Thursday, February 15, 2007

Valentine's Day Dinner- Creme Brulee

Last night we stayed in for Valentine's Day. As my rant from yesterday states - we went out the night before Valentine's Day for dinner. But just because we weren't going out doesn't mean we weren't planning a nice evening in. Oh contrare. I had a great menu planned. Raw Oysters on the half shell, Rack of Lamb Persille on my signature creamy spinach and for dessert, Creme Brulee. We love Creme Brulee and I figured as an experienced cook, I should be able to handle making it myself. Honestly, I was pretty worried that I'd screw it up.

First off I had to shuck the oysters. I had picked up an oyster knife a while ago because the very first year Tim and I shared Valentine's day I had made oysters and didn't have a proper knife to open them with. So this year I was all set. It isn't that terribly hard. The box of oysters didn't look pretty but only one out of the 14 I shucked was bad. It was easy to tell it was bad because I could smell it before I even got the shell fully open. What a stink! One of the serious advantages of having oysters out in a restaurant - you don't have to deal with the bad oysters. It can ruin your appetite. But we persevered and it was worth it. We had them with a little cocktail sauce and they were great. We also had a bottle of Italian Champagne - Prosecco with it. Oh my god, it was perfect. If you haven't tried this sparkling wine I highly recommend it. Smoooooth

Next we had our rack of lamb. I just drizzled it with lemon juice and rubbed chopped rosemary and bread crumbs on it. I cooked it at 400 for 15 minutes and then reduced the temp to 325 for another 10 minutes. We like it rare but you could cook it longer. I made my signature spinach dish to go with it (I'll enter that recipe as a separate blog entry). We had a nice Shiraz with it.

For dessert we had creme brulee, my first attempt at making it even though I've had all the necessary tools for a couple of years now. You must have a small kitchen torch to make this properly. Although a long lighter may work. It was really easy to do! The ingredients are simple

For 2 Creme Brulee

Just under 1 cup of whipping cream

2 egg yolks

2 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract, the real stuff, not the imitation stuff

Rock sugar or regular to sprinkle on the top.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it starts to simmer. I added in the vanilla with the cream.

Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks and cream in a medium bowl.

Once the cream starts to simmer, take it off the stove and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Add a small amount of the cream to the egg yolk mixture, whisking quickly. This is called tempering the eggs. You are trying to bring them up to temperature without scrambling them. It's really easy.

I then added a little more cream into the eggs a second time just to be sure I wasn't going to scramble them before I added all the cream. Then I added all the cream. All the while whisking away. But try not to whisk in bubble or you'll end up with a bubbly top on your custards (which is what the creme brulees are, a custard)

Pour the mixture into small au gratin dishes for each serving.

Boil a kettle of water. You will put the dishes in a bigger baking dish and then pour the water in the bigger baking dish to a depth of 2/3 up the side of the littler dishes with the creme brulee in it. I put the whole thing on the oven rack before I pour in the water.

Bake at 300 for 40 - 50 minutes until the custard is firm. Take it out and let it fully cool. We put ours out in the snow after it had come to room temp.

Sprinkle with sugar and light your torch! The most sober person should do this job. I put ours on a tea towel to protect the countertop. You heat the sugar until it is golden brown and you have a nice crust.

I forgot to get a picture until I had half eaten mine. It was delish!! We finished it off with a nice glass of port. What a lovely evening.

No comments: