Friday, 11 April 2008

Soup Night

A bowl of soup with bread and cheese to accompany it must be one of the most pleasing and convivial suppers there is. I make a lot of soup nowadays, though I've mentioned before my childhood aversion to the stuff (except for my mum's fab vegetable soups). I still have a horror of tinned soup, though I know a lot of people have a nostalgic hankering for a particular tomato soup... An essential part of what have become our 'soup nights' is the pudding. We always like to follow soup etc. with a proper pud, something hearty and rib-sticking. Preferably with custard.

Neither of the boys are particularly keen on mushrooms 'as is', but this soup always goes down well, having all the lovely flavour but none of the somewhat difficult texture. I like to boost the fairly pedestrian button mushrooms with a good heap of dried porcini and a good bit of thyme, which goes wonderfully with mushrooms.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

80g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
fresh thyme leaves
250g button mushrooms, finely chopped
10g dried porcini
50g cornflour
1/2 pint milk

Soak the dried porcini in 1 1/2 pints of water from the kettle. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and fry the onion, thyme and button mushrooms until soft. Add the cornflour and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time. Pour in the porcini and their soaking liquid, add the milk and bring to the boil, still stirring all the time. Turn down the heat and simmer for half an hour. Purée and reheat, adjusting the seasoning to taste.

I like a swirl of cream and a scattering of chopped fresh parsley, but -hey - your decision!

The pudding I chose to cook last night was one that has been adopted as a self-conciously 'retro' classic. I mean it, though, I love this and cook it often. Rather than doing it in a cake tin, though, try a pie tin. You get a lovely domed effect, not unlike a tarte tatin. Speaking of which, why is that 'fashionable' and this 'retro'? I know which I'd rather have.

Pineapple Upside-Down Pudding

To me this is emphatically a pudding, and not a cake.

pineapple rings, juice or syrup reserved
glacé cherries

4oz butter, plus 2 tbsp more
4oz light muscovado sugar, plus 2 tbsp more
2 eggs
4oz self-raising flour
pinch baking powder (about 1/4 tsp)

Press the 2 tbsp butter onto the bottom of a deep pie tin and scatter over the 2 tbsp sugar. Place pineapple rings in the base of the tin, filling each central void with a glacé cherry.

Cream the remaining butter and sugar together, add the beaten eggs, flour and baking powder. Add a little of the pineapple juice or syrup to make a smooth and soft cake batter, then dollop and spread this over the pineapple base. Bake at 180°c for 25 minutes. Loosen the edges of the cake with a palette knife, put an upturned plate on top of the tin then flip it all over to unmould the pudding in all its glory. Serve warm, with lashings of custard.

1 comment:

Kazza said...

I haven't had pineapple upside down for years - this is the second time I have read about one in the last 24 hours though so I will take that as a sign and make one to follow tomorrows lunch - I can't wait!!!!!


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