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Wobbly And Delicate. No, Not My Psyche: It’s A Panna Cotta Post!

6 Nov

You know how they always say that television is super healthy for your soul? They say that. Someone does. Well who cares who “someone” is? Readers, meet Television, my new BFFL.

And what, you might ask, am I watching? Well, given that I am uncool and often at least a year behind all of you hippy dippies, I’m on series one of The Great British Bake-Off, which is easily now my all-time favorite cooking-based competition show. Everyone on this show is so damned nice, and I’m amazed/worried over how emotionally attached I’ve become to every single contestant. Perhaps this says more about my current emotional state than it does about the quality of the show, but NO MATTER! You all need to be as obsessed as I am. This is the kind of show that could make a cold old soul like this one melt like buttah. I mean, there’s a freaking seventeen year old who is owning the season so far, and I’m too busy rooting for her to jealously question my own life choices. The show’s got HEART, people!

How was everyone’s Halloween? We ended up, at the very last minute, deciding to go to a friend’s party, which made me realize just how old I’m getting. I pretty much threw a tantrum at the thought of leaving the apartment after 8pm. Ten years ago I wouldn’t have even let the house until close to midnight, and these days I’m griping to my boyfriend about going to a party. That someone was kind enough to invite us to join. I’m a terrible human. 

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Yup, that’s correct, I pulled out the old three-minute Princess Leia costume and Jimmy decided to be… Luke Skywalker. And then, to prove to all the other guests that he was Luke, I present to you the above. Disturbing on all of the levels, yes. I never promised you a rose garden.

What can I promise you? Panna Cotta! Panna cotta is a sometimes annoying but mostly easy, quick dessert that, when done correctly, can impress your friends/best friends/television. I decided to add booze to mine, because what else would you expect from me? 

Rum Stracciatella Panna Cotta (makes 3 to 4 servings)

lightly inspired by

1 cup of half and half

1 cup of heavy cream

1/4 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 packet of powdered gelatin (about 2 1/2 teaspoons)

3 tablespoons of water

2 to 3 tablespoons of dark rum, optional

handful of chocolate chips

Place water in a medium-sized bowl, then sprinkle gelatin evenly over water and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.

 

In a medium saucepan, heat heavy cream, half and half and sugar until sugar is dissolved– it needs to be hot, but do not let the mixture come to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and rum. Set aside.

Lightly oil ramekins, tumblers, tea cups, or whatever other heatproof container you’d like to use to serve these. I used all three because I wanted to figure out which would be prettiest, and also I used the tumbler because I was afraid my panna cotta wouldn’t unmold. This is a trust circle guys. It’s important to be honest. 

Stir a handful of chocolate chips into your hot cream mixture and stir lightly just until the chocolate melts and leaves a lovely spotty, ribbony pattern. Pour this mixture over your gelatin, and stir until the gelatin completely dissolves. And I mean completely. The first time I made this I didn’t realize my gelatin hadn’t completely dissolved and I was left with a delicious but messy custardy thing that fell apart as soon as I tried to unmold. I was PISSED. Once it’s completely dissolved, pour into your receptacles, and chill for 2 to 4 hours, until set.

See? They're pretty in tumblers!

See? They’re pretty in tumblers!

Now you can totally leave these in your ramekins/tumblers if you’d like, but if you’re looking to unmold them, run a very thin knife around the edge of your panna cotta, place a plate on top and invert.

Thoughts?

Thoughts?

No matter how you decide to eat these… oh em gee, ya’ll. It’s a wonder. Believe it or not, the rum does not overpower these and instead gives them a nice caramel-like finish. These are also pretty quick to prepare and make quite a nice treat for your party guests/self. I just had one for breakfast. Ok, no I didn’t. I had two. I had two for breakfast. Like I said, circle of trust. 

 

Let’s Pretend We’re In India, And Not On Hoth, Which Is Where We Live Now.

