Plum pudding

We had wet cyclists staying so I fed them lots of hot food, followed by pudding. I made a steamed plum pudding from the Pudding Club Book

INGREDIENTS:

  • 120g caster sugar
  • 120g butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 180g self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp ground almonds
  • 1/4 tsp almond essence
  • 2 tbsp soft plum jam (you can use stewed plums, or apricot jam instead)

METHOD:

  • Grease a 1.7 litre pudding basin
  • Cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy
  • Add the beaten eggs a little at a time, with a little sifted flour
  • Fold in the remaining flour and the almonds and almond essence
  • Put the jam in the bottom of the pudding basin, and then add the pudding mixture
  • Cover securely and steam for 2 hours. 
  • Turn out and serve hot with custard, or cream, or ice-cream. 

St Emilion au Chocolat

I made this last night. We ate quite a lot of it today. It is very rich and most delicious. If you don’t have ratafia biscuits, you could use amaretti, or any other small almond biscuit.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 125g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 250g plain chocolate
  • 125g ratafia or amaretti biscuits
  • brandy
  • 150ml milk

METHOD:

  • cream the butter and the sugar together
  • beat the milk and egg-yolk together
  • melt the chocolate with a spoonful of water
  • Stir the melted chocolate into the mil mixture, and then beat this into the creamed butter and sugar.
  • In ramekins, put a layer of the chocolate mixture, then a biscuit and a teaspoon of brandy, and then another layer of chocolate.
  • Allow to set; store in the fridge.

The number of dishes is dependent on the size and number of ramekins – this is so rich that the smallest ramekins work the best.

Seville Orange Tart

This is a delicious tart, and a grand way of using the January supply of marmalade oranges. The juice is used to make a delicious orange curd that is baked in a pastry case. The recipe is from the Moro cookbook.

INGREDIENTS:

For the pastry shell:

  • 140g plain flour
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 75g chilled butter, chopped small
  • 1 egg yolk

For the curd filling:

  • 140g caster sugar
  • 170ml seville orange juice
  • 170g unsalted butter, chopped small
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 whole eggs
  • grated zest from one orange

METHOD:

  • To make the pastry case, sift the flour and icing sugar together, and then rub the butter into the mixture to fine bread-crumb texture
  • Add the egg yolk and mix until the mixture comes together – it will be quite stiff and dry. You may need to add a teaspoon or two of milk or water. Shape the pastry into a ball, wrap and chill in the fridge for at least one hour.
  • When you are ready, grate the pastry on a coarse grater, and press it evenly around the edges and base of a tart tin, to a thickness of around 3mm. Prick the base and rest the pastry case in the fridge for 30 minutes. Put the oven to 220C.
  • Bake the pastry shell in the top of the oven for 15 minutes – should be light brown. Remove and cool on a rack. Turn the oven up to 240C
  • Next, make the curd. Put all the curd ingredients into the top pan of a double boiler, and cook slowly, stirring until thick. The mixture will thicken quite suddenly, after about 15 minutes or more.
  • Spread the curd into the tart shell, and bake at 240C for 10 minutes until the surface starts to brown.
  • As soon as the tart is baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool before serving.

This is delicious served slightly warm, with something cool and creamy. Try beating 50/50 creme fraiche and mascarpone together.

Spiced port and wine sorbet

I made this one Christmas, but had to leave before it was served. I got rave reviews. Never made it since, but I think I will soon. Because of the alcohol, it is easy to serve and doesn’t go icy.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 175g sugar
  • 175ml water
  • 275ml red wine (such as a rioja)
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 orange
  • 1 1/2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp ruby port
  • 1 egg white

METHOD:

  • Make a syrup. Add the sugar to the water, bring to boiling and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool and then chill in the fridge
  • Use a shredding tool or small knife to remove strips of zest from the orange and the lemon. Halve the fruit and squeeze out the juice.
  • Put the wine, spices, orange juice, lemon juice and zest in a saucepan, simmer for 5 minutes and then cool.
  • Once the wine is cold, add the port and put this in the fridge to chill
  • When the syrup and the wine are well chilled, add 225ml of the syrup into the wine mixture, and put this into an ice-cream machine and churn for 8 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, beat the egg whites with a whisk, until foamy, and add that to the ice-cream maker, and keep churning for another eight minutes.
  • Put the sorbet into a rectangular plastic box, and store in the freezer for up to a month.

If you don’t have an ice-cream machine, put the port and wine mixture in the freezer for a couple of hours, and then beat in the egg-whites, and return to the freezer. Take it out every hour or so for the next six hours, and give it a stir.

