Are you a person who likes rice pudding? I kind of think everyone should be, though I guess we can still be friends if you don’t.
We like stovetop rice pudding—it’s easy and quick and doesn’t hog the oven. Spooned into ramekins and chilled in the fridge, it becomes a simple, sleekly comforting dessert fit for anyone. Anyone who likes rice pudding, that is.
Stovetop rice pudding
Start with two cups of cooked white long-grain rice. Put it into a three-quart saucepan and add 4 cups of milk, 1 cup heavy cream, and 1/2 cup of white sugar. Add any flavorings you want—I nearly always add a stick of cinnamon and a scraped vanilla bean—along with a pinch of salt, if your rice wasn’t salted to begin with. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook for half an hour or so, stirring occasionally, until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid and the pudding is thick and creamy. You’ll need to stir more frequently toward the end as the milk thickens and wants to burn.
Spoon into ramekins, cover exposed pudding directly with plastic wrap, and let cool. Rice pudding is good warm, at room temperature, or cold.
Ideas: Flavor the pudding with star anise, clove, allspice, or any other warm spice. Stir in a handful of currants just before taking the pudding off the heat. Top with chopped candied citrus peel, or toasted almonds. Brown some butter and trickle it over the top, or a spoonful of dulce de leche. Or cover the top of a chilled pudding with sugar and then brûlée it with a torch.
The 1/2 cup of sugar in this pudding makes for a distinctly but lightly sweet dessert, where the cream really comes forward. You can add up to 2/3 of a cup of sugar if you want something sweeter.
On milk: You can use any milk you want for this. Skim is fine, whole milk is fine. Whole milk will just be richer-feeling. You can cut the percentage of cream to milk if you want, but use at least 1/4 cup—you need it for mouthfeel and, well, creaminess.
We blew back in from a long bike ride with April and Kyle—way out on County Road 48 to the farm we’re getting a chicken share from—just as it was getting dark. We were hungry. So we ate lasagne, and the world seemed like a nice place again.
This is another one from Marcella Hazan. Long-cooked mushrooms, cheese, and unsmoked ham, bound with béchamel and layered with super-eggy noodles? Twist my arm.
This lasagne feels very rich, though it’s arguably lighter than those with meat sauces. I think it’s the mushrooms—there’s a lot to chew on in every bite, and it makes the whole thing really satisfying. It is basically the pasta equivalent of cashmere sweater, all warm, delicate comfort.
We asked Desiree what she wanted for dinner. Corn dogs, she said. Okay, we said. Corn dogs you shall have.
Never mind the fact that I’d never made corn dogs, could not really remember the last time I *ate* a corn dog, wasn’t really sure I even liked corn dogs aside from State Fair and boardwalk-related use cases.
But! It turns out you can absolutely make really cute, fair-worthy corn dogs at home. They are easy and quick, ideal for a snacky thing before dinner proper. If you look for super-tasty, high-quality sausages, they’re really no worse for you than any other fried thing. Who knew?
10 minutes for pillowy-soft, toothy-delicious, completely idiot-proof (read: me-proof) gnocchi? Yes, please.
Ricotta gnocchi are not exactly like potato gnocchi. Really excellent potato potato gnocchi have a kind of barely perceptible yielding bounce to them, while these are more velvety-soft. And they’re creamier, of course. In fact, they are delicious, with their lightness, their subtly textured interior matrix of curd and egg, their cushiony smoothness. They’re fantastic dressed in simple, light sauce. And they are so dead easy you could make them every night, if eating gnocchi every night seems like a good idea to you. Damn.
I have been patiently working away on a string quilt for the last few months.
I am a freak for beschamel. Besciamella, besamel, plain old “white sauce”—whatever. I’m there.
Moussaka is one of the very best ways to eat it, with a top layer of pure beschamel baked into caramelized, custardy deliciousness. But! a good moussaka isn’t just a delivery vehicle for sauce—the bottom layers are savory, spicy, and sweet, with textures and flavors that play perfectly with beschamel’s milky-bland smoothness. It is A Wonderful Thing.
Moussaka is infinitely variable. Here’s one simple version.
Ohhh, Colette’s Violet blouse. I’ve been wanting to make this one for a long time.
I *love* this pattern. Peter Pan collar, blousy fit, super-girly gathers, buffet-friendly shape, I’m down.
Things I did: I used a lightweight cotton with a woven gray and black stripe for the body. It said Moda on it, so I guess it was a quilting cotton? Anyway, it had soft, swishy drape and I liked the striping a lot, so I went for it, piecing the yoke so I could get a little chevron going with the shoulder slopes. I used some black cotton batiste for a contrast collar and sleeve bands.
I used self-fabric for interfacing throughout. I cut a straight 4 for this top, and saw no changes I needed to make with a tissue-fitting, though now I’m sort of feeling like I need to pull the bust darts back a little bit to help them lie smoother.
