Breakfast Week is a great chance to put that important meal in spotlight

An Ulster fry. 'Picture Gavan Caldwell
An Ulster fry. 'Picture Gavan Caldwell

Breakfast Week starts tomorrow and runs until next Saturday. Run by the Home Grown Cereal Association it’s objective is to stimulate sustained demand for cereals and oilseed based products.

The organisation is encouraging those that work in agriculture to post pictures of themselves enjoying breakfast at work, on social media.

There’s a chance to win a breakfast hamper and you just need to upload the photograph onto Twitter using #HGCAbreakfast during breakfast week to be in with a chance.

The 19th Century American humorist O. Henry describes his ideal morning start: “There’ll never be a perfect breakfast eaten until some man grows arms long enough to stretch to New Orleans for his coffee and over to Norfolk for his rolls, reaches up to Vermont and digs a slice of butter out of a springhouse and then turns over a beehive close to a white clover patch in Indiana for the rest. Then he’d come pretty close to making a meal on the amber that the gods eat on Mount Olympus.”

He’d obviously never been to Northern Ireland because, without any doubt, an Ulster Fry is the ideal breakfast, when done properly.

The most important part of any fry is to source the ingredients. Dry cure bacon is a bit more expensive but makes a mountain of difference. Gently frying potato bread in the left over bacon fat makes this indigenous bread even more delicious. I like to fry soda farls in Broighter Gold rapeseed oil – it adds a lovely golden hue to the bread and crisps it up beautifully.

I grill or gently fry good butcher’s sausages – never rush a banger! When cooking mushrooms, heat a tablespoon of broighter gold in a frying pan until smoking hot. Add the wiped, not washed, mushrooms to the pan (slice them if they’re big). Leave in the pan and season with salt, dot around some butter in the pan (hand churned Abernethy for a true taste of traditional Ulster) and cook until golden. I loath grey, soggy sluglike mushrooms and cooking them in high heat ensures this doesn’t happen.

If you like black and white pudding my personal favourite is Gracehill Pudding, made to a traditional Scottish recipe. It’s smooth unlike the County Cork variety and is packed with savoury flavour.

A gently cooked free range egg and half a grilled tomato is all that’s needed to complete the perfect ensemble (and a splash of brown sauce or ketchup!).

An Ulster Fry should never have baked beans on it under any circumstances!

The best breakfasts I’ve had have been in hotels or guesthouses where there’s something sweet on offer as well as the usual fry up. When you’re away you want to treat yourself to a long leisurely breakfast, if you can, and linger over coffee and a slice of cake.

“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast” according to the Chicago-born journalist, John Gunther – what a wise man. I’ve combined the two in a coffee cake – it’s also good with a mug of tea!

In reality we all move too fast these days and rush a coffee into us and go on our merry way.

My other recipe is for a healthy breakfast bar, packed with oats, seeds and fruit. Perfect to fill you up when you’ve no time to stop.