Queen of Puddings

Queen of Puddings | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

This recipe is from my prized, and now complete, collection of Nigella Lawson books, and it’s soooo English. I had never made or eaten anything like this before, and I was skeptical. Thankfully, it turned out great as I was serving it to guests. We all enjoyed it, and I hope you will, too.

Queen of Puddings consists of a layer of breadcrumbs soaked in custard, a layer of your favorite jam, and a layer of fluffy meringue. If you’re like me, you might think it’s weird to dry out brioche, then blitz it to crumbs, then soak it in an egg and milk mixture. How can that be good? I’m not sure how this magic works, but I assure you, it’s awesome.

You’ll also want to be sure to use a flavor of jam that you really like. I experimented with this particular version and used black currant jam, and it wasn’t as good, in my opinion, as the raspberry version. Use what you love.

If anyone knows how Queen of Puddings got it’s name, I’d love to hear about it. We tried to look it up and couldn’t find a satisfactory answer. I promise, you’ll feel very English eating this pudding, and in my book, that’s pretty awesome.

Recipe from At My Table by Nigella Lawson.

Victoria Sandwich Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Victoria Sandwich Cake

Victoria Sandwich Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Let’s talk again about how I definitely shouldn’t be on The Great British Bake Off. The very first technical challenge of this show’s slightly awkward first season was to make a Victoria Sandwich Cake. This is two layers of sponge with raspberry jam in the middle. This is truly a recipe that any respectable British baker should be able to handle relatively well, so they were looking for utter perfection.

They gave them ingredients but no method. Not sure if they had measurements or not. If they did, this should have been a no brainer. Of course, I’m not an actual Bake Off contestant, so I used the actual Victoria Sandwich recipe from the companion cookbook from this season of Bake Off. It’s about as simple as you’d think. If you’re new to baking, this cake is a great place to start.

Victoria Sandwich Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Of course, the dramatic debate in the tent is whether to use the creaming method or all-in-one. I’m team creaming all the way, which sounds gross if you’re not a baker. If you want your cake to be lighter than air, air is exactly what you need, so let your butter and sugar mix together for a good five minutes until it’s pale and fluffy.

Another fatal error I saw some people make on the show was to continually open the oven door to check if their cake was done. Step away from that door handle, friends. Every time you open that door, the oven temperature drops, and you’ll end up with a sad and sunken cake. Trust your nose. When you start to smell the cake, you’ll know it’s nearly there.

They didn’t even have to make their own jam for this first technical. In later seasons, they sometimes have to make four different components from scratch, so I’m not looking forward to that. Use your favorite jam. I went with a raspberry vanilla jam I picked up from a fancy gourmet market in Clitheroe that was made in my husband’s hometown. It was delightful. I like a little more jam than is probably traditional, but this cake doesn’t have much else going on in the flavor department, so I like to pile it on a bit.

Victoria Sandwich Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Paul and Mary could probably find something bad to say about my cake, most like that its a bit wonky, but I’m perfectly satisfied with the way it turned out. I wish I could say I shared this with friends, but Geoff and I ate this all by ourselves. It was awesome.

Victoria Sandwich Cake

Yield

6-8 servings

p

20 minutes

Baking time

20-25 minutes

Difficulty

Easy

Ingredients

  • 175 grams unsalted butter, softened
  • 175 grams caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 175 grams self-rising flour
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 4-5 tablespoons raspberry jam
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Butter two 20.5 cm round cake tins, and line the base with baking parchment.
  • Add butter and sugar to a large mixing bowl, and beat with an electric mixer one medium high for 3-5 minutes until pale and fluffy.
  • In a bowl, lightly beat your eggs along with the vanilla. Turn your mixer down to low and gradually beat the egg mixture into the butter and sugar. Scrape down the side of the bowl, and give it one more mix to make sure everything’s evenly combined.
  • Turn your mixture onto its lowest setting and gradually add in the flour, followed by the milk. Use a rubber spatula to give the batter one last mix to make sure all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
  • Divide your mixture between the two cake tins. You can use a kitchen scale to make sure you have divided it evenly. Doesn’t have to be gram for gram, but relatively close.
  • Bake your cake layers for 20-25 minutes or until the cake springs back when gently pressed. Once removed, allow the cake to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then run a butter knife around the edge of the pan and turn your cake layers out onto a wire rack. Remove the baking parchment and allow the cake to cool completely.
  • Once cooled, move one layer to its final destination and spread the raspberry jam evenly on top. Place your second layer on top, dust with powdered sugar, slice and serve.