The biggest change I made was gathering sleeves into a band instead of threading elastic through them or simply hemming them. To do this, I cut the wider mid-length sleeve and cut it shorter, to approximately 1” above where I wanted the sleeve to fall. I measured my bicep, added a bit for ease and seam allowances, and cut 3 1/4” x 13 1/4” bands (two for each sleeve) from the batiste. I prepped the two bands for each sleeve as one, pressed each in half lengthwise, and turned down a 3/8” hem on one side. I stitched the unpressed side RST with the bottom of the sleeve, pressed it down, and topstitched to catch the back of the sleeve band. Then I sewed the side sleeve seam in one go.
Confusing enough? It sounds really confusing written out, but it was easy, just like putting on a front band or a cuff. I love how clean it looks, and how those two little echoing pops of contrast color add a little visual structure.
Things I wish I’d done: Next time, I’ll construct this like a men’s shirt, flat-felling the armscye and sleeve seams, for simplicity. OH and I’ll actually put the buttons on the correct side—I’m so used to making shirts for Terry that I just automatically went for it without paying attention.
Anyway. This is the first garment I’ve finished in way too long, so I’m feeling pretty good. Yay Colette, yay square buttons, yay puffy sleeves!
Our favorite popovers are Marion Cunningham’s, by way of Julia Child. And oh! What lovely popovers they are—big, handsomely popped beauties with melting-crisp crusts and custardy-smooth interiors. They’re delightful to bake—watching them climb up their tins and then steadily puff-puff-puff their way up and over the rims is so entertaining you can’t help but watch, crouched on the kitchen floor with your face pressed to the glass of the oven door. They’re fun to eat, with their layered textures and swirling bottoms that show food physics at work. It is impossible to leave a dish of heaped and napkin-wrapped popovers alone, even if breakfast is over and you are already full.
I will just tell you now that T is the best popover maker in the known world. You should probably just come to our house and eat the ones he makes. But seeing as how the logistics on that might be difficult, here’s a recipe.
Who doesn’t need a moustache for every occasion?
I added a tiny little ort bin/thread catcher to my sewing kit. I’ve been using the kit like crazy, but keep leaving tiny snips and snaps of thread all over the place. This is an effort to corral them.
It’s just a tiny drawstring bag with a circular bottom and very short sides. It’s tacked down to one of the pockets. I stuff all my little thread ends and fabric trimmings in there and draw it closed to empty when I’m near a trash can.
All this is good, because I’ve just started an ongoing handwork project with fussy-cut 60 degree diamonds. I make them pretty much constantly. OBSESSION.
Awww yeah. Tiny and cute and crafty. I’m down.
I spent part of Saturday sewing with the amazing women of the Fort Collins Modern Quilt Guild and left full of new ideas and quilting mojo. We sewed at Penny’s lovely new place, and it was so inspiring to see all of her beautiful stuff at work and in use throughout a real, live, living and breathing home.
Carmen was making a super-cute little travel sewing kit from this tutorial from Lots of Pink Here, and I got down on that action like immediately. I’m working on a big sewing/knitting/making space clean-up (how can such a tiny area become such a disaster? There seems to be an inverse relationship between how small a space is and how cluttered I can make it), and this tasty little treat was a nice reward.
Though beloved of diners and pancake chains everywhere, each and every big Dutch baby is always new and always interesting. It’s a kissing cousin of the delightfully named apfelpfannkuchen (which I think literally means apple pan cake, awesome) by way of the Pennsylvania Dutch.
Yes, yes, okay. This Dutch baby is a big, puffed, gloriously sticky-sweet and rich thing, basically an enormous popover with its crisp edges and almost custardy center. Studded with caramel and tart apples, it’s an amazing breakfast that looks super-impressive while requiring a minimum of work. Prep the dry ingredients, the liquid ingredients, and the fruit (toss with the white sugar and spices to prevent browning) the night before, and all you need to do the next day is turn on the oven and hit a button on the blender.
Big Dutch Baby with Apples
Recipe adapted from a million places
You need about four medium apples, cored and sliced into 1/3”-1/4” slices, for one 12” cast-iron pan’s worth of Dutch Baby. Use tart-sweet varieties that cook nicely.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Melt a big knob - say 1/4 cup - of sweet butter in a well-seasoned cast-iron pan. Swirl it over the bottom and sides of the pan, and then scatter 1/4 cup of brown sugar over it evenly. Spread out your apple slices on top of this proto caramel; sprinkle with 1/4 cup of white sugar and then with a healthy sprinkle of powdered ginger and a teaspoon of cinnamon. You can do this on the stovetop or in the heating oven while you prep the batter.
- 4 oz AP flour;
- 1/2 tsp salt; and
- a healthy pinch of ground nutmeg
together to combine.
In a blender or a food processor, whir
- 4 eggs;
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of milk; and
- a splash of vanilla
until the eggs are well and truly broken up. Add the dry ingredients and process for thirty seconds or so, until the batter is completely mixed and looking foamy. When you take the cover off to check it, air bubbles should rise from its depths every second or two.
(You can mix this by hand, too, just whisking hard for a couple solid minutes, but the machine will do the job more efficiently).
