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Category Archives: Nostalgia Tastes Like This!

The Cookery Year: A Meal For All Seasons

When it comes to cookery books, most people can’t wait to get hold of Jamie Oliver’s or Nigella’s latest offering – and I’m no different. But there are no words to describe just how thrilled I was to have recently got my hands on a copy of The Cookery Year by Reader’s Digest. I’ve been hunting around for this iconic cook book for a long time, hoping to add it to my overwhelming collection of cookery books. For me, this little gem is the king of cook books – and an integral part of my childhood.

From the moment Reader’s Digest published The Cookery Year in the early seventies, it became the cook book no kitchen was complete without. It contained a month by month guide to seasonal produce plus recipes. My mother was the proud owner of a copy from the seventies, and being the strange child that I was, I used to spend hours poring over the pages. I must have been the only five year old who knew what a blini was! It was this book which got me interested in food and cooking at a young age all those years ago, and it introduced me to the delicious summer pudding; the delightful ouefs a la neige, and the flaming brilliant Crepes Suzettes!

But what I liked most about The Cookery Year were the beautifully illustrated opening pages listing information about different types of fruit, vegetables, cuts of meat, fish and cheese, complete with instructions for preparation and cooking. I enjoyed looking the pictures and once I’d learnt to read, I was also able to find out when certain produce was available and preferable cooking methods though why a primary school-aged child needed to know such information, I’ll never know! Who’d have thought that The Cookery Year could be so educational? Furthermore whenever I played the Name Game, with friends, I was very rarely stuck when it came to the fruit and vegetable category – and I have The Cookery Year to thank for that!

Now my mother’s cook book – the same one I used to look through when I was a child – certainly looks as though it’s been through the wars. Battered and worn, with the cover and many of its pages missing, this book has been well and truly used! I remember Mum used to follow the recipes for some of the cakes that featured in this book and I did make something from The Cookery Year when I was about twelve – orange foam sauce which we served with spotted dick as we’d run out of the milk we needed to make the custard so this recipe saved the day!

Being reunited with this book is like being reunited with a missing piece of my childhood. I thoroughly enjoyed getting reacquainted with this cook book; flicking through the pages; feeling amazed at how much I’d remembered… I came across recipes and photos I instantly recognised. Grapefruit in brandy… scallops served in the shell… turbot with sweetcorn… salad elona… it was as though I was being transported back in time. I also came across dishes I hadn’t heard of in a long time which were extremely popular when I was growing up such as cock-a-leekie soup, melon and prawn basket, Steak Diane and peach melba. And oh my goodness, kidneys! A lot of kidneys were consumed in the seventies and eighties if these recipes are anything to go by. Maybe there are some changes in twenty-first century cooking for which we can be thankful!

The edition of The Cookery Year which I have found is from 2009 rather than from the 1970s and even though it’s done it’s best to adhere to the original format, there are differences. The hardback cover of the 1970s edition featured a variety of fruits, vegetables, and spices, artistically arranged and photographed, while the 2009 edition has charming illustrations of fruit vegetables and fish emblazoned across its paperback cover. Some of the photographs inside the book are different to what I remember and some have been omitted altogether. Furthermore some recipes have also been removed such as the delightful ‘bunnies on the lawn’ that I always hoped my mum would make for my next birthday party.

Just as clothes go out of fashion, so does food and there are some dishes here which probably haven’t stood the test of time. I can’t see anyone serving up tomato ice as a starter or the delightfully named kidney scramble when they fancy a light snack. But there are still a huge number of classics such as chicken pie, tarte tatin, boef bourguignonne, and Lancashire hot pot as well as the famous summer pudding which outnumber the dishes which now seems outdated, so The Cookery Year is still a worthwhile buy. And in any case, any recipes that seem a bit dated can be adapted to modern tastes and to what is now available, or simply stick a ‘retro’ label on it and it will immediately be en vogue again!

It’s also amazing to see just how far we’ve come from the seventies in terms of food. Offal seems to be off the menu in a lot of households and restaurants, thank goodness. Chilli chocolate, salted caramel, pulled pork and many of today’s current food trends didn’t appear to exist then. In the seventies edition of The Cookery Year, peppers, avocados and courgettes were considered ‘less common vegetables’. Fast forward forty years and everyone’s fridge is full of them! And despite there surprisingly being lots of foreign influences, it’s missing a lot of the Thai, Japanese and South American flavours which are so popular today.

