Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sussex Pond Pudding revealed!!

Before you begin making the pud get your big old steamer/double boiler out...I use a nice big double boiler that came with a spaghetti strainer, also find yourself a 3 cup (24 fl oz) basin or bowl that you can steam. The double boiler, or steamer, should take the depth of the bowl with a fitted lid not touching the top of the bowl!! Put the empty bowl into the top of the boiler and fill with cold water until it comes to about 3/4 way up the side of the bowl, take the empty bowl back out, put the lid on and start the heat 'til the water is doing a nice rolling boil. Then butter well the inside of your cute little bowl. Set aside. Then cut out a round of parchment big enough to fit the top of the bowl and down the sides about 3/4", butter this parchment...then also cut out a round of aluminium foil the same you're we go!!
This dessert is not vegetarian!...but it can be if you use butter instead of suet in the dough.

For the dough:
1 ½ cups of white flour, about 7 ozs
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 oz shredded suet, just less than 1 cup (you can use butter here if you like but it doesn't work as well as the suet...the butter can make the dough greasier and heavier so try to get suet if you can)
3/8 cup/about 3 fl ozs iced water
2 tablespoons sugar

For the filling:
2 lemons, organic is preferable as you will be using the entire lemon
½ cup/4 oz light brown sugar
6 tablespoons/3 oz butter cut into small pieces

To make the dough: 1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together in a bowl.
2. Rub the suet in by hand or pulse in a processor until the mix resembles coarse meal.
3. Add the water bit by bit and blend until you have a soft dough.
4. Refrigerate for at least ½ hour preferably one hour.
5.Now, take the well rested dough out of the figerdator and roll out two circles, one large enough to line your bowl and one large enough to cover the top of the bowl. Again I am using my trusty 3 cup bowl which I have buttered well prior to lining with my dough.
6. I tried this pudding twice, the first time I did it the traditional way which is to just put the lemons whole into the dough case, I added a few small calamondin oranges which I had growing on a small tree in my living pop the lemons in and add the butter and sugar....this is for radical lemon lovers...the lemons were hard for even me to eat and I like very bright tart flavours, so the second time I sliced the lemons...I didn’t have any oranges left, and layered them with the butter and sugar. I much preferred the sliced lemons but also think the oranges added a bit of mellowness to the flavour so it’s up to you if you’d like to add some orange slices to the mix.
7. Now pop your little round dough top on the pud, wet the inside dough all around the edge then fold the inside dough over the top dough and squeeze together to form a seal over the top, you don’t want your pond leaking out do you.

8. Tie up your little pudding thus...... cover with the round of parchment, then with foil and then put a couple of elastic bands around the top edge of the bowl to make the parchment and foil somewhat airtight, THEN use string to tie like a package, this really helps you retrieve the bowl from the pot without burning the crap out of your fingers!!! Pop into your delightful, delovely steam bath....

...and boil for three hours non-stop, make sure to keep checking the water level so it doesn't dry out......take the pud out of the water bath, do not worry if your pud looks as unappetizing as the picture a sticky, dense stodgy mess...that is normal as it is almost impossible to stop the top of the pud from getting somewhat soggy in the steaming process..... allow to cool for about 10 minutes then invert it onto a plate with a deep centre, don’t use a flat or shallow plate or you’ll have a nice sticky mess on your hands....

.....cut into the pud et voila out pours your pond!! I am thinking there may be another reason it is called a Sussex Pond Pudding and that’s because after you have done the water bath for three hours the contents of the pan look somewhat akin to a pond in high summer....inevitably some of the ingredients have leaked out into the water and end up as a bubbling mess....but we don’t really need to discuss this any further do we.
This is a fun pudding for a dinner party presentation where your guests don’t know what’s in the’s quite the treat seeing the juices flow but beware you better love bright lemony flavors!! The dough was intriguing albeit a little spongy and soggy in parts but nevertheless quite nice and unusual, certainly NOT a light pudding by any stretch of the imagination, but when your bones are chilled after a day out in the snow and wind it’ll certainly satisfy any craving you have for a stick-to-your-ribs dish!!

I am starting a previous recipes page - please take a look below the masthead above for other curious and wonderful British Puddings - thanks!!

