Princess Di's all-time favorite

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By Robert Harland

What’s Cooking?

Monday, April 21, 2014


LAST week I wrote about the favorite dishes of the King of Rock and Roll. This week, I'm featuring a rather different kind of Royal – none other than Princess Diana, known affectionally around the world as the People’s Princess.

After her tragic death in Paris in 1997, her personal chef, Darren McGrady, wrote about his time working for her. He said she was a delight, very warm, very considerate of others and she had a mischievous sense of humor.

"Besides the public compassion she showed for people who needed her help all over the world, she treasured her staff after they had earned her trust," said McGrady, who now works for a family in Texas.

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As for food, he said her choices often were simple.

"Her favorite dishes included stuffed eggplant, stuffed bell peppers, spinach, red pepper roulade, spinach souffle, pear and walnut salad and steamed trout.

"She liked baked beans on whole wheat toast for breakfast because there was lots of protein and no fat - just carbs she could work off at the gym. Baked potatoes were often on her plate but they were plain or sprinkled lightly with a little vinaigrette dressing. She snacked on yogurt and grain bars and fresh fruit. Fresh lychees were a favorite.

Her all-time favorite dessert was a dish most of us also enjoy - bread and butter pudding. She once told Britain's Daily Mail royal columnist Nigel Dempster that “Darren makes the best bread and butter pudding in the world!"

Here's Chef Darren's recipe (slightly amended taking into account the availability of ingredients in Negros):

Ingredients

100 grams raisins
¼ cup sherry or brandy
12 slices white bread, crusts removed
170 gr unsalted butter, melted
9 egg yolks
3 tsps. vanilla essence
¾ cup sugar
½ cup milk
2 cups cream
2 tbsps. granulated sugar, to dust the top of the pudding
3 ozs. sliced almonds, lightly toasted
2 tbsps. confectioner's sugar

Method

Soak the raisins in the sherry or brandy, and leave covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for six to eight hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut 4 slices of the bread into ½-inch dice and spread the diced bread on the bottom of a casserole dish. Sprinkle the raisins on top of the bread cubes, and pour any remaining liquid over the bread. Cut the remaining 8 slices of bread in half diagonally and then cut each half slice in half diagonally to create 4 even triangles per slice. Dip the triangles into the butter, and arrange on the top of the raisins, overlapping the triangles slightly. Pour any remaining butter over the top of the bread.

Whisk the yolks, vanilla essence and sugar in a large bowl until combined. Bring the milk and cream to a boil in a heavy saucepan over high heat, and pour the hot mix onto the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the warm egg mixture over the bread, making sure all of the bread is coated, and set aside the coated bread for 20 minutes to allow the egg mixture to soak into the bread. Sprinkle with the extra sugar.

Place the casserole dish in a roasting tray filled with hot water halfway up the sides of the casserole dish, and bake on the middle rack in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown on top with the filling just set.

Remove the dish from the oven and roasting tray, and sprinkle with the toasted sliced almonds, and dust with powdered sugar. Cool slightly, and serve warm with a jug of cream and some fresh berries. Can also be served cold.

A pudding fit for a Queen!

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on April 21, 2014.

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