Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Plum Pudding

Hi Everyone..................I received the following from Bob Archell who worked with my brother Ken at CNR in Montreal many years ago - you'll note that he raves about "CNR Plum Pudding" - so for all you recipe people out there here's another for your collection - It sure sounds like it's tasty!! - Later....................Win

From: Bob

Sent: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 1:23 PM

To: Undisclosed recipient

Subject: Plum Pudding

Many, many years ago I worked for CNR and during some of my time there rode the rails on business. During the business trips that occurred around Xmas I got addicted to plum pudding that was concocted by the great CN chefs at their Point St. Charles shops. When not travelling on the rails at Xmas time and while still an employee, I could buy cans of the mouth watering dessert. We were limited as to how many cans could be acquired because of the popularity.

One of my biggest concerns when I left CN 43 years ago was… how was I going to satisfy my hunger for the plum pudding at Xmas time. Ahhh, no fear since I still had a good buddy who continued to work for the company and he was able to fulfill my addictive needs.

Alas, the S.O.B. retired over a decade ago, and I have been suffering withdrawal symptoms ever since.

Here’s where the Toronto Star has come to the rescue. A couple of years ago, they discovered this great secret and actually published the recipe for the plum pudding and its accompanying hard sauce.

In the spirit of the season and the wish to share, I have attached three PDF files that describes everything you need to know about CN’s famous plum pudding and how to make it!!! If you do make a big batch and wish to share… you know where I live!!!

FESTIVE FARE

VIA's famous Christmas dessert

VIA Rail Canada is cooking up its famous plum pudding for those riding the rails

Dec 19, 2007 04:30 AM

GREG GORMICK

SPECIAL TO THE STAR

Could there be anything more Canadian than going home for Christmas by train and whiling away the snowy miles with a traditional dining car meal served on heavy china and crisp linen? Perhaps only ending that meal with the plum pudding that was, for generations, a festive delight on dining cars.

KEITH BEATY/TORONTO STAR

Passengers aboard VIA’s Canadian can order plum pudding with a choice of hot or cold sauce.

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When the federal government's carving knife first scraped VIA's carcass a quarter-century ago, the plum pudding fell by the trackside for budgetary reasons. Now, with trains back "in" with the public and politicians alike, the tradition is being revived for Christmas week on the stainless steel dining cars of VIA's transcontinental streamliner, The Canadian.

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VIA's Vancouver director of customer experience, James Kleiner, says the inspiration for the holiday-only dessert came from one of the railway's Winnipeg chefs, who sent him a Canadian National (CN) cookbook from the 1950s containing the original recipe. "I did my apprenticeship with Canadian Pacific Hotels," says Kleiner. "We'd get maitre d'hotels who'd switch over from being dining car stewards when they'd had enough of the gruelling hours on the trains. I'd heard from some of the CN guys about how they served trainloads of this plum pudding years ago."

Kleiner, who was previously VIA's executive chef, says constant passenger requests led him to ask one of the railway's Winnipeg development chefs to send it to local

Chew chew on this bakers for costing. Although the price is high – "beef suet and traditional recipe sultanas are not cheap commodities these days" – it was approved

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Recipes for VIA Rail Canada's Plum Pudding and Hot Brandy Sauce.

because it adds a unique element to the experience that rail travel offers in this airline-weary world. Kleiner adds that it is being done completely within the budget constraints always facing a

government-owned service that must justify itself to taxpayers, as well as dining car patrons.

The Canadian is the flagship of VIA's fleet. It links Toronto with Vancouver, departing Union Station on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings.

This is the second year of the plum pudding revival, and VIA expects about 700 people to indulge between Dec. 18 and 26. Those who pay a sleeping car fare eat free in the dining car. Coach passengers must pay $25.

The pudding will be served with rum sauce, but a hard sauce is available upon request.

