Like craft gin and artisanal anything, brunch has become cool. We’re not complaining. In Brunch Across 11 Countries, private chef Alix Verrips rounds up some of the world’s best. We picked our four favourites, so loosen your belt and board the brunch train.
Brunch Across 11 Countries
Human & Rousseau
R390 recommended selling price
Mexico: Churros in chocolate sauce
These fluted fingers of fried dough, rolled in cinnamon sugar and dipped in chocolate, originated in Spain but are hugely popular across Latin America.
350g dark chocolate, chopped
15ml unsalted butter, chopped
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of chilli powder (optional)
60ml double cream
Dash of vanilla essence
30ml unsweetened cocoa powder
Place the chocolate, butter, cinnamon and chilli powder in a bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan, add the vanilla essence and pour over the chocolate. Let it stand for a few minutes to allow the chocolate and butter to melt. Add the cocoa and stir well to incorporate. If the sauce is too thick or happens to split, add a few drops of boiling water to make it smooth again. Pour into little bowls for dipping the churros into.
60g unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
10ml ground cinnamon
60ml castor sugar
180g flour, sifted
Oil for frying
Bring the water, butter, salt, 5ml of the cinnamon and 15ml of the sugar to a boil. Add the flour all at once, turn the heat to medium and beat vigorously using a wooden spoon. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and tip the dough into a mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer. Let it cool slightly.
In the meantime, heat a saucepan of oil or a deep-fryer to 180°C.
Add one egg to the dough and beat by hand or by using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer until it has been well incorporated, then add the remaining egg and repeat. The dough should be smooth and glossy.
Scoop the dough into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. Test the oil by dropping a small piece of dough into it – it should sizzle. Pipe 10cm-long pieces of dough directly into the hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes, turning them to ensure even browning.
Combine the remaining sugar and cinnamon and roll the churros in it while they’re still warm.
Serve with the chocolate sauce.
Greece: Breakfast in Mykonos
On a Sunday morning, nearing the end of the Caribbean season, I was staring out of my galley window, searching for inspiration for that morning’s “breakfast special”. The style of the condominiums cascading down the cliffs reminded me of the architecture of the Cyclades in Greece.
I decided to bake eggs in a nest of key Greek ingredients and so Breakfast in Mykonos was born. It became the instant favourite of my boss at the time, and it was also the last breakfast I cooked the day I left the yachting industry.
200g baby spinach, roughly chopped
3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small red onion, finely sliced
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
60ml olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
5ml dried origanum
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
50ml melted butter
100ml double cream
6 eggs, separated
100g feta cheese, crumbled
15ml chopped fresh parsley for garnishing
Put the spinach, tomatoes, onion, olives and olive oil in a bowl and mix well. Add the lemon juice, zest, origanum, salt and pepper, mix again and set aside for 30 minutes for the flavours to infuse.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Put a large baking dish or cast-iron pan in the oven to heat up while the oven is coming up to temperature. Alternatively, if you’d like to make individual portions, place six ramekins on a baking tray. Whisk the butter and cream together.
Take the baking dish out of the oven and pour the cream mixture into it. Place back in the oven for 5-8 minutes or until the mixture starts to bubble.
Beat the egg whites until foamy and pour them into the bowl with the vegetables. Combine gently. Remove the baking dish from the oven and pour the egg white mixture into it.
Using a tablespoon, make six little holes in the mixture and carefully place a yolk in each one. Sprinkle with feta cheese and return to the oven to bake for 5-8 minutes or until the egg whites are starting to set. (If you prefer the yolks to be set too, leave in the oven for a while longer.)
Turn on the grill and allow the feta to char slightly. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with fresh parsley and black pepper. Serve with crusty bread or pitas for mopping up the golden yolks.
USA: Patriotic pancakes
White pancake batter
60ml distilled white vinegar
500ml cake flour
10ml baking powder
5ml bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
60ml melted butter
2 large eggs, lightly whisked
10ml vanilla essence
Combine the milk and vinegar and set aside for 10-15 minutes. Sift the dry ingredients together. Whisk the cooled butter, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the milk and vinegar mixture. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated; do not overmix.
Let the mixture stand for about three minutes – it will be rather thick.
Gluten-free red velvet cupcake batter
1 large raw beetroot, diced
2 ripe bananas
45ml cocoa powder
45ml maple or agave syrup or honey
30ml coconut or vegetable oil
10ml baking powder
5ml vanilla essence
A squeeze of lemon juice
500ml gluten-free oats
Steam the beetroot until tender. Set aside to cool. Blend the bananas, beetroot, cocoa, syrup and oil together until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until very smooth. Add a dash of milk if the batter is too thick.
Cream cheese drizzle
1 x 250g tub cream cheese
125ml icing sugar
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Blend the ingredients together until smooth. Set aside to drizzle over the pancakes later.
Ghee or vegetable oil for frying
1 banana, sliced
Coat a hot griddle pan with some ghee or oil. For the white pancakes, place slices of banana on the surface of the pancake while cooking. For the blue pancakes, sprinkle the blueberries. When little bubbles start appearing, it’s time to flip them over. Cook until golden brown. When the white pancake batter has been used, make the red velvet pancakes in the same way, scattering raspberries on the surface.
Alternate the red, white and blue pancakes to form a stack. Pour the cream cheese drizzle on top and scatter with the rest of the berries.
South Africa: Bobotie cups
By baking bobotie in a muffin pan lined with phyllo pastry and adding extra egg mixture, I’ve modified our traditional dish to make it more brunchy and portable. They’re still delicious served at room temperature, making them an ideal picnic food too.
4–6 sheets phyllo pastry
120ml melted butter
2 slices crustless white bread
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
15ml curry powder
750g beef or ostrich mince
5ml smooth apricot jam
2 bay leaves
50ml slivered almonds
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Use a 12-hollow muffin pan. Cut the phyllo pastry into 15cm squares and cover with a damp dishtowel. Remove three squares, brush with the melted butter and line a muffin cup with the buttered squares, overlapping diagonally each time. Repeat with the rest of the phyllo and butter to line all 12 muffin cups. Refrigerate.
Soak the bread in the milk. Fry the onion in the oil in a saucepan for 3-5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until it starts to smell fragrant. Add the curry powder and mince and sauté until the mince starts to brown, stirring frequently. Squeeze the excess milk from the bread (reserve the milk) and add the bread to the meat mixture with the salt, chutney, apricot jam, a pinch of turmeric, vinegar and sultanas. Cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes. Beat 1 egg and fold it into the meat mixture.
Heat the reserved milk with the rest of the turmeric and the bay leaves. As soon as it comes to a boil, take it off the heat, discard the bay leaves and whisk the hot milk into the rest of the beaten eggs. Set aside.
Remove the muffin pan from the fridge and scoop two heaped tablespoons of the meat mixture into the phyllo cups. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, pour the egg mixture over the meat, sprinkle the almonds on top and return to the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the egg is set and starting to brown.
The ideal solution for a no-time-for-breakfast scenario. (Image: iStock) For the average Jane, cooking up a storm in the kitchen each morning before she does the school run and then heads for work is unrealistic, to say the least!