Gothenburg Goodies: The Fransk Jitterbugg.

The long-awaited Second Part of a Pud-Hog Sweet Series from Sweden

Jitterbugg Biscuit

Think you know biscuits? Think again

What? You may well ask: Fransk Jitterbugg is hardly the commonest phrase in the Pud-Hog canon. Indeed, its weirdness is mainly what caught my attention in the first place.

Deciphering the name – which translates to ‘French Jitterbug’ – hardly solves the mystery. But what sounds like some kind of 1940s dance movement is in fact a Meringue/Butter Biscuit hybrid.

Crazy, no? But so intriguing – so apparently ingenious – I had to give it a go.

It certainly looked exciting: like it would be wonderfully chewy and moist, with a helping of crunch to boost; a feast for the teeth and the taste buds.

In fact, I soon learned it was neither.

The texture was samey and horribly dry; entirely lacking that much-needed crunch/chew contrast (and seemingly undercooked).

The taste was completely bland too; just butter and sugar with yet more sugar on top.

How dull.

Had a seam of fruit coulis been weaved in there somewhere, it may have been more of a biscuit befitting its wondrous, zany appearance.

As it was, I ate half then abandoned the rest, and ran for the nearest piece of Blueberry Pie.

Where? This disappointing specimen came from Café Kringlan, in the centre of Gothenburg’s Haga district (just down the road from those giant Hagabullen)

How Much? Around 30 kr (just under £3 in today’s money)

Rating?

2/10

More likely to give you the jitters than the bug

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Rated, Y’all: Chocolate Meringue Pie from Mammy’s Cupboard.

Chocolate Meringue Pie

The old two-fork trick: one for each hand…

What? The tallest slice of Pie I’ve ever had – with Meringue coiffed higher than Elvis’s quiff at its bounciest.

Homemade at Mammy’s Cupboard – a Natchez roadside restaurant housed inside a black woman’s skirt (!) – it’s also the first slice of Chocolate Meringue I think I’ve ever seen (though they do sell the Lemon variety there as well).

I have to say, it made for a great introduction, with a flaky, slightly salty Pastry base, a pleasingly gooey layer of Chocolate Blancmange, and a soft egg-white mountain which topped it like sweet, fluffy clouds.

Only the addition of real Chocolate – in chunks or some kind of Ganache – could have made it more desirable.

As it was, if I hadn’t already been stuffed with Grilled Cheese and Sweet Tea, I might well have gone for seconds…

Where? You’ll find Mammy’s Cupboard south of Natchez – just look for the huge red skirt

How Much? $3 per slice, without tax

Rating?

8/10

Sometimes mammy does know best

Recipe: Man-Pa’s Christmas Pudding Ice Cream.

What with the New Year’s bank holiday out of the way, it feels like the Christmas period is well and truly over.

What a very sad time it is, when the days of legitimate Hoggery are finally at an end.

There are plenty of things I’ll miss from the festivities: Ma Hog’s homemade Mince Pies; steaming glasses of Hot Buttered Rum; the crunchy chew of a light-toasted Pudding; pots of cold Custard, lining the worktop.

It pains me to think that I won’t see most of these goodies again until next December, though I suppose that’s partly what makes them so special.

Then again, there are some treats I’m not sure can wait…

One of this Christmas’s more major (and moreish) highlights was a bowl of Christmas Pudding Ice Cream, made by the fair hands of Man-Pa (he of Summer Pudding fame).

Christmas Pudding Ice Cream

O, Holy Pud!

The die-hard Ogglers among you will remember me mentioning this particular treat way back in 2011. In fact, you could argue it was what got the Pud-Hog Blog going in the first place: so enamoured was I with this Ice Cream, that I felt compelled to tell the world about it.

Anyway, just a fortnight ago, I was thrilled to be served it again – and this time it tasted even better.

