Gourmet Magazine recently featured 50 Women Game Changers who have exerted the most influence over our foodways. I recognized a handful of the women, but far less than I expected to. Gracing the Top Ten are Julia Child, Alice Waters and Martha Stewart. But there's also Mrs. Isabella Beeton who published the 1861 Book of Household Management.
Number Five is Mary Francis Kennedy Fisher, or as Gourmet describes her, the woman who invented food writing. They claimed all food bloggers should want to be her. And she was from Michigan? It was time to do a little research. Turns out she wrote dozens of books about food and cooking, and that her writing is said to have contributed dramatically to the evocative prose we use to describe food today. She did away with the idea of constant calorie counting and portion monitoring. Instead, she insisted on honest, good food.
I wanted to find a recipe that would honor her contributions to cooking but that I also thought would taste good. I vetoed sludge, her beef-and-flour stew, designed to feed a family where the wolf of hunger was howling at the door. I vetoed war cake, which made sense in times of war but not as much in times of prosperity. I considered tomato soup cake, but Baked Explorations has a dressed up version of her cake I'm just dying to try. I considered a vegetable dish, and although her air-lacquered carrots did sound delicious (just not the idea of having my oven on for hours).
Finally, I stumbled across Fisher's chilled chocolate pudding, what she considered the perfect dessert to an al fresco meal. Predictable, perhaps, but still somewhat fresh and new. The recipe called for a bit of unsweetened chocolate to be mixed in with the semisweet chocolate, something I had never tried. It was a simple recipe and whipped up in five minutes, from start to finish.
And remember, as Fisher wrote: "Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches, or June and moon, or good people and noble ventures." That explains why I had a glass of wine while whipping up these little puddings.
Be sure to stop by and visit the other bloggers featuring recipes from M. F. K. Fisher today!
Chilled Chocolate Pudding
taken from A Stew or a Story by M.F.K. Fisher
The full recipe serves 7 to 8. I had only two eggs, so I paired down all the portions in the recipe to fit. Fisher recommends serving this pudding with thin dry wafers and plenty of coffee. I served it with lots of whipped cream, some of the cutest little cookies you've ever seen, and wine. Equally good. I rounded up on both egg whites and yolks, and I liked the softer consistency of the finished product.
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate "bits" (You can imagine what these are...)
1 one-ounce square unsweetened chocolate
7 or 8 egg yolks
2 tablespoons dark rum or 1 teaspoon vanilla
7 or 8 egg whites
Melt the chocolate gently. Beat the yolks separately, and mix together with the rum or vanilla and the salt. Combine the chocolate and the egg yolks. Fold in the beaten egg whites.
Pour the pudding into little pots or cups, and chill well in the coldest part of the refrigerator overnight, or for at least twelve hours, until stiffened.
This basic recipe can be toyed with: sprinkled with shaved nuts, tinkered with kirsch instead of rum, and so on.