The most important meal of the day

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I never used to eat breakfast. I’m not quite sure when I changed habits, but now I can’t live without it.

Scrambled or poached eggs are always welcome, but lately I’ve gone back to my childhood roots in more kitchen ways than one. The soft boiled egg is the current vogue in my house, sprinkled with salt and pepper and served with soldiers made from proper bread. 

A cooked breakfast is a thing of pleasure, and leisure, and generally much more enjoyable when someone else cooks it for you. Somehow a breakfast spread seems the right way to start the day, particularly on holiday or at the weekend. It’s a meal to celebrate, rather than a chore to get through. Even at seven on a grey mid-week morning, I will still make an effort to eat something delicious – porridge with summer berries and honey perhaps, or toast with homemade whisky marmalade.

On a recent break away in Berkshire at The Queen’s Arms breakfast was proper – little pots of fruit compote with vanilla flecked yogurt, a real cooked breakfast and a range of jams and conserves to rival my own collection (which takes some doing – I am a condiment collector!).

Pleasant surprise of the morning went to granola bars – which sound far too healthy to be so delicious. Chewy and dense with fruit and oats, these are a treat, and the chef was kind enough to let me steal the recipe, after I became somewhat addicted to them!

Granola Bars

Ingredients

•    500g rolled oats
•    125g pitted prunes, quartered
•    125g dried apricots, quartered
•    100g pecans, quartered
•    90g sunflower seeds
•    90g pumpkin seeds
•    125g sesame seeds
•    ½ dessert spoon mixed spice
•    ½ dessert spoon cinnamon
•    ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
•    350g runny honey
•    125g light brown sugar
•    340g butter
•    1 lemon, juice & zest

Method

Weigh out the dry ingredients together, chopping the apricots and pecans roughly.

Melt the honey, butter, sugar and lemon juice and zest in a pan over a low heat.

Mix all the ingredients together and place into a tray lined with silicon paper, smooth over the top and sprinkle with a little more sesame seeds.

Bake at 170°C for 15 minutes then remove and allow to cool.

When cooled cut into bars 3cm x 8cm.

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