Monday, January 25, 2010

Lemon Pudding Cakes and Ramblings

Today on Serious Eats: Winter Vegetable Chili. Sweet, smoky, substantial, and ridiculously low in Weight Watchers points.

For about 100 years running, my favorite blogger has been ESPN’s Sports Guy. One of his running bits is The Ramblings, in which he just kinda barfs up whatever he’s thinking about at the time. It’s fun! So I thought I’d try it.

-Did anyone catch Joe Buck repeating the phrase “muffed punt” during last night’s Vikings/Saints game? I used to think “tight end tackle” was the dirtiest football term I’d ever heard.

-Last night, I dreamt the Husband-Elect and I found the perfect house, but we didn’t buy it because it was too big to clean. I hate when my subconscious make practical decisions. Shouldn’t it be climbing ancient ruins with Indiana Jones or something?

-Comedian Michael Ian Black had an interesting theory about the whole Conan thing: people are so riled because it’s a microcosm of current labor situations. Here’s a hilarious, industrious, by-all-accounts nice guy who’s spent 17 years working towards a single goal: putting out the best product he possibly can. He’s rewarded with the surest bet in TV and drags his staff across the country to make it awesome. NBC then takes away all his ratings support and wonders why he’s not pulling big numbers. It’s like seeing your Dad get the job of his dreams, on the condition that he performs entirely in the janitor’s closet.

-P.S. Shut up, Jerry Seinfeld. Your lead-in was Cheers.

-Has anyone ever been to Italy? What’s it like? Do you have any suggestions about where to go? Especially for food? Er … I ask for no reason.

-Of Rachael Ray’s Top 10 Recipes of the Year, about five of them were for some form of chili mac. I will defend RR to the end, but I don’t know how to feel about this. There was just so much cheese. (Am I knocking cheese? Tell me to shut up.)

-Understand (though don’t necessarily support) the opposition to the health care bill. But how can anyone protest the pre-existing conditions clause? This seems so logical, especially since everyone’s potentially affected. (Obligatory “I know a guy” stories:) I know a guy who was rejected for health insurance because he was 25 pounds overweight. I know a woman who was covered for chemo only because her second bout with cancer occurred in a different place than the first. (She went broke the first time, btw.) Can anyone out there explain this to me?

-Just a quick housekeeping thing: if you leave a comment on a recipe post, please specify the recipe to which you’re referring. There’s a lot of odd spam coming in lately, so I'm deleting suspicious/vague comments. Apologies for the legit ones that get lost in the process.

-Re: Idol. Paula who?

-Re: Idol. Don’t you want to take Kristin Chenoweth home and keep her on your nightstand? She’s so tiny and cute and talented. How does that noise come out of that 85-pound woman?

-Speaking of tiny women making noise, I would also like to keep Lady Gaga on my nightstand, to scare away the monsters. I simultaneously adore and fear her. So far, she’s the Madonna of the ‘10s.

-Lemon Pudding Cakes! Suggested by occasional CHG contributor Rachel, these neat little lower-calorie treats are appropriate for company, but easy enough for weeknights. Rach compared them to cmolten chocolate cakes, and she’s right on. The tops are spongey and cakey, but the bottoms are essentially a tart, sweet pudding. I might add a little more lemon zest next time, but that’s the only change.

That’s it, folks. What’s on your mind today? The comment section is awaiting your brain dumps. (…ew.)

If you like this recipe, you might also dig:

Lemon Pudding Cakes
Serves 2.
Adapted from Food & Wine.

1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 large egg white
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened (but not melted)
1/3 cup skim milk
1-2/3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Large pinch salt

1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 2 ramekins with cooking spray. (If you don’t have ramekins, you might try oven-safe teacups. Though I didn’t use them in this recipe, I used them for Chocolate Souffl├ęs and had some success.)

2) In a medium bowl, combine sugar and flour. Whisk together.

3) In a small bowl, combine egg yolk and butter. Whisk until smooth and butter is fully incorporated. Add milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Whisk until that’s all blended. Pour this into flour mixture. Stir or whisk until it’s blended, and you have a non-lumpy batter.

4) In a different medium bowl, combine egg white and salt. With a hand mixer, blend them together until you have stiff peaks. (This took me 4 or 5 minutes.) Then, using a spatula, “gently fold” the egg whites into the lemon batter.

5) Pour lemon batter into ramekins. Place the ramekins themselves in a roasting pan. Fill the pan with warm/hot water, until it hits halfway up the ramekins.

6) Bake 30-35 minutes, until the top is slightly browned and the pudding cakes have risen. Remove from oven. Remove ramekins from pan (carefully – don’t get burnt here). Set ramekins on wire rack and let cool at least 15 minutes. Serve in ramekins, with berries if you have ‘em (but don’t worry if you don’t).

