Posts Tagged ‘Pudding Basin’

Christmas is Coming, Guess Who’s Feeling Warm Inside!

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Royal Mason Cash Pudding BasinThe British Royal Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding is a big deal in Great Britain, even for the British Royal Household. For the past several years, Queen Elizabeth II has gifted hundreds of her loyal subjects, family and friends with Christmas Puddings prepared and presented in none other than Mason Cash pudding basins! We are proud to offer a brief and fascinating history of Christmas Pudding in the English tradition, and a tremendously long and deliciously overwrought recipe for same.

Happy Holidays!

Family recipes for Christmas Pudding are often closely guarded secrets, handed down from generation to generation. Many are based on the Royal family’s Sandringham recipe – rich with dried fruit and spices, some include nuts, grated apple or carrot – harking back to years when sugar was scarce.

The first Sunday in December is ‘Stir-up’ Sunday, the day when the best puddings are begun. It’s already time to roll up your sleeves and think about making the Christmas pudding. Some cooks go so far as to prepare it six months to a year in advance. In the old days, it was traditional for everyone in the house to come into the kitchen and give the batter a stir while making a wish. The puddings are cooked, cooled and tucked away in a dry place to wait for their final steaming on Christmas Day when they will be turned out onto a handsome dish, decorated with a sprig of holly and wreathed in blue flames from a generous dousing of warmed spirit.

It seems as if all of Fortnum and Mason’s stock goes into the recipe: currants, raisins, sultanas, almonds, candied fruit, ginger…. There may also be cherries and citron, or one of the two, or neither, depending on the recipe. Some chefs add to the mixture a diced russet apple and a grated carrot.

Tradition dictates that six objects be found in the pudding: two rings to bring love, a sixpence as a sign of prosperity, a trouser button for the bachelor, a thimble for the spinster, and a little pig who will determine the glutton at the table. The tradition of hiding silver coins in the pudding is a link to earlier days in English and Scottish courts when the leader of the Christmas revels was chosen on Twelfth Night by finding a bean hidden in the pudding

At the end of Christmas Day, after having listened to the Queen’s Christmas Message, the plum pudding is brought out to be enjoyed for tea on the stroke of five, as one raises a drop of port to toast the Queen!

The presentation is a festive affair. Dickens describes the arrival of the Christmas pudding in “A Christmas Carol”:

“Mrs. Cratchit entered, her face crimson, but smiling proudly, with the pudding resembling a cannon ball, all speckled, very firm, sprinkled with brandy in flames, and decorated with a sprig of holly stuck in the centre. Oh! The marvelous pudding!”

All guests receive a slice with a little dancing flame so that they can make a wish before it goes out.

Countrywide, brandy butter is served with the pudding alongside cream or custard, it’s a tradition that originated in Cumbria – where the best brandy butter is still made today, a delicious blend of butter, sugar and spirit with a hint of spice.

Ingredients

– 250 g (9 oz.) sultanas
– 250 g (9 oz.) seedless raisins
– 250 g (9 oz.) currants
– 10 g (2 tsp.) candied lemon zest
– 10 g (2 tsp.) candied grapefruit zest
– 20 g (4 tsp.) candied orange zest
– 20 g (4 tsp.) candied citron
– 125 g (4 oz.) candied cherries
– 60 g (2 oz.) blanched almonds
– 60 g (2 oz.) chopped almonds
– 500 g (18 oz.) chopped suet
– 250 g (8 oz.) rye bread crumbs
– 125 g (4 oz.) brown sugar
– 1/2 tsp. powdered cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp. ginger
– A pinch of salt
– 4 tbsp. brandy
– 250 ml (1 cup) milk
– 30 g (2 tbsp.) butter
– 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
– 125 g (4 oz.) flour
– 2 tbsp. baking powder

Brandy butter

– 250 g (9 oz.) unsalted butter
– 250 g (9 oz.) icing sugar
– 50 ml (2 oz.) brandy
– Grated zest of 1 orange (optional)

