Sunday, July 24, 2011
The Red Queen is part of Phillipa Gregory "Cousin's" series, about the War of the Roses period of English history. As you may recall, I read and reviewed the first in the series, The White Queen, some months back. That book was the lusty tail of Elizabeth Woodville, a supposed witch and wife of King Edward, the first York king. The Red Queen tells the tail of Margaret Beuford, the mother of Henry Tudor, who eventually became King Henry VII, and the first monarch of the tudor dynasty. It is a much less lusty tail, as Margaret is portrayed as a celibate woman obsessed with the Church and advancing her son's claim to the thrown. I thought this book was less of a fun read than The White Queen, but it still delivered that Phillipa Gregory punch - a trashy romance/adventure disguised as historical fiction. Sometimes something light is needed. As soon as I read the title of the book, and in light of the season, I knew I wanted to try the British "Summer Pudding" dessert. Unfortunately, this was a bit of a fail - maybe I didn't use enough berries (if I used any more I would have had to take out a second mortgage), but I just didn't get it. Kind of a gloppy mess. But I will pass along the recipe and maybe you will have better luck.
Adapted from New York Times Cookbook
I don't know what I did wrong here, I think the bread was too think perhaps? Not enough berries? Maybe I am just not a summer pudding person. Will share anyway in case you are a summer pudding person.
2 pounds mixed berries (I used blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and a few blueberries, use whatever is good and localish)
2/3 cup superfine sugar (I used regular)
1 and 1/2 lbs good white bread, not sliced (I used challah for extra richness, was this my mistake?)
Heavy cream for serving
Combine the berries and sugar in a bowl. Cover and let macerate for 1 hour. Transfer the berries to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and then simmer for about 2 minutes, allowing the berries to release their juices. Remove from heat and let cook. Cut the bread into 1/4 inch slices, remove the crusts. Cut a circle of bread to fit the bottom of a five cup bowl. Cut bread into slices then triangles to fit around the sides of the bowl with no gaps. Poor half of the berry mixture into the bowl. Put a layer of cut up bread on top. Then add more berries, then add another layer of sliced bread. Put a plate over the top of the bowl then weight down with cans. Put in the refrigerator for 24 top 72 hours. I did 48 hours. To serve, remove the plate, run a thin knife around edge of bowl and turn out onto a plate. Serve with more berries and whipped cream.