At the end of last Summer I was at Tootsie’s day nursery in Farnham – they were shortlisted for the Nursery World Food Award, they went on to win the award for 2011.
The nursery kitchen is run by professional chef, Tris Strover. The day that I visited, the menu included Jambalaya and rice, home made cornbread, carrot cake and apple and blackberry sorbet. The food was delicious, and all seasonal (local where possible) and organic. The nursery is applying the Soil Association’s Food For Life catering mark. So their ingredients are organic, and a lot is sourced locally and their fish is sustainably sourced. The nursery has vegetable plots and the children do cooking activities too.
Good nursery food (as with school) is not just about nutrition and standards. Its about taste, and creativity – something that Tris has in abundance.
Just in time for Christmas, Tris has sent me his child friendly (no booze) recipe for Christmas pudding that he has been making in the nursery. Its an adaptation of his great gran’s recipe, so all the measurements were in 4oz and 8 oz measurements – and have been converted to grams.
¼ teaspoon mixed spice
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
57g self-raising flour
85g vegetarian suet
170g dark brown sugar, Tris recommends Billington’s
57g natural cherries chopped
113g mixed peel
85g dried chopped dates
Half a bramley apple, grated
40ml apple juice
Half of an orange zest and juice
170g grated carrot
170g grated sweet potato
2 medium eggs
A tablespoon of black treacle
You will need 3 Mixing bowls (1 large and 2 medium).
Sieve the flour with the spices into a medium bowl (mixing bowl 1), add the suet and the breadcrumbs and sugar.
Next carefully weigh out the cherries, currents, sultanas, raisins, mixed peel and dates into a large bowl (mixing bowl 2).
Grate the apples, sweet potatoes and carrots into mixing bowl 3, add the apple juice, eggs, orange and zest and gently mix with a fork, once mixed add the black treacle and mix again.
The black treacle can be quite mesmerising.
Add the all the contents of bowl 1 into bowl 2 and using your fingertips gently mix it all together thoroughly.
Once all combined add the contents of bowl 3 to the large bowl 2.
Mix all the ingredients gently together.
Then pour into a 2 pint basin, cover with foil or a muslin and tie round the muslin with string, tying the string over the top so you can lift it out of the saucepan when it’s hot.
Bring water to the boil in a large saucepan. Place the pudding in the pan and steam for 4 hours.
Take the foil and string off, allow to cool and cover with cling film loosely (in case the pudding expands slightly) and then put in a cool dark place until Christmas day.
When you want to serve, steam for an hour, again with foil on the top and string around it, and steam for a further hour before tipping out onto a plate to serve.
If you don’t think you have time to make one – think again, I made mine in-between getting the Christmas Tree from Cranborne Estate, making supper and decorating the tree, after a week of Nativity costume making, trips to London and Brighton, consultancy work and Christmas prep. I haven’t got round to making any mince pies yet, that’ll come nearer to Christmas. In the meantime, I have found some mini-ones in Waitrose that will do the trick, oh and the house is a mess…
Postscript added 11 November 2013: I’ve noticed lots of people are checking out this recipe. Would be great if you could let me have your feedback, especially if you make the Christmas pudding.