Thursday, April 29, 2010

Daring Bakers' Steak and Mushroom Pudding

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

Whoopsies, i'm a day late! The thing is, i was sooo close to skipping this challenge after i realized a traditional British pudding isn't really a pudding. A British pudding is"any dish cooked in a pudding bowl or pudding cloth normally steamed, boiled but sometimes baked". The steaming part dissapointed me a little since i really wanted to use the oven after such a long cooking-break. It wasn't until the posting day (yesterday) that i decided to maintain my 7 month DB streak and skipped a day of school to complete the challenge (FYI: i'm not a bad student, we're allowed to skip one day out of our 3 week dermatology course!).

The "Steak and Kidney pudding" recipe Esther posted on the forum caught my eye so i went that direction and made a Steak and Mushroom pudding since kidneys aren't easy to find here. I used butter instead of suet and made the pastry with a food processor. And because i used a food processor for my dough, my mind automatically switched to "pie crust" mode and i forgot to add baking powder to the mix, DANG IT! I should've paid more attention to the instructions... Esther even kindly reminded us to find substitutions for self-raising flour but i was dumb enough to miss it. Ah well, lesson learned!

But despite that HUGE mistake, i was thrilled to find out that my pudding still flipped out to be a perfectly unscathed dome. The best part was when the juices from the beer and beefspilled out at the first cut. Oh, if only i had recorded it... it would be one of those videos i'd play over and over again on my bad days =D. I had to peel off the entire suet crust since it was inedible without the effects of baking powder, but JLo and I still enjoyed a wonderful meal of steak and mushroom filling that night. Thanks, Esther, for hosting such an interesting challenge this month!

Steak and Mushroom Pudding
  • For the STEAK FILLING:
  • 450-500 g casserole beef, diced
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 200-250 g button mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 150 ml Guinness beer
  • Worcestershire sauce

  • For the SUET PASTRY:
  • 250 g self raising flour for pastry (If you cannot find self-raising flour, use a combination of all-purpose flour and baking powder.)
  • 175 g shredded suet or suet substitute (i.e. vegetable suet, crisco, lard, butter)
  • 150 ml water for pastry (only an estimate)
  1. For the Steak filling: Add everything to a bowl and mix this all up so meat gets coated with the flour [picture 1].
  2. For the Suet pastry: add flour and and suet into bowl, adding salt and pepper [picture 2].
  3. Add the water, a tablespoonful at a time, as you mix the ingredients together [picture 3].
  4. Make up the pastry to firm an elastic dough that leaves the bowl clean. Don’t over handle the pastry or it will be too hard.
  5. Now roll this out on the work surface, lifting and turning it so it doesn't stick to the surface. Cut out a quarter of the dough to use for this lid [picture 4].
  6. Place the rest into the bowl, pressing it to seal it against the sides of the bowl and bottom and top [picture 5].
  7. Now put filling inside the pie [picture 6]. Add worcestershire sauce to guinness and pour over the top [picture 7].
  8. Roll the final piece of pastry out into a circle big enough to cover the top of the basin, dampen the edges and pinch the edges together to seal [picture 8].
  9. Seal well and cover with a double sheet of foil – pleated in the centre to allow room for expansion while cooking. Secure with string, and place it in a steamer over boiling water.
  10. Steam for 3 - 5 hours, you may need to add more boiling water halfway through or possibly more often [picture 9].
  11. One way to tell that it is cooked is when the pastry changes colour and goes from white to a sort of light golden brown.
Steak and Mushroom Pudding

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Daring Cooks' Brunswick Stew, the Long Way

The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

I'm so glad i have the Daring Kitchen to keep me on track with blog updates because Ive been a bit lazy after returning from my Easter break in Amsterdam. I guess I've growntoo accustomed eating out and getting served that this sudden transition back to the mediocre student life has stricken me a little. But don't worry, i'm pretty sure i'll get back on my feet when my tummy realizes that the pampering is over and food will not appear by itself until i pay a visit to the kitchen.

This Brunswick Stew challenge couldn't have been more perfect for someone struggling to recover from the holidays. I halved the original recipe and still ended up with a HUGE pot of stew that was enough to feed JLo and I for three days. Having food within reach and not having to go through the entire shopping-preparing-cooking-serving process was a huge relief! This probably sounds bad coming from someone with a food blog but hey, everyone needs a break now and then-- don't judge me!

