Thursday, 23 April 2009

Chocolate Brioche pudding

There's this Nigella recipe for Orange Scented Brioche Pudding and it is AMAZING. Brioche, spread with marmalade, squished into a dish, topped with custard and baked until golden. This is the bread and butter pudding.

So, when I spotted these little chocolate brioche rolls in the supermarket, I thought I'd make a chocolate version. Yes, it was as good as it looks and so easy. Sweet, buttery brioche, dark chocolate and eggy custard. This is much better at warm or even at room temperature rather than hot out of the oven. Leftovers can be eaten out of the dish for a naughty breakfast.


Serves 4

1 pack chocolate brioche rolls (approx 300g)
or bricoche with 100g chopped chocolate
2 eggs
50g sugar
125ml double cream
125ml milk
3tbsp brown sugar

  • Slice the brioche and squish into a large, greased casserole dish.
  • Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, cream, milk and sugar.
  • Pour the custard over the brioche and leave to sit for 15minutes.
  • Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top and bake at 170C for about 30mins until the pudding is just set.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Creamy Cauliflower Pasta

I'm a big fan of fried vegetables plus creme fraiche plus pasta for tea. It's quick, easy and delicious. So, with yet another cauliflower to use up this week, I thought I'd give a similar treatment.

I had initially thought of making a cauliflower cheese (i.e. cheesy bechamel sauce) and adding pasta. But, instead sizzled some garlic in oil and butter in a frying pann, tumbled in cauliflower florets, gave them a quick stir and then poured in a little stock. On went the lid and the cauliflower was left to braise and soften in the tasty broth. Stir in cooked pasta, creme fraiche and cheese for all the tastiness of cauliflower cheese, but a little lighter and healthier.

Try this with a sturdier wholewheat pasta, or baked in the oven sprinkled with breadcrumbs.


Serves 4

350-400g wholewheat fusilli or penne
6 rashers streaky bacon, cut into small pieces
50g butter
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 head cauliflower, broken into small florets
125ml vegetable stock
1 small tub creme fraiche(about 300ml)
1 tsp english mustard
100g strong cheddar, grated

  • Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water until al dente.
  • Meanwhile heat a large frying pan (that has a lid) and add the bacon. Cook for a few minutes until the bacon starts to brown.
  • Add the butter and garlic, and stir. Throw in the cauliflower and stir well to coat. Season well and pour over the stock, turn the heat down, cover to braise for about 5mins until the cauliflower is soft.
  • Pour the cauliflower onto the drained pasta along with the mustard, creme fraiche and cheese. Stir well and serve.


Saturday, 18 April 2009

Red Rice Stir Fry with Poached Eggs

We get our vegetable box on a Friday and if we get cabbage and potatoes, I've taken to making bubble and squeak for brunch at the weekends. A spoon (or more) of baked beans on the side and a poached egg, what could be better? Now, this isn't bubble and squeak in the strictest sense, I literally peel and boil and rice potatoes, then stir fry shredded cabbage in butter and garlic and mix together. A bit of a hassle, but so good.

As I'm still trying (somewhat in vain) to eat a bit lighter, I started looking for inspiration for alternatives. 101cookbooks is always a good place to start for healthy recipes and I soon decided to try some of the more intresting grains out there. Off I went to Waitrose after work and came home clutching a bag of red and wild rice.

This isn't a brunch dish as sorts, but I did eat it about 1, which is brunch time in my book. Red rice is similar to brown rice in nuttiness, it's ability to fil you up and the length of time it takes to cook. I stirfried some cabbage with garlic and chilli, added the cooked rice, a splash of soy sauce and sesame oil. Top with a poached egg, some finely diced red onion and toasted cashew nuts. Simple, tasty and healthy.

Below is the version I made for Pete, I made an egg omelette first, shredded it and added it the rice instead of a poached egg.


4 eggs
200g Red rice (or brown rice), cooked
75g cashew nuts
3tbsp sunflower oil
2 red chillis, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 green cabbage, shredded
2tsp soy sauce
2tsp sesame oil
1 red onion, finely diced

  • Poach the eggs using Delia's method.
  • Meanwhile, heat the cashew nuts in a dry frying pan until golden. Remove and roughly chop.
  • Now add the oil to the pan. Add the chilli and garlic and fry for a minute.
  • Add the cabbage and fry for a few minutes until softened.
  • Now add the rice, soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir in the onions and chopped cashews and serve.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Chunky Vegetable Soup

This is one of those meals that come together from random bits and bobs left in the fridge, thrown with abandon into a pan and seeing what comes out of it.

After the festivities of the weekend, I wanted something fairly light and preferably healthy. First up, we had a rather sad looking cauliflower that I planned on making soup with, cauliflower becomes deliciously creamy when pureed. Once blended, I chucked in some flagelot beans, shredded leftover cabbage and diced swede and simmered until the swede was soft.

