Today some breakfast and brunch ideas that I think you will find useful over Christmas.

We take great pride at MacNean House in our breakfasts and our team, led by Marie McGlone and Doris Dolan, do fantastic work.

Thanks to them, our breakfasts are always popular and this variation on a classic eggs Benedict is a favourite. This butter cream sauce is very easy to make. The key to good eggs Benedict is good-quality bacon and eggs. Watch out for the Bord Bia quality mark.

This porridge bread is a great recipe for children to get started in the kitchen. It will only keep two days and is delicious fresh. I recently had the opportunity to visit Flahavan’s when filming at the Greenway in Waterford. I often think of Mary (RIP) and all of the beautiful recipes she gave me over the years.

I love the combination of creamy avocado and crispy bacon on toast topped off with a runny poached egg. For a vegetarian option just leave out the bacon. People love avocado but it needs a lot of flavour to go with it and there is plenty here.

Happy Cooking,


MacNean Eggs Benedict with Spinach

Serves 4

Neven's MacNean Eggs Benedict with Spinach. \ Philip doyle

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

4 large eggs

40g (1½oz) unsalted butter, softened

350g (12oz) baby spinach leaves

2 white muffins, split in half

225g (8oz) hand-carved cooked ham, trimmed

For the chive cream sauce:

50ml (2fl oz) cream

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp softened butter

1 tsp snipped fresh chives

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Heat a large pan with 2.25 litres (4 pints) of water. Add the white wine vinegar with a pinch of salt and bring to the boil.

2 Break each egg into the water where it’s bubbling, then move the pan to the edge of the heat and simmer gently for 2½ minutes.

3 Remove the poached eggs with a slotted spoon and plunge into a bowl of iced water. When cold, trim down any ragged ends from the cooked egg white. These will keep happily in the fridge for up to two days in a bowl of cold water.

4 When ready to serve, preheat the grill. Add half of the butter to a large pan set over a fairly high heat. Once it starts to foam, tip in the spinach and sauté until just wilted. Season to taste and drain off any excess liquid. Keep warm.

5 Arrange the muffin halves on a grill pan, cut side up, and cook for 2–3 minutes, until lightly toasted. Spread with the remaining butter.

6 Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the poached eggs and cook for 1 minute to warm them through.

7 To make the sauce, put the cream and mustard in a small pan and simmer for one minute. Whisk in the butter and stir in the chives. Season to taste and keep warm.

8 To serve, put the muffins on warmed plates and arrange the ham on top, then spoon on small mounds of the drained spinach. Using a slotted spoon, remove the poached eggs from the pan and drain briefly on kitchen paper.

9 Place on top of the spinach and spoon over the chive cream sauce. Serve right away.

Porridge Bread with Scrambled Eggs & Smoked Salmon

Serves 8

Neven's Porridge Bread with Scrambled Eggs & Smoked Salmon. \ Philip Doyle

450g (1lb) smoked salmon, cut into slices or ribbons

For the porridge bread

1 x 500g (18oz) tub of natural yoghurt

1 large egg

2 tbsp olive oil

2 x 500g (18oz) cartons of porridge oats

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt

handful of oat bran (optional)

For the scrambled eggs

12 eggs

6 tbsp milk

1 tbsp snipped fresh chives, plus extra whole ones to garnish

75g (3oz) butter, softened

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6). Lightly oil a 900g (2lb) loaf tin.

2 Put the yoghurt, egg and olive oil in a bowl and mix to combine, then mix in the porridge oats, bicarbonate of soda, salt and oat bran (if using). Tip into the oiled tin, then even out the top by pressing down lightly with a fork.

3 Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, until golden brown, then turn out of the tin and carefully put back in the oven directly on the oven shelf for another 5–10 minutes to dry out the crust. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

4 When almost ready to serve, whisk together the eggs, milk, chives and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Heat a knob of the butter in a non-stick frying pan set over a low to medium heat.

5 Once the butter is foaming, add the egg mixture and whisk continuously for 2–3 minutes, until just set but still soft.

6 Remove from the heat, as the eggs will continue to cook. Check the seasoning and add a pinch of salt, if you think it needs it.

7 Cut the porridge bread into thick slices, spread each one with a bit of butter and place on warmed plates. Layer the smoked salmon onto each piece of bread, then gently dollop the soft scrambled eggs on top. Garnish with finely chopped chives to serve.

Grilled Streaky Bacon with Smashed Avocado on Toast & Poached Egg

Serves 4

8 dry-cured streaky bacon rashers

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

4 large eggs

4 thick slices of white crusty loaf or sourdough bread

a little extra virgin olive oil

2 ripe avocados, halved and stoned

½ lemon

fresh micro herbs, to garnish

For the roasted tomatoes

4 vine-ripened tomatoes, halved

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 sprig of fresh thyme

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F/gas mark 2).

2 Arrange the tomatoes on a baking tray and scatter over the garlic and thyme leaves. Drizzle over the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season generously. Roast for one hour, then leave to cool before using.

3 Preheat the grill to a medium heat. Grill the bacon rashers until crisp and golden brown on both sides, then drain well on kitchen paper.

4 Fill a large saucepan with water. Add the vinegar and a pinch of salt and bring to a hard boil over a high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat so the water is simmering, then use a spoon to swirl the water into a whirlpool.

5 Crack in the eggs one at a time and cook for 2½ minutes, then drain well on kitchen paper.

6 Toast the bread in a toaster or on the griddle and drizzle with a little olive oil, then arrange on warmed plates. Scoop the avocados into a bowl, mash with a squeeze of lemon and season to taste.

7 Divide between the toast, top with two crispy bacon rashers and put a poached egg on each slice. Season with a final pinch of sea salt and a grinding of black pepper. Serve with two roasted tomato halves alongside and scatter over micro-herbs.

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Let the festivities begin

Time to start thinking about some festive baking