The Daring Bakers Make English Steamed Pudding!

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.
This month's Daring Bakers Challenge was exactly that - a challenge! Not because the recipe was hard, because in fact this was one of the simplest recipes I have ever made. What made this challenge so challenging for me was the fact that this recipe was supposed to be made with Suet. For those of you that do not know, suet is basically the raw fat found around the kidneys and liver of cattle - its thick and white and crumbly. I like to try and follow the recipes as much as possible, but I wasn't able to find any suet in my area (darn....haha). I did search a little harder for suet alternative, but couldn't find that, either, so I used some Crisco! 
I decided to stay away from the steak and kidney puddings and go straight for the sweet desserts! One of my favorite flavor combinations is lemon and blueberry, and I figured it would definitely lend itself to this!

I started my pudding off by simmering some blueberries, sugar and lemon juice until the blueberries were soft. I placed these in the bottom of the pan. To the standard recipe (below) I added a dash of cinnamon, a splash of vanilla extract, some lemon curd, the juice from 1/2 a lemon, and lemon zest.

I didn't have a traditional steaming pot, so I used a small cheesecake pan that I have and propped it up in a saucepan with some rolled up balls of aluminum foil. I was really worried that my pudding would leak out of the removable bottom portion of the pan, or the boiling water would sneak in and ruin the pudding. So instead of filling up the pan halfway with water, I only filled to just below the bottom of the pan.

Surprisingly, amazingly, the pan was perfect! The pudding stayed in, the water stayed out, and everything slid out absolutely perfectly!!!

I topped my pudding off with a simple lemon sauce - half a stick of melted butter, the zest and juice from a lemon and 1.5 cups of powdered sugar. It was perfect!! This tasted nothing like what I thought it would - it was a very moist cake with a delicate flavor. I really liked it, and it was so simple to make, I just might have to do it again!!!
Steamed Suet Pudding, sponge type.
(100 grams/4 ounces) All-purpose flour
(1/4 teaspoon) salt
(1.5 teaspoons) Baking powder
(100 grams/4 ounces) breadcrumbs
(75 grams/3 ounces) Caster sugar
(75 grams/ 3 ounces) Shredded suet or suet substitute (i.e., Vegetable Suet, Crisco, Lard)
(1) large egg
(6 to 8 tablespoons) Cold milk
1. Sift flour, salt and baking powder into bowl.
2. Add breadcrumbs, sugar and suet.
3. Mix to a soft batter with beaten egg and milk
4. Turn into a buttered 1 litre/ 2pint pudding basin and cover securely with buttered greaseproof paper or aluminum foil.
5. Steam steadily for 2.5 to 3 hours (mine was done at 2 hours 15 minutes). You can tell when it is done when the top springs back after being lightly touched, or when a toothpick inserted into it comes out cleanly. Make sure to check the water level every so often and add more to keep both your pot and your pudding from burning. I added a little bit of water every 15 minutes or so.
6. Turn out onto warm plate, Serve with sweet sauce to taste such as custard, caramel or a sweetened fruit sauce.

Cranberry Orange Cookies

These babies have got to be one of my favorites - they are just so good! Definitely a great cookie to have any time of year - when aren't oranges and dried cranberries in season?! And apparently I like them so much I scarfed every single one of them down without taking a picture of them...imagine that... you'll just have to imagine how wonderful they look! Perfect little cookies, specks of orange zest and cranberry peeking out, glimmering in sugar... 

Cranberry Orange Cookies

1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
3/4 cup butter
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 TBSP orange zest

1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp orange zest

Heat oven to 350.
Combine the 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tsp orange zest in a bowl and set aside.
Combine the remaining sugar, butter, and egg until creamy.
Add the dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated.
Add the cranberries and remaining orange zest and mix until just combined.
Shape 1" balls out of the dough and roll in the orange zested sugar.

Flatten the cookies with the bottom of a glass or measuring cup.
Bake cookies for 7-11 minutes, or until just turning golden brown around the edges.

The Daring Cooks Make Brunswick Stew!

