Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Musical Gardener Cooks

 Well I'm not at all sure I had envisioned my second blog after my introductory session to be on the topic of cooking, but since there's not much going on in the garden, and school is out for two weeks, food it is.  Besides that, we have two holiday suppers on the agenda this week.  The first was a family get-together (the guinea pig warm-up to the second, but let's keep that to ourselves) that occurred last night.  The second is a four couple, silent auction charity event, tonight.  We usually offer a seven course meal as a bidding item once or twice a year to chosen charities.  These always seem to generate some active bidding and some sizeable donation monies.  What to serve as desert - has to be festive, homemade and something out of the ordinary, and well, memorable would be a bonus.

I mentioned in my first entry about Christmas pudding.  My mother used to make a carrot plum pudding every year at Christmas time and it was good.  However in the last twenty odd years of serving Christmas dinners, it was not something I/we had ever really thought about adding to my/our repertoire.  Too much bother!

Christmas day brings about the annual family phone calls with relatives who cannot make our yearly feast (imagine the cheek of those who would dare to enjoy their own cooking).  My eldest brother mentioned having spent the day cooking for his son and daughter-in-law.  Among his creations he listed one of Mom's old recipes: Carrot pudding.  Enter nostalgia and a bit of competitiveness (hum tune from Annie Get Your Gun -- Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better).  I would venture to Youtube and see what was suggested there.  There are lots of (I'm sure) wonderful selections offered, but one in particular caught my eye, or at least frenzied my taste buds and tickled my general sense of laziness. What I liked about this recipe was the fact that it is cooked in ten minutes, as opposed to the more traditional methods of steaming for four plus hours.

I'm certain it is a simple operation to directly import a video from Youtube to your blog, but yours truly has yet to master the concept.  So I will tell you what to type in when you hit the Youtube website:  How To Make The Perfect Christmas Pudding, by Marguarite Patten.  A delightful little British lady leads you step by step through her process.

Here is her list of ingredients:

Christmas Pudding Recipe from ANCHOR® Butter

Serves 4-6

Pudding ingredients:

•50g ANCHOR® Butter
•50g plain flour
•Half a teaspoon of mixed spice ( I used cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves)
•75g breadcrumbs
•100g soft dark brown sugar
•150g sultanas
•75g Raisins
•50g Dates
•50g Candied Cherries
•125g currants (see note below)
•25g coarsely chopped peel
•grated rind and juice of half lemon
•2 eggs
•2 tablespoon treacle
•1 tablespoon golden/corn syrup
•50ml Orange Juice
•50ml Apple Juice

Sieve all the dry ingredients together and mix well. Stir in all remaining ingredients until completely mixed. Lightly grease a half litre (1 pint) pudding basin and fill with the mixture. Cover with cling film and make a slit in the top to allow steam to escape. Cook on microwave high for 10 minutes. Allow to stand for 10 minutes after cooking.

Pretty simple eh?  Of course, never one to leave well enough alone, I chose to tweak and renovate so to speak.   No currants in the pantry, by choice.

Rabbit path, here ever after to be referred to as RP.  I have two fine black currant bushes that produce loads of berries each year, that the birds seem to thoroughly enjoy.  I always have great, grandiose schemes of beating the birds to the crop, and making some sort of currant compote to serve with pork, but it hasn't happened yet.

However I digress, back to no dried currants in the pantry.  Mom's recipe was a carrot pudding -- no carrots in dear little Ms. Patten's concoction.  Simple substitution; just grate up the same amount of carrots and micromave them for thirty seconds.  I also am not a fan of dates (except as the filling for oatmeal cookies or matrimonial cake), so you can also substitute carrots there, if you so wish.

I have an ancient set of Pyrex nesting bowls.  I took the red one (about 1 liter/quart), lined it with plastic wrap (whilst humming the tune to Mr. Cellophane of course, and ignoring that nagging little voice,  "should I be microwaving plastic?")  Then I dumped the mixed glop into the bowl and put it in the microwave for 10 minutes.  Just for good measure I gave it an extra two minutes afterward - didn't seem to hurt!

The pudding dropped out ceremoniously onto a waiting plate and was covered overnight with a clear cake carrier.  I know traditional puddings are cheeseclothed, saturated with rum, and hung in the summer kitchen to age for several moons.  Ours.....needed for supper!

My missus, upon inspection (of the pudding not herself), pronounced it "kinda hard". An hour prior to serving, we opted to put the pud in the steamer - probably a wise choice, as a further microwaving would have dried and toughened the little brute.  So while Ms. Patten says nothing of steaming I would opt for an hour long sauna session in the double broiler.  It warms, softens and moistens.

Sauce, I suppose, is optional, after all, Ms. Patten did not even mention such a condiment.

However the addition of sauce did add a certain rich, sinfully, caloric element to our otherwise heavenly ambrosia.  So here is my sauce recipe, which I've used often on apple dumplings and traditional bread pudding.

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon of rum flavouring(or the real stuff if you prefer)
1 tablespoon of water

Mix together in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, while stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and spoon onto the sliced and waiting pudding.

And thus is reborn a somewhat revised family tradition. So since attempt number one was successful, we are going to try attempt two today for tonight's supper.  If the pudding turns out, the camera works, and the stars all align in the heavens, I will try and post a photo of our efforts.

And that's about all I have to say for today.

Musings and Meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

1 comment:

  1. You are brave to experiment on the unsuspecting public. :-)


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