Thanksgiving Menu and To Do List

Thanksgiving Table

November 2017 Update: It’s been a long while since I posted. Life is busy, good busy, but busy; we have two in high school, one in middle school and a 77lb puppy who thinks she’s a lap dog. My passion for cooking and all things food related still runs strong (not to worry- we are eating over here at White House Red Door!), but finding the time to sit down to document recipes and edit photos seems to be elusive at the moment. I’m hoping to make carving out time for the blog a priority in the new year.

As I was wrapping my head around Thanksgiving prep, I pulled up this blog post. Immediately, a feeling a calm enveloped me… the day to day planning, core recipes, and to do list set my mind at ease. I’m reposting in the hope that it helps you too.

Wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving!                                         ~Jean

Throughout November, I’ve posted some of our traditional family Thanksgiving recipes. You may have noticed that there are no appetizers. This is not without thought, we have so much food for dinner, that I don’t want people to fill up beforehand! We’ll have a few nibbles out…  nuts and a “relish tray.” It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without one.Celery, Olives, and Pistachios

At our house, a relish tray is simply a small platter of olives and celery sticks lying side by side; the celery sticks bathing in the salty brine of the olives. Every year my mom would set the tray on the dining room table before anything else. The grown-ups would walk by in passing and grab an olive or celery stick.

Cranberry Pineapple Sauce
Cranberry Pineapple Sauce

As a child I thought this was incredibly sophisticated, and by default, if I ate the olives and celery I, too, would be incredibly sophisticated- braces and all. I willed myself to eat the green olives stuffed with pimento, chasing them down with celery. A fake grin pasted on my face, I proudly showed my younger sister and brothers that I was well on my to adulthood. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I actually enjoyed the relish tray, the crunch of the celery alongside the saltiness of the chilled olives is terrific and definitely whets the appetite. So I will continue the tradition, setting out a tray of my own. The kids will reach for it when they’re ready, a culinary right of passage.

Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing
Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing

Do you set out appetizers? Or, is it all about the main event and desserts?

Sweet Potato Meringue Pie
Sweet Potato Meringue Pie

Happy Thanksgiving from White House Red Door!

Apple Cream Pie dusted with powdered sugar.
Apple Cream Pie

Thanksgiving 2015

  • Servings: varies
  • Print

Ingredients:
Turkey- this year my husband will be cooking the bird on his Big Green Egg. In previous years the turkey has been fried or roasted in the oven. This is the first time doing the turkey on the Egg, I’ll let you know how it goes!
Chestnut and Sausage Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Candied Yams
Green Beans with Almonds
Peas with Sautéed Mushrooms and Roasted Red Peppers
Creamed Onions
Cranberry Pineapple Sauce
Apple Cream Pie
Sweet Potato Pie with Maple Meringue

Instructions:
Monday:
* Make cranberry pineapple sauce
Tuesday:
* Cube bread for stuffing and allow to dry overnight.
Wednesday:
* Brine turkey
* Make stuffing
* Make pecan graham cracker crust for sweet potato pie
* Roast sweet potatoes for pie and puree
* Roast sweet potatoes for candied yams and slice
* Prepare topping for candied yams- chopped pecans, brown sugar, and butter
* Sauté mushrooms and dice roasted red peppers for peas
* Toast silvered almonds for green beans
* Set table
* Organize and label serving platters/pieces
Thursday:
* Cook turkey
* Make apple cream pie (morning)
* Finish sweet potato pie (morning)
* Make creamed onions (morning- stove top)
* Make mashed potatoes (afternoon-stove top)
* Finish candied yams (afternoon- oven)
 *Finish green beans and peas (afternoon- stove top)
* Have a drink!

Bittersweet Chocolate and Honey Sorbet

Bittersweet Chocolate and Honey Sorbet with Cocoa Nibs in glass dessert dish

During the weeklong Patricia Wells’ cooking class, my tasks ran the gamut from braising asparagus, creating compound butters, deep frying onion rings, setting lemon panna cotta, to making an amazing Bittersweet Chocolate and Honey Sorbet, which won “Best Taste of the Week.”

Ingredients for Bittersweet Chocolate and Honey Sorbet
Mise en Place in Paris

This sorbet is deep, rich, and incredibly satisfying. With help from my 10yr old, it was the first recipe I recreated when I arrived home and a huge hit with my family. So easy to make, the sorbet will be a standard freezer item all summer long. Enjoy!

