Sunday, December 23, 2012

Maude's Tucker's Christmas Date Pudding

My grandmother made old English date pudding every single year for Christmas dinner.  This "pudding", which is really more like a moist cake, was served with whipped cream over it.  This is the stuff of childhood memories for me.
My grandmother was an incredible cook, a farm wife who measured intuitively (much to the chagrin of her daughter-in-law, my mother, who was not an inspired cook by any stretch!).  Over the final years of my grandmother's life this recipe began to change, and not for the better.  The moist pudding became a dry, less-appetizing cake.  I tried, tried, tried! over the years to reproduce the earlier, original version of her pudding, but never achieved it.

Then, by chance, I stumbled upon another recipe for date pudding and even though the ingredients were identical, the preparation was quite different.  Shazam!  I had it again!

So, here is the recipe for my grandmother's date pudding, back in its original format.  Served with lightly sweetened whipped cream, it is absolutely a taste of my childhood with my very English grandparents.  Please enjoy!



1 c. brown sugar
2 c. water
1 tsp. butter


1 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. chopped dates
1 c. brown sugar (additional)
1 tbsp. butter
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp. cinnamon

To prepare syrup, bring to boil 1 cup brown sugar, 2 cups water and 1 teaspoon butter. Pour into baking dish*.

To prepare pudding, mix flour, baking powder and all other ingredients. Mix well. Drop by spoonful into syrup. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve warm. (NOTE: Batter will spread, dates settle on bottom.)

*This is the part that got lost.  It seems very odd, I realize, to pour this into the dish first.  Trust me.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Priscilla's Tesuque Pinon Dressing

My late sister made this incredibly delicious stuffing for the first time at our Thanksgiving celebration in 1991.  She still lived in Tesuque, New Mexico, and we had a wonderful time visiting her there.  I have great memories of that particular holiday.  Over the years I made the dressing even when my young children (and who can blame them?) turned up their noses at the nontraditional ingredients found in the recipe.  
Now, it is a ritual for me to make this dish.  I think of my sister while I make it, think about the fun we had making it together for the first time, and really, that is all I require of it.  The fact that it is absolutely delicious is a bonus!

I have taken a few liberties with the original ingredients.  I substituted red peppers for green because green peppers do not agree with me.  Why I can't eat them and love all the other, hotter peppers, is a great mystery to me.
Also, I have substituted craisins for raisins.  The taste and color are more appealing to me.
Recipes are "suggestions", really.  Play around with this one and "tweak" it to satisfy your own palette.
My sister would expect nothing less from you!

Priscilla’s Tesuque Pinon Dressing

(this recipe is adequate for a 10-12 pound turkey)

1/3 cup craisins
1/3 cup tequila or mescale
2 large red peppers
2 green chilis (or one small can chopped green chili)
1 large chopped onion
1 or 2 minced garlic cloves
½ cup butter
4 cups dry bread crumbs
2 T minced cilantro
1 teasp salt, or to taste
¾ tsp dried oregano (or 1 Tablesp fresh)
½ tsp chili (I use chipotle or ancho for a smokier taste)
½ tsp dried sage (or 1 Tablesp fresh)
ground pepper to taste
1 cup pinion nuts, lightly toasted

Soak craisins in tequila or mescale for at least 30 minutes.  Roasts and char skins of peppers, close in small paper bag and steam for 10-15 min.  Peel and remove seeds, pat dry, and chop coarsely.  Drain craisins and discard tequila.
Melt butter in large skillet over low heat.  Add onion and garlic, cook until tender.  Add mixture to dried breadcrumbs, then add cilantro, salt, oregano, chili powder, sage, and pepper.  Fold in pinon nuts, craisins, pappers, and chilis.

This can (and should!) be made the day before.  The flavors need time to meld.

Preheat oven to 500.  If stuffing turkey allow a bit more cooking time.  Otherwise,
350 to bake stuffing in casserole.

*Broth may be added to increase moisture of the stuffing and also as a way to reduce the butter content.