Monthly Archives: February 2011


It is worth making Hollandaise yourself from time to time, if only to remember how sinful it is. My arteries are hardening as I type, but I feel very little guilt, so probably just the espresso talking.

I don’t think I can add much to the recipes given by Delia, Pomiane or Nigel, but it is useful to illustrate how it fits into the rest of the proceedings, essentially an exercise in multitasking. (Quantities for sauce make enough to serve 2, maybe 3.)

Time Sauce Steak Frites
00:00 3 tbsp white wine vinegar, six black peppercorns lightly crushed, 1 tbsp finely chopped onion and a bay leaf into a small saucepan on a low heat to reduce. Rub the steak in olive oil, roll in black pepper, and leave at room temperature. Get the oven going. My frites need 180ºC.
00:02 Get another small saucepan, half fill with water, and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, chop up 150g unsalted butter into half inch cubes, put somewhere near the oven or stove to soften up.
00:03 Hardly any liquid in the vinegar saucepan, but give it a swirl from time to time.
00:04 Separate two eggs, and put the yolks into a glass bowl, which you’re going to put on top of the saucepan with the water in it. Put the fries in the oven.
00:05 Once the water has boiled, reduce temp to the merest simmer.
00:06 Place glass bowl with yolks on top of simmering water, add the strained contents of the other saucepan (should only be a tbsp left) and start whisking, slowly, gently, continuously, adding the butter a few pieces at a time. If the butter melts really quickly, remove bowl from water, and keep whisking, add more butter, and only return to heat when new butter stops melting. If you’re using a cast iron griddle to do your steak, now would be a good time to put it on a low heat to warm up.
00:10 Once all butter is incorporated, keep whisking. Test the temperature with your little finger, if you can comfortably leave your finger in the sauce it’s too cold, if there’s pain, it’s too hot.
00:12 The sauce will start to thicken. Turn the heat off, and keep whisking.
00:13 Keep whisking. Slap the steak in the pan.
00:15 Keep whisking. Turn the steak and salt. Check the frites. If they’re done, pop them onto some kitchen towelling to drain.
00:17 Keep whisking. Turn the steak again.
00:18 Keep whisking. And again.
00:19 And serve. And serve. And serve.

A green salad if you must.


Individual Bread and Butter Pudding

Like chocolate fondant, bread and butter pudding is something that can be whipped up from things likely to be lurking in the kitchen. If you’re only doing dinner for two, it’s easier to do in individual ramekins.

(For reference, my ramekins are 4cm deep, and 150mL in capacity.)

For each person you will need:

  • one egg
  • 20g caster sugar (maybe a touch more if you have a sweet tooth)
  • a teaspoon of marmalade
  • 60mL milk (i.e. egg:milk ratio is 1:1)
  • approximately two slices of white bread, a day or two old, crusts cut off
  • butter

The best way to do this is to place the slices of bread upright in the ramekins, and curled around into a spiral. So, cut the slices of bread into strips whose width is about one centimetre less than the internal height of your ramekins.

Generously butter all the strips of bread on one side, and put marmalade on half of them. We only want a hint of orange, so go easy on the marmalade. Place the butter-only strips, buttered side out, around the edge of the ramekins, and then roll up the marmaladed strips and pop them in the middle. We want to pack the ramekins reasonably tightly.

Lightly whisk the eggs, milk and sugar together, and pour over each ramekin. Start by pouring in enough to cover the bread, that is, come up to a centimetre short of the rims. At this point, you’ll have plenty of egg/milk mixture left over, but don’t worry, just pop it to one side.

Let the ramekins sit for at least half an hour at room temperature, for the egg/milk mix to soak into the bread.

Get the oven going at 180ºC, and pop a baking sheet in the middle to warm up.

After half an hour, you’ll see that the liquid level in the ramekins has dropped, as it has been absorbed, so now top up with the rest of the mix.

Once the oven has reached the desired temperature, put the ramekins on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. The bread will puff up alarmingly, and the custard will seethe, but shouldn’t escape. Retrieve once the tops are nicely browned.

You could:

  • just use the egg yolk, maybe more than one per person, for a richer texture
  • add a smidgeon of nutmeg or cinnamon
  • add a teaspoon of currants and/or peel
  • add a teaspoon of mincemeat if it’s Christmas and you have some handy
  • do it with torn up pieces of brioche (idea pinched from Martin Dibben)
  • maybe add a small amount of chocolate
  • Ed reckons blueberries or cranberries are good

Chocolate Fondant

Felicity Cloake has done it again, as part of her marvellous How to Make the Perfect… series.

I’ve been sleeping badly (due to a mild chest infection – inconvenient rather than life threatening) and there was a spare egg going to waste, and one thing led to another…

Just follow her very reasonable instructions.

I used a fan-forced oven, so cautiously set the temperature to 180ºC, and the necessary rising and pulling away from the edge of the ramekin took place at 14 minutes, instead of 12.

Best with ice cream, I think.

Maternal Gingerbread

Courtesy of Mother Dearest, origins lost in the mists of time. The recipe I’ve been given is mainly by volume. I’ve faithfully measured out the quantities using metric cups (250mL) but weighing the results just to make sure. To remove any doubt the teaspoon is also metric; five millilitres.

  • ½ cup caster sugar (100g)
  • ½ cup black treacle (160g)
  • ½ cup butter (110g – you don’t need to wrestle butter into a cup measure!)
  • 1 level teasp bicarb soda dissolved in a small quantity of hot water
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1½ cups plain flour (180g)
  • pinch salt
  • 1 level tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp of ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp of ground cinnamon
  • a solitary clove, crushed
  • ½ cup milk soured with ½ tsp vinegar

Arteries ready?

  1. Melt the sugar, butter and treacle in large saucepan. Stir gently until sugar dissolved but do not boil.
  2. Remove from heat, pour into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add dissolved soda and stir. Yes, it will get very frisky at this point. That’s why I said a large mixing bowl.
  4. Allow to cool for around half an hour.
  5. Mix in the beaten egg, and the salt and spices.
  6. Add flour alternately with the milk. Make sure each consignment of milk is stirred in well before adding next addition of flour or unappetising lumps will ensue. It should be a sort of thick claggy pouring consistency.
  7. Pour into a greased and lined loaf tin. It will probably go less than a quarter of the way up the side but you will need the other three.
  8. Bake in moderate oven (180ºC, or about 160ºC in a fan-forced) for about fifty minutes. Cover with paper or foil if it begins to brown too early. A metal skewer will come out clean if it’s done.

Suitable for freezing although it keeps well – the bacteria aren’t game to go near all that sugar. Wrap in foil and keep somewhere dark. It’s good served either hot or cold, and even better with some cream.