Nana’s Queen of Puddings Recipe

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“People don’t realize how easy they have it these days. Most kids have never known what it’s like to go without anything. They want something, they get it. If there isn’t enough money, they charge it. We never wanted anything because we never realized we could have anything. We never missed what we never had. Things were much simpler back then, and we were stronger for it. We worked together to keep the house in order, to put food on the table. We kept things going.”
~ Clara Cannucciari, Clara’s Kitchen: Wisdom, Memories, and Recipes from the Great Depression

 

My Nana grew up during the Depression. Her father was a bank manager. When it all fell apart and he lost his job and their family home, they all moved back in with Nana’s grandparents. This pudding became their household staple for special occasions. It was fancy enough to serve when guests came for dinner, or at a birthday meal, and you could make it from staples found in your pantry. A good and economical twist on traditional bread-and-butter pudding, Queen of Puddings is topped with a luscious layer of meringue.

My beautiful Nana would often whip us up one of these puddings when we went to stay with her overnight. I think I liked the name of this dish as much as the pudding itself. Queen of Puddings does sound rather impressive, don’t you think?

It is easy to make, and is delicious hot or cold. Serve with ice-cream or cream for something a little special.

I often make it when neighbours pop in for dinner, or if I am feeding a crew of hungry workers.

The images in this blog post are for a double batch of pudding, just so you know 🙂 .

And here’s my beautiful Nana, who lives on in my kitchen through her recipes. I still miss her so much, but I feel her around me often.

nana-pa-ron

 

Ingredients:

4 large stale croissants (or 4 to 6 slices of stale white bread – crusts removed), butter, strawberry jam, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 2 eggs – separated, 300 ml milk, 2 tablespoons castor sugar, optional handful of sultanas and optional extra spoonful of sugar, extra butter to grease dish

Method:

Slice croissants in half lengthways (like you were opening one out to make a sandwich), spread thinly with butter and then with jam.

Layer the croissants into a deep buttered dish, and then sprinkle with a handful of sultanas if you wish.

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Place another layer of croissants on top, jam side up.

Whisk the milk and egg yolk together and add the vanilla. If you like, you can add a little sugar to the custard. It depends on how sweet you like your puddings.

Pour the egg mixture over the croissants and let them soak it up for ten minutes or so. Press down once or twice with a fork or the back of a spoon to make sure that all the dry pieces become moist.

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2016-04-01 15.49.38Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Bake the pudding for 40 minutes or until risen and golden.

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Beat the remaining sugar and egg white into a meringue. Spread over the hot pudding and then return to the oven for ten to fifteen minutes or until golden and a little crispy on top.

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Serve on its own or with a little cream, yoghurt or icecream.

Easy, yummy and filling. Thanks, Nana!

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Blueberry Coconut Pots with Chocolate Sauce and Toasted Almonds

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 “Life is too short for self-hatred and celery sticks.” ~  Marilyn Wann

 

I held an impromptu dinner for friends last night. Roast lamb with baked pumpkin and garden vegetables, and then for dessert these little pots of joy. The pots of joy idea arose from me looking in the pantry and wondering what I could whip up in five minutes flat that would be yummy and reasonably healthy.

This dessert ticks the boxes if you are following a high fat low carb diet, and it can be made gluten-free using dark Lindt chocolate. If you are dairy free substitute coconut cream any time I mention dairy cream! Want to be completely sugar-free? Use stevia or natvia instead of maple syrup. Use a 70% chocolate or above for your chocolate sauce.

On the bottom of each pot is a firm coconut and maple syrup jelly. The jelly is then topped with fresh blueberries, a warm chocolate sauce, a drizzle of thick fresh cream, and some toasted almonds. Result? Happiness in your mouth.

These pots are stupidly easy to make. Here’s how to create some of that happiness for yourself…

Ingredients to serve 4:

1 x 270ml can of coconut milk (I love Ayam brand!) 2 x heaped teaspoons of gelatin powder, 2 x tablespoons of maple syrup, pinch of salt, 1 x cup of fresh blueberries, 2 tablespoons of warm chocolate sauce per person (that’s 8! – you can use a good commercial brand or simply combine 2/3 good chocolate and 1/3 fresh cream over low heat and stir until combined and smooth), 4 tablespoons of cream, 4 tablespoons of toasted almonds.