I made the long version of Brunswick stew that took around 3 - 4 hours total to complete. I used chicken and pork for the protein and replaced butter beans with white ones (those were the only changes i made). The recipe was fairly easy but the most challenging part, for me, was probably shredding the meat. I shredded mine super thin and that probably took around 20 minutes to complete. This was my first time having Brunswick stew and i thought it tasted a lot like the usual chicken soup... but the vinegar and lemon juice added at the end gave it a nice tang that it lacked. I can only imagine how much better it would've been if i had some tobasco at home!

In the words of Wolf, "Brunswick stew is not done properly “until the paddle stands up in the middle.”" Considering how sturdy my ladle looks standing in the stew, this challenge was a great success! Thanks, Wolf, for sharing this recipe with us!

Brunswick Stew, the Long Way
Serves about 12
  • 110 grams bacon, roughly diced (1/4lb/4oz)
  • 2 Serrano, Thai or other dried red chiles, trimmed, sliced, seeded, flattened
  • 450 grams rabbit, quartered, skinned (1 lb/ 16oz)
  • 1.5 - 2 kilograms chicken, quartered, skinned, and most of the fat removed
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt for seasoning, plus extra to taste
  • 8-12 cups Sunday Chicken Broth (recipe below)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 large celery stalks
  • 900 grams Yukon Gold potatoes, or other waxy type potatoes, peeled, rough diced (2 lbs)
  • 1 ½ cups carrots, chopped
  • 3 ½ cups onion, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob (about 4 ears)
  • 3 cups butterbeans, preferably fresh (1 ¼ lbs) or defrosted frozen
  • 1 35oz can / 996.45 grams / 4 cups whole, peeled tomatoes, drained
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Tabasco sauce, to taste
    1. In the largest stockpot you have, preferably a 10-12 qt or even a Dutch Oven if you’re lucky enough to have one, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it just starts to crisp [picture 1]. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside.
    2. Reserve most of the bacon fat in your pan, and with the pan on the burner, add in the chiles. Toast the chiles until they just start to smell good, or make your nose tingle, about a minute tops [picture 2]. Remove to bowl with the bacon.
    3. Season liberally both sides of the rabbit and chicken pieces with sea salt and pepper.
    4. Add more bacon fat if needed, or olive oil, or other oil of your choice, then add in chicken pieces, again, browning all sides nicely [picture 3]. Remember not to crowd your pieces, especially if you have a narrow bottomed pot. Put the chicken in the bowl with the bacon, chiles and rabbit. Set it aside.
    5. Add 2 cups of your chicken broth or stock, if you prefer, to the pan and basically deglaze the pan, making sure to get all the goodness cooked onto the bottom. The stock will become a nice rich dark color and start smelling good. Bring it up to a boil and let it boil away until reduced by at least half.
    6. Add your remaining stock, the bay leaves, celery, potatoes, chicken, rabbit, bacon, chiles and any liquid that may have gathered at the bottom of the bowl they were resting in. Bring the pot back up to a low boil/high simmer, over medium/high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover, remember to stir every 15 minutes, give or take, to thoroughly meld the flavors [picture 4].
    7. Simmer, on low, for approximately 1 ½ hours. Supposedly, the stock may become a yellow tinge with pieces of chicken or rabbit floating up, the celery will be very limp, as will the chiles. Taste the stock, according to the recipe, it “should taste like the best chicken soup you’ve ever had”.
    8. With a pair of tongs, remove the chicken and rabbit pieces to a colander over the bowl you used earlier. Be careful, as by this time, the meats will be very tender and may start falling apart.
    9. Remove the bay leaf, celery, chiles, bacon and discard.
    10. After you’ve allowed the meat to cool enough to handle, carefully remove all the meat from the bones, shredding it as you go [picture 5].
    11. Return the meat to the pot, throwing away the bones. Add in your carrots, and stir gently, allowing it to come back to a slow simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, for at least 25 minutes, or until the carrots have started to soften [picture 6].
    12. Add in your onion, butterbeans, corn and tomatoes [picture 7]. As you add the tomatoes, crush them up, be careful not to pull a me, and squirt juice straight up into the air, requiring cleaning of the entire stove. Simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring every so often until the stew has reduced slightly, and onions, corn and butterbeans are tender.
    13. Remove from heat and add in vinegar, lemon juice, stir to blend in well. Season to taste with sea salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce if desired [picture 8].
    14. You can either serve immediately or refrigerate for 24 hours, which makes the flavors meld more and makes the overall stew even better. Serve hot, either on its own, or with a side of corn bread, over steamed white rice, with any braised greens as a side.
    Cornbread Bake over Brunswick Stew
    Brunswick Stew