Comfort from the kitchen

I was reminded yesterday that one of my favorite blogs Cream Puffs in Venice, was co-hosting an event called "Dishes of Comfort." Ivonne's single serve rice pudding dish, her choice for comfort on an autumn day, set my thoughs down the creamy dessert path in search of my own "dish of comfort" from my childhood.

While my mother used to cook alot when I was young, it is usually my grandmother's cooking I recall most when thinking of food. Her making apple pies, once I recall her making raspberries pies with me, with berries we'd picked just for my little birthday pie. Dessert was a requirement for just about every meal, as it is for her and my grandfather now. On those cold dreary days when she didn't want anything too fancy, my grandmother would pull out her box of Minute Tapioca and make a potfull to be enjoyed after dinner.

With those thoughts in mind, and a recipe dog eared in my August 2006 Cooking Light, I decided to make an old fashioned tapioca pudding, not from the box, but using real small pearl tapioca. Which I happened to have picked up when I first read the recipe, but had not yet gotten around to making it.

I admit, I've never made the tapioca from a box. I've eaten it, as well as the kind that comes in the mini snack sized pudding containers. I had high hopes that tapioca made from scratch, with real pearls, would be much more flavorful and soothing than the boxed kind.

I was disappointed.

It was good. The texture of the pearls was more pronounced than in the minute kind. But it couldn't hold up to my memory of the pudding my grandmother used to make sometimes. I have the feeling that nothing would. Afterall, you can't compete with a memory and expect to come out ahead.

I ended up making a few changes to the printed recipe. I substituted 1 cup of light cream, 10%, for some of the 2% milk. Mostly because I had it in the fridge and needed to use it. My timing was different - the recipe called for low heat for 30 minutes or until thickened. My pot was plenty thick in less than 15 minutes, and starting to scorch the bottom of the pot. Again, when it came to cooling it in an ice bath, my pudding was cool and thick well before the 15 minutes given in the recipe.

Looking at the online recipe now, copied here, I see readers only rated it 3 out of 5 stars. I think I can agree. As I said, it was good, but not so overwhelmingly good that I would seek out the pearl tapioca at a specialty store again rather than using the little red box that I can buy at a normal grocery store.

All this making, talking and reading about comfort food, however, has given me a craving for home made macaroni and cheese. Maybe for dinner tomorrow night.

Note: I forgot earlier to mention the name of the other co-host to Dishes of Comfort: Orchidea of Viaggi e Sapori. Thanks to both Ivonne and Orchidea!


Anonymous said...


Thanks so much for taking part in this event! It's funny because I was at the market tonight and I was actually contemplating buying tapioca but I've never cooked with it. Your experience has inspired me!

Anonymous said...


Thanks so much for taking part in this event! It's funny because I was at the market tonight and I was actually contemplating buying tapioca but I've never cooked with it. Your experience has inspired me!

Orchidea said...

Thanks a lot for participating... I love rice pudding and your look great.

Lis said...

Well I'm sorry it was disappointing, although it looks so yummy! But I agree with you.. who could recreate what our grandmother's lovingly cooked for us? I think their food was so good because of all the love for their grandchildren were the main ingredient? hehe I have many dishes of my grandma, too, that never turned out like hers - but it's nice to try and bring back all those memories :D

I do look forward to seeing your mac and cheese as I'm a huge fan of the dish - especially homemade!

Very nice post - and very nice blog!

Brilynn said...

I've never used tapioca myself, but I like the consistency of it. I'm not so sure the rest of my family would agree, but I think I should try making something with it.

Jenny said...

Unfortunately Lis, I made the macaroni and cheese last night but forgot to take a picture before digging in!
Thanks to you and Brilynn for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

I have earmarked this recipe too. I was thinking of making it myself. Although it did not live up to your expectations it looks photogenic. Thanks for sharing your experiences with the recipe!

Sally said...

I agree quellia - the Minute Tapioca is superior to the "real" tapioca pudding. It's not only faster (and fool-proof), it tastes better. Maybe, like you said, that's because the pearl isn't so...noticeable. Great post. Good memories. Thanks

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you were disappointed. but there's always something good in every baking adventure that we go on, and i think one good thing is that you've got us all thinking about tapioca!! and i definetly agree it looks great!!