Bittersweet Chocolate and Honey Sorbet

Bittersweet Chocolate and Honey Sorbet

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Print

*recipe adapted from Patricia Wells

Ingredients:
2 cups water
2/3 cup mild honey
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons Lyle’s Golden Syrup (or light corn syrup)
cocoa nibs for sprinkling (optional)
chopped nuts for sprinkling (optional)

Instructions:
In a large saucepan combine water with honey, salt, and cocoa powder. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 1 minute, whisking constantly. The mixture should turn a shiny, deep brown.

Remove from heat and add chocolate pieces, vanilla extract, and syrup. Stir until chocolate is fully melted. Transfer mixture to bowl and place in freezer to chill thoroughly, about an hour.

Transfer the mixture to an ice-cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. *See note below.

Serve in chilled bowls with a garnish of cocoa nibs, nuts, or your favorite topping.

*I used my Kitchen Aid mixer’s “ice-cream maker” attachment to make the sorbet. Kitchen Aid recommends 20 minutes of processing to transform the liquid mixture to sorbet. Unfortunately, after 20+ minutes of mixing, my sorbet was still soupy. Not one to give up, I just transferred the mixture to a glass storage container and placed it in my freezer. A few hours later the mixture was frozen and we had sorbet!

In Patricia’s kitchen, I used a traditional ice-cream maker. The sorbet processed while we ate lunch and was ready to serve for dessert. Please follow your manufacturer’s instructions for specific processing times.

Ingredients for Bittersweet Chocolate and Honey Sorbet
Mise en Place
Water, honey, salt, and cocoa powder combined in a saucepan
Combine water, honey, salt, and cocoa powder. Bring to a boil.
Whisking cocoa mixture while it simmers
Simmer for one minute, whisking constantly. The mixture will turn a shiny deep brown.
Whisking in chocolate pieces to cocoa mixture
Remove from heat and add chocolate pieces. I didn’t have a bar of bittersweet chocolate on hand, so I used bittersweet chocolate chips.
Pouring chocolate mixture into glass bowl
Pour chocolate mixture into a bowl and place in freezer to chill.
Chocolate mixture in ice-cream maker
When thoroughly chilled, transfer mixture to your ice-cream maker and process according to your manufacturer’s directions.
Scooping out the Bittersweet Chocolate and Honey Sorbet
Sorry- we dug right into this bowl, before I had the chance to take a picture… leftovers went back into the freezer for another day.
Bittersweet Chocolate and Honey Sorbet sprinkled with cocoa nibs and served in a glass dish.
The sorbet melts fairly quickly, so it’s best served in a chilled dessert bowl or glass. Sprinkle with cocoa nibs, chopped nuts, or your favorite topping. Enjoy!

Brown Soda Bread

Brown Soda Bread

Slieve League, County Donegal
The smell of freshly baked bread, still warm, cooling on in the kitchen should be bottled and sold. Nothing is more comforting and evocative of nostalgia. This bread is no exception. There are many variations of Irish Soda Bread– some with raisins, seeds, or both; some have butter, sugar, or even an egg to make them a little richer; some with white flour, or some with whole wheat. They all share some sort of flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. This brown soda bread, made with whole-wheat flour, is the most basic version.
Brú na Bóinne
Throughout Ireland, brown soda bread is offered with meals- and it is incredible! I make it here at home, and though delicious, nothing compares to the bread I’ve had in Ireland. It must be the flour- the brown soda bread in Ireland is coarser and nuttier than what I’ve been able to make in my own kitchen. I am seriously considering importing a bag of whole wheat flour, just so I can experiment!
Lough Eske, Donegal
Though not an exact replica (how could it be?), this dense, chewy and hearty bread comes together quickly and is well worth making. In less than an hour, you will be enjoying a warm slice of bread, slathered in butter, with a touch of jam. It is ideal for serving alongside your favorite soup or getting you through the late afternoon slump with a cup of tea. Add it to your cheese board with cheddar and apples. It is also delicious with smoked salmon.
Brown Soda Bread on cutting board

Brown Soda Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Print

*recipe adapted from Irish Traditional Cooking by Darina Allen

Ingredients:
4 cups whole wheat flour
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 rounded teaspoons of salt
2 rounded teaspoons of baking soda
3½-3¾ cups of buttermilk

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Mix the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center and add most of the buttermilk all in one go. Working from the center, mix with a wooden spoon and add more buttermilk if necessary. The dough should be soft, but not sticky. Turn out onto a floured surface and divide dough in half. Knead each half lightly, just enough to shape it into a round loaf. Flatten each loaf to about 2 inches deep. Put into a cast iron skillet or lined baking sheet. Mark with a deep cross and bake in the hot oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400°F for about 20-25 minutes more, or until bottom of the bread sounds hollow when tapped.

