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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

family favourites...

A midweek menu of Sausage and Bean Cassoulet and a Orange Bread and Butter Pudding

Evening meals with the family are something I really enjoy - but only if i'm prepared for it. A few good, low maintenance menus are essential for the middle of the week. I'm always keeping my eyes peeled for new and interesting, nutritious food for these people, I have to feed them for the next 18 years or so after all (that's a lot of dinners!) Here are a couple that work for us.

We're so lucky these days to have great sausages available in most local shops, supermarkets, farmers' markets and good local butchers. This recipe isn't really quite a cassoulet - but needs the bare minimum of preparation and it's easy to stick in the oven while you're doing other things. While all the homework and whatever else needs your attention gets taken care of, it's bubbling away in the oven.

8 good quality pork sausages
1 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
1 x 400g tins of beans, haricot or cannellini, are good choices
1 generous glass of red wine (more like 2 really!)
300ml/10fl oz chicken stock
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp dark brown muscovado sugar
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the whole lot in a large casserole dish with a lid, lightly season then lay your sausages on top, so they can get a bit brown at the start as they cook and then stir them into the chunky sauce. Cook for 2 - 3 hours stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve with rice or slices of rustic bread and a spoon of natural yougurt on top if you like it.

And something sweet?

Why yes, I think so! One of the girls loves doughnuts above all other baked goods and I make them myself when I have time (for recipe see here) or I get the fantastic fresh ones from the Galway market as a treat now and then. I had foolishly bought some in the supermarket for them, but two small girls cannot possibly eat the amount of doughnuts that constitutes a supermarket special offer and loath as I was to throw them out I sliced them up and coverered them in a thin orange flavoured custard and made a bread and butter pudding with them. It was really quite nice.

Although brioche & pannetone are ideal for bread and butter pudding, there is usually some kind of bread needing using up about the place. As long as you leave it dry out sufficently so that it pulls in all the moisture from the custard then any kind of white bread usually works out pretty well. 

400ml milk
400ml low fat milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg plus 3 egg yolks
3 tbsp caster sugar
finely grated rind of a small orange

Bring the 2 kinds of milk, and vanilla to simmering point slowly over a low heat. Whisk the yolks, sugar and cornflour together in a large bowl. Pour the hot milk onto the eggs and sugar, whisking all the time with a balloon whisk. Return to the pan, add the orange rind and over a low heat gently stir with a wooden spatula until slightly thickened. About 12 slices of bread and the quantity of custard below makes enough bread pudding for six. Slice it up, butter on one side and arrange in a ovenproof dish. Pour the custard over the bread and leave it to soak in for at least half an hour, longer if possible. Cook for about 30 mins in a moderate oven until the custard is set and the top nice and coloured. 


  1. Both these recipes look amazing - I love that first shot of the bread and butter pudding. I've really let my week night cooking slide recently but this has inspired me to try something new so thank you!

  2. I know what you mean, Kathryn - I would be just as happy with a bowl of Coco-Pops rather than making something after work sometimes, but the kiddies do make me organize myself a little better.

  3. I love both of these recipes Amee. We feel the same - the kids 'make' us pull up our culinary socks and strive to put a 'real' meal on the table.

    Ah - God be with the good old days when a bottle of wine, a cheese board and a few crackers was all it took to please our evening hunger.

    I am making a note to share a few duck legs with you after our next reduction in flock numbers. I know now, after reading your recipe, that you would give them a good home in that pot.

  4. This sort of thing for making well ahead of time and leaving to improve in the lower oven is perfect - by evening-time, the anticipatory thrill of chopping vegetables has deserted me. That orange adornment on the pudding is perfect.

  5. I love simple recipes. Something delicious doesn't have to be time consuming.

  6. I definitely need to get back on the wagon with good weekday cooking, and the cassoulet is something that seems manageable on a busy night! And making dessert, too?! Wow, that's impressive :)

  7. I love this menu - it's so comforting! The bread and butter pudding sounds divine :)

  8. I love bread and butter pudding and yours looks fab. Great to see someone making a real effort to feed their family wonderful food on weeknights too :-)

  9. The bread and butter pudding looks yummy....I don't see "cornflour" in ingredient list, but the directions say mix sugar and "cornflour" together? Is that cornmeal? and why is it omitted from list? Confused!

  10. Woops susanq! You are right - in an earlier post I had discussed the merits of adding a spoon of cornflour to custard to give a more stable mix and eliminate the risk of curdling! I forgot to take it out - doh!

    I also almost never do and sometimes have to throw the lot out and start again. I believe corn flour is the same as corn starch. Hope that helps.


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