Thursday, February 16, 2017

Chocolate Pudding (for No Whey Mama)

Luckily the children are still humanoid collages of berries and cream, sprinkled with freckles, scented with nectar, and just waiting for you to take a bite out of their little rosy cheeks.

Luckily, they're not made out of planes and angles, arms and legs stretched long and thin, jaws and cheekbones cutting into your palm when you try tenderly to cup a face that is on its way out the door to drive itself somewhere before leaving you forever.

Luckily, even if they were, I would be too busy calling my senators in an outrage, too busy watching our government unravel into a pile of dirty string bits, to notice. (Sob!)

Anyhoo. This pudding is an oldie, a goodie, and here by special request. You can make it with coconut milk, and it will be delicious. Weirdly, before this request even came in, I was in a pudding state of mind, having just stirred up a comforting pot of butterscotch My-T-Fine, since Birdy was sick, and I'd had an emergency three-hour root canal, the world was blanketed in snow, and we were in need of something soft and sweet to suck off of our spoons while we felt cozy and sorry for ourselves and watched Arrested Development, which we are watching again, for the same reason that I am recommending this utterly delightful book to you and also this obsessively delicious recipe, that reason being pure pleasure. Resist, resist, resist, enjoy, resist, resist, resist.

Chocolate Pudding
4 servings
Total time: 20 minutes, plus a couple hours for cooling

This recipe is adapted from the Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook. You will wish there were more, but don't try doubling it, as it tends to set erratically in larger batches. I once tried to multiply the recipe by six--back when Michael and I lived in our vegetarian co-op--and let me just say: first my arm fell off from whisking, and then the bottom of the pudding scorched. In that order.

4 ounces semisweet chocolate (chips are easiest, but we sometimes use a 4-ounce bar of Ghiradelli, broken up)
3 packed tablespoons light brown sugar
2 cups whole milk (or a combination of low-fat milk and either cream and half and half)
a dash of salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or a little mint extract, if you want to make chocolate-mint pudding)

In a heavy saucepan, combine the chocolate, sugar, and milk. Heat very gently over low heat, whisking constantly, until all the chocolate is melted, and the mixture is uniform. This will take about 5 minutes, and then it will look like hot chocolate, which is what you're going for. It should feel hot to the touch, but it shouldn't boil.

Combine the salt and cornstarch in a small bowl. Pour about 3/4 cup of the hot mixture into it, and whisk vigorously until the cornstarch is dissolved, then pour this solution back into the pot. Keep whisking and cook the pudding over very low heat for about 8-10 minutes, or until it is thick and glossy. For some reason ours was done in 5 minutes this last time, which is funny because I have a note in my handwriting that says "Up to a half an hour!" next to "8-10 minutes." Cornstarch can be finicky stuff. You may want to switch from a whisk to a wooden spoon as the pudding thickens. Don't imagine it will thicken much as it cools: it will, but it won't thicken if it's not already thick, if you get what I'm saying. Also, once it starts to set, don't mess with it or it will liquefy. Honestly, it's easy though, I swear.

Pour into serving dishes and chill at least one hour before eating. A dollop of whipped cream wouldn't hurt.

Friday, February 03, 2017

That Thing

The original side eye.
What, do I seem like a crank because I'm against chronic traumatic encephalopathy and I begrudge a certain team their support of a white-supremacist regime? So sue me. "Please don't," the kids say, when their father and I enter into conversation about the Patriots, and what properly is the role of a responsible citizen who has the attention and devotion of the entire country focused on him. "Not again."  I'm never, like, in love with the Super Bowl. But this year? With the Muslim ban and Bannon and Sessions and the Dakota pipeline and no Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day and fighting with Australia and with every allegedly American value, like the rule of law, just as a for-instance, hanging in the balance, or not even hanging in the balance as much as tipping, tipping, tipping us all, scrambling, like the Titanic passengers bouncing along the length of the ship on their way to the icy depths? I can't believe they're even following through with the stupid Super Bowl. Luckily Frederick Douglass is still alive. And luckily, the party I'm going to on Sunday has an upstairs group of cheering glazy-eyed concussion lovers, and a downstairs group of board-game-crushing nasty women who will boycott the thing until the Hamilton cast is on, and then our boycott will enjoy a brief hiatus, because we are only human, and we deserve a little pleasure. Also, snacking.

So. In the interest of everyone who's gotta eat, and who might as well eat delicious munching food, I offer you a few old favorites. I love you. xo

The best ribs.
The best chicken wings.
The best nachos.
The best crudites.
Vegetarian chili for a crowd.
People-pleasing enchilada casserole.
Comforting mac and cheese.
Dill pickle popcorn.
Fake, cheap DIY Boursin.
Obsessy edamame.
Crazily good deviled eggs.
Momofuku soy sauce eggs.
Buffalo cauliflower.
Jicama that will get finished before anything else.
Weirdly addictive tortilla pizza.