Saturday, February 27, 2016

Yorkshire Puddings

There are people outside of the United Kingdom who have never tasted a Yorkshire Pudding. I was one of those people until I lived in Britain and first enjoyed eating them, and then learned how to make them. They are a real treat that deserves to spread to other parts of the world. 

They are traditionally accompanied with roast beef and vegetables. These are not sweet puddings, if that is what the word "pudding" means to you. These are more like american biscuits that get eaten with gravy, but they are hollow inside, light and fluffy but also crispy on the outside. They are best when eaten freshly-made. Even some people in England struggle to get them to turn out just right. This recipe, if followed precisely, should work every time. I was taught by an English friend, and then adapted the recipe for the tray that I have. You can use a standard non-stick muffin or cupcake tray to make them.


3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
A pinch of salt
Vegetable oil for baking

Preheat the oven to 450° F or 230 ° C (it makes sense to do this after you have roasted the beef). Put approximately a teaspoon of oil in each of the twelve spots in the tray and place the tray in the oven for at least 5-7 minutes at that temperature.

In the meantime, mix the eggs, milk, flour, and salt with a mixer until it is homogenized into a batter. 

Take the tray from the oven and very quickly (this is the key to them turning out perfectly!) pour batter in each spot in the tray, until it reaches almost to the top, as shown in this photo.

Return the tray to the oven and leave it in for 30-35 minutes. When they are done, they should look like this:

Take them out of the oven when the vegetables, gravy, and other items are ready to be served. My husband always makes a slit in the top of each one on his plate with his knife, so that the gravy goes inside when it is poured over them. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

24 years ago, on Valentine's Day

This is a blog for recipes, but hopefully you will enjoy this story that I am sharing, even though it has nothing to do with food, as "food for thought" on this occasion.

I still remember vividly the conversation I had with my husband (then my fiance) 24 years ago today, on Valentine's Day, a holiday we didn't really celebrate in Romania then, although it has since started to catch on. He still lived in the UK, where we had met as students, while I had since had to return to Romania. And so we spent a lot of time writing (letters back then, not e-mails) and talking on the phone as often as we could. When he called that day, he said "Happy Valentine's Day," and then thought that I was being sarcastic when I replied by saying "Thank you for the flowers." But I was being sincere. He then asked, with confusion in his voice, "Wait - you got flowers?" Then it was my turn to be confused, at his confusion. I think you will enjoy the story of our very different experiences, and the surprising way they fit together.

Romania did not at that time have good connections with the international companies that allow one to send flowers anywhere in the world. But apparently my fiance had managed to arrange something, because I got a phone call, telling me that a local florist in my town had been trying to deliver flowers to my apartment but had not found me home. They asked me to come to their shop and choose the flowers I wanted - a very large amount, since British currency went very far in Romania in those days, and what might have bought a nice bouquet with shipping in the UK would get you too many flowers to count in Romania, basically everything she had in the store that morning! Indeed, the woman at the store wondered if I was somebody famous and important, to be getting so many flowers. 

My then fiance had a different perspective on what had happened. He had placed an order for a bouquet of flowers to be sent to me, using a company in the UK which said they could deliver even to Romania. But to his great disappointment, they called him back the day before Valentine's Day, to let him know that they had not succeeded in getting through to their contact at the destination in Romania, and so would be unable to fulfil his order, and thus were refunding his money.

Apparently, somewhere they got their wires crossed, because the order did in fact get through. And so I had the lovely surprise of receiving more flowers than ever before or since in my life, while my then fiance had the experience of disappointment, followed by confusion, followed by surprise, and then delight that I had in fact received the flowers. And we were both happy when we realized that apparently neither of us had had to pay for them!

I hope you have a Happy Valentine's Day, filled with memories that you will recall happily for years and decades to come!