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).
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.
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".