Memories of childhood and cornstarch pudding


May 19, 1999|By Ellen Hawks | Ellen Hawks,SUN STAFF

A chance remark at work triggered memories of a pudding from childhood for James Kauffman, a chef who did not include his address. His mother used to make the pudding with cornstarch, he wrote. "It was reminiscent of tapioca pudding except it was silky smooth," he said. "All the great maternal ladies in the family are long gone. Hope you can help."

Donna Amacher of Baltimore responded with a recipe. "This was a favorite of my family and originated from my mother-in-law in Pennsylvania. She would make it for our family each time we visited. As a special treat, sometimes she would put warm pudding in individual bowls and spoon red Jell-O over it. As it melted, the flavor of Jell-O and pudding were wonderful. My children, who are in their 30s, still request this pudding."

Cornstarch Pudding

Serves 4

2 cups milk

1/3 (generous) cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

pinch of salt

2 egg yolks (or one whole egg, but the yolks make it creamier)

cold milk (about 1/4 cup)

Heat 2 cups milk in double boiler over boiling water. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, yolks and enough cold milk to whisk the mixture smooth with no lumps. Add a bit of the hot milk to the mixture, then add the mixture to the remaining hot milk. Over the double boiler, whisk mixture until it thickens, about 3 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Tester Laura Reiley's comments: "The taste is improved with a teaspoon or so of vanilla extract, but otherwise this pudding is about as homey and satisfying as they come. It's best still warm. It's a quick and foolproof recipe: The cornstarch acts as insurance that the custard will thicken."

Recipe requests

* Alice Smith of Catonsville would like to have a butter cake recipe. She wrote: "My mother-in-law always speaks wistfully of a butter cake from her childhood days in Philadelphia. She brought one back once from a bakery there. The cake seemed yellow and very low, very rich and looked like a cheesecake with a smooth top. It is not like a flour-type cake. There is no icing. I don't remember if it had a crust. I would love to make this cake for her."

* Lucy M. Garcia of Corrales, N.M., is seeking a Tortilla Soup. "I have had it in Mexico, Texas and California, but no one wants to give me the recipe. I liked the Mexican better. It had a better flavor and was not so watery."

* Mary Thommen of Baltimore is seeking a "great salad that I had at a party in Michigan. It had Chinese cabbage (bok choy), slivered almonds, pine nuts and ramen noodles. I think the dressing was cooked and had soy sauce. The salad was crunchy and delicious and perfect for summer. Would appreciate any help you could give."

If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request for a hard-to-find recipe, write to Ellen Hawks, Recipe Finder, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. If you send in more than one recipe, please put each on a separate sheet of paper with your name, address and daytime phone number. Important: Please list the ingredients in order of use, and note the number of servings each recipe makes. Please type or print contributions. Letters may be edited for clarity.

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