In MacNean House we serve this Bircher muesli and poached eggs every morning. They never go out of fashion.

Muesli was created by a Swedish doctor Maximilian Bircher-Benner around 1900 and is the original overnight oats. He called it the “apple diet dish” and the word “muesli” appeared later.

I love Flahavan’s Oats and they are a wonderful Irish company. Sadly Mary passed away last year. I always have great memories of going to visit Mary and her husband John in Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford, where the family has been milling for 200 years getting the power from the River Mahon.

Tipperary apple grower Con Trass produces a lovely clean delicious apple juice. Killowen Farm in Enniscorthy makes great natural plain yoghurt using milk form their own herd.

Bircher muesli. \ Photography: Philip Doyle. Food styling: Janine Kennedy

This can be all made ahead. You can experiment with different fruits. The lemon juice will give lovely acidity and stop the apple from going brown – or just add the apple last thing in the morning.

This can keep in your fridge for three to four days. I like it with the cream but that is optional

I am like a broken record but I always say eggs are one of my favourite ingredients.

I am often asked about poaching eggs. You need a tiny little bit of vinegar in the water and that will hold it all together. You just literally cook it for a couple of minutes.

The cream sauce with this is light. Make sure the ham is warm and always look for the Bord Bia Quality Mark. I also like poached eggs with smoked salmon.

I used muffins here, but I also like to use the Waterford blaa. In the restaurant we serve it with brioche, an enriched French dough.

There are a few techniques here, poaching an egg, making a sauce and wilting spinach. Well worth it for a great breakfast or for brunch.

Happy cooking,



Poached eggs with buttered muffins, ham and sautéed spinach

Serves four

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

4 eggs 40g (1½oz) unsalted butter

350g (12oz) baby spinach leaves

2 white muffins, split in half

225g (8oz) honey-glazed baked ham, carved into slices

For the 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 2.25l (4 pints) water. Add the white wine vinegar and bring to the boil. Break each egg into the water where it’s bubbling, then move the pan to the edge of the heat and simmer gently for 3 minutes. 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 24 hours.
  • 2 When ready to serve, preheat the grill to medium.
  • 3 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 excess liquid. Keep warm.
  • 4 Arrange the muffin halves on the grill rack, cut side up, and cook for 2-3 minutes, until lightly toasted. Spread with the remaining butter.
  • 5 Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the poached eggs and cook for 1-2 minutes to warm them through.
  • 6 To make the cream sauce, place the cream and mustard in a small pan and simmer for 1 minute. Whisk in the butter and stir in the chives. Season to taste and keep warm.
  • 7 To serve, place the muffins on warmed plates and arrange the ham on top, then spoon on small mounds of the spinach. Using a slotted spoon, remove the poached eggs from the pan and drain briefly on kitchen paper. Place on top of the spinach and spoon over the cream sauce.
  • Bircher muesli

    Serves four to six

    Bircher muesli. \ Photography: Philip Doyle. Food styling: Janine Kennedy

    225g (8oz) jumbo porridge oats

    200ml (7fl oz) cream

    150ml (¼ pint) freshly pressed apple juice

    150ml (¼ pint) natural plain yoghurt

    2 tbsp clear honey

    1 tsp vanilla extract

    1 Granny Smith apple

    1 tbsp lemon juice

    For the granola sprinkles:

    100g (4oz) mixed seeds (such as sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds)

    3 tbsp maple syrup

    25g (1oz) flaked almonds

  • 1 To make the Bircher muesli, mix the oats in a large nonmetallic bowl with the cream, apple juice, yoghurt, honey and vanilla extract. Cover with cling film and set aside overnight in the fridge to soak.
  • 2 To make the granola sprinkles, preheat the grill to medium. Line a Swiss roll tin with non-stick baking paper.
  • 3 Place the mixed seeds in a bowl and drizzle in the maple syrup, stirring continuously until evenly combined. Tip the seeds onto the lined Swiss roll tin and spread out in an even layer. Place under the grill for 8-10 minutes, until lightly golden, stirring occasionally to break up any large lumps in the mixture.
  • 4 Add the flaked almonds, stirring to combine, and cook for another 5-10 minutes, until lightly golden, again stirring occasionally to prevent the edges from overcooking. Remove from the grill and leave to cool and harden. Transfer to an airtight container until needed.
  • 5 In the morning, finish making the Bircher muesli. Remove the core from the apple and then grate, or chop, the apple into the softened oat mixture It’s important to keep the mixture quite wet. Add the lemon juice.
  • 6 To serve, divide the Bircher muesli among martini glasses or similar and scatter over the granola sprinkles to serve.