O, who would be a puddin',
A puddin' in a pot,
A puddin' which is stood on
A fire which is hot?
O sad indeed the lot
Of puddin's in a pot ...
(From The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay, 1918)
Champaigne Taste and Briciole are hosting Novel Food: Spring 2008. To participate, it's simple - prepare a dish that is connected to a published literary work and post about it by 22 March 2008.
When I read about this event, the first book that popped into my mind was The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay. (For art lovers, the author was also a famed Australian artist, who was the subject of the film Sirens.) While The Magic Pudding is regarded as a children's book, there is much academic discussion about the hidden symbolism and meaning behind the plot and characters. The "magic pudding" of the title is a walking, talking pudding with stick- like legs called Albert. In addition to having an unpleasant personality, this pudding is magic because (a) it is literally the pudding that never runs out - when you cut a slice, the pudding regenerates itself; and (b) it is a steak and kidney pudding on one side, and is jam roly poly and apple dumplings on the other side.
As I have never made a savoury steamed pudding, let alone one with a suet crust, I made a traditional steak and kidney pudding in honour of The Magic Pudding for this event. I used Delia Smith's recipe (sans the extra gravy), which can be found here. Delia mentions that the cockney slang for steak and kidney is "Kate and Sidney" - I think this is really cute!
The one barrier which I hit with making this pudding is that suet is as rare as hen's teeth in Australia. It is not sold in supermarkets, and even butchers can't promise that they can procure any for you, because the suet (beef kidney fat) is often removed before they receive the meat for processing. Rather than hang around hoping for some suet to turn up at the butcher's, I decided to substitute the suet for a product known as Supafry, which is basically tallow (rendered suet) used for frying. I'm not sure what effect this had on the finished pudding, but it worked! (We won't mention that I also stupidly did not buy an onion, incorrectly thinking that I had one at home, so I substituted spring onions instead.)
This pudding was, to my surprise, delicious. The crust was "melt in your mouth", and the filling was rich and flavourful. I would definitely make this again at some point in the future.
Thanks to Champaigne Taste and Briciole for hosting this event, and please check their sites after 22 March for the orundup of literary-inspired food.