About ptoediting

I'm a writer, editor, teacher, urban planner, traveller, actor, tour guide. Love exploring. I'm an escapee. I have three citizenships. Love history - the reason why we do things the way we do.

Bread and Butter Pudding

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In cool weather, bread puddings provide an inner furnace. They’re cheap and quick to make and if you don’t finish them, they can be put in the fridge and eaten later. The first recipe (or receipt) comes from The Diary of a Farmer’s Wife by Anne Hughes, dated 25 August 1796. Anne Hughes decided to start a diary to “set down all that I do every day” and so, for 13 months she wrote about her daily life, of the butter maken that sometimes “was longe time cummin” of collecting honey, pudden making, making merrie and all the social activities and hard work that was the lot of a farmer’s wife. This extraordinary document was rediscovered in the 1930s on a farm in Oxfordshire. The spelling is wonderful but not difficult to understand.

BREAD AND BUTTER PUDDING WITH PEARS

You doe peel some pares, then putt sum peeces of breade and butter in thee bottom of a deep dyshe, ande laye thee pares on toppe, then more bredde and butter, throwing on sum sugger ande a pinsh of cynamon. Then you doe take 4 eggs and beate them harde for a bitt then putt them in a messure of mylke ande beate uppe till frothie, then poore over thee puddinge in thee dyshe and cooke itt gentlie for an hower bye thee clocke.

Try greasing the dish before you add the mixture. You could put it in the microwave for 20 minutes on low heat but wouldn’t get the crispy top. Apples would substitute for pears.

The second dish is unrecognizable as a bread pudding. It’s rich, spicy, delicious and Mexican. It’s also a very old recipe. The ingredients are local and the same as those used in the 1640s to make bread and cakes. The recipe was recorded by the Holy Office of the Inquisition and saved in the archives.

Generally eaten at Lent, the ingredients symbolise the Passion of Christ. Many Mexican families see the dish as a reminder of the suffering of Christ on Good Friday. The bread is for the Body of Christ, the syrup is his blood, the raisins are the nails of the cross, and the whole cinnamon sticks are the wood of the cross. The melted cheese stands for the Holy Shroud.

CAPIROTADA: MEXICAN BREAD PUDDING

1 cup rich brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon (or sticks)

1 cup water

2 ½ cups French bread cubes (stale is fine)

1 cup raisins or currants

¾ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup diced sharp cheddar

In a large pan combine brown sugar, cinnamon and water. Boil gently until the sugar is dissolved. Add the bread cubes and toss gently. Add raisins or currants, walnuts and cheese, and toss. Turn the mixture into a large greased casserole or baking pan. Bake at 375ºF for 15 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Each cook has a different recipe for Capirotada, so experiment with fennel or cloves, apples or lemon juice, toasted almonds, and goat’s cheese.

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Ice Cream Cone Revolution – Choc Mint Ice Cream Recipe

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It’s hard to imagine a world without takeaway containers, popsicle sticks or ice cream cones because we tend to eat on the run. In fact, the development of ice cream cones took centuries! Iced cream puddings became popular in the late 1700s and wafers of fine flaky biscuit were eaten with or after the pudding as a digestive aid at the end of the meal. Although wafer cornucopias were used to decorate iced pudding dishes, the pudding was not inserted in them.

Iced puddings were popular also in the 1800s but containers were rarely mentioned in cookbooks. Mrs. A.B. Marshall’s Cookery Book, 1888, had a recipe for almond-encrusted cornets filled with cream or “water-ice or set custard of fruits, and served for a dinner, luncheon, or summer dish.” Chef Ranhofer’s book, The Epicurean: A Complete Treatise of Analytical and Practical Studies on the Culinary Art, 1894, had a recipe for “Rolled-Waffle Cornets” and recommended putting flavoured whipped cream in the cornets.

In the streets, Italian immigrants in London may have sold ice cream in cones, but there is no evidence of this practice. Biscuit cup companies became popular at the turn of the 20th century. Antonio Valvona registered the first patent in 1902 in Manchester, England for an “Apparatus for Baking Biscuit Cups for Ice Cream.” We took another step toward the cone.

The ice cream cone was introduced by accident at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The International Association of Ice Cream Manufacturers (IAICM) credits Ernest Hamwi with the invention. Pastry-maker Hamwi was selling “zalabia,” a traditional Levantine flat waffle-like pastry sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. His stall happened to be next to an ice cream stand run by 16-year-old Arnold Fomachou. Fomachou ran out of ice cream dishes mid-way through the fair so Hamwi twisted his zalabias into cones and scooped Fomachou’s ice cream into them to serve to the public. They became an instant success. J. P. Heckle approached Hamwi after the fair to buy his waffle machine and ask him to partner in the first ice cream cone company, the Cornucopia Waffle Company. In 1910, Hamwi opened his own company, the Missouri Cone Company. The first US patent was issued in 1924 for a “machine for forming thin, freshly baked wafers while still hot into cone-shaped containers.” We reap the benefits.

