Category Archives: recipe

Happy Christmas 2013

No pretense that this is still an active blog, or is ever likely to be again, but on the off chance one or two of you never quite got around to clearing out your blogroll or rss feeds, HELLO! Happy Christmas. What follows is the virtual accompaniment to the Christmas gift I sent to my dad and his wife and their family in Edmonton. In Edmonton, where the current temperature is:

Edmonton weather 12.13.2013

Proper winter, in other words. For comparison’s sake, today in London is:

London 12.13.2013It’s a bit difficult to get in a proper Christmas mood when it’s so warm, but I’m doing my best.

So, welcome Brian and Teresa – here are the instructions for turning your box of goodies into a several hours of entertainment.

Read All Instructions Before Beginning 🙂

Step 1: Put some Christmas music on. The muppets singing ‘Bring us Some Figgy Pudding’ would be a good choice

Step 2: Pour yourself a glass of something festive (mulled wine, christmas stout, etc)

Step 3: In a large, heavy bottomed pot, bring enough water to cover the pudding to boil. [A big pasta pot with a lift out strainer would be ideal if you have one, but just a plain big pot is most traditional]

Step 4: While the water boils, and to get in the mood for pudding and crime, watch this short Sherlock Holmes story:

Step 5: When the water is boiling, adjust the heat so the water is just at a gentle simmer. Add the wrapped, tied up pudding to the steaming pan, cover with a lid and steam for two hours.

Step 4: Begin the puzzle.

poirot's christmas puzzle

You’ll need to check the water from time to time and maybe top it up a bit.

Step 5: After about 2hrs, carefully remove the pudding. The string loop ensures that the pudding can be lifted out of the boiling water with ease and means that you will have something to hang it by for it to dry. Hang the pudding immediately in a dry place where it is not touching anything. Over the back of a chair, from the hand of an open drawer or from a suspended broom handle are all good options. Hang for about 10 minutes and unwrap.

Step 6: To serve, place the pudding onto a serving plate and place a suitably sized sprig of holly on top.

Step 7: Now warm a ladleful of brandy over direct heat, and as soon as the brandy is hot ask someone to set light to it. Place the ladle, now gently flaming, on top of the pudding – but don’t pour it over until you reach the table. When you do, pour it slowly over the pudding, sides and all, and watch it flame to the cheers of the assembled company!
Allow the flames to flare up and die down before serving (keep the flames well away from your eyes and face). [Alternately – use the enclosed pudding fountain instead]

flaming christmas pudding

“In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered – flushed, but smiling proudly – with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.

Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that now the weight was off her mind, she would confess she had had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing.”
Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol

Step 7: When both flames and cheers have died down, serve the pudding with brandy butter. Also lovely with iced cream or whipped cream if you don’t like the brandy butter.

Step 8: Consume while finishing the puzzle and solving the crime.

This video should help if anything is unclear.

Step 9: When you’ve solved the crime, or if you admit defeat, you can watch Poirot have his turn at:

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas

Step 10: Leftovers are lovely with a nice old cheddar, and/or with Christmas oranges, and should be very nice to nibble on while curled up on the couch reading.

Wish I could be there to enjoy it with you. Have a wonderful holiday and a brilliant start to the New Year.


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Filed under holiday, recipe, winter

things worth celebrating

  1. Glorious, unseasonably warm, sunny, Sundays! This is now the third week in a row that after a cold and damp Saturday we’ve got a Sunday warm enough to throw the windows open!
  2. Continue reading


Filed under home, joy, recipe

7. Fiddleheads and daffodils oh my

Spring is well and truly sprung the day the fiddleheads first show up at the market. Today was that day.
I do love me a fern frond, especially when it’s been pan fried in a little olive oil and dressed with a generous squeeze of lemon juice. The fish cakes are adapted from the Joy of Cooking’s Salmon Croquettes recipe, with mackerel instead of salmon, milk instead of cream, and duck fat instead of butter.    

Mackerel Croquettes for 1 adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Combine in a bowl:

  • 2 cooked mackerel fillets, mashed
  • 4 cooked mini potatoes, mashed (about 1/2 cup)
  • a splash of milk (just enough to be absorbed by the potatoes)
  • chopped fresh parsely, chives and dill, if you have any (I didn’t)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Spread in separate shallow bowls:

  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup flour

Whisk an egg in a third shallow bowl

Shape the fish mixture into patties (about an inch in diameter). One at a time, coat each patty with flour, dip it in the egg, then coat it in breadcrumbs.

Heat 1-2tbsps butter (or duck fat if you’ve got it) in a skillet and fry the patties till golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.  Serve with lemon wedges and mayonnaise (just in case you still need *more* fat).

But just in case the springliness of the fiddleheads wasn’t enough, I also saw my first daffodils of the season today. I’m convinced.


Filed under home, recipe