Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pumpkin Creme Brulee

I love the holiday season, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. All those sweets and traditional foods, yet there are times when a tradition calls for an update. About four years ago my husband swapped out old traditional Stove Top Stuffing that I grew up with for a Ciabatta, Chestnut, Prosciutto, stuffing, and needless to say we have never gone back. I mean seriously, high quality, super flavor ingredients for a box of shriveled up pieces of what is supposedly bread? There is no comparison.

This year’s swap came in the dessert department. Every year we have to have Apple Pie for my daughter. For some reason it's not Thanksgiving without Apple Pie for her, I don't really think Apple Pie screams Thanksgiving for many people (not to me at least aside from her association) but what does say Thanksgiving dessert to many, many people is Pumpkin Pie.

When I was younger I was always a Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving dessert girl.  Now that I am older and can (and do) make Pumpkin Pie in the fall it feels kind of like a repeat at Thanksgiving. I know I could just not make it in October but really, I have no will power.

Enter the new Thanksgiving dessert.... ta da da daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.... Pumpkin Crème Brulee. Yum! I really didn't make any changes to the recipe, and I have no idea what size my crème brulee cups are, but this did not come close to making 8 of any size, so I've adjusted the serving to six, but honestly I think it might be more like 4. I tried to make 8 and they came out very thin, too thin. Next time I will fill them twice as full and just make the four.  Note to readers... my 18 month old literally licked his plate on this one.

Pumpkin Crème Brulee
Adapted from Emeril


2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar, plus 4 teaspoons
8 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Arrange 4 (6, or even 8 if you know how big your cups are) (1/2-cup) ramekins or custard cups in a large metal baking pan.

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Bring to a bare simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until frothy and lemon-colored. Slowly add 3/4 cup of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture to the remaining hot cream, and whisk. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin, and whisk until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Divide among the prepared custard cups.

Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the custards are just set in the center but not stiff, 45 minutes to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Sprinkle each custard with 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining sugar. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar. (Alternately, preheat the broiler, and broil until the sugar melts and caramelizes, watching closely to avoid burning and rotating the cups, about 1 to 2 minutes.) Place on small dessert plates and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bobby Long... Food for the soul

I haven't cooked anything so I have nothing to post.  However despite not feeding my body (or family... oops) I did a little heart and soul feeding this weekend.  Gregg and I went to see Bobby Long play in Kansas City.  That unassuming, charming young man up there is almost solely responsible for my playing guitar.  I was listening to some of his music when he caved to his friends and played a cover of Bob Dylan's Don't Think Twice.  I am a huge Dylan fan but when you combine that with a much younger, better looking Brit... well.... everything is better with a British accent no?  Well there was no cracking at this show.  Not even when Yours Truly yelled out that he should play it.  Did I mention the show was delayed and we were there having drinks or a total of FIVE HOURS before he came on stage? 

So this photo is actually from Nashville back in April, because we saw  him at the Record Bar while in KC, and the Record Bar is very dark, insanely dark... pitch black dark aside from some orange back track lighting (true story).  My camera was not a fan of the location.

He played some of his new music which was awesome and a little more kickass than some of his older stuff, (not that I don't love most of his stuff, because I do).  You will too, you should check him out.  Seriously... there is no recipe here... get off and go look him up.  You can listen to him free on myspace, or buy his stuff on itunes, I recommend buying it.  Let me know if you become a convert, I am keeping track of how many people I can turn on to his music.  So far I have personally created 5 freaks that I know about, and infected the Hawaiin islands with Bobby Long-lust as well.

PS... the loving husband talked Mr. Long's  very funny manager, Phil, into having Bobby come out after the show to meet me, and sign my guitar strap.  Love it. You're dismissed.... go, google, enjoy!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Who likes Indian? Raise your left nostril!

I have been missing my friend Dharini a lot lately.  She moved to Canada a few months back to be with her charming husband, but there is an emptiness here where she used to be.  There is also an emptiness in my tummy!  I miss her food (she is from India and an excellent cook and was always gracious and kind and shared... yum).  However, she did attempt to teach me a few dishes and with that confidence I found this recipe and had to try it. 

Rava Dosas are from Southern India and can be filled with a variety of things or so I understand.  They can easily be gluten-free by substituting half and half rice and lentil flour instead of the third mixture for the rice, wheat, and semolina flours which I read is actually what they are normally made with, but this recipe said they are traditionally made with semolina, I'm more apt to believe the former but it doesn't matter because they were tasty.  (Don't quote me on this, I haven't given it a shot, but if you're gluten-free you probably already know tricks around this.  I will experiment next time and get back to you).

When I made them I omitted the jalapeño  because I wanted the little guy to be able to eat them, and while he likes spicy food I was afraid that would be too spicy.  It turns out that the recipe needed that jalapeño.  It wasn't nearly spicy enough for our crew, we will definitely be kicking this up another notch, but it's probably perfect for a  normal person that doesn't like their food to hurt them.  Oh well next time... which probably won't be too far in the future.

