mike kostyo

I know food.

cinnamon chocolate pudding w/ crushed ginger cookies

We hadn't been in Boston long when our first "nor'easter" was scheduled to hit town. All of the stores had tables set up displaying "nor'easter" necessities: flashlights, bottles of water, those bright-yellow rain ponchos the cops wear when they are directing traffic during nor'easters. "Should we be worried?" we wondered. "This is the kind of thing you need candles for?"

Up until that point it had seemed kind of exciting - our first nor'easter! We're locals now, getting through this nor'easter together. How bad do you think that nor'easter is gonna be? Preparin' for the nor'easter, neighbor? Those are some things I imagined people saying when talking about the nor'easter. And it sounds like such a New England word - nor'easter. Not pronouncing the "th" is what binds us together here in the nor'east.

Incidentally, in 2005 the New Yorker profiled a Maine man named Edward Cormee who used to send out postcards which read:

"The use of nor’easter to describe a northeast storm is a pretentious and altogether lamentable affectation, the odious, even loathsome, practice of landlubbers who would be seen as salty as the sea itself."

Add "salty as the sea itself" to the list of phrases I like. If only I could be "salty as the sea itself" simply by saying "nor'easter." I also like "landlubber." Maybe if I say "duststorm" enough I can be a landlubber. Or "du'storm."

Where was I? 

I don't really remember if the nor'easter was bad or not. I know we didn't need a hand-cranked radio at any point, which is good because we didn't buy one. I'm sure it rained and blustered and all that. Who knows? Now that we're on our tenth nor'easter or so, they kind of start running together. That's right, what once seemed so exciting and fun is now another snow storm. On April 1. Yay New England.

I know what you are thinking, "Ugh, talking about the weather is the worst. And complaining about the weather is worse than the worst." And also, "What does this have to do with a pudding recipe?"

I'll answer those two thoughts with one sentence: talking about the weather may be the worst, but bad weather is also the perfect time for comfort food, like cinnamon chocolate pudding topped with crushed ginger cookies. (I almost said I was going to crush two mind grapes with one grape squeezer, but I didn't).

I made this pudding when it was my turn to bring in food for my food anthropology class a few weeks ago and everyone seemed to like it. That's the exact sentence I'm going to blurb on the label when I package this pudding and sell it. "One time I made it and people seemed to eat it." - Mike Kostyo, Owner of Salty as the Sea Itself Pudding. I hope people Google my name in the future and the first thing that comes up is that I am the owner of Salty as the Sea Itself Pudding.

Anyway, if you are experiencing a snowy nor'easter this weekend you should definitely make this pudding; serve it with some milk, or scotch, and eat it while you enjoy a nice book or movie. If you are not experiencing a nor'easter, you should not make this pudding. Make something more appropriate for your weather.

cinnamon chocolate pudding w/ crushed ginger cookies

adapted from the gourmet cookbook

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch salt
2 cups skim milk
1 large egg
4 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
4-6 ginger cookies, crushed

Whisk the sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cornstarch and salt in a medium, heavy saucepan until combined. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking continuously, and continue cooking and stirring until the pudding is thick, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a large, heat-proof bowl, beat the egg lightly. Very gradually whisk in the hot milk mixture, stirring vigourously. Add the chopped chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is fully melted and the pudding is smooth.

Pour the pudding into a bowl or individual ramekins and cover the surface with plastic wrap or wax paper to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate the pudding for at least two hours.

To serve, top with crushed ginger cookies.

serves 4