Puddin' Head Blues

The Kitchen

GUEST: Auntie Pudding

AB: [on the phone] No, I'm not panicked, Sid. This is the sound of low-level terror. I mean, have you seen this letter? They're not allowing my Tahiti trip! It was research, all res ... Vanilla. My vanilla book? You know vanilla, Tahiti, they go together. Yes, we needed the yacht. It was a... [quickly thinks of a reason] ... a research vessel. All right. How much? Eight thousand dol ... Where am I going to get 8 thousand dollars? Oh, just ... [the background TV noise has now gotten to him] Hold on. It's this stupid television commercial. Hold on a second, Sid. [goes to turn it off and pauses, listening to the commercial]

AUNTIE PUDDING: ... that great pudding flavor. Remember, the winning entry could wake up to 5 thousand clams in their stocking. And I'm not talking seafood. Heh, heh, heh. Just send your entries to Auntie Pudding, care of Amalgamated Foodstuffs, Incorporated. Oh, and don't forget: Have them postmarked no later than ... [graphic, THIS FRIDAY!!]




AB: Listen, Sid. Can you keep the feds off of me for another couple of days? Good. Great. Perfect. Bye.

    Well, Auntie Puddin', why don't you just save yourself some trouble and go ahead and cut me the check? Ha! Ha! Ha! Besides, it's about time somebody wrestled pudding back from the money-grubbing industrialists who've monopolized it for so many years. I say pudding starts in the home. With a little know-how, a few decent ingredients and some common, everyday tools, pudding could be the perfect holiday treat. Not to mention seriously ...

["Good Eats" Theme Plays]

The Kitchen

    Before we can pursue my proper place in the pantheon of pudding history and pay off the IRS, we really should define exactly what it is we mean when we say "pudding". I read from a famous culinary tome: "Pudding: Any of numerous dishes, sweet or savory, served hot or cold, which are prepared in a variety of ways." That's specific, isn't it? Unfortunately, etymology's not much more help. For instance, we have here that the word "pudding" derives from the medieval French and winds its way all the way back to the Latin botulus, which means either sausage or botulism depending on how you translate it. Luckily we can get some clarification from the British Isles because 4 out of 5 anthropologists who eat pudding do believe that our modern idea of that dessert was born there.

AB: Lights! [lights go off]

The Food Gallery

    England's first glimpse of pudding probably looked a lot like this. Delivered to their shores by Roman soldiers, this proto-haggis lives on today in the Cajun tradition of Boudin Rouge, or "Blood Pudding". Some would even argue it lives on in the tradition that we call hot dogs which definitely aren't dessert.
    Centuries passed, empires fell, and in England pudding came to mean any bready mass, sweet, savory, edible or otherwise. Yorkshire Pudding—a baked popover—and Christmas Pudding—a boiled and booze-drenched fruitcake—are famous examples of puddings from this period. Only they're not really puddings at all.
    By the dawn of the 20th Century, pudding had come to mean just about any dessert you could deliver to an English table. While American kids were shouting, "Hey Mom, what's for dessert?" English kids were shouting, "Hey Mum, what's for pud?" Now speaking of the other side of the pond, with the possible exception of this Colonial cornmeal curiosity Hasty Pudding, a.k.a. loblolly, American puddings are sweet and spoon-able, closely akin to both mousses and custards.
    Similarities aside, differences abound. For instance, a mousse gets its light and fluffy texture from the inclusion of whipped egg whites and/or cream. A custard's cut-able curd comes courtesy of the coagulative power of the egg yolk. Puddings, on the other hand, and I mean true puddings, are always thickened by the gelatinization of starch.

AB: Lights! [lights come on]

The Kitchen

    Although we have certainly talked about starch gelatinization—the way in which starch granules swell and erupt in a hot liquid—on the show many times in the past, we've never really gotten into what starch is. Nor have we dealt with the fact that the composition of starch in, say rice, is different from that in a potato or in wheat flour. Well, we'll be vague no more. Here's the deal. Plants use photosynthesis to make energy in the form of a simple sugar called glucose. Now we'll say for a moment that this battery is a molecule of glucose. Now plants store this energy in 2 different types of structures.

    Say hello to amylose. Amylose is really nothing but a long—very, very, very long—chain of glucose molecules. This is a starch, but so is this.