 

I really do think that every household could benefit from owning a copy of The Cookery Year. It really is a must-have book. Those who already have this cook book have said that they’ve never really needed another cookery book as this one has everything they need to develop their culinary skills. It’s perfect for beginners to cooking enthusiasts alike; serious homemakers to those setting up home for the first time; parents and children – I even saw a comment from a lady who said that her three year old daughter sits on the work top looking through the book while her mother cooks. Sounds very familiar! Another mother has said that she uses the opening chapters as a teaching aid about food for her children. There are also menu suggestions for special occasions like weddings, Christmas and dinner parties. To say this book is extremely useful is an understatement – it’s the cook’s bible!

I’m so glad that The Cookery Year is part of my life again. I honestly don’t know how I lived without it for so long. I love the format, the month by month guide, the menus, the advice, the recipes, the illustrations, the photographs – in short, EVERYTHING! However, I’m still going to keep my eye out for an original edition like my mum had. What can I say – I’m so old school!

So I’m going to leave you with the recipe  from The Cookery Year for the orange foam sauce I made many years ago with great success. It really is a delicious, versatile and – if a twelve year old can do it – easy to make sauce. It goes well with most pies, tarts, hot pudding and cakes and even Christmas pudding!

ORANGE FOAM SAUCE

 

Ingredients:

1 oz unsalted butter
1 orange (grated rind and juice of)
1 all-purpose flour
2 oz superfine sugar
1 egg
lemon juice

Method:

  • Cream the butter and grated orange rind and gradually beat in the flour mixed with sugar.
  • Separate the egg and beat the yolk into the butter & flour mixture.
  • Add the orange juice (made up to 5floz with water)
  • Don’t worry if the mixture curdles at this stage, it will become smooth again as it cooks.
  • Cook the sauce in a small heavy based saucepan over a low heat, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens and the flour is cooked through.
  • Add a little extra water if necessary to keep the sauce to a pouring consistency.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and cover with a lid to keep warm.
  • Just before serving, beat the egg white until stiff and then fold it into the sauce and sharpen the sauce slightly with a little lemon juice.

 

 

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Comfort Food #12: Brown Bread Ice-Cream

 

Does anyone remember brown bread ice-cream? Has anyone ever tried it?

 

It’s way too cold to be even thinking about ice-cream so I have no idea why the first comfort food feature of the year is going to include a recipe that probably won’t be tried and tested for another five months at least!

 

Flicking through a recipe book last week, I came across a recipe for brown bread ice-cream and it took me right back to my childhood…

 

When I was a child growing up in 1980s London, we didn’t have the variety of ice-cream flavours that we have today. Coffee was served steaming hot in a mug not ice-cold in a wafer cone; peanut butter was something we got in a jar and the idea of salted caramel in any form would have been scoffed at (rather than just scoffed!) I suppose there are some advantages of twenty-first century living!

Back in my day, ice-cream was almost strictly vanilla, strawberry or chocolate with ‘exotic’ flavours being banana or mint choc-chip! Oh, not forgetting the classic Neapolitan.

So it was a huge surprise for me to see recipes for brown bread ice-cream in the women’s weeklies that my mum used to buy. I also used to watch it being made on cookery shows. I was quite puzzled though because I always thought that ice-cream could only be chocolate or fruit- flavoured. How on earth could you make ice-cream out of bread? What would be next ‘ cornflakes? Cheese and onion crisps?

 

However, now that I’m older and have developed quite a sophisticated palate (so I like to think!) I can appreciate the uniqueness of this particular sweet treat. The caramelised breadcrumbs give a deliciously nutty texture and a toffee – almost fudgy – flavour.

 

Brown bread ice-cream became available in the eighteenth century after fruit flavoured ice-creams had been introduced but it didn’t gain in popularity until the late Victorian and Edwardian times when it was a privilege of the rich and served as a country weekend treat.