Method:

Place the contents of the can of coconut cream in a bowl. Then 1/2 fill the tin with boiling water and add the gelatin powder. Stir well until combined and then pour over coconut milk. Add the salt and maple syrup, stir well and pour into 4 small ramekins or teacups. Refrigerate for two hours or until set.

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To Assemble:

Toast your almonds in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring constantly so they don’t burn. This will take just a few minutes. Pour onto a plate to cool.

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Make or warm your chocolate sauce. Don’t make it boiling hot. You should still be able to comfortably stick your finger in it. (Yum!) Too hot and it will melt your jelly!

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Divide the blueberries between the pots.

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Pour a couple of tablespoons of warm chocolate sauce over the blueberries.

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Now drizzle some fresh cream.

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Top with toasted almonds.

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Share with friends!

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Mango and Fig Meringue Nests Recipe

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“Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.” ~ Mother Teresa

This is a VERY easy dessert. Just a little chopping and stirring, but the results are pleasing and the flavours elevate it to a whole other level.

There is usually a packet of little meringue nests in my pantry. It’s amazing how many yummy desserts you can whip up with them in a culinary emergency, like yesterday…

I had a wretched Valentine’s Day on my last day of this round of horror Lyme drugs and spent most of the day in bed, but with the help of a friend I still managed to make dessert for what ended up being a ‘romantic’ backyard candle-lit dinner: just me, Ben, our neighbour Sheryl who’d come to help Ben with some farm work, our three dogs, and all the cows who came and stuck their heads over the fence.

Apparently if you light candles and put a flower behind your ear it’s classed as ‘romantic’. If only I’d known that years ago…

And the moo-ing cows really added to the elegant atmosphere. As you can see from the picture below we all got very dressed up!

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Anyway, dessert! We were gifted a few juicy mangoes from a neighbour, and I had two fresh figs and a couple of passionfruit from our own farm. Add  a little white chocolate, and a honey and cardamom infused cream and suddenly we have dessert magic.

Ingredients:

4 pre-prepared meringue nests, 1 large ripe mango (or 2 small), 2 passionfruit, 1 large or 2 small ripe figs, 1/4 cup chopped white chocolate, 150ml thickened cream, 1 teaspoon sweet sherry or vermouth, 1 scant teaspoon cardamon powder, 1 dessertspoon of honey

Method:

Chop the mango flesh and fresh figs and place in a bowl. Stir through the passionfruit pulp and then add the white chocolate chunks.

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Pu the cream, cardamom, sherry and honey in a small bowl and whisk together. (You could beat it until whipped and thick, but really, that’s a whole lot of unnecessary effort.)

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To serve, place the meringue nests on a plate and spoon in the fruit topping. Drizzle some of the honey cream over the top. Garnish with a sprig of mint if you so desire.

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In honour of Valentine’s Day we also made some naff little hearts from chocolate and strawberry fondant icing pens to adorn our plates too – that’s how fancy we are! 🙂  I swear this entire dessert took less than five minutes to make and assemble.

As we sat in the backyard eating dinner (food!!!) Bert was his usual devoted self. What a wonderful dog.2014-02-14 19.13.10 HDR

And Harry was fixated on my every mouthful me just because he loves me! Luckily they both had a Valentine’s Bone to munch on too.2014-02-14 19.16.40 HDRI’m so glad I made the effort to get out of bed for a few hours. Happiness is sharing time and food with the people (and dogs, and cows…) that you love.

Lots of love to you too, Nicole xx

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Nana’s Gingernut Log Recipe

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A grandmother is a little bit parent,
a little bit teacher,
and a little bit best friend.
~ Unknown

I have been blessed to have grown up, and grown older, with two amazing women as my grandmothers. Now both of them are gone, although I feel them around me often, and I frequently draw on their wisdom and the things they taught me.

Marga, my mother’s mum, was the doyenne of style in our family. A stay-at-home mother and grandmother from a good family, we often referred to her home as ‘the Palace’. As a cook she was adventurous, passionate and into World Food long before exploring cuisine from other countries came into vogue. She was an amazing cook, and from that old-school tradition of elegant tables, dressing for dinner, candles and music.

Joycey or ‘Nana’, my dad’s mum was an entirely different grandmother.  She worked for much of her life, travelled extensively and was into plain home-style cooking.

