Tag Archives: bread

Zucchini Chocolate Spice Bread

12 Feb

I love zucchini bread – bold in its simplicity and perfectly comforting. Its a good bread, one that is easily frozen and surprisingly easy and quick to make. I thought of this bread when I saw some luscious zucchini at O’Gourmet last week, and thought that it might be a nice idea to try a new twist. I found Bentong ginger powder at PastryPro – organic, sun-dried and so deep and complex in scent its almost overwhelming. I wanted to use it in a bread, and with my beautiful zucchini to hand, I set about inventing a new, enticing version of my beloved old standard.

I have to admit, this new zucchini bread is pretty spectacular. It is damp, lush, complex and dark. I really decided to go all out in this bread … I used dark and light brown sugar, freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon and the amazing Bentong ginger, a touch of ground hazelnuts, beautiful Tasmanian Leatherwood honey, and both white and bittersweet chocolate. I realise, its full on! I thought to myself, when I put the loaves in the oven … either this is going to be delicious, or its going to taste like a muddled mess!

Luckily, its a wonderful, complicated, intriguing bread. Its very moist and it will get better over a few days – the flavours compounding and playing off one another. It freezes well, and its wonderful lightly toasted, as a snack, breakfast or tea time treat. Plus, what a wonderful way to get people to eat their zucchini and love it too!

I know that this seems a load of ingredients to bring together. If you cant find ground hazelnuts, or dont want to make them, substitute ground almonds, or even just plain flour. Chop and change as you wish, its a very forgiving recipe. Try though to include the honey and the spices … they really deepen and improve the bread immensely. And who doesnt like chocolate? Hehe … though if you want to be more healthy, try a few seeds or dried fruit instead. And do try and wait at least 10 minutes after you remove the bread from the hot oven – its very delicate at first, and needs a moment to firm up! Says she, who never waits 😉

Makes 2 loaves

  • 2 medium-large zucchini (approximately 2 – 3 cups grated)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canola or other vegetable oil
  • 1 scant cup sugar – half dark brown, half light brown
  • 1 heaping tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod, beans scraped
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp dried ginger (I used Bentong ginger, which is very flavourful – you may want to up the amount of ginger – may be 1 – 2 tsp –  depending on the quality of your source)
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg, grated
  • 2 cups chocolate chips, drops or chopped (I used half bittersweet, half white, best quality chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F). Line two loaf pans with baking paper. I usually cut out a large piece of baking paper, centre the loaf pan, and cut in at a 90 degree angle on all four corners. I can then fold in the paper, and have a bit of nice overhang. Set aside the pans.

Set a sieve over a small bowl, and grate the zucchini into the sieve. I use the very fine grater, but depending on the texture youre going for, you might want to grate it slightly more coarsely. Press the zucchini into the sieve to encourage as much water out as possible (you will probably get about 1 cup worth). Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients (and reserve both the zucchini and its liquid!).

In a large bowl, place the eggs, vegetable oil, sugars, honey and vanilla. Whisk together well until everything is well combined and integrated. Set aside.

In a small bowl (or large measuring jug, which is what I use) combine the flour, ground hazelnuts, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Stir to combine completely. Set aside for a moment.

Measure out about 1/2 cup of zucchini water.

Stir the flour and zucchini water into the sugar/oil mixture, in thirds, mixing gently but thoroughly. You might not use all of the zucchini water – just add a splash each time to really help the flour to integrate into the sugar/oil.

Add all the zucchini and mix well, and finally add the chocolate and mix well.

Divide the batter evenly between the two loaf tins.

of Zucchini Bread!Bake, switching the tins in the oven half way through if youre concerned about hot spots, for about 45 minutes – 1 hour. A cake tester inserted into the loaf will either come up covered in chocolate (in which case, wipe down and try again!) or with scant crumbs attached.

Allow the bread to cool for 10 minutes or so before devouring. This freezes exceedingly well, and will stay good in the fridge for a week or more (though its always finished up by the first day or so in my house!).



Quick French Onion Soup

18 Nov

Quick French OnionI am sick today. There seems to be a bug going around, and somehow, I caught it. I coughed all of yesterday – miserable, tight-chested, and painful. I slept for ages this morning, woke up and decided I needed some soup. But when I went to the kitchen, all I had was 3 onions …  A very sad state of affairs, but I was planning on shopping today! And instead, I am sick!

