There are some hash browns singing on the stove. Slowly and tenderly working up a crisp crust, they are to go with the fat butcher's sausages that are sizzling and popping under the grill.
I remember when Sundays were lazy days. Breakfast was at lunchtime and lunch melted into dinner and that was the day pretty much gone. Now it's all get up and go, what with the farmer's market, the garden, the gym and the shops. There are craft fairs and food fairs, lunch parties and exhibitions, not to mention seeing the family and taking trips out of town. And that's only for the God-free like me.
Breakfast on Sundays has always been more of an event, having both the luxury of time that is missing in the week and lacking the suppressed panic of a workday. Even with the threat of a shopping trip looming, Sunday breakfast is often later and more indulgent, and the clock seems to tick more slowly than it does from Monday to Thursday. This is the only day I'd dream of having a kipper, bacon and sausage, or something more extravagant than my usual pot of healthier-than-thou organic goat's yogurt and blueberries.
There is the fry-up: the plate of protein and fat that soaks up last night's excesses like blotting paper. Maybe it's the day for French toast, to be eaten with raspberries, banana or blueberries or a drizzle of warm and runny apricot jam. Sometimes I sandwich two slices of bread together with mashed banana in the middle and fry them in butter to give a warm, sweet start to a cold day. (My cholesterol level is under four, so what the hell, it's Sunday.)
I don't know anyone with a waffle iron who has used it more than once, but it always sounds a pleasing option, especially with an offer of maple syrup to sit in the hollows and longback bacon on the side. You can take it back to the car boot sale next week. Or what about a tray of muffins straight from the oven, or is that just too Martha Stewart to swallow?
A hash of some sort appeals on a chill and foggy autumn morning. Crusty potato on the outside, melting onion within - it's a pretty cool way to start a Sunday. It does involve peeling potatoes, but I have made it with well-scrubbed little chaps cut into dice (so long as the skins are thin). Better still is bubble and squeak, except that leftover mash and greens is what you find in the fridge on a Monday morning, when sizzling veggies in a pan is the last thing on your mind. The perfect thing about hash browns is that they do best - by which I mean soften and crisp up - over a low heat, which gives you plenty of time to read the papers, have a shower and phone the family without breakfast coming to grief.
I honestly don't think Sunday is the time for a healthy breakfast, if that is what you do all week (and we do, don't we?). If Sunday isn't about indulgence then we risk becoming just that little bit too squeaky clean and boring. So sausages it is, potatoes, bacon, waffles, French toast, kippers and omelettes oozing with cheese. Oh and what the hell, let's open some bubbly while we're at it. It's not as if we do it every day.
Sweet potato and bacon hash
8 rashers of streaky bacon
maybe a little oil, fat or butter
1kg sweet potatoes
Remove and discard the rind, then cut the bacon into short, thick pieces abut the size of a large postage stamp. Let it cook slowly in a shallow pan about 24cm in diameter (non-stick or seasoned cast iron) until the fat has run. If it seems a little dry, then add a little oil, butter or bacon fat.
Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut them into large dice. Drop them into boiling salted water and cook for 10-15 minutes before draining. They should be almost soft.
Tip the drained potatoes into the pan with the bacon and smooth into one layer, seasoning it with black pepper and pushing it firmly down with a wooden spoon or spatula. Leave to cook slowly, over a low to moderate heat, until a crust has formed on the bottom. Place a plate over the pan and turn it over so the potato falls on to the plate. Now slide it back into the pan. Continue cooking until the underside is toasted and golden. Cut into thick slices and serve hot.
Classic potato hash
I prefer duck fat for this, but butter or bacon fat is perfect, too. So that the butter doesn't burn, clarify it first. Simply melt the butter in a small deep pan, scraping off the froth as it rises. Pour off the clear butter into a bowl, leaving the milky residue behind. Serves 4.
1kg floury potatoes
a large onion
50g butter, duck fat or dripping
Peel the potatoes and cut them into large dice, about 1cm square. Bring them to the boil in deep, salted water then turn the heat down so they simmer enthusiastically.
Peel the onion; cut it into thin segments. Melt the fat in a shallow pan (non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron) about 24cm in diameter. Add the onion and let it cook over a low to moderate heat till soft and golden.
The potatoes need to be seriously tender. Drain them and add to the onion, spreading them evenly over the pan, pushing them down with a wooden spoon. Keep the heat low, and let them cook slowly till crusty on the bottom. Ideally they will form a solid mass.
Take a plate or tray the same size as the frying pan and place it over the top. Now turn the whole thing over till the potatoes fall out on to the plate. Slide them back into the pan and continue to cook until the underside is golden brown. Serve hot, cut into wedges.
French toast with stewed apple and blackberries
Assuming that you have a bowl of stewed apple around, this is pretty easy. I have been known to gild the lily with creme fraiche.
2 slices white bread
2 heaped tbsp stewed apple
a handful of blackberries (or raspberries)
2 tbsp caster sugar
Remove the crusts from the bread and butter on both sides. Mash the stewed apple with a fork. Beat the eggs lightly in a bowl with the sugar. Dip the slices of bread into the egg then pile the filling on one half of the bread. Place the second slice over the top and press down firmly around the edges. Melt the butter in a shallow pan. When it starts to froth, add the sandwich and fry till golden underneath. Turn over and cook the other side. Remove with a spatula and drain briefly on kitchen paper before sprinkling with blackberries and eating.