Christmas Pudding Recipe

by Anne Maxfield on December 8, 2016

accidental-locavore-christmas-puddingChristmas pudding is like fruitcake—same candied fruit, (more) booze, and a limited number of fans (mainly U.K. residents and expats).

And, like fruitcake, someone must be eating it or it wouldn’t show up on store shelves.

However, that’s been changing and not only has the audience diminished, so have the places where you can buy it.

Since the Accidental Locavore’s mother and twin sister are both huge fans, I decided to give it a go.

It’s pretty easy, but you need plenty of time for it to age.

The longer the better and remember, the fruit mix needs to marinate for four days.

This makes about 4 medium bowls.

Christmas Pudding Recipe 

Fruit Mixture (To be made 4 days ahead)

  • 1 pound seedless raisins
  • 1 pound sultana (golden) raisins
  • 1/2 pound currants
  • 1 cup citron (thinly sliced or chopped)
  • 1 cup chopped candied peel
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound finely ground beef suet
  • 1 1/4 cups cognac


  • 1 1/4 pounds fresh bread crumbs (about 1 loaf of Wonderbread)
  • 1 cup very hot milk
  • 1 cup sherry or port
  • 12 large eggs, well beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Cognac
  • Butter for greasing the bowls

accidental-locavore-christmas-pudding-beginningIn a very large bowl, add the raisins, sultanas, currants, citron, peel, spices and suet. Toss to combine.

Add 1/4 cup cognac, cover tightly and refrigerate for 4 days.

Sprinkle the mix with 1/4 cup cognac each day.

In a medium bowl, soak the bread crumbs in milk and sherry (or port).

Add the beaten eggs, sugar and salt.

Pour into the fruit and mix thoroughly.

accidental-locavore-christmas-pudding-bowlsPut the pudding in buttered bowls or tins and fill them about 2/3 full. Cover with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the bowl, then top with aluminum foil and tie it firmly.

Steam for 6-7 hours. A large roasting pan works well for this. If you want to do it in the oven, cover the roasting pan and bowls with aluminum foil and steam in a 275° oven.

Check occasionally and add more water as needed.

Uncover and bake in a 250°F. oven for 30 minutes.

Add a dash of cognac to each pudding, cover with parchment paper and foil and keep in a cool place. They will store for up to a year.

To use, steam again for 2-3 hours and unmold. If you’d like, add some gently heated cognac, ignite and bring to the table. Serve with hard sauce (softened, unsalted butter and confectioner’s sugar beaten together with a lot of brandy or cognac) and enjoy!

My verdict: Never a big fan, this could change my mind about Christmas pudding (which by the way has no resemblance to pudding, it’s just the British term for desserts). Even my husband who can’t stand the stuff actually liked it!

I would buy some deep inexpensive bowls to use for this. This time I used a set of three I bought (2.5 quarts and smaller) and an old large soup bowl, If you’re going to be aging the “pud,” just remember that the bowls will be out of service for a while. You’re also going to need some very large mixing bowls to hold the fruit mixture, breadcrumbs and eggs.

Because the fruit is acidic, it’s best to always have a piece of parchment (not waxed) paper covering the surface of the pudding. Then top with aluminum foil.

Generally, instead of trying to fit a giant bowl in my fridge for four days (no way that’s going to happen), if it’s cold enough, I put in on my screen porch.



Top 10 Gadgets to Gift-Let’s Shop!

by Anne Maxfield on December 5, 2016

Accidental Locavore GIR ProductsHow can a gadgets require a great deal of courage?

By giving one to the Accidental Locavore, or anyone else who cooks a lot.

We usually have what we like and can’t live without (and drawers full of rejects).

In the spirit of holiday-gift giving, here are my top 10 gadgets (including a new favorite cookbook).

You’d have to kill me before I’d let them out of my kitchen.

A lot of them are from GIR and although they’ve graciously sent them to me for review, I would go out and buy any one of them (or my new criteria–move them to France).

They come in a dozen colors, which will either make shopping easier or harder.

And yes, these gadgets bring me joy.

Top 10 Gadgets to Gift:

  1. Mini spatula from GIR. I use it at least once a day, generally more. You can find it hanging out in the dish drainer more often than in its handsome utensil holder my friend Ivan made for me.
  2. New ladle from GIR. This is a new item (but will be available for the holidays). It’s probably going to clear several lesser ladles from my house. That’s a good thing. It acts as a scraper while you ladling stuff so you can get every last drop out of the pot. Brilliant!accidental-locavore-gir-ladle-gadgets
  3. Waiting to test the spoonula coming out with the ladle from GIR. Will it remove spatulas and spoons? I dunno, the big spoon from them is another thoughtfully designed piece and much used.
  4. Also new, the bottle stoppers. Designed not to add any height to the bottles, you can stick them in the fridge without major reorganization. They’re cute and totally leak-proof (I kept trying). Something you don’t think you need till you’ve got them.accidental-locavore-gir-bottle-gadgets
  5. The reason I didn’t think I needed them was because we keep the undrunk wine (when there is some) in a carafe from ­­­­­Savino. It keeps the wine in good shape for about a week. The floaty thing stops the air from penetrating the wine.accidental-locavore-wine-gadget
  6. Silicone lids, also from GIR. Like the mini spatula, the round ones are in use almost every day. They act as a drain stopper when I want to thaw something or soak spinach. The bigger ones are lids for cooking, covering food in the fridge, or for heating something in the microwave.
  7. POURfect measuring spoons I initially mocked, but cannot live without! These may seem overly precious, but trust me you’ll toss all others that came before.Accidental Locavore Mary's Measuring Spoons
  8. Sous-vide machine, the slow cooker for the 21st One of the big advantages is that you can sous-vide when you have time and finish it off a couple of days later. My friend Zhu Zhu just made the most amazing caramelized carrots, starting them in the sous-vide machine first
  9. Fasta Pasta (life changing pasta cooker). Just trust me on this – it’s the best $15 you’ll spend.Accidental Locavore Fasta Pasta
  10. The cookbook? Made in India by Meera Sodha. My friend Rob recommended it and it’s been in heavy rotation ever since. It’s why I now make perfect basmati rice.

