Friday, March 07, 2014

Chai Creme Brulee

Was walking home from the Market a month ago with some chai tea powder from the tea store. Is smelled so amazing that I immediately started thinking about the best way to make this into a dessert. First thing that popped into my mind - Chai Creme Brulee.
When I got everything mixed together I realized I had only 1 ramekin. ONE! For those that know me, that is just weird. Started scanning the kitchen (as I had guest coming over shortly and no time to go find some) and spotted my grandmothers teacups that I never use.
Use them all the time now!


4 cups whip cream
2 to 3 tablespoons chai tea mix
4 whole eggs
4 egg yolks (make coconut macaroons with the egg whites) -or 2 two whole eggs if you prefer
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon chai spice powder (with no tea)

kettle of boiling water

For the sugar lid:
1/2 cup sugar
few tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 300°

1. Combine whip cream and chai tea mix in a heavy bottomed pot and bring to a simmer. Keep on low for 5 minutes to let the tea steep.
2. In a bowl combine 4 eggs and 4 egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla, stir to mix. If you prefer, you could substitute 2 whole eggs instead of the 4 yolks - I prefer the texture of the brule with the extra fat from the yolks. Your call. 
3. After the cream has steeped, stir a little of the hot cream into the egg mixture, whisking as you add the cream. Continue diluting the eggs with cream until you have used about 1/2 the cream, then dump the egg mixture into the pot of remaining cream - whisking steadily.
4. Stir in the chai tea powder and then strain the lot through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl or measuring cup. Ladle the liquid into ramekins (usually 8 to 10 4 oz ramekins) or 7 to 8 teacups (depending on size).
5. Place the teacups into a 3 inch deep dish that can hold them all.Slowly pour about 1/2 the kettle of water into the bottom of the pan to a water bath. This will help cook the custard very gently. Place the dish in the oven, top up with remaining water until the ramekins/cups are at least half covered with water....two thirds is even better. Bake at 300 for 45 minutes, checking from 30 minutes on to see if they have set around the edges but are still a little jiggly in the middle.
6. Remove the ramekins/cups from the water bath and let cool for a few hours (in front of an open window in the winter works very well!) or better yet, in the fridge overnight.
7. About 20 to 30 minutes before serving make the sugar glaze on the stove - because I don't have a blow torch - by combining water and sugar in a heavy bottomed sauce pan set on low. Let the water/sugar warm until the sugar has dissolved, then turn the heat up to medium high and boil until the sugar turns amber. It is smokin' hot at this point and if you spill any on yourself or small humans it is going to HURT (hospital hurt!), so be careful. Remove from the heat and using a spoon, attempt to apply a very thin glaze of the dangerous amber liquid over the top of all the custards. Let set, and serve.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Bannock Burgers

I love bannock.  Warm, crunchy-ish on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, simple and sublime. Down home and, well ... downtown, it appears.

Never make it, rarely eat it, but LOVE bannock! - plain, with jam or cinnamon and sugar. Last night my friend K made a big batch of it to use instead of hamburger buns. I was deeply concerned about this, (although didn't want to say anything K!) for two reasons.
One, I would not be allowed to eat a crap load of them while still burning hot, damp with oil and drippy with jam.
Two, manners dictated that I had to wait till we ate them as a group in the form of burger buns. 

The wait was painful.

The burgers - divine!

I forgot to mention, we put rhubarb jam on the burgers...a perfect flavour foil to everything.  (oooooh, very nice pun there, if I do say so myself!)

Worth the wait - thanks all for the great dinner and fine company!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Snap goes the lid, Crackle goes the toast and Pop goes the caviar

It is good to go out with a bang, or in this case, a buttery pop.

Let me preface this with a little history. Last year was a year of change. I finally finished going to school, got an office job (weird!) and we had to adjust to me working full time. Whew.

Well, this year is going to be another year of change, with G finally able to take a year off. His last story of the year will go to air Tuesday. Every story that takes him out of town has a ripple effect around here. Well, this one had few ripples and a unexpected bonus!


Yes, it is being served with white toast. Yes, we are eating bread again, but not so much. (In case you are wondering, our no white food diet was a success and we liked just takes a bit of work in terms of organizing groceries, and our kids didn't like it)

Back to the caviar. It comes from a sturgeon farm on the Sunshine Coast, called Northern Divine. The place has been breeding white sturgeon from the Fraser River for about 10 years. It is a sustainable source of caviar that does not effect the endangered sturgeon in the Fraser (which is a good thing since we have been taking part in tagging sturgeon for research and protection - see below)

I cannot compare it to Russian caviar, for those of you well versed in these things, because it has been over a dozen years since I had any. Comparisons can be so boring anyway. That said, this caviar has a lovely buttery flavour, with a soft taste reminiscent of the sea. It also had a gentle pop to it. It was good on toast, but my favourite way of eating it is with blini, creme fraiche, and perhaps a snippet of garden fresh chive.

