Sunday, 27 January 2008

A lucky experiment

Yesterday we popped into our favourite cheese shop, Neal's Yard Dairy, to buy some cheese for brunch today. The guy behind the counter asked what it was for, so I told him I wanted to make an experimental cheese bread pudding. A look of disgust flashed across his face so I quickly explained - my idea was for a cross between a cheese souffle and a savoury bread pudding. A springy macaroni and cheese, but with bread instead of macaroni. His face brightened a little, and he helped us find a fantastic cheese (Montgomery's Cheddar), but I don't think he was convinced.

Well I wish he had been there this morning to try some. The dish was light and fluffy but had substance enough to take the place of the scrambled eggs in our brunch spread. The rich, creamy flavour and slight bite of the cheddar didn't overwhelm the eggs in the custard. The chives gave it a little bit of freshness - but not too much. No need to get complicated here.

We had this with some grilled bacon, roasted tomatoes and new potatoes baked with spring onions, garlic, olive oil and salt. Oh, and some blood orange mimosas...

Montgomery's Bread Pudding
serves 4

2 eggs and 2 egg yolks, beaten
400 mL whole milk
2 tbsp chives, finely chopped
4 cups bread cubes, crust removed (preferable white sourdough, but anything quite plain will do)
2 eggs whites
1 1/2 cups grated Montgomery's Cheddar (or other creamy, melting cheese, although nothing blue)

Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F). Boil a kettle full of water. Butter a small baking dish with a 1 litre capacity and find another dish in which it will sit to make a water bath. The water should be able to come at least half way up the side of the baking dish.

In a large bowl, beat the milk into the eggs and yolks. Season with pepper and add the chives and bread crumbs, stirring to ensure all are coated and soaked through. Stir in 1 cup of the grated cheese.

In another large bowl beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold gently into the egg and bread mixture until just combined. Season lightly with salt and then empty the mixture into the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup grated cheese on the top.

Place the smaller dish inside the larger one and fill the larger dish with the boiled water to make the water bath. Place in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until it is spring and firmy to the touch and a peek into the middle shows a moist but not liquid centre.

Serve immediately.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

The Farm(er,) Bill

Bill Gates has pledged $306 million to supporting small-scale local farming in developing countries, mostly in Africa. By the end of 2008 the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation plans to invest $900 million in agriculture worldwide reports The World Bank. Check out the foundations's website here.

A sunny day...

...calls for a sunny breakfast.

Freshly-squeezed orange juice

Banana and cranberry muffins (recipe below)


Baguette, butter and jam

Banana and Dried Cranberry Muffins
(adapted from

Makes 10-12 muffins (depending on the size you want).
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup golden caster sugar
  • 1 free-range egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
Topping (optional)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease the muffin tin or line it with reusable silicone muffin cases (on my wishlist!).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Add the dried cranberries. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture until just moistened - it's ok to have a few little clumps of flour mixture left. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.
  3. For the topping, mix together the brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon in a small bowl. Rub in 1 tablespoon butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal/crumble topping. Sprinkle topping over muffins - you may not have to use all of it.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes in the muffin tin then remove to a wire rack.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

In Search Of

In most cases I hope to provide people who visit nylon diner with stimulating content that entertains and perhaps educates. I love to check up on how people find nylon diner (through links, seach engines, etc) and what interests bring them here. Here are some recent searches that led people to my little blog, in order of frequency:

five second rule
chocolate stress
3 little pig puns
bavarian saloon
bircher muesli recipe milk raspberries honey overnight
chubby danish women in nylon

I don't think the last visitor found quite was he was looking for. I guess you can't please all of the people all of the time.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Last Day of Christmas

Ok, I know, it's already gone by but I'm stretching the last day of Christmas to the 6th because today is Epiphany and I haven't made or even eaten any Galette des Rois to share with you. I am consoling myself by sharing my gingerbread house instead, and I feel that requires it still to be the Christmas season, so I declare today the 13th and final day of Christmas.

I made this house a few weeks before Christmas with some friends. We used an Epicurious method which appears slightly involved, but the gingerbread itself was fantastic and we followed our own method with building the house (see the dough and icing recipes below). It was really fun playing at being an architect, wax paper blueprints and all. Next year I am definitely building the mid-century bungalow that I was dreaming of this year.

This year's house itself has been destroyed (by a pair of sugar-high six-year-olds), but the photos remain...

Gingerbread and Royal Icing
(adapted from Bon Appetit, 2000 via

6 3/4 cups all purpose flour
4 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups solid vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup robust (dark) molasses

Sift flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and cardamom into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat shortening in large bowl until fluffy. Add sugar and beat to blend. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add molasses and beat on high speed until well blended. Add dry ingredients in 4 additions, beating at low speed until dough forms. Chill dough for at least one hour.

4 large egg whites
7 to 7 1/2 cups powdered white sugar

Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in medium bowl until very foamy, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Beat until well blended. Add remaining cups sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating until well blended after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl occasionally.

Beat icing at high speed until very thick and stiff, about 5 minutes.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Patricia and Carolyn, the lovely ladies at PS and MiragePaperCo's Designer Blog respectively, have tagged me! I had never been tagged before yesterday, and then I had the pleasure twice in one day!

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and/or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

7 Random (Food-Related) Things About Myself:
1. I don't like raisins. I have learnt to tolerate them thanks to Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything, but they're not my first choice - I even pick them out of muesli one by one.
2. The first thing I learned to make was fried plantains, a West Indian favourite. I close second was good ol' KD - Kraft Dinner. Mmmm mm good.
3. I consider maple syrup to be extremely healthy. Extremely.
4. I am doomed to fail as a locavore because I eat a banana almost every day. They're the ultimate portable snack and they cannot be replaced. I guess I could move to the tropics...
5. I am a bit of a control freak in the kitchen. I am trying to get better.
6. The cookbook that really ignited my (previously smouldering) interest in food is Nigel Slater's Appetite. If you don't have it - buy it.
7. I am always thinking at least one meal ahead.

7 Random Blogs I Am Tagging:
A Wee Bit of Cooking
Smitten Kitchen
Our Patisserie endless banquet
The Traveler's Lunchbox