I’m a terrible hoarder. Hidden about our flat (which, as I may have mentioned, is very small), are old bits of string, buttons, copious stashes of plastic bags, shoes with broken straps, unidentifiable wiring and multiple unused packets of obscure ingredients. Often in my enthusiasm for trying a new recipe, I rush out and buy something that I probably only need one tablespoon of for that particular meal and have no clear intention of ever using again.
Every now and then (usually in January, it seems like a January kind of thing to do) I go through my cupboards and sort them out, which generally means I end up with exactly the same unused and out of date things I had before, only now they’re neatly arranged. In the process of one of these sortings-out recently, I came across an almost full packet of semolina which I’d bought for a sort of Moroccan yoghurt cake which didn’t turn out very well. At the same time, I was leafing through the Greens cookbook and came across this recipe for a semolina pudding with blood orange syrup. It just so happened that I’d had a delivery of blood oranges in my veg box that week. I took this as a sign from the universe that it was meant to be.
I know semolina pudding may not sound very exciting, and to be honest, it wasn’t. But that’s really no bad thing, in my opinion. I think some puddings are meant to be on the plain and humble side, like rice pudding or baked apples or oatmeal cookies. It’s also, as you may have noticed, not very picturesque – apart from the rather kitsch pink syrup – but what it is, warm from the oven, is like cake, but softer, or maybe souffle, but heavier, and with the faint vanilla sweetness of custard. The next day, when I had some cold from the fridge, it had firmed up and I liked it even better.
Sadly, it only used a negligible proportion of my semolina stash, so either I’m making this every week or I have to find some other way to use it up…
Semolina pudding with blood orange syrup Serves 4-6
For the pudding:
1/2 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp grated orange zest
Preheat the oven to 180c. Generously butter a baking dish – I used a 19cm round one. It doesn’t matter if the mixture comes all the way up to the rim as the pudding won’t rise much.
Heat the milk with the sugar and vanilla (either the extract, or scrape the seeds into the milk and add the pod) in a large pan. Just before the milk reaches boiling point add the semolina gradually, stirring to remove any lumps. Cook until the mixture has thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove from the heat, taking out the vanilla pod (if used) and stir in the orange zest and butter. Separate the eggs and beat the yolks with a little of the semolina mixture to warm them before mixing into the pan. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and then fold them into the mixture gently. You don’t need to be too thorough so don’t worry if it’s a little streaky.
Pour the mixture into the buttered dish and bake in the centre of the oven for about 1 hour. You may need to cover the top loosely with silver foil to stop it browning too much (I did!) When done, the centre should be firm and lightly browned. Let the pudding cool for an hour, at which point it will still be warm, or cool it completely and refridgerate.
For the syrup:
Several strips of orange peel
Juice of 2 oranges (preferably blood oranges, but normal oranges will be fine)
1 tbsp Grand Marnier (optional, I didn’t have any)
Cut the orange peel into very thin slices. Combine it with the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. Pour some of the syrup over each portion of the pudding.
Adapted from Deborah Madison’s ‘The Greens Cook Book’.