A long time ago, I was a finalist in BBC Masterchef. The competition has long changed, indeed I wouldn't dare enter today's show, there is far too much competition and as for those stints in professional kitchen I would be doomed; I am a cook, not a chef. However, there is something about cookery competitions that gets my juices running and earlier this year, I entered and won the Merry section in the The World's Original Marmalade Awardshttp://www.marmaladeawards.com/ an interesting concept for the author of a kids' cookery book, where the inclusion of alcohol is not permitted. Fuelled by success rather than alcohol, I continued the marmalade and Cointreau theme with a Christmas Pudding entry to The Taste of Christmas, again with some success.
I spend time in primary schools encouraging children to cook and, increasingly, I seem to come across more and more food allergies and intolerances including coeliacs. As a direct result, I am very aware of the difficulties that families have at festive time -- most shop-bought Christmas cakes and puddings will contain gluten. This year, my Christmas pudding recipe is gluten free and contains minimal fat (the greasing of the pudding dish). It is delicious and brings with it the scents and tastes of orange and spices which are synonymous with an old fashioned Christmas.
An Alternative Christmas Pudding
What to find:
100g chopped cherries
100g chopped apricots
75g crushed Amaretti biscuits
50g chopped almonds
100g candied peel
1tsp ground cloves
1tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsps marmalade
juice and grated rind lime
juice and grated rind orange
Butter for greasing
What to do:
1. Ask young helpers to chop the cherries and apricots (a cutlery knife and chopping board works well).
2. Put the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix well with washed hands.
3. Put the marmalade, eggs, fruit juices and Cointreau in another bowl and mix together.
4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, stir well, cover and leave to stand overnight.
5. Butter the inside of a large pudding basin and spoon in the mixture (the pudding is flourless so you can fill it to almost the top of the basin). Cover with pleated, buttered greaseproof paper and muslin and secure with string.
6. Put the basin on a trivet (up turned saucer) in a large pan and half fill the pan with boiling water. Put a lid on the pan and bring to the boil and then, simmer for 6 hours topping up water as required.
7. Allow to cool completely and then re-warp in greaseproof paper and muslin and store in a dry place.
Steam for two hours before serving.
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