Comfort Food

It's been a busy week for me, which is why there haven't been any blog posts for a few days. I started my classes and they are going well; however, I ended up changing my schedule and it has resulted in a lot of stress. This quarter I thought I'd be clever and avoid signing up for three graduate classes by adding an undergraduate Italian class. After going to class on Tuesday night I realized that I needed more of a refresher. I sat on the feeling for a day or so, since the class is at a great time for my schedule and the book is cheap. I realized that although I could handle the readings, I would greatly struggle with writing assignments and in-class presentations. So I decided to drop down a level. Friday morning I went in to meet with the new professor, and first she gave me a hard time for suddenly adding a week into the quarter and for not having taken the prerequisites recently. I think she didn't want me assuming I could just speak Spanish in her class and get away with it; I understand the impulse--it's hard for people to realize that they are not the same language and Italians can be territorial about the dominance of Spanish in academia and the world. So this weekend I've had a lot of work to get caught up on, as well as our annual Three Kings party. The party was another great success and a lot of fun, but I spent a lot of homework time cooking tortilla, paella, chocolate a la taza, and a roscon de reyes (and I forgot to take pictures of most of it). The thick and creamy hot chocolate reminded me that I wanted to post the recipe for homemade pudding, and I think I'll add on the gingerbread pancakes we had the other night. You can shape them like gingerbread men for fun, but they taste just as good round. They're also not very sweet and so taste great with some kind of fruit like sauteed apples or canned peaches and whipped cream or yogurt.

Chocolate Pudding
Unlike most pudding recipes I've seen, this one only relies on cornstarch for thickening instead of eggs and cornstarch. According to the cookbook, cornstarch bonds are "fragile" and so you should not stir it too much after it has finished cooking. It should also be portioned into individual servings instead of one big bowl for the same reason. I usually make 6 small servings for us--it's rich.

2 cups half-and-half (I've also used evaporated milk--one can with enough milk added to make 2 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup+1 tbls. unsweetened cocoa
pinch salt
1/3 cup warm water
1 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate (optional)
3 tbls. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

In a medium, heavy saucepan stir together the sugar, cocoa, and pinch of salt. Stir in warm water until smooth, then bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and quickly stir in chopped chocolate (it will make it extra rich and creamy). Stir about 1/4 cup of the half-and-half into the cornstarch to make a smooth paste. Add the rest of the half-and-half to the chocolate mixture, then thoroughly stir in the cornstarch paste. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken (I like to use a heatproof rubber spatula--stir slowly). When it starts to bubble, immediately turn down the heat to low and stir briskly for one minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Immediately pour into bowls and put a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before eating.

Gingerbread Pancakes

1 1/4 cups white flour
1 cup wheat flour
3 tbls. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg (or 2 egg whites for lower fat/cholesterol)

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, molasses, and egg. Lightly stir wet and dry ingredients together. Cook on a warm griddle until done (if you want to make shapes you might need to add a bit of flour to make the batter thicker).


Melyngoch said…
Do you think I could sign up for German and get away with speaking Swedish . . . ?
rantipoler said…
I'm so jealous of your Three Kings party! Any decisions about school yet?

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