Remove from cast iron skillet or baking sheet and let cool on a wire rack.

Whole-wheat flour, all purpose flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk
Ingredients for Brown Soda Bread- whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk
Mixing dry ingredients with wooden spoon
Mix the dry ingredients together.
Well in the center of dry ingredients
Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients.
Pour buttermilk in center of well
Carefully pour almost the entire amount of buttermilk into the well.
Mixing brown soda bread dough with a wooden spoon
Use a wooden spoon to combine the buttermilk and dry ingredients.
Brown Soda Bread dough on lightly floured surface
When dough is soft, but not sticky, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough in half.
Two loaves of brown soda bread dough
Knead dough just enough to form 2 round loaves about 2 inches deep.
Brown Soda Bread Loaves cooling on wire rack
Transfer loaves to wire rack and let cool.

Brown Soda Bread, cheese, and apples

Cashew Butterscotch Bars

Cashew Butterscotch Bars

We’ve all be eating better this month, right? Sticking to our resolutions, exercising more, healthier eating choices, yes? Excellent! Then I don’t feel guilty about introducing you to a crazy crazy good treat, award winning actually. Take a look at the Cashew Butterscotch Bar…

Cashew Butterscotch Bars on serving dish

This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, The New York Times Cookbook, edited by Amanda Hesser. In her intro to this recipe she writes, “I never thought I’d recommend a recipe containing butterscotch chips, but I’m open to change. Are you?” Like Amanda, I never thought I’d use butterscotch chips, but let me tell you- I’m eating humble pie now, or actually Cashew Butterscotch Bars and I’m not going back.

Cashew Butterscotch Bars on cutting board

I do have some standards though. The original recipe called for corn syrup; I couldn’t do butterscotch chips AND corn syrup at once, so I used Lyle’s Golden Syrup instead. The Golden Syrup actually adds a warmer more buttery flavor which compliments the butterscotch nicely. Corn syrup would have been just too straight up sweet.

Ooops, I almost forgot. In case you’re still on the fence… this is an award winning recipe; I have the trophy to prove it. My friend holds a cookie swap most years; but it’s not just any cookie swap. This is serious business. There is voting. A winner is declared. And in 2012, I was the winner, Jean “The Cookie Machine” with these Cashew Butterscotch Bars. You may notice there hasn’t been a cookie swap since… something about blizzards, busy lives, etc. I’m not buying it. They’re scared. You, on the other hand, should not be scared.  These bars are easy, addictive, and well worth the occasional indulgence.

IMG_9297.jpg

 

Cashew Butterscotch Bars

Cashew Butterscotch Bars

  • Servings: 5-6 dozen squares
  • Print

*adapted from the New York Times Cookbook

Ingredients:
2 sticks plus 5½ tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup plus 2 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1¾ teaspoons kosher salt
2½ cups all-purpose flour
One 10-ounce bag butterscotch chips
½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons Lyle’s Golden Syrup
5½ teaspoons water
2½ cups salted cashew pieces

Instructions:
Center a rack in the oven and heat the oven to 350°F degrees. Line a 13-by-18 inch rimmed baking sheet with foil, including the sides. In a mixer fitted with a paddle, beat 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons butter and the brown sugar together (or mix in a bowl with a rubber spatula) until smooth. Stir the salt into the flour, then add the flour to the butter and sugar mixture and mix until the dough is well combined but still crumbly (if the dough is mixed until a ball forms, the crust will be tough).

Pat the dough evenly into the bottom of the lined pan. Bake for 5 minutes. With a fork, prick the dough deeply all over, return the pan to the oven, and bake until the dough is lightly browned, dry, and no longer soft to the touch, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack (leave the oven on).

Combine the remaining 3½ tablespoons butter, the butterscotch chips, golden syrup, and water and cook in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter and butterscotch chips are melted, about 5 minutes. Pour the topping over the crust, using a spatula to spread it evenly all the way to the corners. Sprinkle the cashew pieces on top, pressing down lightly.

Bake until the topping is bubbly and the cashews are lightly browned, 12 to 16 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool completely before cutting into bars.

Note: These are rich and sweet; I cut them into approximately 1-1½ inch squares.

