heart warming and spongey food for the winter

April 27, 2010

Steamed puddings are one of my favorite desserts for winter, along with crumbles, pies and other baked things warm, straight from the hot oven, with yummy custard or ice cream. The only thing that stops me is the steaming time. Other than that they are so easy to make, just mix the few ingredients, tie up in a pudding basin, and set to steam for a few hours. No it is not a dessert you can rush or prepare at the last minute, but it can be kept for ages in the fridge or freezer, and resteamed to serve whenever you feel like some warmth.

The puddings became a particular favorite of mine when I first moved out of my family home to live on my own. I had no microwave and had just made a christmas plum pudding. Luckily I could still enjoy a few slices steamed till moist and spongey and ready to eat. I just love the light texture and satisfying feeling of the pudding.

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

We could make sweet or savory pies with rolled suet crusts, or boiled or steamed suet sponge mixes. I still really want to try to make an old fashioned steak pie, and hope to for sometime in the middle of winter, when I’ll appreciate it, but I ran out of time. As it was my plan to make several different types of steamed sponge flavours never was realised. But I know I love these little pudding deserts and will not miss out on making them at my leisure soon.

I used the basic recipe, and added some chopped pears and golden syrup to the bottom, as well as some cardamon and cinnamon spice to the batter. I would have loved raspberries in the topping as well, but used the last in some pancakes and forgotten to replace them, oh well.

Steamed Suet Pudding, sponge type.

(100 grams/4 ounces) All-purpose flour
(1/4 teaspoon) salt
(1.5 teaspoons) Baking powder
(100 grams/4 ounces) breadcrumbs
(75 grams/3 ounces) Caster sugar
(75 grams/ 3 ounces) Shredded suet or suet substitute (i.e., Vegetable Suet, Crisco, Lard)
(1) large egg
(6 to 8 tablespoons) Cold milk

1. Sift flour, salt and baking powder into bowl.
2. Add breadcrumbs, sugar and suet.
3. Mix to a soft batter with beaten egg and milk
4. Turn into a buttered 1 litre/ 2pint pudding basin and cover securely with buttered greaseproof paper or aluminum foil.
5. Steam steadily for 2.5 to 3 hours
6. Turn out onto warm plate, Serve with sweet sauce to taste such as custard, caramel or a sweetened fruit sauce.

I really like my puddings (or any hot dessert) with some cool creamy ice cream to contrast. I had vanilla, but would be equally delicious with chocolate, maybe even bringing out the flavor of the pear and cardamon more.

Can’t wait to make some more flavours and eat some more puddings….all in the name of research 🙂


Sheepish Stew

April 14, 2010

This months challange was Brunswick stew. I love a good stew that you can leave on the stove top, low heat and leave it to condense. It becomes super flavourful from the simple meat and vegies you’ve roughly chopped by hand and the traditional herbs like bay leaf. This stew smelt so good when I went to stir it every now and again that it was such a joy to make.

I used some chicken and some mutton pieces in place of the called for rabbit, as I didn’t want to purchase a whole rabbit just for a few hundered grams ( I halved the recipie, I am but one person) The mutton was great, and really tenderised with the long, slow cooking time, so I’d definately cook with that again, reminded me of eating goat in nigeria.

I attempted to create the loaf of pene di casa  that was posted by Audax on the DC threads, but sadly, although the process was good to get to know (I learnt to fold bread as the artisans do I guess) Audax let me know I didn’t proove my bread for long enough (the end rise) and it wasn’t as holey and risen as it should be 😦 pretty sad for an all day effort, but I will try again, the crust was good and I want my oven to make a great loaf atleast once.

I haven’t included the bread recipe, but do try the slow cooked stew to warm your house and fill your tummy this winter.

