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I’ve given you various options here, listed according to degree of involvement/difficulty. It helps if you read the whole recipe first before you start cooking so that you can gather any ingredients and equipment you may need.

I’ve done my best to keep things simple and easy. If you’re really not the cooking type and have no idea where to even begin looking for the pots and pans, well, you can still put something passable together (Try option 1 _ it involves no cooking at all!).

Option 1 is Arrange layers of cubed fresh fruit (papaya, mango, orange, melon or whatever fresh and available), natural yoghurt and muesli in a small, pretty glass bowl or cup. Serve on a plate decorated with a sprig of foliage from the garden or a single flower bud.

Option 2 is for the slightly more adventurous–you need to actually get the stove going and stir a batter together, but don’t panic, if you can read the instructions behind the pancake mix box, you can do this!

Option 3 gets even more interesting–show her that you can actually bake! Imagine her surprise (or shock?) when you produce a basket of freshly-baked muffins.

Option 4 is for those who seriously want to show off but if you want to really knock her socks off and think you can pull it off, I’d encourage you to go all the way and produce the whole smorgasbord, that is, combine options 1, 2, 3 & 4!

That will probably stretch it into brunch though and you may have to adjourn to the dining room as I don’t think there will be enough room on the bed to lay out the entire spread.

LAYERED FRUIT AND YOGHURT CUP

Arrange layers of cubed fresh fruit (papaya, mango, orange, melon or whatever fresh and available), natural yoghurt and muesli in a small, pretty glass bowl or cup. Serve on a plate decorated with a sprig of foliage from the garden or a single flower bud.

Buy any commercial muffin or cake mix and follow the package instructions (they usually ask you to stir in an egg, water and oil or softened butter). However, to be honest, packet mixes often need a flavor ‘boost’ to disguise their tell-tale artificial flavor.

The solution is to stir in some fresh fruit. So for every pack, prepare about 2 cups of fruit (peel and cube some apple, mango or banana) and stir it into the mixture. (If you want to present a variety of flavors, divide mixture into three roughly equal portions and stir prepared mango in one cup, apple in the other cup and so on ).

Spoon mixture into paper-lined muffin or cup cake pans, filling them three-quarterstaff and bake according to the packet instructions. Preferably serve warm.

MUFFIN SURPRISE

Buy a box of pancake mix. Measure out about half a cup and tip into a bowl. Break one egg (into the cup that you measured the pancake mix) and add enough milk to make up half a cup of liquid.

Pour this into the dry pancake mix and stir well with a fork until mixture is smooth. Finely slice one stalk spring onion and add this to the batter (This adds an interesting savory flavor and a nice speckled green to the pancakes.)

Heat a frying pan over medium heat and melt half a teaspoon of butter. Pour in about 2 big spoonfuls of batter (it should spread 8–10 cm across) and cook for about 2 minutes or until bubbles appear and burst on the surface. Flip it over using a butter knife or fish slice (that flat, paddle-like thing that’s used for stir-frying) and cook for another minute.

Pancakes should be light brown in color. Stack them on a plate as you cook them. The above quantity should make 4–6 pancakes.

Arrange 2 pancakes on a plate and make scrambled eggs by melting 2 teaspoons of butter in a small (preferably non-stick) frying pan over medium heat. Beat 2 eggs with 1 tablespoon of milk and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.

Pour eggs into the pan and leave to set for a few seconds. As it cooks, stir the mixture around with a fork and cook to a creamy consistency. Take pan off the heat immediately and pile it on the pancakes. Garnish with a few bits of sliced spring onion and serve immediately.

For a ‘special touch’, you may like to garnish your scrambled eggs with a few strips of smoked salmon or some sated mushrooms *.

(* Slice 3 – 4 fresh or tinned mushrooms thinly and stir-fry for 2 minutes in a teaspoon of butter, seasoning it with a pinch of salt and pepper. You can do this in the pan before you scramble the eggs. Transfer it into a small bowl, wipe the pan with a paper napkin and proceed to make the scrambled eggs.)

PANCAKES AND EGGS

This used to be all the rage in the 1960s but now, no one seems to make them anymore. Here’s your chance to revive a trend.

Place 3 medium-sized eggs (preferably not straight from the fridge as cold eggs are more likely to crack when boiled) into a small pan and cover completely with water. Put pan on medium heat and when water comes to the boil, cook eggs for 5 minutes.

Carefully pour off hot water and run cold water from the tap over the eggs (to cool the eggs and prevent a nasty grey ring from forming around the yolk). When cold, shell eggs. Do this by tapping each egg gently on the table until the shell cracks.

It should peel off without too much trouble, but if you nick bits of egg white off in the process, don’t worry about it. It’s OK. Set shelled eggs aside while you prepare the meat patties.

Place 200 g of lean minced meat (beef or chicken) into a small bowl and to it, add tsp of salt, a touch of pepper, 1 stalk sliced spring onion and 3 tablespoons of dry breadcrumbs (you can buy this ready-prepared).

Beat one egg in a small bowl with a fork and add half of this to the meat mixture. (Reserve the other half.) Mix the meat mixture with (clean) fingers until well mixed and divide the mixture into 3 equal parts.

Put one patty in the cupped palm of your hand and with the other, flatten it evenly–it should be wide enough to enclose the boiled egg. Place the shelled egg in the middle of the patty and wrap the meat around the egg, as evenly as possible, making sure there are no cracks. Do this for all three eggs.

Dip the meat covered egg into the beaten egg, letting any excess drip off. Roll this in breadcrumbs and set aside.

Heat about 2 cups of oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Fry eggs for 3–4 minutes or until coating is crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels and cool slightly before cutting lengthwise into halves. (One egg serves 1, so this recipe makes enough for sharing.)

To serve, garnish with a few lettuce leaves and tomato wedges and a sauce (bottled chilli sauce, tomato ketchup or a dollop of mayonnaise is fine).

SCOTCH EGGS

Sometimes it’s not so much what you serve, as how you serve it. Even good old toast, butter and jam looks ‘special’, if you bother to cut the toast into neat triangles and present it in a napkin-lined basket and spoon jam, marmalade (or a colorful selection of preserves) into little sauce bowls or glass tumblers much more classy than plonking down a drippy jam jar with a soggy, half-torn label plastered to it.

Lay your breakfast offering out on a nice tray and serve with a pot of fresh brewed coffee or tea–which must be really hot (not lukewarm) and/or well-chilled fruit juice.

The frills: Thoughtful little touches like a pretty napkin, flowers, maybe even a small gift-wrapped surprise or a new magazine, will make your breakfast tray all the more appealing.

Go for color: Bright, sunny colors like yellow, orange, green and blue set the tone for a cheerful morning. Don’t worry about everything matching exactly–use a yellow napkin, a blue cup and green plates!

Sharmin Begum

The author Sharmin Begum

I have loved spicy food, Mexican in particular, since I was a child as my father was from El Paso where I acquired a taste for it on our many visits. I have cooked Tex-Mex all my adult life, but about 7 years ago I began cooking authentic Mexican food using my own ingredients and making my own tortillas, tamales, etc. On one of my visits to NM I attended the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta and took some excellent cooking classes at the Santa Fe Cooking School and the Old Mexico Grill. I love New Mexican food equally as well as Mexican.

I also grow my own chile peppers, tomatillos, and herbs like cilantro and epazote because they are not available locally.

I got into web publishing because I enjoy “meeting” fellow Chile-heads from all over the world and sharing my passion with them.

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