28 May 2010

Home cooking the old fashioned way

I'm at a loss to understand why foods go in and out of fashion.  It seems that people get sick of one thing, then go on to the next.  I'm the opposite, if I like something, I like it forever.  Is the TV program Masterchef only in Australia or is it in other countries as well?  Here in Australia, it's revolutionised the way people cook and has made cooking popular again.  I think that is a great thing but I don't like the emphasis on fine dining, it is not home cooking.  When we cook at home, unless it's for a celebration or special dinner party, I believe home cooking should look like home cooking.  Why make food into towers that are difficult to cut, drizzle sauces and oil, and strew flowers over a plate when what we home cooks are trying to do is present good nourishing food with a mimimum of fuss, several times a day, week after week. Restaurant food focuses on one plate, home food is best served, I believe, from the table with everyone serving themselves, taking exactly what they want.  Both have their place but if you're new to cooking don't confuse restaurant presentation with the more casual approach of the home cook.

Both my sons are fine dining chefs, so I do have an interest in both camps, however, I am an old fashioned cook.  I often read their ever growing collection of cook books written for chefs, and while I love both their cooking styles (one is French-based and the other mostly Asian), I remain firmly in the old fashioned camp. My favourite cook books are Nourishing Traditions and my old Barrosa Valley CWA (Country Women's Association) cookbook, circa 1950s.  But most of my recipes are in my head and while I do try new things occasionally, I generally stick to what I know.  The thing I really love about old fashioned cooking is that it often uses food that might be wasted, or foods that sit on the pantry shelf in a jar until it's needed.  This first recipe is a recycled food one and is one of Hanno's favourites.  


Stale bread, stale fruit bread, stale cinnamon rolls or stale fruit scones - about 3 or 4, cut in thick slices and buttered.  Lay these in a buttered baking dish.
Make a custard - 4 eggs, beaten, plus 3 tablespoons of sugar, a slurp of good vanilla, and about 600 mls/or a little over one pint of milk.  Whisk together making sure the eggs have broken up and mix into the milk well.
Pour the custard over the bread slices and allow to sit for 30 minutes for the milk to soak into the bread.  Then put it in a slow oven (around 170C/340F) for about 20 minutes.  You want it to be golden brown on top with a hint of milky wobbles in the custard.  You don't want the custard to be completely set when you remove it from the oven.

Serve warm with a drizzle of cream.

Cook about 300 grams/ of dry pasta shapes - something like penne, bows or shells.  Drain and leave in the drainer.
In a frying pan, saute one chopped onion, 250 grams/½ pound fresh mushrooms (or more) and one or two garlic cloves.  When the onion is translucent and the mushrooms have wilted, turn heat off and leave in the pan.
Make a cheese sauce - mine is: 2 tablespoons plain flour and 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan, mix together and add salt and pepper.  Cook on low heat for about 2 minutes.  Add a dash of Tabasco or a sprinkle of chilli powder and stir in.  Add about 500mls/one pint of milk. I often use powdered milk for this.  Whisk this mixture together over medium heat until it starts to thicken, then add one cup of shredded cheddar cheese.  Stir the sauce until thick and smooth.
Then put the meal together.  In a lasagna dish, add the pasta, mushroom and onions and mix.  Pour the sauce over and mix in.  Top with some Parmesan and bake in a medium over until the top is golden brown.  Serve with a salad.


I kneaded the dough for this in the breadmaker.
375mls water
2 tablespoons soft butter
1½ teaspoons of nutmeg
1½ teaspoons of cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk powder
4¼ cups bread flour
2 teaspoons yeast

2/3 cup mixed dried fruit in the fruit dispenser, or thrown them in half way through the kneading process.

Place everything in the machine and turn on to the dough setting.  When finished, shape and place in your bread tin and allow to rise again.  When doubled in size, place in the oven on about 190C/375F.

Cinnamon Glaze for the bread (optional)
Mix ½ cup icing/confectioner's sugar with ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and add 2 teaspoons of water.  Drizzle or paint on with a brush.

Happy cooking everyone!

Thank you for your visits and comments this week.  I'll be going through the simple living comments on the weekend and visiting the blogs listed there.  I hope you have a wonderful and interesting weekend.  See you next week!  ♥


  1. Wonderful recipes - will be trying the mushroom pasta ASAP. How wonderful to have TWO sons as chefs.
    Have a lovely day,
    Tracy (Brisbane)

  2. I'm with you on this one - I love old fashioned home cooking. I enjoy watching cookery programmes on TV but many of the dishes are not what I call "real life". Your bread & butter pud looks awesome - I love it but OH doesn't so I never make it. But will definitely try the mushroom bake. Enjoy your weekend.

