Month: June 2013

Retro Food For Modern Times – The Best Bread and Butter Pudding Ever

Winter finally hit Melbourne this week…it’s been zero degrees or very close to it for a number of mornings now. That’s cold!!!!  So, given I hate winter why am I so damn happy?  Because this weather is perfect for making one of my favourite retro foods – bread and butter pudding.

Best Ever Bread and Butter Pudding
Best Ever Bread and Butter Pudding

Mind you, even though it has been crazy cold, look at my pictures of Sunday morning.  Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eye. Who could be miserable on a day like this?

Winter Morning
Sunday Morning
Frosty Morning
Frost on the Grass

Another thing that will never make you miserable is this totally awesome Bread and Butter Pudding.  I mean it, this baby ROCKED!  It was perfect for this cold weather; retro comfort food at its most glorious!

So, what makes a truly great bread and butter pudding?  I put it down to the three B’s…

Lets start with the bread.  Bread and butter purists would tell you to use plain white bread. Remember last post I said that we don’t subscribe to minimalist notions here at Retro Food For Modern Times? Well that goes double for Bread and Bread Pudding.  I like to use a fruit loaf or a sweet bread like a brioche. I have also been known to use a chocolate chip hot cross bun.  Or an Almond Croissant.  Basically, I like my bread to come loaded with deliciousness before I even start!

In this instance, I had a panettone sitting in my pantry.  I’m going to make a confession here.  I have no idea where it came from. That’s the weird thing about panettone.  I can’t recall ever buying one.  Or being given one.  And yet, from time to time they appear.  Maybe my house is haunted by an Italian Grandmother who whips them up whilst I’m at work.  If so, she also does a nifty line in packing and packaging!  This was also a gluten free version so ghost nonna, if she exists, seems to be fairly on trend.

Butter.  Please use proper butter.  Not that other abomination.

Booze – I drenched the dried fruit in Pimms and left it to soak in overnight. And made an amazing whiskey caramel sauce to go with the pudding

The base recipe for this calls for sultanas.  I had some dried fruit medley left over from when I make the Plum Wonderful so I used that.

Bread and Butter Pudding
Bread and Butter Pudding

The recipe I used as a base called for Apricot Jam.  I’d previously made a chunky Apricot Spread by boiling down some dried apricots in apple juice so I used this instead.

Apricot Spread
Apricot Spread

On it’s own, the pudding was kind of  fabulous, but what sent it into the realm of super-awesome was the whiskey caramel sauce.  This was all sorts of delicious and brought some toasty, almost coffee-like flavours into the mix.  Honey and whiskey is truly a match made in heaven and I had the remnants of a lavender honey from another recipe which just added another layer of tasty goodness.

Bread and Butter Pudding
Bread and Butter Pudding

Please, please, please make this.  You will not be disappointed.  Or if you are…you probably did something wrong – not that there’s a whole lot that could do wrong with this – it’s also super easy to make!

Bread & Butter Pudding Recipe

Whiskey Caramel Sauce RecipeApricot Spread Recipe

I’m going to be spending my week enjoying the glorious sunshine despite the icy temperatures!

Enjoy your week, whatever you do.

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Let’s See How Far We’ve Come – Cheesy Meaty Goodness On a Stick – 1970’s vs 2010’s

My favorite thing to eat is finger food.  And it doesn’t have to be fancy – I’m just as happy with a mini-quiche or a party pie as with a teeny Peking duck pancake or a tempura prawn on a stick with a wasabi mayo.

If I was ever going to open a restaurant, all it would serve would be tiny bites.  And champagne.  Cocktails of course.  But the entire menu would be finger food.  It would be a cocktail party restaurant.  Anyone wishing to fund this establishment…you know where to find me.

Finger food has been on my mind recently as I have been drooling over the contents of Lydia France’s Party Bites which is like setting a child loose in a sweet shop – I want that one!  And that one!  And I REALLY want that one!

Party Bites

I was also not the only one who thought this book was looked delicious.  Oscar’s been suffering from a little bit of separation anxiety since I have gone back to work and I came home one day to find the book, which I had left on the couch was not exactly how I had left it….

No so much dog eared....
No so much dog eared….

