Tag Archives: port

Venison and Mushroom Suet Pudding

Serves 6 – 8

An alternative to our traditional Sunday Roast, we haven’t had a suet pudding for years and I have to wonder why. The pastry is light but absorbs the flavours of the filling, which in this case was a wonderfully rich mix of venison, mushrooms and port. I loved the theatrical presentation associated with turning it out of its cooking bowl as well – will it, won’t it, will it, won’t it and then almost a sigh as the pudding parted ways with the bowl and plopped onto the plate, to be quickly followed by a rush of wonderful, rich gravy. A proper winter dish this – who cares if it’s cold and windy outside?!

What you need…

1 x 1.5 litre pudding basin, lightly buttered

1 x steamer, saucepan and lid

for the filling

1 beef stock pot (I use Knorr)

300ml boiling water (from the kettle)

300ml port

2 tablespoons well-seasoned self-raising flour

750g venison, diced

2 shallots, chopped

1 leek, trimmed, cut lengthways and then sliced

250g chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and chunkily sliced

Handful thyme sprigs, leaves picked

Sea salt and black pepper

for the pastry

350g self-raising flour

175g shredded beef suet

Sea salt and black pepper

Cold water to mix

What to do…

In a jug dissolve the stock pot into the boiling water. Top up with the port. Set aside.

In a roomy bowl, tip in the seasoned flour. Add the venison and toss around in the flour so that the meat is thoroughly covered. Chuck in the shallots, leek, mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper. Set aside.

To make the suet pastry, sift the flour into another large mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the suet and mix the ingredients together using a spatula. When blended, add a few drops of cold water and mix in using the spatula. Keep adding the water a few drops at a time, mixing all the while, until the pastry is claggy and sticky. Either carry on with the spatula or go in with your hands, working the mix together until it is a smooth, elastic dough that leaves the sides of the bowl clean.

Separate ¼ of the dough from the rest and set aside for the lid of your pudding. On a lightly floured work surface, give the remaining dough a quick knead to create a ball and then roll it out to create a circle of about 32cm diameter. Line the bowl with the pastry, gently pressing it into place and leaving some pastry hanging over the lip of the bowl.

Go back to your filling and with your hands, mix everything together so that all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Tip the whole lot into the pastry-lined bowl.

Pour in the stock and port and add more seasoning.

Roll out the pastry lid. Wet the top edges of pudding pastry and pop the lid on, pressing down all around the edges to seal. Trim off the excess pastry.

Cover with a double sheet of foil, pleated in the centre to allow room for expansion while cooking. Secure it with string and then place in a steamer over a saucepan of boiling water. Pop a lid on and then turn the heat down so that the water is simmering. Steam for 5 hours, checking the water level every now and then (I have ruined many a pan steaming Christmas puddings and letting the water run dry – it doesn’t go down well with the husband!)

Now to serve it! You could play safe and serve it straight from the bowl but where’s the fun in that?! Instead, slide a palette knife around the edge and then put your serving plate over the top of the pudding bowl. Tip the whole lot upside down (or in my case, ask John to) so that the plate is now on your work top and the pudding bowl is inverted. Wait, holding your breath, until the pudding gives a sigh and plops onto the plate. Breathe. Rush excitedly to the table with a large serving spoon and dig in. Thoroughly enjoy your Venison and Mushroom Suet Pudding!

Tip…

Instead of peeling and cutting up shallots, try Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients, frozen, chopped shallots – a quick shake and the job’s done!

Inspired by…

I used Delia Smith’s recipe for the suet pastry and then threw caution to the wind and put in the pudding whatever I fancied – it worked though!

How easy…

It takes minutes to assemble, there’s no pastry-resting business going on and then you just leave it to cook itself so it’s really very easy. It’s not a last minute option though – 5 hours cooking time does require a bit of organisation.