Apparently the formula had changed: out had gone the Breadcrumbs, to be replaced by Meringue and luxury jellied Fruit Pastilles, of the type you can find in the fancier delicatessens.

The resulting taste and texture were extraordinary: sharp bursts of sugared Fruit; boozy Raisins, Dates and Peel; crunchy fragments of Meringue, and the softest, creamiest base you could wish for.

My delight secured me the recipe – so, thanks to the Man-Pa, you too can enjoy this magnificent medley at home.

It’s easy and fairly quick – and, I swear, yule never have better.

I defy you to wait until next December…

Man-Pa’s Christmas Pudding Ice Cream (serves 4)

Ingredients:

Fruit Stuff…

  • 80g raisins and/or sultanas
  • 80g dates
  • 80g candied peel
  • Some brandy or rum to soak the fruit
  • Finely-chopped fruit pastilles (preferably upmarket ones; gelatin-free)

… and for the Ice Cream:

  • A few nutmeg shavings
  • Generous half tsp ground ginger
  • 1 to 2 tsp vanilla essence (depending on your tastes)
  • 1 tsp coffee essence (make your own with half a tsp instant coffee granules and same amount of boiling water)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks OR 1 tsp powdered cinnamon
  • 2-4 cloves (again, your taste dictates)
  • 2 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 medium/large crushed meringue

Method:

  1. Mix the Fruit Stuff together and set to soak in the brandy or rum
  2. Heat ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon in a small saucepan for a few minutes…
  3. Then in with the cream, vanilla essence and coffee essence. Bring gently to the boil
  4. Meanwhile, whisk the sugar and egg yolks together in a medium-sized bowl
  5. Strain the cream to remove the spices. Tip cream into the sugar and egg mix and whisk together before heating again – slowly – in a clean pan for no more than 10 minutes until it thickens slightly
  6. Take off the heat and chill for at least 2 hours (or overnight, if you have the time)
  7. Strain the cream mix into a freezable container and freeze for an hour or two until it starts to thicken. Stir every half hour to break up the ice crystals (NB: clingfilm on top of the ice cream will prevent it turning brown if it’s going to be in the freezer for a week or more)
  8. Defrost for about half an hour before serving so it’s nice and soft to eat
  9. ENJOY

Happy Hogging – and thank you to Man-Pa for sharing!

P-H x

A Jubilicious Chocolate Cream Tea.

Some of you might have noticed that there’s been a bit of fuss in the UK over the past few days – something about the Queen and sixty years? Whatever. It is not the job of this blog to stay up to date with current affairs. Currant buns, maybe, but not the news. Unless it has some bearing on puddings…

Oh, all right then. The Queen’s 60th Jubilee is kind of important. But only because it led to one of the most gorgeous cream teas I’ve had on this tiny isle: a Jubilee Tea from my favourite shop in the Kingdom of Dorset, Chococo.

For those who don’t know it – and who’ve missed my past musings on the subject (see here and here) – Chococo is that wonderful combination of chocolate-shop-cum-tea-room, based in Swanage and faithful to the principles of hand-made, ethical, local, scrumptious treats. When I heard that they were doing a one-off Jubilee Tea for Bank Holiday, I bought my tickets immediately.

Suddenly, all these Royal Celebrations seemed like an awfully good idea.

Luvly Jubilee!

For the bargainous sum of just ten pounds – TEN! – the Man and I were treated to two-tiers of drool-inducing goodies, and a couple of the tastiest dark hot chocolates I have had since Jaz and Jul’s came to town.

Twas a menu fit for a Queen – not to mention her most porcine of subjects. In the savoury category, Coronation Chicken (duly eaten by my carniverous ally), and Egg and Cress Cucumber Tarlets did the job superbly. But then – then! – came dessert:

  • Mini Madagascan Chocolate Chip Scones with Cherry Jam and Clotted Cream
  • A Chocolate Mousse Crown with Fruit and Popping Candy
  • Dubonnet and Juniper Chocolates
  • A Lemon Fairycake
  • A Strawberry Meringue filled with White Chocolate and Creme Fraiche
  • Sea Salt and Caramel Ganache Tartlets

It. Was. Stupendous.

