The famous Kai brunch you can cook at home this weekend
A tasty treat? Sweetcorn fritters, vine tomato fattoush or Gubbeen and bacon bit biscuits
Vine tomato fattoush with poached eggs and saffron yoghurt.
At the height of summer in New Zealand, you can expect to pay about five dollars a bucket for sweetcorn and let me tell you – it is glorious. It has nothing in common with the sad, tinned corn that wastes its life mixed with mayonnaise and damp tuna.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m no tin snob – I adore tinned sardines and anchovies, and you can’t go wrong with a can of Ortiz line-caught white tuna with freshly ground black pepper and a few ripe tomatoes. But at the end of the day, there is nothing better than the real thing straight off the cob.
When I first moved to Ireland, there was a real lack of fresh Irish corn. That was until my superheroes in Lough Boora Organic Farm came to me one year saying, “Jess, we don’t want to get your hopes up, but we’ve planted some corn, and it’s actually growing very well.”
My heart skipped a beat, and now, eight years later, we look forward to the phone call to tell us it’s ready for harvest. That’s when I do my little happy dance (something like a floss mixed with a dab, if you’d like to know). They grow some fantastic things for Kai at Lough Boora and are just one of many local farms that keep us going all year long.
Now, I have a confession to make, this cheese biscuit recipe is stolen from, or as chefs like to say “inspired by” my all-time favourites, the Eastern Seaboard in Drogheda, Co Louth. Their cheese biscuits are better than the ones I sampled in Breaux Bridge or Charleston in America’s Deep South.
Whenever Jeni Glasgow and Reuven Diaz leave their restaurant and come to visit us here in the west, I’m always happy to see them, mainly because of the big, brown bags full of biscuits they always bring. It’s like carb Christmas has arrived. The poor Kai team don’t even get a look in, because these are all mine, all mine to eat in the privacy of my own home, preferably while watching a bad movie on Netflix in my unicorn PJs.
So, here are three bank holiday weekend brunch dishes to support your virtuous efforts to impress trendy visiting relatives. Like active wear or a good sports bra, they blend comfort with style, and they won’t let you down.
SWEETCORN FRITTERS WITH CHILLI BUTTER
- 30g harissa
- 50g butter
- Juice of 2 limes
- 800g sweet corn
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- Olive oil
- 3 egg yolks (you’ll be using the whites too, so hang on to them)
- 30g fresh parsley
- 1 tsp dried coriander
- 1 tsp dried cumin
- Zest of 2 limes
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 120g flour
- 3 egg whites, beaten until stiff
- To make the chilli butter put the lime juice, harissa and butter into a food processor.
- Blitz until smooth and then chill it until all of your fritters are ready.
- Gently cook the sweetcorn and red onion in the oil until the onion softens a little, then divide the mixture in half.
- Whizz one half in a food processor so it resembles creamed corn.
- Empty this out into a large bowl and incorporate in the rest of the corn mix, egg yolks, herbs, zest, baking soda and flour.
- Gently fold in the egg whites.
- In a hot pan, shallow fry two or three large spoonfuls of the corn batter at a time for about two minutes on each side until nicely crisp and browned.
- Repeat until all of the batter is used up.
- Serve your fritters immediately with a generous dollop of chilli butter on top.
VINE TOMATO FATTOUSH WITH POACHED EGGS AND SAFFRON YOGHURT
- For the saffron yogurt:
- 1 pinch of saffron
- A splash of hot water
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dried mint
- 200ml Velvet Cloud sheep’s yogurt, or similar
For the fattoush:
- 2 whole meal pittas
- 450g tomatoes, quartered
- 4 poached eggs
- 30g mixed fresh dill, parsley and mint
- 10 garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 red peppers
- 50ml olive oil
- 20g za’atar
- Preheat an oven to 180 degrees Celsius, or equivalent.
- Slice the pittas in half to make four thin rounds. Place the pittas on a nonstick sheet pan. Brush with olive oil and season with salt.
- Bake for about five minutes, until the outside is golden brown. Let them cool until they become crisp.
- Meanwhile mix all of the saffron yogurt ingredients together and set aside for 10 minutes until the colour changes.
- Chop the peppers in a rustic fashion into a roasting dish with the smashed garlic bulbs, half of the tomatoes, toss with za’atar and olive oil and roast in the oven until softened, about 15 minutes.
- While it is still warm add the rest of the tomatoes, the torn up toasted pita and fresh herbs and toss together.
- Divide this between four ramekin dishes, place a poached egg on top and garnish with the saffron yogurt sauce.
- Garnish with the fresh herbs and serve.
GUBBEEN AND BACON BIT BISCUITS
- 500g plain flour
- 120g butter
- 85g Gubbeen cheese, grated (you can use any hard cheese you like)
- 1 pack (200g) Gubbeen bacon lardons, fried
- 1 handfull chopped chives or garlic scapes
- 20g/4 tsp baking powder
- 10g/2 tsp baking soda
- 15g/3 tsp salt
- 10g/2 tsp black pepper
- 20ml vinegar
- 200ml buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, or equivalent.
- Grate the butter into the flour, like you’re making scones, and rub until they resemble bread crumbs.
- Add the cheese, cooled down cooked bacon, chives or garlic scapes, the baking soda, baking powder and seasoning.
- Bring the mix together with the butter milk and vinegar, like a scone dough being careful not to over mix.
- Turn onto a floured board and gently knead.
- Roll out lightly to one inch in thickness.
- Cut into the desired shape and brush with buttermilk. You can garnish the tops with an extra wedge of cheese if you like.
- Place on a floured baking sheet and bake for approximately 20 minutes.
- Allow the biscuits to cool a little on a wire tray and serve with butter and tomato relish.