I Tried To Invent A Pudding


Ok, the election is over, we can all breathe a heavy sigh of relief, and move on with our lives. What better way to move on than to try to invent a pudding?

After making Elise’s foolproof recipe for chocolate pudding (click here) several times–it’s become something of a staple in our home–I began to think deeply about the process. “Ok,” I thought, ” to make chocolate pudding you put milk in a pot with sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and a pinch of salt. You heat and whisk vigorously until it gets really thick, then you add an egg and some more chocolate and put in ramekins or mugs and refrigerate. That’s all you do.”

My thoughts continued: “So why can’t I just put anything I want in milk, add cornstarch and sugar and a pinch of salt, and make whatever kind of pudding I can dream up? Why can’t I invent my own pudding?”

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The Big Winner & Other Business

And now for the winner of our James Beard Foundation Las Vegas Gala Dinner contest. Congratulations: Angie Neer! Sounds like your boyfriend is going to have a fantastic birthday. I’ll be e-mailing you directly to tell you the good news….

Now for other business:

* Check out my friend Emily Farris’s new book Casserole Crazy which came out this week. Emily’s a hoot and her book, which I received an advance copy of, has more recipes for casserole in it than you ever thought possible. It even has the winning recipe from the casserole contest Emily had me judge… go buy ten million copies!

* Josh Ozersky, who you may remember as the voice behind Grub Street, has a new blog called The Feedbag. It has a retro, vintagey design and Josh’s signature voice. I’ll definitely be reading.

* Finally, a strange request: my talented writer friend Alex Bullen is working on a young adult novel that now needs to be set in San Francisco. Only problem: Alex has never been to San Francisco. So you San Franciscans, can you please e-mail Alex at thisislandlife@gmail.com and answer the following questions: how does a 16 year old get around the city? What would be the most perfectly quintessential San Francisco date (for a 16 year old)? What are some off-the-beaten-path hang-outs for San Francisco teens? What are the hippest, most up-and-coming neighborhoods for shopping and dining?

Thanks everyone and have a great weekend!

Win 2 Tickets to the James Beard Taste America Gala in Las Vegas

Do you live near Las Vegas? Are you going to Vegas the weekend of October 25th? If so, you have a chance to win two tickets to the James Beard Taste America Gala at the Palazzo Resort Hotel and Casino on Saturday, October 25th. Some of the nation’s best chefs–Fabio Trabocchi from Fiamma in New York, Traci Des Jardins from Jardiniere in San Francisco, John Sundstrom from Lark in Seattle, along with many others (see full list here)–will cook you a four-course seated dinner with wine pairings, a meal valued at $350 a plate. The special guest? Legendary chef, Charlie Trotter.

To win two tickets to this event, merely do the following: leave your name and a valid e-mail address in the comments below. In a week, I’ll put your names into a hat and pull out a winner. It’s that simple. Good luck!


Waiter Rant Winners

Thanks to everyone who entered the “Waiter Rant” contest. I read all of your stories and really enjoyed them all; my favorites (and the winners) are: Matt’s cranberry juice story, Jake’s John Malkovich story, Foodwoolf’s Al Pacino story (I guess I like celebrity stories!), Vince’s “two thumbs up” story, Gretchers T.G.I. Friday’s story, Steve’s spicy sandwich story, Elliott’s colonoscopy waiter story, Kim’s mean woman who called the authorities to check her age story. My top two favorite stories were Kristin’s and Erin’s. Here they are, in case you missed them in the comments. If you are a winner of this contest, please e-mail me at amateurgourmet@gmail.com with your mailing address so we can send you the book!

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Congrats Rochelle

Thanks to all the participants in the Smoked Salmon contest; your entries were fun and I appreciate you taking the time to enter them. That said, we do have a winner and that winner is Rochelle. She and a guest will attend the Nova Scotia Dinner this Thursday at the James Beard House. Perhaps she’ll bring a camera and take pictures and do a write-up of the event for us so we can see what we missed? And for any who are disappointed, worry not: because of the success of this contest, I’m planning many more such contests in the near future….in fact, there may even be another contest this week!

Smoked Salmon Entries

As you can see in the post below this, I offered my readers, this weekend, an opportunity to win dinner for two at the James Beard House this Thursday. Since the meal is Nova Scotia-themed, I asked my readers to either make a recipe using smoked salmon or to place smoked salmon on the face of a sleeping loved one. The following are the entries I received; now it’s your job to vote for your favorite in the comments. Since it’s possible, I suppose, for sneaky entrants to vote for themselves many times, I’ll use my discretion in choosing the winner tonight at midnight. And so, without further ado, here we go…

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WEEKEND CONTEST: Win Dinner for 2 at The James Beard House THIS THURSDAY

Hello readers! I have an exciting opportunity for you (especially those who live in New York or close to New York or have a private airplane that can fly them to New York): The Winery Association of Nova Scotia is offering dinner for two at the James Beard House this Thursday, August 7th, where five chefs from Nova Scotia will prepare a meal of local Nova Scotian foods paired with Nova Scotian wines (more info here). To win these tickets, you must do one of the following:

(1) Prepare a recipe featuring smoked salmon (ideally, Nova Scotian salmon), take a picture of yourself holding the finished plate (so we know you made it and didn’t download the picture from Google images) and post it on to Flickr;


(2) Take a piece of smoked salmon (ideally, Nova Scotian salmon) and lay it on the face of a sleeping loved one, take a picture (they must still be sleeping–not acting!), and post it on to Flickr.

E-mail the link to your Flickr picture to me at amateurgourmet@gmail.com by SUNDAY NIGHT and I’ll post all the entries on Monday morning. The person who gets the most votes in the comments wins the tickets. Good luck!

Two Things

(1) If you want a free sushi set, you have a very good chance of winning one by taking a picture of yourself doing an Iron Chef Chairman impression and e-mailing it to fndish@foodnetwork.com. If you have a Mac, just open up the Photo Booth app, look seriously at the camera, snap a pic and send it in. [Contest is part of this week’s episode.]

(2) I am doing something VERY sketchy this weekend. I’m the “celebrity” guest at sketch comedy troupe Slightly Known People’s weekly show tomorrow (Saturday) night, at 10:30, at The Green Room, 45 Bleecker Street. The cover is $12 and my participation involves an Iron Chef-style cocktail-making contest with guest judges Mary Greenwalt from “I Survived A Japanese Game Show” and Serious Eats’s own Erin Zimmer. Hope to see you there!