The fairycake: so fresh and zingy. The Tartlets: crispy shortbread-like pastry, cuddling smooth pools of caramel. As for the Dubonnet and Juniper Chocolates? Cor. I felt like Christmas had come early.

Of course, I thoroughly enjoyed my Chocolate Scones as well (something they routinely serve in the Chococo cafe). In fact, let’s be honest, they make so much more sense than studding a scone with sultanas. As does the concept of a Chocolate Crown, now I come to think about it (all these years, I thought pastry was the best way to encase a mousse. What a fool I was).

As I’m sure you can imagine, it was hard to choose a favourite, but – if hard-pressed – I think I would have plumped for the meringue. Fruit and white chocolate will always float my boat (or River Pageant), especially when the texture is so moreish…

Mmm.

Roused by a newfound sense of patriotism we polished it off in no time, wishing we’d both had a cakestand each.

I just hope we don’t have to wait sixty years for the next one.

Frankly, even ten is pushing it.

Riverford Revisited.

The more dedicated Ogglers among you might remember my trip to the Riverford Field Kitchen at the end of last year, when the Pud-Hog Blog was still in its infancy. Now that this blog has reached the grand old age of six [months], it’s probably time we went back.

This time, the reason for our visit wasn’t purely to stuff our faces, but to feast for the birthday of Ma Hog (Happy Bithday, Ma), who turned 25 yet again (ahem). Coincidentally, that’s also the age of the Riverford Farm, so plenty of reason to celebrate.

As you may recall from my earlier visit, the folks in the Field Kitchen put on quite a spread when it comes to pudding. And they don’t make it easy to choose.

Here’s what was on offer for Ma’s birthday last week:

Observe!

You’ll have to excuse the slightly blurry photo – I was shaking with anticipation at the time – but believe me when I tell you there are ten puddings on that counter. TEN. Now, in theory, at that point of the meal – after copious amounts of organic vegetables and substantial dishes of savoury food – one bowl of dessert ought to be more than enough to satiate even the heartiest appetite.

Not for this Hog though. For I, like many other sweet-toothed noshers (possibly yourself included), have a genuinely separate Pudding Stomach which seems to operate quite independently of the rest of my digestive system, demanding nourishment even after a full-blown main meal. It’s a blessing. And a curse.

Anyway, I digress. Let’s talk about that counter full of treats. If my memory serves me well (and hasn’t been entirely blighted by excess sugar), they were, from front to back:

– Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding

– Lemon and Poppyseed Cake (I think?!)

– Frangipane (possibly of the Rhubarb variety)

– Baked Chocolate Mousse

– Lemon Tart

– Custard Tart

– Stewed Rhubarb

– Lemon Cheesecake

– Apple, Honey and Fig Cake

– Blackcurrant Pavlova

All organic, all seasonal, all served with either double cream or custard (or both). So tell me. How ON EARTH is a Pud-Hog to choose just ONE?!

Mercifully, unlike last time, most of the Hog family (including my unofficial godmothers) were in attendance, so there was chance to spread out our orders. Sensing an opportunity, I tried to coordinate a plan of attack, enabling us to get as much variety on the table as possible. As you will see, however, not everyone played ball. In fact, there were two repetitions: two custard tarts and two lemon cheesecakes (tut tut).

Eight filled bowls. Better than one, not quite as good as ten.

Admittedly, there was still plenty to snuffle through. We all swapped and tasted, and I went around the table with a wielded spoon. The custard tart: beautifully soft and light, like the filling of a crème brûlée. The lemon cheesecake: as awesome and zingy as before. The baked chocolate mousse: dark and bubbly. The blackcurrant meringue: perfectly sharp and sweet. The apple, honey and fig cake: moist chunks of fruit, slathered in vanilla custard. And – my perennial favourite – the sticky toffee pudding: as rich, smooth and gooey as you like.

