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Recipe Number Forty Two - February 2007

Sticky Toffee Pudding
& Chef's to Die for Sauce

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Well, that's all over again folks for another year. The mad rush and panic buying and the fears of mayhem have almost been forgotten. Waking up in the middle of the morning in a cold sweat what would happen if, heaven forbid, the shops didn't open for twenty four hours, has almost vanished from our minds.

Twenty visits to the bottle bank has given one the feeling of saving the planet, only to realise that you have been preceded by 500 men doing the same exercise.  Never mind, I was on strict instructions from Mrs. R. on no account was I to return with any bottles.  Well done that man as you try to cram the last of the wine bottles into an already full bottle bank, after looking to make sure that nobody noticed the fact that you have just filled the last remaining white bottle bank container up with brown bottles.

The block and tackle that I had as a Christmas present a few years ago, was at last put to good use and certainly made life easier to drag the wheelie bin from the back of the house. The remains of the turkey has been buried in the garden plot number 109, next to the parrot and the cat. Lucky, as the cat was known, seemed to use up it's nine lives in a remarkable short space of time. Hence one of the great problems I suppose when living near a main road. It seemed a good idea and very fitting at the time, to place them together in their last resting places, as both of them had a respect for each other when they were alive. Respect was shown by the cat after he found out the hard way by sticking his claws through the bars of the parrots cage. In return the parrot soon learnt not to stick his tail feathers outside of the cage when taking forty winks. It's what you might call a bit of a love-hate relationship.

Over the last few weeks we have watched the news and saw images of a man going to the gallows. Right or wrong that's not for me to comment on, but over the years, love and hate has sent many a person to the same fate. That I am sorry to say, was the fate of a young lady living way back in 1752. Her name was Mary Blandy. She was aged only 31 years when she met her fate of death by hanging.

Mary was from a middle class family and well educated. Her father Francis was a very prosperous lawyer in his time and they lived in Henley-on-Thames.  So, as you can see, Mary had a comfortable lifestyle.  He decided, maybe a tad unwisely, that he would offer a dowry of 10,000 to the man that married his daughter.  Well, on the day that news hit the streets, it was like the news was announced that all supermarkets would be closing down for two weeks, and as Mr.Blandy sifted through the hundreds of suitors they were all shown the door except one guy that got lucky. Yes, it was Captain William Henry Cranston. The lucky old Captain promptly moved into the family household and all was going great, then shock and horror, it was found out the old sea dog had already got a wife, and in fact, was still married to a lady by the name of Anne Murray, that he wed in 1744.

Mary's father, as you can imagine, wasn't too pleased on hearing this news and came to see him for what he was. In fact, Mary's father became a bit hostile towards the Captain you might say.  To get over this, the old sea dog persuaded dear Mary to give her father powders that the Captain had told her would make her father like him and, the fact that he said he loved her and would get rid of his wife and marry Mary.  Only the Captain knew what was in these powders that Mary was giving to her dear old Dad.  In fact, the powders contained arsenic and were put into her Father's tea and gruel.

It wasn't long before dear old Dad was feeling a tad under the weather you might say.  In those days, any food that was not eaten went back down to the staff, and due to this, many of the staff suffered from the affliction known as the back door trots. Arsenic is a cumulative poison and only kills when the levels have built up in the body.  Mary's Dad died on Wednesday, the 14th day of August 1751.  Just before he did, he told Mary that he suspected her of giving him poison. She in turn, begged his forgiveness but was placed under house arrest for the crime. The dear loving Captain, having got wind of this, high tailed it out of the back door like a rat up a drain pipe, only to die in France a year later. Poor old chap.

