#12Days Fast puddings Day 1

Pudding doesn't have to take forever to prepare.
Pudding doesn’t have to take forever to prepare.

OK. I know. I promised sauces and gravies today, but quite frankly that’s a pretty boring way to finish the #12Days blog series.

Today is a quiet day……….. the grandchildren are at home and building their own family Christmas traditions. The grown up children are visiting, but at the moment are out visiting the nephews. My mother is still in bed, and having lived on her own for the last 37 years she is making the most of breakfast in bed, the crossword, three cups of tea and her radio on full blast.  David is wrapping his presents and  as for me  …… well I am a bit footloose to be honest.  Katie and Will always do the food on Christmas Eve (Canadian Tortiere and slaw – follow link) so that’s catered for.  Tomorrow we are having pheasant either in a pot or roasted – not quite decided yet – and Boxing Day we are having the guinea fowl.

So today I thought…… what about fast puddings?  We are not really big pudding eaters – certainly not Christmas Pudding – and after all the scrumptiousness of the main course, a big pudding is not high on our list.   So if you are of a similar frame of mind, or – like me – fancy a pudding way past the meal, and probably about 9pm after too much wine and contemplating another, then this is the page for you.

Icecream and Pedro Ximinez

Take some good quality vanilla icecream from your freezer. Put a scoop in a dish and pour over about 30ml dark, treacly Pedro Ximinez sherry.  Divine.

Icecream and Malteser sauce

Take some good quality vanilla icecream from your freezer. Bash a bag of Maltesers or chocolate Santa’s gently with a rolling pin. Scatter over the icecream (after all, MacDonalds do it already and call it a ‘flurry’).

Toasted croissant with raspberry sauce and cream

Take one stale croissant. Split it in half and toast it lightly.  Whizz some raspberries or blackcurrantes n the blender with a little icing sugar, warm them slightly, add some Kirsch or Creme de Cassis, and pour over the hot croissant. Serve with cream or icecream.

Floating Islands with dragons blood

These are Monty’s favourites and so easy to do.  Whisk 3 egg whites with 60g caster sugar till firm.  Put 300ml milk and water (50/50) in a wide shallow pan and bring to a gentle simmer.  Then spoon dessert spoons of meringue on top and poach them 5 minutes each side. Drain on kitchen paper.  Pour 500ml ready made custard (I love the Madagascar custard from Waitrose) into a saucepan and heat it up. Then whizz a good handful of raspberries to a puree with some icing sugar.  Pour hot custard into a dish, put a ‘floating island’ meringue on top then drizzle with ‘dragons blood’ or caramel sauce from a well known supermarket.

Cheat’s Banoffee

Use one digestive biscuit per serving. Buy ready made condensed milk caramel from the supermarket (or you can make your own by boiling a tin of condensed milk – tin pieced once – for about 2.5 hours then store in the fridge). Whip some cream. Chop some bananas.  Now construct.  Biscuit first. Then a dollop of caramel. Then chopped banana. Then cream.  And maybe the grated foot off a chocolate Santa.

Pancakes and fresh fruit

Two heaped tablespoons of flour, half a teaspoon baking powder, a little salt, one egg, 150ml mixed water and milk (50/50).  Mix madly with a hand whisk.  Dollop spoonfuls onto a hot greased griddle or frying pan. Wait till the bubbles start to rise then turn and cook on the other side.  Serve with chopped strawberries, raspberries, blueberries – in fact any berries – and cream or icecream

My favourite cheat

I am not a fan of hot Christmas pudding. But cold? With a slab of cold butter? And a good slug of Advocaat on top?  Now that’s what I call a sofa treat!

Wishing you all the very best for the festive season. Signing off now until the new year – I hope it is a peaceful, healthy and happy one for all of you.

Blackcurrant massacre

There was a point when I wondered whether all my years in the kitchen had been wasted.

A glut of blackcurrants. My favourite icecream is blackcurrant and our friend John reckons my blackcurrant icecream is pretty good.  I made him a litre for Christmas one year.