28 Jan

So I’ve been cracking Hoth jokes since this past weekend, when snowpocalypse was but a mere twinkle in the Northeast’s eye. This morning, I asked my boyfriend to bring the Tauntaun around so we could ride to the nearest park and go sledding. Hilario, I know. Oh, but I wasn’t always this jolly. I spent most of last night freaked out by the end-of-days posts on Gothamist and worried I didn’t stock enough milk for the pending storm (spoiler alert: I didn’t).

In case you were wondering, I’m writing this post on Tuesday evening, just as the big “blizzard” is winding down. I spent today working from home, which is simultaneously happy and sad.Happy because I can see the alternate universe in which I attempted to commute, and it involves me crying on the Manhattan-bound F train platform and picking frozen tears off of my face. I need to make some life changes.

How I survived the storm.

How ELSE I survived the storm.

It’s sad because I AM GOING COMPLETELY STIR CRAZY GUYS OMG. I recently made the mistake of learning that my phone has a built-in pedometer, and now I cannot stop tracking my steps, and since I live in an apartment in New York City, there are only so many steps I can take. Today, so far, I have only taken thirty steps, and knowing that is driving me bananas. As a result I am spending entirely too much of today walking from wall to couch to television to wall again whilst obsessively checking my phone to see the numbers shoot up. I am a sad, pajama-clad, live-action game of Pac-Man. Wait! Forty! I’m up to forty steps! Progress!

And how ELSE am I riding out this non-blizzard? With payasam! “WTF SHIBOW?! Be a little more aggressive with the spell check,” is likely how many of my non-Malayali readers are reacting right now. But fear not, friends! I can still spell like a mother. Payasam, a South Indian treat, (similar to kheer, which is a common North Indian dessert that can be found at many an Indian restaurant) is a sweet, milky dessert containing noodles, raisins, nuts and a few spices. It’s almost a pudding, almost a sweet soup. Payasam was always THE best part of all family functions for me, mostly because I am a sugar fiend and a little bit because I have poor social skills. If you’re more of a cupcake and cookie kind of human, this dessert is weird for you. I get it. But you need to try this, a. because it’s easy, and b. because it will give you the opportunity to open the eyes and stomachs of all of the other cupcake-and-cookie loving humans around you to a new, glorious comfort food. Let’s do this.

Payasam (makes a healthy few bowls. I know that’s vague. Sorry guys)

2 tablespoons of ghee/clarified butter (we’ll go through how to make this if you don’t have any on hand)

5 cups of coconut milk

1/2 cup of sugar

1 cup of vermicelli noodles (if unavailable, sub in 1 cup of angel hair pasta, broken into smaller pieces)

1/2 cup of raisins

1/2 cup of halved cashews

1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of ground cardamom

To begin, we’ll make our clarified butter, if you don’t already have some ghee handy (I didn’t). For two tablespoons of ghee, melt about four tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat in a medium-sized saucepan, then reduce heat to low when butter is melted. Allow to cook until the butter browns and a foam forms on top, about 6-7 minutes.

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Skim the foam off, then pour butter through a strainer. Discard strained solids, and pour clarified butter back into the saucepan.

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Over medium heat, saute noodles in ghee until lightly browned. Pour in milk, sugar, and spices and bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.

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Once mixture reaches a boil, add in raisins and cashews, and bring heat back down to a simmer. Allow it to cook until the milk thickens and the pasta has softened, then remove from heat. Serve hot, warm or cold. On days like this, it’s absolutely perfect warm.

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Heaven Soup.

 

So, it may not look like much, but WOW. I know I’m a highly emotional, extremely sentimental person, so having a bowl of this definitely brought a couple of tears to my eyes. It’s legit. My dad happened to be dropping by just as I was done making the payasam (truth is, he was dropping off blizzard food for me and my boyfriend, because he is an Indian father and does not believe we eat anything but Multigrain Cheerios and also is a nice human being), so I set him up with a to-go bowl for the family. My mom (who’s celebrating a birthday today– HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAMA! <3), after giving me several pointers which were subsequently worked into the above recipe, praised it, which is really all I needed to hear. Payasam. Kid created, Indian mama approved.

