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Nigella's Bread with Warm milk comfort food

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hi guys,

i was watching Nigella Feasts the other night and she made this dish that i have never seen or heard of before. it's basically: take bread, rip into smallish pieces, put in bowl, boil milk, pour over the bread with some white sugar (she used vanilla sugar). simple eh? she said that her mom used to make this for her and she grew up with it. i can see how this would be comforting and a nice treat at the end of the day, but have never had it myself. i have never heard of this dish before, and i don't think any of my friends have had it before either. i am wondering if other ppl eat this as well? or have i just been under a rock my entire life?? thanks!

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  1. This must be an Irish/English thing. My Irish grandma would make this if anyone ws not feeling well or for "treat" - she called it goody. I thought it was dreadful....

    See also this link to a description of Milk Toast...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milk_toast

    1. This was my Dad's favorite comfort food, as well (his ancestry was French/Swiss). My Mom (who was Irish) thought he was nuts to eat this, and the sight of it caused my brothers and me to flee the room.

      1. My wife and I had a good laugh at this "recipe". Very properly English, I am sure.
        However, we did our best imitation of "Mummy, more bread and milk please, I am ever so hungry - please Mummy" all afternoon. No Anglo-phobe here as I am of English descent, just a twisted sense of humor.
        I drive my 9 year old nuts by saying (when she asks for dessert and she has not finished her dinner) " you can't have any pudding if you don't eat your meat".
        She is a bit too young to know "which one is Pink".

        2 Replies
        1. re: Tee

          well really, how can she have any pudding if she won't eat her meat?

          at our house when one was ill and just beginning to be able to eat beyond dry toast we used to put a bunch of saltines in a bowl and pour hot milk over them. cracker soup. doesn't that sound completely awful? the thing was, at that stage of recovery it tasted wonderful to us. sort of makes me want to try this recipe...yikes, but i do.

          1. re: xena

            wow that sounds very interesting! Salt and warm milk combined though? if you try it again, tell us what you think of it now!

        2. My Mom was of German/Russian descent and she would make this for us if we weren't feeling well. She always called it "Graveyard Stew" and I don't know if that was her twisted sense of humor (which I inherited) or what they really called it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Hanky

            hahaha. thanks for all the responses. i thought it was more of an English thing. good to know that i'm not THAT much out of the loop.
            thanks guys!

            1. re: Hanky

              Yeah, we had it also when we were sick. I remember it fondly, so I guess I liked it.

              1. re: Hanky

                "Graveyard stew" is what it was called in our house too. The bread was toasted , then buttered, then the hot milk was poured over, and then a little sugar.

              2. I watched that episode also and it reminded me of a "treat" a friend of mine ate when I was a kid. She'd crush up saltine crackers in a bowl and pour warm milk over it -- and sometimes a sprinkle of sugar. I thought it was disgusting, but she said her whole family loved it.

                1. I'm pretty sure Benjamin Bunny or some other Beatrix Potter creation ate it after surviving some sort of "fearful scrape." I thought it was just for critters - interesting to know its for real.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: averill

                    I think it was in fact, the story of Peter Rabbit himself. But it was for no misdeed - if you'll remember Peter was put to bed with camomile tea whilst Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail "had bread and milk and blackberries for supper."

                  2. I thought I was being inventive by toasting up some white bread, med brown, tearing into peices, sprinkling with sugar and pouring cold evaporated milk over it all. Started doing this when I was about 9 yrs.

                    I must have been English in another life.

                    Filipina in this one.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Veggietales

                      is this a common "dish" in the Phillipines? why the evaporated milk? very interesting! do you still do this?

                      1. re: chalenegirl

                        Canned evaporated milk is (or at least was) easier to buy and keep in the tropics.
                        paulj

                    2. my dad eats this all the time. irish-italian brought up in the states. his ultimate comfort food.

                      1. I've seen another version: toasted buttered bread slices topped with warm milk, possibly a pinch of salt.

                        1. Yes, I grew up with this comfort food as well. I have often thought about it and thought that I was the only one who ever had it. So now it is comforting to know there are others out there. My Mothers ancestry was English. I think it was the sweetness in the treat that did it for me. Not sure if I could have it now. Sometimes I will have a bowl of sliced banana with milk and brown sugar. Maybe that comes close.