 

It seems to have declined in popularity over the years though because despite recipes for this ice-cream being readily available, I don’t hear any real mention of it. It has not appeared on the cookery pages of any of the magazines I’ve bought for a good few years; I haven’t seen it on restaurant menus and it has never been one of Haagan Dazs’ one million and one flavours (at least not here in the UK.) It seems to have been very much consigned to the drawer marked ‘forgotten about’ which is a shame because it is a delicious tasting ice-cream. Those who have never tried it, don’t know what they’re missing. Furthermore, despite all the sugar and cream, it can’t possible be an unhealthy dessert – not when it contains brown bread!

 

the recipe I came across was in a book Traditional Puddings by Sara Paston-Williams. It seems extremely easy to make so I will most definitely be giving it a go. It can be served with brandy snaps and your favourite ice-cream sauce served warm such as butterscotch or chocolate fudge or … salted caramel. However, I also found a recipe from the same book for a hot marmalade sauce which should complement this ice-cream very well.

 

BROWN BREAD ICE-CREAM

Recipe by Sara Paston-Williams

Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS:

75g (3oz) wholemeal bread

50g (20z) unsalted butter

75g (3oz) castor/soft brown sugar

4 eggs, separated

115g (4oz) castor sugar

30ml (2 tbsp.) rum, brandy, Madeira

400ml double or whipping cream

METHOD:

  • Prepare breadcrumbs by frying in butter until crisp and adding 50g sugar.
  • Let this caramelise and then cool completely before crushing with a rolling pin.
  • To prepare basic ice-cream, beat egg yolks with sugar and alcohol.
  • Whip cream until it holds its shape.
  • Add to egg mixture.
  • Freeze in a lidded container for about 1 hour.
  • Stir in crumbs then freeze again.
  • Remove from freezer 30 mins before serving.
  • Scoop into glasses.
  • Serve with brandy snaps and sauce.

MARMALADE SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

5ml cornflour

Juice of 1 orange

250ml white wine

60ml mamalade

30ml soft brown sugar

METHOD:

  • Dissolve cornflower in juice.
  • Heat wine, marmalade and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved, stirring from time to time.
  • Stir in cornflour mixture.
  • Bring to the boil, stirring well.
  • Simmer for two minutes.
  • Serve hot.

Enjoy this very retro dessert!

 

 
 

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Video

Not So Rosey On Quality Street

 

 

Christmas is over, the decorations have long been taken down, and we’re all heaving a sigh of relief that we won’t have to look at another turkey until the end of the year. However not all traces of Christmas have completely disappeared as we’re still surrounded by a huge mountain of chocolate that we couldn’t manage to get through during the festive season – even though we had been dutifully stuffing our faces with the stuff!

 

Among the stash which is going to take us another year to finish – I won’t need to bother buying chocs this Christmas – is a plastic tub of Heroes which is now half full of miniature chocolates, which I don’t mind but I’m not over the top crazy about, so I’m contemplating turning them into a scrummy, yummy fondue or a brownie so that they’ll be fully appreciated and not sit lingering in the tub for the best part of a year.

 

But despite consuming an amount of chocolate that would make an oompa loompa very happy (actually my brother often calls me an oompa loompa but we won’t talk about that!) what was missing this year was the mammoth tin of Roses or Quality Street we used to receive every year since we were knee-high to… an oompa loompa! To us, those tins of chocolate are as synonymous with Christmas as tinsel covered trees and nativity cribs – Christmas just isn’t Christmas without them!

 

One of the highlights of our Christmas involved working our way through a tin, tub or glass jar of either Roses or Quality Street (if we were extraordinarily lucky – both!) We couldn’t wait to take the lid off the tin and get stuck in. Even though Roses and Quality Street are available all year round in their standard box form, there’s something about seeing those beautifully wrapped sweets in bright jewel tones at Christmas that makes them very apt for that festive time of year. Opening a tin of Roses or Quality Street was like entering Aladdin’s cave; all those interesting colours, shapes, sizes and textures… no wonder it was such a huge hit with young children.

 

The chocolate tin was the equivalent of the Olympic gold medal in our house – it was regarded as something special that everyone wanted to get their hands on. And it was ideal, no, a necessity for Christmas telly viewing. All six of us would be gathered together in the living room. Dad would be sprawled out on the sofa, rummaging through the tin and gobbling up chocolate as though his life depended on it. Chocolate wrappers would be scattered on the floor much to Mum’s annoyance and our amusement. This would soon be followed by a surprised cry of “Oh! It’s all gone! Who finished it?” Er, you did, Dad but I suppose we should thank you for having the decency to finish the orange fondants and coffee creams. We may love our Roses and Quality Street but I seriously do not know anyone who actually likes these.