 

Sorry For My Face. It’s Just My Face. Here’s Some Cake. There’s Booze In It.

24 Nov

So it has come to my attention that I have a condition that needs addressing. No, it’s not my asthma, which I’ve had and unfortunately known about since I’ve been able to retain memory, though that’s decided to rear its ugly, suffocating head this weekend as well. It’s an affliction that seems to be incurable, unless I suddenly come into a significant sum of money and develop a desire to make nice with a cosmetic surgeon.
I have Bitchy Resting Face.

Ok, I’m messing with you guys. I totally knew I had BRF. I’m not a complete moron! It has, however, come up more frequently in recent days, which either means that a. I’ve gotten bitchier-looking as I’ve aged, or b. more people have been talking to me and have felt comfortable telling me I’m scary, which is probably impossible if I’m that scary, so it’s probably a. My bad, guys. I’m trying out a new eyeliner?

How I've been nursing the pain

How I’ve been nursing the pain

The brave few in life who have dared approach me fall into the category of My Boyfriend (there’s, uh, one person in that group) and Nice People Who Have Told Me My I Dropped My Cell Phone (there are a LOT of people in this group. The most recent is a dude who informed me of the dropped device, handed it back to me, proceeded to start a conversation with me, then proceeded to promptly end that conversation once he saw what he was dealing with. And I smiled, too!). Sometimes, I even try to make pleasant conversation with other people, and it fails. Yesterday I attempted to joke around with the nurse who was treating me (for the asthma, not my face, though that’s probably kind of an untapped market, no?) and she just… left? Then, whilst picking up my prednisone at Duane Reade, I decided to load up on Halloween Kit-Kats that were still on clearance (32 cents each!) and tried to be all self-deprecating with the pharmacist, who was NOT having it. I mean, you’re not really supposed to mix chocolate and asthma– why did you bestow this illness upon me, Baby Jesus?!– so maybe she was just being judgmental, but still. It’s totally my face.

How do you all deal with these problems, dear readers? It’s very difficult to make friends as an adult, that is a fact. It’s even harder when you’re workin’ with what I’m workin’ with. I’ve decided to try and push through it the healthiest way I know how: drowning my sorrows in booze. And booze-soaked cake. Also it’s almost Thanksgiving, and you all know I like this holiday a little bit, so we’re recipe testing. Also booze. For the soul. Maple Bourbon Banana Pudding Cake, anyone? Try saying THAT while you’re buzzed, amirite?*

Maple Bourbon Banana Pudding Cake 

adapted from Food & Wine

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1/4 cup of brown sugar

1 overripe mashed banana

1 large egg

1 cup of milk, room temperature

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon of baking powder

Big pinch of salt

3/4 cup of pure maple syrup

1/4 cup of brown sugar

3 tablespoons of bourbon

1/4 cup chopped pecans, optional

1/4 cup of chocolate chips, optional

Ice cream, for serving, optional, highly recommended though

Preheat your oven to 375ºF.  In the microwave, melt butter in a deep 2-quart baking dish. Stir in sugar and banana until combined, then whisk in egg and milk. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt, then stir into baking dish until everything is mixed fully.

This is a dangerous mixture, btw. You'll be curious and will want to sip from this. Do not. It is the drink of the Devil.

This is a dangerous mixture, btw. You’ll be curious and will want to sip from this. Do not. It is the drink of the Devil.

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In a microwave-safe cup or in a saucepan (you can do this in the microwave, high power for one minute, or on a stovetop, medium heat until hot), heat maple syrup, 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of hot water. Add in bourbon, then drizzle over the batter (it will seep to the bottom, and it will be glorious, just you wait). Don’t stir it.  Scatter pecans and chocolate chips on top, if using.

Set the dish on a baking sheet, then bake for at least 40 minutes (mine took closer to 50), until the top is golden. Let it cool for 5 minutes, then serve with ice cream if desired.

