Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Semolina Pudding with Rhubarb Compote

Another day with another adventure in the grocery store: Doing my daily shopping for one once during the morning, I noticed lots of shop assistants around, filling up the shelves and generally being very busy. I contemplated the possibility to ask for something I've been searching for quite a while - semolina. It looks like I've never grown out of this childhood treat that always comes in handy when I want some quickly cooked lunch that should also satisfy my sweet tooth while not being completely unhealthy. I go through a lot of that stuff.

However, stocking up on it proved to be a bit of a problem. In the supermarket next to our first flat in Sydney, I had figured out after a while that semolina was to be found in the bakers’ aisle, next to nuts and vanilla essence. My other source was small grocery shop run by people from the Balkan. Squeezing myself through the extremely narrow aisles was fun already not to mention all the incredible stuff you could find there: Preserves, canned vegetables, spices and dried fruits unknown to me. Where was I? Right, this shop had the most wonderful semolina that resulted in a very smooth and almost silky semolina pudding. What shall I say – I still miss it.

Now living closer to the central business district, I could choose between two supermarkets but hadn’t found any semolina – despite having asked for it several times. This morning, after hesitating for a little while, I decided to give it another go and approached one of the shop assistants.

"Excuse me, could you please tell me where to find semolina?” I said in my nicest I-don’t-want-to-cause-any-hassle-voice.
His answer was short: "What's that?"
"Ahem, something like cracked wheat?!" Being at a loss for words, it was the quickest reply I could think of, knowing that it wasn’t quite correct. Have you ever had to explain what semolina actually is??
The shop assistant decided to take the reasonable way and took me to a colleague hoping that he would know more about it.
“Do you know where to find semolina?” – still with my nicest I-don’t-want-to-cause-any-hassle-voice.
“What’s that?” Haven’t I heard that one before? After providing my non-appropriate explanation again, the shop assistant led me to the cereal aisle. Standing in front of the boxed breakfast with no semolina whatsoever, I realised that he had just understood the word “wheat”.
And home I went without my beloved semolina.

Okay, just to be fair to the guild of shop assistants, I should mention that shortly after this memorable encounter, I finally got some semolina. In another shop, another shop assistant proved to be exceptionally helpful: She pointed one semolina brand in the health food section and another one next to the chocolate chips – sold out unfortunately.

Semolina Pudding with Rhubarb Compote

I have to admit that I never use a recipe when making this. Using the rule of thumb, I pour some semolina into the milk. If you add the semolina to the cold milk, you’ll never end up with lumps. Stir constantly until it comes to a boil, adding more milk if necessary (it will get stiffer while cooling down). Sweeten to your liking, add a pinch of salt, some vanilla sugar, and dust with cinnamon if desired.

Serve with your favourite fruit compote. I like to caramelize some sugar before adding the fruit. Stir to coat with caramel and depending on the juiciness of your fruits add a little water. Cook until you reach the desired consistency.

This is the ratio for semolina pudding one of my trusted old-style German cookbooks presents (serves 4):

1 litre of milk (low-fat works fine but whole milk tastes better)
100g semolina

To make the pudding bit richer, add up to 40g of butter, two egg yolks, and two egg whites beaten until stiff.


Patricia Scarpin said...

Eva, what a beautiful dessert - the contrast of colors, the way it's presented, everything looks great.
I have never used semolina this way - I have some at home and that would be wonderful to try.
Tks for sharing!

P.S.: the dialogue is hilarious. :)

Nora B. said...

Eva, that looks so beautiful. Your adventures in Sydney supermarkets are always so humourous, but I understand that it came be frustrating, so I admire your persistence. I eat semolina pudding a lot, my mom's version uses milk, sugar, cardamom and then served with some roasted slivered almonds and sultanas. It can be eaten cold or warm.
p/s: you should consdier entering "does my blog look good in this" at some point. your photos are great!

Eva said...

Thank you, Patricia - I knew this brightly coloured tea towel would come in handy some day!
And the recipe is actually just the start of it: If you make a rather stiff pudding, you can let it cool down, slice it and fry the pieces (crumbed or plain) and then serve it with the compote.

Nora - Whenever I make this, I have to think of this cardamom version I first heard about on Morsels&Musings. Still haven't overcome my fear of cardamom. But as more and more recipes seem to pop up in the blogosphere, I just need to try it!

PS: Last month, I did enter the contest - but let me tell you, I couldn't quite compete with all those wonderful photographers... Will give it another go, though.

Anh said...

Eva, this is wonderful. I totally agree with you about the lack of product knowledge in some supermarkets. I once looked for a specific brand of bread (baker's) flour in Coles. And the guy at the info desk looked at me like I was an alien! *LOL*

Semolina is available in the grocery shop in my area, so I don't normally look elsewhere. I like shopping at small retail shops since the owners do know their products well and can give good advice!

Eva said...

Anh, I truly know that feeling! However, I just can't stop myself from asking...
I prefer shopping in small retail shops, too - there's so much more to discover! Unfortunately, there aren't that many in my area...

Em said...

Hi Eva,
It looks like a great treat! I will have to try it.
In Canada, I used to love eating cream of wheat for breakfast... with fruits and a dash of maple syrup of course! The closest thing I found here is semolina, although I have yet to try to cook some for breakfast.
I have had a similar experience when going to grocery stores... If they don't know what I am talking about, they often say that they don't have any... and then I find it on the next shelf. Oh well...

Eva said...

Em - cream of wheat sounds mouthwatering! I wonder what that would be in Germany, don't think we have anything like it. Since I'm now owning a small bottle of maple syrup I'll have to try this version!

Helen said...

Hi Eva! Your experiences in grocery stores reminded me of mine when I moved to the US. Products I did not know existed (grits come to mind) and different names or place. At times it was nerve wracking, most of the time, it made for interesting discoveries!
I love your dessert, versatile and gorgeous in color!

lynn said...

Hi Eva,
Your pudding looks beautiful and tasty. I love the colors in the picture! Isn't it fun trying to find foreign ingredients? Imagine trying to find wattle seeds in the USA.

Eva said...

Helen - So it's obviously not only about Australians...;-) Funny to see how we get stuck in our own expectations without even noticing!

Lynn - Thank you! I've just learned about wattle seeds myself -now I'll have to go get some!