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Monday, 15 April 2013

Apple orange pudding (Πουτίγκα με μήλο και πoρτοκάλι)

At the moment, eggs are plentiful becuase they are in season. Go on, laugh all you like - during winter, hens don't lay so many, but as soon as the weather warms up, they do, and when it gets too hot, they stop again till it cools down, and they stop in winter. Last year, in one of Crete's coldest winters, I didn't get given many eggs. This year, in one of Crete's shortest winters (that wood fire stopped working at the beginning of March), I am constantly given eggs by friends and relatives, which means more omelettes and more desserts.  When you know the taste of real free-range eggs, you won't be able to go back to store-bought eggs in an omelette.

Although oranges are a year-round commodity, we notice that the summer variety (Valencia) is starting to ripen a little too quickly, again due to the good weather. So that's another seasonal commodity that needs to be used up creatively. Apart from fresh orange juice, orange can also be used a flavouring agent in sweets and savouries. 
We also had a lot of apples at home, due to the chidlren being given boxes of fruit at school under the asupices of the EU. They each brought home a box of fruit containing oranges, pears and apples. Unfortunately, the apples and pears were not in the best condition; they were OK under their mottly skin, but kids only notice the mottley skin. They went uneaten all through the week. 

In keeping with my frugal regime of using fresh produce creatively to ensure the family doesn't get bored with eating the same thing, I used our seasonal and abundant fresh produce and gifts, together with our own olive oil, to make a delicious dessert, based on a traditional recipe for English apple pudding.  
I recreated it in my Cretan kitchen, replacing (like I usually do) ingredients which I don't normally use (eg butter) with local produce (eg olive oil) in the batter (although I kept the butter in the syrup to make sure it congealed). Instead of milk, I decided to use freshly squeezed orange juice in both the cake and the syrup. The result was a heavily scented orange pudding, reminscent of the Greek portokalopita, a refreshing pie made with oranges which uses torn up sheets of filo pastry.
The syrup was poured out spoon by spoon over the pudding. What strayed to the bottom of the baking pan was eventually soaked up by the next day. 

This pudding made a fantastic breakfast to go with my sugarless morning coffee. All in all, it cost me a mere €1 to make. In this modern world, where we want to have more than we can afford but don't know how to do it without begging, stealing or borrowing, my thriftiness makes me feel that I can conquer the difficult financial hurdles that have been imposed on us. Since Thatcher's death, we are constantly reminded that the economy of a country cannot be run like a household:
Despite my dislike of Thatcher's policies, I could not help but have a regard for her commonsense attitude to good housekeeping, her wartime spirit of keeping the larder full of baked beans and dried goods just in case. Many economists despised this spirit, and warned her you couldn't run the country as you ran a household budget... (Guardian, 13/4/2013)
but at least I'm not trying to make my household go down the drain together with the country. And the country can be assured that I won't become Prime Minister.

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