Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Traditional British Food, Part 18: Dinner Party

Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot nine days old.
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot nine days old.

You'll have to excuse the super-dark photo. I forgot to take photos before everything got to the table and we don't have any light (except a desk lamp) in our living room. Clockwise from top left: Pease Porridge (hot), Boiled Beef with Carrots and Dumplings. Those headless bodies behind the food are Giancarlo and Denisse. I'd like to thank them as well as David, Kelly, Tyrone and Sean for being very cheerful guinea pigs. Paul and I ended up with a 4-pound arm roast (from our eighth of a cow) we knew we couldn't possibly finish by ourselves, so we invited a bunch of people over and fed them something we weren't sure was going to work out. By the way, this is not recommended by any entertaining expert! Thankfully, our guests were good sports and brave eaters. Here are the recipes:

Boiled Beef with Carrots and Dumplings

Serves 8

4-pound arm roast, covered in kosher salt a few hours before boiling
2 teaspoons peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs parsley
3 sprigs thyme
6 cloves

1 pound of boiler onions (or pearl or cippolini onions), peeled*
1 1/2 pounds carrots, scraped and quartered (as above)

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 teaspoons chives, minced

  1. Place the beef in a large (5- to 6-quart) stock pot or stove-safe casserole and add enough water to cover the beef by at least half an inch. Add the peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley, thyme and cloves. It's a good idea to tie all this up in cheesecloth so it doesn't have to be strained out later.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off foam and scum. When it comes to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 2 1/2 hours.
  3. Add the onions and carrots and continue simmering for another 30 minutes.
  4. While the onions and carrots are cooking, preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and make the dumplings.
  5. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Rub in the fat until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Pour in milk, as needed, to form mixture into a ball then mix in the chives.
  6. When the onions and carrots are finished, remove them, along with the beef, from the pot with a slotted spoon. Place in an ovenproof dish and put it in the oven.
  7. Increase the heat of the burner to high to bring the remaining stock to a boil.
  8. Drop the dumpling mixture by the tablespoonful into the stock and cook, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes. They will rise to the surface.
  9. When the dumplings are finished, arrange the beef, carrots, onions and dumplings on a serving platter and serve, at once, with the gravy and a bowl of horseradish sauce.
This recipe is adapted from Foods of the World: The Cooking of the British Isles, as well as this recipe from The Independent, and this recipe from the Lark Rise Cookbook.

Horseradish Sauce

1/2 cup heavy cream
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

Beat the cream to stiff peaks then stir in the lemon juice and the prepared horseradish. This can be made in advance and kept in the fridge.

This recipe is adapted from Jane Grigson's British Cookery.

Pease Porridge

Serves 8-12

1 pound split peas
1 quart water
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a stock pot, bring the water to a boil then slowly add the peas (so that the water continues to boil). Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for about an hour, or until water is absorbed and peas are totally mushy. At this point, the mushy peas can be refrigerated for later.

Just before serving, heat the peas in a saucepan over low heat and stir in the butter, salt and pepper. Continue stirring over low heat until the porridge is heated through. Serve at once.

This recipe is adapted from Foods of the World: The Cooking of the British Isles.

English White Bread

Treacle Pudding

Makes 1 10-inch bundt cake

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest of 1 lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup golden syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar then beat in the eggs, vanilla and lemon zest. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt. Beat until just combined.

Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan. Pour the golden syrup into the bottom of the pan then top with the cake batter, smoothing out the top. Bake 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean (do not test all the way to the syrup). Remove the cake from the oven and cool for a couple minutes before turning it out onto a cake plate.

n.b. I may use cake flour the next time I make this instead of all-purpose for a lighter cake.

This recipe is adapted from Tea & Sympathy.


I'd also like to thank Jamin, John and Vince for inviting me and Paul over for pumpkin carving (and tacos). The fruit (ha ha) of our labor is in the above photograph.
*When I make this for just me and Paul, I simply peel a medium-sized white or yellow onion and add it in with the carrots for flavor. Paul likes the flavor of onions, but doesn't like to eat them whole.

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