Think of these as a giant Indian soft serve taco.

Rava Dosas with Potato Chickpea Masala
adapted from Gourmet November 2009

Rava dosas—savory, crisp-edged crêpes popular in South India—are typically made from semolina and rice flours. Stuff them with hearty vegetables cooked in a blend of spices, chile, garlic, and ginger.

Makes 4 servings


For masala filling:

1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1/3 cup dried grated unsweetened coconut
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 (3-inch) fresh jalapeño, coarsely chopped, including seeds
1 (2 1/2-inch) piece peeled ginger, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups water, divided
1 large onion, chopped (about 3 cups)
1 (15-to 19-ounces) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup frozen peas (do not thaw)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

For rava dosas:

1/2 cup semolina flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
Vegetable oil for brushing


Make Masala filling:

Peel potatoes and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer to a bowl and cover with cold water.

Toast coconut in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and wipe out skillet. Toast cumin seeds in skillet over medium heat, shaking skillet frequently, until fragrant and just a shade darker, about 30 seconds. Transfer to another small bowl. Reserve skillet.

Purée jalapeño, ginger, and garlic in a blender with curry powder, cinnamon, turmeric, oil, 1/4 cup water, and 1 teaspoon salt until smooth. Transfer purée to skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until thickened slightly, about 1 minute. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 8 minutes.

Drain potatoes, then add to onion mixture with cumin seeds and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are barely tender, about 10 minutes.

Add chickpeas and remaining 1 1/2 cups water, scraping up any brown bits, then briskly simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, 16 to 20 minutes more. Add peas and cook, covered, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in toasted coconut and cilantro.

Make dosas while potatoes cook:

Whisk flours, cumin seeds, salt, and water in a bowl.

**Generously brush a 12-inch nonstick skillet with oil and heat over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Pour 1/2 cup batter into skillet, swirling until bottom is coated. Cook, undisturbed, until dosa is set and edges are golden, about 2 minutes. Flip using a rubber spatula and cook dosa until underside is golden in spots, about 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate. Make more dosas with remaining batter, stacking and covering loosely with foil to keep warm. To serve, spoon masala filling into dosas.

Cooks' note:

Masala filling, without coconut and cilantro, can be made 6 hours ahead and chilled. Reheat before stirring in coconut and cilantro.

** The biggest complaint people had with this recipe was that making the crepe was difficult.  The batter is super thin and can cause some problems.  Too much oil and it will not cook properly, too little and it will stick.  For my small pan I found that 1/2 teaspoon of oil then brushed around the pan was perfect.  Also pour your batter in and DO NOT TOUCH for longer than you think.  I had the bubbles on the first cooked side and then smooth on the top.  I think I had to let my first side cook for about 4 minutes not 2, but I had my heat a little lower because I burned one.  When it is ready it should basically come right up when you put the spatula under the edge.  DO NOT FLIP until the edges are crispy, or it will be a mess.   Good luck.

Proof that Kids will eat them

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Vegetarian Potato Leek Soup (or not)

I have a secret.  I wish I had the willpower to be a vegetarian.  I LOVE most vegetarian food, and when I go out to restaurants I try to order vegetarian food because it always tastes so good, and I didn't have to cook it, or listen to complaints from the teenager for daring to serving something vegetable based. 

When I lived in Vermont there was a vegetarian restaurant called The Horn of the Moon Cafe in Montpelier.  The restaurant is gone now but the cookbook lives on.  This was one of my first cook books that I purchased while in college, and living as a vegetarian (it was short lived).  I used to make this soup once a week in huge batches and freeze it.  It tastes the same out of the freezer as it does fresh.  I will admit to you up front that when I went to make the soup I was still getting over the flu and when I opened the pantry I found beef stock and no vegetable stock so mine isn't vegetarian but I almost think it taste better with vegetable stock.  Either way, it's warm and filling and fantastic with fresh bread to clean the bottom of your bowl when you're done, it's so much more refined than licking it clean.


Potato Leek Soup
Horn of the Moon


6 cups of water or stock
6 cups diced potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (washed well and just the white part)
1 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
1 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons unbleached white flour (leave out for gluten-free it will still be thick)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley


Bring water or stock to a boil in a soup pot.  Add potatoes.  Cover and cook until tender (20 to 25 minutes).  Turn off heat.

In a 10-inch fry pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter and sauté the leeks, celery, thyme, and dill weed until the leeks are well coated with butter.  Cover and cook on low heat until the leeks are tender (10 to 15 minutes).  Add to the potatoes and broth.  Blend in a blender, if you want lumpy soup only puree about 2/3rds of the vegetables.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

In the same pan in which the leeks were sautéed, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, then add the flour.  Brown for 1 minute on low heat.  Whisk in cream and turn off heat.  Add to the soup, then add parsley.  Simmer 10 to 15 minutes, uncovered. 

If you're leftover soup gets too thick add a little more water or stock to thin it out as you reheat it.