In the Kitchen: Gingerbread from Hell

Dear Constant Reader,

Tomorrow is my birthday, so here’s a tasty treat for you.

At the beginning of January Christine McConnell held an all-day livestream where we could bake and decorate gingerbread cookies along with her. I gathered the supplies on her list (plus a Dremel, just in case) and got ready to break in my brand-new stand mixer.

I happily made the gingerbread dough and stashed it in the fridge, when I hit a major stumbling block. Christine started sketching the template for our cookie. I can’t draw. She had conceived of Gingerbread Man meets John Carpenter’s The Thing. There was no way I could draw that. What was I going to do? I couldn’t just give up. After all, I had all this cookie dough and several more hours of livestream.

Well, I told myself, surely you can draw a gingerbread man. Just make a classic cookie. And I discovered I could draw a gingerbread man outline. Then, how hard would it be to add in the splitting head or the rupturing chest. I can do that! Wait, I can definitely draw the snowman that one leg is morphing into. It’s just a couple of circles. And the other branching leg, yup. Okay, there’s no way I can make one arm into a rabid reindeer head. How about a tentacle…?

And with those little steps, I created my cookie template. I cut out and baked the cookie (and bunch of supplemental bits) and it didn’t look half bad! I especially like the 3-D way the chest is breaking open — one of Christine’s clever little tricks.

Of course, looking at other people’s cookies later, I could have just done any cookie shape I wanted to. There were lots of creative variations on the cookie Christine designed and some completely original designs as well. I’m glad I took up the challenge of trying to recreate what she was doing because it pushed me and I discovered I can draw a little better than I thought.

It was starting to get close to the time I would have to leave for rehearsal, so I mixed up the royal icing (does she own stock in that?) and stashed it in the fridge until I could get back to the kitchen. At this point the livestream took a lengthy break to adjust the cameras, so the timing was perfect.

When I was able to get back to my cookie two days later, I had the advantage of being able to watch the last two hours of the livestream as a recording and make a plan of attack for decorating the cookie.

The very first thing to do was get the cookie to stand up. I’m delighted to say that it was a success! I expected it to be more challenging, but royal icing makes a great glue. It stood up on the first try and stayed standing! I let the icing dry for several hours before I started adding decorations.

This was my first time working with modeling chocolate, which is what the snowman is made from. It’s a lot like working with a stiff clay, which periodically needs to be refrigerated as it gets too soft from the heat of your hands. It adhered nicely to the gingerbread and is easily shaped with fingers, since I didn’t have any sculpting tools.

I’m not a great piper (icing — not music), not terrible, but I need some more practice to get clean, even lines. It’s a good thing you can erase mistakes with some quick brush work. I made a lot (which you can see on a close up view of the cookie). As you might imagine, it’s harder to pipe icing on a standing cookie than one lying flat. One of the smartest things I did was set the cookie up on a marble lazy-susan cheese board. I could easily turn the cookie and not have to worry about messing up anything.

Instead of the classic piping cones, I have these great OXO piping bottles. However, I only had two and we were working with four colors of icing. I mixed up one bottle full of gingerbread-colored icing and left one plain white. After I piped everything that was white, I added food coloring to make the light blue, piped that, and then added more color to get the dark blue for the very last bit.

I tried string work on the non-snowman leg and it was successful. Eventually. The brown icing was pretty thick due to the cocoa powder that was coloring it and the strings kept breaking. I gave up trying to outline the cookie with the brown icing. It kept falling off the cookie! It was much easier doing the crisscrossing blue strings behind the open chest, since that icing was a better consistency. And doing the scalloped edging on the base was so much fun!

After a couple of hours I was done. Ta da!

I also had Scratch take some pictures of me and my masterpiece. Yes, that’s exactly* how I looked while decorating my cookie: Sophia dress by Angie Pontani for Secrets in Lace, vintage poinsettia apron from Betty Blaize.

And just for fun, Scratch made the Gingerbread Thing look a little more hellish:

Photo session over, I made some hot chocolate and we dug in! I knew if I didn’t smash it up and eat it right away, the cookie would sit on my counter growing staler by the day while I admired it until I had to reluctantly throw it away. I’m pleased to say it tasted very good! The recipe for the cookie dough made twice as much as was needed, so the following weekend I let Scratch’s nieces loose in the kitchen with my Halloween cookie cutters.

