Spiced Bread Pudding

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I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried bread pudding, but I absolutely love it, as does my 7 year old son!   Apparently in the 11th Century it was known as ‘poor mans pudding’ but don’t let that put you off – it is basically a delicious, springy cake made from chopped bread, cinnamon and nutmeg.  It is finished off with a lovely crunchy sprinkle of brown sugar.  Oh, and since it contains wholemeal bread it also happens to be high in fibre.

I always choose bread pudding when I visit Gregg’s bakery, but didn’t realise how easy it would be to make it at home!   Thank you to my sister-in-law’s mum for sharing the recipe from Sinless Snacks cookbook (which I have slightly adapted).

Bread pudding (makes around 12-14 slices)

300g wholemeal bread, cut in to 1 inch slices

300ml semi-skimmed milk

1 egg, beaten

75g butter/margarine

150g raisins

110g brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamom

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5.  Grease a cake or sandwich tin.

Place the chopped bread and milk in a large bowl and mix together well, helping the milk get absorbed.  Leave for at least 5 minutes, then add all the remaining ingredients, except for 1 tbsp of the sugar.  Stir well and press the mixture in to the cake or sandwich tin.  Sprinkle the top with the remaining sugar.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown (don’t worry if it feels springy).  Remove from the oven, leave to cool, then turn out and cut in to slices.

 

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Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca)

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This is a really hearty, beautifully flavoured fish stew that hails from Brazil (they call it Moqueca).  The fish is simmered in a lovely tomato, coconut, pepper and garlic sauce and the whole dish is topped with fresh coriander, chilli and a squeeze of lime.  I have simplified it slightly so it only takes 25 minutes to make.  Next time I will eat the stew with a hunk of baguette to soak up the flavours!  Wonderful.

Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca) – serves 2

Oil, for frying

1 onion, sliced thin

1 red pepper, sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Tin chopped tomatoes

Carton of coconut cream (160ml)

Salt and pepper

2 fillets white fish, chopped in to large chunks (I chose pollack as it is good value!)

Handful coriander, roughly chopped

1 red chilli, chopped small

2 lime quarters, for serving

Heat the oil on a medium heat and fry the onion and pepper for about 7 minutes, stirring regularly, until softening.  Add the garlic and 1/2 the chopped chilli and heat for a minute, then add the tin of chopped tomatoes, coconut cream, salt and pepper.   Heat for 2 minutes then add the fish on top.  Make sure it is mostly covered by the sauce.  Simmer for around 12-15 minutes, until cooked through, turning over halfway.  Spoon in to bowls then top with the remaining chilli, coriander, and a wedge of lime for squeezing.  Enjoy with crusty bread and a cold drink!

Family-Fun Asian Buddha Bowl

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You may have seen Buddha Bowls before – they are basically bowls filled with little mounds of different foods, usually vegan.  I decided to mix it up and put together a quick, non-vegan, family-friendly Asian Buddha Bowl: sushi (shop-bought of course!); edamame beans in their pods (just defrost them and cut off the ends for easy popping); chocolate covered rice cake; fruit; prawn crackers and salted peanuts.  Us adults also had kimchi (a sort of spicy, fermented Korean coleslaw – not sure what I make of this yet!)

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The kids loved having all the different bits of food in their bowl and especially enjoyed the sushi (they stuck with the more familiar rice and salmon option rather than the more complex filling).  They didn’t finish every single thing and I didn’t pressure them to, as I think the fun of experimental eating makes the little rascals more likely to be adventurous in the long-term anyway.

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I’m going to try some other Non-Orthodox Buddha Bowls in the future – the options are endless.  Suggestions are very welcome!

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Cracking Creamy Prawn and Spinach Pasta

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I recently had possibly the best pasta dish of my life at  Vapiano restaurant in London – a big, silky, comforting bowl of spaghetti, prawns, cream, pesto, onion, garlic, chilli and spinach.  The best thing about this experience was that the dish was cooked in front of me (you order your food then the chefs cook it behind a long counter).  I therefore realised that this AMAZINGLY delicious dish is easy to cook and only takes 15 minutes!

Within days my boyfriend cooked the dish himself at home and it was every bit as good.  The kids loved it too.  It makes a great family meal but would also impress friends.  Here is the recipe.

Cracking Creamy Prawn and Spinach Pasta (serves 2)

Approx 200g pasta

A little olive or vegetable oil

1 large clove of garlic, crushed/chopped small

1/2 onion or a shallot, finely chopped

Approx 150g large prawns

1/2 fresh chilli, chopped small (seeds included!)

1 tbsp double cream

1 tbsp basil pesto

Large handful of parmesan

Large handful of spinach, roughly chopped

Cook the pasta as per the packet instructions.  Meanwhile heat the oil separately in a pan, add the garlic, onion and prawns and fry on a medium heat for a few minutes, stirring regularly.  Add the chilli, double cream, pesto and most of the parmesan.  Heat for a few more minutes then add the spinach.  Continue to heat for at least two more minutes, stirring regularly, until the spinach has wilted.

Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce mix.  Mix well and divide between two bowls.  Top with the remaining parmesan.  Enjoy every second of eating it.