Method

Quick method (only 7 hours!)
1. Chop the raisins, currants, cherries, candied fruit and peel;
2. Place all the dry ingredients into a large non-reactive bowl and combine; add the other ingredients and mix until thoroughly blended;
3. Line a Mason Cash pudding basin with a large piece of cloth that has been buttered and floured on each side; pour the mixture into the basin and enclose by folding in the four corners of the cloth; top with a piece of buttered parchment; cover;
4. Place the pudding in the oven in a pan half-filled with water or in a steamer on the stove top; cook for 6 hours at a bare simmer, checking the water level from time to time;
5. Remove the pudding from the pan and let cool;
6. Cover with a fresh cloth and parchment; replace the cover or wrap in aluminum foil and let ripen in a cool spot (not refrigerated) for at least one month. It will be even better if it ages longer!
7. On Christmas Day, return the pudding to the oven or steamer (as described in step 4) for 3 to 4 hours; unmould;
8. Flambé with brandy or cognac and serve hot with brandy butter.

Longer method… 216 hours! (7 days macerating time)

1. Chop the raisins, currants, cherries, candied fruit and peel; pour 1 litre (4 c.) of rum over top and let sit for 48 hours; drain, reserving the rum;
2. Combine all the ingredients except the eggs; add 200 ml (generous 3/4 cup) of the reserved macerating rum and the juice of an orange and a lemon; cover the bowl with a cloth moistened with rum and let sit 7 days. Stir the batter once a day, adding a little rum if necessary to keep the batter soft;
3. If the batter becomes too stiff, thin it with a small glass of old ale; if the batter is too thin, add a little flour and mix gently; continue with the recipe (above). As adapted from worldwidegourmet.com

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Pacific Merchants supports Choice Eats and the Slow Food Movement

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Pacific Merchants is pleased to support The Village Voice’s annual “Choice Eats” event, which benefits the Slow Food Movement.

About Choice Eats

Founded in 2008, Choice Eats is an annual event hosted by The Village Voice, which benefits a different charity or organization annually. This year, Choice Eats will benefit Slow Food NYC, a local chapter of Slow Food. All restaurants and chefs invited to participate in this event have been reviewed by Robert Sietsema, The Village Voice’s resident food critic and occasional Gourmet Magazine contributor. Event guests will not only be able to sample some of the most delicious foods from the five boroughs, but will also be treated to complimentary wine, beer, and alcohol pairings from sponsors such as Michael Collins Irish Whiskey, Abita Beer, Stella Artois, Jagermeister, Prairie Organic Vodka, and Flying Dog Brewery, just to name a few.

For a full list of the sweets, eats, and food trucks that will be featured at the Fourth Annual Choice Eats event, click here.

About Slow Food

The Slow Food movement was developed in 1989 “out of the need to counter the rise of fast food and fast life,” as well as the apathy that people now have for what they eat and where it comes from. Slow Food now boasts over 100,000 members and 1,300 “convivia” (local chapters) worldwide who are dedicated to producing, as well as sustaining, quality foods. Slow Food can be found in 153 countries throughout the world, and even if you don’t have the time or means to become a full-fledged member, you can help support the movement by becoming a responsible consumer, (otherwise known as a “co-producer“).

Pacific Merchants Gets Involved

We here at Pacific Merchants are extremely excited to become involved with Choice Eats and their support of the Slow Food movement. Whether it’s our Mason Cash line of mixing bowls, pudding basins and baking dishes, or our Acaciaware serving pieces, we feel that our products encourage people to slow down and enjoy their meals with friends and loved ones. We could think of no better partnership than to support Slow Food, as they espouse our belief in home-cooked meals made with the most sustainable foods available. It doesn’t hurt that Choice Eats will also feature some of the best of the best in New York food, as we all love some incredible epicurean exploits!

*Slow Food and Choice Eats information courtesy of their respective websites

Christmas is Coming… and Guess Who’s Getting Fat?

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

The Royal Christmas Pudding Basin by Mason Cash

The British Royal Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding is a big deal in Great Britain, even for the British Royal Household. For the past several years, Queen Elizabeth II has gifted hundreds of her loyal subjects, family and friends with Christmas Puddings prepared and presented in none other than Mason Cash pudding basins! We are proud to offer a brief and fascinating history of Christmas Pudding in the English tradition, and a tremendously long and deliciously overwrought recipe for same.

Happy Holidays!

Family recipes for Christmas Pudding are often closely guarded secrets, handed down from generation to generation. Many are based on the Royal family’s Sandringham recipe – rich with dried fruit and spices, some include nuts, grated apple or carrot – harking back to years when sugar was scarce.