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price Per Serving
224 calories, 6.4 g fat, 0.3 g fiber, $0.58

1/4 cup granulated sugar: 194 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.08
2 tablespoons cup all-purpose flour: 57 calories, 0.2 g fat, 0.4 g fiber, $0.02
1 large egg white: 17 calories, 0.1 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.25
1 large egg yolk: 55 calories, 4.5 g fat, 0 g fiber, Free (with egg white)
2 teaspoons unsalted butter: 68 calories, 7.7 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.05
1/3 cup skim milk: 30 calories, 0.2 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.08
1-2/3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice: 7 calories, 0 g fat, 0.1 g fiber, $0.66
1/3 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest: negligible calories and fat, 0.1 g fiber, Free (with juice)
Large pinch salt: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.01
TOTAL: 448 calories, 12.7 g fat, 0.6 g fiber, $1.15
PER SERVING (TOTAL/2): 224 calories, 6.4 g fat, 0.3 g fiber, $0.58

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Aryn said...

My family visited Venice - lots of good food pretty much anywhere.

We rented a house in the hills around Tuscany. Even the food from the local Coop was good!

If you're near Montalcino (in the Siena area), eat at the Poggio Antico. Get the 8-course tasting menu if they still have it.

Colleen said...

I love lemon desserts! But could you clarify "2 tablespoons cup all-purpose flour," please? Thanks!

Kris said...

Colleen! Thank you for catching that. It should be 2 tablespoons, and has been fixed.

Aryn, thank you!

Serena said...

go to Cinque Terre, and stay in Corniglia, away from the tourists. Venice is a must see, as you never know how long there is left! and Verona was a surprise delight. Florence is the place for art and exploration. To do it on the cheap, check out the Rick Steves' guides, we were very happy with the places we found to stay from there (ranging from a room in someone's apt in Florence, a simple apartment in Corniglia, and hotels in Venice, Verona and Rome)

Have fun! and lemon pudding cake looks awesome

April said...

I don't tend to get political, but I'll throw in my two cents on the health care thing. And I'll admit upfront that there's a lot of it that I don't understand. But I saw Rudy Giuliani on some news show the other day, and he was saying that the Republicans aren't against healthcare reform--they're just against the way the Democrats want to do it. He talked about market reform and some other things, but one thing that stood out to me was that he did agree that something needs to be done about the pre-existing condition problem. I don't know if he speaks for all Republicans, but it was nice to see that at least most everyone agrees on that.

Also? I love Ray-Ray, and I love cheese, but I'm with you. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Anonymous said...

As far as health care, not to get too political because I love reading this blog and I want to love everyone who reads here despite how we may differ politically, but as I see it the populist opposition to the current "health care reform" has to do with the fact that the bill is (we assume; at last report it was still cloaked behind mystery, hashed out behind closed doors between House and Senate leadership) long, unwieldy (hence impractical and packed with pork), and involves 1) mandates to purchase insurance or else be fined; 2) government takeover/bureaucracy/meddling/further-gumming-up-the-works. This isn't about Rs or Ds, by the way. The Rs have had their share of graft and pork. It just happens to be the Ds in charge now, and they're the ones trying to ram this monstrosity down our throats.

Personally I believe that true health care reform could be achieved simply by individually addressing each tenet of what needs reform. Senator Jim DeMint had a good bill proposed that died in committee. Breaking it up would force the politicians to take a stand on each issue publicly. So we could try:

* Revoke or repeal whatever law there is against shopping for insurance across state lines. (Is there even such a law? How stupid!) Of course expanding our options is going to bring prices down.

* Tort reform, which is a phrase people like to toss around a lot but which would actually be a lot of work. But if we can cut down on all the stupid silly lawsuits out there, the doctors (who are not all rich arrogant porche-driving greedy snobs) could save a bundle on malpractice insurance and pass the savings on to us.

* CUT OFF LOBBYISTS!! This is why prices are so high - if you want to talk about rich corporations pulling our strings, look no further. The pharma lobbies push for laws which favour them. Why else did Texas Gov. Rick Perry (yup, he was an R - graft and corruption all round) sign a law requiring the vaccination of all 12-year-old girls with Gardasil? Sure, HPV is bad, but that's a personal decision, not one which I want the government (bought off by Merck Pharm.) making for me. Okay, rabbit trail there.

How hard could it be to pass a few such laws, taking it one step at a time, so there wouldn't be any side-tracking or debate about those extraneous issues (federal abortion funding? $100 million for Louisiana?) and absolutely no question about earmarks and special interests?

Apparently too hard.

Keep writing great stuff! And yes, we all need to stay healthy.


annaW said...

My very favorite places in Italy are Taormina, Sicily and Cinque Terre on the Mediterranean coast near Genoa. (easily one of my top 3 places in the world). Cinque Terre is also an easy train ride from tuscany, has the most ideal basil growing environment (hence, super famous and delicious pesto everywhere), and is so breathtakingly gorgeous you might cry. I did.

I think that Rome and Venice can be skipped. They are nice to see once or twice in your life, but for a visceral, sensory explosion of Italian-ness, I would stay away. They are lovely, but in a museum/dead/memorial sort of way. Not nearly vibrant enough to live up to Italian standards.