We have one more jar to eat before long, and you can be sure I'll be flippin' blini for that!

Sturgeon tagging - his one was 6 feet long!
A juvenile - both of them!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Cookin' Beans and Breakfasts

Not the best focus going on here - another shot of obsidian dark beluga lentils (the picture doesn't do them justice - I love these lentils), a heritage piebald bean (can't remember what it is) and the golden zuni bean.

How to cook beans, and a photo collection on breakfasts

Get a big pot of water going – 3 to 5 quarts/litres. Throw in 3 cups of any bean or lentil. Or throw in a bit more – or less. Remember that cooking times differ for the size and type of bean or lentil. Generally French green lentils take about 20 minutes, white navy beans take about 40 to 50 minutes, while black turtle beans take about a half an hour.
That said, if the beans are old, they take longer to cook. I think most dried beans are really old. Maybe I am the only one who buys them around here.
So those times are not much help.
Cook whatever legume you have chosen at a slow simmer. Throw in a bay leaf and whole peeled cloves of garlic. You can also throw in a few sprigs of thyme if you like. A chili pepper too, if you want a little heat. Leave the chili whole so you can pull it out easily. Do not add salt.
Cook until tender. Then, throw in a teaspoon or so of salt. This kind of firms up the skin and seems holds the bean together a bit. I have made that up – but that seems to be how it works, so that’s what I think you should do. No matter, the legumes always taste better with the salt.
Drain in a colander, take out the twiggy bits, and if you like, drizzle with a nice quality balsamic vinegar. The warm beans suck up the vinegar – the better the vinegar, the more divine the results.Also, if you happen to have a thwack of butter soft, roasted (or oil simmered - see an ancient post on cooking garlic in oil on the stove) garlic, smash it up a bit and stir that into the beans. 
By the way, one should always have a bit of butter soft, caramel coloured roasted garlic around. Get on it!
Then you can toss these beans into whatever you like. At this stage I usually use a handful in something then pop the rest in the fridge to use for breakfast, soups, salads….

Here are some breakfast photos demonstrating how I throw breaky together. Between my hunger and the steam they are shite shots.

This is a poached egg over kale, bacon and a splash of balsamic

Easy over egg with white navy beans (tossed in tons of smashed roasted garlic) and spinach. That is my long double espresso with cream - also part of my slimming regime.

Turkey sausages (from Oyama - the best!) with white beans (see above) and a really good salad mix of baby kale-like greens...chard, spinach and other unknown greens. They carried this at my grocer for about 2 weeks, now its gone!

This is another easy over egg over spinach and crumbled falafal - I like this for a change from beans. I keep them on hand for snacks too.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

This is about one tenth of my pantry ingredients, and most of the items pictured are not even from the list I just posted.
I've been under the weather for the last few days so have fallen behind. The following post is about what I use in the pantry regularly for my new year eats and the fresh ingredients I stock up on at the beginning of the week.  

Important pantry items

High end balsamic vinegar - you should be able to use it straight out of the bottle into the salad, no mixing. My favorite for the price is from William Sonoma, $40 for 459ml.
Cheap balsamic vinegar – this is for cooking and making bulk salad dressing
Grapeseed oil
Olive oil
Assorted dried herbs
Chili flakes
Chili powder
Dijon mustard
Assorted dried beans
Assorted canned beans (for quick or unplanned meals)
Pepper (whole, ground through peppermill at will in an ideal world)
Tomato sauce

Fresh Ingredients to have on hand regularly (I will have in brackets what I usually go through in a week)
Beets (4)
Onions (5 or 6)
Carrots (2lbs)
Celery root (1)
Fresh fennel (1)
Lettuce (2)
Kale (1)
Savoy cabbage (1)
Red, orange and/or yellow peppers
Spinach(I buy bagged prewashed spinach because I hate washing spinach. I will often wash it again because I also hate gritty spinach. At the same time, I love spinach, and we go through 2 large bags a week, sometimes more when I cook it down)

The fresh ingredients are what I use regularly for salads, soups, tomato sauce and any braised dish. My base for tomato sauce and soup (minus the tomatoes) is a blend of sautéed onions, fennel, carrots, celery root and garlic.
My daily, workhorse salad is mixed greens (often including spinach) generously laden with grated carrot, grated beets, finely sliced fennel, sliced cabbage, diced peppers, chopped tomato and anything else kickin’ around that might taste good. Items like peppers and tomatoes are subject to price and if they look like they might taste good. This time of year they are often with-held from the salad.
This is a basic list. My pantry is actually embarrassingly overstocked. But the above list are the things that come to mind on a daily basis, many if not most you likely already have (I will understand if you don’t have the crazy expensive balsamic – it is a decadent item. Don’t invest in it unless you are feeling flush. Most of the recipes I’m going to have here will use the less expensive –read cheap – vinegar).
Let me know what you find indispensable in your pantry!

