.

Pour the beans into a large cast iron pot or casserole.

Mix up the mustard, treacle, sugar, tomatoes and beer and tip over the beans. Stud your onions with the cloves and toss those into the pot too.

Now, nestle the piece of pork down in amongst the beans with a good teaspoon of salt. Grind over plenty of black pepper.

If the beans are not completely covered with liquid then add a little bean cooking liquid or water. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid or be creative with the tin foil (you just don’t want to lose all those delicious juices) and place in the oven for 3 hours.

Remove the lid and have a taste, this is when to up the salt and pepper then, ( to play around with a dash of Worcestershire sauce if you feel the need (and usually I do). If the beans seem a little dry do add a splash of water but the end dish wants to be thick and sticky.

Pull out the pork and chop it into large chunk, stir it back into the beans and then put the pot back into the oven, uncovered this time, for another 45 minutes to an hour.

Serve with crusty bread .

Veggie Beans
The veggie beans had a sofritto of onion, carrot and celery (fried until soft in olive oil) added with the treacle etc and then were finished off with a some Shiro miso to taste. The miso is absolutely wonderful at creating that Umami  (savoury) depth of flavour.

AND PLEASE DON’T FORGET NEXT WEEKEND…….. Bristol, Food Connections Festival

Sunday May 1st –  No 1 Harbourside, 4.30-7pm
Get your pulses racing!
I’ll be taking part in a fun cook-off with a selection of local chefs. Ideas on how to make beans, lentils and chickpeas the centrepiece of so many really tastey dishes. Click here for info

Monday May 2nd – College Green, 2.00-3pm
Finger on the pulse
Ten chickpea dishes in under an hour. Family-friendly, super-tasty, cheap, healthy,  quick to prepare. Come along and let me inspire you; from simple hummus to Tuscan soup and Punjabi curry. Book here.

The Best Vegetarian Brunch Ever – Lablabi

Today’s World Vegetarian Day and though I’m not a vegetarian myself I’m all for spreading the word about the fabulous veggie food that we should all be eating more of – it’s not just better for the planet it’s better for your waistline too. But you know all that, so I’m not going to keep banging on about why you SHOULD be eating this because quite frankly once you’ve tried it you’ll be wanting to make this again and again.

Lablabi is the traditional breakfast soup served in cafés all over Tunisia, it’s the kind of food that seriously sets you up for the day. This chickpea broth can be as fiery and spicy as you like but be sure to add plenty of lemon juice – it’s the tangy zing that really makes the dish. The recipe comes from my book Pulse  (which I must point out is not purely vegetarian but of course, since it deals with legumes, has loads of veggie recipes). The picture is by the very talented  (and gorgeous) photographer Clare Winfield

Clare Winfield, Pulse

I can just about manage a few tablespoons of muesli and a sweet (I know, appalling) coffee for breakfast first thing but from about 10.30 onwards I’m up for anything. Lablabi makes an amazing brunch and with chickpeas, bread and poached egg it’s pretty hearty and satisfying. You can poach eggs ahead of time for a crowd – here are some pretty comprehensive directions

The capers, olives , spices and harissa give the broth a multi- dimensional flavour. It’s up to you whether you serve everything together as we’ve done in the picture or whether you put all the garnishes in diddy bowls for people to zapp up their own serving as much as they’d like – either way you end up with a riot of Mediterranean colour and flavours.

Tunisian chickpea and lemon broth
Lablabi                                    Serves 4

If you do get around to cooking your own chickpeas their water will really enhance the broth.

For the broth
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
700 g/1  1/2 lb cooked chickpeas or 3 x 400 g tin of chickpeas, drained
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp harissa paste
800 ml/ 1&1/2 pints vegetable stock or chickpea cooking water
Juice of 1 lemon

In the broth
2-4 slices of good, day old rustic bread, ripped into large pieces (I use sour dough)
4 eggs, poached
1 tsp wine vinegar

On the top
4 tsps harissa paste
1 tbsp parsley
2 tbsp capers
12 black olives, chopped
2 red peppers, roasted, skinned and cut into ribbons (optional)
1 lemon sliced into quarters
a dash of extra virgin olive oil.

Take a large saucepan and fry the onion in the olive oil until soft and golden.

Add the garlic and once your kitchen is filled with fabulous wafts throw in the chickpeas, cumin, harissa and  a pinch of salt, stir for a couple of minutes and then pour in the liquid. Traditionally this is the broth produced by the chickpeas as they cook but vegetable stock works well too. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Squeeze in the lemon juice and season with salt.

Place the ripped bread in individual soup bowls, ladle over the broth, throw in some chickpeas and place the egg on top.

Now for all the garnishes: I usually sit a small blob of harissa on top of the egg and serve some more at the table for anyone after the extra kick. Sprinkle over the other delicious bits and serve.

And if this kind of spicy breakfast brunch/breakfast is your thing and you just haven’t got the time to whip it up yourself here are …..

My Top 3 Brunch Spots
I make no apologies for the fact that two are in Bristol – it’s where I live and the food scene is just great (and ever evolving)

Bakers and Co on the Gloucester Road (Bristol) make the best huevos rancheros this side of Mexico (slow cooked pinto beans, salsas, tortilla and fried egg) and I defy you not to manage to squeeze in an amazing pastry too.

