Thursday, 31 January 2013

Old Fashioned Bread and Butter Pudding

There are many exotic versions of bread and butter pudding around these days. My friend Sarah over at 'Yet Another Lifestyle Blog' recently made a fancy sounding White Chocolate and Cranberry Bread and Butter Pudding, with the genius addition of Amaretto. I am equally as taken with the idea of this Raspberry and Whisky combination  from The Telegraph. 

Yet sadly both of these recipes use brioche, which I didn't have in the house this evening (I've also just realised that they're both alcoholic, which says a lot about me and perhaps wouldn't have been the wisest choice for tea with a five-year old). No, my need for a simple, classic bread and butter pudding was borne from the relative crisis of having nothing for dessert, and half a loaf of stale white bread to use up. So with fond memories of Food Tech lessons at school, I whipped up an old-school frugal version using ingredients that I always have in the kitchen. There is something so carb-ladenly comforting about this dish, that it feels down right illicit to be eating it in January when everyone is still starving themselves.

Serves 4

8 slices of white bread, buttered and sliced into triangles 

100g raisins (you could use currants or sultanas, but I'm not a fan)
50g caster sugar
1 pint milk (or half milk and half cream)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Nutmeg and cinnamon
Demerara sugar, for sprinkling
Large oven-proof dish

Pre-heat your oven to 100°C. Grease your baking dish with butter.
Cover the bottom of the dish with an initial layer of bread slices, buttered side up.
Add half your raisins and half of your sugar, sprinkling evenly across the bread.
Add another layer of bread, then another layer of fruit and sugar. At this point you should add a third layer of bread to cover the raisins. I forgot to do this which resulted in slightly burnt raisins, but it really wasn't the end of the world (I only used 6 slices of bread which is why I have stated 8 in the recipe).
In a jug, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and about 1/2 tsp each of the nutmeg and cinnamon.
Pour evenly over the top of the pudding.

Leave to rest for 10-15 minutes to allow the egg and milk mixture to soak into the bread. Make a cup of tea, check your emails, browse Pinterest, perhaps spend an enjoyable 2:33 minutes watching this...

When you've finally dragged yourself away from cat videos, get back to your pudding.

Sprinkle a generous amount of demerara sugar across the top of the pudding, to give it a gloriously crunchy crust, and bake for 40-45 minutes until the top is golden. 
Leave for a few minutes so that it's not too hot, but serve while it is warm. Nobody ever liked cold bread and butter pudding.
Serve as it is, or if you're feeling flush it goes well with single cream or ice cream.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Café Solitude

Some things that are important to me in a café: decent coffee (goes without saying really); good seating; natural light; friendly staff; Wi-fi; proper butter. 'The Lounge' chain seem to be doing all of these rather well.


Friday, 25 January 2013

Roast Chicken for One

Sometimes, and especially when cooking for one, simple is best.

Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Peel 2 small potatoes and chop into chunks. Place on a baking tray, along with one free range chicken leg. Drizzle everything with olive oil, lots of sea salt, and black pepper. Sprinkle some dried herbs on the chicken, if you have any.

Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes deliciously crisp.

Serve with a green salad, and as much mayonnaise as you can humanly handle.

Having a desk day, getting things done.Coffee and pastry always help.

Monday, 21 January 2013

A Perfect Weekend

Grown up sledging. Kisses in the snow. Slippers from the radiator. A sleepy brunch. Pints in the pub.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Snow Day

A perfect day hanging out with my boy. School was cancelled so we went sledging, had snowball fights, brief   moments of drama concerning cold toes...

...then all was forgotten with hot chocolates and blankets, in front of Beauty and the Beast.

I ALWAYS wanted a massive library like the one Beast has. I'm sure most little girls dreamed of the happily ever after - but I wanted that library! Such a geek.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Are We Getting Old?

My friend Rene and I used to be the girls doing shots and dancing on tables. But last night we were quite happy with a late-night Irish coffee and some sticky toffee pudding. Really happy, actually.

It wasn't even caffeinated.

And I believe, on at least one occasion, we tutted at noisy groups of teenagers. From our little corner of cake and judgement.

