Monday, 27 May 2013

Week 18 - Bread and Butter Pudding

I have always thought I would enjoy bread and butter pudding but have never got around to ordering it or attempting to make it at home. I was inspired by a friend who had a status update about making it for dessert so started hunting for a recipe. This one sounded like Bread and Butter Pudding with a difference and I couldn't wait to try it.

It ended up being so easy to make, even the custard which I had only ever made once before. The only think I would say is the custard ended up not being that smooth, not sure if it was supposed to be like that or if it was due to having the bread in there. It ended up with a lovely crust over the top and I am looking forward to eating it again and again and again.

Book: Cook with Jamie

Recipe: Good Old Bread and Butter Pudding with Marmalade Glaze, Cinnamon and Orange Butter


Serves 8

For the flavoured butter

100 g unsalted butter, softened
1 large pinch ground nutmeg
1 large pinch ground cinnamon
zest of 1 orange

For the pudding

8 x 1 cm slices good-quality bread
9 large free-range eggs
140 g caster sugar
500 ml semi-skimmed milk
565 ml single cream
1 vanilla pod, scored lengthways and seeds removed
4 tablespoons good-quality fine-cut marmalade


Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. First make your flavoured butter by mixing the butter with the nutmeg, cinnamon and orange zest. Use a little of it to butter a medium-sized shallow, ovenproof dish.

Butter the bread using the flavoured butter, then cut each slice in half diagonally. Put the slices in your buttered dish. Now separate the eggs, reserving all 9 yolks but just 1 egg white. Whisk together the egg yolks and egg white with the sugar, then gently heat the milk and cream in a saucepan with the vanilla seeds and pod. Pour into the eggs, stirring all the time. Remove the vanilla pod then pour the mixture over the bread and leave to soak for at least 20 minutes. Put the dish in a roasting tray and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of the dish. Then put it in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes until the custard has just set. Meanwhile, gently warm the marmalade in a saucepan, then remove the dish from the oven and brush the marmalade over the top of the bread. Pop the dish back into the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes. Allow it to cool and firm up slightly before serving.

Changes Made: I only had vanilla essence at home so opted for that instead of the pod. 

Results: Amazing! This was so easy to make, even for a newbie at custard. The marmalade made a kind of crunchy glaze over the top of the bread which was a fantastic contrast of the custard. 

Next Time: Nothing, well maybe a vanilla pod, but really everything was delicious. 

Monday, 20 May 2013

Week 17 - Chicken Chow Mein

I was really excited about this one as I love asian soup like dishes as they are so warming and have such a bang of flavour. I have only ever had chow mein that is a sauce base rather than some liquid so I was looking forward to giving this a go.

This was a really easy weeknight meal and was nice to have a recipe build for two. I was a little disappointed with the result, maybe I am just used to making my own noodle soups at home, but I felt that the stock was quite bland. The other ingredients worked really well together and made up for the stock.

Book: Ministry of Food

Recipe: Chicken Chow Mein


Serves 2

a thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger
2 cloves garlic
½ - 1 fresh red chilli, to your taste
1 large skinless chicken breast, preferably free-range or organic
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 spring onions
a small bunch of fresh coriander
1 bok choi
optional: 4 shiitake mushrooms
100g medium egg noodles 
groundnut oil
1 heaped teaspoon cornflour
1 x 200g tin of water chestnuts
2 - 3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 small lime


Put a large pan of water on to boil. Peel and finely slice the ginger and garlic. Finely slice the chilli. Slice the chicken into finger-sized strips and lightly season with salt and pepper. Cut the ends off your spring onions and finely slice. Pick the coriander leaves and pout to one side, and finely chop the coriander stalks. Halve the bok choi lengthways. If using mushrooms, either tear into pieces or leave whole. 