Butter and brown sugar in standing mixer.
Place 2 sticks + 2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter into a standing mixer fitted paddle attachment.
Creamed butter and brown sugar in standing mixer.
Cream butter and sugar until smooth.
Flour and creamed butter and sugar mixture in standing mixer.
Stir salt into flour, then add to creamed butter and sugar.
Crumbly flour mixture in standing mixer.
Mix quickly and lightly until crumbly. Do NOT mix so long that dough forms a ball otherwise cookie base will be too tough.
Butterscotch Bar cookie base
The cookie base is golden brown. Keep oven on as this will be going back into the oven as soon as we spread the butterscotch and sprinkle the cashews on top.
Cashew Butterscotch Bars
Cool completely before removing and cutting into squares.

Cashew Butterscotch Bars

 

Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread in cast iron skillet

As some of you may know, my mom’s parents were from Ireland. Nanny was a wonderful home cook, bringing her Irish food traditions from Belfast to Brooklyn where her Italian, German, and Jewish neighbors influenced her cooking in America.

Irish Soda Bread sliced on cutting boardBut Nanny wasn’t the only one to bring Irish food traditions, my grandfather ruled the kitchen on weekend mornings. According to my mom, Saturday mornings would be met with plenty of hot tea, eggs, bacon (or ham or sausages), potato farls, and soda bread. My grandfather would fry bacon, set it aside, then in the same pan, immediately fry the eggs in the bacon fat.  From there, in went slices of plain soda bread, fried quickly on both sides until lightly brown.  Can you imagine?  Heaven!!!  Unfortunately, my grandfather died before I was born, but I still grew up enjoying his Irish Soda Bread, first made by my mother, and now my dad.

My father has tweaked the recipe over the years, as I’m sure my grandfather had tweaked his own recipe. My Irish Soda Bread in cast iron skilletguess is that if you ask 10 different people how they make Irish soda bread you will get 10 different recipes. What is generally accepted throughout is a combination of flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk.  The baking soda and buttermilk give this quick bread its rise. Another common practice is cutting a cross deep on top. Tradition states that the cross is to let the devil out and ward off evil. Practically speaking, it also helps the heat penetrate the center of the loaf as well as providing the guidelines to break the bread up beautifully when served. My mom recalls my grandfather usually making plain soda bread, and only occasionally making a sweeter version with raisins. This makes sense as years ago the addition of sugar, dried fruits, or eggs would have been a treat and only done on special occasions.

Irish Soda Bread with a cup of tea.The recipe below is my version of my dad’s recipe, slightly sweet and full of raisins. This loaf is perfect for breakfast, snacking, in lunch boxes, and definitely with a cup of tea or two. I do make other soda breads, a hearty Brown Soda Bread (made with whole wheat flour) and plain White Soda Bread that is unsweetened and wonderful with soups and stews- or fried eggs and bacon. Those recipes will show up here, but first I’d like to introduce this lovely raisin studded Irish Soda Bread.

Irish Soda Bread in cast iron skillet

Irish Soda Bread

  • Servings: 1 large loaf
  • Print

Ingredients:
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup raisins or currants (my dad loads his with raisins and uses up to 2 cups)
1¼ -1¾ cups buttermilk

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 450°F.

In a large bowl use a pastry blender to cut butter into flour.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in sugar, salt, and baking soda. Add the raisins or currants and mix well.

Pour in 1¼ cups buttermilk and mix, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be soft, slightly sticky, but not too wet. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead it just enough to completely bring it together. Shape into a round about 1½ -inches deep. Transfer to cast iron skillet or lined baking sheet. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper cut a cross on it, deep- but not completely through.

Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 400°F and continue baking for an additional 30 minutes. The bread is done when it is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Allow to cool slightly before enjoying!

Irish Soda Bread Ingredients: flour, unsalted butter, sugar, salt, baking soda, raisins, and buttermilk.
This is all you need for Irish Soda Bread: flour, unsalted butter, sugar, salt, baking soda, raisins, and buttermilk.
Using a pastry blender to cut butter into flour.
Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour.
Adding sugar, salt, and baking powder to flour/butter mixture
Add sugar, salt, and baking soda to flour/butter mixture. Still well to combine.
Adding raisins to dry ingredients in bowl.
Add raisins to dry ingredients.
Pouring buttermilk into bowl of dry ingredients.
Pour buttermilk into dry ingredients and mix well.
Irish soda bread dough forming in bowl.
The flour mixture is coming together to form a soft, but not too sticky dough.
Irish soda bread dough in bowl
The dough is soft, not too sticky or wet.
Irish soda bread dough with cross cut into it in cast iron skillet.
Transfer dough to a cast iron skillet or sheet pan. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut a deep cross into the dough- almost completely through, but not all the way. Bake in a 450°F oven for 15 minutes, then lower temperature to 400°F and bake for another 30 minutes.
Irish Soda Bread in cast iron skillet
Out of the oven! The bread is done when golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when rapped with your knuckles.

