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Ten Ice-cream Memories That Will Hopefully Make a Comeback

It’s summertime and it’s absolutely sweltering. I don’t think I’ve ever known it to be so hot (I probably say that every summer!) and I am literally melting away!

On a more positive note, I am definitely gorging on more and more ice-cream in a bid to keep cool, and I suppose I should make the most of it. After all once the hot weather gives way to the cold, I won’t be looking at another ice-cream until next summer.

This got me thinking about the lovely ice-cream treats we used to feast on when we were kids. When we were growing up, ice-cream was not a freezer staple but something Mum got in when we were having a party or a family gathering, so it really was an occasional treat and regarded as something quite special. Back when we were kids, the weather didn’t matter a bit – we would have happily devoured ice-cream in below freezing conditions!

However, I’ve noticed that a lot of the ice-cream treats that were very popular in the ’80s and ’90s – and most probably even before then – seem to be virtually unheard of today, or at the very least they’re not as common. I’ve noticed that twenty-first century ice-cream has been given something of an image overhaul. With an array of flavours and textures, ice-cream nowadays is smoother, slicker and sophisticated and most definitely not just for kids.

But I’ve also noticed however, that despite ice-cream being given something of a revamp, most of the time it’s just an accompaniment to a dessert such as a fruit pie or tart, fudge cake, or waffles etc.

With these old time classics, however, Ice-cream is very much the star of the show.

1. JELLY AND ICE-CREAM

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The classic kids dessert. No child’s birthday party was complete without jelly and ice-cream. I haven’t been to any kids parties for quite some time now but I do hope it still features on the menu. I absolutely loved this as a kid. I didn’t care what flavour the jelly or ice-cream was; as long as one half of the bowl wobbled and the other was icy.  I’m sure jelly and ice-cream were most people’s childhood favourite dessert but while most kids grow out of it, I still have a massive bowlful most weekends as a not-so-little treat. My not-so-guilty pleasure!

2. ICE-CREAM FLOAT

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A glass of soda with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. My mum introduced me to the delights of an ice-cream float when I was about five. But Hubby was horrified when he heard that Mum used cola and not root beer which he insists was the only soda used in making an ice-cream float in the States. Well over here in England, it was always cola floats – especially as we don’t really get good quality root beer over here. And I’m almost certain that Mum has used cream soda a few times as well. Though whether you use root beer or cola, they’re both equally delicious. I think so anyway! There is now a new trend for sodas and ice-creams of any flavour. Hmmm… don’t know how Hubby will feel about that!

3. ICE-CREAM SANDWICH

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This was an amazing treat when we were growing up. An ice-cream sandwich is a layer of ice-cream sandwiched between two biscuits, cookies, slices of cake, or -as in the ones Mum used to make for us – wafer. Ice-cream sandwiches have been eaten all over the world and most countries have their own version of it. Admittedly it probably wasn’t such a hit for people with sensitive teeth but it was seriously delish. We tended to use mainly vanilla, Neapolitan, or raspberry ripple ice-creams (with the latter being my fave!) Basically ice-creams which were typical of the 1980s.

Now that I think of it, I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed an ice-cream sandwich. Hmmm… time to start buying packs of wafers, I think!

4. ICE-CREAM CUPS WITH LITTLE WOODEN SPOONS

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I haven’t had these in England since childhood but I have stumbled across them when I visited India – and the ice-cream was delicious! These are not to be confused with miniature tubs of ice-cream which are still readily available. The ones I’m referring to were little cardboard or lightweight plastic cups of ice-cream with peel-off paper lids. These were eaten with the little wooden spoons that came with them, although they resembled paddles rather than spoons. The ice-cream was almost always vanilla but I’m sure I vaguely remember vanilla ice-cream that contained ripples of chocolate or strawberry flavoured sauce.

Mini tubs of ice-cream today don’t come the little wooden spoon, and if it does come with a spoon at all, it’s always plastic, which handy as it is, it’s just not the same. I actually think the little wooden spoon made the ice-cream taste better!

