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Not On My Watch, Gwyneth

At first I thought that I didn’t like Gwyneth Paltrow. Its an easy conclusion to arrive at, after all she did sob all the way through her Oscar acceptance speech, is married to the most boring man in pop, has perfect hair/skin/figure and bleets on about her wonderful lifestyle on Goop.com. Spare me. But then two things struck me. One is that this woman is good friends with Beyonce and Jay Z. Jealous though I may be, anyone good enough for Miss Single Ladies is good enough for me. I can forgive the boring taste in men when I consider her wonderful taste in friends, especially as I know deep down that one day Beyonce and I will be best friends (humour me, ok?). The second was that I recalled seeing Gwyneth on The Graham Norton Show a couple of years ago where she did a pretty fine job of rapping her way through an NWA track. Best friends with Beyonce and a dab hand at rapping? Why, Gwyneth and I are cut from the very same cloth! How can I hold any sort of grudge against her for her perfect skin when in actual fact we are one and the same. It would be like hating myself and I’m all about self acceptance.

So when my lovely Aunty brought me a housewarming gift of two cookbooks, one being Gwyneth’s ‘Notes From My Kitchen Table’, I was intrigued to see what she could offer me in the way of discovering new dishes and tasty treats. Warning: if you don’t like name dropping then you’d do well to skip the acknowledgments page which reads like a who’s who of A-listers, including my future BFF’s The Carters. If you didn’t already know Gwynnie was well connected, this page would set you straight. One thing that really struck me about her attitude towards food from this book is that she seems slightly scared of it. I’m all for living a healthy lifestyle and an everything in moderation type attitude towards food, but I firmly believe food is to be enjoyed and that too much of a good thing can be bloody wonderful. Life’s too short to make a brownie healthy, which unfortunately Gwyneth seems to have had the time to do. I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to eat a brownie or three I want it with side orders of guilt and sugar highs. Gwyneth gives a recipe for brownies that she says are as healthy as possible without sacrificing any of the flavour. When did it become socially acceptable to put agave syrup, soy milk and grain sweetened choc chips (that’s right, not sugar sweetened, grain sweetened) into the mighty brownie? I’ll tell you when: never. A brownie recipe with no sugar or butter is an abomination. If I didn’t want sugar or butter in my diet then well, I’d probably be hugely depressed and locked in a padded cell for my own safety, but that’s beside the point, I’d eat only quinoa and vegetables, not faff about with the brownie. It’s safe to say that I will not be making the brownies from this book. They offend me.

Aside from interfering with brownies, the cookbooks actually pretty good. The majority of recipes are fresh, nutritious and light so if you’re looking for low fat meals this wouldn’t be a bad investment. Crammed full of salads, soups, sandwiches and dinner options you’re bound to find something healthy to eat. To be fair to the author, her father died of cancer and she states in the book that she believes his diet had a part to play in him suffering from the disease so I can understand her caution and attitude towards food. While there aren’t really any properly unhealthy recipes in the book, naturally I gravitated towards the ‘worst’ one. Quellé surprise! This would be French toast made with brioche, that heavenly, buttery, soft, sweet bread which soaked up the egg and vanilla batter exceptionally well. Fried in butter and sprinkled with what Gwyneth states should be a tiny amount of sugar, instructions which I took the liberty of ignoring, the slices of brioche crisped up beautifully. I topped the vanilla absorbed slices with chopped banana, icing sugar and a good drizzle of maple syrup, and tucked right in. The toast itself is crisp on the outside, gooey and moist within and you don’t need me to tell you that the banana and syrup were perfect partners. As Sunday morning breakfasts go, it was up there with the best that bacon can offer. Gwyneth, you’re cookbook passes muster with me, just don’t mess with any other sweet baked goods again.

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Breakfast: The Most Delicious Meal Of The Day

It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me or has had to suffer a conversation about food with me that any meal is regarded as a treat in my eyes. Whether its a toasted cheese sandwich at lunch, a gorgeous plate of pasta for dinner or a mid morning snack of fresh mango, good food is always cause for celebration. But after a weekend away in Liverpool, I’ve come to the conclusion that as delicious as other meals are, nothing beats a truly great breakfast. Forget your bowl of cornflakes or sorry looking banana eaten in the weekday morning rush, I’m talking breakfasts that you can really take your time over and savour. Bacon sandwiches, eggs Benedict, kedgeree, hot crumpets, homemade granola, fry ups, pancakes, boiled eggs; they all have sheer deliciousness in common and to me herald the start of the weekend and all the joys that it brings. It may be the simplest breakfast going but its not really a holiday unless I have hot, thick, white toast smothered in butter at the airport before my flight. Breakfast rocks, and after not eating for such a long stretch while we catch up on our beauty sleep we deserve a little decadence to break the fast.

This is where Moose Coffee, Liverpool comes in. Found entirely by chance, the 4 of us knew we’d found an absolute jewel of a cafe on seeing the words ‘American and Canadian breakfasts’. I’m not ashamed to say that my heart fluttered a little on reading this (probably in anticipation of the calories about to be consumed), what with my love for all things American. Walking in you’re faced with large portraits of iconic figures such as Neil Armstrong replaced with moose heads, antlers and plush couches running along the back of the cafe, and the enticing smell of fresh coffee and good food. My kind of place, then. What can I say about breakfast? It was unbelievably good. Three of us had the special that morning, which was the Grande Bouche topped with two poached eggs. I have never understood before the American tendency to pair ludicrously sweet dishes like pancakes with bacon, but after the Grande Bouche experience I am a complete convert. French toast made with brioche soaked in an egg and vanilla batter, topped with bacon, eggs and maple syrup. My head knew it shouldn’t work, my curiosity knew I had to give it a go regardless, and my tongue just knew it was delighted to have been allowed to give it a go. Gorgeous. You may grimace at the idea, but a week ago so would I and look at how wrong I was. All three of us loved it and agreed that sometimes you’ve just got to admit defeat and say the Americans know exactly what they’re doing.

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Basically, breakfast was so good that we had to go back a couple of days later before catching the tran back home. Not feeling the sweet stuff this time I decided to go down a completely different tangent and had the manolito which is the Moose’s take on the Mexican breakfast classic huevos rancheros. My idol Nigella has raved about huevos rancheros on Twitter and I’ve been desperate to try it for ages so seeing this on the menu my mind was made up straight away. Spicy food may not be everyone’s cup of tea first thing in the morning but once again breakfast was stunning and right up my street: two flour tortillas topped with salsa, fried eggs, sour cream, refried beans and cheese. Heaven. The salsa had a really deep flavour with a good spicy kick that totally woke me up and the melted cheese was the perfect strength to stand up to the strong flavours of the salsa. I’m now addicted to it and need to make huevos rancheros for myself very very soon.

None of us had a single complaint about the food and everyone was full and contented by the end of breakfast. The coffee here was also delicious and if you leave Moose without having the Moose macchiato then you have really missed out, as it was delicious. Coffee that dreams are made of. I urge you to check Moose Coffee out if you’re ever in Liverpool, it really was the best breakfast I’ve ever had and has served as a timely reminder of how great the first meal of the day can be, just a few days before our oven finally arrives. Now that’s definitely a cause to celebrate!

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Posted by on May 7, 2013 in American, Breakfast, Cooking, Food

 

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