So I decided to make a French Onion soup. This is not a fancy one, with toasted bread rubbed with garlic, and gruyere cheese. Its basic, simple, warming and deeply comforting. If you have cheese, grate some over your toast, but if you want to keep it vegan, dont add any cheese (or butter in the beginning) at all. It will still taste delicious, and reach all those cold miserable places.

This makes about 4 servings of soup. You could easily double it for a dinner party, and toast a baguette, and pile over some stringy gruyere. Broiled in the oven, its a decadent feast – but when youre sick, as I am today, its just too much effort. I toasted a really lovely dark brown slice of bread, placed it in the bottom of the bowl, and grated some parmesan and cheddar over – its what I had. I then ladled the soup over, and allowed the bread and cheese and hot oniony soup to meld and interact. Beautiful. Comforting.

Definitely feeling a little bit better 🙂

Serves 4. Doubles easily.

  • 3 large onions (about 1/2 kg) sliced very fine
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter (or an additional tbsp olive oil if youre keeping it vegan)
  • 1 heaping tbsp flour
  • 4 cups of hot vegetable stock – I used 1 organic vegetable stock cube dissolved in 4 cups of boiling water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 slice dark brown bread, well toasted, per serving
  • A bit of parmesan, cheddar or gruyere, grated

Peel the onions of their brown skin, and slice really fine. I used a mandolin for this job, and it was fast, easy and really exact. If you dont have one, use a sharp knife and try and get the onion slices as fine as possible.

Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, and warm the olive oil and butter (or just olive oil) until the butter has melted. Add all the onions, and stir to coat the onions with the oil/butter mixture. Turn heat down to medium low and saute the onions until well browned for at least 20 minutes or so. This is the ultimate trick to this soup – you need to be really patient with the onions. They need to cook and cook and cook until they are deeply brown because this is the basis of the flavour and strength of the soup.

They will let go of some liquid, this is fine, and then they will get glossy and soft. Keep at it. They will start to turn golden, stir a little and let cook further. You want a deep dark brown – teak or coffee with a touch of milk colour. If you prefer a lighter soup, obviously, you can let the onions go only to light golden, but you will miss the deep layered flavours that you would get if you keep your nerve and just keep cooking them. Without letting them burn!

And you dont have to stir all the time. The occasional stir is fine, whilst you make yourself a cup of tea, play with the cat or take some vitamins. Let the onions do their own job. Just keep the heat low and steady, and stir sometimes to make sure nothing is burning.

Once the onions are cooked to your liking, sprinkle over the flour and stir well. Cook for a few minutes to allow the flour to amalgamate with the onions and fat. This will ensure a creamy thick soup without a raw flour flavour.

Pour over hot vegetable stock, stir well, semi cover the pot and allow to simmer for about half an hour. Taste, add some pepper and a touch of salt.

YumMeanwhile, toast your bread till quite dark. Place in a soup bowl (you might have to shove it in there, this is fine), and grate some cheese over. Not too much as it can be overwhelming, but enough to add flavour and interest to the soup.

Ladle hot soup over the toast and cheese just to cover, and allow to sit for a minute so that the soup and toast and cheese get firmly acquainted.

Serve to those needing comfort.

Vegan Dinner + Asparagus with Couscous

5 Oct

Just back from New York – what an amazing trip! Had lunch at Per Se on Saturday, and will review it soon. Friday was great fun too. I had my very curly hair cut at Ouidad – she is the Goddess of Curly Hair, and an incredible inspiration. And because this was New York, and I was having a wonderful time, I stopped in at Dean and Deluca on my way home and browsed.

Dinner!Oh that place is just a total culinary paradise. I wandered around for an hour, just inhaling the aromas, and browsing everything. If I had more room in my suitcase, I would have bought the store! It was as if I was in a curated foodie dream … the olive oils, the truffles, the ice creams, the cheeses… and the fruits and vegetables! Of course it was terrifically expensive, but so beautiful. I found such fresh fruits and vegetables – everything perfect, and at its peak. When I got home, I decided to study what I had bought and treat it with great simplicity and respect.

