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 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.