Wake Up With An Aussie

Bill Granger is the absolute king of the Aussie Brekkie, someone who’s books I have a kleptomaniac compulsion for. The original Bills is a tiny corner cafe in Darlinghurst Sydney. The perfect neighbourhood hang out with a few seats a large communal table to kick back at read the weekend papers and tuck into a full Aussie.

When I first opened all those years a go I thought I’d put one of Bill’s breakfasts on my menu with a breakfast BLT. Two thick slices of griddled sourdough sandwiching rocket, grilled bacon, avocado and a spicy tomato relish. Delicious I thought. Unfortunately no one else did, the avocado special sat on the menu, unordered & badly spelt until I admitted defeat & replaced it with a less exotic stacked English muffin.

However after Nigella cooked up a storm by starting her new series ‘Simply Nigella’ with a recipe for avocado on toast I thought I’d give the alligator pear another try. Now it’s one of out most popular midweek orders, served smashed on toasted rye bread with a squeeze of lemon a sprinkle of chilli flakes and topped with two poached eggs.

When the weekend allows a little more time – but not enough to fly to Sydney – why not start your day with an Aussie Brekkie.

Cut a thick slice of sourdough bread and 3 thick slices of halloumi. Heat a thick based pan with a little olive oil. Griddle the bread and the halloumi until golden then put to one side. Add a handful of sliced chestnut mushrooms and baby plum tomatoes, saute until the mushrooms are softened & the tomatoes have started to blister. Finish with chopped parsley & cracked black pepper. Slice an avocado & toss in a little lemon juice and a pinch of chilli flakes. Cook two eggs – any style. Then plate up.

Sourdough topped with avocado. Next to it the mushroom & tomato with halloumi perched on top. Then your eggs on the side. And as it’s the weekend why not pour yourself a bucks fizz.

 

 

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Lancaster – Open for Business

Great to see a couple of Lancaster businesses back open this week after Storm Desmond wreaked havoc way back in December.

Quite Simply French on St Georges Quay is back cooking on gas after closing to renovate. Really excited to see their new look. I’m sure the menu will be the same great stable of French bistro classics but the new decor will be even more OO-LAH-LAH!

www.quitesimplyfrench.co.uk 

Standfast & Barracks also took a battering, absolutely heart breaking to think of all those rolls of linen & silk ending up filthy & skipped. For anyone who’s never been the factory shop is a treasure trove of upholstery fabric. Famous names like Designer’s Guild, Liberty, Harlequin, Cath Kidson all at heavily discounted prices.

Standfast & Barracks Factory Shop

 

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Crumbs, Breakfast in Bed The Rules

RM-Breakfast.in.BedBreakfast in bed is meant to be the ultimate indulgent treat. A luxury reserved for anniversaries & wedding mornings. However it can also be an utter nightmare. Balancing a small tray loaded with coffee and orange over just white Egyptian cotton, EEK!

So here are a few golden rules if you’re treating a loved one this weekend.

My Mum used to get the dubious pleasure of breakfast in bed every Mother’s Day. A concoction of spilt juice, lukewarm tea and great uneven slabs of lightly charred toast. Feigning delight but no doubt thinking about just what horrors awaited downstairs? Was the kitchen on fire? Rule 1 – clear up.

What to serve? Hopefully having reached the breakfast in bed point you’ll know the recipient fairly well. But just in case you don’t you might want to check they’re not vegetarian before presenting a plated pile of piggy bits. For those awkward mornings, waking up with a vague recollection of the night before & with a stranger lying next to you, might I suggest a fruit plate & a smoked salmon & cream cheese bagel. Minimal effort but impressive enough to warrant a phone number should you want it. Rule 2 – know your audience.

Smoked salmon is the only fish that should make an appearance in the bedroom whether on a bagel or with scrambled eggs. Other fish are just too stinky to consider. Baked beans should be avoided for the same reason. “Thank you for my breakfast, but it’s just racked up a £100 dry cleaning bill.” Rule 3 – Nothing that slips, smells or slides

The best bedroom food can be eaten with fingers or one handed and this needn’t limit you to bacon buns or bowls of cereal. A stack of pancakes with strawberries, maple syrup & vanilla yoghurt can easily be tackled with a fork. Rule 4 – Be inventive, think beyond British – BLT, bagel, croque monsieur make great cutlery free choices

Toast never makes trip from kitchen to bedside well. Pre butter & it’ll arrive soggy & soft. Leave them to do it themselves & crumbs everywhere, makes for an uncomfortable lie in. Which option ever you choose it’s likely to be cold and disappointing, never good thing in the boudoir. – Rule 5 Always buy great bread, a slice of soft freshly baked loaf, or chewy tart sour dough trumps cold toast.

