Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Monmouth Pudding for Saint David's Day March 1st

Meringue, raspberry jam and a version of bread pudding underneath.
"Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus!"
 The National symbols of Wales (Cymru in Welsh - pronounced come-rye) are the daffodil and leeks and even though there are no daffs growing in Maine yet (we're expecting 5-8" of snow tonight :(((() here are some pictures of mine from last year. If you click on the title link above you'll find lots of info about Cymru from the Welsh National Museum.

Here is a picture of the National Costume of Wales....
 and it looks like she is standing in front of an awning with the longest village name in that fair land Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch - translating to "The church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio's of the red cave" -
don't even ask me how to pronounce it - here's a link to some information about the town on Wikipedia and an audio for the name!!

Wales is a BEAUTIFUL country and many Brits myself included have holidayed there as a child at seaside villages such as Porthmadog and Llandudno (pronounced clan-did-no - double ll's are c's in English.

So - on to Monmouth Pudding
A simple unassuming pudding but pretty with the meringue topping.

Topping: The more traditional is jam - I choose raspberry jam - I recently discovered this truly delicious, bright and fresh jam at the Belfast Coop and recommend it very highly if you can find it.

  Recently some people are replacing the jam with stewed fruit - apples, rhubarb or pears - but I like to go with tradition.

1oz butter
3oz sugar
6oz fresh breadcrumbs - I used white with the crust included - you can use white or wheat with or without the crust - the colours will change and the flavour but it's your choice :))
3 egg yolks
16 fl oz buttermilk (get Kate's if you can find it)
Zest of one lemon preferably organic

3 egg whites
1oz sugar

1. Heat the oven to 350F and butter 4 individual ramekins.
2. Heat butter, buttermilk, lemon zest and sugar in a saucepan to just simmering.
3. Remove from heat, add breadcrumbs and leave to absorb for 10 minutes.
4, Stir egg yolks into the breadcrumb mix.
5. Divide evenly between 4 ramekins.
6. Bake in the oven until set - about 25 minutes. While the pudding is baking whisk the 3 egg whites to stiff and then add the sugar in 3 goes whisking in between each addition.
7. Remove the ramekins from the oven - don't turn the oven off - let cool a little then spoon as much jam or stewed fruit as you like on the top - thus -
8. Now pipe your egg white meringue atop the jam and pop back in the oven for about 10 minutes until nicely browned as below - you can enjoy whilst hot - with cream or ice cream or just as is or I preferred it cooled - for some reason I do seem to prefer my hot puddings cold - who knows why.
The breadcrumb pudding part does set up quite solidly - it is not a soft pudding - just FYI.

So off you go with your leeks and daffodils and Happy Baking on Saint David's Day!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Did you ever go across the sea to Ireland? - and my design for Saint Patrick's Day.

Did you ever go across the sea to Ireland
And maybe at the closing of your day
You can sit and watch the moon rise over Claddagh
And see the sun go down on Galway Bay

Just to hear again the ripple of the troutstream
The women in the meadows making hay
Just to sit around the turf in the cabin
And watch the barefoot gossoons at their play.

Oh the breezes blowing o'er the seas from Ireland
Are perfumed by the heather as the blow
And the women in the uplands digging praties
Speak a language that the stranger do not know.

Oh the strangers came and tried to teach us their ways
They scorned us just for being what they are
But they might as well go chasing after moonbeams
Or light a penny candle from a star.

And if there's going to be a life hereafter
And somehow I am sure there's going to be
I would ask my God to let me make my heaven
In that dear land across the Irish Sea.

(FYI gossoons mean young boys who would have been barefoot many years ago - comes from the French 'garcon' for boy - it usually referred to servant boys. Praties are potatoes.)

My Mum and Dad were from Galway - a wonderful and vibrant City on the West coast of Ireland and home of the Oyster festival each September - and are laid to rest there so this song has a big significance for my family. I visited Galway nearly every summer growing up and many of my close relatives still live there too so isn't it about time I created something that celebrates my Irish heritage and the place where I now live? The United States and Ireland have always been the best of friends and Saint Patrick's Day is certainly a very big deal here in America.