As succulent nostalgia, VIA couldn't do better. The rich, fragrant dessert harks back to the work of the late, English-born CN dining car chef instructor Joseph "Bill" Nellis, who joined the railway in 1919 and first served it to passengers on trains running out of Montreal in 1937.

His first three-ton lot proved so popular it was produced in increasing quantities each year and served on trains across the transcontinental system, as well as the railway's hotels and steamships. It was also canned for off-train sales. CN eventually produced 25 tons each Christmas.

Nellis' plum pudding recipe dated back to mid-19th century England. It was a food writer's dream and the annual production in an old wooden dining car at Montreal's Point St. Charles Coach Yard never failed to bring out the press – and yard workers tantalized by the aroma.

For 25 days each fall, Nellis supervised a staff of chefs in the preparation of the pudding on a monstrous scale. Years after he retired, he would cheerfully return to make sure the chefs mixed, stirred and cooked the tons of ingredients to his specifications.

Most of each year's lot was consumed on the trains, but what little remained at the end of the holiday rush was sent back to the Montreal commissary. There, it was stored until the following year's pudding cook-off, when it was ploughed back into the new batch. Nellis said this added "character" to his creation, ripening to a rich, mellow flavour by early spring.

Said one of his co-workers, Nellis was a chef who liked nothing better than watching passengers leave the dining cars of "his railway" with smiles on their faces.

Kleiner echoes those sentiments and sees the plum pudding as one way to do that on his railway's flagship train.

He says he views it as being simultaneously Canadian and unique to rail passenger service. From his second-floor office at Vancouver's Pacific Central Terminal, Kleiner gazes out over a sea of classic stainless steel dining, sleeping and dome cars, and talks about the need for the service to be relevant, cost-effective and yet true to the traditions of fine railway dining.

"I still think of the wonderful stories those old dining car crews would tell me about how they would stop in the mountains and pick up ice from the ice houses and salmon from native Canadians. Or how the steward would send the crew off to pick blueberries while they were waiting in a siding for a meet with a freight train. And, of course, the famous goldeye they'd put on in Winnipeg.

"I'll bet there hasn't been a railway that's ever made money on its dining cars. But you have to do it and do it well because it's the one thing, above all, that people expect and remember. You're helping to create an experience that will last them a lifetime. That's a challenge and a pleasure. Bringing back the old CN plum pudding is one of those pleasures," Kleiner says.

This year he received a call from a Winnipeg woman whose father is terminally ill. One last thing he wants is to taste the CN plum pudding again. It has been arranged.

As Kleiner says, it's amazing that this dessert has had such an impact on so many Canadians.

FOOD EDITOR

Like its cousin the fruitcake, plum pudding is either an old habit that dies hard at Christmas or a hopelessly retro dessert that's shunned by younger generations and/or those horrified by suet.

Too bad, because this one – from VIA Rail Canada – is really quite lovable. It's also the first I've ever made or eaten more than a token mouthful of. I made it during Sunday's blizzard, and there's something about tending to a dish for hours on end that infuses it with extra deliciousness.

This one's mellow but flavourful and not too boozy.

Born in England in the 1400s, plum pudding (aka Christmas pudding) is essentially a boiled or steamed pudding with lots of dried fruit and nuts. It's devoid of what we know as plums (though "plums" once referred to raisins).

VIA Rail Canada – noting that plum pudding for Christmas is a tradition "as Canadian as train travel" – offers these tips:

Add coins to the pudding mixture. This once common tradition dictates that those lucky enough to find a coin in their share will have a year full of wealth. Remember to warn guests before they dig in.

Flame it up. Put your pudding on a heatproof plate. Pour hot rum or whiskey around the pudding and either ignite it in the kitchen and rapidly bring it forth – or flame it at the table. Wait until the flame burns out before eating.

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Hot Brandy Sauce

This VIA Rail Canada recipe provides a rich, decadent sauce to go with your rich, decadent plum pudding. If you prefer, use rum instead of brandy.