My hostess, and dear friend T, is a vegan. I wanted to make her dinner, and it was a cold and stormy night, so I was inspired by the end of summer wealth of fruit and vegetables available at Dean and Deluca. I wanted to make a meal full of strong sensuous flavours that would not overwhelm us, and yet would nourish the senses. It was such a pleasure to cook with this produce, at its height of freshenss. It was easy to make something bright and beautiful. We had:

  • Eggplant (aubergine) dip made from roasted eggplant, tomatoes and virgin olive oil
  • Beautiful fresh bread
  • Fresh figs (I was going to poach them in white wine, but I tasted them, and they were so perfect, I decided to leave them in their glory)
  • Roasted baby heirloom tomatoes and garlic, with fresh basil. Very easy and very quick – 200C (400F) oven – pop in a tray of sliced tomatoes, garlic and basil, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Roast until the entire house is scented and everything is soft and slightly burnt, and luscious.
  • Hand rolled couscous with asparagus, mint, basil and meyer lemon
  • Reisling poached pear sorbet by Jeni’s Ice Creams (I had a Salty Caramel for non-vegan me which was mind blowing) – you can order for delivery!

For the asparagus with couscous, which will serve four, or two, with leftovers for the weekend, you will need:

  • 1 bunch fresh organic asparagus (about 1 – 2 cups)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup couscous (I used this amazing hand rolled couscous but garden variety is just fine!)
  • 1 bunch fresh organic mint (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 bunch fresh organic basil (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 Meyer lemon

Prepare the asparagus first. For each stalk, snap the bottom off with your hands. The asparagus will snap naturally, and you will be left with shortened stalks, but the best part. Discard the bottom bits.

Chop the asparagus into 2 inch or so sections. Boil about 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan on high heat. Add a bit of salt. Dunk the asparagus into the boiling water. Watch carefully. The asparagus will turn bright green. You want to remove it from the water almost as soon as it cooks – taste and see but I usually only leave it in for a minute or two. This ensures its very fresh, slightly crisp and yet cooked. The asparagus we had was sweet and very pure tasting without any adornment.

Use a sieve if you have it and take the asparagus out of its hot water bath and immediately dunk it in ice water or put it in a bowl and run cold water over – this will stop the cooking process. If you can, save the water the asparagus was cooked in for the couscous. Once the asparagus has been well cooled, set aside in a little bowl.

Using the same saucepan (and the same water if youre lucky), prepare the couscous. You will usually need about 1 1/2 cups of water to 1 cup of couscous, but follow directions on the package. I usually add a dollop of extra virgin olive oil to the boiling water for flavour and a sprinkle of salt. Once the water is boiling, add the couscous, stir, and take off heat. Cover, and let stand, steaming quietly to itself, for about 5 – 10 minutes. Once the couscous has absorbed all the water, take the lid off, and fluff. It will then be ready to serve.

While the couscous is absorbing all its water, chop the mint and basil fine and set aside. Grate the skin of the lemon, and set aside. Squeeze at least 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and set aside.

I thought I would spice this up with some Moroccan spices, dark and dusky, but the flavours were so clean and beautiful, I left them out completely!

Couscous!Once the couscous is ready, stir in the mint, basil, lemon zest and lemon juice. Taste for salt, and if you want, add a teaspoon of olive oil for depth of flavour. Let stand for a few minutes to come to room temperature, and then stir in the asparagus. Serve at room temperature.

This is the perfect last hurrah of summer!

Please forgive the iPod photos! I forgot my camera!

Zucchini Bread

8 Sep

DeliciousToday was a day of memories… I dont know why, may be because I chatted with old friends, and video conferenced for a while with family back home, but today was a day for remembering. It was also a Whole Foods day (which makes it a fabulous day) and once again I was inspired and amazed by the produce, the freshness, the colour, the beauty of all the gorgeous fruits and vegetables.

