Hot Cross Bread and Butter Pudding

Hot Cross Bread and Butter Pudding. This is a really easy way for you to make bread and butter pudding. You don’t need any extra dried fruit just what’s in the hot cross buns and some of our fantastic local dairy produce.

Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One ha’ penny, two ha’ penny,
Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons
One ha’ penny,
Two ha’ penny,
Hot Cross Buns!

First published in the “Christmas Box” London, 1798

Hot Cross Buns

You probably sang the nursery rhyme as a child, but the origins of the hot cross bun go back as far as the fourteenth century. Traditionally made from enriched bread dough with raisins or currants and mixed peel. You eat them on Good Friday to mark the end of the fasting for Lent. The piped cross signifies the crucifixion. The cinnamon and nutmeg are thought to represent the spices used to embalm Jesus’s body.

Sweet spiced buns were first probably associated with Easter when given to the poor. By Elizabethan times the sale of sweet buns was limited by law. Their sale was restricted to funerals, Christmas time and the Friday before Easter. There is a long tradition of eating spiced fruit ‘ Arval ’ bread or cake at funerals or the following feast. The feast marked the death was free from any suspicious circumstances and the legal transferal of goods and possessions.

There are lots of superstitions about hot cross buns baked on Good Friday. They are said to cure illness and if hung in a kitchen prevent your house from burning down. They will also ward any evil spirits. If you sail, then a hot cross bun taken on a sea voyage protects against a shipwreck. While I cannot promise any of these things, I can offer you a very simple and tasty recipe should you have a few too many hot cross buns to spare.

Hot Cross Bread and Butter Pudding
If you wish you can add a handful of extra dried fruit to your pudding, raisins, currants, and sultanas.

Perfect Boiled Eggs – My Weekend Top Tip

Weekend Top Tip – Perfect boiled eggs. Spring is here. I can tell be the hail bashing against the kitchen window. As a family, we are all getting very excited about the arrival of the Easter Bunny and some delicious Easter Eggs. Our weekends, however, normally start with another type of egg. Honeysuckle calls them Dippy Dippy eggs or soft boiled eggs with lots of soldiers. In fact, next weekend the girls will be collecting fresh eggs every morning, at Lower Campscott Farm.

Some lovely freshly laid eggs ready to make perfect boiled eggs

Get the best Eggs

If you are not lucky enough to be collecting your own free-range organic egg down on the farm you can search out a supplier of fresh eggs on your doorstep. I promise you will not be disappointed and you will see the difference in your cooking and baking. Your cakes will be lighter and your poached eggs hold together better when you use fresh eggs. And most important is the delicious taste.

Here in Jersey, we use eggs from Happy Hens, based in Grouville, owned by
Allan McCaffrey. They keep around 8,000 hens that produce up to 6,000 eggs per day. The hens are kept in mobile houses. This allows them access to the surrounding fields, and they can come and go as they please. As Jersey has no predators such as foxes to threaten them the hens don’t have to be shut in at night like in the UK.

Happy Hens is situated next to the Jersey Oyster Company and has a ready supply of shells which are crushed and spread out for the birds to scratch in and forage. This is something hens do naturally, as grit is essential for their digestive systems. It also provides an additional source of calcium to help poultry to have strong bones and healthy feathers. Happy Hens sell all their eggs locally in the supermarkets, smaller shops and in farm shops. Restaurants and hotels can also purchase eggs by the tray. Usually, the eggs are delivered within 24 hours of laying.

How to cook perfect Boiled Eggs

Half fill a medium sized pan with water, enough to generously cover your eggs, and bring to a simmer. Carefully lower the eggs into the gently boiling water with a spoon and start your timer. For a soft-boiled egg, with the white just set cook for four minutes. Cook for a further minute if you like your eggs a little firmer and for the egg for this recipe cook for six minutes.

The Perfect Boiled Egg?