Now that I’m married, I wanted to continue the tradition. Buying a special Christmas edition tin of Roses or Quality Street that is, not having Dad scoff the lot. As Hubby is from the States, he’s never had either before, so he left it up to me to decide which one to get. As it was our first Christmas together in the UK, I thought I’d go all out and get both. However, I was soon left sorely disappointed.

First of all, they now come in a plastic tub not a lovely metal tin as in years gone by which was ideal for storing biscuits or if you’re like my mum – rice! Then I discovered that for both types of chocolate collections, many of my favourites had been discontinued. The selection of chocolates available were greatly reduced and if I’m being brutally honest, I didn’t like most of them. What have they done to my beloved Roses and Quality Street?

A quick look at reviews and forums indicate that I’m not alone. There have been many complaints regarding both quantity and quality of the chocolates. Many have noticed that the flavours have changed and that the chocolates tastes sickly sweet. Some have put the change down to takeovers by different companies while others believe that it’s due to having to be economical in times of financial crisis. But whatever the changes may be it doesn’t change the fact that it’s not the chocolate assortments that we once knew and loved.

And although it’s a more minor issue, I can’t say I’m too thrilled with the new look designs. Although they disappeared fourteen years ago, I wish that Nestle had not got rid of the image of the two characters Major Quality and Miss Sweetly – who incidentally were inspired by the knowledge that people in the 1930s craved nostalgia. And as for what’s supposed to be an abstract rose which features as part of the Roses design, well it just looks more like a child’s scribble. The design on my mum’s old tin has a beautiful design from either the late 70s or early 80s. I know things have to change as years go by but I thought change was supposed to be for the better.

Roses and Quality Street appeared in the 1930s; a time when boxed chocolates could only be afforded by the wealthy. These assortments were reasonably priced and nicely presented, low-cost packaging thus making it available to most working people. And over the years it has been a massive hit. Christmas aside, we knew we were in for a real treat if someone gave us a box of Roses or Quality Street as we were growing up. I also bought into the slogan “Say ‘Thank You’ with Cadbury’s Roses” and it would always be my go-to box of chocolates if I ever wanted to give a small token of appreciation.

Sadly, it’s not something I would do now. And unless the quality of these chocolates improve, I think it’s safe to say that it will be another tub of Heroes again this Christmas.

 

 

 

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Comfort Food#11: Good Old Rice Pudding!

 

I love rice pudding – immensely! As a small child, I was quite fussy when it came to food and didn’t really eat it then, but I did get through bowlfuls of the stuff when I was in my teens. It got me through GCSEs, A levels, two degrees, heartbreak and hunger pains – especially when I couldn’t be bothered to cook. Unfortunately,  I was hopeless at trying to make it myself; my one attempt was a bit of a disaster so I stuck mainly with Ambrosia’s tinned rice pudding. Or Marks and Spencer’s if I wanted to push the boat out!  And the shop bought stuff is still as equally delightful as the home made variety.

 

And then I don’t know why but rice pudding just disappeared from my life! I mean I still indulged in the odd tin of Ambrosia but it wasn’t like before when I really guzzled the stuff. I can’t quite remember what happened to my rice pudding addiction. I can only assume it was because my sweet tooth which is in serious danger of overdosing on sugar was tempted away from this simple and humble pudding by more fanciful desserts. It just didn’t stand a chance in a world of salted caramel and tropical fruit flavours!

 

It took Les Dennis’ appearance on Celebrity Masterchef to remind me of how much I’d once loved rice pudding. I wondered if it was still as delicious as I remembered it to be. I mentioned it to Hubby who couldn’t remember ever tasting a rice pudding even once. This comes as no surprise as he’s a fussier eater than I ever was!

 

Only one way to find out. So the next day I took myself off to M&S and bought a large tub of it for myself. Forty minutes after taking it out of the oven, I dug in. It was like nutmeg-laced, creamy heaven on a spoon! It was delicious, warm and comforting… everything a rice pudding should be. They don’t call it comfort food for nothing and it really hit the spot. I wondered why and how I’d gone so long without it. And this classic nursery pud is perfect now that the cold, dark nights of winter are drawing closer.

