Tag Archives: savoury

Savoury puddings…

Creamed-Corn-Cake-(5468)

Most people would say that I have a sweet tooth, but if you read in between the lines of my several rants in this blog (for which I constantly apologise – but I know I don’t always need to), you’ll know that perhaps this is not the case. I love sweet things, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes there’s nothing better than some fresh crusty bread and cheese to alter my mood. Did I forget to include those lovely salty anchovies?! It’s now widely acknowledged that too much salt is not good for the system, but extra seasoning is needed many times for flavour. There’s nothing worse than a bland plate of soup. I know you know what I’m talking about.

When I lived in Michigan some years ago I spent loads of time alone in the kitchen thinking about what my next bake would be. Food Network US was constantly on, day in day out, no exception. I used to drive J totally mad I think! But that’s when my food obsession started. So one morning I saw a short snippet of Nigella Bites. I can’t remember the episode this recipe was from, but I saw her concocting a pudding she served with ham. I quickly tried to write it down and missed some steps here and there, but I thought that I had a workable recipe anyway. So I tried what I had written and the recipe worked. This is before I bought the book. The result was a creamy cake, not that solid I must say, but it was done, the skewer came out perfectly clean. It was wierd but tasted great and I wondered where Nigella got the idea from. You see, however far you look, recipes are always inherited when it comes to home cooking, and there’s nothing wrong in this. There’s a sense of tradition which I love – I have no worries about passing on recipes, especially the ones which I’ve grown up with. There’s no secret here.

I never found where this idea came from until I came back from Rome last week. I was reading through Anna Del Conte’s Gastronomy of Italy which is definitely one of the must-haves in your kitchen library if you are interested in Italian food and its history. I was thinking about buying it when I discovered that I already had! I rummaged through my books on my last visit to Malta and found it hidden in the shelves! Go figure. In this book I found a recipe for what Del Conte calls Salviata, a.k.a. sage pudding. Nigella’s version is *not* a replica of the Salviata – there are many differences. What I would say is that the Italian recipe is much healthier, if you’re counting the calories. Also, like almost all things Italian it has Parmesan in it of course. I haven’t tried the Salviata yet, but the following is Nigella’s English pudding, which is really quick and easy to prepare, but don’t make it often, ok? You’ll get why in a minute. Also it needs it’s time in the oven to bake through. So give it time. As always, please note that every oven is different, so experiment and don’t give up if it doesn’t turn out the way you’ve hoped.

Before you read on, you also need creamed corn for this recipe. I would recommend you add it here because it will make a big difference in the pudding’s consistency. It’s so good you’ll want to eat it straight out of the can with a spoon! Well I do anyway! You can easily find it in supermarkets in the UK. This is my version of Nigella’s recipe. I take her advice on board as always and use a Pyrex dish, which always works. You need:

  • 5 eggs
  • 280g sweetcorn, frozen (or drain a 340g can – you’ll get roughly the same amount)
  • 420g can creamed corn
  • 300ml semi-skimmed milk (Nigella uses full-fat but I find it works like this too)
  • 300ml double cream
  • 60g plain flour (4 heaped tablespoons will work fine)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  1. Grease an ovenproof dish with some butter and flour, and preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4.
  2. In a large bowl whisk the eggs, add the other ingredients and beat very very well! Pour into the dish and place it in the oven. Give it 45 minutes and keep an eye on it through the oven. That’s why you’ll want to use a glass dish here. Wait for it to turn golden brown and puffed up on the top. Give it a good hour if this isn’t so. If you think it’s cooked check it as you do usually, with a knife or skewer but try to leave the dish in the oven as you do this. Ask for some help if you need to.

If you see that it took longer than an hour to cook, next time try it at 190°C as the book says. I find that for an electric oven ten degrees less is more than enough. Experiment and enjoy it though. It makes a mean snack, or a really good side with anything. Happy baking!

Rob x

Sweet and Salty Rocky Road

Peanut-Crunchy-Bars-(5149)

I remember the day when I discovered that marshmellowy divine gooeyness that is Rocky Road. It’s something that I loved immediately, one of the reasons being of course, that it was so easy and quick to make. The *only* thing that I didn’t like was that it had to sit in the fridge to set for a few hours. But boy oh boy was my patience rewarded from that first bite. My many trips to the gym hasn’t made a big difference in deterring that bit of extra weight but that hasn’t prevented me from making them again and again. OK…one *again* is enough!

