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.

Brie En Croute | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Brie En Croute

Brie En Croute | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I want to do versus what I should do. There are a lot of work stresses that can’t be avoided. I need the paycheck, so there’s nothing I can do about it. But in the rest of my life, I want to stop putting unnecessary pressure on myself. I want to feel relaxed and happy. I wonder if I can set aside my need to be perfect and productive and just let myself do what feels good. 

I mean, eventually I’ll have to clean the bathroom and do the laundry, but there are things I tell myself that I need to do that can probably just be set aside until I’m in the mood and it feels right. But there’s also a part of me that feels ridiculous just typing these words. Relaxed and happy? That’s for lazy people. What’s the right way to go? I’m asking for a friend. 

Brie En Croute | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I can tell you that what I almost always want to eat is cheese wrapped in carbs. Brie En Croute is where it’s at. Butter, flaky puff pastry wrapped around gooey brie filled with something slightly sweet and something crunchy. It’s pretty much pure heaven.

A recipe is not necessary here. Get yourself a wheel of brie and some store-bought puff pastry. Check your puff pastry package for the recommended oven setting. Place your brie in the middle of your pastry, dig around in your fridge for some fancy jam, or not so fancy but not super sweet, then go to  your pantry and grab some nuts. Pile these up on top of your cheese. 

Next, fold the pastry over your cheese and make sure it’s sealed up completely, not like mine in the photo. Brush it with a beaten egg and bake for about 20 minutes or until your pastry is puffed and golden. Serve it warm and gooey with some crackers.

Brie En Croute | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I know what I need, and I know what I want. Here’s to finding balance and eating more cheese.

Picnic Cheese Plate | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Picnic Cheese Plate

Picnic Cheese Plate | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Monday is Memorial Day, and I know this will sound completely cliche, but I can’t even handle it. How can summer be here already? Wasn’t it just Spring Break like five minutes ago? I think I’ve been working too much. 

Now that summer is unofficially almost here, that means we get to start eating all of our food outside. Picnics and cookouts and barbecues and beach parties and more dining al fresco than you even knew was possible. I’m so ready. Truth be told, we do that all the time in Hawaii, but I’m ready for everybody else to join in. It’s time to get yourself a cute new hat, kids. We’re going outside.

Picnic Cheese Plate | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

There’s no recipe today, per se, but I have something just as awesome! Cheese!!! Constructing a cheese plate can get really expensive. My initial plan was to try to make one for $20 or less, but sadly, I failed. We may have snuck in under the radar if we had left out Geoff’s bacon cheddar spread, but we love him, so we’ll let it slide. I think if I didn’t live in the middle of the ocean where a bag of grapes costs $9, I could really make it happen. Here are a few tips for making an awesome Picnic Cheese Plate.

  • My first tip for creating a low cost cheese plate is to raid your fridge. I frequently will buy a certain type of cheese for a recipe, but not use all of it up. Put out your remnants for snacking at your next picnic. I used a creamy Havarti for this cheese plate. And don’t forget to check your half empty jam jars. One of them will likely work nicely with a small wedge of brie or other double cream cheese.
  • Skip the expensive fancy meats like proscuitto and embrace summer sausage. I picked up a small turkey summer sausage which had way less calories than the beef version, and it was only $4. 
  • I pretty much only eat grapes if they’re on a cheese plate. Hopefully you live in a place where you can pick some up for cheap.
  • Go with the cheap crackers. If you’re trying to save money, you want the cheese to be the star of the show anyway, so direct your money to Ritz or Town House Crackers. They’re buttery and awesome, but also neutral and cheap.
  • If it were up to me, I would have swapped out that bacon cheddar spread for an herbed goat cheese, but the right cheeses for your plate are just the cheeses you love. Think about having different textures and flavor profiles. Take your time at the cheese case to find the cheaper versions of the cheeses you love, or buy a smaller portion. 
  • Finally, if you’re going to be taking your cheese outside, I recommend pre-slicing as much as you can. I arranged the sausage and Havarti on the board before we left the house, wrapped it all tightly in plastic wrap, and stored it in the fridge until we were ready to go. I’d also recommend pre-cutting your grape vine into smaller stems so you can easily fill up empty spaces on your board once you’ve added the crackers, jam, and other cheeses.

Picnic Cheese Plate | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Those were a lot of words about cheese. I just need you to know that you don’t need to be a bajillionaire to serve a perfectly lovely cheese plate at your next get together. You’ll be able to find plenty of stuff within your price range. And you don’t have to do any cooking, so you can take it easy and hang out at your own party. And you also get to eat cheese. Awesome!

Jam Tarts from Awesome on 20

Jam Tarts

Jam Tarts from Awesome on 20

Being an immigrant is challenging. It’s exciting and terrifying and wonderful and annoying all at the same time. You get to expand your mind, see things from a new perspective, and have experiences you didn’t even know existed. If you ever get the chance to live in a foreign country, you should definitely take it. It will change your life.

But there are also difficult days. No matter how open-minded you try to be, you’ll likely have days where you wish everybody else could just do things your way for once. You miss little things about home that you didn’t ever stop to appreciate before. Sometimes everything can be so completely unfamiliar it hurts. All you want is to get out of Wonderland and go back to the real world.

Jam Tarts from Awesome on 20

Luckily, I’m back in my home country now. The most exotic expression of my country, but it’s still home. My husband, though, is still an immigrant. I know some days he still feels like he’s gone down the rabbit hole. I’m always looking for little ways to remind him of home. Hopefully, these jam tarts are as good as the ones his mom used to make.

Jam tarts are actually just cookies baked in a muffin tin and filled with your favorite jam. No doubt the ones the queen eats are a bit more elaborate, but this is how Geoff first made them for me. Of course, I fell in love with them instantly. If you’ve never tried them before, I think you will, too. What’s not to love? I made mine with red currant jam, an English favorite, and lilikoi jelly, a Hawaiian staple. Use what you love. Or whatever you have in the back of your fridge. It will all be awesome.

Jam Tarts from Awesome on 20

No matter where you find yourself on this planet, make yourself some jam tarts. Fill them with exotic flavors, or a classic taste of home. Share them with friends from far and near.

Jam Tarts
Yields 18
An English classic that feels like home, these jam filled cookies will make everyone happy.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
14 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
14 min
Ingredients
  1. 140 grams (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temprature
  2. 100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 260 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  6. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  7. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  8. 1/2 cup of your favorite jam or jelly
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar on medium high for about three minutes or until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With your mixer on low, add the dry ingredients slowly until just combined. Do not overmix.
  4. I like to squeeze the dough together right in the bowl, but you can also turn it out onto a lightly floured surface to knead it together briefly. You just want to squish everything together. Form your dough into a disk, wrap it in some plastic wrap, and chill it in the fridge for at least an hour.
  5. Preheat your oven to 400 and get out your muffin pans. No need to spray or line them.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough to about a half inch thickness. I worked with only half the dough at a time because my kitchen is quite warm. Cut out two inch circles, then put the circles of dough into the palm of your hand, and press them out a bit thinner. Place each circle of dough into a cup of your muffin pan.
  7. Fill each tart with a heaping tablespoon of your favorite jam or jelly.
  8. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until lightly brown around the edges. Allow to cool in the pan. Do not try to eat these when they're too warm. Hot jelly will burn the crap out of your mouth.
  9. Make a cup of tea, close your eyes, and pretend you're in England.
Adapted from Joy of Baking
Adapted from Joy of Baking
How to be Awesome on $20 a day http://awesomeon20.com/



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