The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

Serves about 12

1/4 lb / 113.88 grams / 4 oz slab bacon, rough diced
2 Serrano, Thai or other dried red chiles, stems trimmed, sliced, seeded, flattened
1lb / 455.52 grams / 16oz rabbit, quartered, skinned
1 4-5lb / 1822.08- 2277.6 grams / 64-80oz chicken, quartered, skinned, and most of the fat removed
1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / ½ oz sea salt for seasoning, plus extra to taste
2-3 quarts / 8-12 cups / 64.607-96.9oz Sunday Chicken Broth (recipe below)
2 Bay leaves
2 large celery stalks
2lbs / 911.04 grams / 32oz Yukon Gold potatoes, or other waxy type potatoes, peeled, rough diced
1 ½ cups / 344.88 grams / 12.114oz carrots (about 5 small carrots), chopped
3 ½ / 804.72 grams / 28.266oz cups onion (about 4 medium onions) chopped
2 cups / 459.84 grams / 16.152oz fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob (about 4 ears)
3 cups / 689.76 grams / 24.228oz butterbeans, preferably fresh (1 ¼ lbs) or defrosted frozen
1 35oz can / 996.45 grams / 4 cups whole, peeled tomatoes, drained
¼ cup / 57.48 grams / 2.019 oz red wine vinegar
Juice of 2 lemons
Tabasco sauce to taste (the stew was dellllllish with and without the lemon and vinegar, I only had balsamic to ad tho, but tobasco, I say yes please)

1-In the largest stockpot you have, which is hopefully larger than the 5 qt ones I have, preferably a 10-12 qt or even a Dutch Oven if you’re lucky enough to have one, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it just starts to crisp. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Reserve most of the bacon fat in your pan, and with the pan on the burner, add in the chiles. Toast the chiles until they just start to smell good, or make your nose tingle, about a minute tops. Remove to bowl with the bacon.

2- Season liberally both sides of the rabbit and chicken pieces with sea salt and pepper. Place the rabbit pieces in the pot and sear off all sides possible. You just want to brown them, not cook them completely. Remove to bowl with bacon and chiles, add more bacon fat if needed, or olive oil, or other oil of your choice, then add in chicken pieces, again, browning all sides nicely. Remember not to crowd your pieces, especially if you have a narrow bottomed pot. Put the chicken in the bowl with the bacon, chiles and rabbit. Set it aside.

3- Add 2 cups of your chicken broth or stock, if you prefer, to the pan and basically deglaze the4 pan, making sure to get all the goodness cooked onto the bottom. The stock will become a nice rich dark color and start smelling good. Bring it up to a boil and let it boil away until reduced by at least half. Add your remaining stock, the bay leaves, celery, potatoes, chicken, rabbit, bacon, chiles and any liquid that may have gathered at the bottom of the bowl they were resting in. Bring the pot back up to a low boil/high simmer, over medium/high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover, remember to stir every 15 minutes, give or take, to thoroughly meld the flavors. Simmer, on low, for approximately 1 ½ hours. Supposedly, the stock may become a yellow tinge with pieces of chicken or rabbit floating up, the celery will be very limp, as will the chiles. Taste the stock, according to the recipe, it “should taste like the best chicken soup you’ve ever had”.

4- With a pair of tongs, remove the chicken and rabbit pieces to a colander over the bowl you used earlier. Be careful, as by this time, the meats will be very tender and may start falling apart. Remove the bay leaf, celery, chiles, bacon and discard.5 After you’ve allowed the meat to cool enough to handle, carefully remove all the meat from the bones, shredding it as you go. Return the meat to the pot, throwing away the bones. Add in your carrots, and stir gently, allowing it to come back to a slow simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, for at least 25 minutes, or until the carrots have started to soften.

5- Add in your onion, butterbeans, corn and tomatoes. As you add the tomatoes, crush them up, be careful not to pull a me, and squirt juice straight up into the air, requiring cleaning of the entire stove. Simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring every so often until the stew has reduced slightly, and onions, corn and butterbeans are tender. Remove from heat and add in vinegar, lemon juice, stir to blend in well. Season to taste with sea salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce if desired.

6 You can either serve immediately or refrigerate for 24 hours, which makes the flavors meld more and makes the overall stew even better. Serve hot, either on its own, or with a side of corn bread, over steamed white rice, with any braised greens as a side.


Easter bunny baskets

April 4, 2010

Here’s the treats I made for a family BBQ this sunday, for desert after grilled chicken, sausages and salad, and tropical fruit salad to balance out all the chocolate and lollies!

and champagne in the background