Simply food


As I finish off the very British Christmas pudding, smuggled into Canada from Marks and Spencer on my last visit to England between lockdowns, I reflect on the fact that I’m not really a dessert person. But I do have some favourites.

Christmas couldn’t have been stranger this year. We celebrated in splendid isolation at a gaily decorated table with a fine bottle of bubbly to enhance the occasion. A few days earlier, I’d managed to squeeze in a festive visit with my three grown kids and two lovely grandchildren. But by the time the big day came, we’d all been thrown into deeper lockdown again and our own company had to suffice.

I’d promised my now almost vegan Diane not to bring a turkey “corpse” into the house, so for the big meal we went in the opposite direction and had a tasty feast of assorted curries, collected the night before from a local curry house. By the end of the meal, we were so stuffed that we could not face dessert, so the pudding became the centre piece of our Boxing Day repast.

Earlier, I’d got down an old copy of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, and read about the moment that Mrs. Cratchitt brought the pudding to the table:

“Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. … 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-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.”

Although this sort of fruit pudding, boiled in a pudding basin with a cloth tied around the top for an hour and a half, and then turned out onto a plate, is not popular in North America, I still love the rich taste and heavenly aromas of the well soused pudding. It has so much booze in it that it hardly needs the addition of a ladle full of flaming brandy to enhance it. But I keep the tradition going, even just for the two of us. Cold, the pudding is even better, with a chunk of really old authentic English cheddar cheese.

I’ve included some favourite puddings, often called sweets in England, and desserts in North America in my new eBook Gentleman’s Portion: The Cookbook. Here are luscious pictures of six favourites from the book.

New York style strawberry cheesecake
English scones with clotted cream and jam
Meringue Pavlova with compote and cream
Fruit parfait – Click for the step-by-step video
Episode 1: Fruit parfait,
Natas do céu – Heavenly cream
Carrot cake with icing and walnut topping

You can use the search button to find all these recipes here on the blog, but I’d much rather you bought the eBook for under 10 bucks (or 10 quid)! Each recipe is illustrated in full colour and there are colourful stories as well.

A true print version of the eBook is regretfully not available, but I have created a modified PDF version for those who would like to print their own copy, with four pages of selected colour montages at the front (the above selection comprises one of those pages) and the balance of the 135 pages in black and white only for economy. If you email me your receipt for the eBook as proof of purchase, I will send you free of charge this PDF version for you to print at home. Or take the file to your local print shop, to create at a reasonable price. Here is the link to my email address. Please put COOKBOOK REQUEST in the subject line. I will try to answer you within 48 hours.

Featured image: A Christmas tradition – flaming the pudding

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This is Nigel’s 298th blog on Gentleman’s Portion. The SEARCH function at the top works really well, if you want to look back and see some of his previous stories. The link to Gentleman’s Portion: The Cookbook is now live, well priced at $9.99 or £9.99 and available on AmazonApple Books, Barnes & NobleGoogleKobo and Scribd.

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