 

MINT AND CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM

¼ cup sugar

½ cup water

3 large egg yolks

1¼ cups light cream

1¼ cups heavy cream

6 tablespoons crème de menthe

4 squares of dark chocolate, chopped

In a heavy saucepan, dissolve sugar in ½ cup of water. Bring to the boil and boil until 215ºF (102C).

Beat the yolks in a bowl. Slowly pour in the syrup, beating until the mixture becomes thick and light.

In another bowl, whip the creams together until soft peaks form. Fold the cream into the yolks with the crème de menthe and chocolate. Pour the mixture into a container, cover and freeze till firm. Before serving, transfer ice cream to the fridge for 30 minutes.

Orange Chocolate Truffles

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Perfect for Valentine’s Day

Christmas comes but once a year and for that we are very thankful. Many years ago in England during the war, my mother and grandmother scrimped and saved their rations to get enough ingredients to make Christmas puddings. They made the puddings in October to give them time to ripen but when Christmas came, the puddings were mouldy and unusable, the product of poor quality ingredients in wartime.

Some years later, my family lived in Malaysia and one Christmas when my grandmother was visiting from England, she and my mother sweated away in 30-degree heat making a traditional pudding according to Great Aunt Polly’s recipe. The Chinese cook was fascinated.

Before dinner, mother pointed out the brandy to pour over the pudding and told Cookie to light it before bringing it to the table. When the cold consommé and roast turkey had been eaten, he whispered urgently to her that he couldn’t get the brandy to light. She said, “Never mind, Cookie, bring it in just the same.” He placed the pudding in front of my father for him to serve it, while at mother’s end of the table were fruit salad and mince pies. Father served out twelve portions, which Cookie passed round. My father was the first one to taste the pudding. He grimaced and said, “Something’s wrong with this pudding!” Cookie brought in the bottle of “brandy” he had used. It was Shell Teepol cleaning fluid, a new product that my father had been given to try. Cookie thought he would keep the best brandy for after-dinner drinks. Luckily, they could safely eat the fruit salad and mince pies. It was yet another memorable Christmas.

Instead of sweating over a hot stove, I recommend something completely different: orange chocolate truffles. They are great for gifts both to others and yourself.

4 oz (114 gm) of milk chocolate, in pieces

2 oz  (57 gm) of grated plain dark chocolate or powdered drinking chocolate

2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk

1 oz (30 gm) of butter

1 orange (for the zest)

1 lb (454 gm) of icing sugar

Your choice of Cointreau, brandy, crème de cacao, orange liqueur

In a mixing bowl put the pieces of chocolate, butter and condensed milk. Put the bowl into a larger bowl of hot water to soften the chocolate and butter. Stir until well blended and smooth. Grate the rind of the orange and add to the mixture. Stir icing sugar gradually into the mixture until it is firm enough to roll into balls without sticking to the fingers. We wouldn’t want that to happen! Adjust icing sugar and liqueur to get the right texture. This could take hours if you are really diligent! Make balls about the size of a walnut (or a mouth) and roll in grated plain dark chocolate or powdered cocoa or drinking chocolate. Put the balls on waxed paper on a baking tray and put in the fridge to harden. Then wait!

The Proof is in the Summer Pudding

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Summer pudding originated in spas and nursing homes in mid-18th century England, where it was served to patients as an alternative to heavy, fattening puddings made with pastry, suet or butter. It was known as hydropathic pudding but summer pudding was obviously a better name.

Although water spas have always existed, bathing was frowned upon for decades until 1702 when Queen Anne visited the ancient Roman city of Bath. When the fashionable Richard “Beau” Nash arrived in Bath two years later, the new regimen was established. Suddenly the health benefits of drinking water and bathing were all the rage. Bath became the social capital of Britain, attracting the rich and famous over the summer to bathe and drink the water in the pump room, while amusing themselves with gambling and gossiping. The pump room has been seen in many Jane Austen movies.

Diet was an important part of this health-based regimen so the traditional puddings were now frowned upon. It is not known when fresh fruit became part of the mix and scholars argue over when the summer pudding, as we know it, originated.

