Bread Pudding Again!

April 20, 2007

The other day I recently came across some more bread pudding recipes.  I had visited a website by Paul Hollywood from England who bakes bread.  I found from his site and found a recipe for Date and Walnut Bread Pudding and another for Blueberry Bread and Butter Pudding.

 It is an English thing to do Bread and Butter Pudding raisons and both these recipes have softened butter or melted butter in them.  The idea is to spread the softened butter on the sliced bread and lay in the dish.  This really is not necessary and I don’t do this.  I do the usual bread pudding recipe with eggs, milk, sugar.  In this case you add the dates and walnuts and with the blueberry one you add the fruit and sprinkle sliced almonds on top and bake.

 I have yet to make these two, but before long I will.  We enjoy the coffee chocolate one so much I made it yet again.  Now for a change next time around.  I think I’ll do the date and walnut first.  A butterscotch recipe was given following it, so it can be served with it, but that could be too sweet and either French Vanilla yogurt or vanilla icecream would probably be better.  Or served alone who knows that could do just as well.


Poached Pears.

April 15, 2007

I have never really got in to making poached pears for a dessert, but recently I watched Jacques Pepin on TV and he poached pears in red wine.  Nothing new, but somehow it looked so good it inspired me to give it a go, and it is so easy.

He also poached them in a coffee syrup, that is delicious.  Cooking for two I halved the quantity – just 2 pears and one cup of coffee.  He uses left over coffee, but I just made a cup of instant coffee with brown sugar to taste and poured over the pears.  They are brought to the boil and then covered and simmered for 15-20 minutes.  Remove pears to a dish and reduce liquid so that it thickens to a syrup.

I always have trouble with that, it doesn’t thicken that much, but I just pour it over the pears. He served his with organic vanilla icecream and since I had some in the freezer (we only eat organic icecream) I served it on top.  Quite delicious.

I am sure with some thought there must be other flavors one can poach pears in, so I’ll start thinking and check recipes elsewhere.

Bread Pudding.

April 10, 2007

Bread Pudding is either making an appearance in the food magazines or on TV and then on blogs. 

My mother used to make this as a dessert when I was a child, but it was called bread and butter pudding, simply because the bread was buttered, why I don’t know.   These days there is no mention of buttering the bread, you just do a basic recipe of eggs and milks and soak  the bread in it with raisons and it’s called bread pudding.

 There seem to many variations of flavor for bread pudding, whether it is almond, chocolate or whatever one desires to do.  I found a recipe for a chocolate coffee bread pudding on that had been adapted from a Food TV recipe, and I made it, adapting it again in that I made half quantity, I did not use coffee liquer because I don’t have any, I used instant coffee in hot water and I added raisons.  I also did not use half and  half, but instead used milk, it works just as well.

It turned out very good and chocolately, so two weeks later I made it again.  From time to time I plan to  have this on our menu for dessert it was so good.

 I also found a recipe for an apple bread pudding which also turned out well.  Just the basic bread pudding recipe with the usual 2 eggs and 2 cups of milk.  The apple is cubed and can be cooked a little first if desired, or put straight in mixed up with the bread and raisons as well.  It worked well, and we enjoyed that too, but our favourite was definitely the chocolate and coffee.

There are bound to be many more varieties for this recipe, it’s a case of using the imagination which can know no limits.

Eggs is Eggs and Cheese Too!

April 4, 2007

Eggs and cheese are used in countless dishes from breads to quiche to omlettes and crepes to name just a few dishes.

Eggs are delicious whether boiled, fried, scrambled or poached.  Scrambled eggs are said to the most unhealthy way of cooking them because of the immediate high heat involved in the cooking.

That being said, I recently read of somebody who enjoyed a scrambled egg sandwich, and although I’m sure I’ve had one at some time in the distant past, it has been a long time.  So I have now started having an occasional sandwich.  I make the toast and then cook the scrambled egg to be moist not dry.  I make a sandwich and put a little ketchup on the side to dip into.  Delicious!