Preheat a wok or large frypan on a high heat and once it's very, very hot add a good lug of groundnut oil and swirl it around. Stir in the chicken strips and cook for a couple of minutes, until the chicken browns slightly. Add the ginger, garlic, chilli, coriander stalks, mushrooms and half the spring onins. Stir fry for 30 seconds, keeling everything moving round the wok quickly. Add your noodles and bok choi to the boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, no longer. Meanwhile, add the cornflour, water chestnuts and their water to the wok and give it another good shake to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. Remove from the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Halve the lime, squeeze the juice of one half into the pan and mix well. Drain the noodles and bok choi, with a little of the cooking water to loosen if necessary, and mix well. Have a taste and season with more soy if needed.

Use tongs to divide everything between two bowls or plates, or to lift on to one large serving platter. Spoon any juices over the top and sprinkle with the rest of the spring onions and the coriander leaves. Serve with lime wedges.

Changes Made: We only had some rice noodles rather than egg noodles, which would have been better I think. 

Results: A little disappointing, the sauce/liquid was a little bland but overall an easy weeknight meal.

Next Time: I would add more to the liquid to make it more of a stock; chicken stock, soy, more chilli, garlic etc. 

Monday, 13 May 2013

Week 16 - Lamb (Beef) Rogan Josh

After having such a successful first curry from Jamie I was keen to try another. Once again I used the mortar and pestle as I love the ritual but really the food processor would work just as well. So if you are put off due to the number of ingredients and the time it would take.. don't be afraid!

This was a weekday meal for me and as such only had some gravy beef in the fridge. This worked just as well although next time may need to look for some lamb neck.. sounds delish. I also did not have a jar of roasted capsicum so I roasted my own! Personally I love it way better freshly roasted so I suggest you try it.

Book: Ministry of Food

Recipe: Lamb Rogan Josh


Serves 4-6

For the Curry Paste

2 cloves garlic
1 thumb-sized piece fresh root ginger
75 g jarred roasted peppers
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 fresh red chilli
1 small bunch fresh coriander
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns

For the Curry

800g trimmed lamb neck (or beef)

2 medium onions
1 fresh red chilli
a thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger
a small bunch of fresh coriander
groundnut or vegetable oil
a knob of butter
4 bay leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
optional 800ml chicken stock
½ jar of rogan josh curry paste or the recipe above
2 handfuls of red lentils
200g natural yoghurt 


For the Curry Paste

First peel the garlic and ginger. Put a frying pan on a medium to high heat and add the spices for toasting to the dry pan. Lightly toast them for a few minutes until golden brown and smelling delicious, then remove the pan from the heat.

Add the toasted spices to a pestle and mortar and grind until fine, or put them into a food processor and whiz to a powder. Either way, when you've ground them whiz the toasted spices in a food processor with the rest of the ingredients until you have a smooth paste.

For the Curry

Cut the meat into 2.5cm cubes. Peel, halve and finely chop your onions. Finely slice the chilli. Peel and finely chop the ginger. Pick the coriander leaves from half the bunch and put to one side for sprinkling over. Chop the remaining coriander including the stalks.

Put a large casserole-type pan on a medium to high heat and add a couple of lugs of oil and the butter. Add the onions, chilli, ginger, coriander stalks and bay leaves and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are softened and golden. Add the lamb pieces and a little salt and pepper and cook until lightly browned. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, stock or water and curry paste. Stir in the lentils. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down an simmer with the lid on for about an hour. Check the curry regularly to make sure its not sticking to the pan or drying out, and add extra water if necessary. When the meat is tender and cooked, taste and add more salt and pepper only if you think it needs it.

Serve with rice Vindaloo Beef Curry and Fail Safe Rice, some poppadums and with a few spoonfuls of yoghurt dolloped on top. Sprinkle over the coriander leaves and serve with some lemon wedges for squeezing over. Don't forget a little green salad.

Changes Made: I used beef for this one rather than lamb and missed the part about the lentils so unfortunately opted these out.

Results: Once again another lovely curry. Not as hot but still jam packed with flavour and easy to make.

