OK, the Christmas pudding ate an orange. But we will get there in a minute.
It has been absolutely, bitterly, frostbitingly cold here this week. You may not be familiar with the physiological phenomenon that tells you the outside temperature without need for mercury, but here’s how it works: If you step outside and the moisture immediately creates delicate ice crystals on your indelicate nose hairs, it’s below 0F. Use it to your advantage, ladies.
We’ve had multiple nose-hair-freezing days recently and Madhur Jaffrey has been a good companion. Last night (-7F) we had another Indian feast using her At Home recipes: tomato pullao using tomatoes we froze from a nearby farm this summer, “chickpeas in a sauce” (she isn’t specific, and they were rather generic), and South Indian-style green beans.
The latter has become our go-to recipe over the past few months: boil the beans in salted water for a few mins, then fry up some mustard seeds, cumin seeds and sesame seeds in oil until the mustard seeds start popping. Add the beans. Once they’re warmed up and coated, add pinches of salt and cayenne. We froze lots of beans from our garden this summer and the recipe works fine with them, too – just defrost and skip the boiling part.
We also made a cauliflower dish described in the email that accompanies our weekly share from a local farm. Every Wednesday we get a bag of veg and a collection of “localvore” things – products grown and processed locally by other farmers and entrepreneurs, like bread, yoghurt, cheese, honey, popping corn, bags of wheat and dried beans. It’s like Christmas every Wednesday and takes the worst part of cooking out of the equation for me, which is planning out what to cook and then shopping for it. Lately they’ve been giving us various vegetables frozen at the farm in the summer; defrosted cauliflower was actually not the soggy mess you might expect.
All of this led up to the true highlight of the evening, which you see pictured here in all its puddingy glory: the Heston Blumenthal Christmas Pudding with a WHOLE ORANGE Inside, which Anna very kindly lugged over here for us back in October. (I shudder to think of Heston Blumenthal getting a Google Alert about his name appearing in a blog post in close proximity to the words “frozen cauliflower”.)
We steamed it in the pressure cooker for 1.5 hours (package said to steam for three):
Our squeamishness about eating something cooked in plastic aside (presumably all those sous-vide chefs do not share my plastic paranoia), it was utterly delicious. The box mysteriously warns you not to re-heat but I am guessing this was the UberChef’s attempt at quality control and not some terrible potential hazard to my health, so fully intend to enjoy it again today. With only one friend round for supper last night we still managed to devour half of it, so there’s not too much left to kill me.
Muchas gracias, Anna—what a treat to cheer up a frigid evening.