Panettone Bread and Butter Pudding

Panettone Bread and Butter PuddingAidan made this, I don’t know where he found the recipe, he’d seen it made on tv. It was really really nice and wasn’t as dark as it looks in the picture above. It was best cold the next day sliced almost like a piece of patisserie. The recipe is incredibly rich.


  • 750g Panettone
  • 600ml double cream
  • 8 eggs
  • 200g sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp demerara sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 150C
  2. Cut the panettone into 2cm thick slices and place in overlapping layers in a baking dish
  3. Bring the cream almost to the boil over a medium heat. In the meantime which the eggs and sugar together
  4. Pour the hot cream slowly into the eggs, whisking constantly to stop the eggs from scrambling
  5. Add the vanilla, sieve the custard into a jug and pour into the baking dish, covering all of the panettone.
  6. Baste and parts of the panettone that are dry and leave to soak for 10 minutes
  7. Sprinkle the Demerara sugar over the top for a crispy topping
  8. Cover with foil and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the custard has set and the pudding is golden.

Cookbook Review – Jamie Oliver The Return of the Naked Chef

The Return of the Naked Chef was one of Jamie’s early cookbooks and I’ve owned it for years. I made a few recipes successfully but then started to only cook old favourites from the book. After starting to blog how I get on with new recipes I’ve become much more adventurous in trying new recipes so I returned to this book. Some recipes such as his Salmon with Proscuitto and lentils and spinach had become favourites that I had often cooked over the years. His basic risotto instructions were a revelation and his prawn and pea risotto is so good I’ve resolved to try growing peas again (I was less keen on his garlic risotto).  His style is very chatty which I like.

This would be an excellent cookbook for someone starting to get into more serious adventurous meals and is the book that tempted me to buy many more Jamie Oliver cookbooks.

It is split into the following chapters

  • introduction
  • make life easy
  • potty about herbs
  • morning glory
  • tapas, munchies and snacks
  • simple salads and dressings
  • soups and broths
  • pasta and risotto
  • fish and shellfish
  • meat, poultry and game
  • vegetables
  • bread
  • desserts
  • bevvies
  • stocks, sauces, bits, bob, this, that and the other

I’ve tried the following recipes from this book

  • pan-toasted almonds with a touch of chilli and sea salt
  • pappardelle, spicy sausage meat and mixed wild mushrooms
  • tagliatelle with saffron, seafood and cream
  • farfalle with Savoy cabbage, pancetta, thyme and mozarella
  • risotto – various
  • prawn and pea risotto with basil and mint
  • tray baked cod with runner beans, pancetta and pine nuts
  • roasted slashed fillet of sea bass stuffed with herbs, baked on mushrooms with salsa verde
  • fantastic fish pie
  • salmon fillet wrapped in prosciutto with herby lentils, spinach and yogurt
  • baked jerusalem artichokes breadcrumbs, thyme and lemon
  • mashed veg

And with the exception of the garlic risotto I’d make all of these again and again.

Maltese Spaghetti

Maltese spaghetti

I wanted to cook Maltese for my dad’s birthday. Choice for my dad was easy – rabbit which I will blog next. However my brother and his family were coming as well and there was no chance of them eating rabbit. A search of the internet revealed the following recipe for Maltese Spaghetti . I have no idea how authentic it is.

It’s essentially spaghetti bolognese with extra egg and cheese and without the herbs baked in the oven. And it has a little curry powder. This is plain but good. The main dish looks better than the above photo but it is just melted cheese topping. The picture is of the casserole after we’d been digging in.

I’d reduce the quantity of spaghetti to meat next time and I did add extra tomato which I felt was necessary, I also used tinned chopped tomato as I was heating the meat sauce a while before adding the spaghetti. The leftovers reheated very well in the microwave later in the week.


Fish Pie – Jamie Oliver The Return of the Naked Chef

Fish Pie JamieI just did a picture of a serving as one potato topped dish looks much like another. This is billed as Fantastic Fish pie in Jamie Oliver’s book The Return of the Naked Chef. It is very good, the cheese and spinach make this a more unusual fish pie. My boys liked it a lot but fish pie is one their favourite meals. Conor thought on balance he slightly preferred Rachel Allen’s fish pie and Aidan felt the best fish pie he’d ever had was at the Hix fish restaurant in Lyme Regis (my favourite remains the Avoca Cafe fish pie recipe).

This is a bit more faffing about as you have to remove the skin and pin bones from the raw fish, on the plus side the fish is not over cooked.

