Breakfast on a weekday can be a bit of a rushed affair. I don’t generally even bother with breakfast, but if we do anything it will be a quick piece of toast or bowl of cereal. On the weekends, though, we really like to take our time and do a proper family late breakfast/brunch. Often this will be bacon and eggs or pancakes and syrup, but my absolute favourite is our vanilla French toast. The lovely chaps at Prestige sent me one of their fab Dura Forge square grill pans, so I thought it was about time I shared my recipe (it’s not a difficult one, but I have a certain way of doing it) and tried out my swanky new pan at the same time.
We love where we live. We’re so lucky to live in this beautiful part of the world, surrounded by gorgeous countryside and yet just 30 minutes’ train ride away from London. I feel like we have the best of both worlds. Recently, the lovely chaps at booking.com asked about our favourite places to eat and stay in the Chilterns, and it’s honestly taken us lots of evenings of chat (and lots of bottles of wine) to narrow down our choices, such is the wealth of fabulous places throughout Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and beyond! Here, then, without further ado, is my perfect foodie weekend in the Chilterns. I do hope if you’re ever in the area, you’ll come and give some of these fab places a try!
There aren’t many prettier towns than Marlow, right next to the River Thames in Buckinghamshire. We spent a sunny morning wandering the shops (Sweaty Betty, Fat Face, a massive Jigsaw, Whistles, Mint Velvet, and loads of stylish independent boutiques and shops) down to the river, and then – all set to walk along the river’s edge for a while – the sky suddenly got really dark and fat blobs of rain started splashing on us. Ah well, instead we headed to West Street, to try the bottomless brunch at The Botanist, a pretty, quirky bar and restaurant on West Street. The front window completely rolls back, so when the sun finally came out again, it was a lovely spot to sit, sip a cocktail and watch the world go by while waiting for our table.
When you’re on a family holiday, dining out can be a bit of a flash point. Firstly, it’s going to account for a large part of your budget (especially if, like me, your children eat like rabid wolves), and secondly, everyone has different ideas about what they want – whereas you might want to sit and sip a cocktail while pondering the delicious items on the menu, your teenagers might well want to grab a burger and go. We always try to do a wide selection of dining when we’re away that suits everyone, mixing fast food with some more upmarket dining, and we always seek out anything quirky or unusual. We found some incredible places to eat during our trip to Amelia Island and thought we’d share the best of the best with you:
So when it comes to the weekend, breakfast has become a thing of the past, especially now we have teenagers in the house who don’t emerge until a) there’s a phone call inviting them somewhere exciting, or b) they smell bacon.
Brunch has become the new breakfast, and it’s a great opportunity for me to get baking (which also passes the time until everyone’s out of their respective pits).
What to cook, then?
Well, the aforementioned bacon happens to be a staple of our brunches. Free range and preferably streaky, it’s stuffed into crusty bread and piled onto teetering mounds of pancakes before being drenched in maple syrup. You can use any flavour yogurt for the pancakes, but if you’re planning on eating it with bacon, sometimes natural is best. If you’re going to eat the pancakes with fruit, then try Yeo Valley’s raspberry flavour. It goes deliciously with maple syrup for some reason. Dollop a bit more yogurt on the top too:
150ml Yeo Valley yogurt
225g self raising flour
4 level tbsp caster sugar
So sieve the flour and stir in the sugar (f you’re using a sweetened yogurt, cut this down to 2 level tbsp). Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and whisk in the eggs, yogurt and milk to make a thick batter.
Next, heat a heavy-based frying pan and lightly brush the surface with oil. Dollop a couple of tablespoons of the mixture into the pan, trying not to let them touch, then wait until you see bubbles on the surface before flipping them over. The first one will be a disaster, it always is, but after that you’ll get light, fluffy pancakes.
Might I add that these also make a lovely dessert, served with some boozy fruit and a big dollop of creamy Greek yogurt.
To serve your brunch, pile the table high with bowls of fruit and yogurt, piles of gorgeous pancakes, a big tray of sizzling bacon and some crusty bread. Some of Yeo Valley’s fruity favourite muffins would be an excellent addition here too.
And then it’s completely permissible to go back to bed for a little snooze. Or is that just me?
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