I'm not a big fan of the usual Saint Patrick's Day paraphernalia so for my design I choose to go down the road of refined, well illustrated and representative of the great friendship between these two countries. Of course the flags were key - I intertwined their ropes and then surrounded the flag poles with a Claddagh ring - another icon from Galway which has become a worldwide symbol of love, friendship and loyalty, and how could I not put a couple of shamrock leaves in there for good luck - Saint Patrick used shamrock for some of his teachings and it is a well known symbol of Ireland itself. When I lived in England my Irish relatives would send over a lovely little box of live shamrock each year a few days before St. Patrick's Day.

Finally I also should mention, in case you hadn't noticed, my name is Patricia and thus St. Patrick is my patron saint - another good reason to honour this most Irish of days!!

I decided to do my design two ways one without lettering the other with a Gaelic phrase that translates to "Friends Forever" - some people like phrases, some people don't - in my opinion - and of course that is ridiculously biased - you could wear this any day of the year to celebrate your Irish American heritage.
Here are some items from my CafePress shop

My Cafepress mug with an allover design

What will you be cooking for Saint Patrick's Day?
And with the Gaelic phrase translating to "Friends Forever" available here
I will be doing a blog post closer to the actual day - Saturday March 17th - with an Irish dessert recipe to have at your St. Pat's party.

dea-Shláinte (Good Health!) 

Monday, February 13, 2012

It's a Saint Valentine's Day Blog Hop - yippee - and a recipe for Blancmange and Jelly!!

Poster available at my Etsy shop
Happy Saint Valentine's Day everyone!!

 Please join me on a Saint Valentine's Day Blog Hop to see some wonderful artwork from around the world - my thanks to the talented Chris Chun for organizing this:

 and now for a recipe
I have always been a fan of jelly (jell-o to my friends in the US) ever since my Mum used to take me into Manchester for the day and we would go to Woolworth's and have lunch upstairs - they had jelly in lovely fluted American style ice-cream glasses with whipped cream on top and I thought it was so special and then of course in Blighty one has Chivers jellies (now changing to Hartley's - what is the world coming to?) at home on a Sunday afternoon - how could you not love something so wiggly that comes in only beautiful jewel colours and sparkles in the sunshine.
 And then for blancmange - first of all I like saying the word (it means white eat in French) and again my Mum was the source of my delight for this - she used to whip them up in plain round bottom bowls or rabbit shaped moulds and when they plopped out of the 'mould' their surface was perfect and smooth and they also wiggled a little too - but less than the jelly - THUS how could I not want to do them together? 
I will make my story short but first off I wanted to do the Blancmange with cornflour (cornstarch in the US) just as I had seen my Mum do it many years ago and I thought "HUH this'll be a breeze, a doddle, dead easy" - I'll have the blog post up well in time for Valentine's Day - ah pride does seem to come before a fall. I made my first one and it didn't set so I made a second and it didn't set so I reheated it and cooked it a little longer and still it didn't set so I did research on the web only to find that cornflour can be very finicky - don't cook it too long it will not set, don't cook it too short it will taste bad, don't taste it while it is cooking and put the spoon back in as the saliva will make it break, don't stir it too hard that will make it break, how old is your batch - over a year and it will not set and on and on and on so I gave up and went to the trusty gelatin which I didn't want to use but now I see why nearly every recipe I found called for gelatin - it is an animal product so vegetarians can't us it but agar agar can be used in a different quantity and achieve wigglier but delightful results - the recipe here will be for gelatin though! PHEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND GOOD LUCK WITH THIS!! 

 Always read through the recipe at least once before you start so you know what's involved and in what order - especially so with this particular one!!

24 fl oz whole milk
4 oz toasted almonds broken into pieces (I bought whole ones - I did not skin them - if you want a perfectly white blancmange you do need to blanch and skin them - I put them in a plastic bag and pounded them with a big rolling pin until they were in smallish pieces.
2 1/2 oz white sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract/essence
1 packet of Knox gelatin (weight = 1/4oz)

FIRSTLY - take 8 fl oz of the milk - add the broken almonds and sugar and bring to a very gentle boil - take off the heat and leave almonds to soak for at least 2 hours or overnight. 