We were left with a creamy, chunky soup packed full of veggies, topped with lots of black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and some parsley for a savoury note. What follows is a rough recipe, this is obviously a cobbled together soup, so feel free to use whatever you have, diced carrot, shredded greens, sweetcorn. Rosemary or thyme would also be delicious or sliced spring onion.


Serves 4

2 onions, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
25g butter
1 cauliflower, broken into florets
700ml vegetable stock
1tsp dijon mustard
50ml double cream
handful shredded cabbage
approx 200g swede, finely diced
1 can flagelot beans, drained

  • Heat a large saucepan with a splash of olive oil and add the butter.
  • Once sizzling, add the onions and fry on medium for a few minutes until softened.
  • Add the garlic and cauliflower and stir well.
  • Pour over the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15mins until the cauliflower is really soft.
  • Add the cream and mustard and blend until smooth.
  • Add the beans, swede and cabbage and simmer for 15mins or so until the swede is soft.
  • Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a twist of pepper and whatever herbs you have handy. Try finely chopped thyme.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Innocent Veg Pots - Mark II

Continuing the Innocent Veg Pot theme from my previous post - here's my idea for sprucing up the Indian Daal Curry.

I took loose inspiration from this Jamie Oliver recipe that I've been eyeing for a while and made a sort of spicy seafood and vegetable soup.

Simply heat the veg pot with 1/2 cup (125ml) of vegetable stock (or coconut milk if you're feeling decadent). Meanwhile, get a piece of oily fish such as trout or salmon, skin and cut into chunks. Sprinkle with a little salt and garam masala, heat a frying pan with a little oil and fry the fish for a few mins on each side until lovely and golden, squeeze over some lime juice. Add a squeeze of lime juice to the soup as well and pour into a bowl; top with the fish, a spoonful of yoghurt, some extra sliced chilli if you like it hot and chopped coriander. Enjoy!

This is open to interpretation of course - use whatever fish you fancy or can get your hands on. Using an oily fish like trout makes this even healthier as they're packed full of omega 3's and you'll get a nice boost of calcium from the yoghurt.


Sunday, 5 April 2009

A New Ready Meal...

I can't remember the last time I bought a ready meal. Seriously. I'd rather eat a boiled egg and soldiers or beans on toast or a bowl of ice cream for my tea. Not only are they expensive, but they are generally pretty unappetising affairs.

But now, Innocent have gone and brought out their veg pots, I'm not sure where they're aimed exactly, but I'm thinking a healthy alternative to crappy shop bought sandwiches, pumped full of salt and fat. One of these little pots is 3 portions of veg, and a smoothie is 2 portions of fruit; so eat both and you get your 5-a-day. Clever, huh?

Anyway, I digress. The point of this post is that my firend who works at Innocent got me some for cheap and I set about thinking of ideas to tart one up for dinner. Of course, I would happily heat one up and eat it on it's own, straight from the pot, no need for washing up. But, I think with a little effort, you could use one as a base for a really taste meal. All the hard work making it tasty and cramming it with vegetables has been done for you; all you need to do is spruce it up and think about adding some protein (they're all vegetarian). See what other people have come up with here.

First up is the Sweet Potato Chilli - 'a spicy hearty stew of sweet potatoes, red peppers and smoky paprika'. I used it as a base for a mexican-esque wrap. Take one warm tortilla, dollop on some warm chilli and top with diced avocado, red onion, a splodge of yoghurt and some fresh coriander. You could stop here, wrap it up and enjoy (with lots of napkins) or go further and grate on some cheese and top with a fried egg, or some chorizo or chicken or steak...


Thursday, 2 April 2009

Apple and Walnut Cake

Fresh from the success of my oat and raisin cookies and still having a love affair with cinnamon scented baked goods, I came up with this cake. Really, I was also becoming accustomed to a little afternoon treat to perk me up and needed something to fill the cookie gap. While this cake is definitely going in my bag for tomorrow, I also had a sneaky piece tonight, warmed through in the oven with some ice cream. I imagine it would also be divine with a cloud of whipped cream dolloped on top.

This cake is dead easy to make, a simple batter made with oil (which incidentally makes it incredibly moist), with the apple chunks (I don't even bother to peel them) and chopped walnuts stirred in. I cooked it in a tray, but you could try it in a loaf tin or even a springform tin or try using some ground almonds instead of the walnuts.


125ml sunflower oil
200g caster sugar
2 eggs
225g plain flour
1tsp mixed spice
1tsp cinnamon
2tsp baking powder
250g apples (about 3 small ones), chopped into 1cm chunks
75g chopped walnuts

  • Whisk the sunflower oil and sugar until completely combined.
  • Whisk in the eggs one at a time.
  • Stir in the flour, baking powder and spices.
  • Add a little milk until the batter is of 'dropping consistency' (i.e. it drops off a spoon readily)
  • Stir in the apples and walnuts.
  • Spoon into a lined cake tin and bake at 180C for 30mins (times will depend on the type of tin used) until a skewer comes out clean.