Recipe slightly adapted from The Great British Book of Baking by Linda Collister

Chicken & Ham Pie | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Chicken and Ham Pie

Chicken & Ham Pie | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

We’ve had a dog for seven months now. Everybody said I would fall in love with her immediately, but by the end of the first week, she had eaten my diary, and a cookbook, shattered the glass in our living room door, and peed on the rug where I do my yoga. We did not hit it off early.

Since then, her behavior has improved, but she still can’t be trusted to be left alone within reach of our food. Once I spent a half our slicing cheese for an epic cheese board. Turns out I didn’t latch the kitchen door all the way. By the time I realized it was entirely too quiet in the living room, about a third of the cheese was gone. 

Chicken & Ham Pie | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

The first time I made this Chicken and Ham Pie, we left the leftovers out on the counter to cool down a bit before stashing them in the fridge. Who left the kitchen door open? We’ll never know, but Eevee, naturally, did not fail to notice and took advantage of this opportunity to eat about half of the remaining pie. My complete disappointment at the lack of leftovers confirmed how much I really liked this pie. It’s unusual for me to love a recipe that’s loaded with vegetables and doesn’t have any cheese, but this Chicken and Ham Pie was crave worthy, so I had to make it again for you.

This is definitely a weekend dinner project. Nothing is complicated, but there are a few different elements, and the prep work is a little time consuming. I used store-bought shortcrust pastry to make things a little more simple, but if you want to really go all out, you could make your own. 

Chicken & Ham Pie | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

This Chicken and Ham Pie will be closely guarded from marauding dogs. It’s just too good to share. But even though she’s mischievous sometimes, I think we’ll let the dog stay. I have to admit, she’s sorta awesome.

Chicken & Ham Pie
Serves 4
This Chicken & Ham Pie is so good, you won't want to share it with anyone.
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped small
  2. 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  3. 1 stalk celery, chopped small
  4. 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  5. 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
  6. Salt and pepper
  7. 850 ml chicken stock
  8. 50 grams butter
  9. 3 green onions, thinly sliced from the bottom up to the point where the green leaves split off
  10. 50 grams flour
  11. 300 ml whole milk
  12. 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  13. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  14. 150 grams thinly sliced ham, chopped
  15. 500 gram pack shortcrust pastry
  16. 1 egg, beaten
Instructions
  1. Chop your carrot, potatoes, celery, and chicken and add it to a large pot. Add half your fresh thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken stock and place your pot over high heat to bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Place a colander over a large bowl, and drain your chicken and veg mixture, reserving the stock. Set the chicken and veg aside, and strain the stock into a large measuring cup. You'll need 600 ml, so either top up with water, or discard any excess.
  3. To the pot you were just cooking in, melt your butter over medium heat. Add the green onions and cook for a few minutes until tender.
  4. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and onions, and stir to combine. Cook for a minute or so until it starts to smell nutty.
  5. Slowly whisk your reserved chicken stock into your flour mixture a little at a time, making sure the mixture is lump-free before adding more. Add your milk, bring the mixture up to a simmer, and cook for two minutes.
  6. Remove the sauce from the heat, and stir in the lemon juice, remaining thyme, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add your chopped ham, and your reserved chicken and veg to a pie plate or casserole and give it a little toss to mix it together. Pour your sauce over this. Mine went right up to the top of the pie pan.
  8. Allow this mixture to cool ever so slightly while you preheat your oven to 200C or 400F.
  9. When your oven is hot, unroll your pastry, and give it a light roll to make sure it will cover your pie pan. Cut a few thin strips off the end your your pastry, and press them around the edge of your pie pan. Use a pastry brush to brush a layer of your beaten egg onto the strips of pastry, then lay the rest of your pastry over your pie. Trim the edges, and press them into the rim of your pie plate to seal. Brush the top of the pastry with the beaten egg, and cut a few slits into the pastry to vent steam.
  10. Bake your pie for 25 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
  11. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Adapted from BBC Good Food
Adapted from BBC Good Food
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/

10 Totally Awesome Sandwiches

10 Totally Awesome Sandwiches

10 Totally Awesome Sandwiches

August is National Sandwich Month, and as someone who is desperately in love with bread, I’m all for this. Here are 10 totally awesome sandwiches for you to sink your teeth into.