I’m feeling emboldened after this adventure. I think there may be more decorating in my future. Maybe I’ll have another tea party soon….

Here’s a short video. I’m having fun creating these little things.

* In reality I was wearing leopard-print pajama pants & a black hoodie with my hair in a ponytail. But don’t I clean up nice?

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 18 February 2020 at 12:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

In the Kitchen: Fashionable Apple Dumplings

Dear Constant Reader,

You might remember from Queen Drop Biscuits that I’m very fond of The Victorian Way video series from English Heritage. When I saw the video for Fashionable Apple Dumplings, I needed to try it.

Here the original recipe from Modern Cookery In All Its Branches by Eliza Acton (1860):

Fashionable apple dumplings
There are boiled in small knitted or closely-netted cloths (the former have, we think, the prettiest effect), which give quite an ornamental appearance to an otherwise homely dish). Take out the cores without dividing the apples, which should be large, and of a good boiling sort, and fill the cavity with orange or lemon marmalade, enclose them in a good crust rolled thin, draw the cloths round them, tie them closely and boil them for three quarters of an hour. Lemon dumplings may be boiled in the same way.
3/4 to 1 hour, if the apples be
not of the best boiling kind.

The first thing I did was knit a couple of plain cotton dishcloths, which you can see on the photo along with some Cortland apples (my favorite), homemade blood orange marmalade, some flour and grated suet (i know, they look almost the same).

Following the video, I made a dough from flour, grated suet, salt, and water. From my years of making Christmas pudding, I knew that suet pastry can hold up to hours of steaming and was a good choice for boiling. I also knew that it was probably going to taste boring.

I peeled and cored the apples. The resulting hollow was filled with delicious marmalade and the whole apple encased in a thin layer of dough and sealed up very well.

I brushed the dishcloth with melted butter, although Mrs. Acton doesn’t say to do so, Mrs. Crocombe does and it seemed like a good idea. Then I put a dough-wrapped apple on a cloth and bundled it up. Then tied the cloth up tightly with a bit of cotton string. In to the boiling water it went for about 45 minutes.

And here’s the result!

The dough took the imprint of the knitted cloth very well! The apple, however, had kind of collapsed within the dough and made for a rather squat dumpling. Maybe I boiled it too long or maybe I should have left the peel on. I feared the crust might be gummy, but it wasn’t, and it didn’t even taste half bad. The apple and orange marmalade combination was quite delightful and worth doing again. Boiling the dumplings in the knitted cloths was rather fussy and utterly Victorian, but one could probably get an easier and equally delicious result by simply wrapping the marmalade-filled apples in pie crust and baking. The dumplings won’t be fashionable, of course…

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 5 February 2020 at 3:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: The Dinner of Horror

Dear Constant Reader,

You might recall that I had been cooking from The Necronomnomnom and having a great deal of fun with it. A copy mysteriously appeared on the doorstep of my friend, Dr. Becky, and she, perhaps unwisely, suggested we get together in the kitchen and see what we could conjure up…

It was a great plan! I am please to announce that no one died and any Elder Gods summoned were promptly dispatched (to the table).

We began with Grape Old Wons — meat & cheese-stuffed wontons. The end result was supposed to look like eyes, but we couldn’t quite shape the wonton wrappers to look like lids. I should have gotten round ones instead of square. This recipe also showed the issues with translating the arcane recipes. I had interpreted “mixture from the ranch hidden in the valley” as ranch dressing mix and bought the powdered stuff. Dr. Becky, who has the bookstore edition with the recipes translated, discovered they meant bottled ranch dressing, so we added a little more milk and mayo to make up for it.

Next was Pallid Bisque — seafood bisque. It’s hard to go wrong with crab, cream, and sherry. We tried molding little masks out of rice (in tribute to The King in Yellow) to garnish it, but we were only partially successful. If I did it again, I would use smaller shrimp (or larger bowls — although these have charming skulls on them) and dollop the sour cream onto the soup first, then arrange the rice masks and shrimp triskelions on top of it.