So rather than face the trials & tribulations of breakfast pleasure giving why not leave it to the experts?

p.s. And for those of you lucky breakfast recipients please remember eating naked only looks good in the movies.

http://www.theashtonlancaster.com

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French Fancies

UnknownThis is a great way to use up all the egg whites left from making hollandaise. Friands are small French muffins. The basic ingredients are ground almonds, butter, egg white & icing sugar. They’re usually flavoured with fruit, chocolate or coconut. They’re a great gluten free bake, just replace plain flour with rice flour. The word friand translates as dainty – something you’ll be far from if these become a daily addition to your breakfast menu.

You’ll need a 6 hole silicone muffin tin. 4 egg whites, 70g ground almonds, 110g icing sugar, 75g melted unsalted butter, 50g plain flour, a handful of raspberries.

Preheat the oven to 180C Gas Mark 4. Mix together the dry ingredients with the melted butter. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites to a soft peak. Carefully fold the egg whites into the batter being careful to keep it as airy as possible.

Pour the batter into the muffin tin. Press 4 or 5 raspberries into the top of each friend. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the tops bounce back when pressed. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a rack.

The high almond content means these little babies store well for a couple of days – if they manage to hang around that long.

http://www.theashtonlancaster.com

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Posh Bacon & Eggs

TheAshton-6972Ever since I first put Eggs Benedict on the breakfast menu it’s proved to be one of our most popular breakfast choices. Guests love it and I love it too, it’s such a quick dish to prepare and it’s versatile.

You can switch the bacon for smoked salmon (Eggs Royale) or use wilted spinach (Eggs Florentine.) You can even add back pudding to make Eggs Hebridean. That’s the pesky-tarians & the vegetarians sorted, just need to come up with a vegan twist.

Hollandaise may seem difficult faffing with bain-maries & split sauces but this blender recipe is fool proof and ready in 3 minutes. I’d love to claim it as my own but I think the blessed Saint Delia of Norwich might have been who I swiped it from.

Separate 4 eggs, putting the yolks into the blender jug, don’t chuck the whites

Add 2 tbsp lemon juice & 2 tbsp water

Add 2 tsp Dijon mustard & whizz to mix

Melt 250g salted butter to bubbling

Turn the blender on & slowly pour the hot butter into the yolk mix

Voila perfect hassle free hollandaise.

In the next post I’ve a great morning muffin recipe to use up all those egg whites.

http://www.theashtonlancaster.com

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Who the hell are YOU?

_JJJ6591Hi I’m James,
I own and run The Ashton Lancaster, a 5 bedroomed boutique bed and breakfast in Lancaster, a small Northern city sandwiched between Manchester & The Lake District.
A place I left at 16 running as fast as I could & as far as a young person’s railcard would take me. Bored of the slow pace of life. Indifferent to the dramatic landscape of verdant green valleys & fast black rivers.
Desperate to be somewhere frantic, busy and bustling. Not always making it to bed & certainly never up for breakfast.
Then my 30’s hit & the big city started to look less shiny & bit bit more dirty. “When a man’s tired of London he’s tired of life.” Well no Dr Samuel Johnson just tired to that life.
So I started a new one, back in a place written off as provincial & dull. Taking with me my partner (now husband) David, Bailey our dog & Elvis the cat.
I sometimes wonder what’s changed? Lancaster or me? Well, a little of both. In this blog I’ll post about the things around I now love – places to walk, visit, eat and shop. As well as the things that inspire my business & the way I aspire for it to be and grow.
Hopefully you’ll like it enough to come and stay one day.

http://www.theashtonlancaster.com

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Bounteous Breakfast Buns

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I’ve always struggled with muffins. Mine always seem a disappointment when compared to the huge, billowy confections that the coffee chains produce. But just read the ingredients & you’ll see these are Franken-bakes, chemically inflated & tasting of factory packing.

So I’ve come to terms with my size issues & proudly serve these little beauties for breakfast. I’ve Karen at Hopton House to thank for the recipe, I’ve tweaked it to include a few more ingredients. They’ll keep you fuelled up until lunch time.

No chemical enhancements just good stuff.

www.theashtonlancaster.com

Shopping List:

50g unsalted butter melted

90g soft brown sugar

1 egg

110g wholemeal self raising flour

1tsp baking powder

1tsp cinnamon

1 ripe banana mashed

1 carrot grated

1 handful of sultanas, walnuts & sunflower seeds

rolled oats to top

You’ll need a 6 hole muffin tin lined with paper cake cases. Pre-heat oven to gas 5/190 degrees

In a bowl mix the melted butter, sugar, mashed banana, carrot, sultana, chopped walnuts, seeds, egg & cinnamon. Add the flour & baking powder & mix roughly. If you over-mix the muffins will become tough. Divide the mixture between the cases, sprinkle oats on top  & pop into the oven to bake for 12 minutes. When cooked the tops should bounce back when pressed lightly.

Muffins don’t keep well so eat as soon as they’ve cooled slightly.

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