Feed a bunch of hungry faces all at once with these Mini Ham and Cheese Sandwiches. Little is awesome.

The British will put just about anything on a sandwich. Don’t believe me? Check out Things British People Put Between Two Slices of Bread.

Everybody loves a grilled cheese. Make it fancy with a Fig Jam & Smoked Gouda Grilled Cheese.

Perfect for parking yourself in the living room on game day, Cheesy Meatball Sliders are completely outrageous.

Maybe I’ll eat a vegetable if it’s in a gooey grilled cheese. Try this Calzone Grilled Cheese

Have a Bacon Egg Salad Sandwich because bacon, duh.

A Cholesterol Sandwich is life.

Apple and cheddar is a classic combination. Bring them together in an Apple Butter & Sharp Cheddar Grilled Cheese.

I love a sandwich at breakfast, especially when it’s as indulgent as this Pumpkin Butter Dark Chocolate Stuffed French Toast.

I might eat glass if it had Buffalo sauce on it. This Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese is much better than that.

What’s your favorite sandwich?

Cornish Pasties | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Cornish Pasties

Cornish Pasties | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Hey, kids! I’m home from the hospital, but I still haven’t been on my feet for more than like 20 minutes at a time, so we let Geoff into the kitchen today to make your Cornish Pasties. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to walk around for like a half hour without needing a nap.

And before anybody goes freakin’ out, I just had another spontaneous pneumothorax which led to a week in the hospital with a chest tube, but no surgery, so that’s great. I had the same condition about 20 years ago, so I wasn’t that worried. I was mainly annoyed that it ruined my long weekend. This weekend doesn’t seem to be going much better. But I’m home and getting healthier, so that’s pretty awesome.

You know what’s not awesome? Hospital food, except for the pudding cups. Also, getting woken up every 30 minutes with blood pressure checks and IV flushes. Being tethered to a four foot tube coming out of your chest also isn’t my favorite.

Staying in the hospital sucks, but I have to say that everybody there did everything they could to make me healthy and as happy as can reasonably be expected. From doctors to nurses to transport, everyone I met was friendly and helpful. And in case you didn’t know, I also have a sueprhero for a husband. I mean, he even made you guys Cornish Pasties today.

Cornish Pasties | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Cornish Pasties are sort of like a giant empanada or and English version of a calzone. It’s basically a pie dough rolled out, filled with meat and veg, and baked until the center is juicy and the crusty is brown and flaky. I think coal miners used to take these to work for lunch, so you know they’ll fill you up. You can change up the filling to suit your tastes. You can also top them with some gravy to make them extra awesome.

Cornish Pasties | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Take care of yourselves and take care of each other. Say I love you with Cornish Pasties and be awesome.

Cornish Pasty
Serves 4
Juicy meat and veg wrapped in a flaky pastry crust make these Cornish Pasties super awesome!
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Pasty
  1. 450g plain flour
  2. 2tsp baking powder
  3. 1 tsp salt
  4. 125g unsalted butter
  5. 2 egg yolks
  6. 125ml cold water
Pasty filling
  1. 450g potato (finely diced)
  2. 100g carrots (finely diced)
  3. 150g onion (finely diced)
  4. 400g ground beef
  5. Salt and black pepper
  6. 1 tbsp plain flour
  7. 40g butter
  8. 1 egg (beaten)
For the pasty
  1. Put the flour, baking powder, salt, butter and egg yolks into the food processor. Give it a buzz until thoroughly mixed. Slowly add the water and continue mixing until the dough forms. Wrap the dough in saran wrap and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Split the dough into 4 peices and roll out into 9 inch circles.
For the filling
  1. Add the veggies to your food processor. Season them with salt and pepper to taste and mix for a few seconds. The bigger you want your veggie chunks, the shorter the time in the processor.
  2. Mix the flour into the ground beef and add the mixture into the food processor. Buzz for a few seconds, until the veggies and beef are thoroughly mixed.
  3. Add the mixture to one half of each dough circle and fold the other half over, forming a "D-shaped" pasty.
  4. Crimp over the edges to seal, cut a "steam hole" in the top and wash the whole pasty with your beaten egg.
  5. Place onto a baking sheet and into the oven for 50 minutes.
  6. Wait 4 or 5 minutes to cool, then devour!
Top tip
  1. Serve with mashed potatoes and gravy for best results!
Adapted from The Hairy Bikers' The Peoples' Cornish Pasty
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/
 



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