Anonymous said...

About the pre-existing clause: as April said, there are plenty of Republicans who support it. And it's become such a rallying cry for those playing to the populist feelings running high right now that it's going to be pretty difficult for anyone to continue to oppose it ("Yeah, I'm the one who wants to turn away heart-broken cancer victims").

But honestly? I personally think that a law which forces insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions is wrong. The key word here is "force." There ARE insurance companies out there that will cover high risk and medically compromised (for lack of a better term) individuals. The drawback, of course, is that those premiums are much, much higher than average. That's the trade-off, because these companies are assuming such a greater risk.

What else can I say? Medical insurance is a business. They calculate risk and offer rates accordingly. If you're too much of a risk, they'll decline to insure you, just like if you're too much of a risk financially the credit card company may turn you down. That's THEIR choice.

That's just me! Obviously I think it's a matter of freedom. As more and more people come to regard health care as a right, instead of a service which we all pay for according to need and availability, this issue is going to get more and more emotional.


Mandy's Life After 30 said...

OH MY! I am trying this one out later this week! Thank you, Thank you! I am so happy I found your site. It's awesome. ~Mandy

Kris said...

April and Rose, thank you for your comments, and for keeping it respectful. I appreciate reading different views very much - especially when they're expressed so well.

Love these Italy recs. Cinque Terre and Tuscany look wonderful, but I thought maybe I saw "Under the Tuscan Sun" too many times. Good to hear that's not the case.

cherylb said...

For our 25th anniversary we did a 12 day Mediterranean cruise. It was a great way to see a lot places and sleep in the same bed each night. I second Taormina, Sicily--absolutely loved it. We loved Venice and Florence. I've you've ever had an art history class you'll be bowled over no matter where you go. If you go to Rome you can have dinner in people's homes--there are agencies that will set things up like that.

Michael Tucker (LA Law) wrote a book, "Living in a Foreign Language" about his experience buying a home in Italy. The way he describes the food in the small villages is amazing--I recommend you read it.

Ellen said...

Rome dead? what?!

Rome is my favorite city in Italy. it is beautiful, rich with history and bustling and very much alive. there is a ton to do at all hours, and if you only spend 2 days there and stick to your guide book i can see how you'd get left with the impression that it is just filled with museums. i spent 3 months there and it was no where near enough time. for the best food, go to the Testaccio neighborhood. hands down, my favorite.

for good eating, you must visit the Emilia Romanga region (Bolonga, Parma, Modena). good food everywhere and fewer tourists, a winning combination.

and Naples is a must in my book. for the pizza, of course, but also has a largely intact and vibrant food culture that is very different than the more northern Emilia Romanga.

also, if you're looking for a more rural experience, time spent at an agriturismo in any region will not be wasted.

however, i must say, my most memorable meals have been in Rome. so please, go and stay a while. i promise there is much more than meets the eye.

ashley said...

I love Italy - and as long as you stay away from the tourist restaurants you can't find a bad meal. Florence is one of my favourite cities in the world and Rome is also definitely worth the visit. I was in Naples a few years ago and it was disgustingly dirty - I've heard its been cleaned up a bit since, but based on what I saw wouldn't recommend it, and Venice is pretty, but the whole city is jam packed with tourists. The last time I was there I spent a few days in Rome then took the train to Pisa (along the coast w/ the poppies in bloom and it was beautiful!) and then a train to Florence and then did day trips out to smaller Tuscan cities from there - and this was by far my favourite trip to Italy.

wosnes said...

1. I love Lemon Pudding Cake!
2. I can't help you with Italy, though I certainly wish I could.
3. Health care. Whew. I don't understand how we can be the only industrialized country without some form of health care for our citizens. The fact that we can be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, that people can have to make a choice between food or medication due to the expense, and that we can go bankrupt (even with good or excellent coverage) due to medical expenses and lifetime caps is shameful, I think.

I think the biggest mistake made in trying to pass some kind of universal health care program is trying to get it done too quickly without an extremely clear idea of how it should be handled. There are a number of good examples out there. And while none of them is "perfect" the one thing I've consistently read about all the others: the citizens of any of the countries would protest if their health care was taken away.

If other countries have been able to devise health care systems that work well for their citizens, certainly we can, too.

wosnes said...

Another problem with healthcare: Providers (both facilities and practitioners) who don't take "x" insurance. The hospital in my hometown couldn't come to an agreement with one of the biggest insurance companies, so is no longer taking that insurance. It's not like one can drive across town to another facility that will honor it; the next nearest hospital is about 20 miles away. That could be extremely inconvenient at the very least to dangerous in an extreme situation.

Anonymous said...

I went to school with Kristin Chenoweth. Besides tiny, cute, and talented, she was also nice, funny, and unpretentious. From recent interviews, I gather those things haven't changed.

Christine said...

Thank you for posting this recipe! I finally got a chance to try it this weekend and it was delicious. Even though I had to beat the egg white by hand (no mixer) it turned out great. I will definitely make this again.