Archive for January 2014

Warming The Heart, Stomach and Soul

January 10, 2014

Old-Fashioned Bread Pudding

The only way the fancy people who lived upstairs in grand Victorian houses ate this, was if they ate it as children or if they begged some from the kitchen. It’s Victorian/Edwardian everyday food for the common family. It was thrifty and filled (and warmed) the tummy. Mrs. Beeton, in her book on household management, had at least three recipes for bread pudding so you know it was commonly made in households of that era. This recipe is my take on bread pudding, with a touch of New Orleans, and a touch of Pennsylvania Dutch.

We’ve been in the grip of the polar vortex here. Temperatures in the New York City area has been below zero Fahrenheit, and as low as -20 windchill. So what do New Yorkers do when the weather gets bone chilling cold? They cook. Or at least this New Yorker does. A good soul satisfying dessert is bread pudding. This stuff will really stick to your ribs, your thighs, and  your butt. Oh yeah, let’s talk about carbohydrates and fat up the Ying Yang, but once in a while, say, once every couple years, it warms the soul and takes you back to another time.

Bread Pudding

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Preheat the oven to 350°

ingredients

1/2 cup of raisins

3/4 cup melted butter (and you really should use butter)

1 cup milk

1 cup evaporated milk (this will give the creaminess)

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup packed brown sugar. (You will add this to the remaining butter)

one shot glass of whiskey or bourbon(this is optional to give it to your kids)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

Four cups dry bread

 

Brush an oblong pan, say, a 9 inch X 12 inch, with butter, reserve what is left.

In a large bowl stir the milk, brown sugar, the extract and salt together until the brown sugar dissolves. Add the raisins. Add the bread and stir well. Let the mixture sit for at least 15 min. Don’t worry if the entire batch turns into one gooey mass. Now pour the bread mixture into the buttered pan. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 35 to 40 min. or until a knife inserted into it will be clean when it is removed from pudding.

 

Well this makes, but the remaining butter and brown sugar (and whiskey if you’re using it) into a pan. Heat on low to melt the butter and sugar together. Once this is done , set aside. You can either pour this over the finished pudding as a glaze or use as a sauce.

When this is finished, serve warm, or chill and serve cold. It’s good either way.

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Lemon Curd

January 2, 2014

Of all the recipes I brought back from England, I think the one that everybody likes most is lemon curd. Lemon curd is rather custardy substance that Brits spread on toast. They use it like jam. They also put it tarts. That’s all well and good, but I think the best use for just over poundcake. (No, I’m lying. The best way to use lemon curd is right out of the bowl. Like Peanutbutter only lemony)

Okay so why lemon curd? You can buy store for about six bucks a jar, or online for 8 to 12 bucks a jar. It’s good, if not a little strong. Homemade is best. But, it’s a pain in the butt to make. And if you make it wrong you will end up with sweet, lemony scrambled eggs. Once you learn how to make stuff, you’ll never want to buy in the store again. If you give it as a gift, the giftee will beg for more. They’ll never forget your lemon curd and you will be doomed to making lemon curd for everyone, forever. I honestly think that on my tombstone,  after wife and mother, will be a line that reads  “She made lemon curd”.

And so I will enlighten you on the art and science of making a good jar of lemon curd.

This recipe originally comes from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management. It was first published in 1858. I have a copy of the first edition. I treasure this book. It has also the wonderful recipes you can  still use today, just to update them.

To start, you need four large lemons, a quarter pound of butter, five eggs. Oh, and 2 cups granulated white sugar. I suggest you have a double boiler, or large pot and a mixing bowl to fit on top of it. You will need a whisk,  a wooden spoon,a small strainer and the grater. You don’t need fresh lemons, you can use frozen lemon juice, but I wouldn’t suggest using reconstituted Lemon Juice such as ‘Real Lemon’. You will also need a bowl to put it in once it’s finished. If you are really brave,  get 8 ounce Mason jars and can it. Unless you are experienced with canning, you will want to try this the first time.

And now the recipe:

In the bottom compartment of the double boiler, or the pot, put some water, enough so it isn’t touching the bottom of the top part of the double boiler or mixing bowl and bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat so it is simmering, and the top part of the double boiler or a mixing bowl,in place. Add the butter, sugar, the juice of the four lemons (strained), and the grated rind three lemons. Stir and blend together as the butter melts. In another bowl, beat the five eggs until well mixed and then slowly, I need very slowly, add the eggs to the melted butter, sugar and lemon mixture, whisking as you Incorporate it. You must pour slowly and whisk continuously so the mixture does not curdle. This is very important. Now, change  to the wooden spoon and begin to stir. Keep stirring as it cooks. It will begin to thicken, just keep stirring until It is thickened and cooked. Pour the cooked mixture into a bowl, let cool and refrigerate. Now provided you follow the instructions you should have a batch of delicious lemon curd.

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