enitharmon: (Default)
I've just made one of my favourite Christmas treats ever since I was very little. A batch of rum butter, made the authentic Cumberland way as my Nanna did it. Spread it on buttered toast - yummy! Traditionally eaten with Christmas pudding (although actually I will make rum sauce) and goes very well with Christmas cake. Also delicious scooped out of the bowl with a finger.

500 g soft brown sugar
250 g butter
nutmeg to taste
a good slosh of rum

Melt the butter gently in a pan. Sir in the sugar and mix well. Add the nutmeg and rum. Decant into a bowl. Leave to set.
enitharmon: (Default)
In the Christmas rush I missed the death of Richard Boston. It's funny, I was only thinking about him recently. I wondered where he had got to, because at one time, in the 1970s, you couldn't open a newspaper or turn on the radio without encountering him. An encounter was always worthwhile too - he was funny and frighteningly erudite and loved good living. I never met him, which is a shame because I'm quite certain we'd have got on well in a fiery kind of way. The great shame is that he was only 67.

What I remember him for mostly his his book, Beer and Skittles, which seems to be shamefully out of print. The anecdotes related to beer and to pub culture were entertaining enough - and given the demise of the kind of English pub he celebrated it's a valuable cultural document - but the best thing of all was the recipe section, which provided me with a lot of the standards that have been a fixture in my culinary repertoire over the last thirty years. The oxtail casserole is rightly praised in the Guardian obituary, but there's also the Guinness stew, and my near-legendary sausage casserole, and of course my Christmas pudding for which, given the result of the recent poll, I should print here. Although this particular recipe has granted establishment status by its inclusion in Jane Grigson's English Food, a book which should be a sdtandard in every kitchen.

Richard Boston's Christmas Pudding

300 g Fresh breadcrumbs
250 g soft brown sugar
250 g currants
300 g raisins
250 g sultanas
60 g chopped mixed peel
300 g shredded suet
½ tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice
grated rind of a lemon
2 tsp lemon juice
2 large eggs
150 ml milk
300 ml bottled Guinness

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the liquids. Mix everything together, then divide into three 1 litre buttered pudding basins. Cover each basin tightly with greaseproof paper and foil. Leave overnight, then steam for 8 hours. Cool, re-cover, and store in a cool place.

Before serving, steam for a further 2-3 hours. Serve with rum butter (qv) or, as I have always done, rum sauce:

250 ml milk
1 Tbsp cornflour
1 Tbsp sugar
A good slosh of rum

Cream the cornflour and sugar with a little of the milk in a jug. Heat the rest of the milk in a saucepan until almost boiling, then add to the jug. Mix well and return the mixture to the saucepan. Keep stirring until it thickens. Slosh in a generous amount of rum.
enitharmon: (Default)
'Tis the season to set about making the little bits of goodies. There's a cake to be marzipanned and iced, and there's that traditional rich treat of this part of the world, rum butter.

Both marzipan and rum butter are simple to make, and much, much better than ready-prepared-and-chemically-preserved products available in supermarkets.


For marzipan you need:

500 g ground almonds
250 g icing sugar
1 large egg
3 tsps lemon juice

That's all. No artificial flavouring, no yellow chemical dye. Note that this marzipan is a delicate straw colour, not bright yellow.

Mix almonds and sugar in a bowl. Beat the egg, and add the lemon juice. Add the egg and lemon mixture to the bowl and mix to a stiff dough. Knead the dough on a board dusted with icing sugar. Use as required.

Lovers of The Amber Spyglass know very well just how orgasmic marzipan can be! (Well, they do if they have read the British edition rather than the American one.)

Rum Butter

Rum butter is even easier. You need:

250 g butter (unsalted, natch!)
500 g soft brown sugar (light or dark is immaterial but I prefer dark)
1 generous slosh of rum (I use Appleton's Jamaica Rum but any dark rum will do at a pinch. White rum, like Bacardi, is of course rubbish)

Melt the butter in a pan. Stir in the sugar. Slosh in the rum (I find about two shot glasses is about right if I'm being really fussy). Grate nutmeg into the mix to taste (pre-grated nutmeg is naff). Pour into a bowl and leave in a cool place to set. Keep your grubby fingers out of it!

[Poll #893061]
enitharmon: (Default)
In case you thought I was a healthy food zealot (and nobody who knows me at all well would think so) let me say that I also made a batch of Ginger Nuts. I've heard it said that it's not worth making biscuits because bought ones are so good. I beg to differ - I am zealous in my resistance to factory food, and these home-made biscuits are quite different from anything in the supermarket.

You want the recipe don't you? Of course you do!


500g self-raising flour
250g unsalted butter
150g golden syrup
125g soft brown sugar
100g chopped glacé ginger
4tsp ground ginger
1tsp bicarbonate of soda

Mix the flour, sugar, ground ginger and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl, making sure all lumps are removed.

Melt the butter and syrup together in a pan, then add to the mixture in the bowl. Add the glacé ginger and mix to a dough.

Pull off walnut-sized pieces of dough and roll them into a ball. Flatten them slightly between the palms, and place on a greased baking sheet with plenty of space between each one. Bake for 20 minutes at 150C.

You will probably have to bake the biscuits in batches.


enitharmon: (Default)

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