Monday, December 19, 2011
Maple Hominy Custard
The American Heritage Cookbook has a recipe for an antique Yankee dessert called "Indian Pudding". It is yellow cornmeal flavored with molasses ,and without frills. I remember eating it once, but who fed it to me and where, I cannot remember. I have never made it myself, for it did not taste as good to me as it must have tasted to snowbound settlers of early New England who lived on farms along the Connecticut River ,and who kept forts such as the Old Fort Number 4 in Charlestown, New Hampshire to protect themselves from the Abnaki Indians. It is a" make do" recipe of pragmatic Yankee housewives.
Never the less, seeing the recipe set me to inventing the other afternoon. Why not, I thought, use hominy instead of cornmeal? Why not use a sweet flavoring more elegant and precious than plain molasses? Why not use maple syrup, the best sweet the North Country can provide-
I do not know how to make molasses. Nor could I refine sugar. But I do know how to make maple syrup, and I made several pints of it for my family in the winter of my twelfth year. My father had moved us to an old farmhouse in North Charlestown, New Hampshire. It had been our summer house, but my restless father had made it our all year home. It had a barn that had stanchions for a handful of cows, and a tiny patch of pasturage behind the house. The rest of our land was steep, wooded hillsides with granite cliffs that dropped to the Little Sugar River. There were no dairy cows anymore, but if there had been a market for porcupines, we would have been rich for they tunneled into our rocks to make their dens.
We had eight old maple trees along the Unity Road on the hill behind our house. I pounded in three taps to a tree and hung my sap buckets. Cold March nights and warmer days made the sap run, and every evening after I came home from school, I collected my sap and pored it into a big rectangular metal pan I heated over an open fire I kept down near the back side of our barn. I remember sitting there watching the distant red sunset across the Connecticut River and over the hills of Vermont. Gallons of sap boiled away to make a few cups of maple syrup. If we had fresh, clean snow we would toss the syrup on it where it congealed to "Sugar on Snow". Sometimes I finished the reduced sap on the stove in the house, and one night I boiled it too hard and ruined a batch-
But I digress, and need to get back to my recipe. I decided to make an egg custard with hominy and maple syrup. I wanted it to be simple and good and requiring nothing more than home made whipped cream on top- and someone happy to eat it.
It turned out well, and I plan on taking it to our Christmas night potluck at work.
Maple Hominy Custard.
29 oz white hominy, drained very well.
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 stick butter, melted.
Puree the hominy in a food processor. Add the cream, the butter, and the maple syrup and mix well. Add the eggs and process for a minute or two. Pour the mixture into a nine inch tart or pie pan. Sprinkle on some ground cinnamon and ground cardamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Top with whipped cream. This should serve six or more after a winter weekend or holiday dinner.