This post has it all. And, why not? I was happy writing it. I am even happier to share with you. True, we are bouncing from here to there to everywhere but ending with two fabulous recipes you can pull together this weekend.
SHINY NEW TOYS
Pudding Chômeur is a recipe from Christopher Kimball’s award-winning Milk Street Tuesday Nights cookbook which I recently received. It’s a fabulous bookend to Dorie Greenspan’s Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook, my CookTheBookFridays group’s latest project. These authors are masters of their trade which translates to 1) Learning, my favorite task; and 2) Cooking-the-Books with Pros.
It’s always during these slower winter months that I inject newness into Me. What seem like no-brainers for most are new mountains to climb for me by myself. Think about it, loyal Readers, jumping from a 2008 Lexus to a 2019 Subaru Outback overburden with bells & whistles is no walk in Central Park. My first 4,000-mile road trip has been, well, an experience.
And, just for good measure, why not upgrade from an iPhone 6s to an iPhone 11 Pro Max. More bells, whistles and cameras. If you’ll excuse the shadows and sometimes lame photos this week, I promise to nail down this book while attending 3 in-depth lessons at my local Apple store next week.
YEAR of the RAT
Overwhelming in its extravagant décor and elaborate displays, Chinese New Year 2020 in Las Vegas rivals the Christmas holidays with in-your face splendor. Every year Las Vegas is all in for the longest and most important festival in the Chinese lunar calendar.
Last weekend I spent a day on The Strip to catch an early peek at the decorations before the kickoff celebration on January 25th. In case you’re uninformed, this is the Year of the Rat in the Chinese zodiac cycle. In this City, for now, all rats are gold and Sin City’s Strip is more gorgeous than glitzy.
As far as rats go, however, my heart still belongs to Ratatouille’s Remy.
A NATURE LESSON
What I know for sure is that when hiking on a trail, I step aside for bears, moose and tarantulas. When we lived in Nevada I was always on the alert for snakes and spiders. (According to CNN, snakes, the Chinese krait and the cobra, may be the original source of the newly discovered coronavirus.) Apparently I forgot that hiking rule when I almost stepped on this furry guy last week. We parted as friends and went our separate ways.
PASTA PERFECT & PUDDING CHÔMEUR
Nothing prods a chef to become more creative than being faced with hungry bellies. Whether famine, war, economic depressions or just hard times, the world’s cooks have always dished up what they could with what they had. Egg Drop Soup was actually a popular Depression-era Soup. Irish Soda Bread has been a mainstay since the 1830’s when Baking Soda was invented. Minestrone, Potage and Ribollita are still economical mainstays of the European diet.
Such it is with Pudding Chômeur, a French-Canadian pudding cake enhanced by maple syrup and cream. Originally called Pouding Chômeur, literally translated as unemployment pudding or poor man’s pudding, it’s a sponge-like vanilla cake. Someone suggested this Québécois classic tastes ‘as if you crossed sticky toffee pudding with pancakes and maple syrup.’ What is for certain is if you need a smidgen of sweetness at the end of your meal, this is the dessert to serve. Look below for step-to-step instructions.
Although Dorie Greenspan’s PASTA with CABBAGE, WINTER SQUASH AND WALNUTS was created from her fruitful, talented mind, it is a recipe born from fridge/pantry leftovers. This dish demonstrates how to pull together a recipe, kick it up a notch or two and make something special.
COOK the BOOK FRIDAYS
PASTA with CABBAGE, WINTER SQUASH AND WALNUTS by Dorie Greenspan, Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook
1/2 pound winter squash, such as Delicata, Kabocha, acorn or butternut, scrubbed or peeled, as you like
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 pinch fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/2 pound linguine or other long pasta
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 pound green cabbage, trimmed, cored and shredded (about 2 lightly packed cups)
1/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted, if you’d like
1 handful freshly grated Parmesan, for sprinkling
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil.
Meanwhile, cut the squash in half and remove the seeds and strings, discard the seeds and roast.Thinly slice or cut into cubes. You’ll have about 2 lightly packed cups.
- Warm 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large high-sided skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium-high heat. Toss in the squash, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until it is almost tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the vinegar and cook until it is absorbed by the squash — this is quick. Add the honey and stir to coat, then scrape the squash into a bowl and set aside.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions. About a minute before the pasta is ready, toss the dried cranberries into the pot. When the pasta is cooked, scoop out 1/4 cup of the cooking water and set aside, then drain the pasta, leaving a little water clinging to the strands.
- Return the skillet to medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil, toss in the cabbage and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for a minute or two, then add the remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed. Pour in the reserved pasta water and cook for a minute, then add the pasta and cranberries and stir it all around. Mix in the squash and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Taste for salt and pepper and see if you want to add a bit more oil.
- Transfer to a warm bowl or leave the pasta in the skillet to serve, topped with the walnuts and Parmesan.
STORING: The dish is really best served as soon as it’s made. If you have leftovers, wrap tightly and put in fridge. Add extra oil, if necessary, when re-heating.
PUDDING CHÔMEUR by Christopher Kimball, Milk Street Tuesday Nights
6 TBS (3/4 stick) salted butter, softened, plus more for ramekins
1 cup maple syrup
6 TBS heavy cream
2TBS cider vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp backing powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
7 TBS white sugar
1 large egg
Vanilla Ice Cream or Yogurt to serve
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the center position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Generously butter 4 6-ounce ramekins and place on baking sheet. (Although I used high-rimmed ramekins, the lower-rimmed are much better, I think.)
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the maple syrup and cream. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Take off the heat, whisk in vinegar and set aside.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
- . Using an electric mixer in another medium bowl, beat the 6 Tablespoons of butter and sugar on medium high until light and fluffy, about 2-4 minutes. With the mixer on low, beat in the egg, 1 or 2 minutes. With the mixer running, gradually add the flour mixture and beat until incorporated about 1 minute. The mixture will resemble sticky cookie dough. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Into each prepared ramekin, spoon 2 TBS of the maple mixture. Scoop the dough into the ramekins, dividing it evenly. Spoon another 2 TBS of the maple mixture over each.
- Bake until puddings are deep golden brown and bubbling at the edges about 25 minutes. Transfer the ramekins to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes.
- Serve warm, topped with ice cream or yogurt. Pour the remaining maple mixture over the topping as desired.
This post follows my progress cooking each recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook along with those participating in the online group CookThe Book Fridays. We do not publish recipes unless they have already been on the Internet. We do encourage you to buy this truly innovative cookbook and, even better, cook along with us. And always remember, these recipes work so if you encounter difficulties, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org We’ll figure it out.