Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Trailer: Austin Gourmet Pudding

I've noticed that at the lot on South Congress and Monroe has been adding more food trailers recently. It seems to be a little different every couple of weeks. Over the weekend, I took a walk over there to see what was going on.

There, I found three-week-old Austin Gourmet Pudding. I've seen plenty of food trailers, but never one that sells only pudding. Run by Randy James, the trailer serves homemade puddings with flavors like chocolate, tapioca and pumpkin, and toppings like crushed cookies and candies in edible waffle bowls.

The bright, yellow truck, filled with creamy, puddingy goodness

Not being particularly hungry, and after Randy generously let us sample a few puddings before deciding, my dining partner and I settled on a half-and-half mix of butterscotch and Pop's banana topped with graham crackers.

Made with whole milk, the puddings were really thick and rich. Both were really good, but the banana was excellent. Surprising, because butterscotch is usually my favorite.

While eating the pudding, I chatted with Randy, who, as it turns out is from Central Illinois. I'm from Chicago, and went to school in Central Illinois, pretty close to the town he's from. Lucky guy that he is, he told me his mom sends him some Illinois super-sweet corn every year when it's in season. (Sure, the corn here is tasty, but it's just not the same!) I've got to see if I can make a similar arrangement.

Quick aside: the corn I got at the farmers market in Central Illinois, and even the stuff I've gotten recently at the Green City Market is so sweet and juicy that it doesn't really need to be cooked. During corn season, I got a few to cook, along with one for the road that I ripped open and ate raw on my way home.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Project: Stuffed Poblanos

I've always loved stuffed peppers. My grandma's version used green bells stuffed with rice and rich tomato sauce. They were pretty tasty, but I prefer a spicier Latin-inspired poblano relleno to a standard stuffed bell pepper.

I've made chiles rellenos before, stuffing charred and peeled poblanos with cheese, then breading and frying them. They're always delicious, but after having an un-fried version at La Fonda in San Antonio, I wanted to try making them myself.

I found some gorgeous poblanos, which I charred, peeled and seeded.

Charring poblano and naked peppers

I used one to make a poblano cream sauce, and stuffed the remaining two with a mixture of quinoa, raisins, pine nuts and a veggie mixture of sweet potato, corn onion and purple cabbage.

Veggie filling with quinoa steaming away in the background

I put a little bit of the poblano cream into the bottom of a pan, and placed the stuffed poblanos in it, then covered them with more sauce and some nutty-sharp Cheddar cheese and baked them until everything was hot and melty.

Stuffed poblanos, before and after baking

We ate them with quinoa with raisins and pine nuts and black beans.

I am really happy with how well the poblanos turned out. The texture was fantastic, still a little firm, and I think I prefer this non-fried version to the battered one. It's much lighter, and the flavor of the poblano comes through a lot better. Plus, it's not fried, so you get to save a little on fat and calories.

I think that, with fall coming, I'm going to make these again and experiment with fillings. Maybe butternut squash and black beans?

The poblano cream sauce was delicious, and really easy, too. It's kind of based on a Rick Bayless recipe from Mexican Kitchen, but it's a lot lighter. I had a funny kitchen moment when making it, though. I used all low-fat milk and no cream, but when I blended the milk in the food processor, it aerated and puffed up like whipped cream! It deflated once I added it to the hot pan, but just over cup of milk filled the bowl of the food processor.

Poblano Cream
1 large poblano, charred, peeled and seeded
1 1/4 cup milk
1 Tablespoon flour
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (you could use crema, but this is what I had)
salt and pepper

Blend the poblano and 1 cup of milk in a blender or food processor.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add flour. Cook over medium heat until it begins to take on a little color. Whisk in the milk mixture, along with the remaining milk. Bring to a simmer. Add Greek yogurt, salt and pepper. Heat through.