Work horse salad dressing
1/3 ratio of cheap balsamic to 1/3 grapeseed oil, to 1/3 olive oil (all olive oil sometimes makes the dressing to heavy tasting)
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
generous pinch or two of dried herbs - lately I've been using and Italian mix
salt and pepper
minced or grated clove of garlic

Put into a bottle, shake furiously, let sit for a little while for flavours to meld and soften - use. I fill up my recycled bottle to the top and it lasts a week, give or take a day. 

Here is a snapshot of the dressing with a glimpse of my kitchen for those who haven't been here.

Next post will be about cooking beans in advance so you are always ready to dramatically toss them into anything you are preparing. Oh yes, and how to make them taste good. 

Thursday, January 05, 2012

This is G's breakfast, the more modest portion, without the bacon
This is my more manly sized breakfast, with the bacon chopped and added into the somewhat soupy mess. A very tasty mess I might add.


Throw a generous handful of cooked beans (today I used the last of my zuni beans) into a fry pan with a little olive oil on medium. Toss in a little broth if you have any, or a little bit of the soup from yesterday with a few chunks of vegetables, one minced, grated or pressed clove of garlic. Get hot, toss in 3 to 5 handfuls of spinach. Meanwhile, lightly oil and heat a non-stick fry pan on med-low. Slow cook an egg, (we like easy over). When spinach is wilted, turn mixture onto a plate, top with egg and eat. I added one strip of chopped garlic to my dish, while G had his on the side (not seen in photo). 

This is the finished soup from last night, not the best photo...

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Raw ingredients (except the zuni beans and andouille sausage)

The heritage zuni beans are the ones in the front that are yellowish. The little black numbers are Beluga Lentils, and I cannot remember the name of the piebald ones on the left.
I thought I had better include a soup recipe since I put a soup picture up on facebook. This is what we had for dinner tonight - it is kind of the basic soup which I play around with. The soup pictured on face book was similar to this Winter Soup except instead of andouille sausage I put in leftover ham, instead of chicken I added halibut and prawns. Pretty much the rest of the ingredients were the same. In the case of making it a fish soup, I don't add the fish to the pot, rather, once the soup has cooked, I brown the halibut on both sides, then finish it in the oven. Meanwhile, while the halibut is cooking in the oven I quickly saute the prawns. These two ingredients get put in the soup bowls, then ladle the soup around and over the fish. Voila. The remaining soup can be eaten as is for lunches, or another dinner.

Winter Soup
This recipe is made with a stock I’ve made from roasting two whole chickens for a previous meal. There is a ton of leftover meat, which I also use in the soup, left in as large of pieces as possible. The resulting soup has a super-chunk, hearty look to it. I used a heritage zuni bean that cooked up to a buttery soft bean that really soaked up the flavour of garlic and bay leaf that I always add to the cooking water.

1 onion, diced small
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
1/3 of a large celery root, peeled and diced small
¼ head of fennel, sliced
2 heads garlic, minced
5 sticks green curly kale, stemmed and chopped
¼ head savoy cabbage, sliced
6 inches of andouille sausage, sliced
5 litres chicken stock
Couple of cups chunk-ish pieces of cooked chicken
3 cups cooked white navy beans, or any bean of your choice
garnish with fresh, chopped parley (optional)

Hot Pot:
Throw diced onions, carrots, celery root, fennel, garlic, kale, sausage, stock, chicken and beans into the cooker. Cook on high. Walk away for 3 hours…ka-pow, done, garnish and eat!

The more refined, traditional Soup Pot Method:
Saute the onions and garlic until softened. Add carrots, celery root, fennel, garlic, kale and sausage, stir occasionally, cooking until the vegetables wilt. Add chicken stock, beans and chicken, bring to a simmer. Lower heat and cook for about an hour and a half or until the vegetables are tender. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley.

For us (as in two adults), this is our dinner. If you feel weird just eating soup, make a salad too. I always put bread, butter, cheese and other snacky things for the kids. Better to avoid those if you can. 
This makes a huge pot of soup of which we use for lunches and after school snacks for the next few days.