Before bread had additives to prevent it from drying, summer pudding was a good way to use up stale bread and summer fruit. It’s an old favourite in my family and has the advantage that it can be made any size with any fruit. In late summer, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, loganberries, black/red currants and gooseberries make a wonderful mixture. Once pitted, cherries, plums and apricots would also work. In winter, use canned fruit and omit the cooking. You can make one large pudding or individual teacup puddings for an event.

Combine a mixture of soft berry fruit (2-3 lb) lightly cooked with sugar in a saucepan (don’t let the fruit lose its shape) or in the microwave.

Cut a loaf of white bread (no crusts), brioche or sponge cake into thick slices. Line a pudding basin with the bread, making sure there are no gaps.

Pour in the fruit and juice but keep back some juice and a few berries for decoration. Cover the pudding with more bread (cut slices to fit). Put a plate on top of the pudding and a weight on top. Leave it in the fridge overnight.

To serve, take the weight and plate off. Put your serving dish on top of the pudding and flip the pudding. Pour over the reserved berries and juice if needed. The pudding usually turns out with a spectacular marbled white and burgundy look. Serve with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or Bird’s custard.

Bird’s Custard is the original version of custard powder, which is cornflour-based and thickens to form a sauce when mixed with milk and heated. Bird’s Custard was formulated in England by Alfred Bird in 1837 because his wife was allergic to eggs, used to thicken traditional custard. He did the world a service because now you can make custard in a matter of minutes. I’m ashamed to say my father and I used to fight over the skin on the top of the jug.

Witches’ Brew

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A concoction of strange, powerful or terrifying ingredients from toads and newts to bats and snakes, this brew consists of anything you fancy. Needless to say, quantities are variable, depending on what you can catch. Given the ingredients, witches were apparently excellent cooks unless they cheated and cast a spell over the cauldron at the end to make it taste good.

The following recipe I can guarantee as tasty and measurement free. It’s one of those perfect recipes where you toss in whatever you have in the fridge, while muttering incantations of course. Take a big cauldron, put on fire, and in it heat a generous amount of dark green extra-virgin olive oil. Drop a chopped onion into the oil (garlic too, if you like) and stir with a large wooden spoon, trying to keep your long grey hair out of the pot. Add the meat of your choice, stirring till brown. Use one pound of finely sliced beef, pork or veal if you don’t want to go to the nearest swamp and catch critters. Mild Italian sausages, sliced once they are partially cooked, make a tasty stew.

Spells and magic help with the rest of the ingredients, together with your imagination. Don’t forget to add a glass of red wine if you are partial to it. Add a can of tomatoes, a couple of carrots, peeled and sliced, cubed potatoes or pasta, green beans, zucchini or whatever vegetables you have on hand. A spoonful of tomato puree will increase the tomato flavour but is optional. Add water to thin or olive oil to thicken and enrich the mixture. Simmer to reduce the juices.

Sprinkle in salt and pepper, a teaspoonful of oregano or Italian herbs, and chopped fresh parsley. All good witches have a herb garden. As a good witch, you will naturally charge the herbs before you put them in the pot. Hold them in your hands and visualize their energy mingling with yours. Pinch them to release their scent and to perceive their vibrational energy. Remember that parsley stands for purification and protection and will ensure a stress-free environment at dinner. Pepper drives out negative energy as well as protects. If pepper makes you sneeze it means it’s driving out demons, a very useful quality. Sage is for wisdom and, like thyme, aids psychic awareness and promotes long life. Thyme and basil are vital in love spells. Oregano is connected to Venus and promotes happiness and tranquillity, gives good luck, health and protection. You will realize at this point that the herbs you choose to add to the dish are of crucial importance in creating the right atmosphere for your evening, if not the rest of the week.

Serve in a bowl with fresh French bread for dipping, and a glass of hearty red wine. When the children come knocking at the door, you will be well fortified, never mind tranquil, happy, and protected from demons. Don’t forget to give a dish to your familiar – the black cat – or the evening could still go awry.

 

Raffles Hotel – Tigers and Singapore Sling

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Raffles Hotel, Singapore

Early one morning on 13 August 1902, an escaped circus tiger bounded under the Raffles Hotel Billiard Room, which was built on stilts. Charles Phillips, principal of Raffles Institution and a member of Singapore’s rifle team, was urgently called to the hotel. Rushing over in his pyjamas, he saw the eyes of the tiger gleaming in the half-light under the building, took aim, and killed it. A python and a wild boar have also visited the hotel in the days before Singapore became an urban jungle but no stories tell of their demise.

