Monday, June 23, 2008

Food & Family

I come from a long line of good eaters. I also come from some damn good cooks too.
Many families need an occasion to get together to eat. In my family it's like "Happy Tuesday, let's go eat!" We will find any reason to get together and feast. My love of food and family is inseparable, I love my family and I want to cook for people that I love. My mother Lisa, My grandmother Carol and my Aunt Becky are all foodies, and three women that were instrumental in my love of food and my love of preparing food.

My mother has traveled the world and has always had an eclectic taste and a willing palate, even if her favorite thing in the world is milk and toast at midnight. She always made delicious meals at home and took me to different and interesting places when we went out. I give her complete credit for my adventurous eating habits.

My grandmother, two words; Sunday dinner.
This incredible woman made the most elaborate and wonderfully put together meals on Sunday for over 55 years. The food was perfect and very, very American circa 1950. These Sunday meals created some of the best memories I can remember. I learned how to cook for a lot of people from my grandmother. She taught me to always use only what was in season and how to stretch a Sunday meal to last all week long.

My Aunt Becky's food is simply delicious. For as long as I can remember whenever I was told that we were invited to dinner at my Aunt's I would begin to salivate. She knows exactly how to prepare food to make it taste it's best. Her dinners not only taste good but they are presented beautifully, looking just as good as they taste. Becky is not just a good cook, but a master baker. Her desserts and breads are to die for, may you all be fortunate enough to eat dinner at her house!

Chocolate Pudding with Cinnamin Cream

Recipe courtesy Meikel Reece

Pudding recipe courtesy Ina Garten

My additions are in blue:

For Pudding:
6 extra-large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons very good cocoa powder
Pinch salt
2 cups milk
1-ounce very good semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
For Cinnamon Cream:
2 pints Heavy Whipping Cream Sugar Cinnamon Vanilla Lindt Dark Chocolate 85% chopped for topping

Beat the egg yolks and sugar until light yellow and thick in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium-high speed. On low speed, add the cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt. Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan and, with the mixer on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the chocolate mixture. Combine well, then pour the mixture back into the pan.

Cook the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon, until thickened. If the mixture begins to curdle, remove it from the heat and beat it vigorously with a wire whisk. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate, butter, vanilla, and heavy cream, and mix until the chocolate and butter are melted. Add 1/4 tsp of Cayenne pepper and a 1 tsp of good Mexican vanilla. (regular vanilla is good as well, but Mexican is best with this pudding.)

Pour into serving bowls. Place plastic wrap directly on the top of the pudding, and chill thoroughly.

You could cheat and buy Kozy Shack chocolate pudding, but the real thing is so much better!

Whip 2 pints of heavy whipping cream with sugar, Cinnamon and vanilla. (by the way I believe cool whip to be sacrilege, use the real thing and you shall be blessed with tastiness.) You will notice that I am not giving amounts here. You need to season your cream to your taste, although watch the Cinnamon a little bit goes a long way.

In small glasses or whatever vessel you prefer layer about 2 inches of whip cream and 2 inches of pudding. Saving 1 1/2 cups of the cream for topping. Alternate until glass is full. Cover with clear wrap and chill at least an hour (1/2 is OK but you will sacrifice firmness.) Take out and top with chopped chocolate and serve immediately.

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