Sunday, November 28, 2004


It seems that one of my interests/hobbies is cooking. And I haven't blogged about it at all, ever, apart from the time I told you about my dodgy Yorkshire Puddings (search the archive, suckers). So, here's two things I made recently that I know you're just dying to hear about.

Thing number one.
Not a common thing in England, the hash brown. Bit of an American thing that was imported into motorway service stations in the early 80s, methinks. Anyway, I had one once and I liked it. Unfortunately the other 300,000 times I've tried them they've been crap. So, a couple of weekends ago, I thought I'd try making some myself. I get the trusty Delia Smiff off the shelf, nothing zilch nada. I try the other cookery founts of wisdom. Same result. I search the interweb. Nuffink. Seems like nobody has ever published a recipe for hash browns! Hmm. I have to resort to reverse engineering...what's in 'em?

Potato and onion. Possibly a breadcrumb coating. I decide that these things are a commercialised version of bubble'n'squeak (without the cabbage). So that means the stuff has all been pre-cooked. Hmm.. I boil a spud or two, and when they're cool enough to handle, I grate them. Also an onion (unwritten law of cooking savoury dishes - no onion, no food). Then I try mixing them together, but stick they will not. I chuck an egg in for binding purposes, but it's still a floppy mix, so I throw some flour in too. Not bad, let's glue some breadcrumbs to the outside. That seems to work, chuck 'em in the big frying pan, turn 'em over a few times, and whoop-di-doo, the best hash browns I've ever had, ever. (WARNING: I am a trained professional - do not try this at home, unless you can wait 45 minutes for a hash brown).

Thing number two.
Pease pudding is an ancient dish from Geordieland. I think. My mother used to make it when I was a kid in Durham and later in Yorkshire. I hated it. After I'd left home and returned for a weekend (probably to get my clothes washed), me mam presented me with a blob of PP on a plate with some other stuff. For once I actually tried it instead of feeding it to a nearby pot-plant. And I loved it! 'Twere the greatest thing.

So, last weekend we had a bunch of pipple round to celebrate TotherArf's birthday (96 if she'm be a day). Talking with TotherArf about various things that we could sling together for a cold buffet, I suddenly decided that PP might go down well. As it happened, it did. The mother of one of our guests (86!) was so taken with it that she demanded a doggy-bag and the recipe.

Here's how I make Pease Pudding. My mother used to make it differently - her method involved slinging the goo into a muslin bag until all the moisture has dripped out.

Get a few handfuls of yellow split peas (possibly about 250g). Run them through your fingers and pick out any little stones (not necessary if everyone eating it has dental insurance). Chuck 'em in a big saucepan and cover with water, about twice as much water as other stuff. Add a finely chopped onion. Now, I don't know whether this bit is essential, but I normally throw in a pork knuckle (they used to call it a ham hock in Geordieland). Bring the pan to the boil, scrape off the scum, slap a lid on and simmer. After about an hour, take out the meat and scrape it off the bone - shred it into small bits and put it back into the pan. Continue to cook until the peas look like a kind of mush where the peas are no longer individually distinguishable - it should be thick and not runny. Stir in about 40g of butter and let it cool. It should set into a pate-like consistency. You can eat it hot or cold, it's wonderful on toast and it should last a week in the fridge.

"Pease pudding hot,
Pease pudding cold,
pease pudding in the pot,
Nine days old."