Vegan Fry-up (for Ruth and Greg)

I love making fried breakfasts for other people. It’s the smell and my absolute absorption in the order of activities and the perfection of outcomes that really grabs me. I serve myself a veggie version, once I’ve fed my carnivorous wife, daughter and The Boyfriend.

I wanted to create a vegan version for our cousin and her fiancĂ©, who are coming down from Northumberland to stay with us at Easter. 

Ruth is the first-born of our wider family, a sensible, compassionate, loving and very funny woman. Greg, reprographics manager and punk musician, bearded to add age to his too-young-to-be-true face, is so lovely that when we met him over this same kitchen table, we whispered our approval, childishly and indiscreetly, to Ruth.
For me, a cooked breakfast is an act of love, wholly focused on the eater. We love them. 

We acquired an Aga when we bought this house. With its cast-iron clatter, it is the hearth- and heart-warming centre of a good breakfast.

The essence of a balanced fry-up is the combination of sight, smell, tastes and sensations. The colours should be predominantly browns and reds (it’s a shame I can’t emulate the sunniness of a fried egg). There has to be chewiness, creamy moistness and crunch. There has to be saltiness, sharpness and sweetness – perhaps a little heat as well. And, for those who yearn for bacon, there has to be a smokiness.

Finally, it is vital that the whole lot is slammed down in front of the eater, together with a large mug of properly brewed tea.

Incidentally, there is nothing clever about this: it’s the thought that counts.


Decent baked beans
chestnut mushrooms
wholemeal bread
cherry tomatoes
cooking oil of choice
chilli oil
garlic oil
smoked paprika
cumin seeds

You’ll have to decide on your own quantities. I do.


Put a tin of beans in an oven-proof dish and place in the roasting oven.

Sauté quartered button mushrooms and cumin seeds in olive oil, then place in the roasting oven alongside a tray of halved cherry tomatoes drizzled with olive oil.

Make toast on the simmering plate (make sure it’s crisp).

Cut half into into cubes and briefly blitz the other half.

Return the mushrooms to the frying pan with the coarsely chopped pieds-de-moutons, drizzle with garlic oil, chilli oil and smoked paprika and add the croutons and crumbs.

Stir-fry vigorously and briefly, until it is all hot (don’t do it for too long or it will become bitter).

When ready, tumble mushrooms, croutons and crumbs into bowls which have been warmed in the simmering oven.

Surround with tomato halves and beans (according to taste).

Salt, pepper and serve.