If you prefer your eggs hard-boiled, start them in cold water and bring up to the boil. Once the eggs are simmering set the timer for ten minutes. When your eggs are cooked to your personal preference, remove from the heat and quickly plunge into a sink full of cold water for one minute. This will arrest the cooking process. Crack the egg shells with the back of a spoon and carefully peel. They will still be very warm.

The Food Bloggers Breakfast and my home baked Granola

The Food Bloggers Breakfast ?

The Food Bloggers Breakfast

The food bloggers breakfast must be a thing of wonder. Cold soaked oats, Manuka honey, and exotic berries topped off with superfoods smoothie packed with vitamins. Alas as a working dad heading off on the school run it’s lucky to be a piece of toast with too much butter* and some homemade jam. Now there is nothing wrong at all with toast and at the weekend it is a great start to your day. Sourdough with some smoked salmon and creamy scrambled eggs or with crushed avocado, eggs poached or boiled and a little chilli kick.

The Food Bloggers Breakfast Aims

Now I will be honest my breakfast aims do tend to aim towards a sky-high pile of bacon, well a full fry up to be honest or a tower of pancakes. I do however like porridge made with milk ( sorry true Scots ) with a little brown sugar sprinkled on top and another favourite made from oats, home baked granola. Granola is a very popular breakfast cereal made from the aforementioned oats with oil and honey or sugar.

So, if you ’ve not already noticed a theme not particularly healthy but very tasty. Factory manufactured granola can be quite expensive and yet it is so very easy to make at home. It is delicious mixed with dried fruits and nuts such as flaked almonds, apricots, raisins, and sultanas or eaten with creamy, natural yoghurt, sliced banana and sprinkled with blueberries.

Home Baked Granola

A bit about Home baked Granola

Granola was invented and trademarked in America by a contemporary of John Harvey Kellogg as a baked breakfast cereal at a similar time to muesli, which is also made from oats although neither sweetened or cooked. With the addition of nuts and dried fruits, granola is often marketed as a ‘healthy option’ however it does contain a lot of sugar. Granola or pressed granola bars ( similar to Flapjack ) are a good source of energy and is often carried by long-distance hikers. Granola can also be used in making and garnishing desserts such as my recipe for Cranachan or served with iced lemon parfait and lemon curd.

*I love butter that much we are almost having a relationship.

Oats are gluten free but can cause a similar reaction and may be processed in factories that process wheat and barley.
American pancakes

The Best Fluffy American-style Pancakes

American pancakes
Fluffy American style Pancakes

Fluffy American style pancakes or griddlecakes are often served for breakfast across the North American continent piled up in towers dripping with maple syrup. This is how I first encountered them sat at the counter in a diner on the West coast. They were served with a side of crispy grilled streaky bacon the size of a small hill and enough coffee to float a cruise liner. The waitress wore a red and white gingham apron and I felt as if I had walked on to a movie set.

Ok so it’s not the actual diner!

American pancakes are made from a light batter cooked on a flat top, griddle plate or in a heavy-bottomed frying pan. The batter is made with flour, eggs, a raising agent and milk, buttermilk or yoghurt and have a moist open texture. Scotch pancakes or drop scones are made with a similar but sweeter thicker batter so are similar in appearance but smaller with a heavier texture. Scotch pancakes are made to be slathered in salty butter.

Now at home, the girls all love crepes, so if I make griddlecakes or drop scones, I would have to eat the whole stack and it would have to be with bacon. If you prefer yours just sweet, as a dessert, you can serve them with nuts, fruits like bananas, blueberries and apples with cinnamon, honey, cream, ice cream, and chocolate sauce, just like pancakes. However you like your American pancakes, savoury or sweet, enjoy.