Take a clean napkin or tea towel, rinse in warm water and line a sieve or colander with it and set over a bowl - pour almonds and milk into the this and let the milk drain through - you wet the fabric in order to help the liquid seep through more easily.

HAVE YOUR 'MOULDS' READY - either little bowls or decorative moulds - I used 3 small pudding bowls - about 1 cup/10 fluid ounce size - rinse them with cold water.

When you have your almond milk pour it back in with the other 16 fl oz and make it back up to 24 fl oz as you will have lost some with the draining etc.

Put 16 fl oz of the almond milk on to heat over a low flame - in the meantime:

Put the other 8 fl oz of the cold almond milk into a shallow bowl and gently scatter the gelatin over the surface as evenly as you can - then very gently mix evenly in and leave for one minute.

When the milk in the pan just comes to a simmer stir in the gelatin mix and stir consistently until the gelatin has dissolved - DON'T boil as the milk might break but do get as hot as you can without boiling - it should take about three minutes for the gelatin to 'melt'.

Take off the heat and cool a little - I added ONE drop of red dye to make it a pale pale pink - and then pour into your moulds leaving room for the jelly - which will only be about 3/4" deep. Put in the fridge to cool for at least 3 hours or overnight.

JELLY PART (do this when the blancmange part is already set and nice and cold) - you can use a package jelly/jell-o for convenience or drive yourself nuts as I did and make your own - which I have to be completely honest and say it was fun to make but flavourwise not worth the bother!! :(((((((((((

1 package gelatin powder - 1/4oz
1 package frozen raspberries - 10 oz - or fresh 10 oz
1- 2 oz sugar depending on your taste - I used 1 oz and it was sweet enough for me but I like subtle and was hoping for more raspberry flavour to come through.

Let raspberries defrost if frozen - scatter sugar over raspeberries - let them macerate for an hour or so and then mash with about 3oz water.

Strain raspberries through a fine sieve to get 8 fl oz juice  - you can use the leftover raspberry solids to mix with cream and it's delicious on the side with your Blancmange!

Heat 6 fl oz raspberry juice in a pan over low heat til simmering as above.

Meantime take the other 2 fl oz cold raspberry juice and put in a shallow bowl and sift the gelatin over as above - let sit for one minute.

Add cold juice with gelatin into hot and continue to cook until gelatin is dissolved.

Allow to cool and pour over the blancmange layer - let cool for at least 3 hours in fridge until well set.

Now here's the real fun part - have a bowl of very hot water ready - take the puddings from the fridge, run a thin sharp knife around the edges of the puddings to help encourage them out of their moulds and one by one pop into the hot water bath - let sit about 10-15 seconds and then invert on to the serving plate and pray - if it doesn't plop out gently lift one side and sometimes you'll see the jelly start to shift - it seems to help get air in and then set back on the plate and wait for the plop - you may need to heat it more than once - it's hard to say. Don't worry if to get it out the blancmange melts a little on the surface that's just par for the course sometimes - quick pop it back into the fridge to reset for a few minutes.

Now decorate as you wish - I choose whipped sweetened cream and little sugar hearts from Cupcake Social. I LOVE the way my little pudding looks but I have to say it didn't taste like the childhood memory I have longed for - but does anything ever reach that acme of perfection - the blancmange had a nice pleasant almond flavour but not brilliant - I am so pleased with the photos I got though as they are a delightful subject for a painting and a future fabric design for my Spoonflower shop...yea!!!
(June what do you think of this as a design??)
Aren't whipped cream stars just beautiful?

"A quaking white confection that masquerades under a bogus foreign title but is quite unknown in the whole gastronomic repertory of the French' 
- so says Sir Francis Osbert Sacheverell Sitwell, 5th Baronet of the humble Blancmange - how rude Osbert!!

Quite frequently in English literature one is said to quake like a blancmange!
Have a lovely day one and all - let me know if you try this recipe - Cheers, Patricia 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Snowdon Pudding - Pwdin Eryri.

