Bread & Butter Pudding

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Screenshot_2016-06-05-20-26-28-1[1] 10/06/2016

Bread and butter pudding is a traditional English pudding that goes easy on the wallet and is a fantastic way to use up your old loaves. It is one of my all-time favourites! Bread that is a couple of days old works best for this as it soaks up the lovely eggy custard so you get a crunchy, golden top and a soft, delicate centre. Don’t use pre-sliced bread. It is nowhere near as nice. You’ve been warned.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 slices white bread
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • approx 2 0z (50 g) caster sugar
  • 1/2 oz (10g) candied lemon or orange peel, finely chopped
  • 2 oz (50 g) currants
  • 10 fl oz (275 ml) milk
  • 2½ fl oz (60 ml) double cream
  • 2 oz (50 g) caster sugar
  • 1tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 3 eggs
  • demerara sugar, for sprinkling

METHOD:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160 fan.
  2. You will also need a 2 pint (1.2 litre) enamel baking dish (one of the oblong kind), well buttered.
  3. Butter the bread, remove the crusts and cut each slice of buttered bread in half. Now arrange one layer of buttered bread over the base of the baking dish, sprinkle the candied peel and half the currants over, then cover with another layer of the bread slices and the remainder of the currants.
  4. Next, in a glass measuring jug, measure out the milk and add the double cream. Stir in the caster sugar and cinnamon (if using) then whisk the eggs, first on their own in a small basin and then into the milk mixture. Pour the whole lot over the bread, sprinkle over some freshly grated nutmeg and demerara sugar then bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until golden. Serve warm with cream, ice-cream or custard.

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Top tip: To make your pudding boozy, soak the dried fruit in 2 tbsp of brandy, whisky or rum before adding. The liquid will make the fruit really plump and luxurious and infuse your pudding with a subtle boozy, warming flavour.

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Oven-Fried Chilli Chicken

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Screenshot_2016-05-17-21-27-33-1[1] 17/05/2016

These delicious joints of chicken are crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. They are my idea of perfect sharing food, especially if men and TV are involved. The flavours are clean and simple and the cooking process is easy. I like to serve these fresh from the oven but they are also amazing cold the next day. The green chilli is hot but it is the flavour that is really important here, so scrape out the seeds and cut off the membranes, if you wish, to minimise the heat. You can leave the chilli out altogether if you want and you will still have a fantastic subtly spiced and crispy, succulent treat.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 800g chicken joints, skinned and pricked all over
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 4 slices white bread, blitzed into breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve

Marinade:

  • 10g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 25g garlic, peeled
  • 2­4 green chillies, seeds and membranes removed, if wanted
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

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Method:

  1. Blend all the marinade ingredients into a paste and place in a non-metallic bowl. Add the chicken and coat well in the paste. Leave in the fridge to marinate for a couple of hours or overnight. Bring back to room temperature before cooking.
  2. Preheat the oven to 225°C. Pour the oil into a foil lined roasting tin large enough to accommodate the chicken in one open layer. Place the pan on a high shelf in the oven to heat up for 15 minutes.
  3. Mix the salt, black pepper and cumin powder into the breadcrumbs. Take the chicken out of the marinade, letting the excess drip off, and roll in the spicy crumbs, ensuring an even coating on all sides. Dip into the egg and add a second coating of crumbs.
  4. Place the chicken in the oiled roasting tin and cook for 20 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 200°C, turn the chicken over and cook for another 15–25 minutes (depending on the size of the joints) or until cooked through. Serve with lemon wedges and salad.

Apple & Blackberry Crumble

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IMG_20150712_210250[1] 15/07/2015

I recently visited my family in Nottingham. Nottingham is home of the Bramley apple so it seemed a great idea to finish off a big Sunday lunch with a local produce, great English pud’ for everyone to dig into!

Tart, sharp softened fruit is topped with crunchy, buttery, sweet crumble mix. Hot out of the oven with a scoop of melting ice cream… Yum!

You could use whatever fruit you have and like for a crumble filling; peaches, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, plums etc. Just cut and cook them down like you do the apples.

