Archive for March 18th, 2013

People say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. But if we’re being precise, I think that the way to a man’s heart is through bread and butter pudding.

Ok, not every man. But a large percentage of the men I know do go bonkers over a bread and butter pudding. Especially one with custard. So on a rainy Monday evening, with a few stale slices of bread left over from the weekend, I made a couple of bread and butter puddings for mine and Tom’s supper. Just keeping the love alive…

I did pinch this recipe/method from my mum, and for that I must apologise…or at least attriubte it to her. She specialises in rustling up quick and (seemingly) effortless puddings, so in many regards, this is a Carol Smith Classic.

Here’s all you need:
3 slices of stale bread (brown or white, no crusts)
1/2 handful of sultanas
100ml milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon of caster sugar
1 muffin tray (preferably silicone, for ease of removing the bread and butter puddings)

[For Custard: 1 egg yolk, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 150ml milk/cream. Or a tin of Ambrosia.]

First, put half a handful of sultanas in a pot. Cover them in hot water from the kettle - or cold tap water, and then put the pot in the microwave for a minute. Either way, let the sultanas sit in the warm water while you prepare the pudding, and then drain just before adding them to the recipe.
It changes the texture from wrinkly, dry fruit to juicy, plump sultanas. Not an integral step in the process, but it barely takes up any time, and I think improves the puds.

Sultanas - before soaking

Sultanas - after soaking

I made the puddings using three slices of brown bread. Stale bread is best, because it soaks up the egg/milk/sugar mixture like a sponge. The bread I used really was only just acceptable to eat as toast, but using it in the pudding rejuvenates it no end.

The other trick for individual bread and butter puddings is using a silicone muffin tray - which I use for pretty much everything, ice cream, freezing stock, toad in the hole, sticky toffee puddings, summer puddings….if you’ve read this blog before then you’ve probably come across my trusty old muffin tray. It means you can put together the puddings easily, and pop them out easily once they’re cooked. Non-silicone trays should be ok though - and ramekins are another good option for individual bread and butter puddings, if you have no muffin tray whatsoever!

Firstly I cut out two ‘tops’ using a shot glass, and then two ‘bottoms’ using a baked bin tin. Then I tore up the rest of the bread into chunks - except the crusts, which I binned.

Next, mix together the egg, sugar and milk in a jug.

Place small circles in the bottom of the muffin tin.Scatter the chunks of bread and plump sultanas over the top (and, if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, some orange or lemon zest, or marmalade).
Then divide half of the egg/sugar/milk mixture between the two puddings, pouring it over the bread chunks.

Finish by dunking the two larger circles of bread into the remaining egg/sugar/milk mixture, and squish them on top of of everything, like a kind of soggy-bread-lid.
If there’s still left over egg/sugar/milk mixture, then divide it between both puddings, just pouring it on top of them until they’re fully-saturated.

All in all, these shouldn’t take more than five minutes to make.
So all you need to do now is put the bread & butter puddings in an oven at 180C for 20 minutes - by which point they should have puffed up nicely.

This leaves enough time to eat some soup or stew or something equally comforting, and then make some custard.

To do that, I heated 150 milk/cream in a pan on the hob until just simmering. In a separate pan I whisked together 1 egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of sugar. I then poured the hot milk/cream over them egg/sugar, whisking all the time, and then returned it to the heat for a few minutes - stirring constantly - until the custard thickened. If you can’t be bothered with this final step, then Ambrosia is flipping delicious too.

Custard-less bread and butter pudding waiting to be appropriately drenched.

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This weekend was my turn to host book club. A super excuse to have some of my favourite people over, and discuss pretty much everything except The Dinner by Herman Koch (excellent book-read it!)

I figured that seeing as I was having some of my favourite people over, then I’d cook one of my all-time favourite dishes. Pulled pork. No-fuss, no messing about carving round bones while vegetables are getting cold. But just one happy, steaming pan in the middle of the table for everyone to dive in and help themselves.

I should mention that this recipe is online already but as I pointed out in a recent post, one of the wonderful things I find about having a blog is the joy of having everything in one place, so here we go.

First things first, I set off in hunt of a hulking piece of meat. 3kg of pork shoulder (bone in). In London, it seems that all good things are snuck away under a remote railway arch. So it may come of no surprise that I located my beautiful piece of pork shoulder at The Butchery in an archway so remote and seedy, you just know the meat is going to be good. (And the bonus is that the next door archway does a roaring trade in artisan beer on tap, and the archway one down from that sells dried meats and cheeses). Anyone who thought that Maltby Street was the “new Borough Market” is behind the times in london’s fast-paced food scene!

The day before you’re planning to cook the pork, make the marinade.

2 onions, diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
150ml vegetable oil
150ml white wine vinegar
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
150g brown sugar
60ml Lea and Perrins
2tsp dried mustard powder
2tsp liquid smoke (magic, pure magic)

Fry the onions until they’re soft and translucent. Add the garlic to the pan and cook gently. Add everything else into the pan, and heat until the sugar is totally dissolved. Cool. (If you’re in a hurry, then cool as below-in a metal pan in a sink of cold water).

Cover the pork shoulder in the cool marinade and refrigerate - leaving the flavour to soak in for at least 4 hours…preferably overnight.

Put the shoulder of pork and marinade in the oven for 5 hours or so, at 150C. By the end of cooking, you should be able to pull the pork away using just a fork-and strip it clean away from the bone.

It’s normal for the fat to go dark and caramelised. Try a little - and if, like me, you agree it’s full of flavour, then cut it into small pieces.

Put the pulled pork and fat to one side.
Put the marinade on the hob, and heat so that it reduces by 1/3.
Return the meat to the hot marinade, and serve.
I’ve served this with buns quite a few times to quickly and easilY feed a crowd. For Sunday lunch I did it with coleslaw and paprika potato chips.

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