For decades I  made icecream by the easy method – and by the way I recommend it – mixing all the ingredients together, throwing them into a container and putting it in the freezer. No churning, no forking, no mixing an hour afterwards. Just leave it there and take it out about 40 minutes before its required and scoop into dishes.  Years ago I used to make banana icecream in one of those shallow round terracotta dishes. It was always failsafe and topped with buttered and carameled almonds it was gorgeous.  Then I thought I’d get clever and ask for an icecream maker. BIG BIG MISTAKE.

Back to the blackcurrants.  Ah yes, the glut of blackcurrants.  First poach the blackcurrants with some sugar (not too much) and a little water. I often add a slug of Creme de Cassis.  Let it cool. Then mix with the blackcurrants.  Dont bother with sieving it or pureeing it.  Its lovely to bite into a nugget of blackcurrant through a creamy coating.  Icecream  maker –  now comes the tricky bit.  The icecream maker bowl had been in the freezer for the required 8 hours.  The paddle and the lid were assembled.  Now – do I pour the stuff in the bowl and then lower the paddle and turn it on, or do I start it paddling then add the liquid? That’s the bit I can never remember.  And I never have been one for keeping instruction leaflets.  My risk-taking tendencies are actually much more radical than not keeping nor reading instruction leaflets, but that is another story, another day…………………….

Oh yes.  Pour it in and then lower the paddle.  The paddle starts but only goes 90 degrees when it stops. And judders.  Hell’s teeth.  I lift the lid and the attached paddle, attempting to grasp the bowl which is very cold with slippery condensation on the outside.  Slithering outside. Skittering inside.  It careers across the worktop and lands in the sink.  Blackcurrant icecream shoots over the side.  I wipe it off with kitchen towel. Peer into the bowl. Damn – should have started the paddle THEN poured it in.  Icecream is frozen to the sides which is why the paddle wont turn.  Chip away at it with a spoon but of course it  refreezes instantly. Pointless.  Pick up bowl and attempt to pour into another bowl. The bowl is freezing cold on the outside and yes,  still there’s that condensation…………… Crash. Blackcurrant icecream slooshes over the edge of the kitchen worktop and onto the floor. Oh. And down my white top. Why did I do that?

With some of the icecream still salvagable, enough for four or five, I peel off some clothes and throw them into the washing machine with some Vanish and return, rather scantily clad,  to the chainsaw massacre of a kitchen, slipping on the melted icecream on the floor and in an attempt to save myself, I elbow the bowl over the edge. Upside down. On the floor.  Like me.

The saddest story is that I tried it again a few weeks later with a magnificent custard based cinnamon icecream which was to have adorned the black treacle pastry apple tart.  Similar story.  Similar outcome.  Made do with creme fraiche.  Icecream maker anyone?

Lemon and lime parfait with pistachio and rose petals

Ooo-er. Get her!

This is a bit of a take on Nigel Slater’s lemon and organge Parfait. But I like it with a bit of crunch.  It is light and sharp and perfect at the end of a meal where you think you couldn’t possibly partake of pudding…………. but then you see this and you think  ‘well maybe a small bit then’.

Whip 500ml creme fraiche and 125ml natural yogurt till heavy but not too thick.  Add the grated rind of a lemon and a lime and juice of half a lemon. Then add a 300g jar of quality lemon curd and 50g chopped pistachios. Fold all this in, then crumble in 75g meringues – leave some on the large side and the rest a mixture of crumb and middling. Fold into the mixture.

Line the base of a loaf tin or a springform cake tin with parchment then pour in the mixture and freeze.  Take out 30 minutes before serving.  Using a sharp ended knife dipped in hot water, run the blade round the edge of the tin and invert the parfait onto a plate.  Sprinkle with more pistachio and rose petals.  Fragrant.  Piquant. Heaven.

Pear and caramelised walnut tart

Turn the oven on to 180C (no fan) and preferably with heat coming from the base, if your oven will do this.

