Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Super Fast Bread & Butter Pudding

My Secret Shame

After a hard days work in the garden, I decided have a nice relaxing bath. As the bath ran my mind turned to dinner, I had three slices of white bread, some cream and eggs..... hmmmm, then it struck me - bread and butter pudding, not really a dinner I know, but hey I deserve it. They've been discussing on the
Guardian - about things people eat when they're on their own - I felt better about this dinner after reading it - some of them are so gross! Yuck - sardine juice on cottage cheese...... dear lord It's very quick and easy to put together, given more time - it's good to leave the bread soak up all the goo for an hour or so, but if you don't have that time - it's still very good. It's great for using up the end of a sliced pan that is a little stale.

Ingredients a few imprecise ones here - sorry!
3 slices of bread (I left the crusts on but you can remove if you prefer)



2 eggs

Mixed Peel

2 desert spoons Caster Sugar
1) Butter your bread on both sides and cut into little triangles
2) Put them in a greased oven proof dish

3)Scatter around them the raisins and mixed peel

4) Combine - eggs, milk, cream and caster sugar and mix thoroughly together
5) Pour over the bread making sure that all the bread gets a moist or the dry parts may burn
sprinkle on a little more sugar
6)Bake at gas mark 4 for 30 mins, till solid and a little browned on top. Serve - with cream, custard or ice-cream - or by itself.

Other variations include - throwing in some chocolate chips instead of raisins, or spreading the bread with marmalade after the butter and making mini marmalade sandwich pudding - both of these are delish!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Guest Chef no.2

Lu's Mum - Braised Red Cabbage

I was about to write this recipe like I'd cooked it - but I didn't. When I arrived home to Limerick on the train this Friday night - it was waiting for me - along some bangers and mash. It's one of my favourite ways to prepare a vegetable - a could eat an entire bowl - piping hot! The only other place I've seen red cabbage recently is inside a kebab.

The recipe is edited by my mum - but originates from the Paupers Cookbook by Jocasta Innes - first published in 1971. Having a quick flick through it mentions unpasteurised milk and tongue, which have slipped off my everyday radar. Though it gives some shopping lists and then provides recipes for the whole week - using up leftovers from previous days etc which is pretty interesting. I did spot a nice recipe for homemade yogurt - which I wouldn't mind trying
Back to the point -

1 small head of red cabbage - finely sliced
1 large onion - diced
1 large cooking apple - cored and chopped
2 oz butter
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of vinegar
6 cloves

In a pan - melt the butter, then add in your vegetables and apple until they are evenly coated. Then stir in the sugar, cloves and vinegar. Cover with a well fitting lid, turn down the heat and leave to cook for 1.5 hours.

When cooked it's sweet and spicy and the most beautiful deep purple. I can't think of any dish right now that has such strong colour, well apart from beetroot. Great with bangers and mash. This vegetable dish improves with time - giving the flavours time to deepen - so cook loads and eat it today and tomorrow - you'll want to!

Sticky Spare Ribs

Skeletons Bones

At a Halloween party we had as a kid, my mum made barbecued spare ribs and called them skeletons bones. It being that time of year again I got a craving for slow roasted pork covered in sweet sticky dark sauce.

This recipe is far enough from perfect - not an ideal way to cook your ribs but it worked out well, so I'll share it and make recommendations after? Is that allowed?

8 spare ribs
1.5 teaspoons of caraway seeds
2 serving spoons of Sherry Vinegar
1.5 serving spoons of olive oil
1 serving spoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of honey
1 teaspoon of honey
1 teaspoon of crushed chillies
3 serving spoons of ketchup
6 cloves
2 cloves of garlic crushed

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Toss the ribs well. Cover and refrigerate for 1-8 hours - however long you have, but the longer the better I suspect.
Preheat your oven to 200. Put your ribs into a large oven proof dish and put on the lid or cover with kitchen foil. After half and hour reduce the heat to 160. After a further half hour remove from the oven and take off the lid.

Now here's where it gets a bit odd. The ribs were cooking but were half submerged in liquid and a little fat - so I quickly poured this away (into a bowl no the sink - promise!) i decided to whip together a quick glaze so that they'd be nice and crispy and browned on the outside in half an hour. So I combined.....

1 dessertspoon of honey
1 dessertspoon of sweet chili sauce
1 teaspoon of honey

I smeared this over the ribs - and in half an hour - they looked great - well cooked meat - not falling off the bone - but more than ready to part company - if persuaded. We served them with some steaming hot baked potatoes and braised red cabbage - delicious! Very high in salt, so don't eat them everyday and you shouldn't die.

