I came to love custard sauces when I was a graduate student in England. The custard in this recipe is a riff on Sally Schneider's custard sauce in "A New Way to Cook," and it is exactly what I need when I want a large quantity of something sweet (but not too sweet), simple and nutritious to eat in short order, without a lot of fuss.
N.B., the quantities can be easily multiplied to make additional servings. —mwb
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons
lemon zest, to taste
1/2 inch pieces
arrowroot starch (such as Bob's Red Mill)
Gently rinse your blackberries; scrub and zest your lemon; and cut off your piece of vanilla bean, scoring it down the middle to reveal its seeds.
Add the lemon zest and the cut piece of vanilla pod to a small non-reactive pot with all but a few teaspoons of milk (don't worry about precision here; just reserve a little bit of the milk for Step 3). Scald over medium-low heat, and then turn off the heat. Stir in the sugar.
In a small bowl, mix the arrowroot powder with the reserved bit of milk, and mix until the arrowroot is dissolved. Whisk in the egg.
Slowly whisk the warm lemon-and-vanilla infused milk and sugar mixture into the egg mixture. Once the two are thoroughly mixed, add the combined mixture back into the saucepan you used to warm the milk.
Cook the custard in the saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking constantly as it thickens to coat the back of a spoon. The custard will be loose, but it will look like a thick custard sauce when it's done -- trust your eyes as it comes together.
Remove the pot from the heat and briefly whisk the custard again to blend in any little lumps. Don't worry about any that remain; they aren't important. Remove the piece of vanilla pod.
Cool the custard for a few minutes in the refrigerator (10-15 minutes as a guideline, not a mandate) to thicken slightly, and then spoon it over the berries and devour.