Nigella’s sticky toffee pudding

A friend told me about this recipe. She makes it gluten-free. You’ll need a 23 cm square baking dish. This should serve nine people. Serve with additional cream, or ice-cream, or clotted cream…

INGREDIENTS:

For the sponge:

  • 200g dried dates, chopped
  • 200ml freshly boiled water
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp black treacle
  • 50g dark muscovado sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150g plain flour (gluten free if you wish)
  • 2 tsp baking powder

For the sauce:

  • 150g unsalted butter at room temp, soft
  • 300g dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 tbsp black treacle
  • 200ml double cream

METHOD:

  • Heat the oven to 180C
  • Grease the dish
  • Make the sponge first. Put the chopped dates, boiling water and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl, stir and leave to stand for 10 minutes
  • Cream the butter and treacle together, then beat in the sugar. You could use a food mixer for this.
  • Beat in the eggs slowly a bit at a time, then gently mix in the flour and baking powder to make a smooth cake mixture.
  • Gently stir the dates, and then pour the whole lot, water and all, into the batter and gently mix in.
  • Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes.
  • MEANWHILE make the sauce. Melt the butter sugar and treacle over a very low heat in a heavy pan.
  • Once the butter is melted, stir gently until everything is melted, then stir in the cream and turn up the heat until it is bubbling hot.
  • As soon as the sponge is out of the oven, stab it with a knitting needle and pour about a quarter of the warm sauce over the pudding until the whole thing is covered with a sticky glaze
  • Leave the pudding to stand. Then take it to the table, warm but no longer dangerously hot. Serve with the sauce in a jug, and with cream or ice-cream.

Plum tarte tatin

I made this one Christmas, after a trial run at home. The trial run went better, my oven heats evenly and I know the sizes of my pans. On the day, in a rented house, it came out unevenly, but it was still delicious. This is a simple recipe that is worth rehearsing to get it right.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 large ripe plums, stoned, quartered, and chilled overnight
  • 60g butter
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 300g puff pastry

METHOD:

  • Put the plums into a dish lined with kitchen paper, cut side down, and chill overnight.
  • Turn the oven to 200C
  • Take a non-stick oven-proof pan, and cover the base with the butter, sliced, and the sugar. Next, put the plums in, cut side down, in a well-packed layer, and then sprinkle with cinnamon. Heat until the butter/sugar caramelises, gently agitating the pan and keeping a close eye. (An 8 inch dish would be fine) This doesn’t take long, five to ten minutes, and the caramel should be a lovely brown colour.
  • Next, roll out the pastry, cut to fit over the plums in the dish. Tuck the edges down over the plums to create an upside-down pastry case.
  • Bake for 15 minutes. If the pastry is not completely golden-brown and crisp, lower the heat to 180C and continue for up to another 10 minutes.

Turn the tarte out onto a serving dish, and serve with thick cream, mascarpone or ice-cream.

 

Poached pears with chocolate

We had poached pears with ice-cream and chocolate sauce tonight, inspiration from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 pears
  • 2 heaped tbsp caster sugar
  • a vanilla pod
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • ice-cream

METHOD:

  • Pour a litre of water into a large saucepan, add the sugar, vanilla and lemon juice and bring to the boil.
  • Meanwhile peel the pears, halve them and remove the cores with a teaspoon.
  • Add the pears to the boiling syrup, and poach for 15 minutes
  • Allow to cool in the syrup
  • To serve, take 200ml of the syrup, and boil this with the chocolate.
  • Serve the pears over the ice-cream with chocolate sauce poured over the top.

Apple and pecan pudding

For the person who left us some apples.

We came home to find a line of cooking apples marching across the kitchen table. Tonight we had apple and pecan pudding.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped small
  • 2 oz organic pecan nuts or walnuts, chopped
  • 4 oz organic dates, stoned and chopped
  • 4 oz self-raising flour, organic/wholemeal for preference
  • 4 oz fairtrade soft brown sugar
  • 1 oz melted butter
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten

METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 200C
  • Mix the flour with the chopped fruit and nuts, then add all the other ingredients and stir well
  • The mixture should be scraped into a greased 8 inch square baking dish, and baked for half an hour

We had this served with cream. The pudding had a wonderful mixture of flavours and textures.

Rose water rice pudding

This is the strangest recipe for rice pudding I ever saw. But it works. These proportions serve six. I’ve adapted this from an American recipe, so it is by volume rather than weight.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 125ml  short-grain rice (we used arborio)
  • 500ml water
  • a pinch of salt
  • 750ml full fat milk
  • 125ml of whipping cream
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 50ml cup rose water
  • 50g sugar

METHOD:

  • Put the rice, water and salt in a large pan, bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes until the rice is tender
  • Add the milk and cream, bring to a simmer, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 55 minutes
  • Add the sugar, rose-water and cardamom, and simmer for a further 10 minutes

Either serve whilst warm, or chill in individual serving bowls to be served with stewed pears or quince.