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I Heart Cooking Clubs: Nigella’s Caramel Croissant Pudding

A double batch of Caramel Croissant Pudding

This week’s theme at   I Heart Cooking Clubs   is Resolutions.

One of my Culinary Resolutions is to be more thrifty!

Nigella believes that some of the best recipes come from the thrifty refusal to throw anything away.  This dish is best when made with croissants that are a few days old.  You know, the ones you might have thrown away, because really what can you do with 2 stale croissants?   CARAMEL CROISSANT PUDDING … thats what!

All ready to make Caramel Croissant Pudding.

Ingredients

  • 2 stale croissants  (I would use 3 large croissants.)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream   (Room temperature a must!)
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon   (I used Frangelico Liqueur)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk   (Room temperature a must!)
  • 2 eggs, beaten    (Room temperature is best.)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Tear the croissants into bite size pieces and put in a small 2 cup capacity baking dish.  Nigella used an oval cast iron pan.   (I made a double batch and used a quart size Rachael Ray baking dish … hope Nigella is ok with that!)

Put the sugar and water into your saucepan.  Swirl around to help dissolve the sugar before putting the saucepan on the stove over medium to high heat. Caramelize the sugar and water mixture.  Let it bubble away until it reaches a deep amber colour; this will take 3 to 5 minutes.  (I used medium-high heat and it took longer than 3 to 5 minutes.  Watch it closely.)

Take the pan off the heat and add the cream – ignoring all spluttering – followed by the bourbon and milk. Whisk to mix, then still whisking add the beaten eggs. Pour this quickly over the croissants and leave to steep for 10 minutes. 
IMPORTANT NOTE:   Stream in the cream very slowly while you whisk.  Do the same with the bourbon and milk.

Place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes and prepare to swoon.  (I made a double batch and it baked about 30 minutes.   When making a single recipe I would check and make sure it is set to your liking … if not bake a bit longer.)

Nigella's Caramel Croissant Pudding is outstanding. It is not overly sweet and I find that very appealing. Next time I may sprinkle my croissants with a bit of cinnamon for some additional flavor.

I Heart Cooking Clubs: Nigella’s Hasselback Potatoes

Nigella's Hasselback Potatoes

This Week’s Challenge:
SMALL  PLATES

You know the old saying… So, break out the dip! Dig out those saucers and mini-plates that you don’t use often enough. And maybe even try something new…something you toyed with tasting, but didn’t want to eat it all yourself. Call them what you will…tapas, mezze, pupus (I especially like this one), hors-d’oeuvre, smorrebrod, zakouski, canapé, appetizer…what SMALL PLATES will you dazzle with this week?

So I chose Hasselback Potatoes !!!! 

I used small to medium Klondike Goldust (yellow flesh) potatoes.

Tip for easy slicing of potatoes: Take a thin slice from the bottom of each potato so they will sit flat on your cutting board. This makes the slicing of the layers much easier and safer. Place a chopstick on each side of the potato and with a very sharp thin bladed knife, carefully make slices into the potato about 1/8 inch apart. The chopsticks will not allow you to slice all the way to the bottom!

The olive oil and butter has been heated to sizzling in the baking dish and the potatoes have been coated with this mixture. Each potato received a sprinkling of coarse salt.

Each potato is about 4 to 5 bites! I served with a parsley-sour cream.

I Heart Cooking Clubs: Chicken, Mushroom and Bacon Pie

Nigella Lawson's Chicken, Mushroom & Bacon Pie

Nigella Lawson's Chicken, Mushroom & Bacon Pie

This week’s challenge is Family Favorites.

DEBBIE  SAYS:  My Family Favorites = Comfort food!   This is a “dressed up” version of the chicken pot pie I am used to.  The Marsala wine in the sauce really adds a subtle rich flavor.   I was a little afraid of it when I first read the recipe … but am so happy I did not choose to ignore it!   Nigella has no second thoughts about taking a little “store bought” assistance with the puff pastry, so I extended it to include the use of a rotisserie chicken purchased from my local Price Chopper.

