Christmas Pudding

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Today is Christmas Pudding day!* I put the fruit to soak in the brandy about three weeks ago, and have been diligently shaking the mixture every night. I made sure I had all of the ingredients for the pudding last night, then mixed it up this morning.

He Who Eats All of Our Leftovers and Miss S both stirred the mixture, (apparently if everyone in the household has a stir, it is good luck for the coming year), then got it in the pot nice and early. Today had to be Christmas Pudding day, as the weather in Melbourne tomorrow is to be 32 degrees, much too hot to have a pudding steaming away for 6 hours.

My Christmas Pudding recipe has been adapted from Mum’s, which is an adaptation of a recipe from the 1968 Australian Women’s Weekly recipe.

5 Cups dried fruit

2 packets glace cherries (Mum left out the cherries last time she made Christmas Pudding and we all complained as if our throats had been cut. “What, no cherries?” “Mum, I didn’t get any cherries!” Etc…)

1 Cup brandy (Mum only uses a couple of teaspoons of sherry, but I splash in brandy until the mixture looks about right, so this might be a bit more than a cup. Anyway, use your own discretion about what type of and how much alcohol suits your taste).

Mum also uses mixed peel, but I would rather stab myself in the eye with a knitting needle than eat mixed peel on purpose. Put mixed peel in if you must, but don’t expect me to eat your pudding without complaining. You would have to ask Mum how much mixed peel she uses, as I am not going to ask her for you.

Place the dried fruit, cherries and brandy into a container with a tight lid, close the lid and shake it up. Give the fruit a shake every time you think of it for at least a few days. I put extra fruit in, as I have a taste every time I think of it too…

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250 gm butter

2 Cups brown sugar (use white sugar if you want the pudding to taste like Mum’s)

4 eggs

1 Cup plain flour

4 Cups soft breadcrumbs (I use brown bread and Mum uses white. Mum says not to use the crust).

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon mixed spice (I used allspice this year as I didn’t have any mixed spice, don’t think it will matter).

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream the butter and sugar. Don’t let any son-in-laws, not even your favourite Son-in-Law, near the electric beaters. My favourite son-in-law has a tendency to put knives too near to the blades for my peace of mind.

Mix in a tablespoon of the flour and some fruit. Stir the flour and fruit in, then mix the eggs in one at a time with a wooden spoon.

Mix in the remaining flour, nutmeg, mixed spice and cinnamon, fruit and breadcrumbs.

Make sure everyone in the house has a stir of the mixture to bring good luck to your household for the next year.

Line the pudding steamer with aluminium foil.

Pour the mixture into the steamer, then tie the lid on. Dad always ties the lid on for Mum, and says “Don’t let it get out,” when he gets to the difficult bits.

He Who Eats All of Our Leftovers ties the lid onto the pot for me and he does a good job of it, although he takes his duties more seriously than Dad and doesn’t joke about.

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Place the pudding into a larger pot, with water about half way up, and bring to the boil on the stove top, then turn down to a simmer. Top up with water every half hour. Cook for six hours.

Let the pudding cool down, then place the whole pot into a large container in a cool spot until Christmas (this is easier said than done in a hot Melbourne summer).

On Christmas Day, steam it for another two hours, then take it out of the pot and turn it onto a large plate while everyone watches anxiously. Dad usually does this, and makes more jokes about not letting the pudding get out… he likes an audience, and at this point, we are all hanging on his every word.

(Or if you have moved with the times, turn it out of the pudding tin cold, and microwave slices for anyone who wants theirs hot).

Serve hot or cold, with cream, or custard or ice cream (your choice. Just make sure there are leftovers, as we all enjoy another slice of Pud for breakfast on Boxing Day).

*This post was written about a fortnight ago, when Melbourne was at the end of the hottest November on record. It seems crazy to eat pudding during summer, but Christmas wouldn’t be the same without it.

 

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Chicken Parmigiana

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Chicken Parma is a pub classic in Australia, and is usually the safest (and most popular) option on the menu.

My version took quite a while to make, but it tastes heaps better than the Parmas where I used to have lunch once a month with my workmates.

