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Thursday 23 August 2012

Banana Pudding from The Loveless Café, TN

It took years, but finally my Snoopy glasses have made it into a picture.

It has been quite a while. Again. No excuses; I'm sorry. You'll be cross, I accept and understand that. If it makes you feel better, you can spit in my face and call me bad names.

In fact, let's do that anyway. It sounds fun.


Delicious Delicious Delicious has gone saucy!

Let's get back to the point. I have made pudding. As in, American pudding. If you've never had pudding before, and you're British, think Angel Delight. Comforting, low effort Kiddie Food. It's never going to get you the Blue Ribbon at your local village fête, but it will make you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside, in a nostalgic and down home sort of way.

Unless you're lactose  intolerant. In that case, it'll just make you sick!

I once knew a girl, whose name shall not be mentioned, in case she's reading, who told me and a friend that she made great lemon pudding. We'll call her Trixie. That wasn't her name, but I'm no bully, and refuse to shame her publicly.

She wasn't Canadian either. OK, she was, but she wasn't called Trixie, so her dignity should still be intact.

Anyway, this 'great lemon pudding' was vile. It tasted like acidulated, sour...



...I can't think of a word other than 'sick'. I'm sorry.

We weren't all friends for long after the pudding. But I did keep the cute little tub she gave it to me in.

Oh, don't look at me like that. So I'm cheap. I'd keep your pudding tub too if I felt like it.

The dessert you see on these pages today is an entirely different prospect. It is rich, smooth and vanilla-scented, creamy and wholesome. (I had to add the 'wholesome' to that little descriptive blurb, because sometimes the word 'creamy' makes me think of strippers.)

It's an extraordinary bonus from my lovely friend Nuria, who sent me a copy of Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe for my birthday. I wasn't expecting it, and she sent it by recorded mail on the 'Signed For' service. I love it when you have to sign! So I called her up in a fit of excitement, and I think she was a bit like, 'Stop squealing, Pete, they can hear you in the office!'
(I didn't really squeal.)

But anyway. The Loveless Café is a place in Nashville, Tennessee, and it turns out that they of the Loveless love sugar even more than I do. And they do a famous banana pudding, which sounded tons nicer than the only pudding I've ever had before (Trixie's).

Making it was the easiest thing I have ever done. It's basically cornflour-stabilised custard, so you can't do it wrong. Genius. It sets pretty thickly, so you could use it in lots of different ways, as it happens - maybe fill a custard sponge cake with it, or put it in little tarts with soft fruits and berries, to impress suitors. I would.

I have to go and make dinner now, but let me leave you with the recipe. Let me know what you think!

Because in addition to being charming and wolfishly sexy, I am also considerate, I have metricated the American measurements. 

Loveless Banana Pudding

You will need:

1⁄3 cup/40g cornflour
3 cups/750ml whole milk
8 egg yolks
3⁄4 cup/150g sugar (plus an extra tablespoon if you plan to serve whipped cream with the pudding)
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
4 to 6 bananas, ripened but not bruised or blemished, sliced
About 24 ladyfingers, boudoir biscuits, or savoiardi
1 cup/250ml double cream (optional - see below)

  1. Place the cornflour in a large bowl. Stir in about one third of the milk until evenly blended, thin whisk in the egg yolks. Combine the remaining milk and the sugar in a large saucepan. With the tip of a knife, scrape the vanilla seeds into the pan and throw in the pod as well. Bring to a boil over medium heat; immediately reduce the heat to low.
  2. Slowly whisk the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture to warm it. Then, pour the eggy custard back into the pan and continue to cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the custard comes to a gentle boil. Boil for a minute, still stirring, and remove from the heat. Scrape into a bowl. Press a sheet of clingfilm directly onto the top of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming and then refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours or overnight.
  3. To assemble the final dessert, spread a thin layer of chilled pudding in a trifle dish or other deep glass or ceramic bowl. Or make individual portions in cute glasses. Top with a layer of banana slices and then a layer of ladyfingers. Cover with half of the remaining pudding, another layer of bananas, and then the rest of the ladyfingers. Top with the remaining pudding. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to a day in advance before serving so the ladyfingers can soften completely.
  4. Shortly before serving, whip the cream and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a chilled bowl with chilled beaters until soft peaks form. Top the banana pudding with dollops of whipped cream and a few slices of banana. Or, do as I did and top with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Much better, in my opinion!

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Vintage Chiffon Cake

I'm having a bit of an issue with my houseplants.

I want them to be healthy. And beautiful. I have this dream of a house filled with lush, green-leaved plants dotted around the rooms, offering a cool sense of calm and respite from the endless hustle and bustle of the outside world. Well, that makes the pace of life of Cathays sound a little more frenetic than it actually is, but regardless: I want that oasis feel. I deserve it.

But try as I might, my plants won't play ball. They are like sullen, stroppy and po-faced teenagers, who refuse to dress appropriately or behave well in public. They form strange, uncomfortable poses regardless of how often I turn them, and seem unhappy in their earth-filled pots and canisters.

I am like the proverbial parent of children entering adolescence: on edge, anxious and stressed. How did this happen? And why to me?

We started off so well. I remember potting them up with such good intentions and an unusually positive outlook. They enjoyed their weekly dose of Baby Bio and reached happily toward the natural daylight pouring through the windows of the house we rented before moving here. Maybe the move angered them. All I know is that things aren't the same anymore.

Do you think Betty would be proud?

The money tree (stupid name) drops leaves like it were an Olympic sport, and the larger of two yukkas has foliage that is dying at the tips. I can do nothing to stop it. It depresses me every time I look at it.

What to do, readers. What to do.

This has nothing to do with anything, does it?

In other news, I found a vintage recipe for a 2 layer chiffon cake baked in regular (i.e. round) cake tins. So you should all be happy, even if I am not.

Sometimes, I think that the 'Oh well, sod the presentation, I just took this' shots of food are better.

It's not exactly like regular, tube pan baked chiffon cake. But it will do for all of y'all lazy ass, can't be bothered to git down to the store and pick up a tube pan-ned ass types.

Let me know how ya'll like it. We'll do Croatia soon, promise. Here, meanwhile, is the recipe for you all:

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