I used to run a supper club, back when supper clubs were the ‘in’ thing. (Are supper clubs still in? I have no idea; I never go out.) I was a frustrated foodie reading about them everywhere and thinking, ‘I could do that’ – so I did. Ahh… to be young and full of enthusiasm.
I decided to serve brunch instead of supper and so I imaginatively called my supper club The Breakfast Club. This was in the pre-George era, when we lived in a tiny flat in the heart of Brixton. On sunny days, we could hold the supper club outside; in not-so-sunny weather we had to move it inside and that involved heaving our sofa into the bedroom and onto the bed as there was no other place to store it.
At first, I was mostly feeding friends and friends of friends, but gradually The Breakfast Club became reasonably successful. I ending up feeding brunch to lots of strangers, and I like to think most of them enjoyed it. Looking back at some of the menus, I must have benn absolutely bonkers. Each Breakfast Club involved three courses plus a take-home treat, and thus, hours of prep. Then of course I would add to the workload by deciding to make all my own chutney, marmalade, bread and even ice cream. Oh, and by designing all the menus and labels. Then, on the day itself, I would clean the house before setting up, then clean it again after we’d cleared up and washed up. Pete actually shudders whenever I mention The Breakfast Club now as he remembers the stress and the work that it entailed. However, for a while at least, it was all worth it: I loved spending hours in the kitchen putting everything into making this incredible food – even though it was hard work. Of course, it was nice getting the feedback afterwards as well.
Funnily enough, somewhere between moving into a new flat and falling pregnant with George, The Breakfast Club dropped off my list of priorities. As I mentioned above, Pete wouldn’t be too thrilled if I started doing it again and the reality is that it’s a rubbish way to make money, so you have to really want to do it. Even though I’m no longer cooking elaborate brunches for lots of people, I do still have a soft spot for a relaxed weekend breakfast. Lots of coffee, pastries, eggs, bacon and sausages – what’s not to love?
As a self-styled brunch expert, here are some of my favourite brunch recipes. I think brunch should definitely have a savoury and sweet element, and don’t forget to brew plenty of good coffee, squeeze your own fruit juice and serve fizz if you’re feeling really extravagant.
Almond croissants – I love almond croissants and, as it turns out, they’re really easy to make with stale croissants (I’m not advocating you make them from scratch!).
Danish pastries – These pastries aren’t as hard to make as croissants, but they are quite involved. They’re definitely worth the effort though, so wait for a weekend when you have time to potter in the kitchen.
American pancakes – This is the pancake recipe I always use. It’s so straightforward that I sometimes even make them on a weekday morning. I often substitute the sugar with a mashed ripe banana.
Elderflower strawberries with pistachio yoghurt – It’s not the season for strawberries, but I’ve included this recipe here because it’s amazing. And the pistachio yoghurt is just so good.
Sweetcorn pancakes – These were legendary at The Breakfast Club and I like to think that I perfected the recipe by the end.
Creamy mushrooms on toast – Something a little different, but still very easy and looks impressive.
Fry-up – would you ever be disappointed with a Full English? Exactly. Try to use good-quality ingredients to make it taste really special.
Do you do brunch? What’s your favourite brunch dish or recipe?