 

Homemade Gifts

Candied Peanuts

We are all so busy nowadays and quickly grabbing something from the store is an efficient and easy way to tick the boxes off your gift giving to do list;  you’ll get no argument from me!  But that’s what makes homemade gifts so special, taking the time to make something from scratch and presenting it to someone who also has a lot on their plate (no pun intended!). Think about teachers, neighbors, friends, hostesses, as well as those who help keep our worlds moving smoothly, like school bus drivers and postmen.  Those people (and their families) will appreciate the time spent creating thoughtful gifts for them.

Christmas is naturally a wonderful season to share homemade presents with those around us.  But these gifts work well all year round, anytime you would like to say “thank you” or just brighten someone’s day.  My passion lies in the kitchen, so baking gifts is where I turn. Your strength may lie in photography, flower arranging, knitting, crafting, gardening, etc.  If you’re able to, please consider sharing your talents!

Below are some of my favorite homemade gifts to give… nothing exotic, over the top, or containing hard to find ingredients. But, they are all heartfelt and give me great joy to share.

Granola in mason jars.
Maple Nut Granola
A jar of homemade mulling spices.
Mulling Spices
Candied Peanuts
Candied Peanuts
Cranberry Nut Bread- sliced on a cutting board
Cranberry Nut Bread
Dark Chocolate Bark on a silver tray.
Dark Chocolate Bark

Aunt Annie’s Plum Duff (Plum Pudding)

Plum Pudding with holly sprig

Plum Pudding is a traditional Christmas dessert and very common in Two plum puddings decorated with holly sprigs.England and Ireland. For Americans, the name itself is rather confusing as this dessert contains neither plums nor is it a pudding in the Jell-O sense of the word. The “plums” are actually a pre-Victorian term for raisins and pudding is a reference to dessert in general. Some compare plum pudding to fruit cake, but I respectfully disagree. My family’s plum pudding is not heavy and dense like a fruitcake. It is light in texture, but very rich in flavor; heady with cinnamon, cloves, mace, and brandy.  Served with a dollop of chilled hard sauce which begins melting as soon as it hits the warm pudding… it’s like tasting Christmas.

As I discovered during research, plum pudding has a lot of history. Dating back to medieval times, it is a steamed or boiled cake traditionally made on the Sunday before Advent begins. This generous lead time (and a bit of brandy) allows the cake to “ripen” during the weeks before Christmas. In addition to raisins, the cake contains nuts, breadcrumbs, sugar, suet, eggs, milk, brandy, and spices. The highlight of Christmas dinner, the pudding is steamed again to warm through, doused with more brandy, topped with a sprig of holly and set ablaze just as it’s presented to guests.

My family’s plum pudding recipe dates back over 100 years. Aunt Annie, born in the 1880s, was my grandmother’s aunt. Though I don’t know where she got the recipe, I do know that my grandmother made it Two plum pudding moldsthroughout my father’s childhood, and then passed the recipe on to my mother, who continues to make it to this day. The handwritten recipe from my grandmother refers to the pudding as “Aunt Annie’s Plum Duff.” It seems that centuries ago, the pudding would have been steamed or boiled in cloth, but during the Victorian era the cloth was replace by pudding molds. That said, modern recipes for “duff” do exist and usually instruct the reader to boil the pudding in cloth rather than “pudding” recipes that use a mold. Perhaps my great great aunt originally boiled her pudding in cloth? Unfortunately, I’ll never know. What I do know is that my grandmother steamed her puddings in coffee cans lined with buttered wax paper. And today, I use pudding molds.

This year, the pudding almost didn’t happen. It is getting tougher and IMG_8488tougher to find suet (NOT the kind you get at the garden store to feed the birds). I actually stumbled across some quite by chance at a butcher shop in Boston just a couple of weeks ago. The other ingredients are pretty standard pantry items, and though it’s a two day process, most of the time is hands-off and the technique is very easy. Once the mixture is in the molds, they are steamed for a couple of hours and cooled. After cooling, they are removed from the molds. The molds are washed, the puddings rewrapped in clean parchment, returned to the molds, splashed with more brandy, and tucked away in the fridge until Christmas Day. Before serving, the pudding is steamed again to warm through. Hard Sauce is passed along with it… a creamy combination of butter, confectioners sugar, and- you guessed it, more brandy!

