Friday, March 14, 2014

Lemon Puddings with Granny Smith Apple Compote (Plus a Cuppa 'Twig' Tea) for Food 'N Flix March Pick: "Stranger Than Fiction"

If you missed the announcement post, Kahakai Kitchen is the lucky host of this month's Food 'N Flix event where we movie-loving-foodies watch a film and then hit the kitchen to make a dish inspired by it. My movie pick is a favorite film of mine, Stranger Than Fiction, starring Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, and Queen Latifah. Ferrell stars as Harold Crick, a solitary IRS auditor who begins to hear a strange female voice (Emma Thompson) that turns out to be a writer, narrating his life as it happens. As in the announcement post, I don't want to give away too many plot details as I really do think that if you haven't seen this film, you should just go watch it. ;-)

Made in 2006, it's a comedy-drama-romance-fantasy film that although not chock full of food, still has some very inspiring moments--especially in and around the funky Chicago bakery owned by Ana Pascal (Gyllenhaal), the baker that Harold Crick falls in love with as he audits her business. The famous cookie scene where Ana describes the bakery treats that caused her to drop out of law school and make the world a better place with cookies. Harold bringing Ana a bunch of flours in lieu of flowers is another favorite foodie scene. I was going to make banana bread and serve it with twig tea--ordered at the bakery by one of Ana's customers, but, at the end of the day I decided to take my inspiration from the green apples that appear in the film.

For instance, as part of his daily routine, Harold carries one in his mouth as he runs to the bus stop on the way to work. I could try to analyze the symbolism behind the apple and base my choosing it on some intelligent reason, but to be honest, I happened to see a Curtis Stone recipe in Food & Wine for Lemon Puddings with Granny Smith Apple Compote and I really wanted to make it. The movie just gives me a good reason. ;-) I love puddings, especially lemon pudding or possets and I am crazy for anything apple--especially when accompanied with caramel. This recipe brings those three things together. 

Tangy and sweet--it was set off nicely with a cup of toasty twig tea or kukicha, a a Japanese green tea blend where the twigs, stems and stalks of the green tea plant are slow roasted repeatedly, giving it a slightly earthy, roasted flavor. I was happy to hear it mentioned in the movie as I drink it myself--it is considered to be very grounding or balancing for the body and you can usually find it at a well-stocked natural food store. Although I most often drink it brewed (and plain), here are a few of my favorite drink recipes featuring it: Spiced Kukicha Iced Tea, Apple-Cinnamon Kukicha Tea and "KukiChai" Tea. If you find green tea too sharp or bitter, try twig tea as the roasting really mellows it and rounds out the flavors.

Lemon Puddings with Granny Smith Apple Compote
Recipe From Curtis  Stone via Food & Wine, March 2014
(Makes 6 Servings)

2 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
2 Granny Smith apples—peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1 tablespoon Calvados or apple brandy
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest 
In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream and sugar and cook over moderate heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until hot and the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly, then whisk in the lemon zest, lemon juice and a generous pinch of salt.

Pour the pudding into six (5- to 6 oz) glasses or ramekins; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the puddings until well-chilled and set, at least 6 hours or overnight.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water and cook over moderate heat, swirling the pan until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook, brushing down the side of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until an amber caramel forms, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the apples, orange juice and the vanilla bean and seeds; the caramel will harden, but it will melt again. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are crisp-tender and coated in a light caramel, about 8 minutes; discard the vanilla bean.

Stir in the Calvados, lemon juice, orange zest and a pinch of salt. Let cool completely, then refrigerate until chilled.

To Serve:
Serve the puddings topped with the apple compote. (Note: The puddings and compote can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

Notes/Results: These are tasty little puddings--cool, tangy from the lemon and the Granny Smith apples and set off by the sweet caramel sauce on top. Either part works well on its own but together, they become special. The Japanese teacups I used for serving are 6-7 ounces so I got five servings out of the pudding. I then promptly dropped one as I was putting them into the fridge to set. The good news--the tea cup bounced and survived, the bad news--I had a *fun* time cleaning up the lemon pudding shower that resulted. Grrr... Oh, well... These were worth it. I would make them again. 

I'll be rounding up all of this month's Food 'N Flix entries right here at Kahakai Kitchen shortly after the deadline of Sunday, March 30th so you still have plenty of time to join in the fun. (I decided to actually try to get my entry done a couple of weeks before the deadline this time--yay me!) ;-) Or, if you miss out this month, consider joining us in April when we will be watching Kung Fu Panda, hosted by Food 'N Flix's founder, Heather of girlichef


  1. The tart lemony pudding with the sweet-tart apples sounds like a perfect flavor combo!!

  2. I love the you went the apple route...I was THISCLOSE to making something with apples, as well. The compote sounds amazing...and the perfect topper for the puddings! Thanks again for hosting this month, Deb - such a fun (and unexpected) pick. :)

  3. Thanks Joanne! It does work really well together. ;-)

  4. I thought about making apple cookies or bars but then I saw these puddings. I'll trade you for one of your sweet-salty cookies! ;-) Thanks for letting me host.

  5. I love your inspiration. I was stuck on the cookie scene. Loved this film, Deb. So glad you picked it. Posting mine next week.

  6. The cookie scene is a great place to get stuck Debra! ;-) So glad you enjoyed the movie--thanks for joining in.

  7. Great movie pick and I just love the recipe you made, so different and unexpected but perfect. Love a good pudding.

  8. I did notice him with the apple but never thought of going that direction for a dessert. Ooops, sorry you had such a cleanup, no fun there!
    I would totally eat this pudding, all the yummy things I like in it.


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