AB: Bring her on down. [amylopectin is lowered]

    The branched version is called amylopectin. Now when a starch granule swells and bursts in hot liquid, zillions of these molecules are released.


    They tangle up, trap water, and thicken whatever they're in. However, amylopectin and amylose have different properties and different types of plants contain varying proportions of each; which is why corn starch doesn't thicken the same way that potato starch does, or the way that flour does. But in the end, it's all just sugar. But since these molecules are really, really gigantic, our taste buds can't tangle with them. So they don't taste like anything at all.

Pease Pudding is a thick sauce made from dried legumes.

Patel's Curry House: Atlanta, GA - 12:17 PM

    For centuries, rice has been a key dessert ingredient in the cuisines of cultures heavily vested in said cereal. Although many of these cultures do have a form of rice pudding, I lean towards those that hail from the Indian sub-continent, where rice is moistened with some milk and then subtly flavored with everything from raisins to almonds, pistachios, rosewater, saffron, and cardamom. But first and foremost, we need rice: a cup of long-grain rice, cooked long-grain rice. Now rice pudding should never, ever be made with converted rice or boil-in-the-bag rice because those rices have been processed in order to remove some of the free starch. They do that because they want their rice to not be sticky. We, on the other hand, need sticky. We need starch.

The Kitchen

[the set opens up to reveal he is really in the kitchen]

    Now as for the rest of the software, we will require the services of 1 cup of milk, 1 half cup of heavy cream, three-quarters of a cup of coconut milk from a can, 2 ounces—that's about a quarter of a cup—of sugar, 1 quarter-teaspoon of ground cardamom, and one and a half ounces each of golden raisins and chopped, unsalted pistachios. For you volumetric fans, that's about a third of a cup each.

1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
3/4 Cup Coconut Milk
2 Ounces Sugar
1/4 tsp. Ground Cardamom
1 1/2 Ounces Golden
    Raisins +
1 1/2 Ounces Chopped
    Unsalted Pistachios

    We will also require in the hardware division, one rubber or silicone spatula, and one large, non-stick skillet.
    First ingredient in the pan, our 1 cup of milk followed immediately by our 1 cup of liberated long-grain. Dump that right into the pan and just stir until this comes to a boil. Now yes, of course, this would come to a boil even faster if we were using high heat, but speed is not the issue here, okay? I don't want to go fast. What I want to do is to do this slowly so that we liberate some starch from the grains. Think ... Well think Risotto. You don't rush Risotto, do you? Of course not! Take your time. Stir occasionally. Bring to a boil.

Arborio Rice, commonly used for risotto,
makes an extremely sticky rice pudding.

The Kitchen

    Once you have hit a boil, as we have, drop the heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. And stir often, won't you?

    When your mixture does this [pulls the spatula across the bottom of the skillet, the rice/milk mixture does not flow back into the void], you are ready to add the rest of the ingredients. So boost your heat to medium, pour in both the cream and the coconut milk. Very nice. And then the sugar and the cardamom.

Add cream and coconut milk followed by the sugar and cardamom.

    Now the cardamom is going to want to clump up on you so I suggest you switch over to a whisk just for a couple of minutes. And don't worry, your non-stick can take it.
    When it comes back to a boil, drop the heat to low and cook for another 5 minutes or until it reaches a nice, thick, creamy consistency, like this. Then, kill the heat and add the goodness. We're going to go with the pistachios and the raisins. Now just stir that in and then portion up into small cups, thusly, and serve either warm or chill. I like to let them sit overnight. I think they're better that way.

Cardamom, a member of the ginger family, is a spice that is native to India.

AUNTIE PUDDING: [on the TV] The holidays are right around the corner, Puddin' Heads, so you better hurry. Remember, more recipes mean more chances to win. So enter as often as you like. Bye bye, moppets.




    So I can enter as often as I like, hmm? Fascinating.