American style Pancakes
A stack of American Pancakes
Allow 3 pancakes per person unless I’m coming then make a double batch, please.
My Kung Pao Chicken

Chinese New Year and Kung Pao Chicken

Chinese New Year and Kung Pao Chicken.  Today we welcome in the Chinese New Year 2019 the year of the pig. This year to celebrate I have made a trio of Sichuan inspired dishes. A vegetarian Mapo tofu, spicy Sichuan Salt and Pepper Prawns and today’s recipe the classic Kung Pao Chicken. Now you should beware many western versions of this lack the serious dual hit of fiery red chilli and the mouth tingling Sichuan pepper. In fact Sichuan peppers were banned from America for quite sometime? The US version is often just a variant of General Tso’s Chicken with carrots, onions and bell peppers in a sweet and sour sauce. You will find Western versions are often much tamer than the authentic dish.

Why is it called Kung Pao Chicken?

Kung Pao chicken (  宫保鸡丁 ) is believed to be named after a Governor of Sichuan province who held the official title ‘ Gongbao ‘ or palace guardian. I’m sure you have seen the similarity already. Because of this Imperial connection it was renamed during the famous Cultural Revolution. The new name was the rather less catchy ‘ fast fried chicken cubes ‘. It’s more famous name was restored in the nineteen eighties.

Authentic Kung Pao Chicken

You make real thing from stir-fried soy marinated chicken, leeks and raw peanuts. Your flavour comes from Sichuan peppercorns and red chillies. They are first heated in hot oil with perhaps some ginger and garlic. Then you serve the finished dish with simply steamed rice.

Sichuan Pepper
Sichuan pepper

Happy Chinese New Year

If you find my Sichuan recipes a little too fierce remember you can always reduce the amount of Sichuan peppercorns and / or red chillies. If you you like something less spicy altogether why not try some of my other Chinese recipes over the celebrations? Classic roast Char sui Pork, my version of sweet and sour Cantonese Pork, and the perfect bowl of rice. Or what about delicious Beef in Black Bean and Garlic sauce and slow-braised Lamb with Ginger. Whatever you choose I wish you a prosperous Chinese New Year. Watch out it won’t be long before I post another recipe from one of my favourite cuisines.

My Kung Pao Chicken
My Kung Pao Chicken
You can exchange the thighs with chicken breast if you prefer just cook a little less.

Spicy Sichuan Salt and Pepper Prawns

My spicy Sichuan salt and pepper king prawns are the type of recipe I just love to eat and share. So it had to be the next recipe in this year’s celebration of the upcoming Chinese New Year. Be prepared, however, even though they have a spicy kick they are very addictive. The prawns are quickly deep-fried in the lightest coating then seasoned with my blend of salt, chilli, and pungent Sichuan pepper. If you like salt and pepper squid, you can substitute thinly sliced Calamari as an alternative. The result is mouth watering and delicious. Enjoy

Sichuan Cuisine

This spicy salt blend is typical Sichuan Chinese cuisine. Sichuan cooking typically uses lots of strong flavours such as chilli bean paste, chilli oil, and Sichuan peppercorns. Authentic Sichuan salt is obtained from local springs and does not contain iodine, but I use sea salt as an alternative and there is no major difference in taste. Sichuan dishes are often very hot, and the peppercorns produce a slight tingling sensation on the lips.

Spicy Sichuan Salt and Pepper Mix

You will find this mix is great as a rub for seasoning pork or chicken, like chicken wings, and can be used as a dry dip as well as with seafood like king prawns or calamari. If you don’t want to deep fry your prawns, you can stir fry them in their shells in a wok and add the Sichuan salt and pepper mix a couple of minutes before serving.

60 gram Sea Salt

10 gram Sichuan Pepper

5 gram dried Chilli Flakes

3 gram ground Star Anise

Heat the Sichuan peppercorns and sea salt in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-low heat, until the salt starts to turn grey. Toss the pan occasionally to stop the peppercorns from burning. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool. Grind the mixture in a pestle and mortar with the chilli flakes and Star anise. Store in a dry air-tight container and use as required.

Sichuan Prawns
Sichuan Salt and Pepper King Prawns
For this recipe you will need King prawns with the head on, that have had the shells removed and been deveined. You can get these from good fish-mongers or large supermarkets.