My mother-in-law is here with us. She braved the snow and decided to fly up to Snowy Scotland. She’s hardly been here long and is already worried about getting back to Essex as more snow is predicted here and apparently it is due to come back with a vengeance.
I usually make these steamed savoury vegetable puddings in individual basins, but this time for convenience I thought I would create a large one. It turned out great. One thing I noted is taking photographs when feeding guests who are waiting patiently to be fed is a firm no, no. Its not such a problem when serving dessert, but main meals which are made of different components or side servings is a different matter.
I knew D would like this dish. He’s already a convert of my steamed savoury puddings, I wasn’t too sure about my mother in law who is much more familiar with the traditional version of 'Steak and kidney pudding'. But I had nothing to worry about. The meaty texture and rich gravy sauce oozing from the chestnut mushroom filling was appreciated. To top that the doughy pastry casing comforted like dumplings. Warming and perfect for our dark and cold evenings.
The pastry for this savoury pudding is made from suet. Suet is used in old fashion English puddings like Roly Poly, Spotted Dick, Christmas sweet mincemeat and savoury meat dishes such as Steak and kidney pudding. I’ve written about suet on my blog before (see here). In the past I’ve also received a number of questions and comments about suet and its suitability for vegetarians and vegans. In a nutshell, traditional suet is the particular fat which surrounds the loins and kidneys of cattle. It is white, gelatinous and fibrous, when grated or chopped and mixed with flour it is used in cooking and baking. What makes suet unique is its capacity to give the pastry when cooked a soft spongy elastic and doughy crust - a bit like a bouncy dumpling. But as with most things - haggis, black pudding and bacon - there are vegetarian alternatives to suet. At least one that I know of is suitable for a vegan diet. This is what I have used in my Mushroom pudding. If you live outside of the U.K, it is very unlikely that you will find suet in supermarkets. Suet is quintessentially a very British ingredient.
For the mushroom filling
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
400g chestnut mushrooms, wiped and sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon tomato puree
salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil, add the onions and cook until soft. Then add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until beginning to soften, then stir in the thyme, tomato puree and season to taste. Cook for a few more minutes before removing from the heat to cool down.
For the Vegetarian Suet Pudding300g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Salt and pepper to taste
100g vegetarian suet (make sure it is suitable for vegans too, as not all are)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Method for the suet puddingMix all the dry ingredients and the herbs in a large bowl. Mix in enough cold water to make a firm dough. Roll the pastry out on a well-floured work surface, to about 3mm thick circles that are big enough to fill the pudding basin with a small overhand. Line the pudding bowl with the pastry, gently easing it round the sides for a snug fit. Gently spoon in the filling. The filling should be 1cm below the rim. With a sharp knife trim off the excess pastry level with the rim. Re-roll this excess pastry and cut out circle big enough to cover the top. Place the pastry tops on top of the filling and press the edges together to make a firm seal. Trim off any excess. Put on lid or cover with foil. Then place the pudding into a large steamer. Cover with the lid and steam for for 1 hour - 1 hour 30 minutes, or until the pastry is cooked. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then turn out and serve immediately.