Historically, the word ‘puddings’ was just as likely – at times, more likely – to refer to a ‘savoury’ dish rather than a sweet, ‘dessert’ dish (and the distinction between sweet and savoury dishes was blurred, if you go back to medieval times.) We have discussed the general subject of puddings, and the troublesome etymology of the word in a previous post (here), but the topic is far from exhausted.
I want to talk today about vegetable puddings. Again, this is not a new topic here – I considered the idea of vegetable puddings in a previous post, as a way of helping you to get your ‘five a day’ by adding them to your dessert menu. My favourite idea was the ‘Pudding in a Turnep Root’, but there have been many others.
The concept behind these recipes was not, of course, that of increasing vegetable consumption. At the time, a far greater priority for the mass of the population was to get more protein. The starchy vegetables (which could be home-grown, or were cheap) which feature in many of these sweet puddings acted to reduce the amount of flour or other grain, and to fill the belly, so the lack of a nice steak or chicken breast did not bite so much.
The vegetable puddings which have so far featured in this blog have been puddings in the dessert style – like this one, from the Los Angeles Times Cookbook: 1,000 Recipes of Famous Pioneer Settlers ... (1905)
Mrs. Nellie B. Stewart, 1417 East Twenty-first street, Los Angeles.
One cup carrots, one cup potato, one cup sour apples, one cup currants, one cup raisins, one cup bread crumbs, one cup flour, one cup suet, two cups white sugar, one teaspoon soda, one cup walnuts coarsely chopped. Steam three hours. The vegetables and apples can be cut with a cutter.
Let us not forget that a vegetable pudding can function very well, without the sugar and spices, as a vegetable dish. Either of the following would make a fine main course for a vegetarian dinner.
Take spinage, peas, and broad beans, boiled each separately, and rubbed through a sieve.
Mix with the whites of two eggs, a little pepper, and salt; fill a basin, and boil.
Maigre Cookery (1884)
A Vegetable Pudding.
Boil a savoy cabbage, and squeeze it as dry as possible in a clean rubber; then chop it very fine, and put it into a stew-pan, and about an ounce of butter, and a little pepper and salt; set it over the fire; keep stirring it until quite hot; then put it on a plate to cool:—boil two carrots, but do not scrape them; when boiled, cut them in quarters, and shape them round with a knife:—mash some potatoes very fine, make them very good, and put them to cool:—boil some spinach, and squeeze it very dry ; chop it very fine; put it into a stew-pan, about an ounce of butter, a little cream, pepper and salt; stir it about until quite hot, and dry; then put it on a plate to cool:—then mash some turnips ; the turnips should be squeezed very dry; the best way is to put them in a clean cloth, and squeeze the water out; then put them into a sauce-pan, with about two ounces of butter, a little white pepper, and salt; put them over a slow fire ; keep stirring them while on the fire; then put them to cool:—boil four heads of nice greens; then squeeze the water well from them, and leave them their full length:—butter an oval, or round mould (called a crocant mould); at each end put carrots, then potatoes, next greens, then turnips, next carrots, then cabbage, then spinach, and then potatoes ; they should all be laid longways down the mould; make a star in the bottom of the mold, with carrots, cut in the shape of leaves; fill the middle up with mashed potatoes; put it in the oven (or a stew-pan, with water to come up about three parts of the mould) about half an hour before it is wanted; (the oven is best, as the vegetables bind together better) be very particular about buttering the mould; make as much butter stick to it as you can. To make it easier understood, I have given the following plan of the method of putting the vegetables into the mould.
N. B. The vegetables should be rolled in the shape of a sausage, put quite close to each other; when done, turn it out; it is a handsome dish for the middle, or two of them for flanks.
A complete system of cookery on a plan entirely new (1816) by John Simpson.
Quotation for the Day.
“'Make a remark,' said the Red Queen; 'it's ridiculous to leave all the conversation to the pudding!'”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.