Our main course, and crowning glory, was The Fate of The Elder Things — a most unusual eggplant parm. The hardest part was hollowing out the eggplant without rupturing the skin, but with saving the flesh for cooking. Next time I might try a melon baller. Then we breaded (with fresh, home-made breadcrumbs, by the way) and fried the eggplant tidbits, made a cheese sauce, and warmed up some marinara. The cheese sauce was poured into the hollowed out eggplant, where it oozed out of slits cut in the sides. The whole thing was topped with a slice of starfruit, procured by Dr. Becky’s husband when my market had none.

This was accompanied by Dining Trapazohedron — a wedge salad. The very best part of this salad was the candied bacon. It took a bit of work — first you cook it almost crisp, then chop it up and fry it until it’s crunchy, then add brown sugar and cook until it’s glazed — but any good ritual should be a challenge. The blue cheese dressing wasn’t bad either…

For dessert we served The Mounds of Tindalos — molten chocolate lava cake made in a slow cooker. We poured cake batter into the slow cooker, then chocolate pudding, then topped it all with a bag of chocolate chips and ignored it for the next three hours. I wasn’t sure what we were going to get but it smelled good. The result was so delicious — hot and gooey and intensely chocolate. We served it with a sprinkling of shredded coconut on each serving.

I would (and probably will) make any of these dishes again. There’s also more than two dozen terrifying recipes awaiting my attention. You never know what I might bring to life next time…

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 21 January 2020 at 11:56 am  Leave a Comment  

In the Kitchen: Tomato-Parmesan Scones

Dear Constant Reader,

On Saturday I threw a little tea party at The Manor. It had been a while since my last one, but I hadn’t been feeling up to an elaborate to-do. I hadn’t been in a good place recently and I was badly missing my friends. So, I sent an invitation to a “low-key tea party”, promising only tea, scones and jam, and maybe cake.

And then something exciting happened (more on that later) which got me feeling motivated again. While I still didn’t make any tea sandwiches, I ended up baking two kinds of scones and two types of cake. And, it being October, I had a spooky theme going with the cakes and serving ware. I served…

Coffin brownies filled with Nutella and raspberries, served on a spirit board tray. I used the recipe for Supernatural Brownies from the NY Times and they were, in fact, scary good!

Spice cake tombstones, served on a skull cake stand.

Scones with currants and dried sour cherries (from our tree) from my favorite scone recipe. The heap of scones obscures the charming Victorian skeleton decoration on the bowl.

And these scones were accompanied by sour cherry jam and blood orange marmalade (both homemade) and butter. Please note the skull spoons and skeleton knife (the blade says “poison”).

Also, I made these savory scones as an experiment and I was very happy with the results. The recipe comes from Tea Fit for a Queen: Recipes & Drinks for Afternoon Tea and I’ve converted it from metric. I think the recipe could easily be doubled (and you want to).

Sun-Dried Tomato and Parmesan Scones
8 oz. self-rising flour (or about 1 1/4 cup flour, heaping 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt)
1 3/4 oz. unsalted butter (3 Tablespoons plus a little)
1 1/2 oz. grated Parmesan
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/2 oz. chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment (I use a Silpat).

Sift flour into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the Parmesan, thyme leaves, and sun-dried tomatoes.

Pour in the milk. Gently stir until the dough just comes together. Knead lightly until the dough is smooth.

Pat dough into a round about an inch thick. Cut out scones. I got about 16 2″ round scones, but you could make them bigger. Bake about 10-15 minutes until barely browned.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 21 October 2019 at 3:02 pm  Comments (2)  
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Review: In the Kitchen: The Necronomnomnom

Dear Constant Reader,

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen some photos lately of dishes with rather odd names and a sinister tome in the background. What is up with that? I’ve been cooking from…

The Necronomnomnom
It’s a cookbook, but a truly special one. It’s full of rituals and rites, illustrated with arcane sketches and notes, which must be interpreted to achieve tasty results. As you might have guessed from the title, it’s a Lovecraft-themed cookbook. There are fifty recipes, including cocktails, appetizers, entrees, side dishes, desserts, and even recipes for children (that is, for children to eat, not how to cook them). As the names evoke eldritch horrors, so do the presentations, with odd colors, additional tentacles, or inscribed runes (all edible, of course).