The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

I had a hard time getting excited for this challenge. Not because I didn’t like the recipe – no, I thought the recipe looked great! I love a good stew. And this one seemed great, with all different kinds of meats and veggies, and so thick a spoon stands straight up in it! My problem with it is the fact that’s is 80 flipping degrees outside and I’m slaving over a stove-top making stew! For hours! I just had a hard time making myself complete this challenge. I just can’t do stew when the birds are chirping and the tulips are blooming. Which is probably why I waited until the night before the “Big Reveal” to make it! Whoops…

We were allowed to choose between two versions of the stew – a long version in which you make your own broth, and cook all the meats and veggies for hours. Or you could do the quick version in which everything is pre-cooked and all you do is throw it in a pot and heat it up. Even though I wanted to hurry up and cook this stew as fast as possible so I could go outside and play with my dogs, I decided that the quick version just wasn’t worthy of a Daring Cook’s Challenge. I mean, how challenging is cubing vegetables and warming up store bought chicken stock? Not very. So I decided to combine the short and long versions into my own “Slightly Quicker But Still Some Work Medium Version”. Traditionally, this stew is made with chicken, ham, and either squirrel or rabbit. However, my freezer seems to be out of squirrel or rabbit. I have some venison and a fish fillet or two, but no rabbit. I tried to find some around town, but only one place carried it, it was 45 minutes away, and freaking expensive. I pouted a bit (which is exactly what a girl who is seven months pregnant with freshly painted nails should do when she realizes that her game meat selection has vanished from her freezer), and after contemplating laying in wait for the raskilly rabbit who has been nibbling on my tulips, decided to substitute some turkey. It’ll have to do.

Serve this with Cornbread or over white rice or just in a bowl. I suggest you also look at other Daring Cook’s blogs. There are some great Brunswick Stews out there this month, everything ranging from simple stews, to vegan versions, substituting in mushrooms and game birds, and all kinds of yummy things (one even had Alligator!) ! Check out the Daring Cook’s Blog Roll or do a Google search!!

This stew was great, even if it was 80 degrees out! It is chock full of great flavor. Everything just melts together perfectly. This is definitely going to be one of my new favorite stews! But I think I'll make it when its a little colder out from now on! :) 

Brunswick Stew
Serves 10-12
·         4-5 strips slab bacon, rough diced
·         ½ stick / 4 tablespoons / ¼ cup of butter
·         1 Tablespoon  sugar
·         1 Tablespoon  ‘Poultry Seasoning’
·         Dash of red pepper
·         2 ½ lb TOTAL diced chicken, turkey (I used ground), and ham,
·         1 Tablespoon sea salt for seasoning, plus extra to taste
·         2-3 quarts / 8-12 cups / 64.607-96.9oz Chicken Broth
·         2 Bay leaves
·         2 large celery stalks
·         5 Yukon Gold potatoes, or other waxy type potatoes, peeled, rough diced
·         1 ½ cups  carrots (about 3 medium carrots), chopped
·         3 ½ cups onion (about 3 medium onions) chopped
·         2.5 cups frozen corn kernels,
·         2 cups / 24.228oz butterbeans, fresh (1 ¼ lbs) or frozen
·         17.5 oz  can crushed tomatoes
·         ¼ cup red wine vinegar
·         Tabasco sauce to taste
·         Juice of 2 Lemons
1-In the largest stockpot you have, which is hopefully larger than the 5 qt ones I have, preferably a 10-12 qt or even a Dutch Oven if you’re lucky enough to have one, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it just starts to crisp. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Reserve most of the bacon fat in your pan.
2- Season liberally both sides of the chicken pieces with sea salt and pepper. Place the meat pieces in the pot and sear off all sides possible. You just want to brown them, not cook them completely. Remove to bowl with bacon. Set it aside. Repeat with Turkey.
3- Add 2 cups of your chicken broth or stock, if you prefer, to the pan and basically deglaze the pan, making sure to get all the goodness cooked onto the bottom. The stock will become a nice rich dark color and start smelling good. Bring it up to a boil and let it boil away until reduced by at least half. Add your remaining stock, the bay leaves, celery, potatoes, meat, and any liquid that may have gathered at the bottom of the bowl they were resting in. Bring the pot back up to a low boil/high simmer, over medium/high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover, remember to stir every 15 minutes, give or take, to thoroughly meld the flavors. Simmer, on low, for approximately 1 ½ hours. Supposedly, the stock may become a yellow tinge with pieces of chicken floating up, the celery will be very limp. Taste the stock, according to the recipe, it “should taste like the best chicken soup you’ve ever had”.
4- With a pair of tongs, remove the chicken and turkey pieces to a colander over the bowl you used earlier. Be careful, as by this time, the meats will be very tender and may start falling apart. Remove the bay leaf and discard.
5 After you’ve allowed the meat to cool enough to handle, carefully remove all the meat from the bones, shredding it as you go. Return the meat to the pot, throwing away the bones. Add in your carrots, and stir gently, allowing it to come back to a slow simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, for at least 25 minutes, or until the carrots have started to soften.
6- Add in your onion, butterbeans, corn and tomatoes and ham. Simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring every so often until the stew has reduced slightly, and onions, corn and butterbeans are tender. Remove from heat and add in vinegar, lemon juice, stir to blend in well. Season to taste with sea salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce if desired.
7 You can either serve immediately or refrigerate for 24 hours, which makes the flavors meld more and makes the overall stew even better. Serve hot, either on its own, or with a side of corn bread, over steamed white rice, with any braised greens as a side.