 

 

Everyone remembers rice pudding from their school days. Bland milky slop with a blob of strawberry jam in the middle. the best thing about it was stirring the jam into the rice pudding so that it turned pink. Even then I don’t think I took more than a few mouthfuls before confining the lot to the slop bucket. I’m sure this memory has stayed with many people over the years which explains why it may not be everyone’s favourite. Rice pudding has been around since Victorian times but even then it was considered economical, bland, ordinary fare served to infants and invalids. Another common dislike about rice pudding especially baked rice pudding, is the lovely skin that forms on top. Definitely not a firm favourite with me but I know that for some people, it’s considered to be the best bit.

 

However, skin or no skin, rice pudding these days is anything but bland and boring and has come a long way. Cooks are very inventive these days when it comes to rice pudding. Different varieties of rice can be used instead of the classic pudding rice. It can be cooked on a hob or baked in the oven. Egg yolks can be added to give it a more custard-like flavour and consistency. And then there are the million and one ways in which you can flavour your rice pudding. The traditionalists may prefer to stick to nutmeg although vanilla seems to be quite common as well. Bay leaves, lemon zest, cinnamon, dried fruit, candied peel and brandy are also becoming quite popular. In fact I came across a recipe which contained brandy-soaked raisins and was then topped with a meringue before being baked. Definitely sounds like my kind of rice pudding! And I absolutely love Les Dennis’ idea of using mascarpone which is something I’d never heard of but it sounds delicious. All these different ways  of cooking rice pudding means that no two puddings are the same and should help eradicate the image of gloopy school-dinner rice pudding.

 

And let’s not forget that rice pudding is virtually universal with so many countries having their own version of this dish. My favourite comes from Malaysia and is known as pulut hitam. It is made using a purple variety of rice. It is flavoured with coconut and a fragrant leaf called pandan. Truly scrumptious. I like the fact that countries around the world are very adventurous with their flavourings using rosewater, saffron, pistachios, ginger, anise and date syrup. It all sounds very exotic and inspiring in giving us new ideas for flavourings.

 

I’m so glad I’ve become reacquainted with rice pudding. Now as we’re having cold, wet weather, I like nothing more than curling up in front of a telly with a good movie and a bowl of yummy, hot rice pudding. I think it has something of the cornflake factor – you really do forget how great they taste! So here’s a recipe for rice pudding which sounds scrummy: spiced orange rice pudding. With Christmas fast approaching, I thought it sounded very appropriate. Hopefully after trying this you’ll never suffer the trauma of another school dinner nightmare again!

Spiced Orange Rice Pudding

 

Ingredients

  • 150g basmati rice
  • 1 litre skimmed milk
  • 250ml single cream
  • 75g caster sugar
  • grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 cardamom pods, crushed
  • You will need a lightly buttered oven-proof dish.

Recipe method

Pre-heat your oven to 160C/gas mark 3.

Pop the milk, cream, caster sugar, orange juice and vanilla into a saucepan and gently bring to the boil over a low heat.

Meanwhile pour the rice into the buttered oven dish along with the nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom and orange zest, fold the spices into the rice.

Pour the hot sweet milky mixture over the rice, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon after 20 minutes.

Remove the foil and continue to cook for a further 20 minutes until most of the liquid has absorbed into the rice.

Leave to cool slightly and serve with a dollop of your favourite preserve. If you like a crispy skin on your rice pudding you can always pop the pudding under a hot grill with a little dusting of icing sugar until it browns.

Serve with your favourite preserve. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 3, 2013 in Nostalgia Tastes Like This!, Recipes

 

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Walnut Whips: A Childhood Classic!

I was shocked when a friend revealed that she’d never before  heard of a Walnut Whip! She’s definitely old enough to remember them but even when I described them to her she still didn’t know what I was talking about. Oh dear girl, where have you been all these years????

