Whipped cream comes in all shapes and sizes. You can go softer, lighter, or, in the case of one that has to sit atop warm things, like a pancake, super strong. If you make a softer, more normal mix, it will melt too fast.
In the 20th century, Charles Atlas, a bodybuilder who claimed that he was a “weakling,” as a kid, ran ads that promised the “puny” guy that, if you used his bodybuilding method, you, too, could become a muscle hunk, and kick sand in the face of the beach bully.
So “Atlas” heavy cream may be down; it may be on the ropes; it may be beaten until it’s tough, but it’s NEVER, gonna be whipped!
There was not a typo in the headline! “Fennilla” is my take-twist on a classic from-scratch vanilla pudding light as a cloud and tasty as a summer day that uses a little fennel pollen, vanilla bean, and a touch of orange zest for the American pudding with a little more, and, whoo-whee, the bonus is it’s gluten-free!
My pudding named for one of the best fusion jazz bands in the world today: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Troy “Shorty” Andrews, aka Trombone Shorty and his band, Orleans Avenue, redefined the New Orleans sound by twisting the traditions of Jazz, Rock, Hip-Hop and the other sounds of the city into a harmonious whole that is a tasty treat for the ears and a some street beat for the feet! Touring the world to sold-out shows he’s featured guests like Lenny Kravitz, Jon Batiste (Late Show with Stephen Colbert), Brandi, and many more at concerts and on his albums. The band that surprises and delights is the perfect group to honor with a dessert that everyone assumes is going to roll old school, but takes off in its own direction!
American Pudding 101 & MY NEW SECRET WEAPONS
Puddings are not magic. They’re thickened milk, with sugar and flavorings in them. Not much mystery in the making. What makes them magic are the flavors. Flavors, like a high quality fennel pollen, vanilla, vanilla bean powder, and a touch of orange zest are better than just adding fats, more cream in this case, as a happy. They make you smile, without making your waist line expand.
Puddings are pretty easy to create perfectly, and give a richer in mouth feel IF:
You use a thermometer
You don’t overcook them
You use a little chemistry to give them a lighter structure
You DO NOT thicken them with cornstarch or wheat flour.
How they thicken is what separates the bland box powders and chemicals that imitate pudding from the wonderful wow.
THE INCREDIBLE EGG
The incredible egg! It’s rich! It’s strong! It binds and lifts!
As we’ve talked about with perfect eggs, the proteins in both whites and yolks bind together with our temperature mantra:
68/154 gives your eggs a little more.
We’re taught to cook by visual cues. If it’s boiling, it must be ready. It won’t kill you, but it kills the protein structures in the food, which we make up for by adding extra starches to go back and fix.
Science and a good digital thermometer helps us. Yolks are 50% water. So, as Hervé This points out in his groundbreaking book Molecular Gastronomy, 68°C or 154°F is where the water in the egg cooks out with enough time for the proteins to build and bind to make them light and wonderful. We can let it get a bit hotter, but if we want to maintain that light consistency, we have to avoid destroying them.
That presents us with a challenge:
The PERFECT Pudding Paradox
Boiling and baking is BAD. It breaks down the structure of the egg in most traditional recipes, and then most recipes add too much wheat and/or corn starch to correct the problem, which flattens pudding and turns it into sticky goo.
The ideal temperature to create puddings without textures like rice or tapioca is 180°-182°F/82°-83°c, about 18°F/10°c more than where our “binder” eggs, do their best work. How to fix that?
Meet Cream of Tartar (CofT). Yes, that jar of white stuff mocking you from your pantry!
You bought it for that scone or other recipe that called for it, but you really have no idea what it does. Truth!
Cream of tartar is an acid that strengthens proteins in eggs and milk, among other things, helping them solidify better at higher temperatures, without becoming rubbery or tough, and without the vinegar taste. Read my piece on it, It’s about to rock your world here by making one of the most delicate and flavorful puddings that will come out of your pots!
We put in the CofT after the egg yolks at 68°C or 154°F to help them as they build and bind in our low-heat cook that gradually moves up to perfect.