The first Sunday in December is ‘Stir-up’ Sunday, the day when the best puddings are begun. It’s already time to roll up your sleeves and think about making the Christmas pudding. Some cooks go so far as to prepare it six months to a year in advance. In the old days, it was traditional for everyone in the house to come into the kitchen and give the batter a stir while making a wish. The puddings are cooked, cooled and tucked away in a dry place to wait for their final steaming on Christmas Day when they will be turned out onto a handsome dish, decorated with a sprig of holly and wreathed in blue flames from a generous dousing of warmed spirit.

It seems as if all of Fortnum and Mason’s stock goes into the recipe: currants, raisins, sultanas, almonds, candied fruit, ginger…. There may also be cherries and citron, or one of the two, or neither, depending on the recipe. Some chefs add to the mixture a diced russet apple and a grated carrot.

Tradition dictates that six objects be found in the pudding: two rings to bring love, a sixpence as a sign of prosperity, a trouser button for the bachelor, a thimble for the spinster, and a little pig who will determine the glutton at the table. The tradition of hiding silver coins in the pudding is a link to earlier days in English and Scottish courts when the leader of the Christmas revels was chosen on Twelfth Night by finding a bean hidden in the pudding

At the end of Christmas Day, after having listened to the Queen’s Christmas Message, the plum pudding is brought out to be enjoyed for tea on the stroke of five, as one raises a drop of port to toast the Queen!

The presentation is a festive affair. Dickens describes the arrival of the Christmas pudding in “A Christmas Carol”:

“Mrs. Cratchit entered, her face crimson, but smiling proudly, with the pudding resembling a cannon ball, all speckled, very firm, sprinkled with brandy in flames, and decorated with a sprig of holly stuck in the centre. Oh! The marvelous pudding!”

All guests receive a slice with a little dancing flame so that they can make a wish before it goes out.

Countrywide, brandy butter is served with the pudding alongside cream or custard, it’s a tradition that originated in Cumbria – where the best brandy butter is still made today, a delicious blend of butter, sugar and spirit with a hint of spice.

Ingredients

– 250 g (9 oz.) sultanas
– 250 g (9 oz.) seedless raisins
– 250 g (9 oz.) currants
– 10 g (2 tsp.) candied lemon zest
– 10 g (2 tsp.) candied grapefruit zest
– 20 g (4 tsp.) candied orange zest
– 20 g (4 tsp.) candied citron
– 125 g (4 oz.) candied cherries
– 60 g (2 oz.) blanched almonds
– 60 g (2 oz.) chopped almonds
– 500 g (18 oz.) chopped suet
– 250 g (8 oz.) rye bread crumbs
– 125 g (4 oz.) brown sugar
– 1/2 tsp. powdered cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp. ginger
– A pinch of salt
– 4 tbsp. brandy
– 250 ml (1 cup) milk
– 30 g (2 tbsp.) butter
– 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
– 125 g (4 oz.) flour
– 2 tbsp. baking powder

Brandy butter

– 250 g (9 oz.) unsalted butter
– 250 g (9 oz.) icing sugar
– 50 ml (2 oz.) brandy
– Grated zest of 1 orange (optional)

Method

Quick method (only 7 hours!)
1. Chop the raisins, currants, cherries, candied fruit and peel;
2. Place all the dry ingredients into a large non-reactive bowl and combine; add the other ingredients and mix until thoroughly blended;
3. Line a Mason Cash pudding basin with a large piece of cloth that has been buttered and floured on each side; pour the mixture into the basin and enclose by folding in the four corners of the cloth; top with a piece of buttered parchment; cover;
4. Place the pudding in the oven in a pan half-filled with water or in a steamer on the stove top; cook for 6 hours at a bare simmer, checking the water level from time to time;
5. Remove the pudding from the pan and let cool;
6. Cover with a fresh cloth and parchment; replace the cover or wrap in aluminum foil and let ripen in a cool spot (not refrigerated) for at least one month. It will be even better if it ages longer!
7. On Christmas Day, return the pudding to the oven or steamer (as described in step 4) for 3 to 4 hours; unmould;
8. Flambé with brandy or cognac and serve hot with brandy butter.

