Have torch will fire

March 13, 2009

Many of my gender have a fascination with shoes. Take my sister, Cindy, she lusts after them, owns a bazillion of them, and will try on four to five with every outfit. She will scrunch and distort her feet, all for the sake of fashion. She can often be found teetering on 3 inch heels as she looks down on the little people below. At a size 13 shoe, I am very envious of her ability to slip into any sandal, sling, slipper, sneaker, or scuba flipper that comes here way. I imagine if Prince Charming walked into a room, he would have taken one look at the size of our feet and proclaimed my sister Queen, without the formality of a try on.

Alas, my obsession had to be focused on something less size specific. As usual, I found my comfort in the confines of my kitchen. My cabinets, pantries, and drawers try to conceal my secret, but each one of them is bulging at the seams of kitchen gadgets. Pasta rollers, potato ricers, cookie scoops, cake decorating tips, garlic presses, chocolate curlers; they all live in my kitchen. My latest gadget ironically came from my sister. I think it is an effort to keep my fixated to my obsession so I don’t try to shove my size 13s into her beautiful shoes.

My latest gadget is my kitchen torch. The little piece of kitchen real estate is quickly becoming my favorite thing in the world.  “Oh, you have a marshmallow that needs browning for your S’More? I can help with that!” “What is that you say, you have no way of browning the meringue on your Baked Alaska? Step aside, I got this!” I wield my torch with the expertise and precision of a culinary superhero able to cause fires at will.

Alex says the power has gone to my head. He claims my ability to produce fire on command has clouded my judgment. He may have reached this conclusion on Valentine’s Day when I lit a napkin on fire and burnt sugar into liquid magma into one of our bowls. However, I respectively disagree. I understand that with great power comes great responsibility; but frankly, I am still in the learning curve so everyone be careful.

 Crème Bruleeimg_0048a1

 Once again, we are going to call upon my Food Network husband, Tyler Florence for this recipe. This custard is creamy and flavorful. It has the perfect snap of the sugary topping that is required with a Crème Brulee. We went with the traditional vanilla but I am sure his other variations would be delicious as well. We also thirded the recipe and made 3 brulees. Alex and I score the recipe a 9.

 Tips:

  • If you don’t have superfine sugar, take regular sugar and pulse it in the food processor for 30 seconds.
  • It is better to create two layers of sugary containment. Lay down ½ a tablespoon of sugar and fire that then sprinkle the remaining ½ tablespoon over the hardened sugar and fire again. This creates that snap but keeps you from burning the sugar.

 Ingredients

  • 9 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup superfine white sugar plus 6 tablespoons
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean img_0039a1

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream together egg yolks and sugar with a whisk until the mixture is pale yellow and thick.

Pour cream into a medium saucepan over low heat. Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean down the middle, scrape out the seeds and add them to saucepan. Bring cream to a brief simmer, do not boil or it will overflow. Remove from heat and temper the yolks by gradually whisking the hot vanilla cream into yolk and sugar mixture. Do not add hot cream too quickly or the eggs will cook.

Divide custard into 6 (6-ounce) ramekins, about 3/4 full. Place ramekins in a roasting pan and fill pan with enough water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until barely set around the edges, about 40 minutes. You may want to cover loosely with foil to prevent browning. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Transfer the ramekins to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hoimg_0059a1urs. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar on top of each chilled custard. Hold a kitchen torch 2 inches above surface to brown the sugar and form a crust. Garnish with cookies and fresh fruit. Serve at once.

Variation: Before dividing into ramekins: add 3 ounces of shaved dark chocolate for chocolate creme brulee; add 4 slices of crystallized ginger for ginger creme brulee; add 3 slices of orange peel for orange creme brulee. Let steep 20 minutes to infuse the flavor. Strain out the ginger and orange peel before baking.

He is a fruit killer

January 22, 2009

We use to have a mini shopping cart on the counter that stored our “keep out of the fridge” fruits and vegetables. I say use to because it has been deemed an unsafe zone for the perfect, innocent, not harming anyone produce. It turned anything that lived in its metal cage was turned into prey waiting for its killer. The tomatoes, avocados, apples, banana, and even potatoes would spend their lives in fear being taunted by their would be assassin. spike-012a

He had no concern for their livelihood, no care for their perfect unblemished flesh; he thought only one of thing: their destruction. He would torture his victims, throw them on the floor, rip open their skin, and carry their carcasses around the house leaving their pulpy juicy goodness in his wake. Yes, many a piece of produce has been carried home so thoughtfully from the store to only then be destroyed by the menacing horror that is Spike.

Even when they are under my watchful protection, it is still not enough. I lost one of these beautiful apples while trying to turn them into warm, buttery apple dumpling goodness. I turned my back for one second to get a peeler and it was gone. I found it lying next to Spike on the floor. Three perfect teeth marks, into its crown, oozing juice. And the murderer, he just sat there, completely stoic, licking his lips.

I think Alex put him up to these mindless massacres in an effort to make this a vegetable free house. I will not yield to their pressure. The fruits and vegetables have a new home now and the shopping cart will serve as a reminder of these tragedies.

Apple Dumplings apple-dumplings-032a1

This recipe comes from the amazing Pioneer Woman. If you have not checked out her blog, you must I promise you will enjoy.

While the ingredients for these dumplings may not be traditional, the taste of this dessert is amazing. The croissants get nice and toasty on the top and the bottom become this mixture of buttery, sugary awesomeness that you will want to spoon over everything.

I rate this a 9 (because it is not friendly to the hips) and Alex a 10 and that after he realizes there is fruit in it so it must be good.

Ingredients

apple-dumplings-002a1

One of the lucky ones

2 Granny Smith Apples

2 cans of Refrigerated Croissants

8 oz Mountain Dew

2 sticks of butter melted

1 ½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cinnamon

1. Peel and core the Granny Smith apples.

2. Cut the apples into 8 slices.
3. Butter a 9x 13 baking dish.

4. Roll the croissants around each apple slice. I like to make sure the apple slice its covered by its doughy cocoon but it is not necessary.

5. Place the covered apple slices into the buttered dish. Arrange in a single layer in rows. apple-dumplings-012a I made half  a recipe and placed in a round baking dish.

6. Melt two sticks of butter.

7. Add the sugar to the butter and barely stir.

8. Add the vanilla to the butter/sugar mixture and barely stir. You want the mixture to be bumpy and grainy.

9. Pour the mixture over the apples. You want to make sure all the apples are covered.

10. Pour the 8oz of Mountain Dew around the outside of the pan. Just covering the edges of the apples.

11. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

12. Top with ice cream if you like and enjoy the heck out of them.