When I say “treat yo’self,” what’s the first thing you reach for?
Decadent moist chocolate cake? The best margarita you’ve ever had? A luscious afternoon watching Jeff Goldblum eye candy?
That’s what today’s recipe is all about. Treating yourself to something simple, but oh so swoon worthy. Because we fucking can. And because believe it or not, it’s spring! We’re hitting high-teen double-digits in Vancouver this week and I am so stoked for the treats the farmers are growing for us. And by farmers, I mean actual farmers, and also all the wonderful, kind, beautiful humans who are growing vegetables right in our own backyards. Literally.
This month I moved to “The Drive” in East Vancouver which is chock full of hippie, boho, DIY cuteness. Between the take-one-leave-one book deposits, surplus of community gardens, craft breweries, and clever sidewalk art, this neighbourhood is charmin’ the pants right off me.
Which is why you should always wear clean underwear.
Or in my case, wear underwear.
As I was walking the beast this morning, I spotted rhubarb sprouting in alley-ways. Kale bursting in front yards. And this weekend, the plots in the community garden in my complex was seeded with potatoes, tomatoes, peas, beans, peppers, beets, arugula, and other tiny green spouts that are more or less indistinguishable from one another.
I don’t know what those little plants are going to be when they grow up and come to fruit. But I think that’s okay, to not know. Hell – I don’t even know what I’M going to be when I grow up (did I mention I’m turning 40 this year?), but I do know one thing: they’re growing. They’re living. And they’re gonna bloody well make it. Despite the aphids and wind and rabbits and crows and temptation I’m curbing to pick those tasty little micro-green fuckers and chow down on them in an omelette, they’re growing. All they need is some sun. A little bit of water. And a lot of soil permanently jammed underneath my fingernails.
It’s life. It’s simple. And it’s swoon-worthy AF.
This recipe for Vanilla Pudding with Bourbon Macerated Strawberries & Cornbread Crumble is inspired by a dish we served in the restaurant I worked at last summer – it brought me such joy, and by the simplicity of the change in seasons, and the yummy things the farmers – and neighbours – are growing.
Because hell kids, life finds a way.
I’ve used the term “pudding” loosely in this recipe – it can also be called a creme, pot de creme, or custard. I kept it simple with “pudding.” Whatever you call it, make sure you put it in your mouth. Seriously, do it, swoon, and thank me later.
Vanilla Pudding with Bourbon Macerated Strawberries & Cornbread Crumble
For the pudding:
- 1 C heavy cream
- 3/4 C whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 Tbsp white sugar
For the strawberries:
- 2 C fresh or defrosted frozen strawberries approx. 1 pint, cut into halves
- 2 Tbsp cane or brown sugar 2 tsp white sugar will also work, but you'll get a sweeter sauce
- 2 Tbsp bourbon whiskey
- Pinch of sea salt
For the cornbread crumble (optional):
- 1/4 C unsalted butter melted
- 1 C stale cornbread (store or restaurant bought or homemade, crumbled into small pieces
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Fresh whipped cream sprig of fresh mint
For the pudding:
- Place six clean oven-safe individual sized ramekins in a high-rimmed roasting dish and preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
- As the oven comes to temp., place the cream and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the sticky seeds inside with a small sharp knife or the curve of a teaspoon. Add the seeds to the mixture. Heat until small bubbles form around the edge of the saucepan, stirring regularly. Remove from heat.
- Whisk the egg yolks, vanilla, and white sugar in a medium bowl until combined.
- Gently pour just a few drops or so of the hot cream into the eggs, whisking constantly. Once the mixture is warm, very slowly pour the egg mixture into the hot cream, again, whisking constantly. This slowly tempers the eggs so they don't cook and become all chunky in the pudding.
- Divide the creme equally among the ramekins, leaving 1/4" of headspace at the top.
- Pull the middle rack of the oven out a few inches. Place the roasting pan on the rack. Fill the roasting pan with hot water (I use a kettle of boiled water for ease) so it reaches halfway up the outside of the ramekins. Carefully slide the rack back into the oven. Bake 35-40 minutes. The top should have a set texture like pumpkin pie while the centers will still be a little jiggly.
- Very carefully pull the roasting pan out of the oven. Set on a wire rack for 15 minutes to cool slightly. Remove the ramekins from the hot water bath and place in the refrigerator for 4 to 24 hours to cool completely.
For the bourbon macerated strawberries:
- Place all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl. Cover and let sit at room temperature for up to 48 hours. Stir occasionally.
- Try to control yourself; these are for the pudding.
For the cornbread crumble (optional):
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl, tossing well to evenly coat.
- Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until gently crisp (they'll firm up more as they cool.)
- Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
- Assemble! Pull the ramekins of pudding from the fridge and gently top with fresh whipped cream, bourbon macerated strawberries, a sprinkling of cornbread crumble, and a sprig of fresh mint.