Monday, 28 November 2011

Savoury Suet Pudding

Kitchen Play List: When Harry Met Sally ~ Soundtrack Album

Warning ~ this is not a recipe for the health conscious. This is one of those recipes that should be filled under...once every five years treat. lol.

Savoury Suet Pudding ~ Comfort in a basin!
So you are maybe left wondering...why did I cook this? Because I the very simple reason. I grew up with a natural aversion to this savoury and sweet pudding. As a life long veggie I was repulsed by the savoury meat puddings that are popular here. I hated the smell of them cooking so used to escape the house and go play in the orchid, local park or go spend time with the giant black horse that grazed in the field at the bottom of our street..Ah Jet..he was snappy but lovely. (No idea if that was his real name...never, ever saw the owner so couldn't ask..but the horse was fine and handsome.)  Anyway...the only way I could ever stomach suet was in the tiny dumplings that my Nan and Mum used to add to the winter stews. Even then they cooked me a little vegetable stew as I couldn't bare the meat filled ones. And I never enjoyed the sweet pudding versions and rarely got the chance to try them so it really wasn't an issue. So the whole suet 'thing' was completely lost on me as a child.

About 20 years ago I was out to lunch with a friend who had found this restaurant that was offering a selection of Vegetarian meals. It was such shocking news, that we had taken ourselves off there the very next weekend, to sample their fares. We sat at our tables and felt grown up lol We were 18-19 so dining out really wasn't high on our list of priorities but a restaurant that was serving veggie dishes was a wonder to behold. lol. We ordered drinks and perused our menus and I remember feeling utter horror as the only vegetarian offerings was a Spanish Suet Pudding. I was so disappointed that I put my menu down and asked to leave. But my pal wouldn't be put off and called the waiter over and got stuck in with what, seemed like a million The poor guy was so stumped at being asked questions by this strange vegetarian woman that he hastily retreated to the kitchen..coming back out a few seconds later with a rather red faced chef who was trying to wipe his hands down on his apron. My friend asked him..
"Was it really a vegetarian dish?" 
"Yes young lady it is!" He said with a huff.
"What stock did you use?" 
"I used my homemade vegetable stock.." Again a huff.
"What fats did you use?" 
"I used vegetable meat fats!" Bigger huff.
"What gravy did you use?"
"I didn't..the vegetables are in a rich tomato sauce." Huffing
"Suet? Beef? Vegetable?"
"Vegetable of course!" Nose up in the air and a huff! 
"And the side vegetables..." 
"All boiled or sauteed in vegetable oil.." Red faced huffing.
"Boiled, eh? That's really not the best way to cook veggies..." My friend commented to the chef's back as he stomped off back to the safety of his kitchen..away from the annoying young women sat in his restaurant. lol. 

So after what my friend had put him through I really had to stay and eat there. I ordered the Spanish Pudding and my friend ordered her usual steak and chips!! Yep, that's 

My meal finally arrived with a small pudding sat to one side of my plate with a good portion of leeks, carrots and green beans to the other side. It came with a little jug of extra tomato sauce (Not to use if I wanted. My friend tucked into her steak and chips and I cautiously cut into the pudding and prised apart the pastry which was a lovely golden colour. The rich red contents tumbled out and I grinned at the chickpeas, mixed peppers and courgettes that pushed my boiled vegetables out of the way. I cut a piece of the pastry and forked on some of the contents and took in the smell of this dish. The aroma was a spicy tomatoey delight but nothing compared to the rich spicy pudding. It was the most delicious thing I had ever eaten in my life. I took my time with every mouthful and enjoyed every bite. I even left a note for the chef, thanking him for a wonderful meal.  

It wasn't a cheap place to eat so it was a couple of months before we could go back..and I was devastated to read the menu and see Cauliflower Cheese as the vegetarian option. We asked what happened to the menu, to be told that a chain had taken over and it was a standard menu from now on. But I never forgot that poor harassed chef and his blissful Spanish Suet Pudding. 

I spent many years thinking about trying to replicate that recipe but never finding the right moment or recipe. And then life happened and there was never the time....or eating a suet pudding was considered the food of the devil. And I guess the devil food is still a relevant point. But I took it as a sign the time was right, when I found this Savoury Pudding recipe in Eva Batt's Vegan Cooking: Recipes for Beginners

It's nothing like that one I had all those years ago but if it worked it would be a good starting place. So I committed to making it for our dinner yesterday and it was fairly simple to make. Although I did alter the recipe slightly so below is how I made it...and it wasn't without it's But the photos below will tell the tale far better than I can. lol. 