I then had to go fess up to the library – the upside of which, after exchange of some financial compensation, the book, albeit slightly chewed now belongs to me!

There is a recipe in Party Bites which is a modern take on the old retro favourite of a cube of cheese on a stick with a bit of something.  This is often to be had with pineapple in the fabulously kitschy Cheese and Pineapple Hedgehog:

Pineapple and Cheese Hedgehog

Then there is the equally retro but less whimsical Aussie Staple of kabana and cheese….

Kabana and Cheese
Kabana And Cheese

No Australian barbeque of the 1970’s or 80’s would have been complete without a tray of this.  Often,  the kabana and cheese was topped with  chunk of pineapple, a gaudily coloured cocktail onion or, if you were really classy, a stuffed olive.

The idea is actually sound.  Who doesn’t love a meaty cheesy snack?  And if topped with something sweet or sour or salty…well, so much the better.  We here at Retro Food For Modern Times are not subscribers to the minimalist maxim that less is more.  We believe that more is more.  With a cherry on top!

The main problems with kabana and cheese is that kabana is kind of gross and although this combination might be tasty, it is drop dead boring. So, how do you give the ubiquitous kabana and cheese a modern twist whilst still retaining some of the kookiness of the cheese and pineapple hedgehog?  Hello Lydia France’s Spanish Men…or should that be Hola los hombres españoles!

Here’s Lydia’s Version:

Spanish Men - Lydia France
Spanish Men – Lydia France

And here are mine…my Spanish men look a little drunk and definitely more chunkier.  I think my Spanish men may have been hitting the Rioja a little too hard….

Spanish Men - olives, quince paste, serrano ham and manchego cheese
My Spanish Men

Spanish Men Recipe

For all their wonkiness, I loved them.  These were sooooo good!  Serrano ham, where have you been all my life?  If you weren’t so damn expensive I would be feasting on you non-stop.

The salty olive, the sweet quince paste, the meaty deliciousness of the serrano and the creaminess of the cheese combine to create a little piece of heaven on a stick!

Spanish Men I love you!

Mario Casas

And you’re not bad either Mario Casas…

I’m going to be spending my week checking out Spanish cinema.  Enjoy your week whatever you do!

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Retro Food For Modern Times – Never Mind Eating For Beauty, This Week is All About the Love!

So last time we left off, I had been eating for love and beauty for 4 days and loving it.

However, through the week, I began to see a certain theme running through my dishes…

Day 5

I made two recipes from Eating for Love and Beauty.

The first was a delicious Egg Curry. 

Egg Curry
Egg Curry

This was very tasty, spicy and quick to make.  I will definitely make this again.  Also, I didn’t have fenugreek because…well who has?  However, I noticed my Garam Masala contained fenugreek, cumin and coriander so I used that in lieu of all individual spices.

Egg Curry
Egg Curry

I think we all know eggs are a symbol of fertility…I had my egg curry with a Rice Exotica – Saffron & Lime Casserole.
Rice Exotica huh?  I think the Swami might be getting a bit saucy!

Rice Exotica
Rice Exotica

Sadly, the Rice Exotica, was the least sexy dish of the week.  Probably because in my first mouthful of it, I bit directly into a clove which spoiled entire dish for me  Yes, it was my fault and I should have been more careful when I was counting them as I fished them out but still, not good.  I was also not happy with the texture and I only par boiled my rice initially!  I like my rice light and fluffy and this was a bit too mushy and stuck together for me.  I dread to think what it might have been like had I cooked it all the way through the first time as per the recipe.

If I was going to make the rice again, which is unlikely, I would probably not cook it at all before bunging it in the oven with the nuts and spices.  Hmmm…maybe I will try it that way.  Sans the cloves!

Next up was an Eggplant Dish….and lo and behold, the internet tells me that eggplants are a symbol of abundance or fertility, passion and devotion.  See what I mean about a theme beginning to develop?

Day 6 – Eggplant Gourmet

This was AWESOME!…

Earthy eggplant, sweet, sour..all sorts of deliciousness rolled into the one dish.  The flavours reminded me very much of a Sri Lankan Eggplant dish that sometimes contains cashew nuts…and maybe dates?