The PUDDING PLOT IS THICKENING
Once we have integrated the milk and egg, sugar and spice into this rich, wonderful whole, we aren’t making a smoothie. We need a thickener.
Most pudding recipes call for flour or cornstarch, unless you’re from Asia, or parts of South America where locating either is a bit trickier. A substitution that I discovered in Bali, Indonesia, years ago, works much better: Rice flour. It’s fine, delicate, neutral in taste, doesn’t get a gooey as corn starch and it’s gluten-free!
That gets us to good. What gets us to perfect is a bit of xanthan/guar gum, a natural thickener that avoids using too much of the rice flour.
THE FLAVOR FAVE OF FENNILLA’S A RAVE!
The base in this pudding can be riffed on almost endlessly by changing up what’s in it. Here though, I find that the fusion of fennel pollen with Tahitian vanilla, which is a bit more fruity than the Madagascar, and a touch of orange zest on the back-end for a little fresh finish, elevates the classic to a new A-Game!
BETTER SUGARS ARE BETTER FOR YOU
Most boxed foods are full of really toxic sugars like High Fructose Corn Syrup or use “diet” or “zero cal” fake sugars, including Stevia, that trick your tongue into a sweet happy only to have your pancreas crank out more sugar receptors, which is why you just don’t lose weight on diet sweets. Dextrose, in the glucose family, is closer to your body’s natural blood sugar. Read more here about how it works, and see if it’s right for your daily use. I put in a little finely ground caster sugar as a supporting sweet, but you can reduce it or omit it as you see fit.
If you use Fairlife whole milk, the only lactose-free milk that I’ve used that isn’t disgusting, and Organic Valley‘s lactose-free half & half instead of the cream, you still get amazing results.
Small tasting spoons for stirring and a couple for taste checks.
Medium size (60 ml / 2 oz) ladle
Get your ingredients and gear in place.
Zest the orange peel into a work bowl. Chop with a small paring knife if necessary to break up long strands. Set aside.
Measure the rice flour into a mini glass prep bowl. Set aside.
Measure the cream of tartar and put into a mini glass prep bowl. Set aside.
Measure the guar (xanthan) gum powder into a mini prep bowl. Set aside.
Measure the milk and cream. Add the vanilla extract.
Separate your egg yolks into a mini glass prep bowl.Set aside.
(Reserve the whites by cracking the egg over a storage container to use for another recipe or a nice omelette another day.)
Put the saucepan on the stovetop, and set to low (gas) med/low (Electric 2-3). Don’t rush the heat! We’re not bringing this pudding to a boil. Rather, we are working “under the radar” and taking it slowly up to180°-182°F/76°-78°c to give the yolks’ protein structures time to build a lighter pudding;
Add the milk, cream, vanilla extract, and your dry ingredients work bowl. (Everything EXCEPT the egg yolks, cream of tartar, and rice flour).
Whisk together. Your vanilla bean powder will float a bit even after whisking. This isn’t unusual.
When the ingredients reach 68°c/154°F, whisk in the egg mixture with the spatula. Scrape out the container with the raw egg yolk for any leftover with the spatula. Whisk in.
Take the cream of tartar and grabbing pinches with your fingers, sprinkle it over the top of pudding. Whisk in.
Whisk periodically, scraping the bottom so it does not burn. As the temperature rises, it will begin to thicken 5-8 minutes on gas, a bit longer for electric.
When the thermometer in the liquid in the saucepan hits 80°C / 176°F, pick up your rice flour in the mini prep bowl. Add water (about 30ml / 2 tbsp.) and stir with a small spoon until there are no lumps and the liquid is like a milk, not wallpaper paste.
When the temp reaches 180°-182°F/76°-78°c and is thickening up nicely, add the rice flour mixture. Stir.
The mix will thicken a bit more in 1-3 minutes, approximately. Some may be a bit longer.
Last, using your fingers and the whisk, pinch the guar gum and sprinkle lightly over the top as you stir with the other hand. This will put the final thickening on. DO NOT drop it straight in.
When it is thickened, it will look like this. Take off the heat.
Ladle into the small serving cups or a larger container.
