ARE YOU one of those women with a flair for cooking, always on the lookout for new dishes to test your skill? Or are you too inexperienced to feel on sure ground in things culinary and want a little extra practice? Are you usually quite matter-of-fact about it all, but feel the urge to make something special occasionally?
Then now is the time to be up and at it. There will be blustery days this month when your cheery kitchen will seem the best spot on earth, and a good dinner will be the finest kind of a welcome for the family. Slip into your apron and hie to the kitchen and mix up one of those oldfashioned puddings you haven’t had for ever so long. Go as Victorian as you like; when spring comes along we will be all for more ethereal concoctions again. Just now, can you think of anything better than the smell of spice and molasses or the taste of a fruity mixture baked or steamed to fluffy lightness and served with just the right sauce?
If nothing seems to be quite so good as a pie like mother used to make, you might bake one—open face, criss-cross or “kiver top”—with a filling which may be the simplest fruit or a glorious conglomeration of toothsome ingredients.
How about a shortcake or a roly-poly, an apple betty or a custard pudding in any one of its variations? Surely, there is choice enough for anyone, however your taste may run.
You are sure to find among your staples the makings of delicious desserts for midwinter meals. There are such standbys as flour, shortening, sugar, syrups and molasses, eggs, spices and flavorings, dried fruits such as raisins, currants, dates, figs, prunes, candied peel, nuts, cocoanut, chocolate, and so on down the list of things which keep well and are always on the wellstocked pantry shelf. With these and a good recipe to go by, almost any houseany keeper will turn out a triumphant dish as a climax to the meal. Do your fingers itch for a mixing bowl and a big spoon? **
. ^et us consider possibilities in the steamed pudding line in case you want something hearty for dessert, something not too rich or too expensive but with an air of bounty none the less.
A plain batter steamed until light is delicious with no other addition than a chocolate, caramel, or other fia vor ful sauce. Sift together two cupfuls of flour, three teaspoonfuls of baking powder, one teaspoonful of salt and four tablespoonfuls of brown or white sugar. Add one quarter of a cupful of butter or one quarter of a cupful of suet finely chopped. Then mix two eggs with one-half cupful of milk, and add this to the dry ingredients. Turn the batter into a greased mold, having it not more than two-thirds full, then put on the cover, greased, or tie several thicknesses of wax paper over the top to prevent steam getting into the pudding while it cooks. Baking powder tins are sometimes used and the pudding served in slices. Or individual molds are attractive. Have the water in the steamer boiling when the food is put in, and be sure that it is kept boiling constantly during the cooking. Otherwise the texture will not be so light.
For variation, sift 1 y¿ teaspoonfuls of ginger with the dry ingredients in this recipe or add chopped fruit—one-half cupful of raisins, currants, dates or figs —rolled in some of the flour. A quarter of a cupful of orange marmalade added to the batter gives a more unusual flavor. A layer of jam or marmalade in the bottom of the dish makes the pudding attractive when turned out for serving. Another suggestion is a thick layer of sliced apples sprinkled with sugar and spice, and any cooked fruit, not too juicy, may be used in the same way.
If you prefer a dark mixture with the rich aroma and good flavor of molasses and spice, use two cupfuls of flour, three teaspoonfuls of baking powder, one teaspoonful of salt, four ta blespoon fuis of sugar, onehalf teaspoonful of cinnamon and one-quarter teaspoonful each of cloves and nutmeg. Mix and sift these together and then add one-quarter of a cupful of shortening—suet is good—two eggs, four tablespoon fuis of molasses and four
tablespoonfuls of milk. Follow the same rules for mixing and cooking as stated alx>ve, and for variation add one-half cupful of such fruit as currants, raisins, dates or figs. Recipes for richer, more elaborate puddings of this type are given later in this article, and the housekeeper may also evolve entirely new and delicious flavors by combinations of the gtxxl things she has on hand.
Such mixtures as cottage pudding may be baked or steamed with success. Use different flavorings not always vanilla—and add fruit, chocolate or spice, if you like, just for a change.
Plain and Fancy Custard
T"\ESSERTS are often a problem when one must think of something to suit all members of the family from the toddler to the man of the house who works up a keen appetite on his way home. Custards are the answer many times when nothing else seems to fit in quite so well. It may be a plain baked custard or one with rice, bread or cake crumbs combined with the milk and eggs, and flavored in a way to make it especially appealing. When you know how to make a perfect custard you have something to be proud of, and a few precautions wall assure you the result you wish.
Use one egg to each cupful of milk for an individual custard, but six eggs to four cupfuls of milk is better if you are cooking it in one large dish. Beat the eggs only enough to blend the yolks and whites evenly, then add one-quarter to one-half cupful of sugar, one-half teaspoonful of salt, and stir into this the scalded milk. Then flavor and mix thoroughly. For baking, set the pudding dish in a larger pan and pour around it warm or hot water. Cook it slow’ly. taking care that the water in the outer pan does not get hot enough to boil or your custard will have a curdled, watery appearance far from perfection. Another important point is to remove it from the heat as soon as your test shows it has become set. To ascertain this, dip a silver knife in the water, then in the custard; if it comes out clean your pudding is done and the texture will be smooth, tender and velvety.
The same rules apply to any variation of custards, whether different flavorings are used or various additions such as bread, rice, cake, sago and so on are made.