(Dear mother given you have started to chime in on here, maybe you could offer some insight into the constituents of an eggplant moju???)

Either way, I had some cashews left over from the Rice Exotica  so I dropped them in for extra flavour and crunch. I’m definitely making this again….

I also ate it more as a side dish than as a main.  It’s also pretty good cold on crackers or some tzatziki on pita bread.

Eggplant Gourmet
Eggplant Gourmet

Eggplant Gourmet Recipe

Day 6 – Lovers Dandelion Salad

If you’ve read my earlier post…(here)…you know I have a bit of a penchant for a bit of foraging.  So the Swami’s Lover’s Dandelion Salad was as good a reason as any to go comb the local environment for some dandelion leaves which, luckily, were plentiful.

I loved this salad.  There is something about bitter greens that makes me feel incredibly virtuous and just oozy with health! Again, I had no fenugreek sprouts so I just used a sprout combo.  I was becoming curious about why the Swami used fenugreek in so many dishes so I did a bit o’ research and hello…fenugreek is sometimes used to cure erectile dysfunction.

When the Swami wants you to eat for love, she doesn’t muck about!

She also says this salad is good for those suffering from mental or sexual debility.  I ate mine for lunch a the office and it kind of worked.  It certainly gave me a mental boost for the afternoon!

Lover's Dandelion Salad
Lovers Dandelion Salad

Lovers Dandelion Salad 0

Day 7 – 21 Essences of Kama Sutra

I followed the Lovers Dandelion Salad with the 21 Essences of Kama Sutra Salad although I guess I only had 19 Essences as I subbed a yellow pepper for the red and green peppers and could not find soy sprouts for love or money.  Then again, I used my handy sprout combo per the last recipe so maybe I had more than 21 Essences of Kama Sutra!   The Swami offers no comment on what the 21 Essences of Kama Sutra is good for.  I think she’s letting the name speak for itself.

21 Essences of Karma Sutra
21 Essences of Kama Sutra

This was also a very nice salad, although if I made this again, I wouldn’t bother with the Lotus Nuts. In the first pack I bought there were two dead moths.  That made me gag and I had to throw them out.  The second lot of lotus nuts was, thankfully, mothless but also largely tasteless.

I read on the internet Lotus Nuts are good for irritability.  Well guess what?  After the moths, and having to make two trips to the Asian food store to buy them, then finding they taste of sweet F.A. I guess they are.  I was certainly a lot more irritable after all that palaver than I was before I started!

And quelle surprise, also apparently good for impotence!

1 21 Essences Of  Kama Sutra

Day 8

It’s Plum Wonderful

I ended my week with the Swami’s recipe for an uncooked  Plum Pudding which is basically dried fruit held together with jello.    It’s really tasty, and has all the flavours of a plum pudding but is fruitier and not so heavy.  It would be a perfect alternative to a heavy pudding, particularly here when it is warm at Christmas.

Plum Wonderful 2
Plum Wonderful 2
Plum Wonderful 3
Plum Wonderful 3

Plum Wonderful Recipe

I recently read that a good maxim to use when trying to moderate your alcohol intake is to abstain one day a week, one week a month, one month a year.

It doesn’t work for me alcoholwise as I am aiming for far more than one AFD a week but it’s certainly a philosophy I can embrace when it comes to adopting the principles behind Eating For Love and Beauty.

That book, which also had a whole host of other good advice was:

Dangerous Women

Apart from the moths and the failure of the Rice Exotica, Eating For Love and Beauty has been fun and I feel really healthy.  It is winter here now and whilst people around me have been dropping like flies with all sorts of horrible lurgies, I  have never felt haler or heartier!

I really want to go to the Swami’s retreat now….

I’m going spend my week trying to find a yoga class I can do at lunchtime so I can exercise for health and beauty as well as eat for it. Enjoy your week whatever you do!

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Retro Food For Modern Times – 7 Days Of Eating For Love And Beauty… Part 1

I figured after the alcoholic debauchery of the last post, it was time for some restraint and a bit of  detoxification.  So, I spent the last week eating for Love and Beauty.  Not exclusively mind you but at least one dish per day…and, it was pretty good.  Actually, it was better than that – I felt great!  I was full of energy, more alert, I was focussed, I steamed through tasks at work, I lost about a kilo in weight, my skin looked great, a cute boy held a door open and winked at me…seriously this shit worked!  Imagine if I lived like this…I’d be invincible!