Quantities below serve 6,  I  doubled up and froze 3 single portions for Jon’s aunt and one 4 portion dish to try and see how well it works cooked fro frozen. As the fish was raw I cooked all of these before cooling and freezing. I made sure there was no egg in the dishes for the freezer. Apparently egg white manages to go both rubbery and watery when frozen and defrosted.


  • 6 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch squares
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 2 large handfuls fresh spinach, trimmed and washed
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, halved and finely chopped
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pint double cream
  • 2 good handfuls grated mature Cheddar or Parmesan
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 heaped teaspoon English mustard
  • 1 large handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 455gr/1 lb haddock or fresh cod fillet, skin removed, pin-boned and sliced into strips
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Nutmeg, optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/gas6.
  2. Put the potatoes into salted boiling water and bring back to a boil for 2 minutes. Carefully add the eggs to the pan and cook for a further 8 minutes until hard boiled, by which time the potatoes should also be cooked. At the same time, steam the spinach in a colander above the pan. This will only take a minute. When the spinach is done, remove from the colander and gently squeeze any excess moisture away. Then drain the potatoes in the colander. Remove the eggs, cool under cold water, then peel and quarter them.  Place to one side. (I did steam the spinach above the egg pan but drew the line at boiling the eggs in with the potatoes)
  3. In a separate pan slowly fry the onion and carrot in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes, then add the double cream, and bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, lemon juice, mustard, and parsley.
  4. Put the spinach, fish and eggs into an appropriately sized earthenware dish and mix together, pouring over the creamy vegetable sauce. The cooked potatoes should be drained and mashed, add a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and a touch of nutmeg, if you like.  Spread on top of the fish. Don’t bother piping it to make it look pretty, it’s a homely hearty thing. Place in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes until the potatoes are golden.

Egg Fried Rice

Egg fried rice

I didn’t follow a recipe, one of my objectives was to teach Conor how to make something like this out of whatever he had in the fridge. I’ve listed the ingredients I used but everything except for rice, egg and soy sauce is optional and any cooked meat is suitable.

Conor and Aidan were happy to eat this cold for packed lunch the next day. However do be cautious about how long cooked rice is left out of the fridge. Uncooked rice can contain spores of Bacillus cereus, a bacterium that can cause food poisoning and these spores can survive cooking. If the rice is left standing at room temperature, the spores can grow into bacteria. These bacteria will multiply and may produce toxins (poisons) that cause vomiting or diarrhoea. The longer cooked rice is left at room temperature, the more likely it is that the bacteria or toxins could make the rice unsafe to eat.

Quantities below for 4


  • groundnut oil
  • 300g uncooked rice, cooked and cooled
  • 3-4 eggs
  • peas
  • 1 tin sweetcorn
  • 1 pk spring onions
  • 1 pack dried shrimp
  • leftover pork shoulder joint


  1. Prepare spring onions and cut into 1cm lengths
  2. Heat oil in wok
  3. Mix eggs in bowl
  4. Place rice in wok and stirfry for 1-2 minutes
  5. Push to one side and pour in egg onto wok
  6. Cook egg briefly moving it around until its just starting to set (ie. resembles very soft scrambled egg) then stir into rice
  7. Add all other ingredients
  8. Stir fry for a further 4-5 min minutes
  9. Add soy sauce to taste

Baked Jerusalem Artichokes, Breadcrumbs Thyme and Lemon – Jamie Oliver The Return of the Naked Chef

Baked Jerusalem artichoke
Jerusalem artichokes are incredibly easy to grow. You just plant out the tubers and keep harvesting them in autumn/winter. Worthwhile throwing some compost on the bed every few years. We have a 1m x 1m bed of them just by the shed and the challenge is to stop them expanding out beyond their bed. They are better steamed, baked or roasted rather than boiled as they turn into a mush when boiled. Jamie Oliver’s recipe below from The Return of the Naked Chef is both easy to make and very tasty. Quantities below serve 6. We froze two portions in tin foil containers for Jon’s aunt as it looked like a dish that would freeze and reheat well.
The only downside of jerusalem artichokes is their tendency to cause wind (flatulence). Unfortunately this affects me more than the rest of the family.
  • 285ml / ½ pint double cream or créme fraiche
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 good handful of fresh Thyme, leaves picked and chopped
  • 3 handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1kg/2lb 3oz Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and sliced as thick as a pencil
  • 2 good handfuls of fresh breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil
  1. Preheat your oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas7.
  2. In a bowl mix your cream, lemon juice , garlic half the thyme and most of the Parmesan, and season well to taste.
  3. Throw in the sliced Jerusalem artichokes. Mix well and place everything in an ovenproof baking dish.
  4. Mix the breadcrumbs with the rest of the thyme and Parmesan and some salt and pepper.
  5. Sprinkle all the flavoured breadcrumbs over the artichokes and drizzle with a little olive oil.
  6. Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes until the artichokes are tender and the breadcrumbs golden.

