Recipe: Fish Fingers and Custard

For those of you familiar with Doctor Who, this dish requires little explanation.  For those of you who aren't, here's a crash course the good Doctor and the origin of "fish fingers and custard".

The Doctor is a 900 and some odd year old alien who travels through time and space in the T.A.R.D.I.S. - that blue police box in the pictures (it's usually much bigger - and even bigger on the inside!).  He picks up various traveling companions on the way - often humans from present-day Britain, because, apparently, that's the best place to find traveling companions.  Also, because he's a Time Lord (alien), he can do this cool thing called regeneration - when he's about to die, instead of dying, he can change every cell in his body so that he's not dying anymore.  Pretty handy, especially for the producers of the show, because it means that they can switch out actors without really changing the character (leading to speculation that James Bond may be a Time Lord).

But a new actor, even playing the same character, is often met with trepidation.  In fact, I had grown to so love the tenth incarnation of the Doctor, played by David Tennant, that when it came time to for his tenure to end (whoa, tenth, tennant, tenure), I put it off for a looong time.  When I finally came to watch it, there were many tears, and I looked skeptically at the new guy, the eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith.

I'm almost ashamed of how quickly I warmed up to him.  In one of Smith's first scenes as the Doctor, he crash lands the T.A.R.D.I.S. in a little girl's back yard.  He emerges from the wreckage and asks for an apple.  "I think I'm having a craving," he muses, "that's new.  I've never had cravings before."  The little girl, Amelia, invites him inside (note to little kids in the real world - it's normally not a good idea to invite strange men with big blue boxes into your house in the middle of the night), and gives him an apple, which he immediately spits out.  New mouth, new rules.  This mouth hates apples, apparently.  And in a sequence far more amusing than it has any right to be, Amelia brings more and more food to the Doctor (yogurt, bacon, beans, even plain bread and butter) only to see him become more and more disgusted with every offering.  Finally, after searching through the fridge himself, he decides what he really wants is fish fingers and custard.

And I knew I was going to like this guy.

These fish fingers are made of pound cake covered in graham cracker crumbs.  I cheated and bought a pound cake from the store.  Feel free to be more active than me and make your own.

English Custard

1 vanilla bean pod

1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream

4 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/3 cup honey or light brown sugar

Split and scrape the vanilla beans out of the pod and put them, along with the pod, into a small saucepan with the cream.  Heat until simmering.

Whisk the egg yolks with the cornstarch and sugar until combined.  Remove vanilla bean pod from the cream.

As you continue to slowly whisk the egg mixture, add a ladle of the hot cream to the eggs.  This is called tempering.  Add 2 more ladles of the cream and incorporate, before adding the whole egg mixture back into the saucepan.  Continue to heat until the mixture thickens to about the consistency of a pudding.  Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.

Note:  My custard got a bit "ice-y" after storing in the fridge, so if that happens to yours, just set it out on the counter 15-30 minutes before you want to serve to defrost a bit for a nice, smooth custard.


"Fish Fingers"

1 pound cake, cut into 1 inch slices to resemble fish sticks

2 egg whites

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

5 graham crackers, processed into fine crumbs

Butter cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350º F.  Mix together the egg whites, cream and cinnamon in a bowl.  Put graham cracker crumbs in another bowl.  Dip each piece of pound cake in the egg mixture, coat in the graham cracker crumbs, and put on a parchment or silicone mat lined cookie sheet.  When the sheet is full, spray with the butter spray, and put in the oven for 10 minutes, flipping once half way through.

A meal fit for a Doctor.