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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

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Five-spice baked ribs, by Lorraine Pascale

My first savoury dish on this blog! My mum and I saw this being prepared on Lorraine Pascale’s tv show Home cooking made easy and I thought it would be nice to make because I like ribs but I don’t like to order them in restaurants because they are very messy and I end up with my face and hands covered in sauce, which is not a good look, so I thought that it would be good to make them myself and get messy in the privacy of my own home. Of course, the French seem determined to stop me from making anything properly and pretended not to know what pork ribs were. Even when I pointed at my ribs and said “these, but from a pig” the butcher I was talking to still said over and over again “that doesn’t exist”. Despite this discouraging conversation my mum went back the next day and bought a side of pork, which the butcher said he couldn’t cut up! Seriously??? Anyway, I cut it up with a meat cleaver into ribs sized chunks and voila! Maybe I should go back and show the butcher how to do it.

This is a really nice meal that isn’t too spicy, is very tasty and it’s good fun to make.

Ingredients

For the rub

  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • few whole Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp five-spice peppercorns
  • salt

For the ribs

  • 1kg/2lb 4oz pork spare ribs
  • ½ bunch spring onions, trimmed, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the honey glaze

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • few squidges honey
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
  • 150ml/5fl oz soy sauce
  • 1lime, zest only
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds (optional, although I love them!)
  • 1-2 red chillies, deseeded, finely sliced

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Line a large baking tray or roasting tin with aluminium foil.
  2. For the rub, crush the star anise, fennel seeds and Sichuan peppercorns in a pestle and mortar. Then add the five-spice powder and some salt and mix together to combine.
  3. Put the ribs into a bowl, sprinkle over the rub mixture and rub everything in. Tip the ribs onto the baking tray and spread them out in a single layer.
  4. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients for the honey glaze in a small pan. Warm over a low heat until the honey is melted and all the ingredients are well combined.
  6. Remove the ribs from the oven, brush generously with the honey glaze, then sprinkle with the spring onions and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Set the rest of the honey glaze aside for later.)
  7. Return the ribs to the oven and cook for a further 15 minutes.
  8. Once the ribs are cooked, remove them from the oven and tip them onto a large plate. Reheat the remaining honey glaze and serve as a dipping sauce with the ribs and a large green salad.

Meggy x