The results were a surprisingly light pudding. The filling was indeed savoury and comforting, and served with steamed green beans, Brussels sprouts and garden peas was a pleasing meal. I enjoyed it but probably will try my own fillings from now on. The TVP wasn't as overpowering as I thought it might be..not liking the texture of meat I was a little worried but it all went together to make a very tasty dish. And the only stressful part was the cooking for an hour but it passed so quickly it was just fine in the end. 

Savoury Suet Pudding Serves 6
(Recipe from Vegan Cooking..Batt)

For filling:
1 level tsp yeast extract
2oz/55g tvp granules
2 sm carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large leek, trimmed and sliced
4 tbsp veggie oil (I used 2 tbsp rapeseed oil ~R~)
2 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
3 mushrooms, peeled and sliced
2 tsps veggie gravy powder/granules mixed with 1/4 pint hot water

For the pastry:
1/2 tsp low sodium salt
1/2 lb/225g self raising wholemeal flour
3oz/85g vegetable suet
water to mix

Melt the yeast extract in 1/2 pint/285ml hot water to make a stock. Add the tvp and stir well. Leave to soak for 15 minutes and then strain the tvp using a sieve sat over a bowl. Reserve the drained stock. 

Saute the carrots and leeks in the oil for 6 minutes, stirring frequently until they soften. Remove from the pan and place in a bowl to one side. Then toss in the mushrooms and chopped tomatoes and saute for 5 minutes until the tomatoes have gone pulpy. Add the leek and carrots back into the pan and stir well to comhine and cook for another 3 minutes. Then add the TVP and stir well to combine. Add the reserved water from the TVP and stir in. Cover the vegetable mix and leave to simmer over a very low heat whilst you make the pastry. Remembering to stir frequently. Season to taste and then remove from the heat when the carrots are tender. 

Sift the salt with the flour, stir the suet into the flour mix. Stir in 4 tbsp water and knead until the mix comes together to form a ball of dough. (My Love used twice the amount of water suggested and it only just came use as much as required ~R~)

Roll out the dough between two pieces of cling film to a fairly thin thickness and then line a 5"/14cm deep pudding dish. Making sure the pastry is flush to the base and sides of the basin. Take a few moments making sure it's fitting correctly. Then fill with the vegetable mixture and push down to level out. Using the 'gravy' gently pour into the vegetable mix..(I only needed to do two drizzles and helped them down by mixing in with a small spoon..but be careful not to overfill. ~R~) Then fit a pastry lid and make sure to seal the edges of the lid to the body of the pudding. 

Pudding all ready for the cooking ~ So good!
Cover with a pleated tin foil lid and tie on with string or use a silicon band to secure in place. Place into a saucepan half filled with boiling water and cook for no less than an hour. 

Pudding all puffed up and out of the pan..still so good..
NB: We checked the pudding every 20 minutes to check the water levels and didn't need to top up but that doesn't mean you won't need to. At the final check we put our side veggies on to steam and we left the pudding cooking for that extra 15 minutes...just to be sure...and then the fun began! lol 

Cooked and golden...Yep..still good!..
Gently snip the string or take off the band and peel off the tin foil..and take a moment to stand and look at your creation...marvelous! Then gently loosen the sides of pudding away from the edge of the basin....or this will happen to you too! cannot be good...
Take a serving plate and place it serving side down on to the top of the pudding. Holding both securely flip them over and the pudding will now be on the plate....Or at least it should be! *sighs* 

Oh..Dear...Me!...That really shouldn't be like that..surely?
*taking a deep breath* Lesson to be learned...remember to loosen the after loosening the edges....this finally happened...

Finally..a perfectly formed pudding pie Shame the top and the filling are on another plate! Dammit! lol
But if you are super sneaky you could gently position the crust over the filling and cut a piece away to serve up and then take credit for a wonderfully turned out

Voila! A Savoury Suet
Sometimes I am too damn honest for my own good. And ok it took a little effort to make this pudding but it was worth it...and as a rare can't hurt, eh? 

Phew! Enjoy!