Readers' Recipe Swap: Old-Fashioned

 ,  |  Updated: September 20, 2013 10:36 IST

Readers' Recipe Swap: Old-Fashioned

Felicity Cloake discovers that what's old to some can feel fresh and new - such as spicy carrot pudding or buttered oranges.

One of the things I love about your recipes is the different perspective they offer; to me, old-fashioned means suet pudding and Bird's custard. Yours all have a thrilling whiff of the new.

Serbian corn muffins, Chinese tea eggs, Irish soda bread and Nell Gwyn's buttered oranges - old to you, perhaps, but certainly not boring. OK, Kavita Favelle's husband's creamy tomato soup sounds familiar, but the recipe that he's come up with is so superior to the tinned sort I ate as a child to be almost a different dish.

All the following recipes are destined to become much-repeated recipes in our household too, but for sheer novelty, we couldn't resist Sumayya Jamil's sticky, spicy carrot pudding. Four generations of her family have made and enjoyed it; I hope you do too.

The winning recipe: carrot halva with cloves and cardamom

Most people in the west grew up on grandma's apple pie and rice pudding, but children in Pakistan and India relished sweets of a different nature, using vegetables and fruits that were no less indulgent or satisfying. This has been passed down in my paternalgran's family for four generations, from her roots in Uttar Pradesh, India to later settling in Karachi, Pakistan, and is eaten to this day in nearly every home of my family across three continents. Eaten at room temperature in summer, and warm in winter, it keeps well covered for two days, or four to five days in the fridge.

Sumayya Jamil, via GuardianWitness

Serves 4
400ml double cream
100ml milk
500g carrots, peeled and grated
5 cardamom pods
5-6 cloves
100g caster sugar
Red food colouring (optional)
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
1 tbsp roughly chopped pistachios
Silver leaf (optional)

1 Boil the cream and milk together and then add the carrots and spices. Cook on a low heat, keeping an eye on the pan and stirring occasionally until the liquid is mostly absorbed into the carrot. This takes about 25-30 minutes.

2Add the sugar and keepstirring until it is allmixed in well.

3 Once the halva is a thick, deep red (you could add a little red food colouring if the carrots are a bit pale) and all the liquid has been absorbed, pour into a serving dish, decorate with coconut, pistachios and silver leaf, if using, and either serve warm with ice-cream or cold with whipped cream.

Tea-infused eggs

I used to buy this at a corner shop in Hong Kong when I was small. These days it is hard to find them as this old-fashioned snack has been overtaken
by cheap meat and junk food. Cheap, nutritious and delicious, it's great as a snack or served alongside other dishes.

Natalie and Valerie Wong, London,

Makes 6
6 eggs
3 tbsp pu-erh tea, or a tea of your choice
1 anise seed
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp sugar
2-3 cloves garlic (optional)
5 slices of ginger (optional)

1 Boil the eggs for 10 minutes until hard-boiled. Rinse with cold water,
and then shatter the shells all over with a teaspoon, but do not peel.

2 Immediately put the eggs back into a pot of cold water, add all the remaining ingredients and bring the liquid to the boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for 3 hours, or leave off the heat overnight.

3 Serve with a hot noodle soup, or cold as a snack on its own.

Sunflower and caraway seed soda bread

Every Thursday, before I start writing, I bake some bread. I learned how to do it as a child back in Ireland. Scrumptious served warm with butter, this bread is best eaten on the day it's baked but can be frozen.

farawayvisions, via GuardianWitness

200g wholemeal flour
100g strong white flour, plus extra to dust
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
A pinch of salt
Small handful of sunflower seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
240ml buttermilk

1 Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.

2 Add the buttermilk and mix with a wooden spoon until the mix comes together in a big ball.

3 Gently move it around with your hands until soft and spongy. Place on
a floured board and shape into a dome.

4 Sprinkle the base of a round tin with flour, then cut a cross into, but not through, the bread. This will let the fairies out and make it look authentic. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. It's ready when the base of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Buttered oranges

I have been making these for many years: I love the rich taste and the unique presentation, and I have photos of now-famous performers eating them at a dinner party I gave during an Edinburgh Festival in the mid-80s. This is quite appropriate since purportedly they were a favourite of Nell Gwyn's, and apparently a recipe for them can be found in Anne Blencowe's recipe book, published in 1694.

Anna Ziman, London

Serves 6
8 large, juicy oranges
6 egg yolks, beaten
50g caster sugar
1 tsp orange flower water (or to taste)
100g unsalted butter, diced
150ml double cream, lightly whipped
Candied orange peel, finely shredded (optional)

1 Cut off the lids of 6 of the oranges about an inch down; either straight across or with azig-zag or scallop cut. Carefully scoop out all pulp, pips and juice, being careful to keep the skin intact. Put these "shells" aside with their lids. Squeeze the orange pulp through a sieve, and strain off the juice into the top of a double boiler.

2Zest the remaining 2 oranges, then juice them into the double boiler. Add the yolks, sugar and zest and stir until it is thick enough to coat a wooden spoon. Remove to a bowl of ice cubes and cool rapidly to tepid.

3Stir in the orange flower water and the butter and beat with a wire whisk until smooth and cold, then fold in the cream and candied peel. Taste and add more flower water if necessary.

4Fill the orange shells with this curd, then replace the lids and chill for at least 2 hours until set. Serve on a silver dish with orange or geranium leaves for decoration in a heaped pile.

Proyara corn pie or gluten-free corn muffins

When I was a child, my grandmother used to cook old-fashioned yet healthy dishes with cornmeal, the coarse flour ground from dried maize they produced a lot of: kachamak polenta for breakfast, proya corn bread for dinner and proyara pie with white cheese in between. Aah, those were the looong summer days in our village Janchichi on the Kamenitsa River!Today I bake proyara pie in a muffin pan for my family to nibble with yoghurt or light beer when we watch tennis.

vesnarussia, via GuardianWitness

Serves 12
350g yellow cornmeal
235g buckwheat or oat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
225g brined white cheese (such as Serbian beli sir or feta) - crumbled
3 eggs
240ml virgin olive oil
480ml sparkling mineral water

1 Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir in the crumbled cheese.

2 Stir in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the oil and mineral water, until you have a moist batter.

3 Spoon into a greased muffin pan. Bake for half an hour or until nicelygolden brown.

4 Cover the muffins with a wet towel for 5 minutes. Serve with a tomato and red onion salad instead of bread, or as a snack with a light beer. Prijatno!

Pete's homemade cream of tomato soup

When I'm feeling poorly I alwayslong for the foods of my childhood. Comfort is so often found in the familiar.Last time I was ill I had a hankering for a well-known brand's cream of tomato soup. But I challenged my husband, Pete, to make a fresh one from our homegrown tomatoes instead. It was delicious and soothed my sore throat as well as my fractious temper.

Kavita Favelle,, via GuardianWitness

Serves 4
Vegetable oil, to cook
1 medium onion, finely diced
600g whole tomatoes
800ml chicken stock
100ml double cream

1 Heat a little oil in a deep pan and fry the onion until golden.

2 Add the tomatoes (peeled if you have the patience) and fry until they break down. Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about an hour to reduce. Allow to cool.

3 Blitz in a blender or food processor, and sieve to remove seeds and skin. Warm through again on a gentle heat, stir in the cream and continue toheat to piping hot.

4 Taste, season and serve with fresh bread and butter.

Sumayya Jamil's spicy carrot halva, the recipe for which has been passed down through generations. Photographs: Anna Gordon for the Guardian



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