Peel, quarter and poach pears in a light sugar syrup (3tbsp unrefined caster sugar and 150ml water). Remove from syrup and cool.

Add 150 unrefined caster sugar to a shallow pan on a high heat. If you leave it, it will turn dark dark brown and probably set off the fire alarm. When it does, whack the alarm with a tea towel and take it off the heat. Pour in 150ml single cream (stand back, make sure you are wearing an apron), stir all the time until the caramel and cream are combined, then add about 50g cold butter and 150g chopped walnuts.

Now. Unfurl your ready made puff pastry.

Grease a loose bottomed flan case and line with the pastry. Place the pears on the base and pour the walnuts and caramel over them. Be careful not to over fill it.
Loosely drape the rest of the pastry over the top then press your thumb over the edges of the flan tin to release the spare pastry which is hanging over the edge.
I said ‘loosely drape’ because puff pastry shrinks. So you don’t want it taut because it will spring back into the centre when it cooks. Like it did when I tried to impress my first husband’s boss in 1975. Steak and kidney in a dish with a small (but admittedly tall) disc of pastry in the centre!

Brush with beaten egg.

Place on a baking tray which has been in the oven whilst you’ve been bringing it to temperature. (The tray will catch the drips but the heat from the tray will encourage the pastry on the base to crisp up quickly.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes.

I made mine about an hour ago. It will sit in a cool room till Monday night, then I will warm it slightly and drift icing sugar over it and serve with vanilla ice cream. (Jue, John, Het, Andrea – this is Monday’s pudding!)

Panetone pudding

Those Italian Panetone look so inviting. But so often it hangs around till Easter!

Here’s an easy pudding for next week.

Slice the Panetone and spread with butter (it has to be done). Cut the slices into triangles and place in a dish so they overlap.  Drizzle a little alcohol like vin Santo onto it.

Beat 3 eggs into 200ml cream or cream mixed with milk.  Pour onto the Panetone and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.

It will smell divine and taste even better.  Really really good if you are eating (or experiencing) cold turkey for the third time next week!

Lemon meringue icecream

Nigel Slater might be growing a bead which makes him look like a loveable lurcher, but he does a good line in quick yummy food. Somewhere on this blog is a version of this. It started as Nigel’s but I have changed it so many times I think it’s probably mine now.

150ml creme frache mixed with 150ml greek yogurt and one 375g jar of my mum’s lemon curd (or someone else’s). A handful of crushed meringues. Crushed pistachio nuts.
I had half a large tub of greek yogurt from Lidl so I mixed everything in the pot then turned it into a plastic box lined with cling film and put it in the freezer.

Yes folks. It’s that simple. Take it out of the freezer and put in the fridge an hour before you serve it. Last time this was on the menu I served it with little lemon friands (lemon buns made with icing sugar and egg white).

This is a great standby to have in the freezer. You could leave out the lemon curd and add fruit puree swirled into it instead.

Lemon and lime parfait with pistachio and rose petals

This is a bit of a take on Nigel Slater’s lemon and organge Parfait. But I like it with a bit of crunch.  It is light and sharp and perfect at the end of a meal where you think you couldn’t possibly partake of pudding…………. but then you see this and you think  ‘well maybe a small bit then’.

Whip 500ml creme fraiche and 125ml natural yogurt till heavy but not too thick.  Add the grated rind of a lemon and a lime and juice of half a lemon. Then add a 300g jar of quality lemon curd and 50g chopped pistachios. Fold all this in, then crumble in 75g meringues – leave some on the large side and the rest a mixture of crumb and middling. Fold into the mixture.

Line the base of a loaf tin or a springform cake tin with parchment then pour in the mixture and freeze.  Take out 30 minutes before serving.  Using a sharp ended knife dipped in hot water, run the blade round the edge of the tin and invert the parfait onto a plate.  Sprinkle with more pistachio and rose petals.  Fragrant.  Piquant. Heaven