Big Bad Brunch

Some days, I go to sleep thinking wistfully about what I’m going to eat for breakfast the next morning. There’s something so comforting and wonderful about sitting at the breakfast table surrounded by dishes filled to the brim with roasted, fried, sauteed food.

This week has been, in short, heavy on stress and light on sleep. Add a couple of nights out in a row and I was in desperate need of something unhealthy to munch on. I spotted a recipe for cornbread, avocado and crispy bacon in the Waitrose magazine and decided that was one for me – the only slight problem being my vegetarianism. I’ve never eaten bacon, but I wanted something crisp, salty and smoky to offset the pillow-like cornbread and cool avocado.

I remembered hearing that aubergine could be turned into vegetarian ‘bacon’, so set out to create my own recipe. Obviously I’ve got no idea how this compares to real bacon, but give it a try and see how it stands alone. It’s smoky, sweet, savoury and very crisp, so ticked all my boxes! I’ll just add here that up until today, I’ve always hated aubergine, but now I’m finally getting the hype…

Recipe for the aubergine bacon is mine, and the recipe for the cornbread is from Miles Kirby, head chef at Caravan (where incidentally, I’m going tomorrow!)

Cornbread French toast with avocado & aubergine bacon
Serves 2

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Aubergine Bacon

10g smoked sea salt
2 tsp sundried tomato paste
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1 small aubergine, sliced

1. Slice aubergine thinly and set it aside between two sheets of kitchen towel to remove extra moisture
2. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl, and set oven to 200 degrees C
3. Rub them on back and front of aubergine slices and place on parchment paper on a tin, setting aside for 30 minutes to absorb flavours
4. Pop them in the oven and roast for 15 minutes on each side
5. Remove from oven and drain extra oil with kitchen towel, also scraping most of the topping off
6. Return to the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until crispy

Cornbread French Toast

400ml whole milk
3 eggs
60g unsalted butter, melted
200g sweetcorn
4 spring onions, chopped
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp salt
160g polenta
65g strong flour

French Toast
1 egg
50ml double cream
10g unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C if you haven’t already done so for the bacon & line a 900g loaf tin with baking parchment
2. Mix milk, eggs, butter, sweetcorn and spring onions in a large bowl
3. Sift all the remaining dry ingredients, and combine with the wet without over-mixing, and pour into the tin
4. Bake for at least 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean, and then leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack
5. Combine egg and 50ml double cream, and melt 10g unsalted butter in a frying pan
6. Cut two thick slices of cornbread and dip in the egg and cream mixture
7. Fry in the pan for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until brown

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Assembly

1 avocado , diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
25g rocket (optional)

1. Combine lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl, then add avocado and leave it to combine for a few minutes
2. Place slice of French toasted cornbread in the middle of a plate, then spoon on the avocado and pile on some rocket
3. Top with the ‘bacon’, then spoon some of the remaining olive oil and lemon mixture around the plate

Et voila! Enjoy! x

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