Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Nigel Slater's Christmas Pudding; Cheese Update
How are your Christmas preparations coming along? Do you like to make food for gifts? Do you have traditional plum pudding, and if so, do you make it yourself?
I like to make food for gifts each year, as I have done for the past 4 years. I haven't made a pudding every year, but on a personal level, it wouldn't feel like Christmas if we didn't have plum pudding and custard for Christmas dinner. Sure, it might be 30 degrees Celsius with blazing sunshine outside, but to me, there is nothing like the smell and taste of plum pudding. Because it is only a once a year treat, it is extra special.
I made my plum pudding back in October so that it could mature and smell all spicy and boozy by Christmas, but you don't have to make it that early. My pudding will mostly be divided up and given to friends in Christmas gift boxes, but oddly, my Mum has asked if I could save a piece for her this year. I am happy to do so, but am curious because she has never asked for some before.
This year, I chose to make Nigel Slater's Christmas pudding from The Kitchen Diaries. You can also find the recipe online here. I only made a half recipe, as I didn't want two puddings. Nigel's pudding uses suet, which I have not used in plum pudding before. I just used boxed dried suet, as getting fresh suet is almost impossible in Australia.
Nigel's pudding is unusual in that it is quite light in colour - I am used to dark plum puddings. As to taste - I can't tell you about that just yet, but if you are interested, let me know and I will give an update in due course.
This pudding requires three and a half hours to steam, so you need to make it on a day when you can be at home the whole time to make sure that the pudding doesn't boil dry. Although Nigel says that you can reheat it for eating the same way, I recommend just cutting it into slices and microwaving it for 30 seconds or until heated through - especially if you are in the Southern Hemisphere for Christmas and the thought of steaming up your house is not appealing.
Nigel says he steamed the pudding using china bowls with paper and string tops, but I used a much more modern metal steamer with a clip-on lid.
The pudding looks like a beauty, so I can't wait to try it.
On a different topic, you may remember that I made camembert in a cheesemaking class recently. Finally, after 15 days of changing the ice almost daily in an esky "ice cave", here is my camembert, covered with downy white mould:
I worried about the wrinkly top, but my research shows that this is OK. As an educated guess, I understand that it is to do with the geotrychum used to encourage the growth of the penicillium, and the fact that the temperature in the esky may have been a little warmer from time to time than was ideal, encouraging the geotrychum to grow more quickly than the penicillium. Certain cheeses are actually supposed to have this wrinkly "geotrychum" rind, so as far as I am concerned, all is well.
I have transferred the camembert to the fridge, wrapped in baking paper and alfoil, to ripen for at least 5 weeks. That means no camembert for Christmas!
I also used the mozarella to make another pizza - this time, I brushed the pizza base with olive oil, sprinkled it with salt and pepper, and topped it with chunks of mozarella and gorgonzola and thin slices of ripe pear, followed by more seasoning:
This pizza was fabulous! I can't choose between this one and the Hawaiian version.
Stay tuned - more Christmas baking ideas will follow over the next couple of weeks.
Finally, I wanted to add a quick note to remember the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's passing. I am a huge Beatles fan, although the Beatles split up before I was born. I would love to know what John might have been doing musically if he was still with us. RIP John.