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A Light Vegetarian Christmas Pudding

The quantities for this Vegetarian Christmas Pudding will make enough for six large helpings and will stretch to eight or more if required. If you decide to add nuts, make sure none of your guests have allergies. This recipe was donated by my mother. We enjoyed this pudding at Christmas 2001 during our visit to AUS, it suits the life style there as it is is much lighter than the traditional English recipes.Serve in the same way as you would a traditional christmas pudding, with brandy butter, cream or icecream. You can also flambe it in the traditional way with Brandy or another spirit of your choice.

Ingredients for a medium size christmas pudding (6, 8 or 10 helpings!):

1lb (450g) of Mixed Dried Fruit (see below)
5oz (140g) Soft brown sugar
5oz (140g) Breadcrumbs
2oz (60g) Butter
1 teaspoon (5ml) Bicarbonate of Soda
2 tablespoons (60ml) Sago
1 cup measure of Milk (Australian cup size = 250ml)

Glass or china bowl (about 2pints/1l capacity) and large pot for steaming.

Method:

The fruit can be a mixture of practically anything, currants, raisins, sultanas, glace cherries, etc. A little candied peel adds a zing. You could try some dried apricots, dried prunes (do not use too many of these and cut them up to sultana size pieces) if you want to experiment but try the basic recipe first. You could also try adding some nuts (see the warning above) but again, not too many, perhaps 1oz of the total, cut these up small as well.

Soak the Sago in the milk overnight. Optionally, soak the dired fruit in 3 tablespoons of cooking brandy overnight as well.
Bring the butter just to the point of melting to aid mixing. Add all the ingredients and mix well together. Grease the inside of the bowl to be used for steaming well using a little more butter. This will help it release after cooking. When throroughly mixed put the mixture into the steaming bowl progressively, pressing down well as you go.

Cover the bowl tightly with aluminium foil tied with string. Leave at least 1/2″ (1cm) above the pudding level to the top of the bowl for expansion. The aluminium foil should be creased to allow for expansion as well. You do this by making it much bigger than the top of the bowl, fold it in half, then fold a strip about 1/22 (1cm) wide back on itself at the crease. Open the foil back up but leave the centre strip folded. Get someone to hold the foil whilst it is tied. the objective is to keep all the moisture that is inside whilst keeping all the water that is outside out of the pudding.

Light Vegetarian Christmas PuddingPudding Ready to steam!

Put 2″ (5cm) of water into a large pot and put in the pudding in the bowl, spacing it at least 1″ (2cm) off the bottom. Bring the water to the boil and turn the heat down until the pudding is gently steaming. Steam for 3 hours, watching carefully that it does not dry out. A pressure cooker is ideal for this job but do not use any pressure, you could end up with a new pattern on the ceiling !

You can either serve straight away, serve it cold or reheat thoroughly and serve it hot later.

This pudding will store well for many days if you want to make it in advance. Just make sure that it is not left uncovered and that it is kept in a cool place (less than 16 degrees).

Enjoy with a sweet dessert wine and Merry Christmas to all!

First published 9/12/2002
Thanks to Pat, my late mother for this treasure.

Beetroot Curry

BEETROOT Curry At this time of year, if you are as fortunate as we are, you have a surfeit of vegetable crops. Here is an idea how to use one of these. It’s simplicity belies the smooth, sweet flavour that results. Do not eat too much of it, beetroot is just as good boiled or roasted, save some for another good day. What ever you do, make sure that the beet are fresh and not bitter or woody. Take them from the ground and store them in a clamp rather than leave them in the ground too long, particularly in winter.

Ingredients as an accompaniment for 4 to 5 servings:

  • 12 oz (375g) raw, peeled beetroot cut into 1/4″ (6.35mm) thick slices about 1/2″ (12mm) wide (wear gloves, they stain!).
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, I sometimes use a little sesame oil as a substitute
  • 1 large, fat, clove of garlic chopped as small as you can
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of corn flour to thicken, ordinary flour will do
  • Cayenne pepper – I use 1/4 teaspoon, this makes it subtly hot
  • 1/2 lb (250g) chopped tomatoes, tinned will do but fresh are better
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Some water, about 1/4 pint is usually enough but be prepared to add more if things get sticky.

Method:

Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan. When hot, add the cumin seeds and garlic. Stir and fry for a minute or so. Add the onion, continue stirring and frying. When the onions are just starting to brown, turn down the heat and add the cayenne, stir twice and add the corn flour or flour, keep stirring. The objective is to get the flour to absorb some of the oil. Do not get things too hot at this point. Add the tomatoes and salt. Stir and bring to the boil, add a little more than half of the water, you should have a fairly moderately thick red sauce at this point. Add the beetroot. Bring back to the boil, cover and allow to simmer for about 40 minutes or until the beetroot is tender.
If at any point the sauce is too thick, remove cover, add a little more water, take up the heat, and reheat whilst stirring.