Old English Port Wine Jellies with Frosted Grapes

If, like me, you grew up in the 1970s you will probably remember the regular arrival of jelly and Carnation Cream as a pudding. I can recall with relish, gently mashing up the jelly and watching with fascination as the yellow-white ‘cream’ filtered through the jelly’s cracks. These days, jelly has fallen out of fashion, but I came across this recipe in one of Delia’s books and had to give it a go! It bears no resemblance to the 1970s versions, happily!!!!

Especially after a heavy main course, this dessert is simply delightful! An oldie but a goodie, it is light, fragrant and cool, not at all what you’d expect when you see that the ingredients include port and wine.

I didn’t ruin it with the addition of Carnation (that’s got to be spectacularly bad for you!) but tried it with and without a little cream and both versions work really well. Jelly is definitely back in fashion in this house!

Serves 4

What you need…

for the jellies

Four pretty stemmed glasses to serve

75g granulated sugar

285 ml water

1 stick cinnamon

3 cloves

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

1½ 12g packets powdered gelatine

210ml port (nothing too expensive)

75ml light red wine (I used a cheap Pinot Noir)

for the frosted grapes

Bunch seedless grapes, washed and dried

1 egg white

Caster Sugar

Bake O Glide/greaseproof paper

What to do…

Tip the sugar into a saucepan together with the water, cinnamon stick, cloves, lemon zest and juice. Cover the pan bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. Sprinkle in the gelatine and, using a balloon whisk. Gently whisk to dissolve. Let it cool for 15 minutes, gently whisking occasionally.

Strain the spices and zest from the syrup, pouring it into a jug. Stir in the port and wine and then taste. The flavour should be strong and rather sweeter than you might like but the sweetness lessens once the mixture is chilled and set, so add a little more sugar if you think it needs it (I added another 2 teaspoons) and stir it in until it dissolves. Pour the jelly syrup into your four stemmed glasses and pop in the fridge to set.

Meanwhile, onto your frosted grapes. Take two small bowls and in one, whisk up the egg white using a fork. In the other, tip in some caster sugar.

From your bunch of grapes, choose little bunches of two or three, ensuring that you leave them attached to their stalks as you separate them from the main bunch. Simply dip them into the egg yolk and then into the caster sugar, ensuring that they are evenly covered with the sugar, providing them with a frosted look. When you lift them out of the egg white, make sure there are no globules of egg white hanging off – they don’t look attractive when covered with caster sugar! Sit your bunches of frosted grapes onto a strip of Bake O Glide or greaseproof paper and set them somewhere cool and dry for a couple of hours (or overnight).

When you’re ready to serve your old English port wine jellies with frosted grapes, simply retrieve the jellies from the fridge and pop the frosted grapes on the top – so easy, so elegant, so delicious! Enjoy!

Serving suggestion…

A little jug of double cream with a teaspoon of caster sugar mixed in.

Inspired by…

Delia Smith (her Christmas book but I think this is a winner throughout the winter)

How easy…

Extremely easy, very quick and next to no mess!

 

 

 

 

Stilton and Port

Completely stuffed after Christmas Day but still we eat as the fridge abounds with treats. This one is my favourite – the perfect pairing – Stilton and port!

Serves 1 very happy person

What you need…

1 large slice of good quality Stilton (we schedule an annual trip to Fortnum & Mason, specifically to facilitate this)

1 bottle of late bottled vintage port

What to do…

Remove Stilton from fridge at least an hour before you want to indulge. Place it on attractive plate or slate: there needs to be some ceremony and decorum for the King of English Cheeses.

When ready, pour a good snifter of port. Take a bite of Stilton and enjoy the unique combination of delicious creaminess with the soft piquancy provided by the blue. Take a sip of Port and indulge in the simple but fabulous combination of the two ingredients. So much more together than merely the sum of two parts. Eat and sip, savouring every decadent moment of your Stilton and port. Ideal fare for a Boxing Day snack!

Inspired by…

Decades of tradition, certainly in our house

How easy…

Mastering the art of simply savouring, indulging and relaxing in this simple treat is perhaps the most difficult element to the whole thing – I recommend practice!