At one time eggs were given a bad rap, but not any more.  Granted those folks with high cholesterol have to limit their intake or avoid eating them altogether.  The white of an egg is the healthiest part since the yolk has the high fat content, but that is also the yummy part.  What to do?  As in all things moderation is the key.

Cheese can be a delight as an after dinner course when the cheese board with crackers is placed on the table with a selection of three or four cheeses and maybe some fruit with it.

Cheese is made in and comes from many countries and they all have their own distinctive flavor.  Gouda is from Holland, Feta from Greece, the delightful English Cheddar which is a harder cheese and has a taste of its own when produced in England.  Then we have Brie and Parmesan used not only in a dish but often Parmesan is grated on top of a dish or on top of soup.

Goat’s cheese is another with quite a taste of its own – stronger in taste because the milk of a goat is stronger.

Grilled cheese sandwiches are enjoyed my many and indeed a cheese slice or two is often put as a topping on a panini sandwich, and often a slice will top an open sandwich before it is put under the grill.

For those who are lactose intolerant soy cheese is a good alternative.

What ever happens, cheese crops up everywhere- and eggs do too! 

Coffee Cake or Coffee in Cake?

March 28, 2007

Coffee cake can mean a sponge cake with a streusal mixture of nuts, sugar and cinnamon layered in the middle and on the top of the cake.

It is eaten while enjoying a cup of coffee or tea at breakfast time or other times of the day.

However, coffee cake should surely be what it says – a cake where you taste the coffee.

You make a sponge cake which either has coffee essence added or you dissolve instant coffee in water and add to the batter.  Hence when eaten you taste the coffee along with any frosting that also has coffee incorporated in it, thereby making it a true coffee cake whether you drink coffee or tea with it.

It seems difficult to find a coffee cake recipe, meaning coffee in flavor – it must be an English or European thing.  Yet such a cake does exist.

So the difference must be in the fact that a coffee cake with streusal topping is a North American thing and a coffee cake where you taste the flavor must be an English/European thing!

Spinach Soup.

March 21, 2007

It was supposed to be a very warm day, but we woke up to cloud and cool temperatures.  This continued throughout the morning so by lunch time it felt more like having  soup instead of a salad.  I had some fresh spinach left that needed using and decided to make spinach soup.  A first for me.  I had this recipe from Farmgirl Foodie, but because I was short on time I omitted the rice and instead thickened it with cornstarch.

 It is a very good soup, and I would do it again.  If I didn’t use rice, I might use potato instead for a thickener, but for a first off it was not bad.

Then later in the afternoon wouldn’t you know it, the cloud cleared, the sun came out and it did warm up to the projected temperature for the day – 75F!.

Tea For Two!

March 16, 2007

“Tea for two please.”   You may be out shopping with a friend or meeting a friend for afternoon tea. 

In England this is a common occurrence where you find a nice teashop with old English decor and you ask for a pot of tea for two.  Or you might be ordering full afternoon tea which usually starts with dainty cucumber sandwiches, or egg, or salmon sandwiches.  Various fillings are offered in different tearooms.  This is often followed by cakes and along with it is a pot of tea for two.

In the south of England, Devon and Cornwall,  afternoon tea could easily be a Cream Tea which comprises of scones with strawberry jam and thick clotted cream – a specialty in Devon and Cornwall.  This also can be followed by cakes along with a pot of tea.  Some say you spread on the jam first and top off with cream, while others will say you spread on lots of cream first and top off with jam.  Whichever way you choose, it must be good.

Personally I would always spread jam on first and top off with cream.  Yum!  It’s a long time since I had a cream tea, many years in fact.  Time I made a visit and headed down south to enjoy.  Now how much are the flights?

Clotted cream and more cream,  not good for the arteries, but as my motto goes ‘all things in moderation!’

Now all of this could spoil your evening meal.  The alternative would be to have a main meal lunchtime and have the tea late afternoon and something lighter in the evening.  Whatever you choose afternoon tea is a very pleasant way of passing an hour or two.