Because of that certain melancholy memory feeling to today, I decided to make zucchini bread. This is a wonderful bread, spicy, warm, gorgeous crust, hearty and yet very good for you. I love zucchini bread because its a wonderful way to get non vegetable eaters to eat their greens! How can that simple squash be transformed into a bread that tastes as if it was sent from the Goddesses? I dont know, but I do love it so. Our mother used to make zucchini bread, and though that recipe has been lost, I think I came pretty close to making something that has the same comforting, loving feeling to it.

This bread freezes exceptionally well. Its wonderful slathered with butter (or margarine if youre a vegan!) and it is fantastic sliced and toasted. I remember thick slices, slightly burnt at the edges, salted butter seeping onto the surface of the bread. Pure comfort. Pure happiness. Its also a great bread to give to little ones who are just starting to eat, because of the vegetables and because it teaches them about spice and taste and texture.

This recipe will make a large loaf. If you only have small loaf pans, divide into two. Baking time is still roughly the same. Make some, its easy, I promise. And make memories of your own 🙂

I used eggs in this recipe, but if you are vegan, they are easily replaced by 1 cup of applesauce. You will get the same texture and deliciousness as if you used eggs.

You can add raisins and nuts to this recipe if you like (about half a cup each) but I like my zucchini bread pure. If you do add, walnuts are particularly good with this bread.

For one large loaf, you will need:

  • 2 eggs (or if vegan, use 1 cup apple sauce plus 1 tsp lemon juice)
  • 1 cup canola or other light vegetable oil
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 2 1/2 cups flour (I used whole wheat flour, but use any kind you have – all purpose is fine)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups grated zucchini, skin on – about 2 medium sized zucchini

Preheat the oven to 175C (350 F). Line a large loaf tin with baking paper. I cut a piece of baking paper that was about three times larger than the base of my loaf pan, and then cut into each of the four corners of the paper at a 45 degree angle. This made it easier to line the baking pan and fold over the edges.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Add the oil, sugars, and vanilla essence, and whisk until thick and glossy.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Use a spatula to make sure all the spices are well integrated into the flour.

In three batches, mix the flour into the oil mixture, taking care not to over mix.

Wash the zucchini well, and then top and tail it, and grate finely. Measure out the zucchini into the batter. 2 regular sized zucchini usually gives me about 2 1/2 cups of grated zucchini. If you have a bit more or a bit less, its fine. Just dont go above 3 cups.

Mix the zucchini gently into the batter, ensuring that its well incorporated.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan, and bake in the preheated oven for an hour to an hour and a half, or until a tester comes out with only crumbs attached. If you bake beyond an hour, check every ten minutes or so to ensure it does not over bake.

Enjoy the scent that permeates your house, and allow the zucchini bread to cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing and devouring, and making some comforting memories of your own!

Nigel Slater’s Perfect Summer Pudding + A Quick Nathalie’s Recap!

13 Aug

Tonight we had an amazing dinner at Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio – good food, wonderful company, and the inspiration of a truly passionate chef. I had the tomato crumble with a goat’s cheese cream for starters – sublime, out of this world decadence. Just gorgeous. Goddess had a crab mille feuille which was just stunningly beautiful in its construction. JoB had a reconstructed salad nicoise which had the most perfectly simple (and simply perfect) dressing. And Goddess’ Spouse had a scallop tart with absolutely sublime deeply simmered onions. For mains, the table was split evenly. Carnivores devoured a steak in a gorgeously lush looking red wine reduction, with grilled vegetables and the delicious-est polenta I have ever had – cheesy, crisp on the outside, meltingly creamy inside. We vegetarians (or otherwise) had home made tagliatelle with a mushroom foam and a tangle of wild mushrooms. Surrounding the tagliatelle was this simple seeming, brave, delightful mushroom broth. Amazing taste. Amazing balance. So smart it made me joyous!

And dessert! Again, we ordered everything on the menu. A mango cream under a shortbread crust with a deep blazing yellow mango sorbet. A “big mac” of a huge chocolate macaron, with strawberries, and a perfect scoop of strawberry basil sorbet in the centre. A litchi combination – raspberry and litchi espuma, litchi sorbet, and a raspberry litchi mille feuille. A trio of a caramel vanilla cream puff, a salted caramel macaron, and a chestnut chocolate mousse. And a green tea mousse with a chocolate ribbon running through it. Needless to say, we devoured it all, so happily, with the joy and comfort of good friends and family.