Pinch just a small touch of fennel pollen on the top for color. DO NOT OVERDO. Put in the refrigerator to set for at at least two hours or until fully chilled. Cover with plastic wrap after fully chilled, or serve.
This is a quick mac and cheese that has that diner-grade sticky gooey that can go toe-to-toe with my chili in my split dish Chili Mac Attack plating, and it’s a star in my scrambled mac sandwich, with scrambled eggs, ham and mac and cheese in a hoagie roll.
I do several mac and cheese recipes, depending upon how upscale I want to go with it. You can either lovingly grate quality cheese and go A-game, “grandma” mac and cheese, or, if you have a need for speed, you drop to this Diner-grade M&C.
Yes, greasy spoon Mac is all about speed, which, if you’ve made this stuff, usually means Kraft’s Velveeta. Please don’t go there for your base.
I have no problem with whey, which is most of a “cheese food.” Whey may not be cheese, but it is high in protein, and, if the fats are kept under control, and they keep the other junk out of the product, there is nothing wrong with it, from time-to-time, as a protein in your family’s week.
Big K, though, still manages to work in some really cheap stabilizers and other ingredients that aren’t things that I choose to feed my family, and you shouldn’t feed yours, especially with any weekly regularity. One of these days they’ll get the hint.
Amazingly, Walmart, of all places, the Mecca of mass-produced foods, your Official Obesity Center, seems to be on a better path with more organic foods and its in-house generics. Their reduced fat, Easy Melt cheese is far less full of junk than what is made by our friends at Kraft. Always good to read the labels!
I put in a little good dijon and white pepper to add a little of that sharp-cheddar edge that a better mac-and-cheese would have from using a higher-grade aged cheddar.
1 tsp Fallot or other quality dijon mustard (1.5 tsp for American Grey Poupon)
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 16 oz. box macaroni elbows (Barilla or Italian equivalent)
Salt for pasta water
Pasta pot with insert for draining
Melting Pot big enough for cheese and all the mac
Add water and salt to the pasta pot. Set on high
In the melting pot, put in the cheese block and the milk. Set heat to low. Stir periodically to even the melt.
When the water boils, add the pasta and reduce the heat slightly. Set a timer for 6 min.
Add the remaining ingredients to the cheese melt
When the pasta is just al dente, remove and drain. Put it into the cheese pot. Stir in, and let absorb the liquid in the cheese pot, turning occasionally for about 3-5 minutes. If it’s a bit thick, add a little milk, but not too much. We want it thicker, but we want the pasta sucking in some of that good cheesy liquid to bind inside the noodle.
Corn cakes are always tasty, but really HEAVY. I love arepas, and corn bread, but even the “light” cornbread seems to collapse into this uncomfortable bulk after eating. So, after a lot of experimentation, I discovered that there is more than one way to make a corn cake.
Blend dry ingredients first, then add cheese, ham, and peppers. Make a well, and add milk, salsa, oil and eggs. Remember that you are blending minimally.Overturning your dough will result in a hard cake. When adding the wet ingredients, just enough to get it moist. No more. Make sure you scrape from the bottom to the top as you turn gently, to get all of the dry ingredients incorporated.If it is still too dry, add a LITTLE milk, just a couple of teaspoons, to incorporate. You don’t want it too wet and raggy or it won’t fry properly.Mix well just well enough to combine and moisten but do not over mix or it will be very dry and tough. Form into patties approximately 3″ by 3/8″ thick like a hamburger patty. Again keep it together but don’t press out all of the air and make it too firm.
In a 10″-12″ frying pan, add 1/4″ of peanut oil. Heat on Medium/Med-Low at 300°F
In one non-stick frying pan, set up the eggs using my low-and-slow method for the Risen Fried Egg.
Fry on each side 2-3 min. until a rich brown.
Place on paper towels to dry. Put in the warming oven
Why would I call this riff on my house popcorn a bribe (baksheesh)? Everyone who cooks for a family knows that there are a few things that will win over that person stuck doing chores or honey-dos that aren’t always ‘fun.’ The other meaning of the word is a tip for service, so, this is my attaboy for those unsung household jobs that need doing by someone.
