Mangoes are shy creatures. See how easily they blush?
The genesis of this project was a rumor that rock musician David Cook had signed celebrity chef Jamie Oliver‘s petition to support more healthful school lunches, a revival of cooking skills, and other good things that inevitably involve blanching vegetables (though vegetables are such tender creatures that they’ll blanch at the slightest provocation). When I was quite done with the yoga-like exercise of trying to wrap my mind around someone who’d gotten a solid week of tour banter out of his predilection for deep-fried Reese’s now taking a stand for nutritious food, I’d somehow promised to do something custard-like with a mango and play music from a new band while doing it. And take pictures and write about it. This process can be found filed under Consequences, Unintended.
But you know you secretly want to cook. So let’s.
My original proposition was to make a mango custard. However, a survey of custard in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything led me to the conclusion that custards are flavored by soaking the flavoring so that it gently infuses the milk.
Not only are mangoes shy; they are slippery. No way was I wrestling a mango merely to infuse it. I needed an application that left the mango sufficiently present and in-the-moment to be chewed.
And so was born the idea of a dessert that pays tribute to Indian cooking, albeit in American dollars rather than in rupees: a trifle using ginger cookies, lemon pudding, and a mango fruit mixture.
I put on some Indian rock–a group called Euphoria–and proceeded to dice and simmer my mangoes with some white wine, a little brown sugar, and some water to help them get gooey. I believe those are craisins nestled amidst the mangoes.
I also believe Indian rock is an acquired taste that I may not be acquiring any time soon. Yes, on the way to finding music I love, I listen to a lot of music that I… don’t love. But one doesn’t find obscure goodies without wading through a certain amount of not-for-me songs.
Ginger cookies wait in their bowl, breath bated. Yes, these are store-bought cookies. Their purpose is to absorb the pudding as the trifle sits in the refrigerator. Little is asked of them, but they serve their purpose nobly.
We note there are no photos of simmering pudding. This is because I set out to make my pudding from scratch… and an hour later, the pan of milk, sugar, flour, and lemon juice was still sitting dolefully on its burner, showing not the slightest sign of thickening. “Aha!” I said. “I should add more flour!”
As soon as I’d done this, it occurred to me that what I had in front of me was essentially sweetened library paste. Now, library paste is the key constituent of a great many foods, including most white sauces. But the moment one thinks “wait, I’m making library paste,” the entire process has gone to hell. I went to the store and bought a package of Jell-o lemon pudding, which is far less synthetic than one might expect.
Lo! The trifle is assembled. Into the refrigerator it goes!
Trifle plates dreadfully, but I was hungry. The results will be better tomorrow, when the cookies have absorbed more pudding. Mango + lemon + ginger = HIGHLY successful. I may have to have it for breakfast.
Here is where the careful reader says: “But Eil, isn’t the Jamie Oliver thing about healthful eating? Shouldn’t you be working on something other than desserts?”
Non-desserts are in the batting order.
Here is a vegetable. Be very afraid!