So tonight, I just didnt have time to cook. I am packing for the US (slightly frantically, but trying to be calm). But I have been wanting to try this recipe, so I decided it is going to be a “cheat” night. I share this recipe with you, which I bookmarked in 2001. Its a perfect summer pudding recipe, written with wit and passion and opinion and love by one of my favourite food writers, Nigel Slater. I hope it inspires you. I am going to try a version of it soon and will report back. But for now… enjoy the writing of a brilliant cook. With love, from a very replete and sated me 😉


Perfect Summer Pudding

By Nigel Slater

The Observer, August 5, 2001

One of the things that exasperates me about the insatiable demand for ‘new’ recipes is that it doesn’t give anyone time to get something well and truly right. I see nothing wrong with tinkering with an idea until it is as good as it can be; in fact, I see everything right about it.

I just don’t understand the desire (or is it desperation?) for snatching up a new recipe, rushing through it, then dashing off for the next cookery magazine, book or television programme for the next new thing. What is it exactly that these cooks are frantically searching for? Wouldn’t it be better to find a dish that they know and like and then to work at it until it is absolutely to their taste?

There is much, much pleasure to be had in honing a dish to perfection. To get to know the little nuances and pitfalls, the tricks and the intimacies of a recipe, and add your own signature if you wish. If this is a search for perfection – and I suppose it is – then we have to work out the crux of it all: the real reason why an idea appeals to us. We need to identify the heart and soul of a dish and get that part of it right. In some ways you can get this from a well-written recipe. But the truth is that there is more to it than that. Some of it is intuition, a gut feeling that you have understood what I like to call the ‘essence’ of the thing. The part of something that really rings your bell. If you like, the whole point. Identify, and then pursue.

By identifying that point, you will know what you are aiming for and why you are cooking something. I would argue that in a risotto, say, it is not just the grains of stock-saturated rice that are the essence of the dish, but the way in which the limpid stock holds those wet grains together on your fork. (Which is why vegetarian stock never makes quite the perfect risotto, because it lacks the gelatinous quality of chicken stock.) In a piece of roast pork it is the contrast between the sweet, rich meat, succulent fat and crisp, salty crackling. And in a chocolate brownie it is (for me, at least) the contrast between the crisp crust and the moist, but not wet, cake beneath.

I could go on, and indeed I will – at least once a month over the next few weeks.

We are not talking about textbook perfect here, as in the arrogant and often misguided notion of how something ‘should be’ (usually by self-styled tin gods of the cookery world, who are hiding their ignorance behind a smokescreen of arrogance), but in that it will give you as much pleasure as you can possibly get from it. So, not only have you had the pleasure of sniffing, stirring and tasting, but the end result is as near to perfection as you can ever imagine it being. You have found and understood the very reason for that dish, that recipe. Now that is what you call cooking.

And so it is with summer pudding, that rough’n’tumble of raspberries, currants and bread. I rank it with Christmas pudding as one of the best recipes ever, except, of course, that the weather is usually better. It matters not one jot if you make it in a shallow dish, a pudding basin or, charming this, in individual china dishes. What is important – no, essential – is the juice and how the bread soaks it up. This is your ‘essence’. The crux of the matter.

We must work out our own preference for the ratio of the three different berries.

I like a proportion of blackcurrants, a tart counter to the ever-sweeter varieties of raspberries and redcurrants. Purists will not accept a blackcurrant in a summer pudding. I add them for their glorious colour and for the extra snap of tartness that they bring. The sweet of tooth can leave them out. Then again, too many blackcurrants will overpower the raspberries. My perfect berry count is 150g blackcurrants to 250g of redcurrants to 500g raspberries.

Historically, this pudding was made with a raspberry to redcurrant ratio of 4:1. (The idea goes back to the 18th century and was a favourite of health spas, the bread being a substitute for butter-rich pastry.) Purists will stick to this. But our tastes move on, and this balance is now considered a little insipid; a few blackcurrants turn up in most versions now.