What does it say about me as a child that even then I loved Aunt Annie’s Plum Duff? I knew that this was no ordinary dessert… a generations old recipe, a “cake” steamed in coffee cans on the stove, then steamed again and served with a boozy butter + sugar concoction, plus the whole operation completed a month in advance. This was definitely not happening at my friends’ houses.

I am so grateful for this splattered and tattered heirloom recipe, a direct connection to my past, written in my grandmother’s hand. If you are up for an old fashioned dessert, do try this. You don’t even need to light it on fire… but if you do, please have a fire extinguisher nearby. Safety first!

Aunt Annie’s Plum Duff (Plum Pudding)

  • Servings: 2 puddings
  • Print

Ingredients:
2½ cups of raisins
1 cup finely chopped fresh white beef suet (pick apart and remove membrane, then chop)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1½ jiggers brandy (4½ Tablespoons)
4 cups lightly packed breadcrumbs (large loaf of day old bread, crusts removed, and pulled apart)
2 cups milk to which 2 teaspoons baking soda has been added
2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup packed brown sugar
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
1½ teaspoons ground cloves
¼ teaspoon mace

Instructions:
Combine raisins, suet, walnuts, and brandy. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

The next day-
Butter molds and line with parchment paper.

Combine breadcrumbs, raisin-walnut mixture, milk, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and mace. Mix well.

Carefully spoon pudding mixture into lined molds, filling 2/3 full. Top each with another piece of parchment, then covered with lids. If you have extra pudding, it can be steamed in a buttered mason jar.

Steam in gently simmering water for 2 hours. Maintain water level so that it comes halfway up the sides of the molds.

Serve warm with hard sauce or soft custard sauce.

The pudding can be eaten the same day, but traditionally it is allowed to “ripen” for at least a week, or as long as a year. If you aren’t serving it right away, remove molds from water and allow to cool. Carefully remove puddings from molds, peeling away parchment. Thoroughly wash and dry and molds, then reline with parchment and return puddings to molds. Drizzle a splash of brandy on top of each, cover with additional piece of parchment and place lids on top. Refrigerate until ready to use. Before serving, steam puddings again for 2-3 hours. Serve with hard sauce* or soft custard sauce.

*recipe follows below

Raisins, chopped walnuts, suet, and brandy
Raisins, chopped walnuts, suet, and brandy are ready to mingle.
Raisins, walnuts, suet and brandy mixture
Mix the raisins, walnuts, suet, and brandy. Cover and refrigerate overnight. You’re done for today.
Ingredients laid out for plum pudding.
After the raisins, suet, and walnuts have soaked overnight in brandy,  it’s time to make the pudding.
IMG_8459
Add the breadcrumbs and spices.  Mix well.
Eggs and milk are added to the raisin/walnut mixture.
Add the well beaten eggs and milk (don’t forget to put the 2 teaspoons of baking soda in the milk!)
Pudding mixture is ready to go into the molds.
The pudding mixture is ready for the molds.
Pudding Mixture in Molds
Carefully spoon pudding mixture into parchment lined molds, filling 2/3 of way up.
Parchment paper is place on top of each pudding before steaming.
Place an additional piece of pleated parchment paper on top of each pudding. The pleats allow room for the pudding to expand as it steams.
Plum pudding molds on top of a rack set in boiling water.
Place the molds on a rack set in gently boiling water. The water should come halfway up the sides of the molds. Cover and gently boil for 2 hours. Keep checking water level and replace as needed to maintain a height of halfway up the sides of the molds. In this picture you see a regular mold and a foil topped mason jar. I had a small amount of pudding mixture left over, so I steamed it in a buttered 8oz sized mason jar, rubber banded with foil. The other mold was boiling away in a separate pot.
Plum Pudding after boiling for two hours.
Two hours later…
Plum Pudding after two hours boiling.
the big reveal!
Plum Pudding
Plum Pudding
Two plum puddings decorated with holly sprigs.
Plum Puddings

Hard Sauce

Ingredients:
1½ cups powdered sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
brandy or whisky to taste

Instructions:
Using an electric mixer, cream sugar and butter. Add brandy or whisky to taste.

Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use. Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving. The hard sauce should be still be cool and firm, but easy enough to scoop.