  3. Hi Rhonda,at our Cackle Club this week we were talking about this exact same thing,and 2 of the girls had made bread and Butter pudding the night before.I still use my old Commonsence Cookery book from school and another the Prespeterian cookbook..oldies but goodies.Also mum is 89 and lives with us and she still stands with me as we recreate her recipes, last night we had lambs fry and bacon in onion gravy her way, would you believe I have sliced the lambs fry the wrong way for as long as I can remember and although we don't have this dish very often it was delicious,her Pavlova is out of this world at 61 I have found it is never too late to learn and our elderly are a wealth of knowledge.(by the way I still love to watch Masterchef,just do not know why! but Mum and I watch it together while she tells them all off!) lol.Carole

  4. We don't usually have leftover bread (the kids eat it all!) but I really want to make the Bread and Butter Pudding some day.

  5. I agree with you totally! There is a time and place for each type of cooking, but home is for home cooking! I have lived all over the U.S. as well as South America, so I have a lot of background to draw upon when I cook. I love your recipes and will be trying each of them! Thank you!

  6. I'm on the same page. When I find a good recipe that we like, I keep it and make it over and over again. I think the daily cooking should be easy and fairly quick. I've teamed up with 2 friends to each create/adjust a recipe that is crockpot friendly and even freezer friendly. If we each create/adjust 5, and then compile, that's 15! Two weeks of usable recipes, that are easy to do on busy schedules.

    The weekends are for the extended cooking times (and summer -- except for the heat). Then I experiment. Weekdays are too important to have a quick, easy and tasty meal ready for both Hubby and I.

  7. The bread looks great and i'm a major fan of bread & butter pudding. Lately I've been layering stewed rhubarb in mine and it's gorgeous. I'm more of a traditional cook, trained and worked in Ballymaloe cookery school here in Ireland where bread making was done first thing every morning! I love your blog and signed up top follow!

  8. Bread and butter pudding was one of my Dad's favourites. He liked all the 'old fashioned' puddings, rice, jam roly poly, tapioca, syrup sponge and anything with custard. I haven't made it for years, might put it on the menu for the weekend. Thanks Rhonda.

  9. Oh yeah. That mushroom bake sounds divine. Can't wait to try it!

  10. Interesting that a home cook won Masterchef last year. My daughter also mastered profiteroles thanks to MC but did not make them into a tower - just a ring! Didn't have a metal cone in my kitchen cupboard! I have been trying out chef Gary's recipes from his book 'Comfort Food' which is more for home cooks. His scones are simple to make and the best I have ever made and his shortcrust pastry recipe, again - the best I have ever tasted. He's doing rice pudding tonight on the Masterclass so I think they are aware that a lot of home cooks rather than chefs are watching!

  11. I love bread and butter pudding too! Like the idea of the fruit bread too,My Mum also made a eggy custard thing that tasted a little butterscothcy....Yum!

  12. Hi Rhonda! Love your recipes. With the Bread and Butter Pudding, what have you sprinkled on the top?

  13. Ann, all the contestants are home cooks who want to morph into chefs. It's interesting and wonderful that last year's winner hasn't become a restaurant chef but is promoting home cooking. I think it's also interesting that most of the Masterclasses I've seen have been on food suited to home rather than restaurants. I liked the challenge where the contestants had to cook a meal in a home kitchen for a family. I wonder why they don't do more of that because most of the audience would be home cooks.

    Rosefergie, that is nutmeg grated on top. You can see the nutmegs in the second photo.

  14. Thanks for the recipes, i can't wait to try them. Unfortunately your's will look a lot better than mine..lol
    Thanks again !

  15. Rhonda, thank you for these recipes! I think I might try them all.

  16. Oh Rhonda, you have truely 'hit the nail on the head'.The basis of homemade cooking for me is very clear, VERY nutritious, simple and easy to duplicate with limited ingredients. When a family relies on the cook who is making 365 main meals a year I think it is a very important job. Underrated! Luckily my family appreciated me:)
    The one thing that these cooking trends have helped with is speciality diets. Over many years I have had to add to my skills because of a need for Gluten Free Food and they have been of help.