Marga would serve an exotic Chicken Marengo, and Almond Torte with Praline and Coffee Cream, accompanied by Flamenco music.  Nana would cook Apricot Chicken and Apple Crumble with store-bought ice-cream, served up to the six o’clock news.

So who did I turn to for inspiration last weekend at the farm, when my husband announced that he’d invited friends to ‘pop round for dinner’?

It was Sunday morning when he mentioned it, and I was feeling less than my best. Dinner needed to be easy, and made from what I had in the cupboard. I managed lamb chops, home-made coleslaw and sweet potato mash for a main, but I was racking my head for a dessert.  Until I spied a lonely packet of gingernut biscuits at the back of the pantry. It inspired me to make Nana’s Gingernut Roll.  It was one of her ‘fancy’ recipes, that she taught me when I was about twelve. It’s easy enough for kids to master, but it’s a recipe that is enjoyed by everyone.  Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients:

1 x 300ml bottle of cream (just over a cup), 1 x tablespoon of honey,  1 x packet of gingernut biscuits (ginger snaps for my American friends), 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice and 1/2 cup of sweet sherry (if making alcohol free use 1 cup of orange juice!)

Method:

There’s no cooking here – it’s a dessert that you assemble!

Firstly find a serving plate long enough to accommodate your packet of biscuits and then some.

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Whip your cream, adding in the tablespoon of honey.  When it is nice and thick, use a little to make a strip down the centre of your your serving plate.  This will help anchor your biscuits.

Pour your orange juice and sherry into a wide shallow bowl.  Working methodically, drop a biscuit into the bowl and allow it to soak for a moment or two. Fish it out, and drop the next biscuit in to soak as you smear a spoonful of cream on the first biscuit and place it in position at the edge of your cream strip.

2013-03-10 10.32.31Now keep going! Dunk, spread and stick in place.  *Repeat*…

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When you’re done, cover the entire assemblage in the remaining cream, smooth off and refrigerate for several hours so that the biscuits can soften and the flavours will amalgamate.

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To serve the log you can dress it up with some shaved chocolate or toasted almonds, but I went for decadence and topped it off with home-made slightly salty caramel sauce. Yum!  Oh, and I suppose I should give you that recipe too…

Easy Caramel Sauce:

3/4 cup butter, 1 and 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar, 2 x tablespoons water, 1 x teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 to 1 cup of cream.

Put the sugar, water and butter in a saucepan over low heat and dissolve all together, stirring constantly.  Then raise the heat and bubble away for three to five minutes to reduce the sauce a little.  Please do stir during this time so it doesn’t catch on the bottom!

Take off the heat and add in the half cup of cream, stirring constantly. This sauce will thicken more upon cooling, so check your consistency.  Do you want it runnier?  If so, add more cream.  Finally give it a good grind of salt.  Or not, if you don’t like the whole salted caramel thing.

This sauce is magic over ice-cream, poached pears or just about anything else you can imagine.

Cool the sauce to luke-warm before pouring some over your gingernut roll or you will melt all your whipped cream.  If you wanted to be totally over the top you could add grated chocolate, toasted nuts or crushed up praline on top of the caramel sauce. As you can see, I didn’t quite go to that extreme.

Serve with a good ice-cream or on its own.

Hint: I know this is a simple offering, but boy is it good.  Just remember to dunk your biscuits long enough that they are properly moistened so you don’t get hard lumps of dry biscuit in your dessert!

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Bread and Butter Pudding Recipe

In a recent post My ‘One Lovely Blog’ Award, I confessed that one of the fascinating facts about me is that I can make a meal out of nothing. Well, almost nothing.

That talent came in handy last night when friends dropped by unexpectedly, at dinner time. Of course I invited them to stay. It’s never much trouble to extend a meal, and I managed to make our curry go a bit further by adding in some extra vegetables (sorry, we ate it all before I thought about taking photos!), but I was initially a little stumped about what to serve up for dessert.

There’s not much in the cupboard. Ice-cream on its own seemed a bit ‘pov’, but luckily I had some delicious sourdough fruit bread, eggs and milk.  Solution? Bread and butter pudding!

This pudding is one of the first desserts I mastered on my own, ably taught by my Nana when I was a small girl.  It’s a very child-friendly dish for little hands eager to help out with dinner. This is easy and fast to make, and you can use whatever ingredients you have in the pantry. The lemon zest in this recipe gives the pudding a lovely citrus-y tang.

