I often wonder what the general public who are interested in food and cooking think when they stumble upon these posts, especially the ones for Recipe Monday!. There may not be a recipe at all or, if there is, it’s liable to be strange. Few are original. A lot fall into the category of seat-of-my-pants cooking.
And then there are the posts that have nothing to do with cooking. Most recent: Post-menopausal sex; women graffiti artists; defense of a writer whose work was hijacked by more established/famous writers for a very successful book; mine/yours’ mental health issues; urban exploring with drone photography; politics (a lot of them are but we’re all talking politics).
I suppose I should be bothered and ashamed about all this but I’m not. Everyone’s been warned, starting with the title of the blog. The About page explicitly says I’m often a hot mess in the kitchen.
Now comes this Monday’s post. I was going to make a couple of dishes from old community cookbooks to underscore the point that we’re in a time when a sense of being personally responsible for our communities is much needed. Then I heard about the death of a friend’s husband and I didn’t have the wherewithal to do much beyond staring out the window in grief for her and her family. As if this wasn’t tragic enough, there’s now a huge question about whether his motorcycle accident was a case of driving while black. My friend is one of the best, most tenacious journalists I have ever worked with. A lot of people are going to have to answer a long series of her piercing questions.
This is a post about grief and my desire for pudding. I don’t know why. I’m not a big pudding girl. Perhaps it’s because you can’t gobble your way through a bowl. The dense creamy texture and intense flavor of a very good pudding will give you a stomach ache if eaten too fast. And that’s the point–spoonful by spoonful, life has to pause. Yet, even without haste, the bottom of the bowl appears too soon. Now you have to wash it. Now you must wipe your face clean. Now there’s nothing to do but pick up your life where you left it. But now you’ve given yourself a vital pause.
I made three–ginger, chocolate orange and coconut tapioca. That’s how many I need right now.
(Credit: Ken Haedrich with a few changes marked in italics because I really like ginger)
3 cups 1% low-fat milk (I used whole milk to pair the sharp ginger with a more milky flavor)
1.3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine 2 1/2 cups milk and the crystallized and fresh ginger in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. (The longer you let it stand, the more intense the ginger flavor will be. I let it steep for a half hour.)
Combine the last of the milk with the sugar, cornstarch, salt and egg yolks in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk until well-blended. Gradually stir 1/4 of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. Add the remaining milk, stirring constantly.
Transfer back to the saucepan and bring the pudding to boil over medium heat. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, until thick and creamy. Remove from the heat and stir in butter, lemon rind and vanilla. Pour into a serving bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to stop it from forming a skin. Chill a few hours before serving.
Chocolate Orange Pudding
(Credit: GoodLife Eats with two changes by me–I made it boozie and curled candied orange peels on top. Those changes are in italic.)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
2 1/2 cups whole milk (I used 2 1/4 heavy cream and 1/4 cup Cointreau)
4 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
Combine the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan.
Slowly whisk in the eggs, egg yolks, and milk. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat until bubbling. Stir in the semi-sweet (or bittersweet) chocolate and unsweetened chocolate.
Continue to cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Be sure to scrape the sides and the bottom of the pot as you whisk. As the pudding cooks, it will gradually darken and thicken.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook while gently stirring with a wooden spoon. After 2 minutes, the pudding should thickly coat the spoon. Stir in the butter, vanilla, and orange juice.
Transfer pudding to 6 small bowls or jars. Cover the surface with plastic wrap to stop it from forming a skin on top. Cool for 30 minutes at room temperature, and then transfer to the refrigerator for about an hour, or up to 2 days.
Candied Orange Peels
(Credit: Epicuious. Change from the original in italic. The one big change I made was not tossing mine in sugar. I wanted the pudding right away instead of waiting two days.)
Peel of 2 large oranges cut into thin strips with the white pith removed
4 cups sugar
3 cups water
Fill a medium sauce pan with about two cups water and add the peels. Bring to a boil and cook over a medium flame for about 15 minutes. Drain, rinse, and drain again.
Bring 3 cups sugar and 3 cups water to boil in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add peels and return to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until peel is very soft, about 45 minutes. Drain.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the peels with remaining sugar. If you want, you can make them curl by twisting them lightly around a pencil. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet, making sure they don’t touch. Let stand until coating is dry, 1 to 2 days.
Coconut Tapioca Pudding
For the husband who loves it and pointed out it took this post for me to make it for him after 24 years. He ate it all over in one sitting, no pauses for him. The recipe is a combination of Mark Bittman’s and the one on the tapioca box.
1/3 cup quick-cooking tapioca
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups coconut milk
2 eggs, seperated
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine the tapioca, sugar, salt and milk in a small saucepan. Cook over a medium flame, stirring constantly, until the tapioca becomes transparent, about 5 minutes. (Mine stayed milky even after 5 minutes.)
Remove from the heat and let it cool then beat in the egg yolks. Cool the mixture a few more minutes.
Beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks and fold them gently into the pudding. Stir in the vanilla. Pour into a serving bowl and cover the top with plastic wrap.