5. BANANA SPLIT

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Now who doesn’t like a good ol’ banana split? My aunt used to make a very simple version of this classic dessert which she served as afters during the summer months. Hers consisted of a banana cut into quarters served with vanilla ice-cream. Simple, not quite like the traditional version, but still very appetizing.

The classic version – which originated in Pennsylvania – involves splitting a banana lengthways and placing it in a boat-shaped dish before filling it with three scoops of ice-cream (usually strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla) before being topped with sauces, whipped cream, crushed nuts and a cherry. Many different versions of this dessert exist but one thing remains – it’s unlikely you’ll find anyone who can finish a whole one by themselves!

Banana splits can still be found in ice-cream parlours and diners, but thanks to the emergence of more sophisticated desserts, this retro pud is not as ‘talked about’. In fact three years ago, there were reports that Wimpy had dropped this dessert from their menu due to a fall in demand. Are people mad?

6. KNICKERBOCKER GLORY

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At the mere mention of a Knickerbocker Glory I’m immediately transported back to the 1980s. Another retro dessert like the banana split, a Knickerbocker Glory is an ice-cream sundae served in a tall glass which contains layers of fruit, ice-cream, jelly, cream, nuts, meringue, sauces or syrups. This dessert is as peculiar to Britain as the banana split is to America, and has been served up in ice-cream parlours across Britain since the 1930s. There is no set recipe for making a Knickerbocker Glory and flavours can vary. This was another dessert which didn’t survive the cull at Wimpy and was cut along with the banana split three years ago.

There are some things I will never understand…

7. ARCTIC ROLL

Image from dailymail.co.uk

Image from dailymail.co.uk

I must have been about seven when a friend told me that she was going to have an Arctic roll for dessert after her tea. I had no idea what an Arctic roll was at the time – but I soon found out!

An Arctic roll is similar in appearance to a Swiss roll. It’s made of vanilla ice cream wrapped in a thin layer of sponge cake to form a roll, with a layer of raspberry flavoured sauce or jam between the sponge and the ice cream. This dessert was invented in Britain by a Czech lawyer who had emigrated here, and it has been around since the 1950s, though it became extremely popular during the 1970s.

Since being enlightened by my friend, my family and I had worked our way through quite a few Arctic rolls in our time, with the pud being a firm favourite with Mum. Production of the Arctic roll ceased for a while, beginning in the 1990s due to a slump in sales, but it resurfaced again in 2008 due to a combination of low-cost and nostalgic charm. Reviews were mixed with some regarding the dessert as too old-fashioned while the nostalgics among us welcomed it’s return. Despite it still being available to buy – with chocolate versions available as well – it’s not as popular as it once was. But at least it’s still here!

8. ICE CREAM IN A CARDBOARD BLOCK

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Those of us old enough to remember, will know that back in the day ice-cream didn’t come in rectangular plastic tubs, or  cylindrical tubs a la Haagen-Dazs or Ben and Jerry’s. No, instead was available in the form of a block and wrapped in a cardboard container. Flavours tended to be vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, raspberry ripple or Neapolitan – the flavours of the day. As you can imagine, a cardboard wrapper wasn’t very practical: if you didn’t get your shopping home fast enough on a hot day, the ice-cream would melt and start to seep out of the packet. The softened ice-cream would also be at risk of being squished by heavier goods. Furthermore, if you were able to get the ice-cream home in one piece,  it was best eaten once opened, as it was impossible to seal properly and the ice-cream would develop a layer of frost in the freezer. My mum especially liked the ice-cream that came in tubs because she could store things in them after the ice-cream had long been devoured.

But there’s something extremely nostalgic about the old block-form ice-cream – and they did have their advantages: less waste and you could cut the perfect slice to put into your ice-cream sandwich. I very much doubt it’s available in the UK anymore although, I have seen them abroad – so there’s a chance that they could make they’re way back to these shores again.