Longer method… 216 hours! (7 days macerating time)

1. Chop the raisins, currants, cherries, candied fruit and peel; pour 1 litre (4 c.) of rum over top and let sit for 48 hours; drain, reserving the rum;
2. Combine all the ingredients except the eggs; add 200 ml (generous 3/4 cup) of the reserved macerating rum and the juice of an orange and a lemon; cover the bowl with a cloth moistened with rum and let sit 7 days. Stir the batter once a day, adding a little rum if necessary to keep the batter soft;
3. If the batter becomes too stiff, thin it with a small glass of old ale; if the batter is too thin, add a little flour and mix gently; continue with the recipe (above). As adapted from worldwidegourmet.com

Mason Cash: The Enduring Nature of Simple Things Made Well

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Some of Mason Cash's Most Famous Mixing Bowls

Mason Cash, a revered line of kitchenware favored by the British Royal Household, has returned to American shores this August, after several years’ absence. We at Pacific Merchants are thrilled to launch this British invasion as exclusive U.S. importer and distributor, and see this classic line as an opprtunity to exceed consumer expectations in a changing marketplace.

When I was a boy, my mother – a devotee of Julia Child’s PBS show – purchased a set of Mason Cash mixing bowls and pudding basins. When she used the bowls, she felt as if she were cooking with her culinary idol. I can’t tell you how many times I helped my mom mix batter in those bowls for scones, crepes, and Aunt Fanne’s famous fudge brownies.

I’m not alone in my memories. While rooted in over two hundred years of tradition, Mason Cash is ideally suited to today’s consumer, who yearns for products as functional and long-lasting as they are beautiful. First launched over 100 years ago, these products enjoy worldwide recognition and many have stayed within families for generations.

The origins of Mason Cash can be traced back to the heart of Derbyshire, England in around 1800. Mason Cash ceramics were made from ‘white and cane’ glazed earthenware, also known as ‘yellow ware’ due to the color of the local clay. The pottery was run by a series of Master Potters, of whom the most colorful was ‘Bossy Mason’. Tom Cash acquired the pottery in 1901, and renamed the company Mason Cash and Co.

The Mason Cash mixing bowl has met the test of time by combining both ergonomic and functional elements. My mom’s bowls were solid and well balanced, with raised ornamentation that made them easy to turn while whipping cream with sticky fingers, or folding egg whites into Dad’s favorite broccoli soufflé. One large bowl with a glaze the color of butterscotch sat year round on the kitchen table, brimming with fruit. Just the memory of it makes me think of apples in autumn and peaches in summer! Even more telling, is the fact that almost fifty years later, Mom still has most of those bowls in her possession. I was gratified that something of such simple beauty could also be so enduring.

Just as well-regarded and recognizable as the mixing bowls are Mason Cash’s traditional white “pudding basins”. Microwave and dishwasher safe, these rimmed bowls maintain a tight seal with plastic wrap and are ideal for steaming. Legendary for their clean lines and high quality, they even meet the exacting standards of the British Royal Household, which uses them for Christmas puddings! A full complement of cane bakeware completes the line, with square, rectangular and oval baking dishes that are fully oven, freezer, microwave and dishwasher safe. The versatility, quality and attractiveness of Mason Cash kitchenware make it a priceless investment for any kitchen.

A few weeks ago, my family and I prepared a big Sunday dinner with a brand new set of Mason Cash bowls, “bakers” and pudding basins. As my wife assembled eggplant parmigiana in the square 9 “ baking dish, I crushed garlic cloves for a tri-tip marinade with Mason Cash’s iconic mortar and pestle. My eldest daughter steamed broccoli in a 64 oz. pudding basin and arranged crudités in dainty ramekins, as the baby of the family whipped up a raspberry lemon cake batter and butter cream frosting in the 14” and 11.5” bowls respectively.

As the kitchen filled with the sights and sounds of cooking, I felt a distinct sense of homecoming. The bakeware and bowls may have been new but the moment was timeless. This beautifully crafted Mason Cash stoneware is destined to be enjoyed by my family, as we create a whole new set of memories. One day my children may even use these pieces to cook with their children!
For me, Mason Cash represents a return to fundamentals: kitchen essentials crafted with pride, and meant to last a lifetime.


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