Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sweet Solstice Treats

This time of year is perfect for traditional recipies and Winter comfort food. Fine food is a pleasure, like fine wine, fine music and fine company. In our family, there are several traditional holiday treats. My eldest daughter calls herself a "halfer," because we are a racially blended family -- which makes for some interesting holiday dining. We do homemade Tamales every December, and often prepare a batch of the "world's greatest salsa" as a side dish. This year, we're adding sweet and savory Empanaditas to our holiday fest menu, in addition to Nana Vickie's Rum Cake (soaking in Myers' as I write).

We continue traditions from the British side of the family as well, making Persimmon and Sago Plum puddings, and Yorkshire pudding to accompany our holiday rib roast. And of course, we consume lots of tippy Assam tea with milk to keep warm.

This is the Persimmon Pudding recipe that has been passed down in my family for a couple of generations. The Latin name for the American Common Persimmon means "food of the gods." That's understandable, given the treats that these pulpy, orange fruit produce. My partner makes cookies and the bread-like pudding full of walnuts, raisins and goodness. Here's how the pudding works.

Ingredients: 1 cup flower; 1/2 cup sugar; 2 Tbs butter or margarine; 1/2 Tsp salt; 1 Tsp baking soda; 1 Tsp cinnamon & allspice; 1/4 cup of milk; 1 cup raisins; 1 cup chopped walnuts; and, 1 cup persimmon pulp (about three fruit).

Directions: Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes with the pudding pan resting in a pan of water in the oven. Cooking in water is a must for this dessert.

We also enjoy a stove-top steamed Sago-Plum pudding. In America, plum pudding was often made with figs and became "figgy pudding." NPR ran a great story about holiday puddings yesterday, and included this fine article and recipe for their very alcoholic version on their website, here. This pudding is steamed in a tightly covered pan (Bundt is a favorite) and because of its alcoholic content, will last for months and definitely benefits from sitting a spell.

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