Meyer Lemons from the tree in our backyard

Yummy bread from the local farmers markets

Ingredients:

4 eggs, 2 and 1/2 cups milk, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla (Sound familiar? Yes, it’s the basis to my Easy Baked Custard Recipe!) zest of one lemon, 6 to 8 slices of fruit bread (you might need more if it’s a small loaf or if you have a big baking dish and a crowd to feed) or use plain bread and a handful of sultanas, dried apricots or mixed dried fruit (Did I mention to use whatever bread or fruit you have in the cupboard?), butter, jam or marmalade of your choice.  I had Apricot Jam in the pantry, so that’s what I used.

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C (moderate or 355F) or slightly less if it is fan forced.

Grease a baking dish large enough to hold your bread slices and the custard mixture (a six to eight cup capacity should do it).  Butter the bread slices, add a thin layer of jam and cut into halves or thirds. Place into bowl so that the slices overlap. If you are using a plain bread, sprinkle some of the the fruit between the layers of bread but don’t put any on the top of the pudding as it will burn.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla, ensuring that sugar has dissolved.  Pour gently over bread.  Wiggle the slices a little to ensure that the egg mixture has gone right to the bottom of the dish.  Then let it stand for 30 minutes so that the bread absorbs the liquid.  This will give your pudding a nice lift.

Bake for thirty minutes or until the top has risen and is golden and nicely firm. (If it feels really wobbly in the centre give it another five to ten minutes.) Don’t panic if it sinks again after it’s been out of the oven for a bit – it shall still taste delicious.  Serve with ice-cream, custard or cream.  Heavenly.  It’s also yummy cold if you manage to salvage any as left-overs. (We didn’t…) Enjoy!

Home-made fresh Orange Jelly Recipe

This is a delicious old-fashioned jelly recipe that is firm enough to be used for a molded dessert. It’s quick to prepare and after you’ve tried it I’m sure you’ll prefer it to packet jellies. It can be easily modified to suit diabetics by using a sweetener instead of sugar, and is gluten and dairy free. If the oranges are very sweet you may not even need to use sugar, or may like to use a dash of stevia, natvia, agave syrup or honey instead if you are on a sugar-free and sweetener-free diet. (I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners but I’m suggesting it here for those of you who use them for yourself or loved ones.)

Vegetarians and vegans can substitute an equal amount of agar agar powder for the gelatine.

Ingredients: Four oranges, plus one or two extra if you would like to have orange segments suspended within your jelly. 4 tablespoons gelatin, 175ml (1/2 cup) of water, 175ml (1/2 cup) hot water, up to 4 tablespoons of castor sugar OR a sweetener of your choice.

Method:

Pare the rind from the four oranges OR zest them if you like a textured jelly. Place the rind/zest in a saucepan with the half cup of room temperature water. Simmer for five minutes to transfer the orange oils into the liquid.  If you chose to use rind parings remove them now.

Now juice the four oranges, remove the seeds and add to the water in the saucepan. Test for sweetness and add sugar or sweetener to taste.

In the half cup of hot water dissolve the gelatin, letting it sit for a minute or so until all lumps have gone.  A fork works well for stirring this!  Add the gelatin mix into the saucepan of liquid and stir through.

If you would like to add orange segments to your jelly ( a delicious textural addition and well worth the little bit of extra effort), use your additional oranges for this. The youtube clip below shows the easiest way to do this. If you are going to present your jelly in a bowl you could keep some of these segments for decorating the top of your jelly after it has set.

Make sure you have removed any seeds/pips from the segments before you add them to your jelly. Don’t add any extra juice though – just the flesh.

*At this stage you may like to add a dash of Cointreau or Grand Marnier for a tasty adult dessert. Up to a tablespoon works fine.

Lastly, pour the jelly into a serving bowl or a wetted mold. (If you wet the mold first it helps the jelly come out easily later).  I was recently given this funky silicone brain mold, and had been looking for a reason to try it out, hence the brain shaped jelly at the top of the page!

Cool in the refrigerator for four hours or until firm.  This jelly sets much firmer than a conventional packet jelly. You could actually slice it to serve if you wished.  It goes well with a good vanilla icecream, or you could whip a little cream and toast some almond flakes for a fancy finish.

I actually served this jelly with coconut milk yoghurt, for people who can’t eat dairy. Coconut cream would be another good choice. It makes an excellent flavour combination. Enjoy!