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So, my feelings? Um, they’re mostly feelings of drunken happiness. More happiness than drunkenness, but there’s a significant amount of the latter in there, I think because I was sipping bourbon while this was baking. Why, I cannot tell you. Inspiration? Maybe I thought it would go well with asthma meds? That’s totally safe, right?

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SONY DSC

I mean, it may not look like much, but this thing packs a punch. It’s basically a cake-y top with a lovely, syrupy, lightly-bourbon-kissed pudding nestled underneath. If you’re trying to stretch your stomach in time for Turkey Day (um, I am) while inspiring your taste buds with fall favorites, this is the pudding cake for you. Oh, also, be over 21. There. A recipe AND a PSA. You’re welcome, America!

*Ya’ll know I’m kidding right? That’s super unhealthy. Pick up a journal, have some tea and have a good cry. Then call me in the morning. It’s better on the phone, you won’t have my bitchface to look at. Oh also I’m a little tipsy from, uh, recipe testing. 

Sorry For My Face. It’s Just My Face. Here’s Some Cake. There’s Booze In It.

24 Nov

So it has come to my attention that I have a condition that needs addressing. No, it’s not my asthma, which I’ve had and unfortunately known about since I’ve been able to retain memory, though that’s decided to rear its ugly, suffocating head this weekend as well. It’s an affliction that seems to be incurable, unless I suddenly come into a significant sum of money and develop a desire to make nice with a cosmetic surgeon.

I have Bitchy Resting Face.

Ok, I’m messing with you guys. I totally knew I had BRF. I’m not a complete moron! It has, however, come up more frequently in recent days, which either means that a. I’ve gotten bitchier-looking as I’ve aged, or b. more people have been talking to me and have felt comfortable telling me I’m scary, which is probably impossible if I’m that scary, so it’s probably a. My bad, guys. I’m trying out a new eyeliner?

How I've been nursing the pain

How I’ve been nursing the pain. Oh, also, it’s in the cake. Yeah. #relevance

The brave few in life who have dared approach me fall into the category of My Boyfriend (there’s, uh, one person in that group) and Nice People Who Have Told Me My I Dropped My Cell Phone (there are a LOT of people in this group. The most recent is a dude who informed me of the dropped device, handed it back to me, proceeded to start a conversation with me, then proceeded to promptly end that conversation once he saw what he was dealing with. And I smiled, too!). Sometimes, I even try to make pleasant conversation with other people, and it fails. Yesterday I attempted to joke around with the nurse who was treating me (for the asthma, not my face, though that’s probably kind of an untapped market, no?) and she just… left? Then, whilst picking up my prednisone at Duane Reade, I decided to load up on Halloween Kit-Kats that were still on clearance (32 cents each!) and tried to be all self-deprecating with the pharmacist, who was NOT having it. I mean, you’re not really supposed to mix chocolate and asthma– why did you bestow this illness upon me, Baby Jesus?!– so maybe she was just being judgmental, but still. It’s totally my face.

How do you all deal with these problems, dear readers? It’s very difficult to make friends as an adult, that is a fact. It’s even harder when you’re workin’ with what I’m workin’ with. I’ve decided to try and push through it the healthiest way I know how: drowning my sorrows in booze. And booze-soaked cake. Also it’s almost Thanksgiving, and you all know I like this holiday a little bit, so we’re recipe testing. Also booze. For the soul. Maple Bourbon Banana Pudding Cake, anyone? Try saying THAT while you’re buzzed, amirite?*

Maple Bourbon Banana Pudding Cake 

adapted from Food & Wine

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1/4 cup of brown sugar

1 overripe mashed banana

1 large egg

1 cup of milk, room temperature

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon of baking powder

Big pinch of salt

3/4 cup of pure maple syrup

1/4 cup of brown sugar

3 tablespoons of bourbon

1/4 cup chopped pecans, optional

1/4 cup of chocolate chips, optional

Ice cream, for serving, optional, highly recommended though

Preheat your oven to 375ºF.  In the microwave, melt butter in a deep 2-quart baking dish. Stir in sugar and banana until combined, then whisk in egg and milk. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt, then stir into baking dish until everything is mixed fully.

