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I’ll Never Be Too Old For Rice Pudding (or Homesickness)

Blueberries straight from the pint—does it get much better? Oh, it does. We partnered with the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council to share simple, flavorful recipes that are sweet, savory, and everything in between. Here, our Senior Staff Writer and Food Stylist Sarah tells us her formula to combat homesickness: rice pudding + blueberries.

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When you are ten years old, your sister refers to her trip back to college as “going home” and your heart endures a hairline fracture. Unimaginable.

But the first time you call the new place home, it slips out of your mouth like a piece of sashimi. You slurp the word up as soon as it comes out and hope that no one notices. You say a prayer that you are not in earshot of your parents.

You feel guilty for your disloyalty. You are a traitor when old names no longer conjure faces. You eat olives and capers and anchovies and raw fish and other unthinkables you used to shove away. You walk around a big city and pretend to know your way even when you are sweaty and lost. You forget what it’s like to sleep in your childhood bed. You make fun of your parents and their habits even though you wish you were still small enough to hug their legs, to reach up to grab a blueberry from their palms.

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At least the rice pudding is a time capsule—a recipe that will exist on your mom’s 3-by-5 in the acrylic box post-apocalypse. It’s less complicated than anything you cook these days—no smoky spices or unusual “dairy” products or bain marie. It’s pleasantly eggy and perfectly simple—all light and warmth, a knitted Afghan of a food.

You’ll add a black sesame crumble with tahini and some macerated blueberries (that is: blueberries tossed with sugar and left to sit) because you can’t un-learn the things you’ve learned—even when you know this uppity tweak will make your parents roll their eyes.

Still, the taste makes you think of your kitchen table. It tastes good despite the tear-ball that’s surging in your throat.

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You’ll never grow out of homesickness. Because homesickness is not just about missing the place but missing who you were at that place—missing when you were calmed by a mug of warmed Hershey’s chocolate milk; when you accepted a parent’s hug with no detachment; when the most important thing was making sure your notes from pre-algebra were thorough; when you weren’t worrying about pets or grandparents edging toward death or dodging roaches on the street or pulling out a hair for each What-the-heck-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life thought or…

The rice pudding. Eat the rice pudding. Put on the White Album, eat some rice pudding, and have a good cry.

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Rice Pudding with Sesame Crumble and Macerated Blueberries

Rice pudding recipe from my mom via who knows where; sesame crumble from Grace Parisi via Food & Wine

Serves 6 to 8

For the rice pudding:

1/2 cup rice
1 quart milk
1/4 cup butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup (scant) light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the sesame crumble and the blueberries:

2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon tahini
1 1/2 teaspoons black sesame seeds

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

We partnered with the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council to bring you a slew of simple, flavorful recipes you can pop blueberries into easy-peasy. No time to make sesame crumble or macerate blueberries? Just skip the crumble and use fresh blueberries instead. Get more recipes, ideas, and tips for blueberries here.

Rice pudding + blueberries make us feel like we’re at home, so we’re rerunning this article from September 2015. Second photo by James Ransom; all others by Bobbi Lin

This article links to other articles not associated with the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.

‘Scorpion’ Is Tabasco’s Hottest Hot Sauce, Ever

Beginning Wednesday, July 19, iconic hot sauce maker Tabasco will introduce a limited edition of the hottest hot sauce the company has ever made: the Scorpion Sauce.

And that’s not just a catchy name, either—the main ingredient in this eye-watering, mouth-numbing sauce is the Trinidad moruga scorpion pepper, native to the Moruga district of Trinidad and Tobago. Until it was ousted by the Carolina Reaper in 2013, the scorpion pepper was known as the hottest pepper in the world, with a mean heat score of 1.2 million on the Scoville scale, with some individual plants registering at 2 million.

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By comparison, the small-batch Scorpion sauce is nearly 20 times hotter than Tabasco’s Original Red Sauce, made from tabasco peppers, which have a peak Scoville score of 50,000.

It’s not for everyone, but if your approach to hot sauce is something like “the pain is how you know you’re alive,” then the sting of Scorpion Sauce is for you. In a nod to its Trinidadian heritage, the heat of the scorpion peppers is paired with a tropical touch—guava and pineapple—for “untamed heat and a touch of Caribbean sweetness.”

Get it online, or take the opportunity to visit the home of Tabasco—Avery Island, Louisiana.

To be clear, Tabasco’s climb up the Scoville scale doesn’t make Scorpion Sauce the hottest in the world—for instance, there’s Get Bitten, a sauce made with pepper extract with a Scoville score of 6 million, and in fact, you can buy pepper extracts that register up to 9 million Scovilles if you’re feeling experimental and not at all sentimental about your tastebuds.

While we’re on the subject of pepper-induced pain, let’s take a look at one of my favorite videos ever—the 2014 “very special chili tasting” of Danish National Chamber Orchestra, in which each person eats one of the hottest peppers in the world (Carolina Reapers, ghost peppers, and Trinidad scorpion peppers) and then has to perform Tango Jalousie. You’ll feel their sweat and pain through your computer screen.

If there’s an even hotter hot sauce that ignites your soul, let me know what it is in the comments!

Anthony Bourdain’s New Project Needs Your Help

Anthony Bourdain’s currently at work on a four-part documentary for CNN with Zero Point Zero, set to air next year, on Detroit between 1955 and 1965. It’s an archival project that’s trying to recreate a sense of what life in the city was like in that decade, one that saw a number of vital, lasting changes to Detroit and its soul.

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Bourdain first teased the project last fall, and he’s incrementally released more details over the past few months. The documentary will be based on the 2015 book Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story by journalist David Maraniss. The documentary’s working title is, fittingly, Detroit 1963: Once in a Great City.

