IT strikes me that January and February are the worst possible months to embark on a diet ...
IT strikes me that January and February are the worst possible months to embark on a diet ... which is the very thing we are all encouraged to do as soon as the excesses of Christmas are over. That, or start a new exercise regime and book a summer holiday!
Indeed, many of us feel the need to shed a few pounds but I am sure I am not alone, when the cold weather hits, in craving warming, sustaining food.
Not all of it is fattening I know, soups and stews are anything but, but quite a lot of it is; the large dollops of creamy mash that go so well with the aforementioned stews and the large knob of butter which turns the humble jacket potato into a luxury; sausages; anything encased in pastry, some curries, nursery puddings, custard and so on. By four o’clock I am craving something sweet, even though I don’t really have a sweet tooth, and could eat almost a whole malt loaf or packet of crumpets in one sitting given half a chance. So, weak-willed as I am, there isn’t much chance of me cutting back during the most dreary two months of the year, however much I may want or need to.
As regular readers might remember, our farmhouse is old and draughty and therefore very cold which I am sure makes me even more hungry, so for these reasons I have put aside all thoughts of dieting until the weather improves and warms up.
In the meantime we are enjoying all those nice comforting foods – but not in excess of course (ahem!) As we all know, taking exercise helps and I am sure that trudging through the recent snow, knee deep in some places, whilst dog walking, burnt up double the amount of calories than normal. That’s what I told myself.
So, I have got a bit of a naughty, but warming old-fashioned pudding for you today with a little Spanish flavour in the form of Seville oranges.
This Seville Orange Brioche and Butter Pudding is made in individual dishes which nips any over-eating in the bud, and there’s no opportunity for going back for seconds either!
The bittersweet orange flavour cuts through the richness of the other ingredients. These little puddings are brushed with a glaze of warmed Seville orange marmalade after cooking. However, the distinctive sharp taste of the marmalade isn’t for everyone so use apricot jam if you prefer.
Alternatively, skip the orange and the glaze entirely which will leave you with straight-forward brioche and butter puddings.
Seville oranges are only available here for another few weeks, so don’t miss out. They freeze very well; whole if you are to use them for making marmalade, or the zest and juice in small containers such as old yoghurt pots for using in tarts, possets and for adding a bit of zing to meat sauces.
Find lots more simple but contemporary recipes in Jane’s book, Make it Easy, available from www.janelovett.com, bookshops and Amazon. Follow Jane on Twitter @Jane_Lovett
INDIVIDUAL SEVILLE ORANGE BRIOCHE AND BUTTER PUDDINGS
4 brioche rolls
2 large eggs
2 tbsp caster sugar
200ml (7fl oz) double cream
1 Seville orange, zest and juice
2 tbsp marmalade or apricot jam or glaze for glazing
Cream or crème frâiche for serving
1. Butter four small oven-proof dishes such as ramekins or fluted dishes. Cut the brioche rolls into slices vertically, roughly 1 cm (½ in) thick and butter one side of each slice. Arrange the slices around the edge of the dishes standing up (rather than flat) and overlapping a little, and a few in the middle – you may not need them all, depending on the shape of your dishes.
2. In a jug, beat the eggs and sugar together lightly with a fork and then mix in the cream, followed by the zest and juice of the orange. Mix together well and divide between the dishes. Leave to stand for half an hour before cooking to allow the brioche to soak up some of the custard. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Boil a kettle of water.
3. Sit the puddings in a deep roasting tin, put into the oven and carefully pour in enough boiling water to come half way up the sides of the dishes. Cook for 20 minutes or until the custard is just set and it is golden brown and crispy on the top. (It will continue cooking in the residual heat if it's not quite set in the very middle). Check during cooking and if browning too fast cover loosely with tin foil – just lie it over the top.
4. Heat the marmalade or apricot jam (or glaze) in a small saucepan until runny. If too thick for brushing, stir in a little water. Brush over the top of the puddings, making sure there are no unglazed gaps. Serve with cream or crème frâiche.