This is a dangerous mixture, btw. You'll be curious and will want to sip from this. Do not. It is the drink of the Devil.

This is a dangerous mixture, btw. You’ll be curious and will want to sip from this. Do not. It is the drink of the Devil.

SONY DSC

In a microwave-safe cup or in a saucepan (you can do this in the microwave, high power for one minute, or on a stovetop, medium heat until hot), heat maple syrup, 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of hot water. Add in bourbon, then drizzle over the batter (it will seep to the bottom, and it will be glorious, just you wait). Don’t stir it.  Scatter pecans and chocolate chips on top, if using.

Set the dish on a baking sheet, then bake for at least 40 minutes (mine took closer to 50), until the top is golden. Let it cool for 5 minutes, then serve with ice cream if desired.

SONY DSC

 

So, my feelings? Um, they’re mostly feelings of drunken happiness. More happiness than drunkenness, but there’s a significant amount of the latter in there, I think because I was sipping bourbon while this was baking. Why, I cannot tell you. Inspiration? Maybe I thought it would go well with asthma meds? That’s totally safe, right?

SONY DSC

I mean, it may not look like much, but this thing packs a punch. It’s basically a cake-y top with a lovely, syrupy, lightly-bourbon-kissed pudding nestled underneath. If you’re trying to stretch your stomach in time for Turkey Day (um, I am) while inspiring your taste buds with fall favorites, this is the pudding cake for you. Oh, also, be over 21. There. A recipe AND a PSA. You’re welcome, America!

*Ya’ll know I’m kidding right? That’s super unhealthy. Pick up a journal, have some tea and have a good cry. Then call me in the morning. It’s better on the phone, you won’t have my bitchface to look at. Oh also I’m a little tipsy from, uh, recipe testing. 

The Good, the Bad and The Awesome Plus The Awesome. (Popcorn Pudding, Guys!)

15 Sep

This past week has been the kind of week that slaps you in the face, trips you while you’re eating a waffle cone dripping with a scoop of your favorite flavor of ice cream… then hands you an ice pack and buys you two scoops to make up for all of the drama… and then takes one of the scoops and hits you in the face with it. Feel me?

So, I wrote a piece for Bustle that I hope ya’ll check out. It’s my first published piece on a major website, and it’s full of references to my hometown, Queens, NY. So many people have already shared the piece and said tons of kind words about it (that would be the “ice pack and two scoops” portion of the week) that it has built my crap self-esteem back up, ever so slightly. I could not be more grateful, especially given that the first thing I’ve ever written that’s gotten some real attention is about a place that is very near and dear to me. Thank you to everyone who read/does read it.

And now, onward! Onward on so many things, I hope. I’m coming close to turning 28, and I think this is probably the first time in my life where I’m all “Oh. I am turning a new age. This new age feels a little bit weird to me. Twenty eight. Two, eight. Huh.” Maybe I’m finally coming to terms with my own mortality?

(Happy break. Ya’ll know this is my thing by now)

Doubtful. I think even-numbered years just weird me out (don’t ask, it’s an incredibly strange story), and this is the last even-numbered year I’ll have before I turn 30. And it’s not that I’m terribly scared of turning 30, I think I just assumed I’d have more accomplished by then. More published pieces, more friends, a house, fat children, a dream role co-starring with Mark-Paul Gosselaar in… something or other. But you’ve all heard this from me before. Perhaps you’ve even had similar freakouts and understand where I’m coming from. There’s a huge part of me– one that’s hung around for far too long lately– that has sort of wanted to retreat from the world until I figure myself out. I can feel myself thinking things like “just give me a couple more weeks, maybe years. Then I’ll finally open myself up to people. I’ll get it right! I’ll be back to my old self!” And I guess that’s palpable. I’ve just never learned how to not go through things alone, and I’m starting to wonder how sustainable my current method of [not] coping with life is, without a little help from some friends. So, welcome to my drama, guys. Bust out the popcorn.

Better yet, bust out the popcorn pudding. Yes, I said it. Popcorn. Pudding.