Please consider joining me on my Facebook page for more British puddings - both intriguing and not, my artwork updates and pictures of beautiful Maine - thanks and happy steaming!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

When you look outside and see this...........

...careening down your road like something out of Mad Max... really do crave a little colour in your life. James very kindly hung these two 'mandalas' of mine one atop the other and they make for a colourful pair. I LOVE geometric is so contemplative laying it out and then once you have the groundwork done you can 'mindlessly' fill in the colours, just like Paint by Numbers, which I was a little obsessive about when I was a kid.
The only problem with the 'mindless' aspect is that many a time you end up running out of colours and the final spaces are surrounded by all the colours you've already used...ooops!!
Now what is this little treasure.....don't you love the way the cubes look hanging like this? James is creating a new maquette for a presentation in a couple of weeks...and he's heading off in a colourful direction too......
How cool are these?
And then of course it warms the cockles of your little cotton socks to see Eleanor and Harry sleeping toasty like pickles by the fire...Eleanor cautiously keeping an eyeball in Harry's direction .......just in case!!
Hey...this is my 1ooth post...who knew I had so much to type about!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Consider the tote, BYOB!!

According to the EPA last year in the US over 380 Billion (yep that says Billion, not million!!) single use plastic bags were sent to the landfill. WOW!!! Think how much plastic we could keep out of the landfills if we just brought our own bag to the store every time we went. I use my cotton bags a lot and yet somehow I still seem to accrue the odd plastic bag but generally I avoid them like the plague. Here is just a smattering of the bags I have available for your procurement, as gifts or for your own self aggrandisement, at my Cafe Press Store. I am donating some of the profits from the particular bag seen above to a local Maine organization, Maine Farmland Trust which
  • Protects and preserves Maine’s farmland
  • Keeps agricultural lands working
  • Supports the future of farming in Maine
...or you may prefer something geared towards Valentine's Day and SUGAR!!
...or the beauteous Monarch butterfly and delicious strawberries
...or for cat lovers...a Silver Tabby amidst the morning glories

...or perhaps a beach tote reminding you to take life easy and "Live simply"

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Here comes the Spotted Dog, although there is another name..

Ooooohhhhh...when the weather outside is frightful and the wood stove is so delightful, consider making yourself a "Spotted Dog" or as some say "Spotted Dick"...dick being an old fashioned English word for pudding!! you can see from the title of this post I prefer dog...perhaps because I indeed do have a spotted dog!!
6oz/1 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of one lemon (preferably organic)
juice of 1/2 lemon
6oz/ 3/4 cup sugar
6oz/ 3/4 cup plump raisins
2oz/ 3/4 cup shredded suet (yes I know in the mincemeat recipe I mentioned how grim it was to shred suet BUT I have to admit I thought it was grim but hadn't actually done it..I bought some nice suet from Farmers Fare from local cows at Aldermere Farm and tried my hand and found it was somewhat akin to shredding soft candlewax...not gruesome at all really plus I tried one recipe with butter and suet and it came out a lot dense and a bit too carby and sticky)
2 large eggs whisked together
3 fl oz/1/3 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract/essence and 1 of cardamom
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

Before you get going on the recipe you will need to find yourself a 3 cup (24 fl oz) basin or bowl that you can steam. Then find a double boiler, or steamer, that takes the depth of bowl with a fitted lid not touching the top of the bowl!! Put the empty bowl into the top of the boiler and fill with water until it comes to about 3/4 way up the side of the bowl, take the empty bowl back out, put the lid on and start the heat 'til the water is doing a nice rolling boil. Then butter well the inside of your cute little bowl. Set aside. Then cut out a round of parchment big enough to fit the top of the bowl and down the sides about 3/4", butter this parchment...then also cut out a round of aluminium foil the same you're we go!!
In the meantime make your 'pud'
1. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, cardamom, nutmeg and baking powder.
2. Rub the shredded suet into the flour mix until it resembles even sand, you ca also do this by whisking a couple of separate times in a food processor.
3. Stir in the zest, raisins and sugar.
4. Stir in the lemon juice, then the eggs, then the vanilla and then the milk.
5. Bob's your have the thing you see below...a nice thick batter!!