Alas, nobody ordered the frangipane or the lemon tart, both of which I was seriously keen to try. But a trip to the counter of the Please-Sir-I-Want-Some-More variety went down like a lead balloon. ‘We don’t do seconds,’ said the server. ‘If we give you anything else, then everyone will want some.’

Then for GOD’S SAKE, MAN, I thought. Give them some! I’m a Pud-Hog. I have NEEDS.

*Sigh*

It wouldn’t be so hard to swallow if it weren’t for my first trip to Riverford, about three years ago now. On that occasion, we gorged on mains, face-planted our desserts, and then – to our utter delight – were all invited back to the pudding counter for seconds.

Those were the days.

To be fair, I suppose it can’t be sustainable, filling your diners until they burst like Mr Creosote (my preferred – and most likely – ending, by the way). Besides, I did have a napkin full of Amazeballs to gnaw on.

And yet… and yet…

Aren’t two portions always better than one?

Vanilla Black.

Ladies and gentlemen, lend me your ears (or should that be eyes?) and prepare yourselves for a tale of such amazement, such extraordinary strangeness, such exciting puddings, that your tongues will hit the floor in shock.

I give you: Vanilla Black.

From the outside, this tidy restaurant, tucked away in a small street near Chancery Lane, looks as conventional and plain as the rest of them. Nothing special, you might think as you peer through the dark green door.

You would be wrong.

Like the wonderful Terre a Terre (about which I have raved perhaps a tad too often), Vanilla Black is a haven for the gourmet vegetarian diner. And like Terre a Terre, it’s certainly not cheap, but the kind of place you can book for a special occasion. Last night, the occasion was ostensibly my birthday (still!), and we met with the Man’s lovely parents, for an exciting three-course meal.

This being the domain of the Pud-Hog, however, the first two of those courses will not get a mention. So let’s go straight to dessert.

And what an ensemble of wonders it was! The four of us ummed and aahed over the options – intriguing prospects, every one of them – and eventually settled on the following:

  • For Man-Pa: Raw and Poached Pineapple and Passion Fruit Mayonnaise with Toasted Coconut Sorbet and Crumble
  • For Man-Ma: Iced Malt and Burnt Orange Marshmallow with Muscovado Sugar Meringue and Parsnip Puree
  • For the Man: Poached Apple and Cinnamon Gel with Yoghurt and Cheshire Cheese Ice Cream and Cinnamon Pastry
  • For the Hog: White Chocolate and Cep Tart with Cornflake Cake, Picpoul [French Wine] Sorbet and Crispy Tarragon

It seems almost a shame to follow that list with my own writing;  nothing I can say could be quite as thrilling, I’m sure. However, I’m guessing you want to know what everything tasted like. So continue I must…

Ahem.

The puddings. Were. AWESOME.

Generous portions, beautifully served, with plenty to tease every taste bud. The pineapple was thick and juicy, with a density that made me dribble. The yoghurt and Cheshire cheese ice cream cut through the sweetness of the apple gel perfectly, providing a much-needed tang that lifted the dish to ambrosial heights. My white chocolate and cep tart – Cep! That’s a mushroom, people! grew better and better with every mouthful, until by the end, I was forking up portions no bigger than match-heads, in order to prolong it all the more. So rich and earthy! That texture… mmm… thicker than the thickest of ganaches, clinging to its cornflake cake base like a lover, soulmates ’til the very end.

And let us not forget the marshmallow – oh, the marshmallow! – so good that it gets its own paragraph. Gelatin-free (at last!), as soft as a cloud, and anointed with puddles of sweet orange sauce. They make it with agar agar, the maitre d’ told us. I felt as if I’d found the Holy Grail. All these years in search of vegetarian marshmallows, and finally I’d found one. Better yet, I’ve been told that the chef will send me his recipe. The keys to the golden kingdom will be mine! I might even share it with you lot, if you’re lucky…

Whew!

