This first pudding was traditionally made in Staveley Village, in Westmorland - the North West of England. It can only be made in Spring, when the nettles are young and tender and when wild green herbs grow in abundance.
You will need:
Any kind of edible young green herbs, wild ones
such as Easter ledges (none available around here, I used wild garlic instead)
young nettle tops (wear rubber gloves!)
young dandelion leaves
lady's mantle (alchemilla)
or your choice of spring herbs - several handfuls.
One hard-boiled egg
One raw egg
Half an ounce of butter
pepper and salt.
We have lots of nettles, plenty of dandelions, lady's mantle, wild garlic and chives, so that's what I settled for. Easier said than done, though.
The first problem I encountered was that of finding enough young dandelion leaves, preferably located in places where the dog could not possibly have lifted his leg... The nettles came from Owl Wood and so did the wild garlic. Lady's mantle came from where the old summerhouse was located and the chives from the herb garden.
Wash them thoroughly! Really thoroughly, it is amazing what comes out of those greens. I'm squeamish, I know, but I also know what runs around our gardens and the woods at night time. Just saying!
Put the greens into boiling water and boil for 10 minutes.
Drain. I drained and squeezed until the greens looked like dry boiled spinach. (I should have squeezed a third or fourth time, for I ended up with a small puddle around the pudding.) Then chop the leaves and add the finely chopped boiled egg.
Next, add the beaten egg, the butter and seasoning.
Return the whole to the pan and cook through briefly.
Put the (tiny) mixture into a hot pudding basin to shape it, then turn it out and serve.
I popped a wild garlic flower on top for decoration. You can see that pesky liquid around the base.
Taste test: Surprisingly delicious!
Would I make it again - Yes, I probably would.
Another Herb Pudding, this one comes from a different Westmorland village, Burnside.
The basics are the the same, but you leave out the raw egg and add a couple of tablespoons of boiled barley.
I am a fan of pearl barley, I like it in soups and I liked the addition to this pudding. It just added a little more body to the dish. Less juice dribbled out of this one, I had almost wrung it out sufficiently!
The dish is really intended to be served as a side dish to meat.
The recipe came from Florence White's book - Good things in England (1932)
Playtime over, I got down to the real business of the day...
Four individual apple crumbles and a loaf of no-knead bread.
This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love them all!
The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.
I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.