Mexican Chocolate Pudding Recipe

We were walking back from the Andreas Gursky exhibit (Thurs) at the SFMoMA via the Chronicle Books stand inside the Metreon. Wayne picked up the 'Modern Greek Cooking' book, which I have picked up a few times before, but haven't purchased yet. He wanted to make the mixed vegetable gratin recipe with bread crumbs and feta cheese, but didn't want to buy the book. Flash forward to tonight when we were trying to figure out what to make for dinner....he is still set on _that_ particular gratin recipe, no recipe in sight, so he decided to wing it. He pan fried a variety thick chunks of potatoes, zucchini, peppers, and eggplant in some olive oil w/ salt and pepper--then dredged the vegetables through a dish of breadcrumbs, layered them in a cassarole dish, sprinkled with feta and bread crumbs, and popped it all in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes or so...It was simple and delicious, the edges of the vegetables carmelized nicely, the breadcrumbs made a nice little crusty crunch.

I was in charge of the salad but I have to admit-- I have been stuck in a huge vinaigrette rut. I've whisked up the same winter cranberry mustard vinaigrette for every dinner party we have gone to in the past two years, but not this time.....This time I gave the Spicy Walnut Vinaigrette a spin--it had a squirt of vietnamese hot sauce in it which gave it a subtle little kick. Tossed it with some sturdy greens, for a nice quick salad. Good, but nothing to write home about, or write more about here for that matter.

Last but not least, I whipped up a favorite of ours-Mexican Chocolate Pudding (this time with a bit of a twist). It has been tough to find the authentic Ibarra Mexican chocolate tablets-Safeway substituted something recently that comes in a similar yellow octagonal paper container but under the Nestle brand. I'm not sure it is really chocolate,or good for that matter. Turns out the produce market across the street stock Ibarra chocolate tablets, so I loaded up, and concluded it was a good night for my pudding. The only change I made here was adding 2 heaping teaspoons of ground espresso beans to the heated pot of milk (in the beginning). I love this pudding hot off the stove with a little cold sweetened whipped cream on top. Other people like putting it in the fridge for a few hours until it is cold.

Spicy Walnut Vinaigrette from: The New Joy of Cooking Page: 238; Mixed Vegetable Gratin from: Modern Greek Food

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