Monthly Archives: December 2011

French Fridays with Dorie: Crème Brulée

Crème brulée is one of my favorite desserts to order in a restaurant. It had never occurred to me that I could make it at home. Crème brulée was this week’s assignment for French Fridays with Dorie, and, so, the challenge was on.

I’d never made custard before. First, you heat the cream and milk. I chose to do this in the microwave, but lacking experience, I think I should have done it on top of the stove. I didn’t want the milk to boil over, but I wasn’t sure how long it would take. It was hard to see through the glass of the microwave, so I would have been better off just using a pot on the stovetop — much easier to watch.

Then, you whisk together egg yolks and sugar, and gradually add the hot milk until it’s all combined. My custard was overly foamy, even after a lot of rapping the container on the counter, so I skimmed off the layer of foam.

For a new twist on crème brulée, Dorie has you spread a spoonful of jam on the bottom of each dish. I had both raspberry and strawberry jams that I made this summer, so I made 3 with each flavor.

I didn’t have the exactly right-sized dishes for the crème brulée, but used what I had. None of my dishes were quite as wide as the 4 inches suggested, so my custards took longer to cook. Rather than spending an hour in a low oven, my custards needed more like 90 minutes to set. Then, after cooling, the crèmes spent the night in the refrigerator.

The final step, the bruléeing, called for family fun. For some reason, Howard had a butane torch in the basement, so I called on him to conduct the caramelization step. I don’t know whether I layered the sugar on too thick. Initially, the sugar flamed up like roasted marshmallows do, leaving little burnt spots on top. The sugar wasn’t really melting. We watched a couple of YouTube videos to see how it’s done. It worked better when he held the flame closer and moved the flame around faster.

Howard the Torcher

I have to let you in on a secret though. I’m actually the only one at our house that likes custard, so we only tried out one so far. This step will require more practice. The sugar wasn’t quite as crusty as I’ve had at restaurants, but there are 5 more dishes to try this on.

Overall, I liked my home-rendition of crème brulée. I liked the hint of fruit in the bottom of the dish. This would definitely be fun to serve to company, but no one was coming over before Friday. I’ll see if I can share some of the other 5 dishes in the fridge.

I’m looking forward to reading about what my fellow FFwD bloggers thought about this week’s recipe. Check out their links at French Fridays with Dorie. We don’t post the recipes, but consider getting your own copy of Dorie Greenspan’s book, Around My French Table.

Merry Christmas to all, and, to all, a good night!

French Fridays with Dorie: Potato Chip Tortilla

I was absent for the past couple of weeks, so it’s good to be back for French Fridays with Dorie! My excuse was an extended celebration of my 50th birthday. This week’s Potato Chip Tortilla was an easy way to return. Tortilla is Spanish for frittata. Though Dorie recommends this recipe as a light lunch or appetizer, I served this near-instant baked omelet for dinner.

I couldn’t believe how easily this came together. And, the ingredients are things I usually have around. We get a dozen eggs every other week from Howard’s co-worker’s chickens. Miraculously, the sage in my back door herb garden is hanging in there, so was homegrown. And there’s often a near-forgotten bag of chips leftover from a weekend lunch that’s hanging around in the snack drawer.

Here’s what you do: You crush half a bag of potato chips (I used reduced fat chips), then whisk together eggs, scallions, fresh herbs (I used sage and parsley), garlic, and a pinch of red pepper and combine with the chips. Then, you cook the eggs in a small well-oiled cast-iron skillet. The pan I used was about 7 inches which gave nice height to the tortilla. I thought it might be a little tall, so I gave it a few extra minutes and cooked it for about 5 minutes on the stovetop, until mostly set, then it spent a minute or two under the broiler to finish the top. The tortilla slid right out of the pan onto a cutting board, where I cut it in half and served it for dinner with a green salad on the side.

It was a hit! Howard loved it as did I. This would be great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s the perfect thing to use up a leftover bag of potato chips.

Along with not being able to cook with my cyber-friends the past couple of weeks, I’ve missed being able to read their blogs too. You can check out the other Dorista’s posts about their tortillas here. If you’d like the recipe, you’ll have to buy the book, Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. If you don’t have it, it’s the perfect holiday gift for you or your favorite home cook.

I’m looking forward to next week’s recipe, Crème Brulée, my favorite restaurant dessert, but something I’ve never tried at home! Until then, Happy French Friday!