I wanted a pudding. I wanted something sharp rather than sweet – but then other people become involved and they want sweet over sharp, and so it goes on. There is a balance to be struck and it’s with a lovely tarte au citron. My local farmers shop has some wonderfully large, ripe and juicy lemons that were crying out for use and so they came to the rescue. Here it is, a tart for the close of summer; one to use before the darker night and heavier puddings of autumn arrive.
Hands up, I don’t like Christmas Cake. I don’t apologise. It seems forced, overly fruity, almond pasted, icing sugared overload. It’s not for me. I am partial to a slice of Dundee cake. The problem with that, of course, is that it doesn’t always come up to what you Christmas cake fiends demand. So there is something to find in the middle. I think this is it – it has the fruit, and some alcoholic richness; but it pushes back the icing for a glaze and blanched almonds (so much better than the paste). It being Christmas time, the cake is fed – with the tipple of your choice – so that it keeps moist and tastes wonderful with a great glassful of sherry. Nuts, fruit, eggs, alcohol, and in this cake a little mixed spice and cinnamon (hence not so traditional). Don’t complain, it’s not Dundee cake, I know, it’s a Dundee Christmas Cake.
So sometimes something cold, even at this time of year, can be very rewarding. A dish that has about it something of the Mediterranean with the couscous, dill, olive oil and lemon mix – but that smell and flavour of chunks of smoked salmon just scream out more a summer time plate. I love this, it easily feeds two very well or four with a few side dishes. You can mix it up – add cucumber, other peppers, pitta bread even – but really you don’t need much on the side, this dish pretty much does it all.
I am going through a thing at the moment for food I had as a child (and crave right now). It started when I thought about Chinese chicken curry, and turned very easily to pie and mash. There is something wholesome and deeply fulfilling when you are faced with a pie with a crisp top and suet base, filled with mincemeat. Aside that, comes the mash, and poured over the top the parsley liquor (and a generous amount of vinegar). It is isn’t rocket science, and I can manage to eat two pies even in the summer. This really works. Feeds four.
So it’s a cake, soaked in whole milk, condensed milk and evaporated milk – topped with cream. Really? This sweet, moist wonderfulness of a creation can only make you feel that God exists and bakes. I first tried this in the US, but it has a long story in its history (more about that below), a bit convoluted and not entirely clear. What is undoubtedly true, once you have made this your friends will always, but always want more.
I have braised ox cheek in the freezer and while there are a number of ways of using it up – it is cheap piece of meat and feeds plenty – one of the best is to use it in individual suet puddings. Yesterday, this was the Sunday lunch. No these should not only be eaten in the Winter, sometimes an unexpected dish like this in a cold spring, late summer or early autumn can be a welcome sight indeed. The suet pudding, enveloping the long cooked and rich steak, with an additional pour of red wine or other gravy can be just the dish needed at any time of the year. If you are using something other than the braised beef from this site then I will create a pop up on how to cook the beef.
I don’t know what it was that made me want to make these, but it has been a long term plan. I had some delicious croquettes at Fino the then sister restaurant to Barrafina in London: crisp outside, with that delicious melting interior made for a memorable occasion. These can be a larger starter dish, or made well in advance and smaller rounds dropped into hot oil to go with drinks in the evening. The key is to put them them in the fridge to firm up and hold together when being fried. I like to make a simple mix of mustard and mayonnaise as a side dip.