Popcorn Pudding (makes six servings)

adapted from Food and Wine

2 1/4 cups of milk (I used 1% and it worked wonderfully)

3/4 cup of heavy cream

1/2 cup of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of unpopped popcorn kernels (about 9 cups of popped popcorn)

3 large egg yolks

4 teaspoons of cornstarch

3 tablespoons of cubed butter

1/4 teaspoon of vanilla

salt, to taste

To start, if you don’t have a popcorn maker, you can heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a medium-sized pot over moderate heat. Add your kernels and cover the pot. Once the kernels start popping, gently shake the pot until the popping has stopped, which should take about three minutes. Set aside.

Now, in a separate large pot, combine milk, cream, sugar and salt over moderate heat. Cook until the mixture boils, continuously stirring in order to dissolve the sugar. Stir all but 1 cup (set aside this cup– we’ll use it later) of the popcorn into the mixture, then cover and let stand for about 10 minutes.

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In a medium-sized bowl (yep, lots of dishes here, folks), whisk egg yolks and cornstarch until combined. Strain out the cream/popcorn mixture into a new pot, pressing gently to release remaining liquid.  Dispose of the remaining solids.

I know... weird, right?

“The Remaining Solids” is also the name of my memoir

Bring cream to boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and slowly whisk 1 cup of cream mixture into yolk mixture. Pour this back into the saucepan. Now, over moderate heat, whisk the mixture just until it thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat again, and stir in butter and vanilla.

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Transfer mixture to a baking dish, cover and chill for at least three hours. Serve with remaining popcorn as garnish.

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It may not look like much, but… holy crap. HOW does it taste so much like popcorn?! I mean, I get it, the whole thing was soaked in popcorn goodness for like ten minutes, but still. That’s CRAZY. If you’re a fan of popcorn, you will love this. If you’re a fan of Jelly Belly popcorn beans, you will love this. If you think Jelly Belly popcorn beans are disgusting… you will still love this. I’m totally serious. It’s sweet and salty (especially if you sprinkle a tiny pinch of salt on top before serving, like I did) and very, very fun. My boyfriend was so amazed by this that he quizzed me constantly about how it was made (“Popcorn extract? Some sort of sorcery? DID YOU DRUG ME?”), and I would like to say that I told him to wait until the blog was up. But, it got annoying so I told him after about an hour. However, if you have more resolve than I do, and more friends than I do, you can totally serve this up to all of them and keep your lips zipped as to how this masterpiece was made.

I Have A Medical Problem And The Only Cure Is More Pudding. I’m Not Kidding. I’m Kind Of Not.

5 Jan

So….how was your holiday season?

Okay, so, a couple of weeks ago, right around Christmas, I started to notice a sharp pain in my belly. It was this weird ache that would come and go as it pleased. Actually, it usually enjoyed paying a visit right after I had a few sips of scotch or ate a samosa. And then it would overstay its welcome. And then I would cry and wake up in the middle of the night and whine to my boyfriend who probably wanted to impale me for also waking him up in the middle of the night (just kidding about him impaling me, for I am awesome and feed him desserts and these desserts would die with me, and anyway I already felt like I was being impaled).

Eventually, I found out that I had an ulcer. A motherflipping ulcer. Me. I have a hole in my stomach lining. How in the hell…

Yes, I’ve been stressed and sad and depressed and whiny. But an ULCER?! Geez. So, now, this is what the rest of my month will look like:

1. No bubbles (So basically I had a really lame New Year’s Eve)

2. No booze (See #1)

3. No spicy food (BUT I’M BROWN!)

4. No citrus and nothing even remotely acidic

5. Pretty much all sweets (as long as they don’t involve citrus) are permitted. Some are encouraged.

6. I would like to direct you to #5. Please re-read.

7. No fried foods. I can’t have any fun, can I? Oh wait…

8. Oh yeah. Medicine. Right. Whatever. Did you re-read #5 yet?

Alright, so, when I first found out about this thing, I called my mom, who advised me on my diet. She basically told me that things like ice cream, pudding and potatoes would be helpful during this difficult time. I kind of tuned out when she said potatoes, because if I can’t have french fries, I can’t have potatoes. I mean, I like all kinds of potatoes, I just don’t like the idea of not being able to do whatever I want to them. Maybe that was an unnecessary sentence. Well.