Next Time: I would give the lentils a go as I think they would be great with everything else. Also lamb neck sounds delicious so would look out for that also.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Week 15 - Gnocchi with Braised Oxtail

This week's meal was so exciting to make and eat! A few months ago a friend brought into work some oxtail stew for lunch and I was intrigued! I enjoy using different cuts of meat and usually the scraps such as these can be oh so tasty! This was a recipe that was developed at one of Jamie's Fifteen restaurants and it is definitely worth the wait! Like most stews it's really little effort just the time it takes working the magic.

I have also been wanting to try some pasta or gnocchi for a while and was amazed at how good it turned out. In this case I did not have a ricer so grated my potatoes instead (after a little research) and this worked quite well with very few lumps. I think next time I will aim to buy a ricer for that smoother mouth feel.

The oxtail is the hero of the dish with a rich flavoursome stew and the gnocchi gives it a variance in texture which was a delight to eat, 10/10 all round!

Book: Jamie at Home

Recipe: Gnocchi with Braised Oxtail


Serves 6

For the Gnocchi

6 medium potatoes
olive oil
½ a nutmeg, grated
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large free range egg yolk
1-2 handfulls of plain or 00 flour
semolina flour

For the Braised Oxtail

olive oil

1 oxtail, cur into 10cm/4 inch chunks
1 stick celery. finely chopped
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 leek, trimmed and finely chopped
½ a bottle of white wine
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed
1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed
½ a cinnamon stick
1 dried red chilli, crushed
sea salt and black pepper
1 large tablespoon tomato puree
4 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
a handful of fresh sage leaves
a knob of butter
optional: parmesan cheese



Preheat oven to 220°c. Rub potatoes with olive oil, prick them with a fork and lay them in a roasting tray. Put in the preheated oven and bake for an our until the potatoes are fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Allow them to cool slightly then when they are still nice and hot, use a tea towel to pick up your potatoes one at a time, cut them in half and carefully scoop the flesh out of the skins into a mouli or ricer. When you have a lovely and smooth mashed potto put it into a bowl. Add the nutmeg, a tablespoon of salt, a pinch of pepper, the egg yolk and enough of the flour to bind your mixture - you may not need much at all (I needed a lot). Mix together and kneed with your hands until you have a dry doughy consistency. Add a little water or flour if needed. If unsure test one by chucking it in some boiling water - if it falls apart, add a but more flour to the dough.

Once you have your gnocchi dough, divide it into 3 pieces and roll each piece out on a floured surface into long tubes the thickness of a sausage, cut each of the tubes into 2.5cm/1 inch pieces. Place them on a bed of semolina flour on a tray and put in the fridge for at least 10-20 minutes to set.


Once the gnocchi is in the fridge reduce the heat to 150°c . Get a large ovenproof saucepan hot and add a splash of olive oil. Sear the oxtail until brown on all sides, then add the celery, onion, carrot and leek. Cook gently until golden brown and add the wine an your crushed spices, cinnamon, chilli, tomato puree and the tins of tomatoes. Top up with a little water - you just need enough to cover the meat - and put a lid on. Put the pan in the oven for 4 to 4½ hours, until the meat is falling off the bone. Remove from the oven and lift the meat out of the stew. 

When cool enough to handle, shred all the meat off the bones. Pick through the meat with your fingers to make sure that no bony bits remain, then put the meat back in the pot. Add the oregano, simmer for 15 minutes and season to taste. Meanwhile, put a pan of salted water on to boil and cook your gnocchi for 4 minutes, or until they float. While your gnocchi are cooking, fry the sage leaves in the butter until crispy and dark green, then drain them on kitchen paper. Carefully drain your gnocchi, toss in the oxtail stew with some fried sage leaves and serve with some freshly shaved parmesan if you like. 

Changes Made: Grating my potato rather than using a ricer. 

Results: Absolutely amazing.. put down the computer and start to cook!

Next Time: May try to invest in a ricer as they are cheap these days and would have made life much easier.