Friday, 8 October 2010

Fish and Leek Pudding

From Kitchen Goes to War, a collection of recipes by "big names", quoted in Bombers and Mash, by Raynes Minns. (Her other book is We'll Eat Again.)

3/4lb flour
1 tsp baking powder
6oz chopped suet
2 thick slices of cod or other white fish
4 or 5 leeks

Line a 7-inch pudding basin with a light suet paste. for this mix the flour, the chopped suet and a little salt into a stiffish paste with water. Wash, trim and cut into cubes the fish. Cut the leeks into 2 inch pieces. Place fish and vegetables, well seasoned with salt and pepper, into the lined basin. Fill up with cold water. Cover with suet paste. Tie up securely with a pudding cloth and steam or boil two and a half or three hours.

Many wartime recipes involved "boiling or steaming for three hours" - odd when the nation was desperately trying to save fuel. Nobody in the UK boils suet puddings any more, though you can still get dried suet in packets, and you can buy ready-made puddings in tins. Boiled puddings made sense if you had a stove that was on all the time (an Aga or Rayburn), or if your only source of heat was an open fire (you cooked in a cauldron suspended over it).

The wartime housewife could have made a quick fish pie with these ingredients: make a white sauce, add the chopped fish and leeks, put in a pie dish, cover with pastry or a layer of mashed potato, cook in a hot oven for half an hour.

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