True, they’re not as common as they once were and from checking out the  forums, I can see that it is a common misconception among Nestlé’s Walnut Whip fans that they no longer exist and have found a place in choccy heaven. Thankfully, this isn’t so as they do still exist but admittedly they are unfortunately not as readily available as they once were. It’s a question of hunting for them – but they can be found. Supermarkets tend to stock up on Nestlé’s Walnut whips around Christmas time where they can be bought in packs of six. If you can’t wait until Christmas – and who could blame you – that other great British institution Marks and Spencer’s have their own brand of Walnut whips which are readily available throughout the year. In fact this year celebrates fifty years since M&S launched the walnut whips in their stores.

 

Walnut whips were definitely a childhood treat when we were growing up in the 1980s and they bring back memories. As business owners, my parents had access to wholesale suppliers and were able to buy Walnut Whips at trade cost – which meant that our fridge was packed full of chocolaty goodness! I really don’t think Mum had space for much else. I dread to think how many my sister and I used to get through each day. You’d think we’d be sick of them by now seeing as we’d had enough to last us a lifetime.

 

Originally launched in 1910 by Duncan’s of Edinburgh, Walnut Whip is now produced by Nestle. It consists of hollow whirl-shaped milk chocolate cone filled with a delicious soft, marshmallow-like, whipped, vanilla fondant cream filling, topped with… a walnut! I’m clearly not as old as I thought I was because apparently there also used to be a walnut actually inside the cone. Eventually the walnut piece inside the chocolate was removed, leaving the one nut that topped the cone – which is the only walnut piece I remember!

 

 

The Whip has undergone a few transformations over the years including the ridging on the surface of the cone; and the texture of the filling which was supposed to have been more dense, and I think I vaguely remember this. Another thing I recall is that the packaging – even though it was still blue – wasn’t the same shiny, metallic wrapper we see today. Furthermore, I’m sure it was a darker shade of blue too. I also remember that the Whip used to be perched on a thin card base inside the blue wrapper – and for reasons I cannot understand why, I was quite taken with the card base! I was a very strange child…

 

 

Over the years, Nestle  have produced a few different flavoured fondant fillings but it is the vanilla one which still prevails today. As part of their fiftieth anniversary celebrations, Marks and Spencer’s have also brought out other flavours such as  mint and an assorted box containing one toffee pecan, one double chocolate and an original flavour. However I really don’t think that anything can ever be as good as the original vanilla flavour… although I do look forward to testing out my theory!

 

 

 

In our house, Christmas is not complete unless we had a few boxes of Nestlé’s Walnut Whips in the cupboard. And it had to be Nestlé’s because of the distinctive blue packaging. Anything else just wouldn’t be the same.

Roll on Christmas!

 

 

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Comfort Food #10: Bread and Butter Pudding

 

Hubby and I were watching a recent episode of our guilty pleasure, Celebrity Masterchef, and we were amazed to see that the lovely Les Dennis totally messed up when it came to making a simple bread and butter pudding. Now I may never qualify as a contestant in any future series’ of Masterchef but I do know how to make a decent bread and butter pudding and have been doing so since I was twelve!

 

Not to be confused with bread pudding, bread and butter pudding is real comfort stodge at it’s best; a delicious combination of sliced, white, buttered bread, raisins and baked egg custard. Crispy on the outside while soft and creamy on the inside, it sounds incredibly basic but it tastes delicious and is one of my father’s favourite puddings. Not only is it inexpensive and easy to prepare but as in bread pudding, it’s a great way of using up leftover bread. It’s a traditional British classic and is usually served with custard, double cream or evaporated or condensed milk. it goes down a treat on a cold winter’s evening!

 

The origins of this great British dessert are believed to date back to around the early seventeenth century, although John Nott wrote down one of the earliest recipes for a bread and butter pudding  in 1723. The poor – not wanting to throw out any leftover bread – would steam it with fruit or even meat. An early form of this pudding was known as a whitepot and could be made using bone marrow (yum!) and sometimes substituted the bread for rice thus initiating the process of another nursery dessert, the rice pudding. However, with the introduction of new foods from abroad, people became more inventive and started adding spices and various types of fruit. Milk, eggs and sugar soon became more accessible and affordable for most people and the pudding as we know it today was beginning to take shape.

 

The basic recipe remained the same until the latter part of the twentieth century when the popularity of this dessert was beginning to fade. However, many celebrity chefs who have a real love for British cuisine have revamped the humble bread and butter pudding, adding their own spin on a classic showing that many variations of this traditional pudding are possible.