 

 

Tiramisu (Pure Italian Indulgence)

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Tiramisu is an outrageously gorgeous and creamy Italian dessert, traditionally made using eggs, mascarpone cheese and biscuits soaked in coffee (and sometimes alcohol too).  This is my boyfriend’s colleague, Amandine Gutierrez’s, recipe.  She made it for everyone at work and he hasn’t stopped talking about it!  He has a seriously sweet tooth so you know if he particularly likes something then it is going to be an indulgent treat.

Although the recipe looks a bit intimidating it is actually pretty straightforward to make, particularly if you use an electric whisk for the egg.  Allow at least 6 hours for the Tiramisu to set in the fridge before you delve in!

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Tiramisu (impossible to say how many it serves – 4 greedy people/more less greedy people)

3 eggs

50g granulated sugar

250g mascarpone cheese

Pinch of salt

Coffee (instant is fine)

Cocoa powder

Pack of Lotus Biscoff biscuits (or sponge finger biscuits)

Prepare 3 espresso-sized cups of coffee and pour it in to a dish where you will dip the biscuits.  Let it cool while you prepare everything else.

Separate the egg whites from the yolks in two different bowls.  In the bowl with the egg yolks, add the sugar and mix well.  Add the mascarpone cheese, little by little and keep on whisking until it is smooth.  Try to remove any lumps by whisking energetically.

In the bowl with the egg whites, add a pinch of salt and beat them by hand or with an electric whisk until they are firm (you should be able to hold the bowl upside down without the whites falling – normally takes a few minutes).  Add the beaten egg whites very slowly (bit by bit) to your egg yolk mixture, mixing slowly with a spatula, so you don’t break the beaten egg whites.

Once the mixture is smooth, it’s time to dip your biscuits in to the coffee.  Dip each side fairly quickly so they soak up with coffee without falling apart and make a first layer of biscuits in the bottom of the container you will use to make the Tiramisu (there will be two layers in total).  Pour over a little more coffee if it needs it, so the biscuits are well soaked but not swimming in coffee, and there is enough coffee left for the second layer of biscuits.  Once done add 1/2 the eggs mixture on top, then do another layer of coffee dipped biscuits.  Finish with a final layer of the eggs mixture.  Finish it all off by carefully shaking a little cocoa powder over it all using a sieve.

Put the Tiramisu in the fridge for atleast 6 hours to set, or until the next day.  Eat!

 

Veggie Tortilla Soup (20 mins)

We love this Veggie Tortilla Soup!  It is hearty, tasty and perfect to slurp on a cold day.  The soup is Mexican and traditionally made with chicken but there is plenty of flavour and texture without it, plus a hit of protein in the black beans.  Allow 20 minutes to make it.

If you are making this for kids too then you could leave out the chilli in the cooking and have it on the table instead.

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Veggie Tortilla Soup (serves 2)

1 tortilla, cut in to thick strips

Oil

1 large clove garlic, crushed

1/2 green or red chilli, chopped small

1/2 red onion, sliced

Can of chopped tomatoes

1 tsp cumin seeds/ground cumin

Tin of black beans, drained

Salt and pepper

2 lime quarters

1/2 avocado, sliced

1/3 block of feta, to crumble

Small handful of coriander

Heat the oven to 20 degrees/gas mark 6.  Put the tortilla strips on to a baking tray and bake them for a few minutes on each side, until golden and crispy.

Separately heat some oil in a saucepan and add the garlic, chilli and red onion and fry for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft.  Add the canned tomatoes, cumin, black beans and a little salt and pepper.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spoon the mixture in to bowls then top each bowl with a lime quarter, avocado, feta, the coriander and the tortilla strips.  Slurp!

Pumpkin Pie With The Kids!

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Pumpkin Pie is a wonderful Halloween comfort pudding.  It is also really quick and easy to prepare thanks to cans of pumpkin puree now being available in the UK (and pre-made pastry cases!).  Alternatively you could make pumpkin puree yourself by chopping and boiling the flesh for about 20 minutes or until tender, then draining and mashing it/blitzing it in a food processor.

My 5 year old pudding-loving son poured the ingredients in to a bowl, mixed them together and carefully spooned the filling in to the pastry.

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My pastry case was on the small-side so I had some pumpkin filling leftover, which I spooned in to 4 recycled ramekins and baked as individual pumpkin desserts (a slightly healthier option!)

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Another thing to note – according to the lid of the pumpkin puree it also makes a great substitute for eggs, butter or oil in many recipes.  Interesting.

Happy Halloween!  And thank you to the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, which this recipe is based on.

Pumpkin Pie (makes 10 slices)

1 large sweet pastry case

1 egg

425g can of pumpkin puree

235ml evaporated milk

220g caster sugar

1/4 tsp ground cloves (if you don’t have this don’t worry – it’s not essential!)

1 tsp salt

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 tbsp plain flour

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees/gas mark 3.

Put the egg, pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, caster sugar, ground cloves, salt, cinnamon, ginger and flour in a large bowl and mix until everything is combined and there are no lumps.

Pour the mixture in to the pie crust.  If there is any mixture left you can pour it in to ramekins or small ovenproof containers to make little crustless puddings.

Bake the pie in the oven for 35-50 minutes, or until the filling is setting (it might not completely set until it has been taken out of the oven and cooled for about 1 hour).

Serve with cream or ice cream!