Footage is hard to come by from that era, so, to that end, Bourdain and his team have taken to crowdsourcing it: Bourdain and his collaborators are asking for some footage from anyone who lived in Detroit during that era, from Motown performances to NAACP protests. They’ve compiled these specific asks in a handy Google Form. Should your footage be chosen for inclusion in the documentary, the team will provide high-resolution scans or footage to you for your own personal use, along with modest compensation. They’ll also name you in the credits.

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The aim of the documentary is to transport viewers to an era in American history wherein “people believed in the power and goodness of big corporations, had high hopes for racial parity, and looked to institutions like unions and the government to solve their problems.” A just mission—and a topic that should be treated with care. Help him out if you can, Detroiters. I look forward to seeing what comes of this project. Until 2018!

Nigella Lawson’s One-Step, No-Churn Ice Cream

Every week — often with your help — Food52’s Executive Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: 4 ingredients. 1 step. No cooking. No churning. Ice cream!

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Not having an ice cream maker never stopped us before. We’ve done all kinds of weird stuff in the name of doing it for ourselves. We’ve nested coffee cans and shaken (or kicked) them; we’ve returned obsessively to the freezer to stir; we may or may not have purchased this ball.

I am so impressed with us for doing all of that! We did a really good job of making ice cream, against all odds. But instead of doing any of it, you can glide over to your cupboard like you’re Nigella Lawson, find four ingredients, whip them into a cloud, then freeze—they will become ice cream while you go on with your day.

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It’s really as simple as that—there’s no egg to deal with, nothing to heat or temper or ice bath or strain. Just cream and sweetened condensed milk, flavored with espresso powder and liqueur. The sugar and booze keep it from getting hard and icy; the whipped cream provides air (and, yes, cream); the thick condensed milk helps do the work of a custard.

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“When I was a child, I used to make an ice cream with my great aunt that required no special equipment (save a freezer) and was the work of moments and a trio of ingredients: condensed milk, heavy cream, and vanilla,” Lawson wrote to me. “Needless to say, it was sickly sweet, but more latterly it occurred to me that by adding bitterness or sharpness—coffee, bourbon and salted caramel, the fixings for a margarita, the combined juices of pomegranate and lime—this effortless ice cream could make life subtly sweeter in the grown-up world.”

More: Serve it with another genius Nigella dessert: Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake.

The ice cream will have a creamy, almost buttery smoothness. The first time, I whipped it a bit too far and it had a more noticeably buttery quality—not the worst problem, but an avoidable one. The sweet spot is just when the whisk leaves trails in the bowl (I was trying to be proper and hold a soft peak when I lifted the whisk out—no need).

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You can try all kinds of variations—Lawson has worked out at least 6 others for us. Food52er mrslarkin has this to add: “I loved this recipe so much that I made a mint chip version, using gin, mint extract, and grated chocolate, which was very delicious.” Definitely make a no-churn ice cream cake.

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Or, like Lawson, “You could (and I often do) serve it with a chocolate sauce but my absolute favourite way of eating this is by squidging it into little brioches, like sweet burger buns, as they do in the south of Italy.”

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Nigella Lawson’s One-Step, No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream

Adapted slightly from Nigellissima (Clarkson Potter, 2013)

Makes 1 pint

1 1/4 cup (300 milliliters) heavy or double cream, well-chilled
2/3 cup (175 grams) sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons espresso liqueur

Got a genius recipe to share — from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what’s so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thanks to Food52ers mrslarkin and Ina-Janine for this one!

Photos by James Ransom

This article was originally published in August 2014 but we’re sharing it again because it’s genius.

Is This the Worst Recipe on the Internet?

Recipes are casually, with little logic, fêted as “the best”—by algorithms, by bloggers, by us—in our digital landscape. It’s not every day that a recipe is trumpeted as the worst.

Meet the recipe that may have earned this title: Allison McAtee’s Tiramisu, featured on the Hallmark Channel and uncovered by five-time James Beard Award–winning writer Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl of Minneapolis St. Paul magazine.

Forgive a few of the standard-issue typos (“Set bagel on it’s [sic] side”) and make your way to the recipe’s substance. It’s composed of ingredients that may make some of us bristle when we find them in a tiramisu recipe: bagels with shavings of chocolate grated on top; powdered, non-dairy creamer; cream cheese. All sound fine on their own. Together, in a dish that’s usually made with spongy ladyfingers and dotted with bittersweet cocoa powder, it certainly constitutes quite a riff!

For one of us on the editorial team, seeing this recipe reignited the traumas of Paula Deen’s much-maligned English Peas, paddling along in a pool of butter. One Twitter user pointed to a mole recipe composed of hot sauce and Cocoa Puffs. I don’t consider myself too churlish or rigid when it comes to the way people cook—I encourage fanciful experimentation, as I’d like to think we all do at Food52 (and I’d expect the same of you, our readers). That’s part of the fun of convening around a shared love of cooking, a value that’s baked into the DNA of this site.

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Yet experimentation inevitably begets failure, and it’s crucial to acknowledge when our culinary imaginations risk taking us in unwanted directions. The internet’s an endless repository of recipes, and I’ve no doubt that we’ve all got some unpleasant memories of making recipes that’ve ended in disaster. “The worst”? That’s a terrible label for any recipe to be affixed with! If you’ve made this tiramisu, please set the record straight. Perhaps it’s better than anyone can imagine. Someone’s worst may be another person’s best.

What’s the worst recipe you’ve ever made from the internet? Don’t be shy—let us know in the comments.