 

Bread and butter pudding is still fairly popular today, although I have yet to see a classic version of this dessert in a restaurant menu. I have come across the brioche version which I suppose is a little more sophisticated and updated. Here’s a recipe for a delicious, classic, bread and butter pudding by Elaine Lemm. It’s so easy and tastes soooo good!

 

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Serves 4
Heat the oven 355°F/180°C/Gas 4.

Ingredients:

  • 50g / 2 oz soft butter
  • 10 slices soft white bread, cut diagonally across or any of the other breads mentioned above
  • 50g / 2 oz golden raisins/sultanas
  • ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 350 ml / 12 fl oz milk
  • 50 ml / 2 fl oz double / heavy cream
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 25g / 1 oz white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste (see note below)

Preparation:

  • Grease a 2 pint/1 litre pie dish with a little of the butter. Spread each of the bread triangles with butter.

  • Cover the base of the pie dish with overlapping triangles of bread, butter side up. Sprinkle half the golden raisins/sultanas evenly over the bread, then lightly sprinkle with a little nutmeg and cinnamon. Repeat this layer one more time or until the dish is filled, finishing with the raisins on top.
  • In a saucepan gently heat the milk and cream – DO NOT BOIL.
  • In a large baking bowl beat the eggs with 3/4 sugar and the vanilla extract until light and airy and pale in color. Pour the warm milk over the eggs and continue beating until all the milk is added.
  • Pour the egg mixture slowly and evenly over the bread until all the liquid is added. Gently press the surface with your hand to push the bread into the liquid. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the surface then leave to one side for 30 mins.
  • Bake the pudding in the hot oven for 40 – 45 mins, until the surface is golden brown and the pudding well risen and the egg is set. Serve hot.

 

VARIATIONS
Another great thing about this pudding is that you can vary the recipe in countless ways so you can have a different version bread and butter every day of the year and never get bored!

 

Try:

  • soaking the dried fruit in brandy or rum overnight.
  • using alternatives to sultanas or raisins. Dried cranberries and prunes work very well. My favourite are dried apricots.
  • substitute the dried fruit for chocolate chips; layer some fresh orange segments between the bread, and add some orange zest to the custard for a yummy chocolate and orange bread and butter pudding.
  • fresh fruit  instead of dried.
  • adding a splash of Baily’s to the custard.
  • adding some cocoa to the custard mix to give your pudding a chocolate flavour.
  • cinnamon-infused milk, vanilla extract or paste or ground nutmeg work well in adding flavour.

 

Who said you can only use sliced, white bread? And why shouldn’t you throw in some kind of fruit conserve or spread for added flavour? The following are examples of great flavour combinations:

  • Brioche and apricot jam.
  • Pannetone and orange marmalade.
  • Granary bread and black cherry jam.
  • Wholemeal bread with peanut butter, chocolate spread and sliced bananas (the Elvis bread and butter pudding!)
  • Croissant and lemon curd.

 

Finally, you can use stale or fresh bread to make this dessert but I find that bread that is slightly stale gives a more pleasant texture.

Happy eating!

 

 

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Greengages Are Back!

 

I recently wrote a post about greengages and gooseberries; two delicious types of fruit we used to grow in our garden when I was a child. The mere mention of either fruit brings back many happy memories of childhood summers spent playing in the garden; outdoor family get-togethers during the sunny season, and gathering bowlfuls of scrumptious fruit. Sadly, both greengages and gooseberries are so scarce that some people have never even heard of them let alone tried them.

 

 

 

So imagine my surprise when on a recent jaunt to Marks and Spencer’s, I came across stacks of yummy looking greengages. I didn’t hesitate to snap up a pack – I would have snapped up more but wanted to try them first to see if they were exactly as I remembered them to be. And they were! the greengages were deliciously sweet with that distinctive, delicate flavour I remembered so well.

The only problem was that they were so scrummy that I scoffed the lot before I could even consider attempting the recipes that were featured in the post!

Good old M&S! Now all I need is for them to bring back gooseberries!

Check out this article in Mail Online going back to September 2011. It appears that Marks and Spencers have been trying to get us reacquainted with this retro fruit for a while. I especially love the comment from the reader who says it’s time to bring back gooseberries – I swear it isn’t me!

 

 

 

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