                          1. I was just thinking as I was having my breakfast toast, bread, milk and sugar is the base for Bread Pudding. Many people will also say "Yech" to this dessert. Not me. It is delicious.

                            1. My Ozarks grandma taught me to do this with leftover cornbread. It's still one of my favorite breakfasts.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: lora

                                The cornbread/milk/buttermilk combination seems to be particular to the Southern and mountain communities. I can remember my grandfather crumbling cold cornbread into a bowl, chopping an onion into it, and pouring buttermilk over it. A lot of recipes like this come from having to be thrifty and not waste food, yet still be able to fill the family's tummies.

                                1. re: homerunmama63

                                  We did the cornbread/warm milk version with honey or molasses for breakfast. I also knew someone who loved crumbled saltine crackers in buttermilk.

                              2. My mother also made "milk toast". As soon as she took the toast out of the toaster, she would sprinkle the toast with sugar and nutmeg,tear into pieces and cover with cold milk. My mother grew up on a farm & she remembers eating milk toast when other breakfast items were in short supply(chickens not laying, just before the butchering when the bacon & ham from last year were all gone). Also, I love saltine crackers and cold milk.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: corabeth

                                  this sounds really good! do you think cinnimon would taste good in this as well? do you still do this?

                                  1. re: chalenegirl

                                    I'm sure it would be good with cinnamon, but we have always used nutmeg. I do this mostly in the winter. It seems such a comfort food .

                                2. Yes, very English and it seems other countries have their own version, reading over these replies. A fast version of the rather more fancy (cos it has about two more ingredients and gets baked) bread and butter pudding. Then there's that lovely spicy bread pudding which has never tasted as good as it used to when I was a child in London.

                                  1. It's not something I ever thought of eating (unless you put an egg in it and bake it, then it's a delicious bread pudding!) When I read about 'bread and milk' in english stories as a kid I always thought it meant a slice of buttered bread and a glass of milk to drink!

                                    1. i love this, food milk and bread,Its very comforting, i use to make it another way you can try this its really really nice, Just rip up some hot cross buns into a bowl pour on hot milk, and maybe add some sugar and mixspice/cinamon if you like.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: faith123

                                        hot cross buns, though naturally have sugar and the spice in them, but you can use any fruit buns.

                                      2. My Croatian dad taught me this. Although we added the sugar to the hot milk, put it in a mug, and dipped the bread in it or floated a piece in at a time and fished it out with a spoon. So good. And I remember the best part was drinking the last of the sweet milk. My bro wouldn't touch it, but I enjoyed it immensely.

                                        My dad's mother's spin on it was to serve us Rice Krispies with hot milk. Sometimes it was okay, but most times I ate it that way to make her happy. I always felt like she wanted to cook *something* and not just have us assemble our own breakfast. Thanks for the pleasant memories your post generated!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Snorkelvik

                                          This is so funny! My dad would put hot milk on our corn flakes in the winter! I sill love that fragrance and taste!

                                        2. I grew up on Milk Toast. Grandma made it and she was half German, half English.

                                          We made egg bread toast, buttered, salted and peppered it, laid the slices in a bowl, and poured hot milk over them. I still crave it and make it from time to time. Yum!

                                          I can't really imagine it with sugar but I am sure it's great too.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: NeNePie

                                            My grandfather from Utah would make this. He also called it "Milk Toast". His family came from Denmark in the 1840's.

                                            1. re: Antilope

                                              That reminds me of the Danish ale and bread soup in Babette's Feast.
                                              paulj

                                          2. I've never heard of this, but I actually think it does sound like good comfort food. I imagine the bread lightly toasted, soaked in just enough warm milk to get wet, but not soggy, and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

                                            1. Yep, but in our house the bread was toasted and buttered, and sugar was optional.

                                              1. Back when I was a kid in Pennsylvania, my mother used to give us this as kids, though I believe it was served with cold milk as a breakfast food. Other than that, it was exactly the same. I don't know if it has an origin (my family is Scotch-Irish and German in its roots), but it seems like the sort of thing that could easily be part of many older cultures due to the simplicity of it.

                                                1. i admit that i enjoy graham crackers broken up with milk poured over, warm or cold. it's probably not too different from that. it is so soothing.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: pigtails

                                                    I used to love graham crackers with milk! I'm surprised no one else has mentioned it. Oh, now I'm craving it.

                                                    We used to be given warm milk and sugar over bread (never toast though; that sounds nice) when we were sick too. German background on both sides.