  17. Hi Rhonda, I couldn't agree more re home cooking, I have been watching taped episodes of Masterchef and while I enjoy some parts of it, it does make cooking something of a stellar achievement Because I rarely see advertising I am gob smacked by what's advertised in between -- packet sauces, boxed this and that. If people are watching this show, why wouldn't they want to cook fresh food? It seems to me that they are being told that if you aren't on MC you had better get it out of a box.

    Have a great weekend.

  18. Thats funny that I have just posted yesterday, something very similar- the evolution of frugal food. How food at our dinner plate has changed, within my family anyway.
    I think people change, because availability changes, ideas change. With so much mixed media available now that shows food from all over the globe, it would be hard for me not want to be influenced by this.
    With masterchef being on, people may or may not be going home and trying to recreate the fancy restaurant meals that they have seen- but if it gets them cooking a little more and making things from scratch though I think its a good thing.
    My grandfathers favourite dessert is still a Bread a butter Pudding- he is a happy man when that is served.

  19. I love what you have to say about real food cooking-there's a huge shift going on here in the states towards unprocessed foods. I'm learning how to "cook" for the first time!

  20. Rhonda
    Thank you for explaining what those things were, I was thinking they were huge hazelnuts or even maybe chestnuts???! I don't think I've ever seen fresh nutmegs, didn't even know they were real nuts! I just buy a spice jar every 5 years or so! (I used to use it in corned beef but we're pescitarian now, so I'll have to find another recipe for it!) I tried bread and butter recipe (the Simple Savings $21Challenge one) for the family once, but they found it extremely too fatty. Is yours similar? I like the look of it but don't want to waste the ingredients on something no one esle might like.

  21. Love home cooking. It is how we cook everyday. We always use pretty dishes and serving dishes and platters, but the food is what we like. No food towers or drizzling anywhere! :)

  22. The coolest thing about this post is that BOTH your sons are chefs! You must have raised them to appreciate real food and good cooking.

    I love MasterChef, though I generally don't do fancy presentation at my place, and there are some things that I'm very happy to leave to the restaurants! But I love that it proves over and over that great food is best cooked from real ingredients :-)

  23. Rhonda Of course they are all home cooks on MC - thanks for reminding me! I guess they would not eligible to enter if they had worked in the industry. What I was trying to say was that the person who seemed to me to be the most homely of all the contestants, who cooked basic family food won. I've come back to the comments to actually ask if you know if any Aussie supermarket chain stocks short grain pudding rice. Tried IGA and Coles but no luck. Hopefully old fashioned rice pudding will be on our table this weekend!

  24. Hi Rhonda, can I just ask if the glaze goes on the bread before or after baking? I'm definitely going to try it. Thanks for your wonderful blog!

  25. Ann, arborio rice will work in a pudding if you can't find short grain. Have a lovely time cooking this weekend.

    Nicola, glaze the loaf after baking. Happy cooking!

  26. One more question about the fruit bread - approximately how long do you bake it for?


  27. I love my old CWA cookbook so when the CWA brought out an Anniversary addition I bought it for my daughters and DIL. They were delighted. I can't wait to try your bread recipe. Thank you. Kim :)

  28. I totally agree with you about the fine dining style of tv chefs! They make cooking seem so difficult when actually home cooking shouldn't be. I love your recipe for the mushroom bake! Am going to try it out this weekend.

  29. Hi there,

    Bread and butter pud looks awsome! Funilly enough most of our cook books are Australian Womens Weekly they are great. We spent hours in Dubai( we don't have tv in Cyprus)watching cooking programs like master chef and my favorite of the so called new age chefs is Jamie Oliver. He does new stuff but with an element of home cooking and doing things like mum did. One of his books which I am reading now is Jamie at Home it is a mixture of what you grow in the garden and then recipies to use the produce.FAB!

    BTW got some pallets and will start building some veggie garden beds this weekend. Yuippiee

    We had a friend from Dubai over last week and she was very impressed with my homemade orange cake, cooked on the gas BBQ with chocolate icing. Now you wouldn't get that with afternoon tea at the Bur Al Arab! ( Sail building on an island)

    Off to try out baking bread on the BBQ now.( electricity is expensive here so we bought a Gas BBQ and have saved 90EUR over 2 months)

    Home cooking is the best gift you can ever give family and friends.

    Happy home baking everyone.

