Anne Else, gourmande. I write about the food I love to make and eat, where it comes from, and anything else to do with food that takes my fancy or drives me to drink.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
The path to creme caramel
Last week I had the luxury of a live-in caregiver for Harvey, the wonderful Marjorie. The idea was for them to get used to each other and what needs to be done while I roamed happily around Wellington. With the willing co-operation of friends booked in to keep me company, it all worked very well, from ....
Petone, and GoBang's rhubarb and custard brioche, to...
Willis St, and Cafe Neo's mini cupcake - I love it when you can have something delicious but small - to...
Porirua, and Pataka's chewy apricot slice...
Brilliant exhibitions at Pataka, go and see them. Two are by women, and "SHEEP - NZ Icons in Art" features lots of work by women too. The one that struck home for me was the "triple portrait", the heads of three raggedy, venerable sheep, all looking haggard and angry, painted in sinister shadings of green and magenta. It's called "The Mothers".
So after all that, I was quite happy to stay home this weekend and do some cooking. For ages I've been yearning after creme caramel, but I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to boiling sugar. So I use a clever microwave version from a really good book Harvey's mother Betty passed on to us in 1989, when she got it as a free gift from Reader's Digest. (She didn't need it because she didn't have a microwave, but her neighbour did. So when Betty gave her one of the ducks Harvey's brother had shot, the neighbour tried to cook it in her fancy new oven. The lead shot exploded, destroying both the duck and the microwave.)
Creme caramel (from Good Housekeeping Microwave Encyclopedia, by Susanna Tee)
For the caramel:
3 tablespoons caster sugar
3 tablespoons water
round or oval ceramic dish which holds 750 ml
Mix in a glass jug and microwave on high for 5 minutes until the caramel turns brown. Watch it very carefully - I gave mine 4 minutes, then 30 second bursts and finally 10 seconds. Stop as soon as the sugar begins to darken. Pour the caramel immediately into the bottom of the dish.
For the creme:
450 ml full milk (not trim) in larger glass jug
2 tablespoons caster sugar
natural vanilla essence
Microwave milk on high for 90 seconds, just to warm it.
Lightly beat the eggs with the sugar.
Add the eggs and sugar to the milk and mix in a few drops of vanilla essence. (Or, if you have a vanilla bean, you can heat the seeds with the milk.)
Strain the milk and egg mixture carefully over the caramel.
Cover with two layers of cling film and place in a larger dish which will fit in the microwave.
Using a jug and a funnel, pour boiling water into the larger dish until it comes halfway up the smaller dish.
Microwave for at least 25 minutes until the custard is lightly set. My recipe says to do this on low, but that didn't seem to be hot enough to set the custard, so I used medium low instead.
Leave to stand for 5 minutes. Remove the dish from the water, take off the cling film and leave to stand for 30 minutes.
Refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours until set.
I didn't even try to turn this out, as I'd used an oval dish. I just started eating it straight out of the dish. I could do this because Harvey doesn't like it, so it was mine, all mine. It was a bit too wobbly still, but it tasted and felt exactly as it should, slippery creamy blobs of custard bathed in golden caramel. It should serve four, but I ate half of it yesterday and I'm going to finish it off tonight.
What I had for dinner - a real-life list of everyday food
Quite a good run lately. Ready-cooked chook instant "roast" with baked veges on Thursday, potato and vege curry with bits of leftover chicken on Friday, pea and ham soup on Saturday, terakihi in a chili crumb coating with leftover curry and brown rice tonight.
Pride goes before a fall - all very well to boast about dinner parties, but lately it's been much less exciting. A pretty slapdash parade of dinners. Chicken curry for three nights (I made a big one on purpose), interspersed with quick basic fish-in-microwave (1 minute for terakihi) and other basic no-brainers like home-made pizza and bacon and egg pie. But for tonight there's a beef casserole in the slow cooker - that should do two dinners, though with Jonathan I might well be wrong about that. Well, he is 6ft 2in.
I don't mean to boast at all, but I had three three-course dinner parties the week before last. They all worked very well. See lemon tart and cheesecake posts. The other nights we lived very well on the leftovers.
Sunday: Terakihi, sald and potatoes.
Saturday: Chicken bolognese - I'll put up the recipe next week.
Sun 24: Courgette and potato fritters, bacon, red cabbage salad.
Sat 23: Out to friends for a terrific dinner: pate, then prosciutto with tomatoes, avocado, pesto; lamb rack with crispy potatoes, little yellow carrots, baby beets, courgettes, mint sauce, gravy; little cheesecakes with mango slices; superb cheese and slices of pear; chocolates and fruity panforte. Bliss.
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