Monthly Archives: November 2011

Bread & Butter Leftovers Pudding

I don’t make many puddings.  Not because I can’t, but for three reasons. Firstly, my oven is rubbish; it’s a temperamental cheap (and very temporary) gas oven that can only function semi-correctly on one exact shelf position….and even that manages to destroy anything that’s ever so slightly delicate!  All things cakelike, flannish, or puddingy are baked at my own risk and generally come out with a black burnt crisp on their bottom.  Obviously we’re hoping to replace the damned thing with a super-duper all singing all dancing electric oven in the very near future.  The other reason is simply time!  I tend to focus my spare minutes on filling tummies with main courses, and rarely have the luxury of time to put a pud together too.  Reason number three is that neither of my children have particularly sweet tooths and puddings are generally left to the consumption of Philipe and I, and neither of us truthfully need those extra calories!

Bread & butter pudding however ticks all the above problem boxes!   Being quick to cook it never burns it’s bum too badly, is incredibly quick to put together and isn’t too sweet to put the kids off.  And it resolves another problem we have at Chez Foti ….. what to do with all our leftover bread. Today being a Sunday I had a few free minutes and made my pud using just some stale bread, but I often bung in old croissants (wonderfully rich), brioche (even more wonderfully rich) or pain au chocolat (sublime) ….. or more often than not a mixture of all of these!  If you do use these richer breads omit the butter as they already contain a heart stopping amount.

If I do go to the trouble of making a pud, I tend to make a large one so there’s plenty of leftovers for the next day.

Enough for 6

150g leftover bread, croissants, brioche or pain au chocolat – in slices (you need enough to make up 2 layers of your dish)

butter – enough to butter the bread and grease your dish

50g raisins or sultanas

3 eggs

400ml whole milk

50g golden caster sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling on the top

a little nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 180°C/355°F/Gas 4.

Butter your bread and lay half the slices in a buttered overproof dish, filling in all gaps like a jigsaw to make a complete layer.  Scatter over the raisins or sultanas.  Add another layer of bread.

In a large jug or a bowl whisk the eggs lightly and then whisk in the milk and sugar.  When combined pour evenly over the bread.

Grate a little nutmeg and sprinkle a fine layer of sugar over the top.

Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the custard has set and the top is a lovely golden brown.

Serve immediately with lashings of custard.


Coq au Vin

I thought it was about time I actually put a French recipe on here and you can’t get much more peasant classic French than good old Coq au Vin. Absolutely divine and divinely easy to make.  It’s one of my standard dinners when we have lots of people staying, as it’s easy to make in large quantities and can be made in advance and re-heated when needed. In fact it’s even better made a day or two before.  With two small children I simply don’t have the time to be preparing dinner late afternoon or early evening and instead rely on cooking in their post-lunch nap time or once they’ve gone to bed after about 7 or 8.  Which is obviously fairly limiting on a number of lovely dinners I could be making, but makes anything stewed, slow cooked or casseroled my best friend these days.

I use pretty rough, and cheap, red wine for this as it does call for quite a lot. Here in France I use the wine I buy for a Euro a litre from the local market (which is surprisingly very quaffable). I rarely use anything too special in cooking as I personally can’t tell the difference.

For 4 adults:

4 whole chicken legs, skin on, preferably free range

1 litre of red wine

4 sprigs of thyme

4 bay leaves

salt and pepper

olive oil

1 small onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely diced

2 stick of celery, finely sliced

180g lardons or streaky bacon (if bacon, cut into small pieces)

250g mushrooms, preferably smallish ones left whole – if large halved or quartered

10 shallots, peeled and cut into half

500 ml chicken stock

Firstly marinade your chicken by placing the chicken legs, wine, bay leaves, thyme and some salt and pepper in a non-metalic bowl. Preferably leave to marinade overnight, or at least for a few hours, in the fridge.

Once marinaded, take out the chicken and dry on some kitchen paper, reserving the marinade for later use.  Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan or casserole and fry the chicken on both sides until slightly golden. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Now add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery to the pan.  Cook for about 10 minutes on a gentle heat until softened slightly .  Add the chicken to the pan again, along with wine marinade.  Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 30 minutes or so without a lid, until the wine is reduced by half.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan add the lardons or bacon, mushrooms and shallots.  Fry for about 10 minutes until the onions and mushrooms are softened and the lardons slightly browned.

Once the wine has reduced add the cooked lardons, mushrooms and shallots to the chicken pan, along with the stock. Bring back to a simmer and cook for a further 30 to 40 minutes with the lid on.  The chicken should be falling off the bone.  Adjust the seasoning to taste.

This is lovely served with a mound of buttery mashed potato and a nice steamed green vegetable, plus a hunk of bread to soak up the lovely juices. And it should go without saying a large glass of vin rouge!

Enjoy!


Jamie’s Baked Pasta with Tomatoes and Mozzarella

A lovely pasta bake that according to Mr Jamie Oliver is the most standard school dinner that exists in Italy.  Taken from his Italy book, this is a winner in our house, and so very very easy to assemble.  I’d happily eat school dinners if they were this good, interestingly it’s Italian law that it only be made with organic pasta and extra virgin olive oil! English schools take note!

Apart from the Mozzarella it can be made from standard store cupboard stuff, which is precisely why I came to make it last night as we desperately need a big shop, though I do sneakily keep Mozzarella in the freezer incase an impromptu pizza night comes about.  I used penne pasta and Grana Padano cheese rather than Parmesan.

Enough for 4 very hungry grown ups:

salt and pepper

olive oil

1 white onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced

1 or 2 dried red chillies, crumbled

3 x 400g tins of good quality plum tomatoes, chopped

a large handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

optional: 1 tbsp red wine vinegar

400g/14oz dried orecchiette pasta

4 big handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3 x 150g balls of Mozzarella, sliced

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

Add a couple of tbsp of olive oil to a large high sided saucepan and place on the heat, add the onion, garlic and chilli. Fry for a few minutes on a gentle heat, stirring regularly, until the onion is softened.  Add the tomatoes and bring to the boil, allow to simmer gently for about 20 minutes.  Blend the sauce with a stick blender or place in a food processor.

Add your basil to the sauce as well as the red wine vinegar (if using), and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook your pasta according to packet instruction in a saucepan of boiling salted water.  Once cooked drain and stir in half the tomato sauce and a handful of Parmesan.

Into a large baking tray or earthenware dish place about a third of the pasta.  On top of this add some tomato sauce, a handful of Parmesan, and one of the sliced up Mozzarella balls.  Repeat these layers twice, ending up with a lovely cheesy layer on top.

Place in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes or so.

Lovely served with a nice crisp green salad and a hunk of bread.


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