I have the utmost respect for folks that understand the art of cooking with live fire. The Hubs and I have a small fireplace where occasionally we’ll try our hand at some basic cookery, but spending this evening leaning to cook by a real hearth was truly eye opening.
It was mostly women who tended to this important daily task and they must have had some serious guns. Tending the fire, shoveling embers, constantly shifting around the cast iron pots - it’s exhausting and dangerous!
Our class made quite a meal: cornbread, cranberry sauce, root vegetable soup, rotisserie chicken using a reflector oven, and a bunch of other period English recipes (like…handchurned butter: https://vine.co/v/ijx72hHlvaB -and - steamed pudding: https://vine.co/v/ijPxH3bWLA6) that I couldn’t get good photos of (because fire photography is so annoying without the right setup.) This was the quintessential slow-food movement experience and every dish turned out really surprisingly delicious.
One day, I have a fire pit big enough to cook like this. In the meantime, I am just happy I have a small fireplace to do some basic cooking indoors in the event I lose gas or power.
Adapted from Mrs. Regans steamed pudding served at the White House, this pudding works for any time in the winter, with any fruit puree and the dried fruit of your choice. Soak it with bourbon, rum or Cognac painted on generously, several times, let it rest for a week or two and serve it with a spiked whipped cream. You can also serve it flambe, making it a romantic dessert for Valentines day.
1 cup white sugar
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup fruit pulp, pureed (plum, persimmon, peach etc.)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons warm water
7 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup raisins or any dried fruit
½ cup chopped walnuts, almonds or pecans
Stir together sugar and melted butter. Resift flour with salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add to butter mixture. Stir in fruit pulp. Dissolve baking soda in warm water. Add to mixture with 3 tablespoons brandy and vanilla. Add eggs, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Add raisins and walnuts, stirring just until mixed.
Turn into buttered 5 to 6 cup heat-proof mold. Cover and place on rack in large pot. Pour in enough boiling water to reach halfway up sides of mold. Cover pot and simmer 2-½ to 3 hours. Let stand a few minutes.
Unmold onto serving dish. Pour about 4 tablespoons warmed brandy over pudding and flame. Serve with Brandy Whipped Cream.