Sunday, October 19, 2008

Another One

This morning Atlanta Journal-Constitution endorsed Barack Obama for President. Just thought you would like to know.

Another glorious fall weekend though a little cooler here in Georgia. It dropped into the mid forties for the first time. Lots of stuff to do around the old homestead again today and perfect weather for outdoor work.

Madam Monk's birthday yesterday and we fixed her requested lamb chops. Rolled out the Hibachi and got blistering hot fire. Excellent. These particular lamb chops came from Iceland of all places and I think that is the first time I have ever had any food from Iceland. For dessert we also had the requested creme caramel which were also superb. Creme caramel and lamb chops are remnants from Madam's childhood when she and here parents were in Greece. When they first arrived and before they found a house to rent they stayed in the Pentelican Hotel and the only thing on the hotel restaurant menu that suited her were the lamb chops and the flan(creme caramel). She had them for dinner every night they were there.

Here is my recipe for creme caramel or flan or pots du creme...whatever.

You will need 8 4 oz ramekins or 4 6 ounce.
put a kettle of water on to boil
prepare a shallow baking pan for the bain-marie by lining with a tea towel ( this will be for the water bath to cook the custards. Turn your oven on to 300 degrees F.

For the caramel

1 cup of granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of water in a small sauce pan.
Heat this mixture over fairly high heat until it just starts to brown. You will know when it almost ready as the foaming will stop. Careful as there is just a small difference between caramel and burnt sugar so you have to watch it carefully. Just as it darkens remove it from the heat and carefully pour about two teaspoons into the bottom of each ramekin. Swirl the ramekin a bit to spread the caramel around the bottom. Be careful with this blazing hot sugar as it will cause awful burns.

While the caramel cools in the ramekins make the custard.
1 pint or 2 cups of half and half
1/3 cup of granulated sugar
pinch of salt
dash of vanilla extract (optional but I like a wee bit)
pinch of nutmeg
2 whole large eggs and 2 large egg yolks

beat the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg and vanilla with a whisk until it is light and bright yellow(2 - 3 minutes). add the half and half and whisk until well mixed. Strain this mixture through a wire sieve into a large cup measure or pitcher to make sure there are no lumps of egg and then fill your caramel prepared ramekins. Place the filled ramekins in the prepared shallow pan and fill with the heated water until it comes up about 1/2 way the sides of the ramekins. Bake in the center of a 300 degree oven in the bain-marie for about 40 minutes or until they are almost firm. The center should just still wiggle a bit. Take them out and let them cool for a half hour. You can serve them warm, room temperature or chilled.
To serve them dip the bottom of the ramekins in warm water for a minute then slide a thin knife around the edges of the custard. Invert the ramekins onto a small plate. The caramel will have formed a light sweet syrup and there will be a spot of it on top of the inverted custard while the rest will run down the sides and pool in the dish. A simple but very sophisticated dessert.

You can use whole cream, plain whole milk or even reduced fat milk for these but I think the half and half is a nice compromise. If you use milk they will require a little longer cooking and if you use cream then somewhat less.

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