Snowdon Pudding with Lemon Toffee Sauce set against a background of my own design fabric at Spoonflower
 Eliza Acton gave the ‘genuine’ recipe in 1845, asserting that it was ‘constantly served to travellers at the hotel at the foot of Snowdon -Yr Wyddfa ’ - the ‘Pen-y-groes.’ I looked but could not find any info about this hotel but there is a town called Pen-y-groes. This recipe is a version of my own taken from a recipe in the January issue of British Country Living.
British puddings are an odd category especially so as ALL desserts in the UK are called pudding as in "Whats for pudding?" but then a pudding could be for pudding and then that usually means a steamed pudding such as the one we are having here. Steamed puddings are also odd in that they were usually created at a time when ingredients were scarce and the best was made of what little there was available - as in the very hard times during the 2 world wars. Here's a link to more information and a whole array of traditional British puddings
This particular steamed pudding is mostly comprised of breadcrumbs which makes it springy and much more sponge like - it is not too sweet and it is quite hearty for a cold and blustery day - you wouldn't want to be eating this in high summer!!

SNOWDON PUDDING: enough for 4 good sized servings - this recipe can easily be doubled.
3.5oz raisins
4oz butter chilled and grated on a grating box - most steamed pudding recipes use beef suet but most people don't want to use that anymore or it's not easily available so I substituted butter and it turned out fine if a tad bit greasy - suet is great for lightness and is less greasy than butter in a steamed pudding
1 tablespoon of flour
2oz sugar
4oz fresh breadcrumbs (in the magazine they used only white breadcrumbs - I had a lot of crust hanging around so I made my breadcrumbs from those thus my pudding is quite a lot darker than the one pictured in the magazine - but this is your choice - I don't think either way tastes better or worse)
3oz lemon marmalade (I didn't have any lemon marmalade so I used ginger marmalade and I think it went really well with the lemon sauce - as you can see I do tend to go with the flow in terms of ingredients unless something is an absolute must for the recipe - you could use regular orange  marmalade too)
zest of 1 lemon - preferably organic
3 large eggs whisked well together

The first order of the day is to get a nice big double boiler going so start that first and it can be heating as you make the pudding. 

1. Grease a 1 quart/2 pint pudding basin/bowl/mould very well and put about one third of the raisins in the bottom.
2. Mix butter, breadcrumbs, flour, sugar, marmalade and remaining raisins together in one bowl.
3. In another bowl whisk eggs with lemon zest.
4. Stir egg mixture into the other mixture and it will look like this - 
5. Spoon this over the raisins in the greased bowl.
6. Now we cut a round of greaseproof/ parchment baking paper to cover the bowl generously....cover the bowl, fold paper over down the sides and secure with an elastic band.
7. Now cut a circle of aluminium foil, fold over the top of the bowl, secure with another rubber band and then for ease of getting the pudding bowl in and out of the steamer basket without scalding yourself tie string around the bowl in the manner below.
Now pop your little pudding into the 'basket' of the boiler and put it back in the pan on the stove...put the lid on and get the kettle on for a cuppa while you wait for your pudding to be cooked. I steamed this one for 2 hours on our humming wood burning stove...just to add to the Maine mystique. 
 Remove the bowl from basket after the two hours and remove covers - leave uncovered in the bowl for 10 - 15 minutes - after that time put a plate on top of the bowl and with covered hands invert quickly and give a shake to help the pudding plop out of the bowl.
 And thus you end up with a little hat shaped pudding which is quite probably rounded on the cut some of the rounded part off the bottom for presentation purposes so it sits level on the plate. Now for the sauce - no pudding is complete without a sauce.

This is pretty much of my own concoction as I didn't like the one the magazine gave so I took the recipe from my Sticky Toffee Pudding - left out the cream and added fresh lemon juice - YUM!!!
2.5oz sugar
1.5oz butter (I always use salted - I like that flavour!)
5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice - 2 small lemons worthish
1. Melt butter and sugar together.
2. Add lemon juice and allow to bubble until it thickens slightly - pour over your pudding and voila - get eating - I prefer my pudding slightly cooled and definitely like it the next day completely cool - both are ways are just fine!!