If you are ever in Melbourne (why wouldn’t you be in the most liveable city in the world), you have to find a place for brunch (breakfast + lunch) on a Saturday morning. Of the places that I have been to, the place that is at the top of my list is the Green Refractory in Brunswick. The locals call it Cafe Green. It is quintessential Brunswick – hip and hippie, organic, caters for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and other diets and makes incredible coffee and chai lattes – especially the soy kind. So I’d highly highly recommend venturing out to find this place if you like brunches.
Amongst the things I have eaten at the Green Refractory, their breakfast stack is my favourite. Layers of home-made potato cake, tomato chutney, grilled halloumi, spinach, bacon (ask for without if you are a vegetarian), grilled tomatoes and poached egg. In the part of England that we currently reside in, finding brunch is a fantasy leave alone finding good brunch. Deep fried hash browns and baked beans served at 11am really does not equal brunch *sigh*.
So, on weekends that I am motivated enough, I try and bring back the things we miss about Melbourne – brunch being one of them. This particular weekend, we had our lovely neighbours over. I made this and my healthy Cranachan to share.
Ingredients (serves 4):
For the tomato chutney (make it the previous day)
2 x 400gm cans of diced tomatoes
2 medium onions, chopped
3 gloves of garlic, finely chopped
2cm piece of ginger, grated
2-3 dried red chillies, chopped (can substitute with crushed pepper corns or a teaspoon of ground red chilli)
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
salt to suit your taste
For the potato cakes (make the dough the previous day)
3 large potatoes, peeled and boiled
3/4 cup grated hard cheese
ground pepper to suit your taste
2 tablespoons of chickpea flour (or any flour just to hold it together)
2 tablespoons of semolina (again to hold the dough together)
2 tablespoons of oil for cooking
Other stack ingredients:
1 punnet vine-ripened tomatoes
1 large bag of fresh, baby spinach
400 gms of halloumi (salty, chewy greek cheese. Saganaki will work too)
4 fresh eggs
1. To make the tomato chutney (Picture 1):
a. Heat the oil in a fry pan, add the onions and sauté until translucent.
b. Add the chilli, ginger and garlic and fry until their raw smell has disappeared.
c. Add the, salt sugar and mix into the onions until uniformly combined.
d. Let this mixture bubble and reduce for an hour or until all the liquid has evaporated.
3. Let the chutney cool and store in an airtight box for up to a week.
2. To make the potato cakes (pictures 2 & 3 ):
a. While the potatoes are still warm from boiling, add the cheese and eggs and mix well.
b. Add the flour and semolina and mix well until a thick, pasty dough is formed.
c. To make the cakes, heat oil in a frying pan. Take a heaped tablespoon of the dough and place in the hot oil.
d. Flatten the top with the back of the spoon used to put the mix in the oil.
e. Cook on both sides until golden brown.
f. If you find the cake disintegrating or difficult to flip, add some more flour/semolina to keep it together.
g. Depending on the size of your pan, cook 2-5 cakes in each batch.
3. While you are cooking the potato cakes, roast the vine-ripened tomatoes at 150ºC until their skins crack and juices ooze (pictures 4 & 5).
4. Slice the halloumi into 0.5 sm thick slices and grill on a hot, dry pan. Halloumi gives out its own fat/oils so you do not need to add any more (picture 7).
5. Wilt the spinach (add spinach to a hot pan and you will see it collapse) in a pan and season with pepper and salt.
6. At this point, assemble the stack in the following order – Tomato chutney, potato cakes, slow roasted tomatoes, grilled halloumi, wilted spinach and avocado for decoration or on top of the slow roasted tomatoes (pictures 1-9).
7. The last step is to poach eggs. To poach eggs:
a. Heat a large pot of water and bring to a boil
b. Crack eggs into little bowls – one per bowl
c. As the water is boiling, add 2-3 tablespoons of white vinegar and stir through the water to make ripples.
d. Before the ripples disappear (be super quick), gently pour one of the eggs into the swirling water and watch the white of the eggs
slowly close in on the yellow. Encourage the closing with a slotted spoon.
e. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time, give it another go.
f. Let the eggs sit in the water for a maximum of 2 minutes (if you like them runny)
g. Drain using a slotted spoon and place it right on top of the stack (Main picture above).
h. Repeat for the remaining eggs. You can put upto 2 eggs at any given time.
i. Make sure they don’t over cook.
8. Serve with a fresh sprinkling of ground pepper.
9. To enjoy the stack, break the poached egg with your knife and let the yellow ooze all over the stack.
10. Enjoy with some fresh juice or smoothie.