Saturday, 14 November 2015
Saturday Snippets (16)
The lead up to Christmas in our household means a flurry of activity. I like to be prepared and organised as far as all the main food items are concerned, so I begin my preparations early.
22nd November is traditionally known as Stir Up Sunday. Everyone in the family gets a chance to have a stir of the Christmas pudding and to make a wish for the coming year. You should always stir the pudding clockwise to signify the Wisemen going from East to West. It is also traditional to insert a coin into your Christmas pudding, although views differ as to when this should take place. If you are lucky enough to have a silver coin, it is quite safe to insert it before the pudding is cooked, but always give the coin a good wash first using washing up liquid. I use an old-fashioned sixpence. The person who is lucky enough to get this coin in their portion of Christmas pudding gets extra luck.
I thought that maybe you might like my Christmas pudding recipe, so here it is:
Christmas Pudding Recipe
9 oz ready to eat prunes, chopped
3.5 oz glace cherries, halved
5fl oz stout
2 tbsp brandy
9 oz fresh white breadcrumbs
2.75 oz blanched almonds, chopped
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
8 oz soft brown sugar
1 large carrot, peeled and finely grated
3.5 oz ground almonds
5 oz plain flour
1 tsp ground mixed spice
Half a tsp freshly ground nutmeg
9 oz beef or vegetable suet, shredded
3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
2 large cooking apples, peeled and coarsely grated
1 Mix all the ingredients together in your largest mixing bowl and stir well (make sure all the family make a wish during the stirring). Cover tightly with cling-film and leave to stand in a cool place overnight.
2 Turn into one (or more, if smaller) well-buttered pudding basins and cover with a pleated circle of both baking parchment and aluminium foil, securing with string. Place in a saucepan on an improvised trivet and pour boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the pudding. Cover and bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer for 30 minutes slow simmering.
3 Transfer the pudding, water and pan, to the floor of the oven and continue to simmer at around 100 degrees (or whatever heat is a simmer in your oven). Cook for at least 12 hours in this way (overnight is preferable).
4 Remove from the pans and allow to cool. Brush the surface of the pudding(s) with brandy and then cover with fresh parchment and foil coverings and string. Store in a cool, dark and dry place or in the refrigerator until Christmas.
Don't forget that when you serve your Christmas pudding, to pour a goodly slug of rum or brandy over the top and then set fire to it. It will burn with a blue flame. It should then be carried carefully to the dining table with as much ceremony as possible! It's also traditional to decorate the top of the pudding with a sprig of holly, but do this after you have placed it on the table, or you might be calling the fire brigade!
This is dead simple to make.
1 lb cooking apples, cored and chopped small (no need to peel them)
8 oz shredded suet (either beef or vegetable)
12 oz raisins
8 oz sultanas
8 oz currants
8 oz whole mixed candied peel, finely chopped
12 oz soft dark brown sugar
Grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
2 oz whole almonds, cut into slivers
4 tsps mixed ground spice
Half a tsp ground cinnamon
6 tbsps brandy
1 All you do is combine the above ingredients, except for the brandy, in a large mixing bowl, stirring them and mixing them together very thoroughly indeed.
Then cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave the mixture in a cool place overnight or for 12 hours, so the flavours have a chance to mingle and develop. After that pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 1 quarter, 225 degrees F or 120 degrees C, cover the bowl loosely with foil and place it in the oven for 3 hours.
2 Then remove the bowl from the oven and don't worry about the appearance of the mincemeat, which will look positively swimming in fat. This is how it should look. As it cools, stir it from time to time; the fat will coagulate and instead of it being in tiny shreds it will encase all the other ingredients. When the mincemeat is quite cold, stir in the brandy. Pack in clean, dry jars, cover with wax discs and seal. It will keep in a cool, dark cupboard indefinitely, but I think it is best eaten within a year of making.
Traditional Mince Pies
12 oz plain flour
3 oz lard (I use Trex which is vegetarian, but you can use traditional lard if you wish)
3 oz margarine or butter
A pinch of salt
Cold water to mix
1.25 lb mincemeat (hopefully you made this earlier)
For the top:
A little milk
Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 6, 400 degrees F, 200 degrees C.
1 Make up the pastry by sifting the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and rubbing the fats into it until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Alternatively, you can whiz it all around in a food processor, which is what I do. Then just add enough cold water to mix to a dough that leaves the bowl clean. Leave the pastry to rest in a polythene bag in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes, then roll half of it out as thinly as possible and cut it into 24 3-inch rounds, gathering up the scraps and re-rolling. Then do the same with the other half of the pastry, this time using the 2.5 inch cutter. (You can also, if you prefer, cut out some 'star shapes' and place these on top instead.)
2 Now grease the patty tins lightly and line them with the larger rounds. Fill these with mincemeat to the level of the edges of the pastry. Dampen the edges of the smaller rounds of pastry with water and press them lightly into position to form lids, sealing the edges. Brush each one with milk and make three snips in the tops with a pair of scissors. Bake near the top of the oven for 25-30 minutes until light golden brown. Cool on a wire tray and sprinkle with icing sugar. When cool, store in an airtight tin.
Hot Spiced Cider with Roasted Apples
I may have shared this recipe before, but I know from experience that a glass of something warm and spicy goes very well with warmed mince pies during the party season, especially if you are greeting guests who are rubbing frosty fingers and shaking snow off their boots!
4 pints still, dry cider
8 oz soft brown sugar
24 whole cloves
4 whole cinnamon sticks
16 allspice berries
The juice of 2 oranges
Half a whole nutmeg, grated
8 small Cox's apples
2 oz butter
Pre-heat oven to Gas Mark 5, 375 degrees F, 190 degrees C
1 First, using a small sharp knife, make a small slit around the 'waist' of each apple, then rub each one with butter. Place them on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes - they should be softened but not floppy, so test them with s skewer. Put all the other ingredients into a large saucepan and heat the mixture, stirring quite often, and adding the apples halfway through. Don't let it come right to the boil, just keep it at a steady simmer! Serve it very hot.
2 When you're ready to serve, pour it into a large warmed bowl (I serve straight from the pan, using a soup ladle!) and ladle into glass beer tankards with handles. Spoons in the glass will prevent cracking.
I hope to get my Lurkers Day post up in a day or two. It sort of crept up on me this year and I am a bit late, but I do so appreciate everyone's comments and really love it when someone new plucks up the courage to say something. If you are lurking right now, why not try one of my recipes and let me know how you got on?