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Mark Moriarty: These two brunch classic dishes taste special but have simple ingredients

Attention to the finer details will lift these leisurely weekend favourites to a new level

Brunch, according to some online research, is “sometimes accompanied by alcoholic drinks” (typically Champagne or a cocktail, in case you didn’t already have notions). The universally accepted time for this in-between meal is about 10am-1pm. It apparently originated in the UK in the 19th century, as a functional meal that was served after organised hunts on the weekend. It was popularised in the US in the 1930s, and has become a weekend staple here in Ireland over the past 20 or so years. Brunch options take inspiration from a variety of cuisines, most notably US diner staples such as hashed potatoes and waffles, to Mexican tacos, European baked goods and even the trusty Irish fry.

So what brunch dishes are we going to replicate at home? Well, I’ve gone for two classics: French toast with some blueberries, honey and yoghurt; and eggs Benedict. What is so special about these recipes? The smaller details that make all the difference. For the French toast we are going all out and making the classic French brioche dough. It is essentially very eggy, buttery bread and uses simple ingredients we will probably all have at home. A mixer makes light work of it, saving us some sweat and hard graft. If you master the technique and have the patience, it’s a great bread recipe to have up your sleeve.

Once chilled and sliced, the bread gets lightly soaked in a cream batter seasoned with icing sugar and vanilla before getting dusted in icing sugar and fried (calorie counters avert your eyes). The icing sugar forms a crispy caramel coating on the bread while it remains buttery and moist inside. At this point, you can top it with anything you like. I’ve tried to offset the richness with some blueberries, yoghurt and a drizzle of local honey. This is one that’s sure to put a smile on the children’s faces as well; just mellow out the sugar for your own sanity.

Next up is eggs Benedict, a dish created in the melting pot of New York in the mid-1800s. It consists of toasted English muffin, baked ham, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. The trick for me is the ham, I’ve given you a recipe here that involves baking the ham in tinfoil in the oven before adding a simple savoury glaze thickened with cornflour to avoid any mess or boiling hot sugar.

There are many ‘hacks’ for poached eggs but the only way to achieve perfection is with super fresh eggs, where the egg white clings to the yolk. Hollandaise is essentially a warm mayonnaise that holds easier than its chilled cousin. The addition of lemon juice, salt and a pinch of sugar brings it to the next level. With punchy hollandaise and thick cut salty ham, this dish is a joy to eat.

I break from the rules by adding a good dollop of hot sauce to the eggs for a little more pep in my step.

Recipe: French toast with blueberries, honey and yoghurt

Recipe: Classic eggs Benedict with thick, glazed ham and hollandaise

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