Classic Roast, with Carrots and Potatoes

We had a cold snap the other day (it was snowing...), and I thought it would be the perfect day for a roast. Instead of my old trusty recipe, I decided to try something new. Well, not new, but different. This recipe came from my Aunt Randi's super secret stash of recipes. And boy am I glad that I made this! This roast turned out perfectly - super tender, super tasty, it was super! I will definitely be using this recipe again!

Roast with Carrots and Potatoes

1 teaspoon each - Basil, garlic powder, seasoning salt and pepper.
1 package onion soup mix
1 cup hot water

Pat the roast dry.
Combine the basil, garlic powder, and seasoning salt
Rub the spices over the roast.
Sear the roast on all sides.
Place the roast in a dutch oven.
Roughly chop the onion, carrots, and potatoes. How many you chop really depends on how big your pot is, and how many you can fit in there! Place the veggies around the roast.
In a small bowl, mix the onion soup mix and the hot water. Pour over the roast.
Put the lid on the dutch oven and place in a preheated 350 degree oven.
Bake for 4 hours.
Remove roast and veggies from the dutch oven and tent with tin foil while you make gravy!

Hot Cross Buns!

One a penny, Two a penny, Hot cross Buns!!

Ever since learning that song in pre-school I have always wanted to try a hot cross bun! Well, this year I finally decided stop saying "oh yeah..." as Easter approaches and rolls by. So I pulled out my apron, did a slew of Google searches for the perfect recipe, and pulled out my mixer!!

So I know its a little past Easter, and you might be thinking "Why is she posting this 3 days late?!" Well, because I'm lazy. BUT the good news is that these are super yummy, and I think you should make them anyway.

Hot Cross Buns (Makes 30)

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1/2 ounce (4 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for bowl and baking sheet
1.5 teaspoons Salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
51/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
4 ounces (3/4 cup) dried cherries, coarsely chopped
4 ounces (3/4 cup) golden raisins, coarsely chopped 
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon water
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1.  Heat 1 cup milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until it registers 110 degrees on a candy thermometer. Pour milk into a mixer bowl, and fit mixer with a dough hook. With mixer on low speed, add granulated sugar, yeast, butter, salt, the nutmeg, cinnamon and eggs. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, and knead until mixture comes together in a soft, sticky dough. Continue kneading, scraping down hook as needed, until dough is smooth, about 4 minutes.
2.  Add cherries and raisins, and knead to incorporate. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead to distribute dried fruit. Coat a large bowl with butter. Shape dough into a ball, and place in prepared bowl. Cover with a piece of plastic, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
3.  Generously butter a rimmed baking sheet. Turn dough onto a surface, knead briefly, then divide into 3 pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, divide each third into 10 pieces, and shape each into a tight ball. (Keep dough covered with plastic.) Place on prepared sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover with plastic, and let rise in a warm spot until buns have doubled in size and are touching, about 1 hour.
4.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together egg white and water in a small bowl. Brush tops of buns with egg-white wash. Combine ¼ cup flour with 2 tablespoons water and pipe crosses onto the tops of each bun.
5.  Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool on sheet on wire rack for 30 minutes.
6.  Whisk together remaining 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons milk, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, the zests, a pinch of salt. Spoon glaze on buns. Serve immediately.

** If you would rather make these the night before and bake them in the morning, stop at the end of step #3 and place the pan of dough balls into the fridge. Then in the morning let the pan "steam" in the oven with a pan of boiling water for 30 minutes before you continue on with step #4.
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