31 May 2013

Roast Chicken and Other Stories - Simon Hopkinson

I've been reading a book this past month by Simon Hopkinson, a man I had never heard of until picking up his cook book with additional stories and patter on kitchen wisdom and food opinions. I have had fun reading the recipes and making a few, as I poked along through the book. He's conversational in his writing style and I like that. It's rather like listening to my brother yak about food and experiences he's had in the kitchen and around the world of food. Not intimidating, full of good information and technique tips, sweetly illustrated with a few stories and a few chuckles, full of recipes that are written clearly and not too complicated. The other thing that I really like about the book's recipes is that they are all geared for four servings, which is perfect for a two-person household, a retiree budget, and a small-ish refrigerator.

It turns out that Simon Hopkinson is pretty darn famous in the UK. He is a renowned chef, restaurateur, has a cooking show or two on BBC TV and a cable digital station, has written a few other cookbooks, and continues to be a presence in the media and foodie world. I love it when I find out new information at my public library. To think that his little book has been sitting on the shelves just waiting for me to come find it is such a kick!

I puttered around, wondering what one recipe to share from this book. It had to be something simple and quintessentially British, lovely and tasty, and a pudding seemed just the thing. Yes, a pudding would be perfect ... so I chose Lemon Surprise Pudding.

Look how light and fluffy, pale yellow that pudding mixture is!

It comes from Chef Hopkinson's chapter on custards and  begs to be baked in a clear glass bowl so that the surprise is evident, but that would be unfair, so I will be baking it in two pretty little casseroles. I plan to have it with some blueberry syrup and a dollop of whipped cream ... for tea time treats. Thank you, Simon Hopkinson!

Transformed and layered - cake-like fluff above and soft creamy lemon cream custard below

Light and fluffy and just waiting for the embellishments and a pot of tea ... although, it's quite hot here today. Perhaps a jug of iced tea might be more appropriate!

This is a book that will probably end up on my cookbook shelf, but for right now, I am happy to keep the public library's copy hanging around until the librarian trips me at the door and demands it back.  I have it in mind to make the Milk Chocolate Malt Ice Cream, the Braised Rabbit with White Wine, Shallots, Rosemary, and Cream, and the Crisp Parmesan Crackers. Oh, what fun awaits!

If you'd like a little preview of Chef Hopkinson's cooking show, check out the YouTube link provided here.
These roasted peppers have got me interested!

It was so very hot here today, that we ended up having our puddings chilled  ... period. No whipped cream, no blueberry compote ... and they were lovely! Sooo lemony and softly perfect - summertime on a spoon!

Lemon Surprise Pudding


¼ c. unsalted butter
⅓c. sugar
Zest and juice of one large lemon
2 eggs, separated
2 tbsp. all purpose flour, sifted
1 c. whole milk

Making the Pudding:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the lemon zest and egg yolks and continue whipping.
  4. Stir in the flour and milk, alternating between flour and milk and mixing well in between each addition.
  5. Add the juice of the lemon and stir it in well.
  6. In a separate cold, clean bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form, using clean beaters or whisk.
  7. Gently, fold the egg whites into the pudding mixture until they are thoroughly incorporated.
  8. Pour into an oven casserole or individual ramekins.
  9. Place the ramekins in a Bain-marie (water bath) and bake for about 30 to 45 minutes (depending on the size of the container) .
  10. The pudding is done when the top is fluffy and golden brown with a bit of bounce to it.
  11. Remove from the Bain-marie and let the pudding cool slowly. Serve warm or chilled with a dollop of whipped cream and any fruit embellishment you crave.

BONUS PHOTO - Look at this beautiful moth that hatched out in our back yard this afternoon!
I am flabbergasted at how huge it is ...  make a fist and extend your fingers outward so your knuckles are level with the back of your palm. The wingspan of this moth is about the distance from your wrist to the tip of your middle finger's knuckle. The body and legs are a bright paprika red and heavily fuzzy. It is just such a lush-looking beauty! A Cecropia moth ... a female by the looks of the body size and just such a miracle of creation! Don't you think?


  1. Wow. What a great book review and that recipe sounds amazing. I'm really impressed. And then look at that stunning moth. Not sure if its beautiful or scary!

  2. He is wonderful, isn't he? One of my favourite food writers, and as a bonus he hails from the same part of the world as I do, so lots of his childhood recipes are very nostalgic.

  3. That pudding looks yummy. When I saw the cover of the book, I thought, "Hum, that looks familiar." So I went to my book shelf and found I have Second Helpings of Roast Chicken, the follow-up to the book you found! The publisher sent it to me years ago and I never go around to reading it. I will now!

  4. I would love to show the kids at school this photo. It shows how perfectly symmetrical a moth is. We did so many projects on symmetry. The pudding looks delicious too. Glad you cooled it and didn't eat warm pudding in this oppressive heat.


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