The crumble recipe provided is for a classic and basic topping too but again, experiment to your heart’s content. Oats are great, spices and mixed nuts add variation too.

Fruit Filling

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 large Bramley apples
  • 500g Blackberries
  • 2 Tbsp demerara sugar
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice

Method:

  1. Peel and core the apples then slice and add to a pan with a splash of water. Place over a medium heat and gently cook the apple until it begins to soften and break down.
  2. Add the blackberries and continue cooking until they release their wonderful juices and turn the mixture a wonderful deep purple colour.
  3. Add the sugar and taste for sweetness. Apples and berries can vary in tartness so adjust accordingly. Add the mixed spice and remove from the heat.
  4. Spoon the mix into an ovenproof dish.

Basic Crumble Topping

Ingredients:

  • 8oz plain flour (or whole wheat)
  • 5oz soft brown sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice (optional)
  • 3oz butter at room temperature
  • 1 level teaspoon baking powder

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C
  2. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle in the baking powder, salt and mixed spice then add the butter and rub it into the flour lightly using your fingertips. Then when it looks all crumbly, add the sugar and combine well.
  3. Now sprinkle the crumble mix all over your fruit in the pie dish. Place the crumble on a medium-high shelf in the oven and bake it for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Variations:

  1. Instead of flour use 4oz whole wheat flour and 4oz porridge oats
  2. For a nutty topping, try 6oz whole wheat flour, 3oz chopped nuts and cut the sugar to 3oz.

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Serve with ice cream, custard or double cream. So good.

Rock Cakes

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IMG_20150519_102720[1] 19/05/2015

Who doesn’t like moist, crumbly, lightly spiced rock cakes? …Apart from coeliacs. These really are so simple to make and taste absolutely delicious. They are definitely best eaten warm from the oven spread with a little bit of butter and even with some jam. The rocky exterior is crunchy and the inside is fluffy and studded with juicy fruit. For a richer rock cake use the ‘luxury’ type of dried fruit mix, with cherries and apricots as well as raisins, currants, sultanas and chopped candied lemon and orange peel. I used 50g sultanas and 50g of chopped mixed peel as that is what I had in my cupboard and they turned out beautifully.

Makes 10

Ingredients:

  • 225g Self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp Ground mixed spice
  • 65g Granulated sugar
  • 85g Unsalted butter, chilled and diced
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g Mixed dried fruit and peel
  • 1 Medium egg
  • 2 Tbsp Milk
  • 1 Tbsp Demerara sugar for sprinkling

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Sift the flour and mixed spice and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the diced butter and rub into the flour until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar and dried fruit with a wooden spoon. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg with the milk until combined, then stir just enough into the fruit mixture to bind to a very firm, stiff dough – it’s important that the dough holds its shape, but if there are dry crumbs at the bottom of the bowl and the dough won’t stick together, add more milk, a teaspoon at a time.
  3. Divide the dough into 10 and spoon on to the prepared baking tray in heaped peaky mounds (to look like rocks), spaced well apart. Sprinkle with the Demerara sugar.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the cakes are a good golden brown and firm to the touch.
  5. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool. Eat warm or at room temperature, the same day.

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Oat Crunchies

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IMG_20150424_100927[1] 24/04/2015

This is one of the easiest, most straight forward and quick recipes to whip up but it results in incredible buttery, crunchy, oat goodness!

Ingredients:

  • 100 grams self-raising flour
  • 100 grams porridge oats
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • A pinch of salt
  • 100 grams butter or margarine
  • 100 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 180C. Grease large baking trays with butter or margarine.
  2. Mix flour, oats, salt and bicarbonate of soda together in a bowl put to one side.
  3. Put margarine or butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan and heat on a low heat until butter and sugar are melted, stir occasionally, take off heat and stir in the oat mix and beat well with a wooden spoon.
  4. Scoop dessertspoons of mixture up and make into ball shapes and place on a greased baking tray when the tray is full slightly flatten the balls out with the back of the dessert spoon.
  5. Cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. When ready remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before moving onto a wire rack.
  6. Repeat and do the same until all the mixture has been used up. Serve with a cuppa and any remaining biscuits can be kept in an airtight tin for about a week (if they last that long).