A little Berbere spice and black truffle oil make this oh so nice. My Jazz Chef’s Hellza’Poppin’Popcorn blend a low-hull, super tasty midwestern blend, but you can use pretty much any good corn seed out there.
One nice use of this sultry popcorn, other than snacking, is to put a tablespoon or two into small cups to serve as an amuse-bouche before a meal.
Blend the salt and seasonings together in your seasoning dish. Crush the fenugreek leaves and drop in. Stir together with a small spoon and set aside.
Place the popcorn in the Whirley-Pop and add avocado oil (If using an oil popper). Close the lid;
Set the heat to medium, or slightly under. Overheating will scorch the popcorn.
Using the crank, turn the popcorn. You don’t have to crank hard. A nice steady, medium-slow speed will help keep it turning which keeps it cooking evenly and lowers seed loss;
When the popping begins, stir as long as you can. When there is resistance, stop.
Pour the popcorn into your large workbowl.
Spray with the avocado spray. Sprinkle with popcorn seasoning. Grab the bowl with both hands and “flip” the popcorn by pulling the bowl up and inside towards you rapidly. Spray the popcorn coming up from the bottom and season again with the rest of the seasoning. Toss
Drizzle the truffle oil, just enough to give it fragrance, not make it heavy or greasy. Toss.
Perché dovrei usare questo popcorn improvvisato fatto in casa per corrompere? Chiunque cucini per la propria famiglia sa che ci sono poche cose che renderanno i lavori domestici meno noiosi e più dolci, come mangiare qualcosa di buono subito dopo. In altre parole è una mancia per il lavoro svolto, la mia ricompensa per quelle faccende di casa noiose che qualcuno deve svolgere.
Un po ‘ di spezie Berbere e un olio al tartufo nero rendono questo popcorn così buono! Io uso il mio mix Hellza’Poppin’Popcorn di Jazz Chef, una miscela molto gustosa del Midwest, ma è possibile utilizzare praticamente qualsiasi buon chicco di mais.
Oltre che mangiarlo come spuntino, un’ altra buona alternativa per consumare questo popcorn è quello di metterlo in piccole ciotoline da servire come aperitivo prima dei pasti.
60 g circa del mix per popcorn Jazz Chef Pops Poppin’Corn
Mescolare insieme il sale e le spezie. Schiacciare le foglie di fieno greco e aggiungerle. Mescolare insieme con un piccolo cucchiaio e mettere da parte.
Mettere il popcorn nella macchina per popcorn Whirley-Pop o, se si usa una padella, aggiungere l’olio di avocado, farlo scaldare e unire i popocorn. Chiudere con il coperchio.
Cuocere a fuoco a medio, o poco più basso. Troppo calore brucerebbe i popcorn.
Se si usa la macchina da popocorn, con la manovella, ruotare i popcorn. Non è necessario farlo velocemente. Una velocità costante medio-lenta andrà bene. Questo mantiene una cottura uniforme e ottimale.
Quando inizia a scoppiettare, continuare a utilizzare la manovella fino a quando non schiocca più. Quando c’è resistenza, fermarsi.
Se invece si usa la padella i chicchi di mais cominceranno a scoppiettare. Non aprire il coperchio, aspettare che gli schiocchi siano distanziati ogni 7-8 secondi, poi spegnere.
Versare il popcorn in una grande ciotola. La Whirley-Pop ha una porta sul lato sinistro che per aprirsi va sollevata. Se la porta è bloccata, utilizzare la manopola sulla porta per liberarla.
Spruzzare con lo spray avocado. Condire con metà mix di spezie e sale. Prendere la ciotola con entrambe le mani e mescolare i popcorn tirando la ciotola rapidamente verso il proprio corpo rapidamente, in modo da farli saltare leggermente per aria. Spruzzare altro olio di avocado sul popcorn che prima era sul fondo della ciotola, cospargere con la metà rimanente del mix di sale e spezie e mescolare di nuovo.
Irrorate con l’olio al tartufo, quanto basta per dare fragranza, non lo rende pesante.