Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘newfoundland’

figgycopy500.jpg

I rarely adapt bread recipes to gluten-free, because the results are so often disappointing compared to the real thing, but gluten-free steamed puddings are an exception. A traditional steamed pudding is essentially a quick-bread cooked in a very gentle and moist environment, and it never relies much on gluten for its success. Steamed pudding is also made of completely crumbled bread and is highly spiced, and so cleanly deals with two shortcomings of most gluten-free loaves. In Newfoundland, our “figgy pudding” is called figgy duff, and it is an old, old recipe. It is made with the kinds of sweeteners and spices brought to Newfoundland from the Caribbean by ships that were picking up salted cod on their way back to Europe. The recipe makes economical use of bread crumbs, and employs ingredients that do not require refrigeration, including cinnamon and raisins, which retard mold growth. It is very moist, chewy, dark, sweetened but not terribly sweet, and full of the wintery spices.

The traditional figgy duff recipe measures moistened bread crumbs that have been squeezed dry and rubbed loose again. That wasn’t feasible using my everyday store-bought gluten-free loaf: the squeezed crumbs remained too compact and a lot of water-soluble components dissolved and washed away. Gentler was wetting the crumbs, letting them drain in a sieve, and adjusting the batter consistency at the end with a little gluten-free flour. The inexactness of this wetter method doesn’t seem to matter: the batter is filled with thirsty raisins and hygroscopic brown sugar, and it is all cooked in a very wet environment. Likewise, I doubt it matters much which kind of bread or flour you use (I used a rice-potato-tapioca blend with a touch of xanthum gum in it); steamed puddings are very forgiving creatures. You may notice a great deal of baking soda in this recipe, but it is needed in such a dense and unbeaten batter, and the acid in the molasses finishes it off easily.

After having used a messy pudding bag in past years, buying a proper English pudding basin this season has been quite a revelation. If you haven’t seen one, a pudding basin is a ceramic bowl with thin sides, a grooved outer base that allows water to circulate beneath, and a thick outer lip that allows a paper top to be tied to it. Mine cost £3 and it turns out perfectly shaped, evenly cooked figgy duff. The recipe below could be poured into a pudding bag, but it would be less shapely. Probably, you could use any ceramic bowl put to rest over an inverted saucer (to keep it off direct heat) and covered with foil, but I haven’t tried that myself. gfhbe3.jpgI might recall metal pudding tins with lids in my mother’s panty, but perhaps I’m confused by a memory of jelly moulds and bundt pans. Perhaps your grandmother had yet another contraption for this cause. At any rate, as steaming is the closest I’ll come to baking this season, this post is for the Gluten-free Holiday Baking Event, as instigated by Kate of Gluten-free Gobsmacked, and hosted these few weeks by Sally of Aprovechar.

The traditional accompaniment to figgy duff is a molasses syrup called a coady, but I find molasses-on-molasses a bit cloying. For some contrast, whip cream to soft peaks, then whip in a little confectioner’s sugar, and finally a splash of chilled rum. Either coffee or tea are lovely with the spice-island flavours here.

2 hours, including 90 minutes steam; serves 6

Newfoundland (Gluten-free) Figgy Pudding (Figgy Duff)

4 cups fine (gluten-free) bread crumbs (about half a loaf)
butter for greasing
1 cup raisins (do not plump)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup melted butter
3 Tbsp molasses
1 tsp baking soda
gluten-free flour blend (eg. rice-potato-tapioca blend)

1. Put the bread crumbs in a large bowl. Fill it with water to the level of the crumbs. Turn the sodden crumbs into a sieve and let drain for twenty minutes.
2. Grease your pudding basin. Choose a pot with a tight-fitting lid, fill it with enough water to come half-way up the basin (a few inches, usually), and set it to boil.
3. In another large bowl mix the raisins, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Mix in the drained bread (you should have about two cups in the sieve).
4. Stir in the butter and molasses. Wait for the water in the pot to boil. Dissolve the baking soda into 1 Tbsp of room temperature water, and mix this into the batter.
5. Mix 1/2 cup of gluten-free flour into the batter and judge its thickness. You want a consistency like that of a medium cake batter – not runny, but not stiff. If it isn’t there yet, stir in another 1/4 cup and judge again. This is probably enough.
6. Turn the pudding batter into the basin.
7. Prepare the barrier that will keep condensation out of your pudding while allowing it to rise. Take a piece of parchment paper (or double two sheets of greaseproof paper) that is a few inches larger than the basin, and make a one-inch pleat in it. Centre the pleat over the basin and mold the paper down over the sides. Tie this little paper hat onto the basin by running a piece of twine under the lip. Trim the excess.
8. Lower the basin into the pot and steam for 90 minutes, checking every 30 minutes that your pot hasn’t gone dry.
9. Remove the greaseproof paper. Cover the top with a pretty plate and invert the basin. One good quick shake downward should release your pudding.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