                                                  2. I'm English - I've never heard of this, never mind eaten it. It sounds disgusting.

                                                    Nigella is from an upper-class background, so it may be a "nursery tea" kind of thing.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                      heheheheh....my Irish grandma would spit before she would serve "upper class" "nursery tea" food. Though this was a treat for invalids....so who knows?

                                                    2. We just tried this on vacation. You have to use real bread and not grocery store ones w/ additives and preservatives because something in it makes the bread gummy, not soggy like it should be. I'll have to try it again because it was really bad.

                                                      1. Loved to see this thread - good childhood memories.
                                                        When we were younger, my parents and grandparents would take the more stale homemade dense, Italian bread and rip it into cubes (not uniform) and put them in a bowl. They would then warm some milk and make some espresso. WHen the espresso was done, add it to the warmed milk and sweeten until desired, making sure the sugar dissolved. Pour piping hot mixture over bread and TA DA!!! My parents now laugh about all the things people won't feed children and said that in Italy, it was part of either breakfast or bedtime snack.
                                                        Hmmm - bed time snack = espresso?
                                                        It was comfort food at its best, especially in the winter. Not eaten regularly but a treat. I think it was a way to consume all the more stale homemade bread in the olden days.

                                                        1. Hey we had "bread'n'milk" sometimes when growing up. I loved it! I think we would have had it for pudding when there wasn't much food around and it was most likely to use up stale bread. It was like Nigella's recipe except you put the broken bread, sugar, vanilla and milk in a pot and cooked till the bread had nearly absorbed all the milk - which didn't take long. I've not had it as an adult and haven't ever given it to my own children - as teenagers now I wonder if they'd think it was 'slops'!! Bit like Junket...have you had that? A milk 'jelly' (jello if you're american ;)) flavoured with sugar and vanilla and set with 'renco' - rennet used in cheesemaking. It was traditionally served to invlalids as is easily digestible but was also a pudding we had as children here in NZ. I loved Junket too but never gave it to my kids when they were growing up. Imagine trying to 'sell' "milk jelly/jello" to your teenagers these days!!

                                                          1. I remember a when I was a child my grandfather would prepare broken slices of white bread in a bowl, pour cold milk over it and sprinkle with white sugar. As a kid, I though I had died and gone to food heaven! I haven't tried it as an adult - afraid my memories will be spoiled. My grandfather was from French Canada and he referred to this little treat as 'miettons'. I might have the spelling wrong but that was the pronounciation. Talk about comfort food! It is a very fond memory.

                                                            1. As a young boy, I remember my mom shredding bread into a glass and pouring milk into the glass, up to the rim and that was normal for us. Nowadays, I don't think it would be acceptable, but back in the day you had to work with what you had. Maybe having less means had something to do with it also. My mothers family came from Ireland in 1847 so the famine might have had something to do with it (meaning, things that work). I need to revisit it, but haven't had the courage.....

                                                              1. Well, this is my favourite childhood food. My mom used to add saffron, coarsely ground pistachios and almonds. Since I had sweet-tooth, I loved it. I had quite forgotten this recipe. I have no idea about the origin of this recipe, but I am from India and my mom used to do this when she was too tired to cook. Thanks a lot for bringing me back the memories :))))

                                                                1. My dad used to have milk toast but it was just cool milk poured over toast. daddy used to eat it when he wasn't feeling all that well.

                                                                  Me and him both used to have milk and crackers. Take a big handful of saltines and crush them into a glass and pour milk over it.
                                                                  It looked pretty disgusting but I still pass up the cereal and have cracker and milk sometimes.

                                                                  1. The Bulgarian boyfriend made something similar to this once when we had white bread going stale. Except he added goats' feta (in place of Sirene, which we don't get here) on top of the bread and sugar, then poured warm milk over the rest. He could not convince me to take a bite! But it's apparently something of a treat from his childhood in Bulgaria.

                                                                    1. Yes, maybe Irish/English origin (my ancestry) because, when I was young, my mother served us bowls of hot bread and milk, topped with sugar, honey or golden syrup for a teatime snack (weekends only). It was never given to adults in the family. This was just after the war and in rural Australia, money was short. I loved "Bread'n milk" then, and still think of it nostalgically (I am 72 years old now and could today happily consume a bowl if it were offered me, although I have never got around to making it for myself.