If you are a bit tired of just plain custard, try adding cocoanut or making it different with chocolate, caramel or maple. And if the family are apt to turn up their noses at the mere mention of bread pudding, take a chance on it once again and see if you cannot make it so good that they will ask for a second helping. Use, as for baked custard, four cupfuls of milk, but instead of six eggs use only three, and add 114 cupfuls of bread crumbs. The other ingrej clients are the same, and the method of j mixing and cooking should be followed exactly. Just before serving, cover the top with thin slices of bananas and see if the diners do not like de luxe edition of a much maligned dish. Or again, when you are mixing the ingredients add one cupful of chopped dates and one-half cupful of chopped walnuts. But, of course, if you want to keep it less expensive omit the fruit and depend on its delicate flavor and smooth texture to win praise for your efforts.
Cornstarch puddings are inexpensive and far from uninteresting if they are well made and flavored with discretion and some imagination. The trouble is we have eaten so many jxxir ones,we have not made a real effort to give variety of flavor and to serve them as attractively as possible. Tapioca and sago creams are worthy of attention, and the clever housekeeper wûth a sense of harmonizing flavors can put to good use her left-overs of fruit juice and call upon her stock of dried fruit for many pleasant variations.
And when there is a pudding, there is usually a sauce to give the finishing touch of perfection. Chocolate, that universal favorite, is delicious with a plain, mildflavored dessert. If, on the other hand, the pudding is spicy or distinctive in itself, a bland sauce or a tart lemon one is preferable. Fruit sauces are good with almost anything, and many like a caramel flavor with a wide variety of these end-of-themeal dishes. Hard sauce is a garnish as well, and whipped cream is often used for its decorative effect. Sometimes the cream is whipped, then frozen to make an espe! dally pleasing accompaniment. A plain cream, however, takes second place to none for a variety of puddings.
Raked Date and Nut Pudding 3 Eggs V\ Cupful of granulated sugar 3 Tablespoon fuis of flour 1 24 Teaspoonfuls of baking powder 24 Teaspoonful of salt % Cupful of chopped dates 34 Cupful of chopped nuts
Beat the eggs until light and foamy, add the sugar gradually and continue beating. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, and combine with the chopped dates and nuts. Add these ingredients to the first mixture and blend thoroughly. Turn into a deep greased baking dish, sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and bake in a fairly slow oven—325 degrees Fahr.—for about fortyfive minutes.
Raked Apricot Pudding 1 Cupful of dried apricots 4 Cupfuls of cold water 24 Cupful of granulated sugar 1 y Cupfuls of flour 3 Teaspoonfuls of baking powder \4 Teaspoonful of salt 1 Egg \4 Cupful of milk 1 Tablespoon ful of melted shortening
Wash the apricots thoroughly and soak j overnight in the four cupfuls of cold water. Heat gradually to boiling point, add the sugar and cook slowly for five minutes. Drain well and reserve the syrup for the pudding sauce. Sift the Hour, measure and sift again with the baking powder and salt. Beat the egg until light, add the milk and shortening and combine wûth the dry ingredients. Lastly, add the drained apricots, mix well and turn into a shallow’ greased
baking pan. Bake in a fairly hot oven— 400 degrees Fahr.—for about twenty-five minutes. Cut in squares and serve with the following sauce:
Apricot syrup Water ZA Cupful of sugar 2 Tablespoon fuis of flour 24 Teaspoonful of salt 1 Tablespoonful of butter
Measure the apricot syrup and add water if necessary to make lÿ cupfuls. Heat to boiling. Combine the sugar, flour and salt. Add the boiling mixture to it gradually, w'hile stirring constantly. Cook for ten minutes, stirring to avoid lumping. Add the butter and serve hot with the apricot pudding.
Steamed Fruit Pudding 24 Cupful of shortening y Cupful of sugar 2 Cupfuls of bread crumbs 124 Cupfuls of scalded milk 3 Eggs 24 Cupful of flour 1 Teaspoonful of baking powder 34 Teaspoonful of salt 34 Teaspoonful each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves 34 Cupful of chopped figs 34 Cupful of seedless raisins
Cream the shortening, add the sugar gradually and cream together until light. Add the scalded milk to the bread crumbs and combine with the creamed mixture. Cool and add the eggs, which have been beaten until light. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices, and mix wûth the figs and raisins. Add to the first mixture and when thoroughly combined, turn into a greased pudding mold. Fill the mold about % full, cover tightly and steam for three hours. Serve with lemon sauce or wûth foamy sauce made as follows:
24 Cupful of granulated sugar 2 Tablespoonfuls of flour y Teaspoonful of salt 1 Cupful of milk 1 Egg yolk 24 Teaspoonful of vanilla 1 Egg white
Mix the sugar, flour and salt in the top part of a double boiler. Beat the egg yolk, add the milk and combine slowly with the dry ingredients. Cook over hot water until thickened, stirring constantly. Add the vanilla and a few gratings of nutmeg if desired. Lastly, fold in the stiffly beaten egg white and serve at once.
Novel Apple Pie 1 Egg yolk y Cupful of honey 24 Cupful of boiling water y Cupful of bread, stale cake or roll crumbs 4 Tablespoonfuls of flour 1 Teaspoonful of cinnamon 24 Teaspoon ful of nutmeg 24 Teaspoonful of ginger 2 Tablespoon fuis of butter Apples, cut in very thin slices Unbaked pie shell
Beat the egg yolk, add the honey and boiling water, and beat until blended. Add the flour and spices to the crumbs and work in the butter with the fingertips. Arrange a layer of the thinly sliced apples in the bottom of the unbaked pie shell. Pour over it one half of the honey mixture. Add a layer of the crumb mixture, the remainder of the honey mixture and the remainder of the crumbs. Bake in a hot oven—450 degrees Fahr.—for ten minutes or until the edges of the crust begin to brown. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees Fahr, and cook for twenty minutes. Serve with whipped cream.
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