I’ve just looked back at what I’ve written – it sounds a little excessive, I’ll admit. But justifiably so. In fact, it could be worse. Imagine how much more effusive this post would have been if I’d sampled the other two options as well: the Yorkshire Gouda and Crisp Black Sheep Ale Bread (with Salted Caramel Powder and Ale Soaked Raisins), or – better still – the Peanut Butter Cheesecake and Cracked Cocoa Beans (with Banana and Thyme Bread and Toffee Sauce).

Apparently, at this very moment, the chefs are also perfecting a liquid doughnut.

The mind boggles. And the mouth is watering still.

Trying (and Buying).

I love it when food shops have samples – especially those of the cakey variety. My favourite recent find has been a chain of cafes called Peyton and Byrne, which puts decent-sized chunks of its cake on their counters, just to let their customers have a try. If you’re brave (and can withstand the unshakeable sense of shame), you can have a good old nibble while the waitress turns her back. In fact, on one happy day before Christmas, my nearest branch even had its samples on a table outside. The man and I could not resist – there was nobody there to restrain us.

Now, I may sound like a greedy low-level criminal here, but, as an official Pud-Hog, sampling is my duty. Life’s too short not to try what’s on offer. Besides, as it happens, the tactic worked out well for all involved.

You see, yesterday, as we were heading home, a sugar craving hit me hard. I tried to ignore it but this proved impossible, so as we passed our nearest P&B, we headed inside to try and scrounge some samples. This time, alas, there were none. Instead, a huge chocolate hazelnut ‘Chelsea bun’ caught my eye…

Dear Reader, I purchased it.

Yes indeed, I bought that bun and filled my mouth. And although I can’t say I agree with the ‘Chelsea bun’ label (it was actually more like pastry), I can say it was just what I needed. A generous scattering of whole hazelnuts, plus gigantic pockets of semi-melted dark chocolate. I was eating the thing for minutes on end, and was fuelled for several hours after. A solid and reliable kind of treat. And proof that having samples is not just good for me, but good for business.

Anyway, I was so full of ‘bun’ that I could barely face The Great Meringue Challenge. Thankfully, I did it the day before.

So, here’s my top tip of the weekend, folks: meringue + natural yoghurt + salted caramel sauce = an excellent use of resources. Try it – you’ll see what I mean.

The Great Meringue Challenge, Day 1.

I’ve finally sunk the last of the cheesecake (and jolly nice it was too), so last night I opened the tin of homemade meringues. Mmm… meringues…. So versatile, so crisp, so chewy.

After nibbling one on its own – just to get the measure of it, you understand – I had a challenge working out how best to eat the rest (in other words, what I should eat them with). I have a fairly large tin full, and a boyfriend who (for once) does not want to share. This one is all on me.

I’ve decided to make it a challenge and try them in a host of different combos, so any intriguing suggestions will be duly noted. I’m slightly limited by the contents of our kitchen however – no berries or cream, so – alas – no Eton-themed shenanigans. I do have frozen sweetcorn and a jar of peanut butter though… crazy Malaysian-style Mess, anyone?

To kick things off, I kept things fairly safe. A couple of the crispy puffs with a dollop of lemon curd and a splash of whole milk (a pathetic attempt to make up for our lack of cream). I have to say, I surprised myself: it was pretty darn tasty. I mushed things up good and proper, and thoroughly pleasured my taste-buds. It really got me thinking: how’s about a meringue-flavoured cereal? Something luxurious, with nuts and oats and berries. Has that been done? It couldn’t be more sugary than Frosties, could it?

Anyway, creative brainbox that he is, the boyfriend suggested I add them to hot porridge, but I think that would be going too far…

Wouldn’t it?