February 28, 2010

A very different landscape

I am staying in Erwinna, a small village in Pennsylvania by the Delaware River for another ten days before I return to Bali.

 This morning, I woke up to a landscape of snow. The roads have not yet been plowed and the world is silent, quiet and very beautiful in its white stillness. Just the soft hush of the snow falling. 

It feels so peaceful and cozy to be in a warm house, snowed in with nowhere to go when suddenly, it dawns on me that I did not buy any food before the storm. Besides eggs, milk and bread, there is barely anything to eat in the house and I have two hungry teenagers waking up, fortunately I let them sleep late!

Today we will make Rice Pudding and Pains Perdus, maybe a soup with an omelet for dinner, we will eat together by the fireplace and all will be peaceful, cozy and well!

Pains Perdus

When I was a child coming back from school in the late afternoon, these would, most of the time, be waiting for me in the kitchen and, as I devoured them, I often wished there were more bread leftovers. My mom used to turn day old bread into delightful sweet things: Pains perdus, Gâteau de Pain, the ultimate Bread Pudding, studded with raisins macerated in rum that she served with vanilla crème anglaise and in the Summer, Charlotte aux Fraises, my favorite!

1 loaf of day old French bread, sliced in medium slices
4 eggs
2 cups of milk
1 Tbs sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp orange flower water (optional)

Beat the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and orange flower water together until well mixed. Soak the slices od bread for 5 to 10 mnts in the mix until soft but still holding shape.
In a frying pan, heat the oil and fry the bread until golden. Place on a plate, sprinkle sugar on top and serve.

Riz au Lait (Rice Pudding)

This is the simplest of rice pudding, another staple of my childhood, so comforting and so easy to make that I was allowed to prepare it without supervision at six years old and never stopped making it since then...  

1 1/2 cup of short grain rice, rinsed and drained
1 quart or so of whole milk
1 vanilla bean split in half
Zest from a lemon, left in ribbons
3/4 cup of sugar 

In a large sauce pan, place the rice, half of the milk, the vanilla and lemon zest, bring to a very gentle boil, it should barely look like it's bubbling. Mix with a wooden spoon from time to time, top with more milk (it should never be dry) until the rice looks cooked to your taste and you like the consistency (20/30mnts), I like my rice pudding soft and not dry. Add the sugar, mix it in and continue cooking for another 5mnts. Serve warm.

Life is sweet

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