Doing this again I'm not sure what to change, the original marinade imparted a great depth of flavour - particularly the caraway seeds - so this method is messy but damn tasty. Fooled you I'm not making any recommendations - these were divine

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Carrot Salad with Galangal, Honey & Soy Dressing

I'll Admit it's Autumn Salad

Now this week we're trying to detox a little - add a few vegetables back into the diet after a pretty unhealthy few weeks in New York. Having said that this recipe is inspired by a green salad that I ate on Broadway in a Japanese restaurant.. It had the most amazing ginger dressing - now that's an ingredient I hadn't considered as an ingredient in dressing before.

A simple carrot salad - improved by the addition of ginger - but alas - there was none in the house, so I used galangal root instead - which is similar to ginger but with a more intense heat and peppery taste.

- two servings
4 carrots - peeled and grated
A handful of raisins
A handful of pumpkin seeds
A spoon of sesame seeds
1 dessert spoon of white wine vinegar
1 serving spoon of olive oil
a thumb sized piece of galangal root - grated
1 teaspoon of honey
1 dessert spoon of Thai chili sauce - optional
1 clove of garlic minced - optional if you're not too keen on garlic
a pinch of asa foetida - optional
a pinch of salt
Freshly milled black pepper
a small pinch of turmeric

Pop your seeds on a baking tray under a hot grill for about 4 mins - keep an eye on them as they burn easily. They should start to pop when done. Add these seeds to the raisins and carrots in a bowl. Combine the other ingredients in a cup and blend with a fork - or if you prefer make it in a jam jar and shake it together - any remaining dressing can be stored in the fridge for a week or so.

Pour dressing over salad - toss and serve. Can be served as a side to many dishes - the galangal root/chili sauce gives it a hot kick, seeds are nice and crispy against the carrot sweetened with raisins.

Bringing the carrot salad kicking and screaming out of Summer and into Autumn - that's where we're at

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Tea Vicar?
After coming across a stall called 'The Strumpets Crumpets' at Electric Picnic, I ate my first crumpet in years and, oh my was it delicious! Eating it planted the seed of a craving in my belly and a few weeks later I found myself searching the web for crumpet recipes. I even went searching around town for crumpet rings!

Eventually I just used cookie/scone cutters, blunt side down to shape these perfect, buttery, gorgeously decadent treats. Pam rightly described the strumpets crumpets as a cross between toast and pancakes, which, sweet or savory, make them perfect for a Sunday breakfast. I really thought there would be too many but they were all scoffed pretty quickly. They don't take too long to make, its a bit like making pancakes but more
fecky and with more opportunities for burning yourself (3 times!!!) Crumpet ingredients
  • 300ml whole milk
  • 300ml water
  • 420g strong white flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 sachet fast-action dried yeast
Combine the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Warm up the water and milk in a saucepan, not too hot, just until its the same temperature as your finger when you dip it in. Gradually pour the milk mixture into the flour, stirring to combine. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave for an hour in a warm place. The mixture will rise and become all bubbly and light.

eat a non stick frying pan and melt some butter in it. If you are using cookie cutter rings to shape the crumpets, brush the inside of them with melted butter and place on the pan. Pour the mixture into the shapes.

Cook until the bubbles rise to the top of the crumpets and burst. Then poke the crumpet out of the ring (be careful not to burn yourself) and flip it over to cook on the other side until golden brown.
If you prefer, you can dispense with the rings altogether and just make individual blobs on the pan, they will be thinner, but still thicker than pancakes and I'd say it would be a lot less hassle. I'm going to do them like that next time. Crumpets are good cut in half and toasted with loads of butter & jam, or with cream cheese and smoked salmon (try adding some dill to the batter!) or with melted cheese and ham, or with.... anything really. I think my favorite is just with plain old butter, and of course accompanied by a cup of tea. SO good.

Guest Chef no.1

The fabulous Mr James Earley

Our good friend from college has just moved into the city centre, so on Sat afternoon me and Lola arrived at his door (along with the NTL man) to inspect the new gaff. Well what a view - he also was so good as to provide us with some delicious dinner - which he has kindly agreed to share with us all.

He prepared it in no time - got the lamb from the Asia Market in town - it was sliced super fine. I thought it was parma ham when I first saw it raw. I was surprised by the simplicity of the recipe - so here it is in the words of the man himself

Soy Lamb stir fry

– 1/3 kg thin cut lamb (courtesy of the Asian Market)
– 1/2 a large bag of bean sprouts
– 1 tin of water chestnuts
– 1 bag of Pak Choi
– 1 pack of green beans
– Egg Noodles
– 200ml Soy Sauce
– and possibly a dash of chili oil too

– Cook the lamb in a wok/frying pan with a little sesame oil, on a high heat, keep stirring till nice and brown
– Throw in the veg when the lamb‘s cooked, toss for 2/3 mins till cooked but still crispy
– Pour soy sauce in when the veg is nearly done.
– Cook your noodles separately as the veg is cooking.
– Drain the noodles, mix in with the lamb and veg.
– Serve!