Thursday, April 16, 2015
These photos were taken a couple of months ago. There is no real reason for the delay in posting or the long pause of presence. Perhaps because this is a quiet space in a loud internet, my motivation comes in waves and I question my contribution here.
Nevertheless, I thought it was about time I share these few photos and my very loved recipe of chocolate pudding. I wanted to write up a few words on the meaning behind the name of this blog, which seemed quite fitting to go alongside this messy dessert, but the words have yet to be typed out. And so ... for no good reason at all, here is the chocolate pudding portion of this post. Because you don't really need a good reason for chocolate pudding, right? It's comfort in a spoon that is most certainly not reserved as a special occasion treat. I very recently made this pudding for Easter - to fill a chocolate cream pie, which truly made a complete and balanced dessert.
Double Chocolate Pudding
This chocolate pudding is rich, creamy and very chocolatey, and not overtly sweet and obviously NEEDS to be topped with whipped cream. This recipe has been slightly altered over the years, but comes from a page I tore out of Gourmet Magazine many years ago.
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups whole milk (or 3 cups low fat milk and 1 cup heavy cream)
6 ounces good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
2 ounces good quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
In a heavy-bottom medium-sized saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder and pinch of salt. While whisking, slowly pour in the milk. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a simmer while stirring constantly (I like to switch to a wooden spoon or heat proof spatula), until thickened. It will take about 3-4 minutes, after the pudding has come to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped chocolate and butter.
Transfer the pudding into individual cups or a serving bowl. Cover the top surface of the pudding with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. (If you care. Personally I do not.) Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving. When ready to serve, top each pudding with a dollop (or two) of whipped cream and maybe even top with fresh chocolate shavings. The pudding (without the whipped cream) will last covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Monday, February 9, 2015
I am a terrible overthinker. I analyze many things to their deaths. I have even been known to resurrect a few topics and beat them with a stick all over again. It is not something I am exceptionally proud of. In fact, I (try to) put great effort into not being so thoughtful each day. I tell myself to be more like my husband; to compartmentalize; take out one drawer at a time and close each drawer before you open the next. Stop thinking so much! It seems to be more of a girl thing, this overthinking, as most of the women I know confess to analyzing certain areas of their lives to a detriment. Being a mother surely does nothing to alleviate this tendency. Some days the puzzle of my to-do lists, my methodical order and multitasking comes together wonderfully and I pat myself on the back and tell myself, I can do it all. There are other days where I overwhelm myself and I try to move too quickly and do too much.
The purpose of this post was not to share a recipe of my own, but to make a dish, any dish that I enjoy, and then to enjoy the process of making it. When the days of shopping at the farmer's market and spending a Saturday cooking in the kitchen have been replaced with scrambling to get dinner on the table with small children at my feet, the exercise of cooking transforms from a state of enjoyment to a three times daily job of short order cook. I decided on making something from Sprouted Kitchen, a cooking blog that I turn to quite often for recipes and meal inspiration. The process of going through recipes, jotting down ideas for now and future meals is therapeutic. I settled on making something new to me; their Mushroom and Poblano Tart in a Cornmeal Crust. I wrote out my grocery list, went to the store and managed to clear my home the next morning to cook the way I once did, without an agenda or expectations and most importantly, without a racing body and mind. It was nice to follow a recipe and cook just for cooking sake.
The flavors came together in this healthy California Mexican inspired dish. The chilis were mild, the mushrooms a little earthy and the cornmeal crust was hearty without feeling too rich. Tangy feta and the bit of cilantro are necessary toppings. I also added a few chunks of avocado. As most of the recipes from Sprouted Kitchen, this tart was exactly my vegetarian tastes and the exercise of making it was just what I needed. We had it that night for dinner alongside some sautéed rainbow chard and then as leftovers on Saturday morning alongside a glass of fresh squeezed orange and grapefruit juice. I imagine it would certainly be a wonderful centerpiece for a simple brunch not needing too much to go alongside.
This recipe comes from the Sprouted Kitchen blog. (Plus or minus a few words.)
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup polenta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
fresh ground pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
1 small Poblano chilies (I actually used 2 Anaheim chilies)
3/4 cup milk (2% or whole)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup feta cheese, plus more for garnish
avocado (my addition)
In a medium size sauce pan, bring the broth, water and salt to a boil. Slowly pour in the polenta and continue to stir. Turn the heat to low, cover, cook for 10 minutes while giving it a stir every 2 minutes to prevent the bottom from burning. Turn off the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in the cheese, egg and lots of fresh ground pepper. Let sit another 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch pie pan. Transfer the polenta into the pie pan and use wet fingertips to press into an even layer on the bottom and sides. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes while you prepare the filling.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms and the poblano pepper and saute until soft. Turn off the heat.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, cumin and black pepper together until well combined. Stir in the scallions and the vegetables. Add the egg mixture into the cornmeal crust and sprinkle the feta on top. Bake until the center is just set, about 20 minutes. (My tart took over 40 minutes to cook in my incredibly slow Italian oven... A story for another day.) Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Top with crumbled feta, cilantro, hot sauce and avocado.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
This salad is simple, yet robust in flavor and texture. And it's nice because it can be made a few hours ahead of time and pulled out from the refrigerator ready to go. The instructions below have a portion of the dressing, the cheese and dried cranberries to be added just before serving, but it seemed to work just fine to add everything at once the two hours ahead. This recipe comes from Ina Garten's newest cookbook, Make It Ahead.
1/2 pound large curly kale leaves, center stems removed
6 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cored
1/2 small head radicchio, cored
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground pepper
1 (6 ounce chunk) good Parmesan cheese
1 cup dried cranberries
With a sharp knife, thinly slice the kale, Brussels sprouts, and radicchio, as you would cabbage when making coleslaw. Place in a large bowl.
In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour enough dressing on the salad so that it is evenly coated. Reserve the remaining dressing for just before serving. Ideally let the salad marinate in the refrigerator for an hour or two.
Using a sharp knife or vegetable peeler, cut large shavings of the Parmesan cheese and place atop the salad. Gently toss together with the dried cranberries and the remainder of the dressing. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve cold or at room temperature.