Friday, April 2, 2010

When the Weather Gets Tough, The Tough Get Cozy. Warm Dessert For A Cold Night!

 Yesterday we were bouncing around in that weird mix of rain/sun/clouds/shadow/wind that comes to Sonoma at this time of year. Spring had sprung and it was a chilly one.
  This morning it was raining.
A light cold rain just damp enough to know that there would be a fire this evening and a cozy warm dessert to go with it. I know this because I did the same thing last night, creature of habit that I am. When I get hold of a good thing I just hate to let it go.
 Patsy, our Siberian husky likes nothing more that to go out and get soaked in this weather. When she comes in, I'm waiting with a towel so that she's house-ready. Alan couldn't help taking a picture of her with her little terrycloth bandanna on she looked so cute.

  As for me, when not dog-drying, I've been busy getting ready for what is known around my house as the Spring Tri-fecta.  Easter Sunday/ My dads birthday/ my parents' anniversary. This year two of those (birthday and Easter) are on the same day. My parents' anniversary is a few days later. There is usually just one big family celebration. It is always at our house.
 Since my Italian parents don't like to eat anything but Italian food, and even there they are insanely picky, this is my last chance to cook Indian food for a couple of days, so I figured why not close out with a dessert.
  We stayed in last night, keeping warm and watching  Sherlock Holmes On Demand in HD. This demanded an "elementary" dessert. Halwa or as it's also spelled Halva. This warm, sweetly dense pudding is simple, easy, cooks up fast and I already had everything I needed for it in my larder. Can't get easier than that.
  I wanted my pudding served warm, right as the film started. No problem there either as this stuff cooks up easily within a half hour. The recipe I used is Bengali. It's called Sooji Besan Halva and is my adaptation of Yamuna Devis' recipe .
   I started out by  bringing to a boil
1.) 2 and 1/4 cups of milk  mixed with
2.) 1 cup of sugar

  When the milk boils add in
3.) 1/4 tsp of saffron threads
4.) 1/4 cup of dried currants

   Quickly turn down the heat to the lowest temperature and place a lid on the pot.
   Meanwhile, in a heavy pan melt
1.) 1/2 cup of unsalted butter
   When the butter is melting and foamy add in :
2.) 1/2 a bay leaf
3.) 1/2 tsp of fennel seed (Note: I used about 1/2 tsp of fennel pollen. Paula Wolfert had given me some awhile back and I wanted to experiment with a lighter more delicate fennel taste. I also love the mysterious little leather pouch it came in. It sort of worked in with the whole Sherlock Holmes thing).

Stir the bay leaf, fennel and melted butter for about 30 seconds or so then add in:
1.) 3/4 cup of very fine semolina flour
2.) 1/2 cup of sifted chickpea flour
3.) 1/2 cup of slivered almonds

  Mix all of this together, turn down the heat and keep stirring while the flour and almond mixture toasts. This should take about 10 minutes or so. Do not let it get too dark, just a nice golden color.

  While I was stirring my flour and butter together I gathered an audience outside the kitchen window.
When the flour mixture has turned golden take the pan off the heat
 Pour the milk sugar mixture slowly into the grain and butter
Stir it together  and put it back on a low heat until it's until it's smoothly blended, it should take about 8 to 10 minutes.
Put it into individual serving bowls and sprinkle each one with a bit of freshly ground black pepper and some grated nutmeg.
 The combo of the cracked black pepper and nutmeg topping along with everything else makes this truly outstanding. From pot to plate we were ready to roll in about a half hour, all set for lots of tasty Robert Downey Jr. goodness.
  These little halva puddings can be made many different ways  and if the weather holds cold here, I'll be exploring more of them. They're a quick easy way to get comfort food "on demand".


  1. This pudding sounds so savory and warming. It sounds as though you have a fun weekend in front of you.

  2. It has been raining here too! not a very pretty easter weekend in perspective. Hmmm lovely pudding, perfect for those muggy days. You should save some for your parents, I'm sure they'll love it, if they would dare trying it.

  3. Outstanding flavors in this delicious pudding, excellent dessert!

  4. I would just love to taste at least one bowl of this pudding Kathy. Is sounds delicious.

  5. Mmm, pudding-y goodness. Perfect to go with Robert Downey Jr, you are so right!

  6. Pudding looks awesome
    It sounds as though you had a fun filled weekend to enjoy!

    Hope you have a fabulous Easter and blessed day!

  7. wow, this looks and sounds so delicious! yum!

    p.s. your dog is so cute! i just can't get enough of her!

  8. Alright, I have never played too much with pudding, but this looks very warming and flavorful. I will have to try it for sure!

    Thanks for the lovely words on my blog, it was really quite kind.

    I look forward to future reading!



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