The Souk Kitchen on North Street, Bedminster (Bristol) does fabulous brunches on a Saturday and Sunday. Lots of fragrant North African flavours (as well as a good old English if you must), I had an incredible beetroot and cumin puree with my egg and sourdough last time we went. On Sundays there’s a great food market opposite too (1st Sunday in the month has lots of retro clothes etc too)

Honey and Co Warren Street, London Oh yes, it absolutely lives up to all the hype (haven’t heard the hype? Where the hell have you been?- certainly not reading my blog!) As well as having published 2 of my favourite recipe books ever, these guys serve up a simply amazing brunch . The shakshuka (eggs in a spiced tomato sauce) is to die for, their aubeginey-feta frittata just heaven, the cakes on the windowsill just can’t be resisted. GO. On weekdays there’s a great breakfast menu, on Saturdays it becomes a feast (closed Sunday).

Homemade Granola and Mothering Sunday

Jenny Chandler Mothering Sunday

Last year I wrote a blog piece for Borough Market about Mothering Sunday and my hopes for a lengthy lie-in and simple day of feeling appreciated and loved. As I said, I have no need for a luxury pampering kit or a “Mum in a million” mug and really no desire to be woken up with the dawn chorus to eat breakfast in bed.

Surprise, surprise. I was woken at seven (can’t complain too much, but not exactly a lie in) by Imi and Peter with a “Mum Rules” mug and two trays of breakfast delights for us to spill on the sheets. And yes, the sheets were filled with scratchy crumbs when I got to bed that night and there was jam on the duvet cover. They’d also been up to some baking………. Just in case you haven’t read my blog before and assume that I have two children, Peter is in his fifties, Imi was seven at the time. They managed to confuse tablespoons for the teaspoons of baking powder in the recipe so that the chocolate cake literally erupted leaving a small chewy biscuit in the bottom of the cake tin and a rather large cowpat of molten chocolate lava burnt onto the bottom of the oven.

SO….if you’re reading Peter (or any father for that matter, who might just manage to steer proceedings in their own household) This is my dream Mother’s day morning.

Having a lengthy doze in bed whilst Imi spends a ridiculous amount of time laying a beautiful table, adorning it with a few flowers (provide a suitably small vase or the garden/window box could be decimated) and serving up some fabulous homemade treats. Imi and I have been cooking and baking together quite a lot recently so she’d be up to scratch with some muffins….. But, my dessert island option would be this homemade honey granola with tangy rhubarb compote and a bowl of Greek yoghurt.

Jenny Chandler granolaHomemade Granola

50 g unsalted butter or 4 tablespoons of coconut oil
150 g honey, maple syrup (or even,at a push, golden syrup)
300 g rolled oats
150 g raw nuts such as cashews, almonds, hazelnuts or pistachios
100 g seeds such as pumpkin or sunflower
100 g dried fruit such as apricots or figs, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 150 ºC.

Add the butter and honey/syrup to a large saucepan (it’s a good idea to weigh the syrup directly into the pan set over the scales or you will have lots to wash up).

Now heat until the butter has melted and then stir in your other ingredients until everything is well coated.

Pour the mixture onto 2 lined roasting trays and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Stir a couple of times along the way so that the granola gets evenly and wonderfully tasty. Once golden, leave to cool and then store in an airtight container.

-Adding a splash of rosewater or vanilla extract to the honey and butter mixture
-Stirring a good pinch of cinnamon or ginger into the oats for the last 5 minutes of baking.
-Throwing raisins, toasted sesame seeds, dried cherries, cranberries or barberries or  roasted coconut slices into the granola once it is ready.

The granola is delicious eaten with milk or yoghurt but a spoonful of fruit compote is the icing on the cake.

Rhubarb Compote

– to make a large jar
About 500 g of rhubarb chopped into large chunks
Juice of 1 orange
75 g light brown sugar (such as muscovado)

Put all the ingredients together in a pan and simmer gently for about 5 minutes until just soft.

Remove about a third of the rhubarb pieces and then blend the remaining rhubarb and juices to make a thick compote. Replace the rhubarb pieces, leave to cool and serve.

-Replacing the orange and sugar with a couple of knobs or crystallized ginger and a few tablespoons of the syrup.
-Eating the compote with icecream, folding into a rhubarb fool or layering in a trifle.
-Making other fruit compotes with raspberries, plums, apples or whatever is in season.
-Freezing in old yoghurt pots for quick fix fruit smoothies when whizzed up with yoghurt.

Ideally, weather permitting, breakfast would be in the garden. There’s so much going on out there right now – hellebores, daffodils and some pretty rampant frogs.

I’d better add, just in case anyone thinks that I’m an ungrateful old bag, that I fully appreciated all last year’s efforts – crumbs, encrusted ovens and all. The best bit of the entire day was getting Imi’s  carefully drawn voucher for a 1000 hugs, to be used through the year.

And just a bit of history about Mothering Sunday

You’ll be pleased to hear that some indulgent eating has always been tied up with the traditional Christian Mothering Sunday celebrations that gave us today’s, often more secular, Mother’s Day. In the Downton Abbey era Mothering Sunday was the one and only day of the year that every servant had a holiday; the time to go home to their “mothering” church where they were baptised. It was the family get-together of the year and the story goes that everyone gathered wild flowers from the hedgerows for their mothers as they made their way home. Other classic names for the day are Mid-Lent Sunday or Refreshment Sunday as the church allowed us to break the Lenten fast with Simnel cakes and puddings. So, all in all a day of joy and very good excuse for a feast.