“I went to a restaurant that serves ‘breakfast at any time’ so I ordered French toast during the Renaissance.” Steven Wright

I’ve never really ‘got’ breakfast as a domestic routine, although I do enjoy a home cooked breakfast on rare occasions, especially in a half-way decent hotel or the ‘Full English’ on a long train journey (although clearly a declining culinary species). When I spent frequent weekends climbing in the Lake District, and leaving at the crack of dawn on a Monday morning from Keswick back to London, my train originated in Glasgow.The dining car, where breakfast was served for the first two hours,therfore  made no apologies for providing the Full Scottish en route. If you’ve never started the day with a range of comedy sausages; white pudding, black pudding, Lorne sausage, haggis, tattie scone, all on top of beans, bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes, you may well find yourself wondering how those 14th century rebels ever managed a win at Bannockburn. The sensation of lead brick within is no way to begin the travails of the day – with or without a battle to attend.Bur it was, remarkably, never missed.

I have grown to like those selections of thinly sliced meats and Boska peeled cheeses in most European hotels and I love a morning espresso in any country, although my preference being a small bar in Milan, but I can no longer eat anything that’s bestowed by an airline hostess on an early morning flight to get there. A smoked wild boar in La Mancha at 7am was an unexpected challenge and a morning bowl of caviar with blinis ans skyre in Helsinki had too much of a ‘death row request’ about it to be unerringly enjoyed.

Although I wolfed down manufactured cereals during my childhood – embarrassed as I am to admit it, but Sugar Puffs beat Weetabix hands down – I seemed to eschew them all as teenage beckoned and I’ve never touched a bowlful since. As for those who can face a bowl of spurtle-stirred porridge at the break of day, I salute you, may your dirk forever glint in the morning sunshine. And as to the muesli brigade, I remain shtum, as it all looks unnervingly like the mix I feed to my chickens.

However the rest of my family adhere to the maxim that a wholesome breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and they like it provisioned accordingly.

So it was that granola gripped our family and after a few false starts in the recipe department, we found one that suits all. I hesitantly came to regard it as a bona fide dish, but if pushed I prefer it after dark rather than before dawn.

Granola from Ottolenghi-The Cookbook (2008)

60 g whole un-skinned almonds

40 g Brazil nuts

40 g cashew nuts

300 g whole rolled oats

60 g pumpkin seeds

60 g sunflower seeds

100 g dried apricots, roughly chopped

60 g dried cranberries

60 g dried blue berries


¼ tsp salt

3 tbsp water

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

2 tbsp sunflower oil

120 ml maple syrup

120 ml honey

Preheat the oven to 140°C/gas mark 1

Roughly chop all the nuts and put them in a large mixing bowl

Add the oats and seeds and set aside

Mix together all the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan

Place over a low heat and stir while you warm the syrup gently

Once it is warm, pour it over the seeds, nuts and oats and stir well with a wooden spoon

Line a large baking tray with baking parchment and spread the granola over it evenly

It should form a layer no more than 1 cm thick

Bake for 40 minutes, turning and mixing the granola 2 or 3 times

When ready it will have taken on a dark honey colour, don’t worry if it is soft, once it is cool it will turn crunchy

Remove from the oven

While the granola is still warm, stir in the fruit

Leave to cool on the tray and then transfer to a sealed container

Wine thoughts

 It’s breakfast time, don’t be silly!