Monday, May 26, 2008

Tapioca: Always in Season

When Alex comes home from afar, I always feel the need to make tapioca pudding. Go figure. Everyone in the family loves it but I don't usually think of making it. Last night, Alex and Lillian and I were sitting around catching up on news and making sandwiches, so I decided to start some. I was all out of Minute Tapioca, so I soaked the big tapioca balls. Oh, my. I had forgotten how delicious it is. I always follow the recipe in my mother's favorite cookbook, The Settlement Cookbook. It is barely held together by tape but I feel that the connection to my mom is what is actually holding it together. Plus all the schmutz that has been spilled on it over the years. And her funny notes to herself, written in her beautiful handwriting. Here is the recipe (I doubled it, of course):
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking tapioca*
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or more)
* when using large tapioca, measure it dry and soak it in some of the milk for an hour or so while you are doing other things in the kitchen.

The following is my version of the original, overly-complicated instructions. The only thing to remember is to STIR CONSTANTLY, and I don't mean just swirl it around on top.

Combine tapioca, milk, egg yolks, sugar, and salt. Don't skimp on the sugar. Live a little. Cook over a medium flame, stirring constantly, until it starts to bubble. Let it cook like this for about 4-5 minutes. Do not let it burn! Turn down the heat if necessary. When thick, remove from heat and beat the egg whites until thick. Fold them into the pudding along with the vanilla. Let cool.

It is most delicious chilled, if it lasts that long.

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