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Apart from the wildlife, Raffles is known for its Singapore Sling, created at the Long Bar between 1910-15 by the Hainanese–Chinese bartender, Ngiam Tong Boon. It has been popular ever since as a good antidote to tiger sightings. Sitting in rattan chairs under twirling fans in the hot, moist atmosphere of Singapore, any drink is welcome. In the early days, guests could sit on the verandah to catch the cooling sea breezes and see five miles of shipping from all over the world bobbing at anchor. The hotel still stands on Beach Road but so much land has been reclaimed that the beach is now out of sight. The following recipe was jotted on a bar chit by a visitor in 1936.

SINGAPORE SLING

2 measures of gin

1 measure of cherry brandy

1 measure of fresh orange, lemon, lime and pineapple juice

Drop of Cointreau

Dash of Angostura Bitters

Garnish with a slice of pineapple and a cherry

Shake well with ice and serve in a tall glass. Don’t forget the umbrella.

Raffles Hotel was established by the Armenian Sarkies brothers and named after Singapore’s founder, Sir Stamford Raffles. They leased the 10-room colonial bungalow on Beach Road from an Arab trader, Syed Mohamed Alsagoff, on 1 December 1887. The glorious main building of Raffles Hotel was completed in 1899, designed by architect Regent Alfred John Bidwell of Swan and Maclaren. Over the years a verandah, wings, ballroom, and a bar and billiards room were added.

Raffles is known not only for tigers and slings but for its famous guests. Somerset Maugham visited in the 1920-30s and wrote every morning under a frangipani tree in the Palm Court. He noted that Raffles Hotel “stands for all the fables of the exotic East.”

Raffles Hotel has featured in many films, including the BBC’s Tenko, which recreated the experiences of British, Australian an Dutch women captured after the fall of Singapore (February 1942). The film Paradise Road tells the story of the same camp. The women were held in internment camps on Sumatra until 1945, when they were repatriated to Singapore. Raffles Hotel acted as the clearinghouse for news. A woman who had been in the same camp as my father’s first wife recognised him from her description, told him of her death a few months before and handed back her wedding ring, which he wore for the rest of his life.

Singapore Chicken Rice and Desserts

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Chicken rice is a favourite lunch dish in Singapore served at a hawker’s stall in waxed brown paper tied up with plastic string or in the air-conditioned Mandarin Hotel on Orchard Road. It’s quick to cook, tasty and very healthy. As long as you have the ingredients, it can be ready in half an hour.

CHICKEN RICE

In a big pot (Dutch oven) on the stove, add a tablespoon of cooking oil (not olive oil) and heat.

Add:

Onion or garlic, sliced or crushed
Ginger root, sliced (no need to peel)
Bunch of green onions (spring onions), chopped
Bunch of cilantro/coriander, chopped (save some to use as garnish)
Chicken (thighs, breast)(2 or 3 per person)
Cover with water
Add Chinese soya sauce
Add a couple of packets of chicken OXO/Bovril
Bring to the boil and then simmer
Adjust seasoning (soya and OXO)

When the chicken has cooked for half an hour and the soup is tasty, take the chicken pieces out with a slotted spoon and take the skin off. Slice chicken. Serve on rice and sprinkle fresh cilantro on top. Ladle the soup into a separate bowl. On the table have individual small dishes of Chinese soya sauce and sweet Thai chilli sauce for each person to dip their chicken in. Use Chinese bowls, ceramic spoons and chopsticks. Serve with Jasmine tea.

Next day when the leftovers have been in the fridge, a coating of fat will cover the soup. Scoop it off into a paper towel and discard; reheat the soup. It will be even better.

RICE

Prepare long grain Basmati rice while the chicken is cooking. A coffee mug of dry rice is good for three people. Fill a saucepan with water, rest a sieve on the top and put the rice in the sieve. With a wooden spoon under cold running water, stir the rice until the water is clear. Lift the sieve out of the water and discard water. Put rice into saucepan and cover with fresh water (about I cm/a knuckle above the rice). Put on high heat, wait until it boils, then turn it down to simmer until the rice is dry and fluffy.

SALTED FRESH FRUIT

After hot spicy dishes, the regular dessert is a plate of sliced fresh fruit, sprinkled with salt (sea salt). The salt brings out the flavour of any fruit – oranges, apples, water apples, star fruit, watermelon, bananas or what have you. Put toothpicks into the slices so they are easy to pick up; provide a dish for the skins.

LYCHEES & ALMOND JELLY

Another cooling dessert is almond jelly and lychees. In Chinatown you will be able to buy a packet of almond jelly. Stir the powder into hot water, pour into a baking tray and put in the fridge. When it has set, cut the jelly into cubes. Empty a can of lychees (and their juice) into a bowl with the almond jelly cubes. The flavours are subtle and refreshing.