Tag Archives: world cup

Spinach + Blue Cheese Bread Pudding (Unplanned)

25 Jun

AngelKitten + N came over tonight to watch the Brasilians and the Portuguese play a very boring final match of their group stage, and I had promised them beans on toast! One of my favourite easy dishes that you dont really have to think about. I thought of jazzing it up with a poached egg on top. Going all out! Well, when I checked my cupboard, all those cans sitting so certainly in the cupboard were soup – no beans! Oh no! What to do?! From this moment of panic, delicious dishes are born. I did a quick once over of what I had in the fridge and freezer, and decided to make a savoury bread pudding. I had eggs, milk, cream, blue cheese, onions, garlic, old good bread, and a packet of flash frozen spinach. It took about 10 minutes to assemble, 30 minutes to bake, and it was REALLY good. Much better then the second half that we watched!

This dish can serve about 6 greedy or 8 polite people. I baked it in a cake tin, so you could cut it like a quiche (or cake!) and it was perfection.

  • 1/2 cup half and half (or 1/4 cup milk + 1/4 cup cream, which is what I used)
  • 5 eggs
  • 12 – 16 slices days old bread
  • Blue Cheese (I used that Irish classic Cashel Blue – rich, creamy and sublter than most blues)
  • Packet of frozen spinach
  • Tiny bit of butter + small glugg of olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 white onion, finely diced
  • Oregano
  • Salt + pepper
  • Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 180C.

In a shallow bowl or container, beat half and half with eggs, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Toast your bread, if you can. I didnt and it made a very unctuous bread pudding, but if you like the deeper flavours of toasted bread, and if you have the time (I was trying to get it done quick quick), then by all means toast away!

Make some blue cheese sandwiches: divide your bread in half, and lay one set on your working surface. Finely slice the blue cheese (I tried to get the creamier bits as I didnt want to be overwhelmed with the blue flavour, but do as you like best) and layer sparingly over one set of bread. Cover with second set, and trim off the crusts. Poke fine holes in the sandwiches with the tip of your knife, and lay them in the cream and egg mixture. Set aside to soak up.

Defrost your spinach. I dont believe in microwave ovens, so I dont have one, and obviously, if you can get fresh spinach, this would be best, but hey, I was working on instinct here! I used a large frying pan, and about 1/2 cup of water, and slowly defrosted over medium heat. When the spinach is fully defrosted, drain, saving the water. It will be spinach-y and delicious.

Use a little bit of butter and olive oil in the same pan, and over low heat slowly soften the onions and garlic. Season with oregano and salt and pepper. Once the onions and garlic are glossy, add the spinach, just to heat through.

Butter or spray olive oil in a large cake tin. Using your hands, take the eggy sandwiches, and tear about half of them into smaller chunks, lining the bottom of the tin. Layer about half of the spinach mixture on top, and repeat, ending with spinach. Pour about 1/4 cup of the spinach water into the remainder of the egg and half and half mixture, and pour all over the top of your bread pudding. Grate a bit of cheddar cheese (or other browning/melting cheese like parmesan) over the top, and pop in the oven for about half an hour. The bread pudding should puff up and get brown and golden on top.

Serve immediately, though Ezril tells me its delicious cold too!

Enjoy!

World Cup Pasta

20 Jun

Yesterday, we watched the World Cup together, and decided to make a meal. Its such an exciting time of the year, and so much fun to watch the action unfolding in South Africa! We made rice crispie treats with rice crispies, marshmallows, butter and vanilla (very delicious – like crisp vanilla ice cream!) and the perfect chocolate chip cookies from Cook’s Illustrated. I will post the recipe for those later. But the pasta was the star, and oh my goddess it was good!

For 4 – 6 people

  • Approx 2 – 3 tbsp truffle oil (olive oil infused with truffle)
  • 4 -5 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 4 – 6 large mushrooms (I used portabello) sliced roughly
  • 4 – 5 thin slices cold butter
  • Good glug of very old delicious balsamic vinegar (the syrupy-er the better!)
  • Approx 10 – 15 ripe cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • Salt and pepper
  • Big glug of cream
  • Angel hair pasta

Coat the bottom of a large frying pan with the truffle oil, and arrange garlic over. Over a very low heat, begin to fry the garlic. You dont want it to burn, just infuse the oil and become soft and ever so slightly golden. Dont flip the garlic or move it around the pan – just let it slowly come to heat with the oil.

Meanwhile, peel and roughly slice the mushrooms. How many you use depends on how much you like mushrooms, and how many people you have to serve – I usually use 1 large mushroom per person. Once you really smell the garlic wafting from the pan, tip in all the mushrooms all at once, and increase the heat to medium high. Stir the mushrooms so they pick up the oil and garlic, and then lay the butter over the top of the mushrooms. The butter will melt in the heat and steam coming from the mushrooms, and will infuse them with flavour, and will also add to the thickness of your sauce.

As the mushrooms begin to fry, and the butter has been melted, pour a good glug of balsamic vinegar over, and stir the entire heady mixture together once or twice. You should see some mushrooms begin to burn a bit, and some juices begin to release. Slice the cherry tomatoes over the top, and let the heat get to them, and watch them wilt a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste.

As the mixture begins to come together, add the cream. I usually dont measure this but again, its relative to the amount of people eating. The cream will pick up all the flavours of truffle, balsamic, mushroom and garlic, and will turn a rich brown. Squish the tomatoes into the cream so that they add their sweetness and tartness to the sauce. Let the cream come to a full boil and thicken. Taste for seasoning. Add more cream if you want it.

As the cream is boiling, prepare the angel hair pasta. It should take a few minutes in a boiling pot of water, with a pinch of salt and a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking.

Drain the pasta, stir it, and if you want, add a little bit of butter for flavour.

Using tongs, transfer the pasta to the frying pan and mix well. This gives you control over how much pasta you add to the sauce and ensures you dont have a pasta heavy, lightly sauced meal. Keep tasting as you add the pasta – it will dilute the flavours of the sauce. You might need to add a little more salt to brighten the flavour.

Serve, in bowls, with parmesan to grate over. Enjoy the game!