Whole Foods: Atlanta, GA - 3:17 pm

    Ha! Ha! Ha! Tapioca is manufactured from the roots of the cassava plant. A new world plant that today is grown mostly in Africa and Asia. Now while most of you are probably familiar with the powdered form of tapioca, it's the little pellets or pearls that make tapioca unique. Now to make these little boogers, cassava roots are smooshed into a kind of pulp and then they're kneaded and wrung out until the fibers have given up all the starch they possibly can. Then this liquid is kind of dropped onto a hot plate in such a way so that they kind of form the pearls as the moisture cooks away. As you can see, this is not a procedure that should be undertaken by amateurs. Now quick-cooking tapioca can be found in most major markets. However, landing these pearls may require that you take a trip to the ethnic or Asian isle if you can't find it with the rest of the starches.

Tapioca tea is also known as bubble tea, boba, pearl tea and moma.

    When you get your tapioca home, you're going to need to soak it before you can cook with it. Now, I recommend an overnight soak unless, of course, you use that quick-cooking variety. But you wouldn't do that, would you? No.

    So three and a half ounces of dried tapioca by weight—that's about half a cup—go into a vessel large enough to hold a pint of cold water. There you go. Just leave this on the counter.

AB: [to the tapioca] Bye.

3 1/2 Ounces Large Pearl
1 Pint Cold Water

    The next morning, your tapioca will be nice and soft and ready to go. But you have to drain it; there's too much free starch floating around in that water. So drain it well and then move it to your slow cooker: an electric slow cooker, of course.

    Then add two and a half cups of whole milk. Don't try using skim or 2 percent. Follow that up with one-half cup of heavy cream. Don't try skimping there, either. Then a pinch of salt. Stir everything together, pop on the lid and set the cooker to cook on high for 2 hours.

2 1/2 Cups Milk
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
Pinch Of Kosher Salt

The Crock-Pot® was originally invented as a bean cooker.

    Ah. As you can see, many of the starch granules have exploded, throwing their snake-like tangles out into the dairy. But, the tapioca pearls themselves are still intact and that is a very, very good thing. Now to augment the texture of this pudding, we are going to steal 1 small trick from the custard world and beat 1 egg yolk with about a third of a cup of sugar. We're just going to beat that into a paste.

1 Egg Yolk Beaten
1/3 Cup Sugar

    There. And now we temper. Tempering, as you may recall, is the process by which we avoid the curdling of eggs that often result when hot stuff is added too fast. By working the hot stuff a wee bit at a time into the eggs, we can slowly elevate the temperature of the eggs. Now once you work a cup to a cup-and-a-half of the hot mixture into the eggs, you can then move the egg mixture back into the tapioca. Just stir it in very, very thoroughly. Now all we need is the zest of 1 lemon.
    By zest, we refer to the outermost yellow layer of the peel which contains almost all of the essential oils this citrus possesses. The trick is, this layer is extraordinarily thin, and just below it is the nasty, fibrous pith. The stuff they make pith helmets out of. Our job, therefore, is to remove as much of this [zest] as we can while leaving as much of this [pith] behind. Now to complicate matters, in order to extract maximum flavor, we need our zest to be very, very fine. Therefore we must choose our hardware wisely.
    Despite its moniker, a zester is actually the last thing you want to use to remove zest because it takes off way too little and requires way too much force to use. Nope. We're definitely going to go with a flat grater, okay? Now we want one that has shallow teeth. So shallow that if you run your finger across the face of it, there won't be any negative effect. Ah, not that. Oh, now this one has the appropriate shallowness but the teeth are a little bit too wide. Ah, here we have it: shallow and narrow. Now place the grater flat on either a flexible mat or a piece of wax paper, and lightly draw the orb across, turning it as you go. There.

During Louis XIV's reign, ladies of his court used lemons to redden their lips.

The Kitchen

GUEST: Alfred Byrd, Pharmacist

    Add your freshly harvested lemon zest to the tapioca pudding, stir it in, and then let it cook, covered, for another 15 minutes.

Zest Of One Lemon

    Without its raincoat, this little lemon will dry out fast. So if you want to save it, wrap it in a couple of layers of plastic wrap and stash in your fridge. And please don't stare. It's a little embarrassed.
    Like the hat? [pith helmet]

Tapioca is an ideal thickener as it has no flavor of its own
and absorbs the essence of the liquid it's cooked in.

    Move your creation to an airtight container and press a layer of plastic wrap right down on the surface. That'll prevent a skin from forming. Let it cool on the counter for about an hour and then stash it in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.