The recipes have terribly wonderful Lovecraft pun names, like The Sandwich Horror or The Custard from Out of Space. But in order to cook them, you have to puzzle through the ingredient lists and instructions, which are written in archaic and mystical fashion — even poetry. The degree of obscurity varies from recipe to recipe, from relatively straightforward in terms of ingredient names and measurements to rather baffling at first glance.

Here, for example are the ingredients for Deep Fried Deep One, the first dish I cooked.

What is the Herb of Mysterious Purpose? The Bay of Elders? It helps to be an experienced cook, because once you figure out what the dish is, things start to fall in place. I was often chuckling at the cleverness of the authors or feeling smug that I puzzled things out.

And the instructions for The Oats of Dagon.

I’ll admit, this was a challenging one! I’m not even sure how many times I read and misinterpreted the instructions before I finally got it.

The illustrations are very detailed and in perfect keeping with the theme. Be sure to read all the scribbled little notes — there’s a story running through the book. Here’s a little taste of the artwork:

I managed to get my hands on a first, or Grimoire, edition, which is only the mystic rituals. There’s really nothing to break the illusion that this is a mysterious spell book and the cover is pretty horrifying. There was also a super-special edition with a three-dimensional flayed skin* cover, for that extra touch of realism.

Don’t worry if the thought of figuring out the ingredients and instructions fills you with fear. The “Bookstore Edition“, which comes out in just a few days, has all the rituals and illustrations, but also practical additions like a table of contents, index, and… all the recipes in clear language in an appendix in the back. I’ve had a lot of fun figuring out the recipes, but I know that’s not for everyone.

I’ve been really happy with most of the results! I’ve also had fun bringing out The Manor’s spookiest china and arranging the tentacles just right for a good photo. Here’s some New England Damned Chowder:

For more delicious photos of my endeavors so far and some commentary on the recipes, I’ve created a photo gallery just for my Patrons.

Highly recommended for creative cooks, lovers of puzzles, and weird fiction fans.

*Or maybe cast latex…

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 25 September 2019 at 3:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: Queen Drop Biscuits

Dear Constant Reader,

I am extremely enamoured of the Victorian cooking web series at English Heritage and recently I tried one of their recipes. The results were interesting!

The recipe for Queen Drop Biscuits is from the personal receipt book of Mrs Avis Crocombe, the cook at Audley End House in the early 1880s. They’re a buttery cookie, packed with currents and a delightful almond flavor.

1/2 lb of butter beet to a cream, 1/2 lb of sugar, 4 eggs 1/2 lb of currents 3/4 of a lb of flour a few drops of almond flavour drop them on paper

It’s pretty straight forward as historic recipes go, with measurements for almost all of the ingredients. You need butter, sugar, flour, eggs, currants, and almond extract.

The method is super simple. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the flour, then the eggs (Victorian eggs were smaller than ours, so probably only 2), then some almond extract and the currents. Drop by tablespoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets at bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom.

The first time I baked them, I made a rookie mistake. I only used one stick of butter (1/2 cup) instead of two (1/2 pound). The biscuits were more like small cakes than cookies, but so delicious! I brought them backstage at one of our shows and everyone loved them. So, either way, you win. I think I actually like the less butter version better.

Queen Drop Biscuits
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, softened
8 ounces sugar
2 eggs
8 ounces currants
12 ounces flour
2 teaspoons almond extract

Cream the butter and sugar. Mix in the flour. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add almond extract. Mix in currants.

Drop by tablespoonful onto parchment-lined baking sheets at bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom.

Makes about 2 baker’s dozens.

Note: If you go the less butter way, use 3 eggs.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 29 August 2019 at 9:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: Cherry Halo Pie

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s sour cherry season at The Manor! Well, it was sour cherry season — we finished picking the other day. As I write this, I’m listening to the birds chirping as they eat the last of the fruit still lingering on the tree. I’ve still got pounds and pounds of cherries to use, and I’ve been working away in the kitchen like mad for the past two weeks.