  30. I too love old fashioned cooking. Nothing nicer then a plain dinner of homemade food. Wonderful recipes.


  31. Rhonda, now you are talking! I made bread pud not long ago; it is one of my husband's favourites. Last night I did Sticky Toffee Puds, and while I am cutting down on sweets and meat in my diet; those old fashioned desserts are still wonderful and to be enjoyed now and again. Thanks for the Fruit Loaf recipe too.

  32. Rhonda Jean
    We have a whole series of masterchef programmes here in the UK -the original masterchef & the spin offs -Professional,Celebrity & Junior.
    Thank you for such an inspiring blog - Sue

  33. Funny that you mentioned Nourishing Traditions. I've wanted to read it and just before I checked your blog I was on my library website putting it on hold. I can't wait to get it.

    I know what you mean about things being out of fashion, especially when it comes to clothes. I've never understood why you would stop wearing something you like and that flattered you just because "no one else" was wearing that style anymore.

    I'm the US, but a few weeks ago I met an Australian couple who are here on vacation. (I've never met an Australian in person.) They were such delightful people. =)


  34. I have a question Rhonda. Do we need to set this pan of bread pudding in the oven into another of water as you do custards? I am so going to make this bread and buttter pudding...we call it just bread pudding over here but good is good no matter where!!!! :) Sarah

  35. I have never heard of the program "Masterchef" in the USA. Then again, I only have a couple of cable tv channels. There might be something similar on one of the food network channels.
    I loved what you had to say about home cooking. I don't like doing fancy things. In my opinion, it's just not realistic on a daily basis. I'm just starting to enjoy cooking again. I love home cooking. It's real and tasty :) :) Plus, it is part of what makes a house a home, in my opinion.
    I enjoy your recipes. I may have to try the bread pudding recipe. I used to eat this quite a bit as a child. It brings back many happy memories for me :) :)
    I plan on making "baked oatmeal" on Sunday. It's an easy recipe and inexpensive.
    Greetings and hugs from Oregon. Thanks for taking the time to share with all of us :) :) :)

  36. Sarah, you can set it in a bain marie if you wish to but if you keep an eye on it, in a slow oven, you should be right.

  37. Nicola, about 20 minutes for the fruit bread. If will be ready when it's golden brown and it sounds hollowish when you tap it.

  38. The fruit bread look amazing! A weekend project for me - I don't have a bread machine so breadmaking is a great stress reliever for me. :-)

    Thanks from Janet in Banff, Alberta, Canada

  39. Thanks for the great post, Rhonda. A lot of us "newer" moms/cooks/home economists would LOVE to cook this way, and I think, are working in this direction. Unfortunately, we weren't taught to cook this way. Even those who make mostly homemade meals have learned to find a recipe we want to try and head out to pick up every ingredient. I am learning to compromise to use up what is on hand, and find ways to plan creative and SIMPLE meals. THANK YOU for the recipes!!

  40. I was just trying to decide on a nice easy desert for tonight. You reminded me about a family favourite... bread and butter pudding! That's what we'll be having :-) Thanks.

  41. Rhonda, Do you know if you can prepare this dish the night before and keep it in the fridge, assembled but not cooked, overnight?

    I wanted to try doing that to save time on a busy day, but wondered if it would get too soggy.

  42. These are old wonderful recipes that I can't get enough! Always loved these all!

  43. Great recipes, I'll definitely try the mushroom bake.
    As someone already commented, we do have Masterchef here in the UK plus all the spin-offs. My son is a chef and was short-listed for the Masterchef Professional series once but no one dropped out so he didn't get on.

  44. Hi
    reading your back posts again I love doing that going over what you have written over and over again t be inspired...
    I agree with you completly that home cooked food need not have fine dining , we in India make most of our food from scratch and its a great pleasure to serve up dishes to our guests and they need not be well arranged and good looking but they should surely be tasty and made with a lots of love , if you read my blog you will see what we call as a THALI ... And you will see how we serve our meals... I would love to know what you feel about it if you find some time to comment... THANKS...

  45. Lovely recipes.
    We have masterchief india now, season 2 is about to begin. season 1 was quite sad, so we didnt bother to watch.

    MC-Australia is tons better, and mum watches it regularly, i whenever i can :)
    Definitely make you want to jump and run to the kitchen to make something :)

  46. Great recipe. Looking forward to trying out with the ruhubarb. Thanks I have learned so much from you.


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