Thursday, 19 November 2009

Christmas Pudding Muffins and Fritters - Festive Foodie Competition

I am going to start by NOT apologising for the amount of times I may tell in the next few weeks how much I LOVE Christmas! Pure and simple - it's the best time of the year! I LOVE CHRISTMAS!
So when the World's Oldest Pudding Maker - Matthew Walker - set a Christmas Pudding Competition, I was in. Matthew Walker have been making Christmas Puddings since way back in 1899! So it's fair to say they know a thing about Christmas Puddings.

Christmas is all about traditions - advent calenders, Stir-Up Sunday, Coca Cola's Christmas Advert, 12 days of Christmas and the list goes on. Matthew Walker make their Christmas Puddings to the traditional 13 core ingredients, representing Jesus and his 12 apostles (Sultanas, Raisins, Demerara Sugar, Currants, Glace Cherries, Stout, Breadcrumbs, Sherry, Vegetable Suet, Almonds, Orange and Lemon Peel, Cognac, and Mixed Spice). Using the finest of these ingredients makes the most sumptuous and delicious Christmas Pudding.

So the challenge was to create alternative Christmas fare using 'The Pudding'. My mind immediately went into over drive on lots of different ways to use a Christmas Pudding. Here are my two entries (sorry I couldn't decide what to create so whittled it down to these two).

Christmas Pudding Muffins

This is a great way to either use up your Christmas Pudding, or make on Christmas Eve, to then gently warm in the oven on Christmas morning for breakfast.

Makes 12 muffins.

75g Butter, unsalted
200g Plain Flour
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
2 tsp Baking Power
75g Castor Sugar, golden
pinch of salt
200ml Buttermilk
1 Egg, large
200g Matthew Walker 'The Pudding', crumbled

1. Melt the butter and leave to cool just a little, and preheat the oven to 200 C/ Gas Mark 6.
2. Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, castor sugar and salt into a bowl.
3. In a measuring jug beat together the melted butter, egg and buttermilk together well.
4. With a wooden spoon, slowly pour the wet mix into the dry ingredients, and stir as gently as you can. If it has lumps - great, don't worry that what you want when making muffins. Work the mixture as least as possible.
5. Add the crumbled Matthew Walker Christmas Pudding and again gently fold through the mixture.
6. Spoon into 12 muffin case. I find using an ice-cream scoop gives the perfect measurement, and if its one of those with a handle to squeeze it goes into the cases easy. Place in the oven for 20 minutes until risen and golden.

I wanted something different to put on the top, but I didn't want a frosting or an icing. So I decided to put a crunchy topping of castor sugar and clementine zest.

5 tbsp Castor Sugar
Zest of 1 Clementine

1. Place castor sugar and zest into a pestle and mortar and grind up well. If the mixture is too wet, add a little more castor sugar.
2. Once the muffins are out of the oven, sprinkle a little over the top of the muffins and place back in the oven for 3-4 mins. This will help some of it stick to the muffins.
3. Once the muffins are out of the oven sprinkle again with a little of the sugar and clementine topping.

Christmas Pudding Fritters - with Cointreau and Clementine Cream

If, and a big IF, you have any Christmas Pudding left over, this would make a perfect breakfast on Boxing Day. As it is still Christmas, you can have the cream as well and be very naughty!

Matthew Walker 'The Pudding', sliced
2 Eggs, large
1 tbsp Castor Sugar, golden
1tsp Cinnamon, ground
150ml Double Cream
2 tbsp Cointreau
Zest of 1 Clementine

1. In a bowl or measuring jug, whisk together the eggs, castor sugar and cinnamon. Then pour onto a plate or flat dish.
2. Add the Cointreau to the cream and whisk them to your desired consistency. I whisked them enough to be able to make quenelles. Then stir in the clementine zest.
3. Place the slices of Christmas Pudding into the egg mixture, turning several times to coat well.
4. Place a frying pan on a medium heat, and add the butter. When melted place the egg coated Christmas Pudding slices in the pan. Leave for 3-4 mins and then turn over. The egg should be cooked and a nice colour.
5. Drain on a piece of kitchen paper, place on a plate with the cream and sprinkle of icing sugar....and enjoy!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Sharing a pot of Venison Goulash cooked above an open fire

I have been meaning to post a few lines about this over the last month, but things just seem to be getting in the way or be more important. One of the simple pleasures in life is enjoying great food with great friends.

Let me set the scene. Its early October on a Sunday evening. Clear skies above, which was making it a little bit chilly. Our next door neighbour, invited us and a few others in the street to enjoy his homemade Venison Goulash cooked on an open fire. He is Serbian and this is from a recipe they used to cook up in the hills of what was Yugoslavia.

As they had paved their back garden, they had to dig a small hole in the front garden to put the fire in. The large pot of stew was suspended over this. Each person brought round their garden benches or chairs and set them up around their front garden. Traditional Serbian music was playing, drink was flowing - including a range of homemade brandy's and liqueurs.

I can't even get close to remembering all the ingredients that went into it, and to be honest when you hear them you would think it would never work. The ones that stand out that I can remember - brandy, lager, coke and coffee. It had the most wonderful flavour, and the venison was melt in the mouth.

I decided to make my own bread to take as my offering. When I got there I found out also was a Master Baker attending.... whoops! Thankfully he gave my bread the thumbs-up! Yay!

That's one of the things I love about food, the fact that it brings people together. You can all tuck in, sharing jokes, having good conversation, talking and discussing about food. Drinking, listening to music, telling stories and meeting new friends.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Farewell Floyd: Round-up and Winners Announced

When the idea first came about, and Julia suggested making it a reality, I don't think we would have ever expected the response we have had. It just demonstrates the amount of love and respect for the enigmatic Keith Floyd. We have had entries from around the world, recipes re-lived, adapted or new ones created in his memory. Everyone has done such an amazing job, both myself and Julia would like to thank you for taking part and making this event so great.

We also extended the deadline, due to the fabulous people at Absolute Press giving three copies of 'Floyds Food' for the top three posts. So here we are. The deadline has passed. Julia and myself have deliberated over who the top three posts are. This is it...... There are the top three posts, each winning a copy of 'Floyds Food'. Congratulations!!!


Going With My Gut - Kenyan Goat Feast
Foodycat - Jambalaya

Anyone For Seconds
- Coq au Vin

Well done again Wen, Alicia and Giles. You will soon have your copy of 'Floyds Food'.

However, there were some other great entries:

A Weekend Carnivore
- Welsh Rarebit

Apple Crumbles - Shrimp, Mango and Ginger Stir-Fry

Them Apples
- Beef Bourgignon

Annes Kitchen
- White Onion Soup

Maison Mattmoo - Chicken Breast with Beetroot Sauce

Jo's Kitchen
- Garlic and Coriander Chicken

Pan Gravy Kadai Curry - Chicken Tagine with Butternut Basmati

The Princess and the Recipe - Lapin aux Pruneaux (Rabbit with Prunes)

A Wee Bit of Cooking
- Tabbouleh

Cyder with Eloise
- Floyds Chuck Wagon Pork and Beans

Joanna's Food - Lapin aux pruneaux (Saute of wild rabbit with prunes and Armagnac)

Simply Splendiferous
- Wellington Chicken with Cream Sauce and Marmalade Pudding

Once again, I would like to say thank you to everyone that took part, you all gave great tributes to Keith Floyd. Also thank you to the people at Absolute Press for providing the prize. Finally I would like to give a huge thank you to Julia @ A Slice of Cherry Pie - it's been such fun hosting this with you!

Please all fill you glass with wine, raise and toast to Keith Floyd - R.I.P Keith.