Happy Shopping! What looks most tempting to you?




Lamb and Quince Tagine

by Anne Maxfield on December 1, 2016

accidental-locavore-quinceI had some quince from our CSA and didn’t have a clue as to what to do with them.

Luckily at that moment, the Accidental Locavore saw a Facebook photo from Serge at Serevan.

It was a box of beautiful quince, so I asked what to do with them.

There were a bunch of great ideas.

My favorite was a lamb and quince tagine.

Turns out it’s a very popular Middle Eastern dish.

This is my version of it. Probably serves 4.

Lamb and Quince Tagine

For the lamb:accidental-locavore-lamb-and-quince-tagine-cooked

  • 2 pounds lean boneless lamb shoulder cut into 1’ pieces
  • 3 medium red onions, peeled; 1 grated, 2 finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 12 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 2 tablespoons. finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 18 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • Salt
  • 14 cup tomato paste
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (more or less to taste)
  • 12 teaspoon ground cumin

accidental-locavore-quince-for-tagineFor the quince:

  • 3 fresh quinces
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 14 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch saffron threads

In a large pot over medium heat, stir lamb, grated onion, olive oil, saffron, ginger, paprika, cilantro, parsley, garlic, and 1½ tsp. salt in large pot over medium heat for 15 minutes.

Add tomato paste and 1 cup water; raise heat, and bring to a boil.

Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes, turning meat occasionally. Add chopped onions, jalapeño, and cumin, and simmer 45 minutes more.

While the lamb is cooking, cut each quince into 6 pieces (skin on) and cut away core. In a skillet over medium heat poach the quince in 4 cups simmering, salted water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Pour off all but 2-3 tbsp. poaching liquid; add butter, sugar, and cinnamon.

Cook quinces flesh-side-down until glazed brown, about 20 minutes. Turn, and glaze 5 minutes more.

Serve the lamb garnished with the quince and enjoy!

accidental-locavore-lamb-and-quince-tagine-with-couscousMy verdict: Made a fan out of me! I made extra quince since I had a bunch of them. Used some for the lamb and saved the rest for a future tagine. They’d be good with pork or maybe even chicken-could even be dessert topping for ice cream or accompany cheeses.

The tagine comes together easily, and since as usual there wasn’t any parsley chez moi, it was left out. I served everything over couscous with some harissa for those who like it hotter.

Have you made anything with quince?




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Thanksgiving Disasters, Have You Ever Lost a Turkey?

by Anne Maxfield on November 28, 2016

Accidental Locavore Thanksgiving Turkey Carved

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we can relax for another year and think about what to change for next year.

A few years ago, we had a most interesting Thanksgiving and it all had to do with my family’s love of dark meat.

While most Americans prefer white meat turkey, the Accidental Locavore’s family is primarily a dark meat gang.

One year at Thanksgiving we had about a dozen people for dinner. When we were done, the back of the turkey looked like it had been dipped in acid with not a morsel left.  However, the breast was almost totally intact.

The following year I thought I was being smart by ordering a turkey and four extra legs–plenty of dark meat for all. Went to the store, and picked up two enormous (and expensive) bags with the turkey in them.

Thanksgiving morning we took the bags out to see how big the bird was.

One giant turkey leg.

Two giant legs.

Three giant legs.

Four giant legs…oops, no turkey.

Even in New York City, have you ever tried buying a turkey on Thanksgiving day?

We finally ended up with a frozen kosher bird. My father and I worked to defrost it, alternating between a hair-dryer, and water bath.

Don’t even start with “you’re never supposed to defrost anything that way” comments.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Finally, after a couple of hours we got it defrosted, stuffed and put it and the giant legs in the oven.

If you’re wondering why we felt the need for a whole bird, two word–inside stuffing. It’s just so much better when it’s cooked in the bird (and I know the same people who are against speed defrosting are probably anti-inside stuffing too…tough).

Accidental Locavore Thanksgiving Turkey Leg EatenDinner was only delayed by about four hours, we were getting low on wine, so everyone was pretty wasted, not to mention hungry, by the time we sat down for dinner.

But we knew we had a story for the family history book. Ever since then, we just buy a whole turkey, and if someone wants extra legs, it’s strictly BYO.

What was your most memorable or disaster ridden Thanksgiving?