It was my birthday last month, and being someone who loves to read and cook to my heart’s content, I must admit.. I pray for cookbooks. It may sound corny, but my heart jumps with glee when I unwrap one. No joke.
This year, my sister Rachel sent me the new book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, ‘Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate’. I’ve always been a big fan of Hugh and the folks at River Cottage due to their wonderful food ethos and hard-hitting campaigns on animal welfare and fish sustainability, as well as promoting the act of growing your own fruit and vegetables and living off the land.
I really like the simplicity of this book. There are no overly fussy recipes in sight or ingredient lists the length of your arm and in cooking there doesn’t need to be. I really believe that if you use the freshest, best quality ingredients you can find, they will sing all by themselves with very little help. Although there are generally more than three ingredients used in each of the recipes, there are three ‘main’ ingredients that comprise each dish.
As it says in the introduction:
“This book is not about exotic ingredients or trendy techniques. Nor is it a polemic about shunning certain foods or worshipping others. It’s about recognising a simple pattern that already underpins many well-loved dishes.. They [are usually] little more, and little less, than three good things on a plate.”
Living with Martina, who, when it comes to biscuits, is all about the gingernut, the obvious three good things to tackle first was the condensed milk, lemon and gingernut combo. I say ‘tackle’, but there is really little more to do than mixing them together with some double cream, so it was deceptively easy. Great when you know you’ll want dessert after dinner but are strapped for time, or cash for that matter! It’s very much a store cupboard kind of recipe afterall. The condensed milk and biscuits will last in the cupboard for ages and if you happen to have a few lemons knocking about in your fridge like I tend to, then all you have to get is some cream! A nice solid standby recipe that can be whipped up at a moments notice, then left to do it’s thing in the fridge.
Lemon Pudding (Serves 6)
(From ‘Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)
“This is an incredibly easy and deliciously retro pud. The idea of ‘setting’ condensed milk with lemon juice goes back to recipes-on-the-back-of-the-tin in the 1970’s, or earlier. It’s a neat trick, and a yummy one. The lemon cuts the intense sweetness of the condensed milk perfectly and the crushed biscuits on top give a sort of upside-down-cheesecake effect.”
4 large lemons
400g tin sweetened condensed milk
150 ml double cream
12 gingernut biscuits
Finely grate the zest of two of the lemons. Squeeze the juice from all of them and strain it to remove any pips and fibres. Measure out 150ml strained juice.
Tip the condensed milk into a large bowl and stir in the cream. Add the lemon zest and juice and stir until the mixture is thick and smooth.
Divide evenly between 6 small cups or glasses and chill for several hours, until set.
Crush the biscuits to fine crumbs and scatter thickly over the top to serve.
I only needed 3 lemons when I made this to get the 150mls of juice you need, but maybe have a fourth one handy just in case. Best to have too much than too little I guess. I didn’t see the need in straining the juice either and it turned out just fine, no fibres or pips to be found!
Oh, and whilst we’re on topic, I am wholeheartedly a sucker for condensed milk. Oh sorry, I meant pure condensed ethereal joy. Old-fashioned it may be, but this stuff is like sweet liquid manna sent from heaven!