Saturday 21 March 2009

Spiced Pumpkin and Whisky Bread Pudding

The last time I visited London to attempt to win something I failed miserably at the final hurdle. MasterChef has been discussed a lot in the 2 years since that fateful day, probably too much for my comfort, and I’ve been working my socks off to try to make some form of living from the world of food ever since.

It hasn’t been easy and I haven’t exactly followed the natural conventional route that I thought I would take such as working in restaurants and training to be a professional chef. Instead I take great pleasure from trying to help people to cook and eat better in my work with Expo Chef. And I’ve also found that I adore writing about food, expressing my natural love for the subject and best of all, writing recipes for fun and trying them out on my friends and family.

Last month I received a call from my favourite publication, Observer Food Monthly, to tell me that I had won an award. I had to stop my car and ring them back such was the shock. One of my recipes was chosen by the likes of Nigel Slater, Jay Rayner and Tom Parker-Bowles to win one of their new categories in the annual OFM awards as best reader’s recipe.

I've just returned from a fantastic awards ceremony where a large amount of my food heroes were present. I tried my best to look cool in their company and realised that I didn’t need to when Alex James shouted at me, ‘That was a f***ing great pudding David’. They are as down to earth as us man! I even found time to feel like the elder statesman and offer a little advice to the MasterChef boys who were all there. Not that they will need my advice as I know they are going to do special things.

Seriously though, for little old me to receive praise from our finest food writer, Mr Nigel Slater, means more to me than I can explain. As for getting a kiss and a cuddle from Mariella Frostrup - these are things that dreams are made of. As I explained in garbled and excited fashion to Jay Rayner, in a scene reminiscent of Alan Partridge in which he proclaimed to the Geordie hotel porter, ‘That was just noise’, I’ve only ever won one award and that was as player of the season for Newcastle Hibs in the 1992 South Tyneside 4th division. So I’ve hardly broken down doors.

So there you go. A bit of self-indulgence but hey, these things come very rarely in my life. So I’m more than happy – I’m positively delirious – and although I am realistic enough to know that this award pales into insignificance in this increasingly glitzy world of food, it will sit on my mantelpiece gathering dust here in sunny East Boldon until such time comes where my wife relegates it to the bottom draw. Thanks for listening. Oh, and here’s the recipe…

Spiced Pumpkin and Whisky Bread Pudding
Serves 6

100g raisins
3 tbsp whisky
3 tbsp hot water

For the sauce
100g muscovado sugar
25g butter
1 tbsp golden treacle

For the pudding
1 whole egg and 3 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
100g pumpkin, cubed, steamed until soft then puréed
250ml double cream
50ml milk
Half tsp ground cinnamon
A few grates of fresh nutmeg
Half tsp ground ginger
1 vanilla pod, split and seeded
Approximately half of a stale white baguette cut into cubes

1 - Pre-heat the oven to GM2, 150 degrees C.
2 - Soak the raisins in the whisky and hot water until plump. You may want to do this overnight, entirely up to you. Drain.
3 - To make the sauce, heat the muscovado sugar, treacle and butter in a pan until melted then pour equal measures into 6 buttered ramekins.
4 - In a large bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs until pale. Pour in the cream, milk, purée, spices and vanilla pod and whisk until thoroughly combined. Stir in the bread cubes and leave for 10 minutes to soak.
5 - Place the ramekins into a deep baking tray and pour in boiling water until it comes half way up the sides. Fill the ramekins with a few cubes of bread and the custard mixture.
6 - Place on the middle shelf of the oven and cook for approximately 1 hour or until the custard is firm. If the top starts to colour too quickly, cover loosely with foil.
7 - Remove from the oven and leave to rest for a few minutes. Then run a knife around and turn out onto a plate. Serve with créme fraiche, yoghurt or whipped cream.


Catofstripes said...


Jacqueline Meldrum said...

Well done David! Your pudding sounds delicious and it sounds like you had a real day to remember! I am very proud of you :)

William Leigh said...

If anyone deserved this you did. I can't believe it - two of my friends winning an award - Henrietta is a great friend of mine too. Mate - you really, really deserve this. Congrats. I still can't believe you came to London and didn't look me up though!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Haway Man, Get in! You have always made me proud to be a Geordie (albeit a posh sounding Southern one nowadays!) and here you are winning awards.

Bloody marvellous Dave and very well deserved! xx

Anonymous said...

Just to chip in, it's true I didn't understand a bleedin' word of the rugby anecdote... but the pudding! Gosh. I understood that completely.

One more anecdote. The chef at Quo Vadis was tasked with cooking the recipes on the day of the judging. Most of them he mumbled his way through when explaining how he'd gone about executing them.

Yours, he rhapsodised about for five minutes. To be honest, though, by then the plates were clean and we'd already made our decision.

Congrats again


David Hall said...

COS - thanks!

Holler - it will last long in the memory I can tell you

Wil - that is very sweet of you matey, thank you

Amanda - once a Geordie always a Geordie, even if you are a posh one!
Jay - thanks for popping on here, that means a lot. And sorry for producing noise when you were interviewing me :o)


Anonymous said...

I know I've said this already but congratulations!!! You so deserve this award after all your hard work. I am so happy for you. I can't wait to read the OFM today. Get in!! I also have to echo William's sentiments there - I can't believe you came to London and didn't look me up! We could have gone for a few jars. Next time!

Joanna said...

David - saw it in the mag this morning, and just had to come over and say WELL DONE .... I'll be trying it as soon as I can get my hands on a pumpkin - we ate the last one a couple of days ago, so now I'll have to buy one :)


Peter M said...

David, bravo...good on ya...happy cookin!

Cynthia said...

OMG gosh! I am sending you lots of hugs and a big kiss! Congratulations darling! Very much deserved. You're movin' on up! I am thrilled for you.

Michelle said...

Oh David, well done, well done, you star! Looking forward to trying out your recipe!! I love your website and have been popping in there regularly too!

Michelle said...

Oh David, well done, well done, you star! Looking forward to trying out your recipe!! I love your website and have been popping in there regularly too!

Chef Jeena said...

Congratulations David well done!!

No wonder you won with this recipe it sounds delicious.

I think it is great how you can achieve all of these wonderful things yet still stay friendly and down to earth - it must be the geordie in you!

Good luck with your new website too. :-)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations and thanks for sharing the excitement! This is what awards are for: a huge thumbs-up saying, yes, you are on the right track - carry on! I look forward to hearing What Happens Next...

And p.s. love the idea of pumpkin for refreshing natural freshness and sweetness in a pud.

Unknown said...

Congratulations again David, makes me proud to come from South Shields. A great idea, very creative. Look forward to making it under your guidance!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Congratulations David, this is really eciti8ng news. I am so glad you had such a special day!!

Hannah said...

Congratulations - woo hoo - that is just fantastic news! Well done you
So proud of you

Mammy P said...

Be still my beating heart. ALEX JAMES?!


Well done!

Jan said...

Wow! David, that's fantastic. You must be chuffed to bits, but you have worked hard for it. And it certainly does sound like an effing good pud. :-)

Pat said...

Congratulations David!!!! :)

Aimée said...

Congratulations David.

James said...

Congratulations! It all starts here.

Anonymous said...

ooh yes, like a claggy pumpkin pie!

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