With all the snow, my mind keeps returning to migliaccio, an Italian custard made from farina. In Italian, migliaccio would be pronounced meal-YA-choh. But it’s been generations since my Neapolitan relatives floated over to our shores and the word has been butchered into mul-YACH. Although I have studied Italian, I don’t bother pronouncing it correctly because no one would know what the heck I was saying. Case in point, I sent my mom an email about this recipe with the correct spelling and she didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. She thought I was referring to an old friend with that surname. So, mul-YACH it is.
I grew up in Ozone Park, New York, just a few blocks away from my Aunt Margaret, the daughter of Grandma Margaret of Italian Cheesecake fame. Every night after dinner, we’d walk around the corner to have coffee. The Pyrex glass pot would be on the stove, the coffee inside having been reheated many times that day. Some of you are wincing, I’m sure, but we liked it strong. Never mind that I was under ten and drinking coffee that would put hair on your chest. These days Child Protective Services would be all over that in a heartbeat. Times have changed.
The first snow of the winter season always filled us with glee because it was Aunt Marg’s tradition to make migliaccio. And no matter how high the snow, Aunt Margaret, who possessed better snow navigation skills than even the postman, would always get it to us.
Neither rain nor snow nor coffee klatch will keep Aunt Marg from delivering mul-YACH.
Most everyone in my family prefers mul-YACH after it has set in the refrigerator and can be neatly sliced. Not bad on a hot summer afternoon, but this is snow food and I’m impatient and in need of inner warmth. So, I tend to scoop my bubbling serving out with a big spoon while it’s all soft and pudding-like. Do I hear an um num num?
A word about the pan you use. If you want to slice it neatly, don’t use the one featured in my photo. The sides are too high and you’ll never get it out in one piece. But if you’re planning on slurping it down using a bowl and spoon, then who really cares, right?
I eat mul-YACH as a snack, but with farina, milk, and eggs in the ingredients, it could count as breakfast.
Give it a try, mangia mangia, and let me know what you think. And see if you can refrain from making it the next time it snows. Bet you can’t.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
2 cups cold water
1/2 cup farina
1/8 lb unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups milk
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
- On the stovetop, cook farina in water, stirring until thickened.
(I use ceramic-glass bakeware (e.g., CorningWare), which can go from stovetop to oven, thereby saving me from washing an extra pot. Good times. )
- In a separate bowl, beat eggs with the milk.
- Remove farina from heat and add butter, sugar, milk/egg mixture, and vanilla.
- Mix until thoroughly combined.
- Place in oven, and lower temperature to 350 degrees.
- Bake 1 hour or more until bubbling and brown.
(If you’re like me, immediately spoon some out into a bowl and take a big mouthful, burning every damn cell in your mouth and making it impossible for you to taste the spoonfuls that come next.)
Enjoy! While you’re eating, take a peek at my recipe for Farina Muffins. Yum.