Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My favorite dessert....and it's easy

First off, to the pack leader, my apologies for taking so long to post this one. I know you asked for it about a month ago, but my life has been a touch hectic as of late. I will not bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that my weekends have been so unrelaxing recently, that I have actually been looking forward to the work week!!!!!!!!!!! That should give you some idea of the scope of my personal hell.

Enough bitching, on to the recipe-ing...not a word I know, but I'm going with it.

My all time favorite dessert is this simple little recipe known by the frenchies as creme anglaise, or if you're a good englishman/american, custard. Really, it is ice cream that hasn't been frozen, so if you have an ice cream maker, this will be a very versatile recipe for you. My favorite way to eat it is over stewed rhubarb (like a good brit), but you can put it over bread pudding, clafoutis, muffins, berries, really anything you want to make less healthy. It is after all a mix of dairy, sugar, and egg, but as the great (in some senses of the word) Julia Child said "everything in moderation, even moderation".

AND SO........................


1 1/2 c whole milk

1/2 c half & half
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 cup sugar
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature

1)Put your milk in a saucepan over low heat. Scrape the vanilla bean into it.

2)Whisk together your sugar and eggs

3)Bring milk up to just a light simmer (gently gently bubbling for the culinarily challenged out there)

4)Temper your milk mixture into your egg mixture. This is done by simply SLOWLY drizzling some of the warm milk mixture into the cold egg mixture while whisking vigorously. This prevents the egg from cooking and becoming scrambled eggs surrounded by sugary milk. NOT as appetizing trust me.

5)Return the now milk & egg mixture to your saucepan over medium low heat and stir constantly (CONSTANT VIGILANCE as Mad Eye would say) until the sauce is this enough to coat the back of a spoon without running (this is called nappe in classic cookery, I think I've explained this before, and at some point I will stop explaing this step and just say until nappe, and hope that you've read some earlier blogs)

6)Pass through a fine strainer just to be sure you haven't had any little bits of cooked egg occur and serve immediately, or cool and refrigerate for later.

Like I said, you can pour this on top of just about any dessert and it's good. To flavor it up a bit, try adding almond extract (a touch), grand marnier (a few touches, and save some for the chef), or get a little bit more creative and use passion fruit juice, mango puree, fresh pureed berries, whatever tickles your fancy really. Odds are it'll come out fairly tasty, and will probably taste good on whatever dessert your preparing. Just don't complain to me when your ouzo flavored creme anglaise did not go well with your artichoke and sardine pie.....stay within reason folks.

Happy custarding!!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Noush's newest request

Another one of the world's most underappreciated foods..........beets. My sister asked me to teach her how to cook these earthly little balls of deliciousness, and I am now happily obliging. I cook mine slightly differently than some, and this is by no means the only way....just the best way. I have had lots of practice doing this as it is my darling wife's favorite lunch, and I think i put them on every single menu I ever wrote in some form or another. This method will work whether you are using candy stripes, golden, or classic red beets, just vary the cooking time if you are using one of the smaller varieties. And now...........

Basic Roasted Beets

3 lbs beets, roots trimmed

2 tblsp clover honey

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cardamom seeds

2 tblps sugar

1/4 c sherry or white balsamic vinegar

1/2 c water

1)Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place beets and all other ingredients in deep baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil.

2)Roast for 90-120 minutes, or until beets are just tender enough to piece with a toothpick. Times will vary depending on size of beet, so ideally, cook beets that are basically the same size.

3)Put on some rubber gloves. These are good for two reasons:1)They prevent you from staining your hands neon red from the beet juice (this can lead to awkward questions if you get pulled over recently after cooking, trust me) 2)It helps insulate your hands so that you can peel the beets. Their skin comes off easier the warmer they are.

4)Rub the skin with your hands. It should basically just slough off.

5)Enjoy your beets.

**There are many ways to enjoy beets, here are a few:

1)Cut them into wedges. Toss them with some bitter salad greens and torn basil leaf. Dress all of this with balsamic, olive oil, and a hint of truffle oil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with goat cheese crostini (see earlier blog). This is probably the most classic way.

2)Slice them into thin circles. Lay them overlapping around a plate. Squeeze of lemon, drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle of sea salt, touch of pepper et voila.........BEET CARPACCIO

3)Dice your beets and use them in either a mixed vegetable saute, or with potatoes to make "flannel hash". For the latter, parboil some cubed potatoes, then brown them in butter. Toss in your diced beets and warm through. Season with salt and pepper. This makes a great side dish for a steak for anyone interested.

Anyway, that's what I got for beets....hope y'all enjoy.

First rule in roadside beet sales, put the most attractive bets on top. The ones that make you pull the car over and go “wow, I need this beet right now”. Those are the money beets.

-DWIGHT SCHRUTE-best character on the office

The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent, not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.

"Tom Robbins