First off, before we start, I would like to say, “mijn excuses”, which (if Google translate has done its job properly) should mean “I apologise” or “I’m sorry” in Dutch. I want to apologise because it is possible that someone might read this post and assume that I am involved in Kathie Webber’s clever ruse to pass herself off as an expert in world cuisine. The unsuspecting reader will read ‘Dutch cheese pudding’ and assume it means Dutch cheese-pudding (cheese pudding recipe, originally from The Netherlands) when in fact it means Dutch-cheese pudding (a pudding made with Edam). I cannot be a part of that sort of subterfuge. Not knowingly. And so, again, mijn excuses.
Anyway, the winner of the first vote for what I would eat for my lunch on Thursday was Dutch cheese pudding so I made a Dutch cheese pudding and I ate the Dutch cheese pudding. What did I think of it? Allow me to tell you.
Dutch cheese pudding is a puff pastry roll filled with Edam, onion, green pepper, mushrooms and sultanas. That ingredient list really runs out of steam at the end there, doesn’t it? But, you have to bear in mind that the recipe is forty-five years old, and that the English have had a particularly batshit relationship with how sweet and savoury work for a very long time. For centuries the only things we ever put spices into were cakes and biscuits. Until very recently we only ate rice as a dessert or with eggs and fish for breakfast. We put sugar in tea. I once, after explaining to a friend how Mexican cuisine will sometimes use chocolate to temper the heat of chilies, watched a grown man try to recreate the technique by putting a half-kilo block of Dairy Milk into a rogan josh. We’re idiots.
And one of the things we have struggled with the most is sultanas. Making a chicken dish to celebrate the coronation of a monarch? Not without sultanas you aren’t. Looking for an ingredient to make your barbecue beans extra special? Have you considered sultanas? So, obviously, when looking for ingredients for a savoury pastry dish, Kathie Webber reached for the sultanas. How could she not?
Having said all that…
The sultanas in Kathie Webber’s Dutch cheese pudding almost work. It isn’t a terrible dish. I didn’t hate it. The problem wasn’t the presence of sultanas but the quantity of sultanas. The first bite I took was reasonably well balanced – a tiny bit of sweetness among all that savoury – and I thought, “Hello. Is this actually good?” The second bite had slightly more sultanas and answered my question. No. No it isn’t good. I ate the whole thing though.
And I regret that. Two hours later, as I type this, a Dutch cheese pudding is lurking in my stomach like a lump of frozen butter, all there. It’s an unpleasant experience. One that makes any quibbling about quantities of sultanas moot. I probably won’t make it again.