Christmas Pudding

pud-2

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…

pudding

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.

pud

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

parma

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).

parma 2

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.

parma 3

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

snap

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.

snap 2

Roast Beef

roast

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

work cats

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.

 

Ham and Macaroni Bake

macaroni

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.

Vol au Vents

vol1

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.

 

 

Christmas Tree

christmas-tree

Two packets of 3 metre tinsel

One packet of bows

One packet of blu-tack

= One happy Rose. I’m never putting our old Christmas Tree up ever again!

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Lady Marlene’s Shortbread

short

In the lead-up to Christmas last year, I made my tried and true Shortbread recipe and took some to work for my colleagues. They said all of the right things, but one of my colleagues, whose mother is from Scotland, brought me some of her mother’s shortbread to try. Yum.

I burned the first batch, (you can see in the photo that the Eiffel Tower biscuit is a bit too brown), but the next three batches were better.

125gm butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 Cup icing sugar

2 1/4 Cups plain flour

1/2 Cup cornflour

Mix the butter and vanilla extract until soft, then gradually beat in the sugar.

Fold in the sifted flours, then split into four and roll into balls. Press into circles and cut into eight (pizza-style). Otherwise, this is a good mixture for cutting out shapes.

Bake for 15 minutes at 160 degrees Celsius.

Pikelets

pike

This recipe came from my mother-in-law, who makes lovely Pikelets.

When I was conned into making Pikelets for my workmates, I asked my mother-in-law for her recipe*. She told me, and I wrote down her instructions, word for word. Then she told me, that was the recipe, but this is what I do, and proceeded to tell me a whole different set of ingredients and methods. So I wrote down her version.

When I made Pikelets, I did what my mother-in-law did, not what the recipe said. The Pikelets worked out perfectly.

1 Cup Self-Raising flour

pinch salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 egg

1/2 Cup milk

Beat all ingredients together, then cook in butter in a hot frypan. Serve with jam and cream.

*Here is the recipe my mother-in-law doesn’t use. if you ever make it, let me know what it tastes like.

1 Cup Self-Raising flour

pinch salt

1/4 teaspoon Bi-carb soda

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 egg

1/2 Cup sour milk, or milk with 1 teaspoon of vinegar mixed in.

1 Dessert spoon of melted butter.

Beat all ingredients, then cook in butter in a hot frypan.