I had the troupe and apprentices over to teach them how to make old-school G-strings (instructions are in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Burlesque Costuming!) and served them this cherry pie, from the 1953 cookbook 250 Superb Pies and Pastries.

It’s very simple to make and the presentation is lovely. Bonus: you don’t have to deal with a top crust.

You will need:
Sugar, cornstarch, tapioca, salt, cherries, butter, heavy cream, and vanilla.

First, make a pie crust for a 9″ pan. The recipe I used is below, but you could use your favorite recipe or even buy a crust. I promise I won’t judge.

Mix up the sugar, salt, cornstarch, tapioca, and pitted cherries and pour into the prepared crust. Dot with butter. Bake at a high temperature for a short time then reduce the heat to moderate and bake until done.

Let the pie cool and the filling thicken.

Whip heavy cream to soft peaks, add sugar and vanilla and beat until stiff. Spread around the pie, leaving the center open, so it looks like a halo.

Judging from the amount left over (none!), this one was a winner.

Cherry Halo Pie
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 quart cherries, pitted
1 Tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
1 recipe Plain Pastry
1 recipe Whipped Cream Topping

Mix sugar, salt, cornstarch, tapioca, and cherries together. Line 9″ pie pan with pastry, add cherry mixture. Dot cherries with butter.

Bake at 450F for 10 minutes; reduce temperature to 350F and bake 25 minutes longer.

Let cool. Spread 1 recipe Whipped Cream Topping around pie, leaving the cherries in center uncovered.

Plain Pastry
2 cups sifted flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
4 to 6 Tablespoons ice water

Sift flour and salt together and cut in shortening. Add water a little at a time until mixture will hold together.

Divide dough into 2 parts. Roll one out on a floured board. Line the piepan with it.

This makes two crusts. Since the pie only needs one, you can freeze the other piece of dough until you need it.

Whipped Cream Topping
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip cream until it make soft peaks. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until cream holds stiff peaks. If you have the time, chill your beaters and bowl before whipping the cream and always make sure your cream is cold. It will whip much faster if everything is cold.


M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 16 July 2019 at 2:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: White Bean Dip

Dear Constant Reader,

As the weather gets warmer, I’m thinking about picnics and backyard parties and this dish is perfect! It’s easy, so delicious, and even vegan and gluten-free. I also love it because I almost always have all the ingredients in my pantry, so it’s easy to whip up on a moment’s notice.

You need…

A can of cannellini beans, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, garlic, fresh thyme, olive oil, and salt & pepper.

Drain and rinse the beans. Smash the garlic with the side of a knife.

Toss the garlic into the food processor with the lemon juice and vinegar and roughly chop.

Add the beans, thyme, salt and pepper and begin to process into a thick paste.

While the processor is going, drizzle in the olive oil. Add a little water, if necessary, to bring it to your preferred dip consistency.

Let it rest at least 15 minutes before serving, or even better, overnight (in the fridge).

Serve with chips (I like pita) or crudites.

I made some the other day because I have SO MANY baby carrots in the fridge (I think there are like six pounds — most of which I was gifted with. Got any good carrot recipes?), and they go awfully well with this dip. Also, I was celebrating that I had thyme in my herb garden again (my previous plant died over the winter). You could use dried thyme, but it’s not as good.

I’ve also made this recipe with garlic scapes and it’s so good. If you’re lucky enough to acquire some, chop the scapes coarsely and use in place of garlic cloves.

Here’s the recipe!

White Bean Dip
1 15-oz can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic, smashed (or 1/3 cup chopped garlic scapes)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
A few grinds of black pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/4 cup olive oil
1-3 Tablespoons water, as needed

Toss the garlic into the food processor with the lemon juice and vinegar and roughly chop.

Add the beans, thyme, salt and pepper and begin to process into a thick paste.

While the processor is going, drizzle in the olive oil. If the dip is too thick, add water to the right consistency.

Let the dip rest at least 15 minutes before serving, or even better, overnight.

