For dinner last night, I decided to go a little more low-key even than last week’s stewed oxtails. The BOHM lists several “plain family dinners” that are not the extensive time-sucking multi-course feasts for 8-20 persons Beeton also plans for. Don’t get me wrong, I love multi-course time sucks. I just can’t see myself producing that much food on a weekly basis for my small family. So for normal meals, I have been taking my inspiration from these menus-soup, a meat course, some veggies, and dessert, not much different than what we might have now, really.
I have had a busy busy weekend, so I was glad to have a dessert that could be cobbled together and then ignored for hours. I chose Aunt Nelly’s pudding , which was flavored with citrus in a few forms. Meyer lemons are awesome right now, so I thought I would use them. Once I made limoncello with Meyer lemons, and I found the soft peels difficult to work with, so while I was eager to taste the result, I was dreading the preparation slightly.
The recipe calls for candied peel as well as fresh, and the juice of one lemon. Since candying peel is quick and easy, I decided to make some while I was making waffles yesterday morning. I peeled the skin off two lemons since they are wee. I have the kind of “ergonomic” y-shaped peeler that is also very good for peeling citrus, except for Meyer lemons. Yesterday I learned that if I dig into the peel slightly I can get a strip off with ease if I move the peeler in a slight wiggling motion as I go.
When it was time to assemble the ingredients, I also chopped some fresh peel, which I added to the batter as well. The sweetening agent is treacle, which if you are modern American type like me is something you hear about in old children’s stories. I asked The Governess what she thought I could substitute for treacle, and she opined that golden syrup, which is what I found at the hoity toity store, could substitute with some molasses mixed in.
Mixing the syrup in was another story. The base of the pudding was flour, which differed from the Christmas pudding I made, which started with already-cooked bread crumbs. To this I added suet and the syrup. Have you ever tried to mix syrup into flour? My gosh. Beeton’s is not super clear about how to go about mixing everything together. I knew from experience that lemon juice could cause an egg/dairy blend to curdle, so I decided to add that last.
After pouring the syrup in (and adding a couple of tablespoons of molasses), I tried to stir it, and the syrup bunged up on the spoon. I treated it like a pie crust after this, moving the flour around and working the syrup into the flour with my fingers until it was all pretty even. Unlike butter, I was pulling the syrup in strings and mixing the flour in. Then I stirred in an egg/cream mixture, and the lemon juice last. This produced a creamy, albeit lumpy batter that I turned into my buttered rice cooker basin, which I figured was oven proof.
I “tied it down with a cloth,” which from what I have heard is to make it less soggy while it steams. After I made my first pudding, I was advised to layer some flour into the cloth as well. I decided to dampen my cloth slightly so it would hold the flour better.
It’s funny to me that it is a simple thing to knock together a pudding now that I have the ingredients and turn it out. I don’t think I prefer them to leavened cakes, but they can be delicious. Aunt Nelly’s pudding turned out not overly-sweet, and with a strong taste of lemon. I think the extra step of candying the peel was a complete waste of time, since it was unnoticeable. For my next trick, I will try a Sussex pond pudding, which looks like it may have appeared on the scene after BOHM.
After the pudding came out of the oven, my camera battery conked out. Whoops. I made boiled marrowbones , which I have previously roasted to serve with dinner in the past.
Beef marrow is like this amazing cross between steak flavor and butter, and is excellent scooped out of the bones and spread on toast, and then sprinkled with salt and pepper. I toasted some nice bread in the oven, and served it with Carrots in the German Way , which involves, surprise! butter and nutmeg. These people could not let a day go by without tasting nutmeg. The carrots turned out crispier than they were supposed to, because I did not cook them for the whole recommended 45 minutes! The carrots were also cooked with parsley and a “dessertspoon” amount of minced onion.
Overall, I enjoyed dinner, because most of the time was waiting while the food cooked, as opposed to a ton of prep. Cheers!