Monday, 21 June 2010

Indian style bread and butter pudding

So I have to credit my father for the evolution of this dish. As a child I remember him making a bread and butter pudding that involved gently frying slices of white bread in butter and reducing down pints of cream with cardamom and sugar, before the whole thing was sprinkled with raisins and put in the oven. What emerged was a dense, sweet mess, and and ever since then I have found regular bread and butter puddings too dry, bland or 'eggy'. I don't think he's cooked that dish for about fifteen years but the memory must remain strong as it's the first thing I thought of when a large amount of panettone was unexpectedly presented to me some months ago.
The richness of panettone makes it an excellent substitute for plain white bread, and it even comes with it's own complement of dried fruit in it so no need to add them either. The recipe below is slightly cobbled together from what I happened to have in the fridge, but the proportions of cream and milk can be increased if you want.

Recipe (enough for 6)

Around 500g panettone, sliced
250ml double cream
250ml milk (ideally whole but I used semi-skimmed)
3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed to release the seeds
1 bay leaf
Around 50g butter
Around 3 tblsp caster sugar
1 egg yolk

Gently heat the milk and cream with the cardamom, bay leaf and initially 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Have a taste and then add more sugar as required. Leave this mix on a low heat for around 15-20mins, until it's reduced by around a quarter and thickened a little. Take it off the heat and leave to cool for a while. In the meantime beat the egg yolk thoroughly, and once the cream mix is just warm rather than hot, pour a little onto the egg. Continue to whisk well and pour on the rest of the cream. Scoop out the cardamom pods and bay leaf, and set to one side.
Melt about half of the butter in a frying pan, and when it's lightly foaming put in the panettone slices and cooked until slightly browned on both sides. Add more butter as it's needed. As the panettone is quite rich already this step might not be necessary but thought I'd stick to family tradition.
To assemble the pudding, find a dish that will hold two layers of panettone. Place slices on the bottom, overlap them a bit, and repeat for another layer on top. Pour the cream mixture over the top and push the panettone into it so that gets to soak up some of the liquid. The panettone shouldn't be floating in cream but you should be able to see some when you push the pudding down a bit. Dot a few bits of butter over the top and bake in the middle of the oven at gas mark 5 for around 25mins. The top of the pudding should be golden so cover with foil if it looks like it's scorching.
Eat with a big spoon while still a warm.

NB Some Twitter discussion revealed that this pudding might well have been influenced by another desert from the Indian sub-continent, shahi turka, which very unusually for me I had never heard of before. Anyway, here's to fusion cooking in all its forms!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Spaghetti with broccoli, anchovy and walnuts

Broccoli dressed with anchovy is a pretty classic combination, as is pasta with garlic and anchovies- so I thought I'd combine the two into a very quick and simple dinner. The addition of the walnuts adds a slightly sweet and well, nutty, contrast to the saltiness of the fish and just seems to work very well. This is also quite a light pasta dish and so ideal for long, hot summer days (of which we've currently had two).

Recipe (enough for one)

3 large broccoli florets
4 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
6-8 walnuts, roughly chopped
Enough spaghetti for one, around 100g
Salt and pepper to season
Olive oil

Thinly slice the broccoli florets and gently cook in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil for around five minutes. When it's almost tender, increase the heat and add the anchovies and garlic. As the anchovies break up, drop in the walnuts and continue to cook for a couple more minutes until the garlic and broccoli are fully cooked. Cook the pasta, and mix in with the broccoli with a spoonful or two of the pasta water to loosen it all up. Season with salt (although you may not need any so taste first) and pepper, and it's done.
Ideally eat al fresco, or else staring out of the window at the rain.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Rhubarb crumble ice cream

There are many reasons why the interweb is brilliant, and this is one of them. I would not have come across this recipe for rhubarb crumble ice cream if it wasn't for the Food Stories blog. Though it's a Delia creation it was seeing this ice cream appear on the blogosphere that prompted me to try it, and with a few handy hints via Twitter (thanks to aforkfulofspaghetti) I can declare it a huge success!

Click through using the links above for the full recipe but the beauty of this ice cream is that it is so simple. Cook rhubarb, mix with cream, add in crumble, make cold=done. As Helen Food Stories mentions I think a reduction in sugar when cooking the rhubarb is beneficial. And I should probably have reduced it even more than I did to really heighten the contrast between sweet crumble, cold cream and sharp rhubarb.

I don't have an ice cream maker so once the cooked rhubarb had cooled and been mixed with the cream, I was committed to a schedule of visits to the freezer and churning. Churning it every hour or so worked really well, though did get increasingly difficult as the ice cream become more frozen and harder to mix. Due to circumstances I churned over the course of about six hours and then left the ice cream overnight in the freezer. The next morning a full upper body work-out was required to undertake the final churn and mixing in the crumble. It then went back in the freezer for a couple of hours and was put in the fridge around half an hour before we ate it. It was definitely worth all the effort though, as the final product was delicious and ice crystal free!

Ideally serve on hot summer's day while wondering if it is worth investing in a proper ice cream maker....