My brother lives in London, and it is always a complete joy to see him when he visits, as he did last weekend. I saw him on Saturday, and he visited for brunch on Monday. The boys were off school for half term, so I knew by 11am I would have some very hungry stomachs to fill. As well as bacon, sausages, black pudding and roast cherry tomatoes, all of which could be cooked slightly in advance and kept warm, I found a recipe for savoury bread and butter pudding in 'Dorset Cereals the breakfast book', which looked delicious, and as though it would provide the required ballast for three hungry men.
I approve of dishes made using bread, they make me feel thrifty and efficient (a most welcome and unusual sensation).We are a very bread-hungry household; breakfast toast, lunchtime sandwiches, after school snacks, supper time bread and jam, we get through a huge amount of bread, and there is often an elderly loaf languishing at the back of the bread bin. This recipe is perfect for using up slightly stale ends of loaves. I adapted it very slightly by substituting 100ml of the milk with double cream for added richness, but that aside it is lifted straight from the book. Serves 6 (or one visiting uncle and two ravenous nephews).
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley plus extra for garnish
1 tbsp. finely snipped fresh chives plus extra for garnish
6 large free range eggs
100ml double cream
200g day old good quality bread, cut into smallish chunks
125g cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat and fry off the onion, stirring occasionally, until very soft and translucent but not browned.
Whisk together the eggs, milk and cream in a bowl or large jug, stir in the parsley and chives, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Butter a 3 litre baking dish. Place half the bread chunks in the dish and sprinkle with half the fried onion and half the grated cheddar. Gently pour over approx. half the egg and milk mixture. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Gently press down any dry peaks with the back of a wooden spoon to ensure all the bread is in contact with the liquid. Cover with a dish, or cling film, and leave to one side for 30-60 minutes to allow the egg and milk to fully soak into the bread.
Preheat oven to Gas5/190c and bake for 45-50 minutes until puffed and golden on top, and cooked through. Scatter reserved parsley and chives on top before serving.
Serve with bacon, sausages, roasted cherry tomatoes, a jug of maple syrup, and fresh orange juice.