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Toffee caramel popcorn, by Lorraine Pascale

Me and my boyfriend (well me) decided to do a Disney night where we would watch our favourite Disney films. Unfortunately we couldn’t find all of them, the attic is a dark and scary place, so we made do with the ones that were within our reach: Snow White, Lady and the Tramp (one of my favourites), Fantasia (my boyfriend’s favourite, I was alright for the first 30 mins until I looked at the back of the DVD and saw how long the entire thing was) and Beauty and the Beast. What goes better with films than popcorn? I stumbled upon this recipe when I was flicking through Lorraine Pascale’s “Home cooking made easy” recipe book and thought it sounded fun and simple, which it is.

This is toffee caramel flavoured popcorn! YUMMY! Unfortunately we couldn’t fit it all in but you can store it for 2 days so we made it last.

Ingredients

1 tbsp sunflower oil

100 g popcorn kernels

100 g soft light brown sugar

100 g butter

150 g maple/golden syrup

Recipe

1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium high heat then add the popcorn kernels and give the pan a shake to coat in the oil.

2. Put the lid on and every 20 seconds or so shake the pan, when you hear the first pop shake more often. Turn the heat down when the strangely fun popping begins and enjoy yourself by watching the mini firework display (if you have a see-through lid of course). Keep shaking it every so often until only a few pops can be heard, take it off the heat and leave to stand for a minute or so, then take off the lid and leave the popcorn to cool.

3. While the popcorn is cooling, heat the butter, maple/golden syrup and sugar in a small pan over a low heat. Simmer for 2 –  3 minutes, stirring from time to time. Take the pan off the heat when the mixture is syrupy and smooth.

4. Pour half of the sauce over the popcorn, mix it around with a couple of wooden spoons until the popcorn is covered and then pour the remaining half in, again mixing it all around until the popcorn is covered.

5. Let the popcorn cool right down before you eat it, otherwise things will get seriously sticky.

6. If, like me, you didn’t manage to finish it all you can put it in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Meggy x

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My cooking Christmas

What a lovely Christmas I’ve had! My grandparents are here and my mum and dad’s Christmas dinner was absolutely wonderful, as always! I didn’t want to try my hand at the Christmas dinner for fear of messing it up, maybe next year!

Guess what I got for Christmas then… 3 recipe books!!! Yes I’m going to be very busy this year! I got Kitchen by Nigella Lawson, How to be a domestic goddess by Nigella Lawson (finally I have some of my heroine’s cook books!) and Home cooking made easy by Lorraine Pascale.

You may be surprised that the first recipe I did was a Lorraine Pascale one and not Nigella, well, after promising my grandma that I’d make her something she spotted “Caramelised banana bread and butter pudding with toasted pecan nuts” in Lorraine’s recipe book and said how much she loved it so I said I’d make it for her! My dad is very sceptical about Lorraine Pascale because he says that somebody that young can’t cook well enough to have their own TV show, but as I pointed out he’s already had her Five spice baked ribs and I didn’t hear him complain about that! He’s also doesn’t like her because she was a model and then suddenly changed career paths and became a chef, he’s just upset his life isn’t that glamorous, but that’s just dad being dad. This was my chance to prove to him that Lorraine is a good cook so I concentrated very hard on the recipe to get it right…

I definitely proved him wrong! The bread and butter pudding was so gorgeous! Everybody loved it! So I am going to share it with you!

Caramelised banana bread and butter pudding with toasted pecans

Ingredients

75 g butter, at room temperature

1 medium loaf of crusty white bread, cut into 8-10 slices about 2cm thick

400ml double cream (I managed to substitute this with “creme epais” which is still a feeble replacement for double cream but better than nothing)

300 ml creme fraiche

75g soft light brown sugar, plus 25g extra for sprinkling

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Seeds from 1 vanilla pod/vanilla extract

1 tsp of ground cinnamon

4 eggs

2 bananas, peeled and cut into 1cm slices

100g pecan nuts (I used brazil nuts which were yummy yummy!)

4-litre capacity baking dish, about 25 x 30cm

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. Grease the ovenproof dish with some of the butter.

2. Using the remaining butter, butter the bread slices on one side and, them in half diagonally and arrange them any way you like in the prepared baking dish.

3. Put the cream, creme fraiche, the 75g sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, cinnamon and eggs in a large jug and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and well mixed.

4. Now put the banana slices and pecans between the slices of bread, with a few landing on top. Pour the liquid over the bread and allow it to soak through for a few seconds, then use the back of a spoon to squidge everything down into the liquid. Finally scatter the remaining sugar over the top. Bake the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the mixture has just set and looks nicely caramelised.

5. Serve at once. This is delicious with a little more fresh cream poured over it.

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Meggy x