#131 Devonshire Junket

No I’d never heard of one either. A junket is made by mixing milk with rennet and letting it curdle, adding whatever flavour you wish. Essentially, it is Little Miss Muffet’s curds and whey. These sorts of puddings were very popular – and still are in France. The English version being different in that the curds and whey aren’t separated, whereas other nations usually do. This is a very old recipe going way back – the earliest Griggers found was in a book from 1653. In fact the term ‘junket’ comes from the Norman French, jonquet, which was a basket made from rushes (jonques) to drain cheeses, says Jane. The junket has fallen out of favour, but is hanging on as a speciality of Devonshire, south-west England. The trickiest bit of the recipe, is finding somewhere that sells rennet – if there’s any Mancunians reading this, I got mine from Barbakan in Chorlton.

FYI: Rennet is an enzyme that used to be extracted from the stomachs of calves to curdle milk. Although still used, most manufacturers used vegetarian rennet to make their cheeses etc. I think the veggie-friendly rennet is produced using bacteria with the rennet gene inserted.

For 4 to 6:

Warm a pint of Channel Island milk slowly until it reaches 37°C. If you can’t get Channel Island milk, use whole milk – do not be tempted to use skimmed or semi-skimmed, it will not work. Whilst it’s warming, mix a dessert spoon of sugar with 2 tablespoons of brandy in the serving dish that you want to set your junket. When at temperature, pour the milk into the dish and carefully stir in a dessertspoon of rennet (follow the instructions on the bottle in case this is different). Now leave the milk to set at room temperature. I went back and checked it after an hour and it was done – it had essentially become fromage fraise. Now slacken off ¼ pint of clotted cream with a little double cream and pour or spread it over the junket, being careful not to let it split. Lastly sprinkle some nutmeg or cinnamon over the top and you are done.

#131 Devonshire Junket – 5/10. This was ok, but sugar and cream always tastes good. I think the brandy should be replaced with some stewed fruit or vanilla extract, because I loved the texture of it. I think with a little playing around, the junket could have a come-back. I am dreaming up variants as I type…

#27 Baked Rice Pudding

So many people turn their nose up at milk puddings. I don’t know why; Jane Grigson blames it on schools’ attempts at it. I must admit the rice/semolina puddings at my school were a bit of an insipid affair. However, if you think you don’t like them try the Grigson version, or indeed any recipe that makes it up from scratch. You must use pudding rice with its little fat, almost spherical, grains otherwise it’ll be a disaster – it stays quite grainy, whereas normal cooking rice would just become a gluey mess. Also full fat milk MUST be used. The Grigson goes all the way by using Channel Island milk.
Put 2 1/2 ounces of pudding rice in a baking dish with a pint of Channel Island milk, two tablespoons of sugar, an ounce of butter and either a cinnamon stick or a split vanilla pod. I went vanilla. (I’ve used extract but not a real pod before and nothing compares! Well worth investing in a couple – they can be rinsed, dried and reused several times, so don’t be put off by their price). Bake in a low oven – 140 degrees Celsius – for 3 hours, stirring it every hour and topping up with more milk if it becomes too thick. When cooked, you can add more sugar to taste. Although I enjoyed it (you can’t go wrong, really) I’ve used other recipes, and although they are all very similar in ingredients, they seem better. I shall root one out and compare later (I’m at work at the moment…).

I’ve rabbited on enough…

#27 Baked Rice Pudding: 7/10. On the grand scale all milk puddings are close to perfect, but I’ve scaled down as I’m sure I’ve used better recipes…Roll on semolina pud, though!