Sunday, August 1, 2010

Summer Pudding

Yi's summer pudding, a British dessert.

Tina invited me for dinner when she read that I was going to London. I was apprehensive about meeting a stranger and yet I was excited because I liked Tina from reading her blog. I did a little check on her blog and found I really wanted to meet and get to know her especially when I found out our daughters were the same age and that she used to own a nyonya cafe in Singapore.

We recognised each other immediately as I came out from the Bond St station. Tina is prettier and younger in person and definitely more bubbly too. She was decked in classy London attire while I was the raggedy tourist but we hugged like old friends and spent the next hour or two in a Japanese chain restaurant at the interjunction of Bond and Piccadily Sts. Tina's very easy to talk to and a very happy, warm person so I liked her immediately. We could've gone on the whole afternoon if she didn't have to go back to work.


A few days later, Tina came to pick me and my daughter up to her house in the suburbs. We were so happy we went because we got to see the suburbs and stayed in her beautiful house. Tina's handsome hub, Pat, happens to be a very creative person in a very interesting business (think Hollywood and movies) and Yi got on very well with him as they spoke the same language: animation, Disney movies and art.

 It really makes a difference if you've been working professionally in the kitchen. Tina was just amazingly quick and efficient. Within 1/2 hour of walking into her house, we could sit down comfortably for dinner. Before I could even help her after dinner, she was done wth cleaning up. And as if to challenge their tolerance and hospitality, Yi left her hard drive in NS's house and Tina and Pat had to drive Yi and I all the way back into London at midnight to pick it up because we were leaving London early the next morning. We were so embarassed and sorry for the trouble. The Griffins were truly beyond hospitable!

I was awed and spoiled by Tina's dinner. I don't know how she did it but Tina cooked 5 superb dishes, 4 of them nyonya, which I don't and can't cook: satay babi, nyonya chicken, nyonya chap chye, mango, banana and shrimp packets and stuffed tofu and veg. It was a real treat to eat nyonya food in England and I wasn't surprised when Pat said English food is boring because he's the &th (pretend that's infinity) Brit to tell me that.

I've never had a summer pudding before and when I took the first bite of Tina's summer pudding, it was like eating a concentrate of summer berries. The raspberries, strawberries and blueberries saturated my tastebuds with their flavors and taste; it was wonderful, the best dessert I've had so far on the trip. Move over, melted chocolate cakes, ice cream crepes, creme brulee and whatever. I'll eat summer pudding anytime.  Tina's summer pudding will forever be the standard by which I judge summer puddings!

Mango, banana & prawn in edible paper packets--so yummy! Will try making this soon.

Tina's chap chye with soy bean sauce is far better than my chap chye with red bean curd.

Look at this--no adjectives needed.

Nyonya chicken was a little bit overdone but still full of flavor.

Tofu and peppers stuffed with fish & pork paste and coated with a sweet brown soy bean sauce, excellent!




Yi  made summer pudding last Thursday, just before she left for Melbourne (we split in London, me for home and she for Shanghai for a week). Berries are not only expensive here, they are hard to find. Lucky for us, Yoland brought blueberries from Canada, given by Yoland and we bought strawberries. However,  Yi's pudding was a little disappointing because I could taste the bread (the flavor and the toughness) whereas with Tina's pudding, I had no idea it was made with bread. The color of the puddings was also more blueish than red since we didn't have raspberries. We had cherries (also from Yoland) but I forgot that we could pit them and use them for the pudding. Now that Tina has posted her recipe, I can see why Yi's pudding didn't turn out well. Tina pureed half the cooked berries, giving her plenty of concentrated puree juice for the bread to soak up. Yi didn't puree her berries and so had more berries filling than juice. I think she made 1 large and 3 small puddings with less than 400 g of berries whereas Tina made 4 small puddings only with 400 g of berries. Tina's puddings were left to soak overnight while Yi waited 2 hours only. Yi sat her puddings upside up, meaning the juices ran down to the bottom of the pudding whereas Tina set her puddings upside down and when she turned them out onto the plates, the bottoms became juice-saturated tops. I just at the last pudding, which is 3 days old, and the bread was still tough. For a good summer pudding, there must be lots of juice so that the bread gets soaked thoroughly and becomes very soft. Also, it is unnecessary to weigh the pudding down  as instructed in some recipes (Tina didn't do that) because that'll compact the bread and make it tough.

I've copied Tina's recipe here. You must try it, especially if berries are plentiful where you live. This dessert is not only absolutely heavenly, there's no butter or oil or eggs and the only sinful thing is the heavy cream which you can cut back on by increasing the sugar so that the berries won't be so tart.

Tina's Summer pudding
Recipe from Saturday Kitchen - James Martin

400g/14oz mixed berries, trimmed + extra berries for garnish
2 tbsps water
50g/2oz caster_sugar
14 thin slices white_bread, crusts removed
oil, for greasing
200g/7oz clotted_cream/thick cream, optional

Preparation method
1. Heat the berries, sugar and water in a saucepan until boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
2. Blend half of the fruits in a blender and strain the purée through a sieve. Reserve the remaining fruit.
3. Stamp out four circles from four slices of the bread to fit the bottom of four small moulds/ramekins and set aside. Stamp out four larger circles for the top of the moulds and set aside. Cut the remaining bread into wide strips the same height as the moulds.
4. Lightly oil the inside of each mould and line with cling film.

5. Dip the small bread circles into the purée and place into the moulds. Repeat with the wide strips of bread and use them to line the sides of the mould, making sure that they overlap slightly.
6. Fill the moulds with the reserved fruit and a little of the purée and press the mixture down firmly.

7. Dip the larger circles of bread in the purée and use them to cover the tops of the moulds. Cover with the cling film competely.

8. Chill the puddings in the fridge (overnight is good) until ready to serve.
9. To serve, turn the puddings out onto serving plates, garnish with extra berries and serve with a spoonful of clotted cream or double cream if using.

Note: in some recipes, berry cordial is used instead of water. Btw, I found that frozen berries don't make good summer pudding. The flavor is just not the same.


Johnathan Oh said...

Hi Terri, glad you are back and happy~ Great blogging run and hoping for more juicy stuffs from you (Hope that doesn't gives you pressure)

zurin said...

Are you back in KK now Terri? SO happy to have you back which is a strange thing to say when youve always been 'here' anyway. I suppose what im trying to say is that its good to know that your back safe and sound an in one piece..LOL

what a nice dinner with such kind hosts. :) looks like you had a blast for the past few months. What I wld do for a holiday like that!

tina said...

Terri, thank you for your kind words and compliments. Makes me blush. I havent done anything special! Anyway, do hope to catch up if we do go to your part of the world. But if every you are back in London.....

Anonymous said...

Good to have you back. Tina's dinner looks delicious and thank you for the recipes.

malaymui said...

Hi Terri, the summer pudding looks yummy. I had that loooong time ago when I was still studying in UK. Now seem to be the good season to make it as the fruits are still plenty and cheap... will make one soon :)

Smart Payment Plan said...

Looks like a hearty meal. I've seen the summer pudding in Martha Stewart's magazine. Always wanted to know it it works in real life.

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