Sunday, 17 April 2011
Today we have had friends for lunch. What can be better than to sit and chat to friends over a meal on a Sunday - a day that can be a difficult day to get through I find.
Because there are usually only two of us for lunch I always take the opportunity when we have guests to cook a roast dinner - four people means buying a larger piece of meat and that always cooks better. Today we chose to have a piece of rare breed (Dexter) beef - not the tenderest piece I have ever cooked, but tasty nevertheless.
But as any good Yorkshireman (and probably the rest of the UK as well) knows - you can't have roast beef without Yorkshire Pudding. I intended to photograph the puddings as they came out of the oven but, of course, I forgot, so the photograph is of the sad five or so which remained after our meal. Still you get the general idea.
Yorkshire Pudding probably originated in order to save on meat which would have been more expensive. It was traditional to eat the pudding first, on its own with good gravy. That way, by the time you got to the meat course you would not be so hungry.
The same goes for savoury suet pudding - a traditional dish in Lincolnshire, where I come from.
The recipe certainly goes back a long way. Here is the recipe given in a book by Hannah Glasse - "The Art of Cookery", published in 1796.
Take a quart of milk and five eggs, beat them up well together and mix them with flour to make a good batter and very smooth. Add a little salt, nutmeg and ginger.
Butter a frying pan and put it under a piece of beef that is roasting, then pour in your batter. When the top is brown turn it over. Put it on a hot dish and send to the table.
I can remember when it was traditional to cook the pudding under the meat and when it was usually one large pudding that was made. Nowadays we usually make small puds like the ones in the photograph.
For people outside the UK who would like to have a go at this next time they have a piece of beef to roast - here is a modern recipe:-
Put four ounces of plain flour into a basin together with some salt. Break two eggs into the flour and then gradually beat in half a pint of milk. Beat it well until bubbles rise to the surface and then leave it to stand for an hour or so.
Put a small knob of fat into each small tin and put them into a very hot oven until the fat is sizzling hot then pour in the batter and cook near the top of the oven. Small puds like the ones in the photograph take about fifteen minutes - larger ones take longer of course.
Here to finish is a lovely rhyme I found in an old book:
Here's to Yorkshire, my lads,
The land of good cheer,
The home of the pudding,
Well known far and near.
Wed a lass that can make one,
Is the theme of my song,
But so long as she's Yorkshire
You cannot go wrong!