When I was a child, I would regularly ask my parents for chicken vol au vents for dinner. I can’t explain why I was such a fan, but there must have been some reason behind it! Anyway, I eventually moved on to other dinner requests, but even now, when I very occasionally see it on a menu it always brings back strong memories. So when I had a Saturday night at home, and my mum had thoughtfully bought vol au vent shells and chicken fillets, my sister and I decided to have a go at recreating my childhood favourite.
Readers will remember my mention of Jonathan Phang’s epic bread and butter pudding bake-off on his show Gourmet Express that inspired the baking of our sultana bread pudding. Ever since I read Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, I have been entranced by the old world glamour of long-distance train travel to exotic destinations (minus the murder, of course!). So when I stumbled across the first episode of the series featuring the Venice-Simplon Orient Express, I was immediately hooked – the behind the scenes look at luxurious, iconic trains, fabulous food and the effervescent humour and enthusiasm of Jonathan Phang made it a must-watch for the next five weeks.
So you can imagine my surprise and excitement when Jonathan himself commented on my post, with an offer to send over his revised bread and butter pudding recipe! The pudding he made during the bake-off looked incredible, so on receiving his new recipe, my sister and I were eager to try it out. Thanks very much for sharing Jonathan – I hope we did your recipe justice!
“You’ve NEVER tried Fratelli before?”
My friend was incredulous and with five Fratelli Fresh cafés and restaurants dotted around Sydney, it is somewhat surprising that I hadn’t yet visited one of them, especially as most of my friends are big fans. To be honest, the main reason I’ve not been is because I hate lining up for restaurants. With that in mind, my more experienced friend instructed me to arrive at Café Sopra on Bridge St before 6pm to be certain of snagging a table without a wait. I dutifully turned up at 5:58pm to a half full restaurant, and as predicted, was immediately ushered to a table.
As my friend was running late, I had plenty of time to peruse the extensive menu. I have written in previous posts of my love of garlic prawns, so I was immediately drawn to the prawn spaghetti with garlic, chilli and pangrattato.
One of my mum’s go-to desserts when we were growing up was apple and rhubarb crumble. She would make this quite regularly during winter, and the crunchy crumble topping combined with the simultaneously sweet and tart filling, served with a dollop of double cream, is still one of my favourite bakes. With the days in Sydney getting shorter and colder, it was time for Mum to bring out the baking mitts (and a taste.com.au recipe) and show us how it’s done:
In deciding what to bake this weekend, our main consideration was that the finished product be soft, as my sister had just gotten braces put on her teeth. Fortunately, earlier in the week, we had been watching an episode of the highly entertaining Jonathan Phang’s Gourmet Express, and on one of his train stops, he embarked on a bread and butter pudding bake-off with a Michelin-starred chef. Inspiration struck and we came across a sultana bread pudding recipe in my Margaret Fulton Baking cookbook. We’ve adapted it slightly, but it still came out golden and delicious.