9. ICE-CREAM BOMBES

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This dessert is believed to have originated during the Victorian era and it’s got something of a retro vibe. Also known as a bombe glacee, this ice-cream pud is frozen in a spherical mould so it resembles a dome, and they sometimes had a hard chocolate shell. I don’t remember Mum ever making these but I do remember her buying packs of these from Iceland (when the frozen food chain started springing up everywhere) so we clearly enjoyed them. I also remember tucking into these during an extended-family meal in a restaurant when I was about eight. It was mint flavoured ice-cream which I was crazy about at the time, served with fresh cream. Yum!
10.BAKED ALASKA

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As far as I’m concerned, Baked Alaska is the queen of ice-cream puddings. A very decadent-looking ice-cream dessert which generally consisted of ice-cream and fruit on a cake base, covered in meringue before being browned in the oven. And here’s the amazing bit – the ice-cream doesn’t melt! Baked Alaska was a very popular dessert when I was growing up and although it’s been virtually unheard of for at least fifteen years, I’m thrilled to see that Marks and Spencer have brought out their version of this classic dessert.

AND FINALLY…

I must say though, that one memory I’m glad has become a very distant one is that delightful combo of vanilla ice-cream with… tinned fruit salad! When I was a child I was obsessed with tinned fruit salad. In fact my mum used to say it was the only time I would go near a piece of fruit. I remember for school dinners, desert would sometimes consist of tinned fruit and custard (which I thought was yum!) But our family gatherings and parties weren’t any better: dessert was almost always tinned fruit and vanilla ice-cream. Don’t get me wrong; at the time I thought it was fab. But then I hadn’t developed the sophisticated palate that I have now! I have no aversion to fruit and ice-cream only now I insist on using fresh fruit rather than opening a tin.

Now if only we could bring back the other old classics…

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Comfort Food #12: Brown Bread Ice-Cream

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

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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!

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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…

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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!

Neapolitan: the ice-cream of my childhood

Neapolitan: the ice-cream of my childhood

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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

Image from storiesfromthestove.net

Image from storiesfromthestove.net

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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Comfort Food#11: Good Old Rice Pudding!

Image from cookingwithalison.com

Image from cookingwithalison.com

 

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.

 

Image from afridgefulloffood.typepad.com

Image from afridgefulloffood.typepad.com

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!

Pulut hitam from Malaysia Image from mommycookin.blogspot.com

Pulut hitam from Malaysia
Image from mommycookin.blogspot.com

 

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.

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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.

A better looking version of school dinner rice pudding! Image from palattable.blogspot.com

A better looking version of school dinner rice pudding! Image from palattable.blogspot.com

 

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.

Kheer from India. Image from bluejeangourmet.wordpress.com

Kheer from India. Image from bluejeangourmet.wordpress.com

 

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.

Baked rice pudding. Image from  www.evernewrecipes.com

Baked rice pudding. Image from http://www.evernewrecipes.com

 

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

Image from co-operativefood.co.uk

Image from co-operativefood.co.uk

 

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!

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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????

Nestlé's Walnut Whip

Nestlé’s Walnut Whip

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.

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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.

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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!

 

Marks and Spencer's Walnut Whip

Marks and Spencer’s Walnut Whip

 

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…

 

Could this be the Walnut Whip wrapper from my childhood?

Could this be the Walnut Whip wrapper from my childhood?

 

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!

 

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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

300px-Bread_and_Butter_Pudding_and_Custard

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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

breadbutterpud500

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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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Comfort Food #9: Summer Pudding

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It’s summer and the supermarkets are full of seasonal fruit which make an appearance during the brief summer months before they disappear off supermarket shelves. Cherries, raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants… just perfect for a lovely summer pudding.

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I think I was probably about five when I first came across a photograph of a delicious looking summer pudding in my mum’s The Cookery Year cookbook. At that age I was a very picky eater who wasn’t happy unless I was stuffing my face with an ample supply of chocolate. So how strange that I should be so enthralled by what is essentially a fruit pudding! I think it was the colours that did it. I was fascinated by the shock of magenta and gorgeous berry tones that made this dessert so appealing which contrasted with the crowning glory that was light, fluffy whipped cream.