Serve with chips or crudites.

Published in: on 22 May 2019 at 11:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! It sure is cold out there! I mean, Boston is nowhere near as bad as the Midwest, but it’s still No Fun At All. Here’s a tip to help you get through the day.

Eat a good breakfast.

Your mother was right! Don’t skip breakfast, especially when you’ve got a busy schedule. My favorite breakfast food is delicious, filling, good hot or good, has room for creativity, and is super easy to make — overnight oats.

At its simplest, overnight oats are just equal parts old-fashioned rolled oats and liquid. Don’t use instant oats because you’ll end up with mush. Don’t use steel-cut oats because they won’t soften enough. For the liquid you can can use milk (of any sort), fruit juice, or just plain water.

Put your oats and liquid in a container with whatever toppings and seasonings you like, cover, and stash in the fridge overnight. In the morning, eat. It’s that simple.

In the evening, I pour a half cup of oats and a half cup of liquid in a Pyrex container (as seen to the right), then add my toppings. I pop the lid on, stick it in the fridge, and ignore it until morning. I prefer my oats warm, so I microwave them for a minute or so (hence the glass container). But you can grab them right out of fridge and dig in.

Topping the oats is where thing get fun. You can add fresh or dried fruit, nuts, seeds, spices, fresh greens or herbs. I know oatmeal often has sweet toppings, but give savory oats a try.

A few suggestions:
Mina’s standard
Oats and water, pinch of salt. Toss some frozen mixed berries on top. In the morning the berries are thawed and when I nuke the oats, they turn into fruit compote. Sometimes I add a dash of natural cocoa powder for a hint of chocolate. It’s not sweetened, so only use it along with fruit, unless you like a bitter-tasting breakfast (just ask me know I know…)

Autumnal oats
Use apple cider for the liquid and add chopped apples, toasted walnuts, and dried cranberries. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon.

Savory sesame oats
Make the oats with water and add a splash of soy sauce and a dash of sesame oil. Top with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.

Almond Joy oats
This one is basically dessert.
Make the oats with milk. For true decadence, use chocolate almond milk (personally I think it’s a bit much). Top with toasted shredded coconut, toasted slivered almonds, and a few dark chocolate chips. If you warm this one, the chips get all melty and ooze through each bite.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 1 February 2019 at 2:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: Christmas Pudding, part 3

Dear Constant Reader,

Earlier in the year I showed you how to make and steam a Christmas pudding. Now that your pudding is good and aged, it’s almost time to serve it!

Take your finely-aged pudding out of its aging container and unwrap it from the cloth. Get your pudding basin and butter it well, then slip your naked pudding into it. Wet the pudding cloth, wring it out, and tie over the top of the basin with your pudding string just like you did before. Steam the pudding for an hour or two until it’s heated through. You really can’t overcook it; just make sure the water never boils away.

Traditionally Christmas pudding is served with hard sauce. It’s not called “hard” because it has booze in it (although it does), but because it can’t be poured. You’ll have to scoop it onto your warm slice of pudding where it will melt into a puddle of deliciousness.

To make hard sauce, you need:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup superfine sugar
2 Tablespoons booze

Superfine sugar, also called bar sugar and caster sugar (in the UK), can be a little hard to find. If you can’t scare up any, use confectioner’s sugar (I don’t care for it because it’s got cornstarch added) or grind up granulated sugar in the food processor. Straight granulated sugar will make your hard sauce gritty.

For the booze, use whatever you’ve been aging your pudding with. In my case, that’s rum. Usually dark rum, but my pudding drank it all.

Cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the booze. It’s that easy! Keep the hard sauce in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

Now to serve the pudding aflame!

Place the pudding on a serving platter, preferable one with a bit of a lip. Gently warm 1/2 cup of booze in a sauce pan. Turn out the lights in the dining room and place the pudding platter on the table. Get your camera ready. Pour the warm booze over the pudding and light the vapors with a long match. Voila!

When the flames go out, slice and serve with a generous spoonful of hard sauce.

Here’s last year’s pudding and the proud cook.

If you make Christmas pudding, I want to hear about it!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 19 December 2018 at 2:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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