4 chicken breasts

oil and butter for frying

plain flour

parmesan cheese

2 Cups breadcrumbs

2 eggs

1 Tblspn milk

ham slices

grated cheese (I use a mixture from the supermarket which is already grated and includes parmesan, cheddar and mozzarella).

425gm tin canned chopped tomatoes

garlic

1 onion – finely chopped

1 sachet tomato paste

1 Tblspn brown sugar

Cook the chopped onion and garlic in a saucepan in butter, then add the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste and brown sugar and simmer for 20 minutes. (This sauce is so delicious I can eat it straight from the pot).

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Flatten the chicken between sheets of cling wrap (I smashed the chicken with a rolling pin), then dip the chicken in the beaten egg and milk, before rolling it in the mixed breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.

Cook the chicken in a frypan using oil and butter.

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Once the chicken is browned and cooked through, place onto a baking tray (remember, baking paper is your friend), and top with slices of ham, the tomato sauce and grated cheese. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes and serve with chips, potatoes or salad.

Snap

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Snap is the yummiest thing I have eaten all year and we have all gone mad for it. I haven’t made anything else in months.

Saladas (approximately half a packet). Saladas are a dry, slightly salty biscuit, about the size of a slice of bread. They are serrated and can be broken into four pieces.

1 Cup brown sugar

250gm butter

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

salt

200gm milk chocolate melts (I like Nestle)

200gm dark chocolate melts (again, stick with Nestle)

More salt

Line a large slice tray with baking paper. If you don’t have baking paper, don’t even think about making this recipe, as it is so sticky the washing up will put you off making it ever again.

Line the tray with Salada biscuits. Break them to fill the bottom of the tray as best they can.

Put the butter and brown sugar into a saucepan and melt, then bring to a simmer. Simmer for about five minutes, stirring the entire time.

Stir in vanilla essence, then pour and smooth the toffee over the Saladas. Sprinkle salt over the top of the toffee.

Bake in the over at 170 degrees Ceslius for about 15 minutes. Keep checking the mixture in case the toffee starts to burn (take it out of the oven before this happens. This is similar to my dad’s advice when he was teaching me to drive a car, “Stop before the bang.”)

Spread a combination of dark and milk chocolate melts over the top of the toffee, then smear it around evenly to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle more salt over the top of the chocolate and leave to set in the fridge, before breaking it up into pieces.

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Roast Beef

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He Who Eats All of Our Leftovers loves Roast Beef, but hates mushrooms. For a long time this created a dilemma, because I had not told him that his favourite type of Roast Beef is made using a tin of mushroom soup. Did I feel bad about lying to him? No. The difficulty has been in hiding the empty mushroom soup tins from him all of this time.

I eventually owned up to the mushroom soup lie, but only because I had to. Surprisingly, in a great example of mind-over-matter, He Who Eats All of Our Leftovers has continued to eat Roast Beef without further comment.

1 kg roasting beef

1 packet French Onion soup mix

420gm tin mushroom soup ( I like Campbells brand)

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Lay several large pieces of aluminium foil crossways in the bottom of a deep oven tray. Place the beef in the foil.

Mix the French Onion soup mix with the mushroom soup and pour over the beef.

Wrap the foil around the beef  and seal tightly, then bake for approximately one hour.

 

Work Cats

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The work cats are feral and live under a building which is about to be demolished.

Somebody managed to capture the kitten and took it home in order to make a pet of it, but it ran away and came back to live under the condemned building with its mother.

 

2017 Australian Van Nationals at Port Fairy

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The 2017 Australian Van Nationals Show ‘n Shine were held at Port Fairy at Easter. As He Who Eats All of Leftovers and I were passing through town on Easter Sunday, we decided to stop and have a look.

NRMA Service van ‘Before’ and ‘After’ below.

Everybody loves Scooby Doo and The Mystery Machine.

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There was an array of iconic Holden Sandmans, Escorts, Bedfords, Ford Sundowners, Holden EH’s…

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Quite a few entrants presented their vehicles with a theme for the Show ‘n Shine.

Come inside….

Quite a few of the vans had amazing artwork. The car below had a movie theme.