So anyway, back to puddings. I don’t do well with the powdered “just add milk stuff” because, well, would you expect me to be? And anyway, since I’m no longer busy eating cayenne pepper by the truckload and drinking gallons of lemonade, I’ve got a lot of time on my hands. Enough time, in fact, to make butterscotch pudding.

Confession: I did add a little of this to the first batch. Damn it was good. And damn did I pay for it later.

Confession: I did add a little of this to the first batch. Damn it was good. And damn did I pay for it later.

Butterscotch Pudding (Makes 4 servings, unless you live with me, because then it makes 2 if you are really lucky and really full from dinner)

4 tablespoons of butter

1 cup of dark brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon of coarse sea salt

3 tablespoons of cornstarch

2 1/2 cups of milk (I used 1% milk)

2 large eggs or 1 jumbo egg

2 teaspoons of scotch or whiskey (use another teaspoon if you like your pudding boozy, use none if you have an ulcer that sucks at life)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Melt your butter in a medium-sized saucepan. When melted, add in sugar and salt and stir until moistened. Remove pan from heat. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of your milk with your cornstarch, and mix until no clumps of cornstarch remain. Mix in egg(s) and set aside.

Add the rest of your milk to the butter/sugar/salt mixture, and stir until combined. Stir in your cornstarch mixture, and place the pan over medium heat.

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Whisk until the mixture comes to a rolling boil (careful, as some may splatter), then reduce the heat to a simmer.

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Continue to whisk constantly, until the mixture thickens to a smooth, pudding-like texture. Remove from heat, then pour into a large bowl or individual serving bowls, and refrigerate until chilled, 1 to 4 hours.

If you’d like, you could add some chocolate curls for fancy-pants-ness, using a vegetable peeler and a chocolate bar, like I did:

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To be honest, the chocolate didn’t really add any flavor, and actually masked the pudding’s flavor, so unless you’re a chocoholic, keep it simple.

And what happens when you keep it simple? You basically forget about all of your problems and disappear into what you hope is a gigantic vat of homemade butterscotch pudding. This was amazing. It was, well, buttery of course, but also smooth, fragrant and very, very soothing. My tummy was extremely happy. My boyfriend’s tummy was apparently even happier, since it devoured so much that I had to make another bowl of the stuff almost immediately. Aaaand I’ll be making more tonight. In the interest of my health, of course. 😉

Oh, so I’d like to end with a little story that I hope will make you smile and give you faith in humanity. As many of you know, I am normally a grump and a cynic. As those of you who read my previous post know, I’ve been participating in the “26 acts of kindness” movement initiated by the lovely and amazing Ann Curry. It’s been enlightening, it’s been challenging, and it’s been difficult, to be completely honest. But, I’m getting there, and I’d encourage you all to please try and get in on it. So anyway, about a week ago, my boyfriend and I drove up to the Ridge Hill Mall in Westchester, NY. It was snowy and windy and I was kind of miserable because of the weather and my ailment. I’d been looking for a warm pair of gloves, since my mittens suck and always have, and before I could protest boyfriend purchased a beautiful, snuggly, perfect woolen pair for me from Orvis. We exited the store…and I promptly lost the gloves. As in, immediately. I traced and re-traced my steps to no avail. I felt awful. Boyfriend was somehow incredibly understanding, and even took me back to Orvis to ask if they’d turned up (of course they hadn’t) and then purchase another pair for me (obviously I refused to accept them because I was both stubborn and very, very angry at myself). He’s a keeper, right? So, as he makes his way over to the pair he’d like to re-purchase, the store manager walks over and GIVES THEM TO US FOR FREE. My jaw dropped. I seriously could have cried. I actually might have cried, but it was so cold that I couldn’t really feel my face, so who knows. Anyway, I know a free pair of gloves that I received might not mean a lot to anyone else, but knowing there are still honest, kind, understanding people in the world warmed my heart, and made me want to pay the kindness forward even more. I hope it does the same for you. Either way…if you’re in Ridge Hill any time soon, please give that guy my regards.