Now put all your delicious batter into your buttered bowl, cover with the round of parchment, then with foil and then put a couple of elastic bands around the top edge of the bowl to make the parchment and foil somewhat airtight, THEN use string to tie like a package, this really helps you retrieve the bowl from the pot without burning the crap out of your fingers!!!
THUS...your pud should look like this ready to bobbed into it's steam bath...below...
...and here we go, put the lid on and boil that little 'puppy'(ha ha) for about 2 hours!! Check on the water occasionally and make sure it doesn't get low...refill with boiling water to keep the boil going. About 20 minutes before your 2 hours is up start to make the custard as below...the dog and the custard should both be almost hot when served.
TA DAH!!!! Here's the pud after it has sat for about 10 minutes to settle, untie the string, uncover the pud and invert onto a plate...please be aware that when you first uncover the pud it may well look somewhat uncooked, like a dumpling, but this is because this part, the flat bottom, of the pud can get a bit damp during the long steaming...just wait until you un-bowl it though...looks lovely doesn't it, I think it looks like a mold for a hat!!??

from "Irish Traditional Food" by Theodora FitzGibbon, a goodly trusty cookbook
1 heaped tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg and 1 egg yolk whisked together
10 fl oz/ 1 1/4 cups whole milk

1. Beat together the egg, egg yolk, vanilla and sugar in a bowl.
2. Have another double boiler on the go.
3. Heat the milk to almost boiling in the top part of the double boiler but on the stove top to make it go faster.
4. Stir a little of the hot milk into the egg mix and then a bit more to temper the temperature.
5. Then put the top part of the double boiler back over the bottom and the boiling water and whisk the egg and milk mix into the rest of the milk
6. Do not leave the custard alone now until it is finished or it will curdle whilst you are not looking and you will have to start again. SO stir and stir and stir with a wooden spoon until it starts to thicken and coats the back of the spoon as in the picture take the spoon out of the custard, turn the spoon over, run your finger through the custard and if the line doesn't fill back in it is ready, don't let it cook too long or get too hot as the eggs will start to turn into scrambled eggs and the sauce will be grainy.....take off the heat immediately and continue to stir.
Pour custard into a heat proof vessel as below...
Spoon your pud out and cover with lashings of hot custard and consume!!! YUM, tastes a lot like a very lightly flavoured and weighted Christmas does stick to your ribs but not quite so tenatiously!! Happy steaming...we are lucky to have a good old wood burning stove as we can steam all day long on this little purring darling and not waste one extra calorie of energy!!
And here is my spotted dog, little Eleanor, not so spotty in this picture but how could I resist sharing with you Ellie resting with her oatmeal rabbit!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Snowmen, sculpture and more snow!!

All of a sudden early this afternoon the snow was just perfect to make snowmen...the temperature had raised to above freezing and the snow got a bit slushy and easy to out I went and made my local snowperson...coals from the wood stove, an old local carrot nose, James's scarf and hat, arm branches from the nearby spruce....making snowmen is not as easy as you think if you have never made one...quite hard to get them round...not as easy as you see in the movies where you just start rolling a ball and all of a sudden you have the perfect takes a lot of frigid fingers and considerable manipulation of the frozen stuff.
Cheeky me went out at dusk and used the flash...I just love how it makes the snowflakes look...I have to tell you when it snows at dusk it is one of the most beautiful things in the world, I just love it, everything gets so blue and silent...I think the blueness actually comes from ultraviolet but I may be making that up!!
Looking through the icicles hanging from the eaves at James' sculpture "Leap, run leaping" doesn't look like it but I took this photo at about 11AM...awfully dark isn't it??
The sculpture from the 'back' showing the snow covering sliding down and revealing that lovely red edge......
...and here the delicious curve of the snow which swoops and piles just like sand dunes
...masquerading as a shark!!
...and with a perfect line of snow silhouetting the top edge...there's the flash again!!
Almost a white out!
This one is my favourite, it really captures the feel of the driving snow. I love snowfall...I am not so keen on snow when it has fallen but as it is falling it is magical and enchanting and makes me feel like a kid again.