What happened? Girl we have some making up to do.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Banana Bread

There are many things in my life that I'm feeling thankful for right now. I'm thankful for having a beautiful son who brings me joy and wonder every single day. I'm thankful for my loving boyfriend who fills my life with laughter and affection. I'm thankful for my adorable family, and friends who energise and inspire me. 

But let's just take a minute to be thankful for the holy trinity that is chocolate, peanut butter and banana. 

Now there aren't many banana bread recipes out there that take the bold step of combining all three of these glorious ingredients, so I had to do a bit of tweaking and re-tweaking to create my own recipe.

This is the banana bread to end all banana breads.

Except maybe this one, which has bourbon in it. Now that's just silly!

I've used the American cup system of measurement here, as that was mostly what I had to work with. It also makes things really easy if you're feeling in a lazy baking mood, so I recommend getting yourself some measuring cups if you don't have them already.

ANYWAY. Here's the ingredients list:

1/2 cup wholemeal flour (vaguely healthy)
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 heaped tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 bananas
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 tbsp peanut butter (I used crunchy)
100g dark or milk chocolate
(beaten brutally into chunks with a rolling pin)

First, mash your bananas. If you've never mashed a banana, here's a helpful demo from my sous chef.

Now add to your bananas the milk, egg, peanut butter and vanilla. Mix well.

In a larger bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients - that's the flours, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir to combine.

Add the chocolate chunks, and fold gently through with a metal spoon.

Now pour into a lined loaf tin, and bake in an oven pre-heated to 180°C, for 35-40 minutes. 

 Mine took just over 40 minutes, but check on the bread after 35 minutes as ovens do vary.

Insert a skewer into the centre and if it comes out clean, it's ready.

Leave to cool for as long as you can physically bear to. It's delicious warm but tastes almost better when it's been left to cool and firm up.

It tastes great the next day and will keep for around 2 days.

It really won't last that long though!

Friday, 11 January 2013

I definitely need this.

This is definitely something that I need.
I don't have a spoon rest.
Nor do I have any Lionel Richie themed kitchenalia.
Hmm...and it's only £10.

But you would have that song permanently in your head.
(You're singing it in your head now, aren't you?)

Buy it here, at

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Brain Food

They say you're supposed to eat oily fish when you're revising, so I made a smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich for lunch. If nothing else, let's hope it acts as a placebo...I can feel the omegas acting as I write...

(that is a lie)

Monday, 7 January 2013

Image borrowed from

Poached Eggs with Sautéed Chilli Spinach

Now I am a big fan of a bacon sandwich on a weekend morning, but on this occasion I urge you to do your body a post-Christmas favour and treat it to some spinach instead! It's (almost) as satisfying and will leave you feeling full of energy instead of needing to go back to bed. Although you can still do that. Or eat it in bed. That sounds good too.

While your eggs are poaching, simply heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, then add a few handfuls of spinach. Season with salt and pepper and some dried chilli flakes, and drizzle with some good olive oil. Keep tossing the spinach in the pan. It will only take 3-4 minutes for the spinach to wilt down and be ready.

Pile onto hot buttered wholemeal toast, top with two poached eggs, and a drizzle more olive oil. Dig in and feel a little bit virtuous.

(Oh and don't forget to take an oozy-yolk-food-porn shot!)

Friday, 4 January 2013

You don't win friends with salad

Couldn't fight it any longer, had my first salad of the year. It was a good one though - crisp gem lettuce, tomatoes, cold roast chicken, slices of parma ham and a dressing made with pesto and good quality extra virgin olive oil. I'm not detoxing for New Year or anything silly like that, as I don't believe it. It's all about having a healthy balance.

(By the way, mega triple chocolate cookie recipe coming shortly!!)

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

New Year's Day

Thought it was quite fitting to have a big Chinese feast on the first day of the new year. It also turned out to be a good hangover cure! We had crispy duck and plum sauce pancakes; ginger and lemon chicken with cashew nuts; garlic and chilli broccoli; tempura prawns; spring rolls and fluffy white rice.
My brother and his fiancé have come to stay with us for a few days, so lots of eating and good times are going to happen. Just starting 2013 as we mean to go on! Happy New Year!


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