Chocolate and Almond Bread & Butter Pudding


Bread and Butter Pudding is a good old-fashioned frugal recipe, which uses up dry bread which would otherwise go to waste. The traditional recipe uses bread and butter, dried fruit, sugar, eggs and milk.

There are many little twists that can be made to this basic recipe; for this one I used Almond Milk instead of cows milk and mixed coco-powder in with the demerara sugar to make nice chocolatey layers.


  • Dry sliced bread (about 1/2 loaf)
  • Butter
  • 2 tablespoons demerara sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coco powder
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 or 3 eggs (I only had 2 which was fine, but 3 would have been better)
  • 1 pint almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon flaked almonds
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg


Pre-heat the oven to 180oC.

Mix the sugar and coco powder in a bowl.

Place a layer of buttered bread in the bottom of your dish, as closely fitting as possible. Cover with a layer of the chocolate mixture and a sprinkle of raisins.

Repeat until you have at least three bread layers.

In a jug measure out a pint of milk and beat the eggs into it.

Pour the mixture onto the bread layers; all but the top bread layer should be covered. Add more milk if necessary.

Sprinkle flaked almonds and some nutmeg on the top and bake in the centre of the oven for about half an hour.


Sticky Beer and Ginger Fruit Loaf

I made this recipe up yesterday.

I came back from a lovely wedding at the weekend armed with some delicious Shropshire Ale from Hobsons Brewery left over from the festivities (we were far too well behaved!), which the groom kindly decanted into a pop bottle for me. I used most of the beer on the day I returned home to bribe my neighbour James to cut my lawn and shift some topsoil for me; however, a few days later there was a half pint still remaining which was a little beyond drinking but which I didn’t want to waste.

I had a little brainwave that I could use it to soak fruit in; a little bit like tea-loaf but richer. The muscavado sugar made it richer still and, well, you can’t go wrong with lots of ginger.


  • 500 g / 1 lb of mixed dried fruit
  • 200 g / 7 oz dark muscavado sugar
  • 300 ml / 1/2 pint of Ale (the darker the better)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 250 g / 8 oz self-raising flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground ginger


Put the fruit, sugar and beer into a bowl, cover with a tea-towel and leave for at least 4 hours (overnight if possible).

Stir  the egg, flour and ginger into the soaked fruit mixture and pour into a lined 2 lb loaf tin (or, if like me you are short on time divide it between two tins so that it cooks more quickly).

Bake in the centre of a pre-heated oven at 170oC for 1 & 1/2  hours. To check whether it is done put a skewer in and if it comes out clean it is cooked, whereas if the skewer still has cake mixture on it needs cooking a little longer.




Odds and Sods Soup

I have decided that it is time to go back to my £5 a week food budget – I have become lazy recently, and although I have maintained the discipline of not wasting food it has become too easy to spend more than I need to and to do ‘lazy cooking’.

I have not yet spent my £5 this week, and I did not top up my storecupboard before commencing my budget cooking – no cheating! Before I spend my £5 I need to use up some fresh ingredients; my lovely lodger is working away for a week and has left me with a fridge full of yummy things which I cannot let go to waste, so what I have to start with is:
– a couple of rashers of bacon
– a bag of green salad
– an avacado
– salami & parma ham
– red peppers

Thanks Amy!

I also have carrots which very much need using up, onions, garlic, a lonely potato, a lonely tomato, fresh bread, and of course my trusty spice cupboard.


So of course I started with soup.


– one onion
– one potato
– one big tomato
– one red pepper
– six carrots
– 2 cloves of garlic
– smokey paprika
– stock from the freezer (or a vegetable or chicken stock cube)
– salt and pepper to taste

Finely chop all of the vegetables apart from the tomato. Fry in a large saucepan with the paprika and a little oil or butter.
Put the tomato in a bowl of boiling water straight from the kettle; when it has been in there a few minutes you will find that the skin peels off easily.
Add the tomato to the other vegetables along with a pint of stock – I used my turkey stock from the freezer, but you could equally use a vegetable stock cube.
Simmer until the vegetables feel soft when you put a fork in them – about 20 minutes – then blend using a food processor or hand blender.
Return the blended vegetables to the saucepan and continue to cook on a low heat, adding more liquid (water or milk) if you think that the consistency is too thick.
Taste, and season with salt and pepper if required.
Serve with toast and lots of butter.

… and I have plenty left for lunch tomorrow – hurrah!

Teaching James to cook – Part One

I have taken it upon myself to teach my idiot neighbour (his own words!) to cook. James is a bit of a character, an extravert with paranoiac tendencies (again, his own words!). His usual weekly shop includes chips, pie, fish, bread, sandwich-spread, tinned fruit, ice-cream, Pavlova, coffee and, most importantly, Cava.

Meet James. He wants you to know that he has cut his hair since this picture was taken.

The first lesson was in making a simple pasta sauce with tinned tomatoes, onion and bacon.  We also added aubergine because I had some which needed using up.

The end result was (…in his own words) Pop-tastic! Not ‘alf!


  • 1 Onion
  • 1 clove of Garlic
  • 6 Rashers of bacon
  • about 6 pieces of pepper preserved in oil
  • 1 Aubergine (not compulsory, I just happened to have one in the cupboard)
  • 500g carton of tomato passata or a tin of tomotoes
  • 1 teaspoon mixed herbs
  • Dried pasta, a cup per person
  • a handful of grated cheese



Chop the onion and garlic finely. Using scissors, chop the bacon into chunks.

Fry the onion, garlic and bacon in a little of the oil from the preserved peppers.

When the onion is beginning to soften, add the pepper, aubergine and mixed herbs and fry for a little longer.

Add the tomato and simmer until the aubergine is tender.

Next, put the pasta into a saucepan and add boiling water. Bring to the boil on a high heat and then turn down to ‘simmer’. Be sure to keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t boil over.

When the pasta is al dente (meaning ‘just done’ as opposed to ‘mush’) serve with the sauce and a generous sprinkle of cheese on top; see HERE the little video of James trying to find out if the pasta is ‘just right’.

… what James learned today

  • what al dente means;
  • how to make a simple scrumptious meal; and
  • the contrast between feeding yourself ‘stupid & lazy food’ and easy home-cooked food is huge – it tastes better, goes further, makes you feel better and is cheaper.

…I have a lot to learn but I’m looking forward to the next lesson.