Are You Feeling Romantic? Are You Also Feeling Really Lazy? Do You Have Some Lemons? Well Then Can You Get Some?

28 Mar

I have been BEAT lately. I can’t even explain why. Well, maybe I can. It’s spring again, finally, which means that we can put our Happy Light away (yes we have one, yes it rules) and I can look forward to at least three months of swollen eyelids, multiple sneezes and PEONIES! God I love peonies. They almost make up for the two other crappy things that this season will bring me. Sigh.

PEONIES!

So, even though I am almost completely and inexplicably wiped, mama needs her sugar. Literally, I may actually NEED sugar. In fact, I’ve been thinking of going on a week-long sugar strike just to see how dependent I am on it. I told my boyfriend my plan and he laughed at me. Then I laughed at myself and shoved a handful of chocolate into my mouth. It’s all very, very sad.

Oh, who am I kidding? No it’s not sad! It’s awesome! I love chocolate, and chocolate loves me. In fact, upon hearing that dark chocolate, my personal favorite, has been proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, I skipped around the apartment yelling “I’m never going to die! I’m NEVER going to die!” I know I am asking to be crushed by an air conditioner while strolling down 5th avenue or something by saying that. I just hope that AC’s smothered in chocolate.

So, while bumming around last Saturday and itching to bake something easy and sweet (duh), I came upon this recipe. Luckily, I like to laugh at suggested serving sizes, at least as they apply to desserts, so I made this particular easy peasy treat in two 6 ounce ramekins. I also made a few other changes to allow for the simplest, most lemony, tangy, fancy pantsy date night dessert.

Lemon Chiffon Pudding (let’s be real homies, this thing makes two servings)

3 1/2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1/3 cup of turbinado sugar

1/3 cup of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of softened butter

Juice of one and a half lemons, strained

2 beaten egg yolks

2/3 cup of skim milk

2 egg whites

Lemon zest and extra brown sugar for sprinkling on top, optional but I’m pretty much going to force you to do it if you ever make this in my presence

Blueberries for decorating if you’re a sap, and I’m a sap

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and sugars, then stir in the butter, lemon juice, egg yolks and milk until smooth. I’d recommend using a hand mixer on medium speed when incorporating the wet ingredients into the dry.

In a separate bowl, using your cleaned hand mixer, beat the egg whites on high speed until fluffy and light peaks start to form. This should only take a minute or two. Stir the whites into the rest of the mixture and fold until just combined.

Now, I know what you’re saying: Sad Shibow, why do I have to do all that extra business with the egg whites? I’m not trying to have bowls and bowls of dirtiness that I’m going to have to soap and wash later! Well, I say back to you: gosh you’re whiny. Shall I bust out my tiny violin for you? Also, the fluffing of the whites is what allows for the chiffon-iness of this dessert. There. You’re welcome.

Divide the mixture evenly between your two ramekins, then sprinkle the tops with a little lemon zest and some sugar. Fill a large baking dish with some hot water and set the ramekins in it. Send into the oven for 30 minutes, until the tops just start to get golden and the mixture barely jiggles when you shake the dish a little. Serve warm or cold. I’ve had it both ways. It’s awesome both ways.

Geez. Which cheeseball made those hearts? Ugh. So not adorable.

Somehow the blueberries these were topped with formed themselves into a heart. Isn’t that nuts how they just did that to themselves like that? Mushballs.

Now, the really wonderful thing about this particular pudding is that it separates while it bakes. The top layer becomes cake-y, and there’s a nice, thick, surprisingly tangy layer of lemon pudding below. These are well worth much more effort than they actually took.  Believe me when I say these will be in heavy rotation. Sugar strikes be damned!

Yep. I’m a lost cause.

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