AB: [to the pudding] I'll be back.

AUNTIE PUDDING: [on the TV] That's right, pudding lovers, we've added an additional bonus contest. Whoever can come up with a faster, more chocolately chocolate pudding than Auntie's Choco-Fix will win an additional 3,000 samoleons come New Year's Day. Good luck, Puddin' Heads!




    So, it's instant she wants. Well then, it's instant she'll get. You know, instant pudding has an amazing history. It was developed as a restorative by one Alfred Byrd, a 19th-century English pharmacist, whose wife suffered from a wide range of stomach illnesses including acute allergies to both eggs and yeast. Determined to find a dessert that his wife could enjoy without having any discomfort, Byrd finally stuck upon a way to use a flour made from corn to set a flavored mixture much like a custard, only creamier. Mr. and Mrs. Byrd started to serve this concoction at dinner parties and it was such a hit that within a year, Alfred Byrd and sons of Birmingham, England, were producing the first instant pudding.
    Now we may not have access to the modern industrial instant pudding pantry, but let's see if we can just get by on good, old-fashioned know-how.

[curls ups a flexible cutting board and stuffs the first few inches of it into a long rectangular container, he uses this to funnel the 3 ingredients in] 1 1/2 Ounces Instant Non-Fat
    Dry Milk
2 Ounces Corn Starch
1 tsp. Salt
[he adds the cocoa] 3 Ounces Dutch Process
[he adds the sugar] 6 Ounces Confectioners Sugar
[he lids and shakes] Shake until ingredients are well combined.

    Let's make up a batch, shall we? All we need is one and three-quarter cups of our mix. That goes into a saucepan or saucier along with 2 cups of milk—just whisk that in—and 2 cups of heavy cream. Hey, I didn't say this was low-fat.

1 3/4 Cups Instant Chocolate
    Pudding Mix
2 Cups Milk
2 Cups Heavy Cream

    We're going to turn the heat to medium and bring this to a boil. When it hits a boil, we're going to reduce the heat to low and let this simmer for 4 minutes. The reason? Well, what we've got to make sure of is that all the starches are gelatinized. Now you don't have to do this step with, you know, Auntie Puddin's pudding, because packaged puddings use modified starches and other industrial products that we don't have, want, or need.

Ancient Roman recipes for flan called for things like lamb's blood and eels.

    Now we kill the heat and whisk in one teaspoon of vanilla extract. You don't want to do that on the heat because the flavor will dissipate. Now since cocoa powder does have a tendency to lump up, we are going to run this through a sieve.

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Trembleque is a creamy pudding made with
coconut milk that trembles when turned out of its mold.

The Kitchen

GUEST: News Reporter

    Unlike Auntie Puddin's industrial spooge, our pudding actually does contain milk. Milk contains the protein casein, which means this will get a skin on it if we don't prevent it. The best way to do that? A nice layer of plastic wrap placed right down on the surface of the pudding. And don't worry, when the pudding chills it won't stick a bit. Now this goes into the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before enjoying.
    As for the rest of your mix, keep this in your pantry for up to 6 months. You can't go any longer than that, though, because the milk powder in here contains fat, and that will eventually go rancid. I think you'll use it pretty quick.

Instant non-fat dry milk contains the same
vitamins as whole milk and low-fat milk.

NEWS REPORTER: [on the TV] Today in local news, a disaster unfolded for dessert diva Auntie Puddin' when police and IRS agents raided her downtown factory and arrested her for tax evasion and mail fraud. At first it appeared the old girl would go peacefully, but when the TV lights came on, she made a break for it, and in doing so, revealed her true identity. Authorities have discovered that Auntie Puddin' is actually Cocoa Carl, the fugitive confection king who jumped bail on fraud charges over a year ago.

    Well, that certainly explains the 5 o'clock shadow. Oh well. Bye, bye money. I guess the IRS will be around in a few days to pick me up. But that's okay. It's worth it if just 1 or 2 million of you would rise up and take the pudding bowl in hand and make your own, then, well then there's hope. There's hope that once again, pudding can be a food of the people, by the people, and for the people. Not to mention really good eats.
    See you next time ... I hope.

Transcribed by Mike DiRuscio
Proofread by Michael Menninger

Hit Counter

Last Edited on 08/27/2010