That was a few years ago. More recently I discovered another jewel in the crown: Nigella’s sweet and salty nut crunch bars. Now if I were to choose, most probably I would go for the salty stuff, even if it’s not that good for you. J says that I’m the personification of contradiction, if that could really exist. I love baking anything sweet, but when it comes to taste I do favour the odd bit of cheese. So unashamedly I confirm once more the fact that I can easily eat a whole tin of anchovies with some bread given the freedom to do that. Unfortunately I don’t have that anymore! What I can say is that this recipe satisfies both the sweet and savoury palate and I really don’t know what can be easier than this. I made these babies again a few days ago and they are waiting for me…*cough*…us quietly in the cold. And since I conveniently forgot all about them until now, I’m having a piece, thank you very much. Please don’t judge me! I won’t do that to you if you try making these. One piece of advice though – they are addictive so go slow.

So the easiest recipe in the world goes something like this:

  • 200g dark chocolate, broken into cubes
  • 100g milk chocolate, also broken into cubes
  • 125g butter, unsalted and make sure it’s soft
  • 45ml golden syrup (3 tablespoons, heaped)
  • 200g peanuts, salted
  • 4 Crunchie bars (40g each)
  1. Line a standard round cake tin with kitchen foil, or use a foil tin. Whatever you prefer.
  2. In a saucepan (preferably with a heavy base) tip the broken chocolate, the soft butter and golden syrup, and place these over a low heat. When the chocolate has melted completely remove the pan from the heat.  Now add the salted peanuts.
  3. To crush the Crunchie bars, place them into a piece of kitchen foil, grab a rolling pin and bash them with it, till you have some bits that are rubble and some that are relatively whole, but not quite. (I’m sure you get me here!)
  4. Add the Crunchies into the melted chocolate concoction and stir everything together. All you have to do now is to pour the mixture into the cake tin and press it down with a spatula or something flat.
  5. Place in the fridge and let it set for around four hours. I’ve tried to make the waiting time a bit less, but unfortunately it doesn’t work…

Enjoy making and eating these, and don’t forget to send me some!

Rob x

Too much Salt.

J and I have just arrived back from a brief holiday in the Lake District. Those who know us know that we love the Lakes, especially in good weather. This year, weather-wise, it was not good. We cancelled two days of camping and chose to head up north on Wednesday instead to stay in the tiny village of Seatoller in Borrowdale. That was a great choice: the valley was lovely with beautiful views all around, but with low clouds, mist and the heaviest rain we could barely walk. I could be exaggerating just a little bit but it was too soggy for my taste. We did manage to enjoy some walks here and there, and we went to our favourite little towns of Keswick, Hawkshead and did all the tourist things, among which was a visit to Hill Top, a farm which once belonged to Beatrix Potter. But I seriously digress…

Though this actually brings me to something I wanted to write about for quite a long time now. I don’t want to be a nag because no one likes that, myself included. But this has been bothering me. On to another story then! (Sorry…) While we were in Hawkshead we decided to have some coffee and cake from a quaint local teashop. Quaint is only the word J used to describe it, since it was really girly, but later he told me he felt squeamish when he saw it. Their chocolate cake seemed so delicious in the display area so that’s what I ordered. Result: it was so-not-delicious! It was dry and had too much salt in it for my liking – so I ask this: what is it with people’s obsession with chocolate and salt? There is no doubt that we are eating too much salt. Now this comes from someone who loves salty things – I could eat a whole tin of anchovies if given the chance. I say it because I would be the first one to put my hand up because I’m guilty too, even though I’ve given up on the anchovy-tin-bit quite a few months ago. Sad I know, but true! Thankfully these days many food stuffs have labels that indicate how much salt or sodium (they are different) you can find in that product. They make life a teeny bit easier.

I am trying to reduce salt in my cooking. I didn’t take it away completely because I need it. We all do. I still wash the beans from a tin to remove all those salty preservatives. More so after watching a celebrity chef on tv throwing the beans plus + the horrible goo into his dish = yuck! But salt in sweet things…*mm…let me think*…is not a good idea with chocolate. I just don’t like it, and I prefer to use herbs and spices, and pepper of course to season savoury stuff. I am no chef I know that. I’m a simple home cook and people are partial to different kinds of food – I know that too. But the fact that we should go slowly with the salt mill is well-known. Nothing new here. I won’t go into any health issues – we’re getting that everywhere and a lot lately and frankly you know the drill. I just want less salt in my sweets. Where can I get a decent saltless bar of chocolate? I wonder if that’s a lot to ask.

Rob x

Note: For a good guide for salt take a look at http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/treatments/healthy_living/nutrition/healthy_salt.shtml