Minced Meat Curry (Keema)

Keema curry to give it its proper name is usually made from minced lamb. Here we present a recipe that uses minced beef which is more usual in the UK and also more economical. This is a medium spicy curry that cooks quickly and keeps well. You could also use this free recipe with cubed casserole meat (beef or lamb) but the cooking time will be much longer, up to 1.5hrs. Serve with plain boiled rice and possibly a side dish of carrot and cabbage curry or a spinach dish. A lower calorie version of this recipe suitable for a diet plan is suggested.

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 400 – 500g (approximately 1 lb) lean minced beef. Minced Lamb may be used but see recipe.
  • 1 large onion, about 200g (0.5lb) finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed in a press
  • 1 medium size (2″ or 5cm long) hot green chilli. More may be used if you prefer a hotter dish. De-seed the chilli if you want the flavour of chilli without so much heat.
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3ml) ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon (3ml) cayenne powder, adjust according to strength required
  • 1 400g tin peeled and chopped plum tomatoes, fresh tomatoes may be used but remove skins!
  • 1.5 (8ml) teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 lb (220g) new potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ (1.5cm) cubes
  • 4 fl oz (100ml) water
  • Optional 3 heaped tablespoons (60ml) finely chopped fresh coriander leaves to garnish
  • Optional for a lower calorie version: replace 100g of the meat with 125g of carrot diced into 5mm cubes.

Method:

Heat the oil over a medium heat and add the onion when hot, stir and fry for 5 minutes or until the onion just starts to brown. Add the crushed garlic and chopped green chilli. Stir and fry for a further minute. Add the meat and continue to stir and fry until the meat has lost all its pink colour, make sure that it is well broken up.
Reduce the heat slightly and add the ground spices and cayenne, continue stirring and frying for 3 minutes ensuring that all the meat is well coated in spice mix.
Stir in the chopped tomatoes and salt, continue heating whilst stirring occasionally until the mixture is back to a gentle boil.
Add the potatoes and stir. If the potatoes are not completely covered by liquid, add some of the water until they are. Bring back to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked, check and stir frequently during this time.
Mix in the coriander garnish, stir once and serve.

Notes:

If using lamb or lamb mince, it may be necessary to remove some excess fat during the early frying, this is easiest using a spoon at this time rather than leaving it until the end.

New potatoes are best as they should not break up. If using old or floury potatoes, add them later and check that they are not over-cooking.

The low calorie version should use beef mince and the carrot should be added at the same time as the potato. Restrict the amount of rice eaten at the same time to no more 3oz (80g) uncooked weight.

Cinnamon Pork

Pork forms the basis of many meat dishes in the Far East and the preparation methods vary enormously. This is a delicious recipe for pork cooked in an unusual and spicy way with Cinnamon as the main flavouring.
The quantities given here are for 2 or 3 depending on how hungry you are. If you try and cook too much at once, the dish becomes cumbersome and may not cook properly, so be careful, the limit is probably around 900g at a time, adjust other quantities proportionately.

Serve this dish with other Vietnamese or Oriental side dishes, e.g. a salad of mint, cucumber, bean shoots and lettuce or stir-fried vegetables and plain Thai rice or fine egg vermicelli. A light dry white or rose wine complements his dish. If you prefer red, don’t make it too heavy, a slightly chilled Pinot Noir might suit.

Ingredients for 2 to 3 persons:

Thickly (4cm/1.5 ins) cut pork sirloin or tenderloin 8 to 12 ounces (250 to 375g) depending on how hungry you are, 16 ounces (450g) for 2 – 3 large or 4 medium portions.
3 – 4 tablespoons (30 – 45ml) of Vegetable Oil for frying
1 teaspoon (5ml) cinnamon powder to coat before cooking

For the marinade:

2 to 3 tablespoons (30 – 45ml) Dark soy sauce. If you can get it, use thick mushroom soy.
3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon (15ml) cinnamon powder

Method:

Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl big enough to take the meat as well. Pierce the pork with a fork all over quite deeply. Add the meat to the marinade and turn until all the meat is covered with marinade. Cover the bowl with cling-film, place in the fridge overnight. If you can remember to do so, give it a stir from time to time. If you are in a hurry and have forgotten to do all this in advance, just do it as for long as you can but do not refridgerate.

When ready to cook, take the pork out of the marinade and sprinkle the pork lightly with the remaining 1 teaspoon of  cinnamon powder. Adjust the amount of cinnnamon according to taste.

Put the oil into a wide saucepan or saute pan and heat to almost smoke, sear the pork all over with the hot oil until lightly browned all over. Reduce the heat to low, cover and leave the pork to cook until tender possibly 45 minutes (tenderloin) to 1 hour (sirloin steaks). Turn meat over occasionally during cooking. Approximately 10 minutes before the end of cooking, add the marinade to the almost cooked pork, stir and coat the meat. Cover again and cook for the remaining time, stirring occasionally.

Slice moderately thinly before serving.

Serve with a vegetable dish and plain rice or noodles.

Our thanks to Chi Le Thuc for this little gem. 22/4/00