The fruit

My suspicions about the wisdom of solemnly following a recipe were once again founded this week. The currants I bought for my summer pudding from a large supermarket chain looked bright and fresh, but were flabby and flat-tasting, and sweet rather than sharp. To have followed a recipe blindly, ‘yes, sir, no sir,’ would have resulted in a sweet and flat-tasting pud. Luckily, I tasted the fruit and added less sugar by way of compensation – though, ideally, I would have preferred tarter currants. The offending redcurrants, by the way, were Rovada, the oversweet raspberries Tulameen.

The bread

The bread is more than just a case to hold the fruit. Its texture is crucial to the whole pudding.

Without it you would have nothing more than a compôte – stewed fruit. Soft, ‘plastic’ bread turns slimy rather than moist. God knows why it turns so nasty – it’s like eating a soggy J cloth. No, the bread needs enough body to hold its shape should you decide to turn your dome of fruit out, and the closeness of texture not to turn to pink pap.

A well-made white sandwich loaf will work.

Dense bread such as sourdough is often too tight to soak up the juice. Brown bread is disgusting in this instance. Come to think of it, brown bread is disgusting in most instances.

The juice

The centre of attention, the difference between a good pud and one that is utterly sublime is the juice that soaks into the bread. It is this – its flavour and sheer abundance – that will make or break this dessert. It does need sweetening though, so a shake of sugar over the berries is essential. I use 3 tablespoons for fruit of normal tartness. This doesn’t sound a lot, I know, but you will have, at the table, the tempering effect of the cream.

The cream

A jug of cream is a necessary part of a summer pudding. Don’t even think of offering crème fraîche, the pudding is tangy enough as it is. You want pouring cream, not whipped or extra thick, but good old-fashioned double cream. And preferably unpasteurised. You will need a 1l pudding basin.

850g mixed raspberries and currants, with an emphasis on raspberries
7-8 slices firm, good quality white bread
3 tbsps white sugar
3 tbsps water
cream to serve

Sort through the fruit, tenderly, picking out any that are unripe or mouldy. There’s nearly always a few. Pull the currants from their stems then put them, with the raspberries, in a stainless-steel saucepan over a low heat. Taste the fruit for sweetness and add sugar accordingly. For normal, sweet raspberries and slightly tart currants, I add 3 tablespoons or so of sugar. Sometimes you may need slightly less or more. Use your own judgment, bearing in mind that the finished pudding should have a bit of sharpness to it. Pour in a little water, a couple of tablespoons will do, then bring it to the boil.

The currants will start to burst and give out their juice. They need no longer than three or four minutes at a cautious simmer. The fruit should be shiny and there should be much magenta juice in the pan. Turn off the heat.

Slice the bread thickly. Each slice should be about as thick as your little finger. (Thinner if you are making several smaller puddings in individual moulds.) Cut the crusts off the bread. Set one piece aside, then cut the rest into ‘soldiers’, that is, each slice of bread into three long fingers. Using a glass or cup as a template, cut a disc of bread from the reserved slice and push it into the bottom of the pudding basin.

Line the inside of the basin with the strips of bread, pushing them together snugly so that no fruit can escape, and keeping a few strips for the top. Fill the bread-lined basin with the fruit and its juice – it should come almost to the rim. Lay the remaining bread on top of the fruit, tearing and patching where necessary, so no fruit is showing.

Put the basin in a shallow dish or bowl to catch any juice, then lay a flat plate or small tray on top with a heavy weight to squash the fruit down. Some juice may escape, but most will soak into the bread. Leave overnight in the fridge. (You may have to remove a shelf depending on how deep your fridge shelves are.)

Remove the weights, slide a palette knife around the edge, pushing carefully down between bread and basin so as not to tear the bread. Put a plate on top, and then, holding the plate in place, turn quickly upside down and shake firmly to dislodge the pud. It should slide out and sit proud. Pass a jug of cream around – it is an essential part of the pudding. Serves 6-8.

Egg in the Hole

4 Jul

This was one of the first things I ever learned to make. Fried bread and egg, yes. Good breakfast (if a little ott). But cut a square (or circle) out of the bread, and drop the egg into it, and you suddenly have magic. Children love this (I know I did) – they are fascinated by it and love to dip the bread into the golden yolk. I remember making this on seaside trips, for parents’ birthdays, and just because I could!

