Pudín de Navidad

Pudin de Navidad It is my pleasure and great relief to report this years Christmas Pudding is finally under way – about 2 weeks later than planned, but I am sure it’ll be just fine. The dough is currently taking its 12 hour rest and will be steamed during the afternoon.

I was foolish enough to advertise the 2005 Christmas Dinner to be following a Mexican Theme, so it’ll be a tropical Christmas Pudding (topical), and shall be known as Pudín de Navidad. Here’s how it goes:

Mix the following: 125g melted butter, 250g each of the following dried fruits, each chopped into small pieces: pineapple, mango and/or papaya, pears, figs, apricots. 200g mixed candid peel. 50g candid ginger. 200g ground almonds. 1 apple and one carrot, both grated (medium will do). 75g white flour. 175g small cubes of soft white bread. 80g moist brown sugar. 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice. Freshly ground preferred. 2 tablespoon honey (Many books list treacle (molasses) instead), 1 pint minus a large gulp of stout (Guinness, etc), 2 large eggs, juice from 1 lime (lime, not: lemon).

Mix well, cover, and keep cool over night.

On the next day, butter the cooking dishes well (I prefer many small ones over one large one, but it’s up to you), fill in the dough, cover with buttered greaseproof paper and very firmly with tin foil, and steam for a very long time. For small dishes steam for at least 3 hours, for larger dishes give it 5-6 hours.
When done, immediately remove the damp covers. When cold, splash Brandy or Scotch over each (just as a preservative of course ;-), and cover very carefully again buttered greaseproof paper and tin foil. Store away in a cool place for 2..4 weeks. Adjust amount of Brandy topping according to average age of Christmas Dinner guests.

On Christmas Day, steam again to reheat: 45 minutes for small dishes, 2 hours for a large dish. Cheaters use the Microwave. Decorate with Holly leaf and half a brown sugar cube soaked in Tequila, flambé with Tequila (use Scotch for the non-tropical variety) and serve with a fruity orange-ginger sauce, or vanilla ice cream.

[Edit: Due to the late recovery from Typepad’s outage, I can now actually re-post this article with a proper image, showing all 12 tropical puddings cooling off after having been steamed for 4 1/2 hours. At the time of writing this add-on, they are already a little tipsy and in a cool and dark corner, awaiting Christmas Day.]

Green is Good For You

Spinach_1This simple dish is deeply satisfying, and has been a great success on many occasions. It’s fairly quick and easy to make, can be made in small and large portions, can be eaten hot, luke-warm and cold, keeps for a few days, is good to re-heat in a microwave oven, … Who can ask for more?

For Dad’s Spinach Tarte, you’ll need:

1 1/2 packet deep-frozen puff pastry, 1 kg Spinach, 1 leak, 1 large onion, 3-5 gloves of garlic, butter, 2 tee spoons salt, 2 tee spoons stock granulates or 2 cubes, 1/2 tee spoon freshly ground pepper, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg, 6 eggs, 1/2 pint double cream, 300g Feta cheese, a handful of pine kernels, and a few tablespoons of dry breadcrumbs.

Cut onion, garlic, leak. Steam slightly with a bit butter and a dash of olive oil. Loose some of the liquid if too much builds up.
Mix eggs, cream, feta cheese, pine kernels and all the spices in an extra bowl. Remove the spinach from the heat and mix both together. Add breadcrumbs until the mix has the consistency of slightly runny custard.

Roll out the semi-defrosted pastry and line a deep non-sticking dish (a Teflon-coated roasting dish works great, and so do many baking forms). Let the rim hang over the dish slightly. Fill in the mix, fold in the pastry, wet the pastry with water and close the lid with another sheet of puff pastry. Try to get the puff pastry as air-tight as you can, but do not forget to insert two little cross-cuts in the lid to let the steam out.

Preheat the oven to 180C (360F). Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the tin foil, and bake for another 15 minutes. When finished, remove from the oven, let cool down for 20 minutes, then turn over and lift off the dish.

Eat hot, luke-warm, or cold. Enjoy!