Para a alma da minha Vavó…
Olinda DaPonte Moniz Mota would have turned 99 years old this month. My Vavó moved to the United States and settled in Fall River, Massachusetts with her husband and three children when she was just about 50 years old in search of more opportunity for her children. Can you imagine up and moving your entire life at 50 years old? It is hard for me to fathom leaving a home where all my friends and family had been for generations to move to a country where I don’t know the language, have no job, no real set plan. Sure there were some family and friends who had crossed the vast Atlantic and settled here, but you have to admit it is quite a leap of faith.
One thing that really rooted my Vavó home was the food. And I would have to say this dish was one of her favorites. On any given morning, I could arrive at my grandparent’s home and find my Vavó settled on the sofa with a cup of tea and a plate of Papas. It was her breakfast of choice. She used to love it when I would come and make it for her, as I did from time to time as she got older. This is my version of my Vavó’s Papas.
Two cups of whole milk… I am using lactose free milk here which is fine too.
My Vavó had a sweet tooth… this is 1/4 cup of sugar. If you don’t like your Papas terribly sweet, reduce this to 1/8 cup.
Separate out your egg yolk from your white. Add the white to your morning omelet or something, you won’t need it here. Although, my Vavó used to use the whole egg because she didn’t like to waste… but, it’s better to discard the white (or like I said, use it in something else)
Now you are left with just the yolk. You will want this ready to go, because when it’s time to add it in, it needs to be done pronto.
Measure out two slightly heaping tablespoons of corn starch…. This is not corn flour or corn meal… but starch.
Mix your milk and corn starch together before turning on your burner to medium heat… You will get no lumps this way.
I love this wisk… It’s my gravy/pudding wisk… If you make either fairly often, I would highly recommend picking one up. If not, a regular wisk will do here.
Add in your sugar once your milk mixture thickens up a bit. Continue wisking constantly.
Add in your egg and have your wisk at the ready.
Wisk in the egg yolk rather aggressively… You don’t want to leave chance for your egg to cook before it is incorporated.
Allow the papas to boil while continuing to wisk for a good minute or so.
My Vavó would have loved these plates with their pretty flowers. It is important that your plate have a good rim to it. (Plates are Butterfly Meadow by Lenox)
Gently pour liquid onto the plate until it just comes up the rim of your plate.
My Vavó was always sure to have a bottle of cinnamon sugar on hand. This makes the perfect sprinkle on the hot Papas… the sugar will melt in and become slightly crisp while the cinnamon provides the perfect contrast. At this point allow the Papas to cool slightly to set.
Recipe for Vavó’s Portuguese Stovetop Pudding (Vavó’s Papas):
2 cups whole milk
2 Tbs. corn starch, slightly heaping
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
cinnamon sugar for topping
Combine milk and cornstarch in a small sauce pan. Bring to boil over medium heat wisking constantly. When mixture has thickened add in sugar, continue wisking. After about 1-2 minutes add in egg yolk, wisking extra fast so as the yolk does not cook before combined. Pour out onto a plate immediately and top with cinnamon sugar. Allow to cool just slightly to set.
Serve warm, enjoy!
*note: this recipe is gluten-free.
**note: this recipe can be made with lactose-free milk.