Chocolate and Green Tea?

March 14, 2007

I heard on the radio the other day a program talking about the benefits of green tea and the various blends available.  The guest on the program sells green tea through a toll free number, but he has a chocolate and green tea blend which sounds very delicious and since both green tea and chocolate has antioxidants which we need in our body that would be a double  dose!  That can’t be bad.  The only snag right now is this particular tea is only available through this one distributor and I didn’t take down the number.  So the only thing to do is either a search on the net or wait until it reaches to store.

Green Tea, The Good Drink.

March 12, 2007

Green tea is frequently in the news, whether it be on TV or in the newspaper or articles in one magazine or another.

This tea is full of antioxidants and we are told by drinking at least one cup a day, more is preferable, that it may protect from heart attacks.  It can keep the blood pressure steady and healthy and it is a good drink to protect against cancer and even cancer patients can benefit from it.

I know one person who had cancer and started to drink green tea among other good things he was taking and last year was pronounced cancer free.  He was not on medication nor did he have treatments of any kind, so the cancer was not serious enough as I recall, but he had to be careful.  Whether green tea helped, I don’t know, but since there is so much written about it, it surely does not hurt to drink it.

 I personally don’t like green tea, but recently I discovered a blend, of which there are several blends, but this one is Green Tea and Earl Grey tea.  Now Earl Grey tea I quite like, though I rarely drink it, so I thought I would give it a try and I must say I like this blend and most days I now drink Green Tea/Earl Grey.    

If this means it is good for me, my heart, the arteries, blood pressure, cholesterol, help to cut the risk of cancer and whatever else it is supposed to be good for, then I will drink a cup a day, even more when I can, in between the number of required glasses of water and regular tea that I enjoy. 

Oh, and  not long ago I read a recipe on green tea cupcakes!  Now there’s a thought, though I don’t make cupcakes.  Muffins are more my thing so maybe there’s a way of incorporating green tea into a muffin recipe.  I will do a search and see what I find.

Now It’s Carrot Cake and Olive Oil!

March 7, 2007

I have just  been reading some blogs on carrot cakes.  Very interesting.  The thing that puts me off the most to making this cake is the grating of the carrots.  I make it from time to time when I feel in the mood of not minding to grate carrots.

 I have a few recipes in my collection and so I made a carrot cake yesterday.  It was light as a feather and well received by all.  Delicious.  Perhaps when one finds a good recipe out of a collection it would be a good idea to ditch the remainder, because how often would you use them, having found one that is particularly good.

I always make my carrot cakes without the frosting!  Why?  Too much sugar and I am not a lover of cream cheese.  Instead I serve it with banana and French Vanilla yogurt which is equally as good.

I have a recipe for carrot cake muffins taken from Barefoot Contessa herself and they are good too. 

So many cooks use so much butter which might give the finished product a good taste, but too much, too often are not good for the arteries.  So what to do?  Whenever possible, and that is quite often I use olive oil instead for making cakes, muffins and suchlike.  I would like to use it for cookies, but more often than not olive oil does not produce a good cookie.  I do have a couple of recipes given out by a large health store online for chocolate thumbprint cookies using cocoa instead of chocolate and they are good.

I cook with olive oil all the time and often use it in the skillet, though I have read many times that when it is heated it is changed and can be carcinogenic.   I always use it to make a sauce instead of butter.

I have just read an article that said the best oil to use in the skillet is coconut oil which is more healthy.  I would  not have thought of it and can’t say I have seen it in the store, though the article did say it can be found in health stores, so I’ll have to take a look.

 So even for carrot cakes olive oil can be used instead of butter and it turns out just as good.  I know olive oil can be used in making muffins and I do so all the time in place of butter.  It can also be used in some sponge cakes and I have tried it in one recipe which has olive oil as part of the ingredients.  It also turned out good.  So I guess sometimes one has to experiment and see what happens.