Its wonderful as breakfast, but its also awesome for a light supper (with a salad of tomato and onion perhaps), or even a late snack whilst watching the World Cup! Its very satisfying because there is something playful about this meal – but its also really really tasty.

If you can, please try and make this with an organic egg. Because the ingredients are so simple: bread, egg, butter and seasoning, it is imperative that you use the best quality ingredients. An organic free range egg is a thing of beauty. Its yolk is a golden orange, and the taste is completely totally eggy. The white is bright and tastes clean and clear. These may cost more, but they are so worth it. The creature that gave you her egg is living a good life, rather than battery raised chickens, and you can taste that lack of stress and sadness in the egg. When I do eat animal products (egg, milk, cheese, etc) I do try to get the organic, free range variety. Not only are there stronger protections in place for the animals to ensure that they lead happy lives, but quite simply, the taste cannot compare. It is just so much better. I would rather have one egg in the hole every two weeks, and have it taste 20 times better. Its about the choice, but its also about my sensual pleasure.

For each egg in the hole you will need:

  • 1 strong slice white or brown bread, preferably home made
  • 1 tsp (or more) softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Take the bread, and cut a hole in the centre. I usually make a square, but you could cut a circle, or even use a cookie cutter to make an interesting pattern.

Butter the bread on both sides, as well as the cut out square.

Sprinkle a tiny bit of salt and pepper over the bread.

Place bread on a non stick pan, over low heat. Let the bread fry/toast in the butter on both sides, until browned to your liking.

As soon as both sides of the bread are brown and toasted (dont forget to flip the cut out square!), crack the egg into a pouring cup measure. Salt and pepper the egg.

Take a small amount of butter and drop it into the open hole in the bread. With your spatula, lift one side of the slice of bread, and pour the egg white through the hole. The lifting will allow the white to flow around the edges of the bread. Try and pour as much of the white  out as possible, creating a layer of egg white on the bottom side of the bread. Once all the egg white has been poured through, gently pour the egg yolk straight into the hole. Let the yolk cook for as long as is your preference. I personally like it a little liquid, but also slightly squidgy.

Salt and pepper just before serving.


South African Cheese Bread

25 Jun

The cheese bread is also called picnic bread in South Africa, and its so so so tasty. It’s a batter bread, and can be made up in a few minutes without much effort. South Africans take this on long car journeys or on picnics because the bread itself is good enough to eat without any filling or stuffing or even butter. Its fantastic out of the oven, and even better the next day toasted. Its usually made with uncooked chopped bacon, for flavour and fat, so I added different vegetables, spices and fats to replace that flavour and richness loss.

This is the ultimate journeymans bread. One slice is sustaining, nourishing, loving and satisfying. It has almost a puddingy quality to it – thick spoon bread or almost popover bread quality. When I was adapting this for vegetarian consumption the big stumbling block was how to replace the about 1 pound of bacon, which adds fat, and a smokey taste. I have substituted the bacon with additional butter, the full complement of buttermilk, and smoked paprika and roasted peppers. I think this tastes awesome – and you don’t have to be sad about eating Babe!

  • 3 – 4  cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder (not soda)
  • 1 cup chopped spring onion
  • 4 cups coarsely grated cheddar cheese
  • 8 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning salt
  • fresh coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • Optional: About ½ cup chopped roasted red peppers

Preheat your oven to 170 C. Grease 2 bread tins very well.

Prepare your melted butter. In a separate bowl, beat your eggs, and mix in the salt, pepper, paprika, chili sauce and mustard.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, onion and cheese loosely with a fork, and then lightly combine the egg mixture and melted butter with the flour mix. You should have a pretty stiff dough. Don’t overmix, or you will have a very heavy loaf, but try and make sure everyone is acquainted.

Add the buttermilk one cup at a time, and mix well. This should look like scone dough. Taste for spice, salt, heat. Adjust accordingly.

Divide mixture equally between the bread tins.

Bake about 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Turn out and cool on a rack.

Delicious warm, amazing the next day when the flavours have melded, and freezes like a dream. Stunning toasted.

If this version is too spongey for you, add about 1 cup more flour for a more cakey version.

Photo copyright U-en Ng