So it came to pass, Mary now all alone in the orld, came to trial at Oxford Assizes. The date was set for the 3rd of March 1752. The trial was of much interest because it was one of the very first times that medical evidence was given in a murder trial. Mary defended herself with the help of three Counsel, but knowing her case was hopeless, she still totally denied giving arsenic to her Father, but did say she had given him powders.  The staff had their say in Court, telling the Judges that they had seen her giving her Father powders in his food, and the fact, that many of the staff that had fed on the leftovers had suffered from a bad attack of the trots - it may have been that infliction that caused the below stairs staff to freely give their evidence against her with such gusto.

The trial only lasted 13 hours, and the Jury wasn't long in convicting her of her dear old Father's death, and this young lady was given the death sentence.  Mary waited six weeks before her big day came, but she had a spot of luck in a way, because she was sentenced to death a few weeks before a new law came in, known as the Murder Act, and that was any person to be hung was only allowed two days from being sentenced and the body had to be dissected afterwards and to top it all, you only received bread and water while you were waiting.

Mary on the other hand, missed out on all that and dined on grilled mutton chops and apple pie.  Mary's day came at last.  It was on a Monday on the 6th of April 1752. The gallows consisted of a long plank of wood that had been placed between two trees.  Mary was dressed in a black dress - her arms and hands tied with black ribbons as she climbed up the ladder that held her. Then the rope was put around her neck, as her hands were tied at her front, she was able to read her prayers from a little prayer book that she had been given by her dear Father.  As Mary finished her prayers, she allowed the book to fall to the floor, thus Mary Blandy was no more.

She was buried in the early hours of Tuesday morning in the chancel of Henley Parish Church, placed between the graves of her Mother and her dear Father.

As you may remember, we have a new Chef at Rushmores.  He is the one that replaced the well known Chef that's now a taxi driver in King's Lynn. The other day he told me that the new dessert that we have on the Menu is the best he has ever tasted. Maybe, that's because he makes it, but there is just one thing he said he is dying to know the secret of and that's my toffee sauce.

Sticky Toffee Pudding and Chefs to Die for Sauce

Now Christmas is over, if you look in the shops, many are selling off dates at a good price.
Okay, what do we need for six puddings. 225g. of pitted date; 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda; 175g. self raising flour sifted; 50g. of chopped pecan nuts; 2 eggs; 50g of unsalted butter; 175g of soft brown sugar and 200m! of cold water.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade; Gas Mark 4. Grease 6 little pudding basins. (There is a hardware shop in the village that sells them.) Next, in a small saucepan, place the chopped pitted dates and cover with 300ml of water. Bring to the boil - remove from the heat and stir in the bicarbonate of soda.

This will make the mixture fizz. Then, in a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar - add the eggs and beat them.  Fold in the flour and the pecans. Lastly, pour in the date mixture and blend into a batter. Just a note - you may think that it's a bit runny, but it will cook okay. Fill the little pudding basins and place in a roasting tray with enough water to come half way up the side of the basins. Cook for 35-40 minutes until set.

Now for my toffee sauce. Take a saucepan and put 4oz of butter in. Add around the same of dark brown sugar. Put this on to the heat. As the butter and the sugar start to melt, add around two cup fulls of single cream and allow to simmer on a good heat. Lastly, add two or three good tablespoons full of golden treacle and stir well in. Cook for 15 mins. It should turn into a deep golden sauce. Last of all, turn out your pudding into serving dishes and pour over the toffee sauce. (The sauce will set, but that is not a problem). Pour any left over sauce into a container - cling film and store in the fridge. It can be brought back to a runny sauce by warming again in a saucepan. Try it in the summer time by pouring it over ice cream topped with fresh fruit.


Results of my competition from the December Newsletter

1. Bray's Pit 2. Oliver's News.
3. Cheney Hill.
4. RWallis.
5. Parking 6. 'High' Street

I am very pleased to report that I received a very good response to this Competition and a high amount were correct.  All the correct answers were placed in a hat at the Senior Citizens Christmas Lunch on the 20th December and a customer picked out the winner. The lucky winner has partaken of the prize meal and bottle of wine.

 Colin Rushmore

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