A Funny Thing I Do (A Tip & A Recipe for Vanilla Bean Pudding)

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What you see here is documentation of a very strange practice, a funny thing I do each time I pull a recipe from the internet. What I do is: instead of printing the recipe out with my printer (which is totally hooked up and ready to use), I grab a piece of paper and write the recipe down off the screen. It occurs to me now that the reason I do this is so that I’m aware of all the steps of the recipe before I go into the kitchen to see the recipe through. Writing it down allows me to synthesize everything–the ingredients I need, the prep I need to do, the oven temp (if the oven has to go on)–and I think that this funny thing I do accounts for the frequent success I have with recipes. By the time I begin the actual cooking, I’m well aware of all the steps and what has to happen to make it all come together. That’s way better than printing the recipe and winging the recipe step by step only to hit a wall when you realize you have no smoked paprika.

The recipe you see above is a New York Times recipe for vanilla bean pudding which you can read by clicking here. The pudding came out great, though the picture didn’t:

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Trust me, though, it’s one of the simplest most rewarding things you can do with a vanilla bean. It takes just minutes and after an hour or so in the fridge, dessert is done. So do what I do: click the recipe, write it down off the screen and get to it. You may want to buy a vanilla bean first, though that’ll occur to you once you’re writing it down. You’ll never print a recipe from your printer again.

…and for your entertainment, while you’re eating, a pudding video I suddenly remembered from the TV show The State:

Blueberry Disaster

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I fully support, endorse and celebrate the spirit with which Nancy Silverton wrote her newest book, A Twist of the Wrist. For a chef as particular as Silverton (and believe me, having made her sourdough bread from scratch, that woman loves detail) it’s refreshing to see her let down her hair, so to speak, with a book that grants the reader permission to skip the farmer’s market in lieu of canned, jarred and boxed foods. For any other chef, it’d be an act of heresy; for Nancy Silverton–of the La Brea Bakery & Pizzeria Mozza, both groundbreaking California institutions–it’s an act of humility. The book seems to say, “Look, home cook, I know you’re busy; so here’s a way to make delicious, restaurant-quality food at home for much less money in much less time.” What could be wrong with that?

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Gettin’ Figgy Wit’ It

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The internet has changed how we cook. Before the internet, I might’ve gone to the store and seen figs (as I did the other day) and said, “Wow, those look nice, but I have no idea what to do with them.” Now, because of the internet, I bought the figs, brought them home, Googled “fig dessert recipe” and found this one from Kim Goodfriend on KQED. It’s a super easy, super-awesome recipe that takes no time and requires little effort. Sound good? Let’s get figgy wit’ it.

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Easy Tiramisu

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Tiramisu is a dessert I’ve only eaten at restaurants–usually with my family. For some reason, the alchemy of its components always eluded me. It seemed like it might be very tricky to make. And then, for the Sopranos finale, I decided to give it a go. I pushed aside all the more complex recipes that involved egg yolks and heat, and used one right out of the Sopranos cookbook. It took less than ten minutes and the results were pretty dynamite. Here’s how to do it.

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For The Love of Pavlova

A miracle took place in my oven the other day. Set to 170 degrees, I placed a baking sheet inside with a mound of beaten egg whites and sugar, and out came this:

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That is pavlova. It’s named after the ballerina Anna Pavlova. I’ve seen Julia Child make it, Nigella Lawson and The Barefoot Contessa (whose recipe I used). But I’d never been driven to try. How good could it be? Just egg whites and sugar–no fat? Just a big crispy blob of white?

Oh how wrong I was. This wasn’t just good, it was shockingly good: crispy on the outside and gooey, like a marshmallow, on the inside. And then, to be totally decadent, you top it with whipped cream and berries:

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For the berries, I made Pim’s strawberries in hibiscus and vanilla syrup. That berry mixture on top of the whipped cream on top of the pavlova was like going to the moon with the most beautiful person on Earth, having sex all the way, while listening to your favorite band play live as little puppies lick your toes. You get the idea. Pure bliss. Heaven, thy name is pavlova.

[Note: Craig said it was “too sweet” and made a face.]

[Note 2: Craig said that after eating an entire tub of Swedish fish.]