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Before we arrived at Port Fairy, He Who Eats All of Our Leftovers was telling me about a radio bumper sticker competition held during his childhood where the prizes were Bedford vans – the Freedom Machine and the Easy Roller. We looked everywhere for them hoping they would be there, but sadly they were not.

Hopefully they will turn up again in the future.

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Ham and Macaroni Bake

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Ham and Macaroni Bake is an easy Sunday night meal. I usually have freeze the leftovers for an even easier meal at a later date.

250gm macaroni

sliver of butter

1 onion – chopped

ham – chopped (a few slices are enough, but put in whatever you have)

375ml tin of evaporated milk

1/2 Cup water

1 Tblspn cornflour

grated cheese (about a cup, give or take)

tomatoes – thinly sliced (again, the amount is up to you)

1/2 Cup breadcrumbs

extra butter

Cook the macaroni and drain.

Heat the butter in a big pot and cook the onions. Add the ham and combined evaporated milk, water and cornflour and bring to the boil while stirring. Add half of the cheese and all of the pasta and mix well.

Pour the mixture into a deep tray (I line the tray with my favourite invention, baking paper). Top the mixture with the sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with breadcrumbs, then put dobs of butter on top and grill until golden brown.

Chryslers by the Bay 2017

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Chryslers by the Bay is an annual show held at Geelong Grammar School every March.

Prince Charles attended school at Geelong Grammar while he was in the Colonies. I doubt he ever spent a Saturday night in a Drifter panel van sneaking into the drive-in, but you never know.

The show is open to Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth, Desoto, Valiant, AMC powered or bodied vehicles.

 

The colour-change paint on the vehicle below looked different from every angle.

The bright colours of the muscle cars really stood out against the lush, green grass on the oval.

There was a time in Australia when every young man needed a fox tail hanging from his car’s antenna to have credibility with his mates.

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The day was a fundraiser for The Cottage by the Sea at Queenscliff.

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Country Women’s Association Biscuits and Slices Recipe Book

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The Country Women’s Association are probably best known in Australia for providing afternoon teas at shows, both in the country and for the city shows. Their members always exhibit their cooking at the shows and they usually win plenty of prizes too.

The CWA Biscuits and Slices recipe book is my favourite sort of cook book.

To begin with, there is a photo of every single recipe in the book, so you know what you are aiming forwhen you start cooking.

The next great thing is that the biscuits and slices photographed are presented simply and don’t look chocolate-box perfect, so you know you have a good chance of getting your efforts to turn out like the photo.

The third thing is, the recipes from the CWA are absolutely fool proof. Simple methods and simple instructions.

Lastly, you never have to chase around trying to find some ridiculously exotic ingredient or other to make one of the CWA recipes, in fact chances are that even if you’re not really a cook, you will still have all of the ingredients right there in your cupboards (possibly with weevils, but you can sift them out – joke).

The book contains old favourites like Rock Cakes, Yo-Yo Biscuits, Jam Slice and Afternoon Tea Fingers. There are recipes for Greek Shortbread and three different Apricot Slices. I’ve put markers on a few pages with the intention of giving these recipes a whirl sometime.

Happy Australia Day everyone.

 

Vol au Vents

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I was waiting in the check out queue at the supermarket recently and talking to the woman in front of me, (as you do, when the queue is long), when I noticed she had ready-made vol au vent cases in her trolley. I asked her what she filled them with and she said, “cut-up a chicken and pour in a tin of soup, then top the lot with cheese and bake them in the oven”. Inspired, I asked her to watch my trolley while I ran back to the bread aisle and grabbed a packet of vol au vent cases for myself.

When it came to the crunch, I made up my own recipe for a filling. I knew Miss S would never eat anything which she knew had cheese in it, so I had to be creative.

4 large, ready-made vol au vent cases

Leftover cut up chicken

1 egg

2 Tablespoons cream cheese (I know, I know, how sneaky is that?)

2 Tablespoons frozen peas and corn

Place the vol au vent cases on an oven tray and mix all of the other ingredients together. Spoon into the vol au vent cases and bake at 170 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes. Easy-peasy.