Thursday, 22 October 2015

brioche & chocolate bread & butter pudding - French-English!

This week started off (literally) to a flying start! I arrived (spices and masala tea in tow) in St Jouin de Marnes, an idyllic and picturesque village in France which is comprised of windings rues (that's road to you and me!) and so much greenery that it initially hurt my cosmopolitan eyes just to look beyond the prettily shuttered windows. I admired everything in wonderment, from the beautiful fields that spread infinitely beyond the skyline to the little village shops, and decided that I could very well live here - forever and ever and ever.

I'd been wanting a break for a while and was feeding my wanderlust vicariously through my adventurous traveller friends Kia and Peter (aka Atlas & Boots). I noticed they had landed in rural France after their round the world trip (jealous much?) - so when I asked if they had room for a visitor they kindly agreed to put me up in their charming little studio. They were so excited to have a cook come to stay that I could hardly wait to visit. As you may already know, I love to feed people and so I cooked up some treats for them to which they ummed and ahhed to - and if you're a cook you'll know that those little exclamations of enjoyment makes one very happy indeed. It also helped that Peter's mum (supermum Mrs Watson) has a well equipped kitchen which caters very well to every manner of cooking and baking. We had a lovely dinner at a real French restaurant and visited a chateau! Tomorrow we are visiting the local market. I could totally get used to this.

The first couple of days I was amused by the fact that my friends appeared nervous while serving me food - visibly nervous at the prospect of feeding me and I almost pretended to offer negative commentary to freak them out but decided not to. Kia began referring to me as the food doctor - which was even more amusing as I thoroughly enjoyed her stuffed peppers and Peter's potato pie (I'm not just saying that guys!). Of course they are totally spoiling me with fresh breads, cheeses and pattiseries from the local pattiserie et boulangerie. See I could add chacuterie but we haven't been there. Basically I am loving the French life. Even the roses smell divine. Peter picks Kia yellow and pink roses from the garden and they light up the room. It's just adorable.

It's a blessing that the studio doesn't have WiFi as I am forced to actually read and write as planned. So I am reading my favourite short stories by Turgenev and finally started writing my fiction. I made a list (yes, another) of things to do, inspired by Kia's meticulous planning spirit after we discussed the merits of doing one new thing well every year. Mine was to learn French as I love pretty much anything French. This morning Peter picked up a loaf of fresh brioche from the bakery so I decided to make us all a brioche chocolate bread and butter pudding for brunch - and seeing as we're all sugar, butter and bread fiends this went down a treat! I added a hint of freshly ground nutmeg and vanilla for a little lift and a sprinkling of sugar for a crunchy crust on top of the pudding. Anyway I shall now be switching off and looking forward to more bread and cheese. C'est la vie!

Ingredients (serves 4)
400ml whole milk 
2 medium free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract 
Pinch nutmeg 
Punch salt
80g 70% chocolate 
6tbs sugar (plus more for sprinkling on top) 
8 thick slices of brioche (3/4 of a loaf)
Method Heat milk to just warm (about 1 min on medium heat) and remove off the heat. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and incorporate the warm milk a little at a time to the whisked eggs. 

Pour the milk and egg mixture back into the pan and return to the stove on a medium heat and whisk for 3-4 mins. 

Lightly butter the brioche slices and toast on a griddle for 30 seconds each side on low heat until light golden and keep aside.

Coarsely chop chocolate and layer up brioche slices in a loaf pan or medium sized oven dish dotted chocolate pieces between slices of bread.

Pour the milk and egg mixture over the top of the arranged brioche, ensuring that you coat all the brioche. Sprinkle with about 1-2 tbs sugar.

Bake 30 mins gas mark 4 and serve warm. Et voila!

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