codcakescopy500.jpg
It seems the right time of year for this sentimental series, but here in the UK I am at a loss for the island’s most distinctive proteins. I know that I am not going to find seal meat, just forget it. Faux-moose stew made with beef is really just beef stew; ditto caribou. I have eaten farm-raised rabbit before, and it bears not a lick of resemblance to the wild version at home. In a restaurant in Italy last year, a waiter brought me rabbit and I tried to send it back because I thought he had mistakenly brought me chicken. But even though my fishmonger has no fresh cod tongue today, any immigrant grocer catering to ex-pats from the West Indies, northern Spain or coastal India will carry salted cod fillet on his shelf. The salting of North-Atlantic cod was a major occupation for generations of Newfoundlanders, up until electricity and thereby refrigeration became commonplace on land and at sea, and many traditional dishes use salted cod, often with ingredients like potatoes and pork fat.

This is the kind of simple recipe one employs to make away with leftovers. I love mashed-potato-bound cakes fried in hot oil because they achieve a browned-crispiness on their faces while retaining the creaminess of mashed potato inside. For these cod cakes I used last night’s mashed potatoes straight out of the refrigerator without even warming them up, and although I had to be gentle, the cakes held together admirably. When I mash potatoes, I use a medium- or high-starch variety, mashing them while still hot, first with butter and then with whole milk, which does make them smoother and stickier. Suprisingly, these salt-cod cakes are not particularly salty after soaking the fillets overnight. The most delicate issue when dealing with salt cod is the odour: it stinks, particularly during the initial boiling (once cooked and bound with potato the smell all but disappears). In summertime, open the window. In winter, simmer a splash of vanilla essence in a small saucepan of water. A Belarusian visitor who stopped by recently to look at my babka and reminisce about his childhood got me thinking about scruncheons, the crisped skin of a pork belly (you may know them as cracklins or scratchings) and salt-cod. I have some pink-veined pig skin here right now (having removed it from the riblets that I am presently salt-curing in the hopes of a Jiggs’ Dinner on Christmas Day), so I made my salt-cod cakes with rendered pork fat and garnished them with crispy scruncheons. (Disclaimer: scruncheons are very bad for you and you shouldn’t be eating them).

I think your choice of beverage depends upon your accompaniments here. If you go creamy, like a (gluten-free) parsely bechamel, then an un-oaked chardonnay would be nice, but with lemon squeezes a Loire muscadet would be better. Or go Basque with a manzanilla sherry and a mayonnaise-based sauce. Of course, if the salt-cod cakes are for breakfast, you’ll already be having a cup of sweet tea made milky with a tin of Carnation, won’t you?

Newfoundland Salt-cod Cakes

40 minutes after an overnight soak, including 20 minutes boiling; serves 4.

1 lb salted cod fillets
4 cups left-over mashed potato (medium- to high-starch variety, like Yukon Gold, Maris Piper, or Russet)
2 Tbsp pork fat rendered from scruncheons (or sunflower oil or corn oil)

1. Cover the salt cod in an excess of fresh water and let it soak overnight on the counter.
2. Remove the cod and immerse it in fresh water in a saucepan. Boil for twenty minutes.
3. Drain the cod, skin it, and remove any bones. Flake your fish.
4. Mix the cod with the potato. No need for salt. Shape into twelve balls and then flatten into cakes about 3/4″ thick.
5. In a heavy frying pan (cast-iron is excellent) over medium heat gently fry your handful of scrucheons until crisp, then remove them. Alternatively, heat your vegetable oil to near smoking.
6. Over medium heat fry the cakes, in batches if necessary, to crisp them on the outside and heat them through. Perhaps six minutes on the first side, then flipped gingerly for four minutes on the second, depending on your pan and heat source. Serve hot.

Read Full Post »