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Fast Food My Way: Hasty Pudding with Apricot Sauce

"Fancy cream of wheat" was the consensus opinion at my house. Pépin says that it's a common dessert in French households, but to my American sensibility, this semolina pudding seems more suited to breakfast. Whichever way you decide to serve it, it's quite tasty and extremely simple to prepare.

The pudding is intended to be served cold, so you'll need to make it ahead of time. If you're having it for breakfast, it's perfectly fine as-is. If you want to dress it up a bit for dessert, you could serve it with crème fraîche or sour cream, and perhaps shortbread or wafer cookies.

Pépin gives some ideas for variations; for a leaner pudding, use milk instead of half-and-half (this is an especially good idea if you're going to serve it as breakfast), and for a really rich pudding, use cream.

I think there are several ways to vary this recipe. You can use cinnamon instead of lemon zest, and other flavors of jam would also work well. Try freshly-grated nutmeg in the pudding, and make the sauce with blueberry jam and pecans. Or try cloves, with fig jam and walnuts. Experiment to see which combinations you prefer.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: about 5 minutes, plus 2 hours to cool
Yield: about 4 servings

2 cups half-and-half, milk, or cream
1/3 cup semolina
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream

Apricot Sauce
2 Tbsp sliced almonds
1/3 cup apricot jam or preserves
3 Tbsp brandy or cognac, optional
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Bring the half-and-half to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the semolina a little at a time, whisking constantly. Bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, until creamy and thick but still pourable. Remove from the heat and add the sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla, mixing well. Stir in the sour cream. Transfer to a serving bowl (about 1-quart capacity) and let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. You can make the recipe one day ahead, if you wish.

For the sauce: Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Toast the almonds on a baking sheet for about 5 minutes, or until light brown and fragrant. Watch carefully! Nuts burn quickly. Combine the jam, brandy if using, lemon juice, and nuts.

At serving time, spread the sauce on top of the pudding.



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