2 cups packed brown sugar 1/4 cup unsalted butter 2 cups water Grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp cold water

2 oz brandy

In medium saucepan over medium-high heat, cook sugar, butter, water and zest until sugar is melted. Stir in cornstarch mixture; stir until sauce thickens. Stir in brandy.

Makes 3-1/2 cups.

Jennifer Bain

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VIA's famous Christmas dessert

Passengers aboard VIA’s Canadian can order plum pudding with a choice of hot or cold sauce.

VIA Rail Canada is cooking up its famous plum pudding for those riding the rails.

Make it saucy. Plum pudding is best served with a sauce – whether it be a simple hard sauce, or something sweeter flavoured with lemon, caramel or vanilla.

And don't let a tiny bit of suet (once a year) upset you.

VIA Rail Canada's Plum Pudding

Beef suet (solid white fat from the kidney/loin area) lends richness to Christmas desserts.

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It's sold in some supermarkets and some butcher shops. I found a frozen, 375-gram plastic bag by Maple Leaf Foods at IGA and Loblaws. This pudding has been adapted from the Bill Nellis recipe from the 1930s.

2 oz each: dark rum, stout (such as Guinness) Juice + finely grated zest 1 lemon Juice + finely grated zest 1 orange 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract 2 large eggs 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, finely chopped 4 oz (120 g) chopped mixed peel (about 2/3 cup) 6 oz (170 g) frozen chopped beef suet (about 1 cup packed), thawed 2 oz (60 g) each: finely chopped walnuts, finely chopped almonds (about 1/2 cup) 6 oz (170 g) dried breadcrumbs (about 1-1/2 cups) 1 cup all-purpose flour 3/4 cup packed brown sugar 1/2 tsp each: baking soda, ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp each: ground ginger, ground nutmeg, ground allspice, salt Hot Brandy Sauce, optional (recipe follows)

In steamer insert set above pot of simmering water, steam Thompson and sultana raisins, and currants 5 minutes to soften. Transfer to bowl or resealable plastic bag. Add rum, stout, orange and lemon juices, and two extracts. Cover. Let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, at least 12 hours.

In large mixing bowl using electric mixer on high, beat eggs until soft peaks form. Stir in apples, mixed peel and two zests. Add raisin mixture; mix well.

In medium mixing bowl, stir together suet, walnuts, almonds, breadcrumbs, flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and salt. Stir into egg mixture. (Makes 8 to 10 cups.)

For large pudding, pack mixture into greased heatproof mold or bowl to fit. Cover bowl with tea towel; tie cloth securely. For smaller portions, pack mixture into four 19-oz (540-mL) tin cans, leaving 1-inch space at top of cans. Cover with parchment paper; wrap elastic around tops to secure.

Place pudding(s) upright in tall saucepan. Fill to 3/4 way up sides of molds with water. Bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer, checking occasionally and adding water if needed, 5 hours for family-size pudding and 4 hours for smaller portions. (Pudding will puff slightly.)

Transfer cans to wire rack to cool. To serve immediately, let stand 30 minutes before unmolding. To serve later, let cool completely on rack, then cover and refrigerate in mold/bowl/cans.

To reheat, microwave until heated through or return pudding in mold to water bath in preheated and gently steam until heated through.

To serve, slice or crumble. Serve with Hot Brandy Sauce, if desired. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Hot Brandy Sauce

Dec 19, 2007 04:30 AM

This VIA Rail Canada recipe provides a rich, decadent sauce to go with your rich, decadent plum pudding. If you prefer, use rum instead of brandy.

2 cups packed brown sugar 1/4 cup unsalted butter 2 cups water Grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp cold water 2 oz brandy


In medium saucepan over medium-high heat, cook sugar, butter, water and zest until sugar is melted. Stir in cornstarch mixture; stir until sauce thickens. Stir in brandy.

Makes 3-1/2 cups.

Thanks Win S.

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