Your pan should be now be very hot and the sugar should be bubbling. Pour the batter carefully over the apples in the pan; it should sizzle at least a little as it hits.
Bake in the center of the oven for 25-30 minutes. Don’t crack the oven door at all, or at least not in the first 15 minutes if you absolutely must. The cake will rise and swell mightily, straight up out of the pan. It’s done when the center is set—a little jiggle is acceptable—and the curling edges are a deep toasty brown. Call everyone to the table and make them sit down.
Pull the cake out of the oven and serve in wedges straight from the pan. It will fall as soon as you cut into it (or it cools a little, whichever comes first—see below), so work fast. Serve with powdered sugar and lemon wedges, maybe a side of bacon or sausage. Take a long walk later; come back and eat the leftovers.
I actually managed to finish sewing something. Been a while!
This is a half square triangle crib quilt for my new-ish second cousin (first cousin once removed? I have no idea). Aside from the backing and binding, it came entirely from my stash. The triangles finished at 3” square, and the entire thing measures about 43”x48”.
Material: The colored triangles are pretty much all quilting cottons; the solids are a mix of unbleached muslin (old garment toiles, washed and ripped), undyed linen (leftovers from a duvet cover and an upholstery project), and a couple random bits and bobs.
Things I did: This was my first run at straight line quilting; I stitched (more or less) in the ditch of the vertical seams, and then quilted in one-inch passes across the horizontal. That’s 2640 feet of quilting! Then I outlined each zigzag. The quilting looks great in some spots, and not so great in others—I need practice to get straighter and more even. But washing and drying has fluffed and puckered the quilt enough to tame most of the wonkiness into irregular charm.
I *love* the effect straight-line quilting gives (my straight line quilting idol, Red Pepper Quilts, always inspires and induces weeping fits of inadequacy), so I’m going to keep practicing. I did get a walking foot, and omg it helps SO much.
Things I wish I’d done: I ran out of pins about three quarters of the way through basting, and hand-basted the rest of the quilt. Sad to say, the hand-basted portion quilted much flatter and more evenly; is this the way to go?
Also, I put the binding on completely by machine; it looks okay but not great, and I think I’ll stick to sewing the front on by machine and slip-stitching the back side.
All in all, this is a sweet little quilt, very cozy and soft, with a wonderful heavy drape from all that quilting. I learned a lot, and it was fun to make. <heart>!
An easy one, for blustery weeknights and lazy Sundays, or when you need something cheerful.
Wash, peel, and cut three or four large beets and one tart apple into 1” pieces. Toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and set on a baking sheet in a 400F oven for 20 minutes or so, until the beets are starting to be tender and edged with caramel.
Sweat a chopped onion and a clove of garlic with a tablespoon of oil in a deep saucepan. When they are translucent, add a 2” nut of ginger, cut into matchsticks, and two teaspoons of good Madras curry powder. Cook until the spices are fragrant.
Add the beets and a quart of chicken stock. Simmer for ten minutes (or until the beets are really good and tender) and then blitz with the immersion blender to your preferred degree of chunkiness.
Season (you might want to add a little honey, depending on how sweet your beets were) and eat, maybe with a dollop of yogurt and some cilantro.
This little rolled omelette is a fine breakfast or lunch with some rice, or a nice light dinner with soup, or a beautiful apres-bar snack. There is something about the lovely secret interior—not much to look at outside, hidden worlds within—that can go a long way toward restoring your faith in the world’s worth.
You can make it plain, fill it with nori, or go crazy and use the same technique with Western flavors for a beautiful pinwheel streaked with herb. It’s just up to you and your pantry.
We woke up to ten inches of snow on the ground and a power outage at the office today, so we had a little impromptu lunch party for the unexpected snow day. We made the summeriest food we could think of.
Chicken shallow-fried at home is a different beast entirely from restaurant fried chicken, which is usually pressure-fried or deep-fried. It has a shattering-crisp crust, dark and crunchy (but not hard or greasy) where it rested against the pan. It is good even the next day, cold. The meat is succulent and moist, but not at all greasy. It makes a mess of your clothes and stovetop and kitchen, and it takes fussing and poking and prodding. But it is good stuff.
Frying chicken well is easiest to do on a responsive, high-powered gas stove; if you have an electric stove, you may need to do a few batches before you get a feel for how agile your stove is with temperature adjustments. Not that that’s a bad thing.
Tiny pies! I made these back in January or February with the very last of the apples. We stuck them in the freezer and rediscovered them in the past few weeks; I can confirm that yes, tiny pies are good.
Make these in the summer and fall with seasonal fruit and eat them in midwinter. OMG, tiny pies!
Sun-dried tomatoes may be a 90s food cliche, but for good reason—they’re useful, delicious, and a nice change from canned in the depths of winter. Drying tomatoes yourself is easy-peasy. Do it in several batches throughout late summer and fall, and then use them until tomato season comes again. You don’t need a dehydrator—an oven or several hot, sunny days will do.