When I first met my husband I was 16 years old and my experience of the world was limited to say the least. I had grown up in a household where food was plentiful but simple, mealtimes were noisy and alcohol was only drunk on special occasions.
When I first ate at Martin’s house I thought his parents were the height of sophistication. I was offered a G&T before dinner and wine with my meal – unheard of. The only wine I had experienced before was of the Blue Nun variety but they drank Le Piat D’Or – which seemed to me to be extremely classy at the time (well it was the early 80s).
My future mother in law was an adventurous cook and each week she would produce something interesting for the meat eaters around the table and a separate, carefully thought out dish for me as I was a vegetarian at the time.
Like most children of the 60s and 70s, bread and butter pudding featured quite highly in my diet. It is a quick, cheap, filling and above all tasty dessert and I still love it to this day (although I suspect it is a bit of a “marmitey” love / hate thing). So imagine my delight when Gill (my mother-in-law) produced a savoury version of B&B pudding. I think that the original recipe came from a Robert Carrier cook book but this version has evolved over the years.
I sometimes add roasted red peppers, left over broccoli or asparagus if it is in season so feel free to experiment. You can use any cheese too – it’s a good way to use up end pieces but it does need something with flavour. The recipe is vegetarian and is a complete meal in itself but if you want to add meat it works well with ham or bacon in the pudding or serve it alongside some good quality sausages. I prefer to leave the crusts on the bread but most other recipes suggest that you cut them off – it comes down to personal choice really but this seems wasteful to me and deprives you of the lovely crispy/chewy bits on the top.
I completely accept that it sounds odd but it is definitely one to try – a cheap and filling family dish with minimal washing up. What more could you want?
1 large Crusty White Loaf of Bread
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 Leeks (finely sliced)
200g Chestnut Mushrooms (sliced)
75g Mature Cheddar (grated)
50g Parmesan Cheese.
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
400 ml / Semi-Skimmed Milk
Salt and Black Pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan along with the vegetable oil. Gently fry the leeks and mushrooms until softened.
Cut 8 medium slices from the loaf, butter them and spread thinly with the mustard. Cut each slice into quarters (diagonally) and arrange in a greased, shallow oven dish. Arrange the leeks and mushrooms in between the slices of bread. Grate the cheddar over the top.
Beat the eggs in a bowl, whisk in the milk and season well with salt and pepper. Pour evenly over the bread and vegetables. Leave to soak for 15 minutes (longer is fine).
Grate a little parmesan cheese over the top and place in the oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the top is nicely browned and the custard is set. Serve with a crisp green salad.