So, this is how the week went down.

Day 1 – Balinese Rice

I know this dish better as a Gado Gado and it is delicious.  Mind you, peanut sauce is a bit like bacon…or cheese for me….you could drizzle it over a stick and I would not only eat it but ask for seconds…

I chose to keep my vegies and rice separate because I liked the way it looked on the plate, but you could choose to mix them as suggested by the Swami.

The colours in this are so pretty and fresh as well!

Balinese Rice with Peanut Sauce
Balinese Rice with Peanut Sauce

Balinese Rice Recipe

Day 2 – Vitality Bread
I baked bread!

No wait…

I.  BAKED.   BREAD.

You have no idea how happy this made me.  It looked like bread, it tasted like bread, the entire house was filled with the delicious aroma of freshly baked..happy days!

Vitality bread
Vitality Bread

You also have no idea how my heart sank when Mark said  “Wow, this bread is great, you can bake a loaf every week.”  That won’t be happening anytime in the foreseeable, but I will bake more bread…I really want to do a walnut loaf.  But not every week. Life’s too short and yeast is a temperamental little fucker.

Vitality Bread 2
Vitality Bread 2

In the interests of full disclosure, there were two failed attempts before the loaf of success.

Here is how not to go wrong baking bread.

When they say mix the yeast with warm water…don’t use boiling.  Yeast doesn’t like heat.

When they say leave for one and a half hours, don’t think “Well overnight will be even better” and go off to bed.  Particularly, in winter.  Yeast also doesn’t like cold.

See what I mean? Yeast.  It’s the Goldilocks of food.

Vitality Bread & Butter
Vitality Bread & Butter

Vitality Bread Recipe

Day 3 – Chive Relish Sauce

Chive Relish Sauce
Chive Relish Sauce

I’m not sure what the original recipe for this would be like…minus any pictures from Eating for Love and Beauty, I didn’t really have a guide.  Mine turned out like an Egg Salad.  It tasted great with the Vitality Bread so I’m not complaining  but I suspect it might have been meant to be a bit more mayonnaise-ish.

Chives Relish Sauce

Excuse the plastic wrap, I took this to work for lunch and took the picture at my desk whilst eating on the fly!

Chive Relish Sauce with Vitality Bread
Chive Relish Sauce with Vitality Bread

Day 4 – Lover’s Blush

It’s Rhubarb, fool!

Maiden's Blush - A Rhubarb Fool
Maiden’s Blush – A Rhubarb Fool

So much for my (bad) Mr T.  impersonation…this is super delicious!

Mind you, in my mind, rhubarb belongs in the Pantheon of Foods That Can Do No Wrong (Bacon, Cheese, Peanut Sauce…) so there was more than likely not going to be a downside with this recipe.  I did substitute some Amaretti’s for the wheaten biscuits though and added some orange zest for extra zing!

This was just lovely  – tangy, sweet, creamy…and (relatively) healthy.  And just look at that gorgeous colour!

Lover's Blush

I’m going to be spending the week doing more eating for Love and Beauty, I have some salads, an eggplant dish and another (jello) dessert! on the menu.  In my spare time I’ll be planning how to use my newly bestowed Eating for Love and Beauty super powers to take over the world, for good, not evil.  Enjoy your week whatever you do!

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BOOK REVIEW: Dr. Linda Harper’s “Give”

Hi there, I am baking bread for the first time in my life today, and as I have a little break whilst waiting for my dough to rise, I thought I would share this.
A few weeks ago, the good folks at Book Hub put out a call for people wanting free books…who doesn’t was my response! Free books? That’s even better than free booze! You don’t get those nasty hangovers if you read a bit too much! The book I selected was Give by Linda R. Harper Ph.D. I really enjoyed the book and I wrote a little review for Book Hub which they posted on their blog the other day. Here is it, and if you read the book, I hope you find it as interesting and thought-provoking as I did!

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