Fish Pie – Rachel Allen Home Cooking

Fish Pie RAchel Allen

The Avoca cafe fish pie is one of my favourite dinners but I fancied trying some different fish pie recipes and I’d bought a mix of fish to try. Originally I was going to buy a pack of the mixed fish bits but I realised they worked out more expensive than buying packs of fish fillets! I also wanted to freeze some portions of fish pie for Jon’s aunt so whilst I love eggs in my fish pie and we have plenty of eggs at the moment they wouldn’t freeze so well.

I was tempted just to make my own version but I have all these recipe books to use! A browse revealed a cheesy fish pie from Jamie Oliver that I must try next but I wanted a recipe using a mix of fish and Rachel Allen’s Fish Pie from her Home Cooking book fitted the bill.

Portion Fish Pie Rachel Allen

I guess unsurprisingly for an Irish cook this contains serious quantities of mashed potato. I’ve mentioned before I have a bit of a potato (especially mashed potato) phobia but my boys love it. I use a potato ricer as part of my phobia is the horror of encountering lumps in mashed potatoes. The reason there doesn’t seem to be much potato in the above picture on the plate is a lot of it dissolves into the creamy sauce. The rest of the family loved this Fish Pie and I liked it (without any extra potato), the conclusion from the others is they like it just as much as the Avoca Fish Pie but in a different way. This is definitely a comforting cold weather dish and smelt lovely as it was cooking.

Interesting blog entry on the Guardian food blog on how to cook the perfect fish pie

I do plan to try the Jamie Oliver fish pie soon, my boys were initially keen as they love fish pie but less enthused when I mentioned his recipe contained spinach…


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 800 g skinless fillets of fish such as salmon, cod, whiting, hake or haddock
  • 150 ml white wine
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • 125 g butter, diced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 150 g mushrooms, sliced
  • 225 ml double cream
  • 1 heaped tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 4 tbsp finely chopped mixed herbs
  • 1 kg mashed potatoes


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.
  2. Place the onion in the bottom of a large saucepan and lay the fish on top in an even layer. Pour in the wine add the lemon juice scatter with 100g of the butter and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and simmer on a low heat for 15–20 minutes or until the fish is cooked.
  3. In the meantime, melt the remaining butter in a small frying pan and sauté the mushrooms on a gentle heat for 5–6 minutes or until softened. Season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Once cooked and using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the fish from the saucepan (leaving the onions and cooking liquid in the pan) to a 22cm square ovenproof dish. Add the cream to the onions and cooking liquid in the pan and continue to simmer, with the lid off, for 10–15 minutes or until the sauce is reduced and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the mustard, herbs and sautéed mushrooms and check the seasoning.
  5. Pour the sauce over the fish in the dish and spoon over the mashed potato, spreading with the back of a spoon or fork. Alternatively, pipe the mash over the fish with a piping bag and nozzle for a more professional-looking finish. The fish pie can be prepared to this stage, left to cool and then placed in the fridge overnight until ready to bake.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until bubbling and golden on top. If cooking from chilled then bake for about 40 minutes instead. Serve immediately.

Roasted Garlic, Thyme and Mascarpone Risotto – Jamie Return of the Naked Chef

Roasted garlic, thyme and mascapone risotto Jamie

This is an unusual risotto recipe from Jamie Oliver’s The Return of the Naked Chef book. It was pleasant but not as great as either Jamie’s prawn and pea risotto or Delia’s mushroom risotto to my mind. I needed to toast the almonds a bit longer. Quantities below serve 6.


• 1 x basic risotto recipe (quantities for 400g risotto rice)
• 2 large heads of garlic, whole and unpeeled
• 1 good handful of fresh thyme, leaves picked
• 155g/5½oz shelled and peeled almonds, lightly crushed, cracked or chopped
• 2 handfuls of coarse fresh breadcrumbs
• olive oil
• 2 heaped tablespoons mascarpone cheese


  1. Roast the whole garlic heads on a dish in the oven at 230°C/450°F/gas 8 for about 30 minutes until soft. Separate the cloves and squeeze out the sweet insides.
  2. Add with the thyme at the start of Stage 3 of the basic risotto recipe.
  3. In a frying pan toast the almonds and breadcrumbs in a little olive oil until crisp and golden. Season with a little salt. Set to one side.
  4. Serve the risotto with a dollop of mascarpone on the top and sprinkle over the toasted almonds and breadcrumbs.