Monday, July 7, 2008

Polenta Pudding with Blueberry Topping: Easy, Delicious, Freaking Hot

Every now and then, I make something so ridiculously easy, I'm almost embarrassed to post it, as if the use of a microwave somehow A) nulls the dish's natural glory and wonder, and B) turns me into Sandra Lee. But here’s nothing inherently wrong with simple food, and MY GOD it helps at 9pm, when I get home from work and there’s nothing in the fridge but belly lint and moldy capers. So … why do I feel guilty? I think it’s an Irish thing.

Anyway, Cooking Light's Polenta Pudding with Blueberry Topping is such a dish: mind-numbingly simple, yet crazy delicious. It even evoked a totally unsolicited, “Man, this is awesome!” from The Boyfriend, robbing me of the “So, whaddaya think? Huh? Huh? Tellmetellmetellme” routine that usually precedes every recipe post. And? All I needed to pull it together was 15 minutes, seven ingredients, and the wherewithal of a really dumb rock. Fortunately, I had the first two things.

See, last night, I learned a very valuable lesson, which is: do not, under any circumstances, stir hot, sugar-coated blueberries with a metal teaspoon, and then immediately lick the utensil. It not only cauterize your taste buds, but send you screaming for Mama to hold you, OH HOLD YOU, until the burny sensation finally, mercifully subsides.

Also, if you do it once, definitely don't do it again.

[NOTE: Because only an idiot would do that - a really big, dumb idiot. Specifically, a now-tongueless, Office-loving, lady-shaped idiot who loved WALL-E and thinks her Grandma (who has sadly passed on) could play better ball than the 2008 Mets.]

But enough with the whining and run-on sentences! It’s time for recipe tips!

1) As opposed to most Cooking Light recipes, this should actually make the allotted four servings. It’s a pleasant surprise.

2) If you make a half-batch (which is what I did), the pudding part should be done in about four or five minutes, as opposed to seven. Just look for the stuff to start bubbling like the blob in Creepshow II. (NOTE: Alas, it will not eat dumb teenage swimmers like said blob.)

3) The recipe calls for frozen blueberries, but I used fresh and it was aces. Who knew?

Cooking Light kindly provided the nutritional information, so only the prices are calculated below. Happy cooking, and remember – beware hot spoons, lest you burn your tongue like an idiot.

Polenta Pudding with Blueberry Topping
Makes 4 servings (1/2 cup pudding and about 3 tablespoons topping)
Adapted from Cooking Light.

1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sugar, divided
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
6 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

1) In a medium bowl, mix blueberries with 1/4 sugar. "Cover with wax paper" and nuke for about 3 minutes on high power, stirring halfway through. (DO NOT LICK THE SPOON.) When finished, mixture should be hot and sugar should have dissolved. Be careful when removing and DO NOT TASTE until somewhat cooled.

2) In a separate small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup sugar, milk, cornmeal, and lemon rind. Nuke until it thickens and starts bubbling, about 7 minutes on high power, "stirring every 2 minutes." Add vanilla extract and salt. Stir. Top with blueberry mixture and serve.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
226 calories, 2.8 g fat, $0.51

1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries: $0.75
1/2 cup sugar, divided: $0.08
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk: $0.58
6 tablespoons yellow cornmeal: $0.06
3/4 teaspoon lemon rind: $0.50 (for the whole lemon)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract: $0.06
1/4 teaspoon salt: $0.01
TOTAL: $2.04


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