NIGELLA  SAYS:  Even the word pie is comforting.  But then, it would be hard to deny the very real lure of pastry, especially when – as here – you know you’re going to dunk it in gravied juices till its gorgeous lightness is deliciously, soggily heavy.  I concede, however, that making and rolling out your own pastry is not necessarily the speediest option, so I use bought, all-butter-, ready-rolled puff pastry and feel fine about it.  I make the pie even easier, by browning the chicken and making the sauce all in one go.  And a gold-crusted, welcoming pie for 2 in half an hour is not bad going.

CHICKEN, MUSHROOM AND BACON PIE

Ingredients

  • 3 rashers streaky bacon, cut or scissored into 1-inch strips  (OK … I admit I used MORE bacon!)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic infused oil  (I just added some minced garlic.)
  • 2 cups chestnut mushrooms, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces  (I used baby bellas.)
  • 8 ounces chicken thigh fillets cut into 1-inch pieces  (I used a store bought rotisserie chicken.)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/4 cups hot chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon Marsala  (This is an important ingredient … please use.)
  • 1 (13-ounce) 9 by 16-inch sheet all-butter ready-rolled puff pastry

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Fry the bacon strips in the oil until beginning to crisp, then add the sliced mushrooms and soften them in the pan with the bacon.

Turn the chicken strips in the flour and thyme (you could toss them about in a freezer bag), and then melt the butter in the pan before adding the floury chicken and all the flour left in the bag.   Stir around with the bacon and mushrooms until the chicken begins to color.

Pour in the hot stock and Marsala, stirring to form a sauce and let this bubble away for about 5 minutes.

Make a pastry rim for each of your pots for the pies, by this I mean an approximately 1/2-inch strip curled around the top of the pots.  Dampen the edges to make them stick.  Cut a circle bigger than the top of each pie-pot for the lid, and then divide the chicken filling between the two.  Dampen the edges again and then pop on the top of each pie sealing the edges with your fingers or the underneath of the prongs of a fork.

(I cut out pastry rounds that are a bit bigger than the pot pie bowls and bake on a parchment lined, sheet pan.   When I try and adhere the pastry rounds to the bowls they never puff up enough.  When the rounds are puffed and browned you set them on top of your chicken pot pie bowls!) 

Cook the pies for about 20 minutes turning them around half way through cooking. Once cooked, they should puff up magnificently.

I Heart Cooking Clubs : Nigella Lawson’s Cheesy Feet!

Cheesy Feet!

Cheesy Feet!

I may be the last one to the I Heart Cooking Clubs party … but I come bearing cheesy feet for your munching pleasure!

This Club is a spin-off of the popular TFF cooking club and presently is featuring the recipes of Nigella Lawson.  The cooking club aims to grow and change with its members and explore other cooks and books in the future.  In the interest of freedom of choice, they have organized this cooking club on themes.  How you interpret the theme is up to you.   You choose the recipes!

The First Challenge:  PARTY TREATS

I chose Nigella Lawson's CHEESY FEET as my party treat!

I chose Nigella Lawson's CHEESY FEET as my party treat!

CHEESY FEET
Makes 16 or thereabouts   (made 12 for me)

INGREDIENTS:
100g  Cheddar cheese, grated   (I used a medium cheddar.)
   25g  soft butter     (I used salted butter.)
   50g  plain flour
    1/4  teaspoon baking powder

METHOD:
1.)  Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200 degrees C     (400 degrees F)
2.)  Place all of the ingredients  into a food processor and blitz until the dough comes together.  Nigella promises that patience will make it happen!  Once the mixture has formed, pat the dough into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and let it rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.

The cheese, butter, flour and baking powder after a "bit of blitzing".

The cheese, butter, flour and baking powder after a "bit of blitzing".

Nigella was right ... give it some time and the dough does form!

Nigella was right ... give it some time and the dough does form!

3.)  Roll out the dough on a floury surface to roughly a 3mm thickness and then cut out your feet.  (My foot cutter measures 3  1/2″ from toes to heel.)  You can keep re-rolling this dough and cutting out feet until it is all used up.
4.)  Put your feet on to a lined baking sheet (I used parchment paper) and bake the smaller feet for 10 minutes and the larger feet for 12 minutes.  (Mine baked for 11 minutes.)  Place on a rack to cool.

Cheesy Feet

Cheesy Feet