Something for the weekend

Foodie Frances Cope gives us a seasonal weekend treat.

Birmingham certainly knows a thing or two about brunch; you don’t have to travel far through the city to stumble upon a decent offering. Whether you’re looking to cure yourself with a big hearty fry up after a heavy night, or just a light avocado on toast before hitting the yoga studio, there’s plenty of places to get your teeth into.

I’ve been living and studying in Birmingham now for more than a year and I’ve only managed a few brunches in my time here so far. Partly because I’m a student and I simply can’t afford to every weekend, but also working Saturdays in a busy Birmingham coffee shop in the Jewellery Quarter – Saint Kitchen, that F.Y.I serves up some excellent brunches, means I’m often on the kitchen end, rather than the receiving end at the table.

For now, if you’re like me, you feel like January is a time to tighten your purse strings and hold back from splashing out, why not settle for a homemade brunch? My recipe for Shakshuka is a tasty start to the day – eggs poached in a Middle Eastern smoky, slightly spicy vegetable-laden tomato sauce.

Some like to serve it sprinkled with feta cheese on top, but mine isn’t so traditional in that I’ve added what I fancied, little golden cubes of halloumi, chickpeas to the tomato sauce and then some avocado as a side for added freshness. All of which I felt were valid additions to the dippy eggs scenario, although feel free to swap and choose for whatever you have; different cheeses, beans and vegetables.

Halloumi and Chickpea Shakshuka

Serves 2 generous portions (3 normal sized)


125g (about 3/4 cup) halloumi, cut into small cubes
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
3 tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, sliced into strips
200g (1 cup) chickpeas, drained
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp mild chilli powder
400g (2 cups) tinned chopped tomatoes
a pinch of sugar
4 eggs
salt and pepper

Optional side:
1 avocado, sliced


Heat a non stick frying pan with 1 tbsp olive oil. Fry the cubed halloumi until they gain a golden exterior. Once cooked, put to one side to add to the shakshuka at the end.

Next heat a large frying pan/skillet pan with lid. Cook the onion and garlic in 2 tbsp of olive oil until soft, then stir in the peppers, chickpeas and spices, continue to stir and cook for a further 3 minutes before adding in the tomatoes and sugar. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Make 4 dips in the mixture with the back of a spoon and crack an egg into each, sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper over each egg.

Put the lid on and cook gently until the whites are set and the yolks are cooked to how you like them.
Take off the heat, sprinkle over the cooked halloumi cubes and serve with crusty bread to dip in. Best to serve straight away as it is not suitable for reheating.

Frances can also be found at thespoonandwhisk

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