I don't know about with you, but it's been snowing here in Edinburgh this weekend, so something totally warming, perhaps stodgy and oh-so comforting is required. Quick as a flash, Fanny flies in with her long-forgotten solution, native to these isles and once found on almost all kitchen tables - the steamed pudding. A savoury one to boot. She claims it's one of her very favourites, as it has cheese in the crust, but of course she puts her own special twist on it to help with the presentation...
Fanny says she's flicked through all the cookery books she owns (which I imagine are simply the ones she has written herself) and despite all her furious research, she has been unable to find anything even remotely similar to this, ever, in history. She's not claiming to have invented this one, she does recognise that she may have seen it somewhere, she is just not sure where or when. This does not stop dear old Fanny from unveiling it to the world.
Fanny's savoury crust of course uses proper, everyday, honest to goodness suet. No-one would ever need to explain it, or indeed have any consideration that you may not be happy to eat it. Thank heavens for a vegetarian version courtesy of Atora snuggling away in my cupboard waiting for such a weekend as this. Once nestled in with the flour (self-raising as Fanny always insists), some additional baking powder, a little seasoning, a whole load of cheese and 'enough' cold water to make a good stiff dough no-one would ever be able to tell anyway. I love a suet dough, it's so manageable and as I've used bright red cheese in this one, you can really see the flecks as your roll it. I'm feeling warm and cheery already.
Fanny fills her pudding with beef. pork or veal, so I swap that for some frozen vegetables. It seems appropriate for this oh-so freezing weekend. Fanny herself was a fan of the freezer too, so I'm not going to feel too badly. All seems fine. I fling the spinach and butternut squash into pans (separate ones) and cook them down. The squash goes all squishy, but that's fine as I want a very rough purée, honest. To both I add a touch of seasoning and a grind of fresh nutmeg. Oh and egg yolks, just like Fanny does to her meat. I wonder of she made hers look like google eyes too? Actually, probably.
Any normal suet pudding, even a savoury one, Fanny notes, would start off with the pastry lining the well buttered bowl. Not here. Oh no. Fanny builds up layers in stripes of cheesy suet crust and filling, cutting suet discs in every increasing circles to fit the bowl. Fanny steams the pudding for two and a half hours before unmoulding. She does warn that these puddings are not for the faint hearted or those nervous of turning them out in front of guests. If you fall into these categories, Fanny recommends that you serve it just from the bowl, with a clean napkin wrapped around it, or revert back to an old fashioned style pudding, with the bowl lined and filling inside. I think in giving such an instruction most readers would quiver and cave in. But why would you pass the opportunity to slice into this striped beauty and wow your guests, not only with the taste but with the style too. Please don't be a pudden and allow suet puddings to remain forgotten, they really are so very perfect for a winters treat.