Food & Drink

Local reader gets recipe for plum pudding

Recipes for plum puddings usually are passed from generation to generation, and such is the case of Mary F. Jones of Bradenton, until she misplaced hers.

“My family had a Christmas recipe for many generations for plum pudding with hard sauce,” she said.

The dark, almost black, dessert certainly is steeped in tradition. It was first made in medieval England when the Roman Catholic Church ordered it to be made on the 25th Sunday after Trinity. It also was to be prepared with 13 ingredients to represent Christ and the 12 disciples.

According to that tradition, the pudding was to be stirred by each family member, and each person had to stir it from east to west to honor the Wise Men who came to see Jesus.

Two readers, Anne Heinle and Janet Magandy, want to help Jones continue her family’s plum pudding tradition.

“Mary F. Jones brought back fond memories of a Christmas when I made plum pudding and hard sauce,” Heinle said. “The recipes came from ‘Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cooking, Volume 3.’ I served an English dinner on Christmas eve for family and guests: rib roast of beef, Yorkshire pudding, veggies and pudding with hard sauce. I hope this is the kind of pudding she wants.”

Magandy also makes an English plum pudding that her family says is delicious. Her recipe comes from the 12th edition of “The Fanny Farmer Cookbook.” Knowing Magandy, I’m sure this recipe will be handed down to her children and grandchildren.

In olden days, the pudding was made with suet and was moistened with fruit juices and brandy or other alcohols.

Magandy’s recipe still uses suet, but Heinle’s opts for carrots and potatoes. Both contain fragrant holiday spices of cloves, nutmeg and mace. In medieval England, these were luxurious ingredients.

Thanks to Heinle and Magandy, Jones will be able to serve plum pudding at Christmas once again.

Christmas Plum Pudding

q 1/2 cup golden seedless raisins

q 1/2 pound dried apricots, cut into pieces

q 1/2 pound dates, cut into pieces

q Grated rind of 1/2 orange

q Grated rind of 1/2 lemon

q 1/2 cup chopped blanched almonds

q 1/4 cup fruit juice or sherry

q 1/4 cup butter of margarine

q 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

q 2 eggs

q 3/4 cup grated raw carrots

q 3/4 cup grated raw potatoes

q 1/4 cup milk

q 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

q 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

q 1 teaspoon each of baking soda and salt

q 1/2 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg and mace

q 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

q Hard Sauce

n Combine fruits, rinds and nuts; add fruit juice or sherry. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until light after each addition. Add carrots, potatoes and milk. Sift flour with remaining ingredients except Sauce and add to creamed mixture. Add fruit mixture.

n Put in well-greased 2-quart mold. Cover; put on rack in heavy kettle with about 1 1/2 inches of hot water. Cover; steam for about 2 hours. Unmold. Serve with Hard Sauce.

Note: Pudding can be made ahead, wrapped and refrigerated. If frozen, thaw before resteaming. Allow about 1 hour for thorough heating.

Hard sauce

q Cream:

q 3/4 cup butter or margarine

q 3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

q 1 tablespoon cream

q Dash of salt

q 2 teaspoons rum extract

n Serve over pudding.

-- Submitted by Anne Heinle

English Plum Pudding

q 10 slices white bread

q 1 cup scalded milk

q 1/2 cup sugar

q 4 eggs, separated

q 11/3 cups raisins, lightly floured

q 1/2 cup finely chopped dried figs

q 3 tablespoons finely chopped citron

q 3/4 cup finely chopped suet

q 3 tablespoons brandy

q 1 teaspoon nutmeg

q 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

q 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

q 1/4 teaspoon mace

q 1 teaspoon salt

n Butter a 2-quart mold, (make sure it has a tight lid). If you don’t have one with a tight lid, use a can and cover it with a double thickness of foil and tie the foil down securely with string.

n Heat water in pot, enough to hold the mold. Crumb the bread, and soak it in the hot milk. Cool and add the sugar, the well-beaten egg yolks, raisins, figs and citron. Break up the suet with a fork and mash until it is creamy or use a food processor. Add to the crumb mixture, then stir in the brandy, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, salt. Beat until well blended.

n Beat the egg whites until they are stiff but not dry. Stir a third of the whites into the pudding mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whites. Spoon the mixture into the mold and cover.

Put in the large pot of boiling water, and steam for 6 hours. Make sure the pudding container is raised to allow water to move all around it and water goes halfway up the pudding mold or can. Remove and let cool for 10 minutes before unmolding.

n Serve warm with Hard Sauce. Serves 6.

Hard sauce

Traditionally served with English Plum Pudding, hard sauce is very sweet and good with many other steamed puddings. Serve it cool, but not chilled. Makes 1 cup.

q 5 tablespoons butter

q 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

q 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

n Cream the butter, then slowly add the sugar, beating well with an electric beater or by hand until creamy and pale yellow. Add the vanilla and blend. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

n Use 2 tablespoons brandy or 3 tablespoons sherry or Madeira wine instead of vanilla for a brandy or wine hard sauce.

Note: English plum pudding makes a lovely Christmas gift. Wrapped well in a brandy-dampened towel, it will keep in the refrigerator for several months. Reheat in the top of a double boiler before serving.

-- Submitted by Janet Magandy

Reheat crepes

“I had this bright idea of making pulled pork crepes. It actually turned out to be quite tasty. I used up the batter I had to make crepes (they’re nondescript so they can be used for something sweet or salty),” said Dee Turner of Lucedale.

“They turned out well. To store them in the fridge, I used layers of wax paper in between them and put them in a zip-top storage bag. My question is what is the proper way to reheat crepes?

“The filling was very easy -- we had gone to a pig roast at a friend’s house. They gave us some leftovers to take home,” said Turner.

Reheating crepes is easy, too. Simply spray a skillet with nonstick spray and heat. Place crepe in skillet and reheat a few seconds on each side.

Turner was correct in the way she stored the leftover crepes. She could have even put those crepes in the freezer if she had used a freezer storage bag. When ready to use, simple remove from freezer and follow the reheating method.

Here’s Turner’s method for the filling:

“I pulled the pork apart and added some barbecue sauce from a barbecue place near my home and heated it in a skillet. Made the crepes, added the pulled pork and rolled them and placed them on a plate with some steamed asparagus across the top of them, some fanned strawberries on the plate along with some slices of half of a leftover sweet potato on the plate as well,” she said.

“I was actually just using up what I had in the fridge.”

What a way to use leftovers.

Good biscuits, please

A Gulfport reader wants a recipe for “really good from-scratch biscuits, like my grandmother used to make in her wood stove.”

Readers, do you have a good biscuit recipe for her? I’ve never had bis- cuits cooked on a wood stove, so I don’t know the texture or taste that she wants. We need your help.

Andrea Yeager, can be reached at Send contributions or requests to Cook’s Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535-4567. If requesting a recipe, include the name or describe it.