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Summer pudding is a popular, traditional British dessert although it’s origins are unclear. The earliest published summer pudding recipe was published in 1902 by S. Beaty-Pownall however this dessert could have existed since the nineteenth century. It is made by lining a deep dish with sliced white bread before being filled with assorted berries. It is then topped off with a final slice of bread, soaked in the juices of the soft fruit and left overnight before being turned out onto a plate.

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It is unknown exactly who, why, when or where summer pudding was invented. One possibility is that it was a summer substitute for the heavy, stodgy suet puddings that were popular in winter during Victorian England.
It’s also possible that summer pudding could have been served in health farms where people went to be cleansed and aided in weight loss. Then there’s the belief that it was served in hospitals to the old and infirm as it was easy to digest. It’s beginnings may be shrouded in mystery but summer pudding is more than just an invalid’s dessert!

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It is better to make this dessert with bread that is slightly stale as this helps the bread to retain a good non-mushy texture once the juice has soaked through. It is traditionally made using raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants though sometimes cherries, blueberries and any other soft fruit that is available can also be used so it’s a great way to take advantage of the fabulous fruit that’s in season – especially as it’s available for such a short time. It is then served with lashings of cream.

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As with most well known dishes, different variations of this pudding exist. Any variety of soft fruit can be used. Some recipes call for brioche or pannetone to be used instead of white bread. There are recipes which ask for the berries to be stewed while others use raw fruit. There is also an autumnal version of this summer classic which includes pears and plums as well as berries.

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A summer pudding definitely takes me back to my childhood when I was a kid poring over mum’s cook books – at a time when I could barely read! Unfortunately it wasn’t a dessert Mum ever made for us but we did eat quite a few shop bought ones. Believe me – they’re not as great a good old fashioned homemade pudding whipped up from scratch. And the great thing about a summer pudding is that as impressive looking (and tasting!) as it is, it’s so simple to make. And because it’s packed full of fruit, I don’t even think of it as a pudding but one portion of my five a day!

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If you fancy whipping up a summer pudding for a new generation to try and making full use of our summer fruits – while we still have them – give this recipe by Gordon Ramsay a go. It tastes amazing!

INDIVIDUAL SUMMER PUDDINGS

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Makes 8

INGREDIENTS:

1kg mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, redcurrants, blackberries and strawberries)
50g caster sugar
4 tbsp. Crème de Cassis (or water)
800g(approx.) loaf white bread, sliced
Extra berries to serve

METHOD:

  • Strip berries from their stalks and hull strawberries.
  • Toss berries  in a non-stick saucepan with sugar and Cassis or water.
  • Heat the pan until it starts to sizzle. Cook over a medium heat until the fruits start to bleed and soften.
  • Stir gently, then cool to room temperature.
  • Strain fruit through a plastic sieve into a non-metallic bowl until the juices stop dripping.
  • Have 8 cappuccino or tea cups (about 200ml) ready.
  • Using 2 cutters (approx. 10cm and 6cm, but check against the tops and bottoms of your cups), cut out 8 bread rounds of each size.
  • Cut the crusts off 8 more slices and slice in half. These strips should be approximately the same depth as the cups.
  • Dip the small rounds of bread into the reserved juices and press into the cups.
  • Dip the straight slices in the juice and press around the sides.
  • Spoon in the fruits, pressing down with the back of a spoon to firm.
  • Dip the last of the bread rounds into the juice; press down on top. Chill overnight.
  • When ready to serve, loosen bread tops with the tip of a table knife.
  • Hold a dessert plate over the pudding, then turn upside down, shaking well.
  • The puddings should slip out easily; if not, loosen the sides gently with the knife.
  • Pour any remaining juice over the tops of puddings.
  • Decorate with the remaining fruit; serve with pouring cream, clotted cream or mascarpone.

Recipe by Gordon Ramsay from Good Food magazine, August 2006

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