IN THE DEEP MID WINTER by Christina Rossetti, sister of Dante and muse to the Pre-Raphaelites...first verse and my favourite Christmas carol

In the deep mid winter
Frosty wind made moan
Earth stood hard as iron
Water like a stone
Snow has fallen, snow on snow
Snow on snow
In the deep mid winter
Long ago.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year, a new snowstorm and some Florentine's

Happy New Dawn, Happy New Day, Happy New Year, Happy New Decade!!
Celebrate 2010 with FLORENTINE'S a festive treat that is neither, cookie, biscuit nor sweet (candy) but seems to be a combination of all!!...for those of you in the US it is akin to a Heath bar combined with fruitcake but don't let that put you off!! They are so simple they are quite hard to make..but here goes...
THE RECIPE from "The London Ritz Book of Afternoon Tea" by Helen Simpson
90g/3 1/2oz/7 tbsps butter
100g/4oz/1/2 cup sugar
100g/4oz/2/3 cup chopped almonds (which have been toasted first in a 200F oven for about 10 mins. until fragrant)
50g/2oz/1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger
50g/2oz/1/3 cup dried cranberries...mine were raspberry infused but use any you like or dried cherries...something red though looks good
50g/2oz/1/3 cup chopped candied orange peel (I made my own...cut the skins off 2 organic, unsprayed oranges, remove as much pith as possible, and slice into strips...put in a pan and cover with water, bring to the boil and remain on the boil for about 10 mins, drain and repeat this process another 2 times (this process helps rid the rinds of bitterness but keeps the orange flavour), then put 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in a pan with the drained orange peel and boil down and down and down, adding more water as needed until the peel is transparent...this takes an inordinately long time and is very unguagable so you just need to keep boiling, as soon as the mixture gets thicker keep stirring and don't leave alone it will catch and burn very easily!!...the longer you boil the softer the peel....but transparent is what you are aiming for...various cookbooks have told me that this only takes 10 mins but NO!!! I have not found this to be true! When they are ready lay each strip out individually on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before chopping into small pieces...they will be very sticky!!!)
15ml/1 tbsp/1tbsp single/heavy cream
175g/6oz/6 squares semi-sweet chocolate
1. Line your baking sheets with parchment can only put 4 Florentines at a time on a regular sized baking sheet as they spread quite impressively.
2. Heat oven to 350F.
2. In a pan melt together the butter and sugar and boil gently together for 1 minute.
3. Remove pan from heat and stir in all the other ingredients EXCXLUDING the chocolate.
4. Stir everything around 'til all is well coated.
5. Drop small rounded heaps of this goo onto the baking sheets well to each corner.
6. Bake for 10 minutes until evenly toast coloured...the edges will be darker than the centre but the centre must be 'set' before you take them out of the oven, if they aren't you won't be able to get them off the parchment without loosing the centres!! Believe me this happened. I found if you rotate the sheet halfway through cooking and distribute the solid ingredients this helped the centres set better.
7. Remove when evenly browned... use a spatula or similar to nudge the edges of the 'caramel' into smaller and neater circles, then leave on the tray for about 5 minutes until they are beginning to set...try out with one first and see if you can move it easily to a cooling so with them all when ready.
8. Repeat until you have used up all the goo.
9. Melt the chocolate in a dry pan...any water and the chocolate will 'seize'...this is not good and renders the chocolate useless for this project.
10. Turn Florentines over to their smooth side and put a dollop of melted chocolate on each, smudge around to near the edges, when the choccy has set a little use the times of a fork to make wiggly lines in the absolute must for them to look authentic.
11. Cool completely and consume...being careful not to crack any teeth as these are quite the crunchy delight, although a day after they are made they do ameliorate and loose some of that hard candy edge . Mine would have been more glittery and colourful if I had chosen to go down the path of red and green glaceed cherries but I couldn't bring myself to use such 'not-found-in-nature' anomalies...I preferred the raspberry infused cranberries I found at the Belfast Co-op

NOW FOR NEW YEARS DAY PICTURES...of the snow BEFORE the storm!! Yes friends these are images before the real storm hits...I will endeavor to take more if I can dig my way out of the house in the next few days!!

Happy New Year!! Love, Patricia xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx