It’s easy to forget that grapes are seasonal, such is their ubiquity throughout the year. But autumn is the time of the European grape harvest, and it’s worth taking home a bunch or two of premium French or Italian grapes (such as the black muscat variety) if you come across them in September and October. In fact, if you do see grapes that appear different to the generic, year-round varietals, try roasting them for a particularly sweet, juicy and intense experience and serve them for breakfast with a lightly spiced eggy bread.
Tonka beans, available from Spice Mountain, are an intriguing spice which provide an intoxicating mix of almond, vanilla, nutmeg, the high notes of liquorice, cherry, cinnamon, caramel and dark honey too. It’s totally recognisable, yet unique at the same time, and excellent here. Use nutmeg if you can’t get hold of tonka beans.
The recipe is for two but scales up easily – though one tonka bean (grated like nutmeg) will still be enough for up to four eggs.
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 tonka bean, ﬁnely grated (or ¹⁄³ nutmeg)
1 teaspoon golden caster sugar
300g sweet red or black grapes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
2 x 2.5cm-thick slices of pain rustique or white sourdough
20g butter Greek yoghurt, to serve
Use a whisk or fork to combine the eggs, milk, grated tonka bean (or a heavy grating of nutmeg), sugar, a heavy pinch of ﬂaky sea salt and grind or two of black pepper in a bowl. Leave to infuse for at least 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200C fan/220C/425F/gas mark 7.
Remove the grapes from the bunch (leaving them on the vine looks pretty, but isn’t so clever when eating). Tip the grapes onto a small baking tray with a couple of pinches of ﬂaky sea salt and the extra-virgin olive oil. Shake the tray until all grapes are glossy, then roast in the top of the oven for 15–20 minutes, until the grapes are split and a little wrinkled, but still juicy.
Meanwhile, tip the egg mix onto a plate or a tray with a lip. Lay the bread slices in the liquid and leave them to soak for 1 minute, then ﬂip them over and leave for another minute. Repeat until two thirds of the liquid has been absorbed.
Put the butter in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat. Once the butter begins to foam lay the eggy bread slices in the pan. Fry for 1 minute, then ﬂip the bread and cook for 1 minute more. While it’s cooking on the second side, pour half of the remaining eggy liquid over the partially cooked bread. Repeat, so each side has been slicked with the eggy mix, cooked twice and is golden brown (around 4 minutes in total). Consider browning the thick edges too.
Serve the eggy bread with the warm roasted grapes and their juices spooned over, plus a heavy pinch of salt and extra-virgin olive oil drizzled onto the grapes, and a dollop of yoghurt nearby for contrast.
Recipe extracted from The Borough Market Cookbook by Ed Smith, published on 4th October 2018 by Hodder & Stoughton, £25 © Ed Smith 2018
Photography by Issy Croker