Plum Pudding

21 Dec 2012

I had never plunged into a Christmas pudding until I moved across the Atlantic. Since then, I have quickly come to learn that Christmas is simply not Christmas without a pudding at Christmas dinner. While the mere idea of steaming or boiling a cake seemed a very unusual notion, it is now a challenge that I have decided to bravely take on in my own kitchen.

In November we got a head start by preparing our first plum pudding on “stir-up Sunday” which apparently always falls on the Sunday before the first day of Advent (this year it was the 25th November). I put all of the ingredients together and allowed Geoffrey to flip a coin into the mix, give it a good stir and make a wish. We left the pudding to mature in a cool place overnight, and the next day, steamed the pudding. I was informed that puddings improve with age and alcohol, so we have it stowed away in a dark place, and each week we have been feeding it a drop cup or two of brandy. All going well on the big day, we will flambé the pudding and sit gazing in awe before fanning the flames and digging in.

I will churn some homemade butter for a spiced brandy or rum butter. But, I also know that there are fans of rum raisin ice cream in the family, so I have been testing ice cream recipes {I know, tough job}. I’ve chosen a custard-style, which reminds me of the classic Haagen-Dazs version and seems like a divine pairing for our Christmas pudding. See recipe below..it’s perfect!

*Bits of Bacchanalia*

Our family recipe for Plum Pudding was featured in this month’s Foodie Crush Holiday Magazine, along with loads of AMAZING holiday tips and stories by other bloggers, writers and photographers. Many thanks to Melissa Coleman, who so kindly asked me to be a part of it, and who also has such a fabulous food blog, talent!

On a recent shopping trip to Dublin, I listened to my new favourite foodish podcast: KCRW Good Food with Evan Kleinman, the latest episode is superb,  featuring their picks for 2012’s best cookbooks; including excellent interviews with Yotam Ottelenghi + Sami Tamimi for their book, Jerusalem, and Magnus Nilsson, of Fäviken, and his Fäviken cookbook among others.

Venture down to Ardkeen Quality Food Store in Waterford and support local Irish artisan producers. Ardkeen supplies great food direct from a fantastic community of some of my favorite Irish producers, growers and farmers.

These ladies have captured the Christmas magic so beautifully here and here 

You must have a look at Cliodhna Prendergast’s Breaking Eggs, beautifully produced food films, shot at her home in the West of Ireland with her children. Cliodhna says that “Home and family cooking is a life skill. We believe in practical, simple food for kids with lots of variety and the odd indulgence!” I must agree! Best of luck on your next shoot Cliodhna!

John and Sally McKenna have released their acclaimed McKenna’s Guides Megabites Awards, a running list of ‘Who’s Who in Irish Food’ compiled in the best taste, of course. 

Happiest Holiday Wishes To All!

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photo by Imen McDonnell 2012

Rum Raisin Ice Cream

MAKES ABOUT 2.5 Pints

180g raisins

250ml dark rum

160g sugar

6 egg yolks

480ml milk

480ml cream

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

 Place raisins and rum in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit until raisins soften and absorb rum, 8 hours or overnight. Drain, reserving 2 tbsp. rum, and set aside.

 Place sugar and yolks in a saucepan, and whisk until pale yellow and lightened slightly, about 2 minutes. Add milk, and stir until smooth. Place over medium heat, and cook, stirring often, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Pour through a fine strainer into a large bowl. Whisk in drained raisins along with reserved rum, cream, and vanilla; cover custard with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely chilled.

Pour custard into an ice cream maker, and process according to manufacturer’s instructions until thick. Transfer to an airtight container, and seal. Freeze until set before serving, at least 4 hours.

 

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

· · · ◊ ◊ ◊ · · ·

The days of summer are coming to a close, but I am still clinging on…here’s to a few more ice cream dreams.

I first sampled brown bread ice cream at Murphy’s Ice Cream Cafe in Dingle, Co. Kerry. It was 2005 and I was pregnant. As far as I was concerned, it was the next best thing to apple pie. 2 years later, I had it again and truth be told, it’s delicious, bold flavour stood the test of time (and pregnancy taste buds too)

Making ice cream in Ireland goes back to the early 20th Century, when Irish farming families such as ours discovered that by mixing eggs with sugar and cream and popping it into their newly discovered “deep freeze” overnight, you could create a delightful dessert that used ingredients that were always at hand. Over the past few years, R and I have pondered the idea of producing artisan ice cream on the farm as we are both are lovers of this frozen dairy delight, but, alas, there are only so many hours in the day and so many projects we can take on (still, we never say never!)

I discovered this recipe for Brown Bread & Irish Whiskey Ice Cream in Clare Connery’s lovely book, Irish Food & Folklore. I love that the brown bread is carmelised and crunchy which gives it a nice texture (and, of course, the whiskey gives it a kick). After doing further research, I found that there are other popular variations including the classic Brown Bread & Guinness (Murphy’s Ice Cream does an amazing one) and Brown Bread & Bailey’s Irish Cream, both of which are absolutely heavenly.

This very creamy home-made ice cream is remarkably easy to make and tastes better than any scoop of Häagen-Dazs I’ve ever had so go on, give it a try. If you’d like, you can swap out the whiskey for Guinness or Bailey’s for something a little different.

Brown Bread & Irish Whiskey Ice Cream

Preheat over to 240 C/475 F

Prep time: 30 mins. Cooking time: 10 mins. for crumbs

175 g/6 oz day old brown bread crumbs (use wholemeal or whole wheat in USA, not soda or wheaten)

125 g/4 oz demerra (brown) sugar

3 eggs

65 g/2.5 oz caster sugar (fine sugar)

75 ml/3 fl oz Irish Whiskey

450 ml/3/4 pint double cream

Fresh mint leaves to decorate

Combine bread crumbs and demerra sugar in a mixing bowl. Spread over a large roasting tray and bake in preheated oven until the sugar has carmelised, usually 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Whisk the eggs and caster sugar together until very thick ( you can use an electric mixer) and pale cream in colour. Fold the carmelised bread crumbs into the eggs followed by the whiskey and double cream, whisking until it holds it’s shape. Pour into a rigid container (stainless steel works well) and freeze overnight.

Cook’s notes: Irish wheaten or soda bread is not suitable for this ice cream as it makes it rather heavy and unappetising. However, any type of brown wholemeal or granary bread is excellent. Freezing is done in the deep freeze and no stirring or churning is required. An ice cream maker is not needed.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Slan Abhaile

Imen

Photo by Imen McDonnell. Assisted by Master Geoffrey McDonnell

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

· · · ◊ ◊ ◊ · · ·