Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Xmas Food 2007

So I let my wife talk me into having a party on Sunday for some local friends. "Just do some hors d oeuvres," she said "don't make dinner. That's too much work." Oy, sure dinner is more work. But don't think I won't be cooking every spare minute between now and the first doorbell ring on Sunday.

I don't mind at all really. I mean, cooking is my reason-to-be. (So what's to complain about? Nothing, unless I want to give up my reason-to-be I suppose. And what if I did, would I disappear?) Besides, a holiday party gives me an excuse to make things that I do not make on a regular basis but really wish I could. Take creme caramel. I mean WTF? Is there anything easier to make and more grand than a gigantic slope sided cylinder of eggs and milk and sugar? I don't think so.

This might surprise people who regard me as self-realized, totally conscious, unsentimental and coolly rational guy. But I'm not so sure I know my mind very well.

Witness the book that I used for the creme caramel you see in progress in the slide show below. This book (which actually belongs to my wife) has the only recipe for creme caramel that I will make at home. I'm not sure why I do this, but I think it has something to do with sentimentality because it sure as hell isn't rational. Sigh.

I'll take pictures of the finished product and post them later in the week. I can't really unmold the thing and let it sit because it'll collapse after a day or so.

Vanilla Extract courtesy of Exclusively Yours Catering -great stuff!


The Foodist said...

so, I have to ask, why is this the only version of Creme Caramel youll make at home?
special recipe?, Sentimental value?, Wife doesnt want you using special equipment to burn down the house or blow up the kitchen?

Scotty said...

Page 444 - Julia's "The Way to Cook". In every kitchen I have ever worked in I mount a picture of her. She taught me how to cook and appreciate food.

Bob, at least you won't be celebrating at an annual party where when you walk in you will be asked if the Turkey is done, and know without looking that the answer is "yes, about an hour ago". That's Christmas with my inlaws! ;-)

Kevin said...

"This might surprise people who regard me as self-realized, totally conscious, unsentimental and coolly rational guy."

And of the two of you I notice you're not sure.{g}

At the moment I've got lamb stock simmering. It's made from the roasted bones of the lamb sausage I'll be making shorty. And in the meantime my second batch of duck confit is in the oven. It's going to be a very good day.

Jennie/Tikka said...

Bob, you've hit on a really good point.....why do so many people think that cooking is so damn hard? Every time somebody says that to me I usually respond with, "No, cooking is hard...for you. I enjoy it, therefore it isn't hard."

That's part of why I personally love Julia as much as I do. She took a good hard look at french cuisine and realized that it isn't brain surgery - damn near anybody can make good food.

Egaeus said...

Yes, jennie, it's easy, yet so few have done it. During my internet outage last night, I went and bought a set of ramekins so that I could inflict my first-ever creme brulee upon my family. Why haven't I ever made creme brulee before? There's really nothing to it. Just don't overcook it, and you need a torch (and creme caramel doesn't even need the torch). I have multiple torches (bought one, inherited two... It's not like I'm crazy or anything). But strangely enough, I haven't tried even the simplest of desserts.

Why? Well, I am guilty of eating more Wendy's hamburgers (back in the gluten days) than I'm ready to admit. Honestly, my sensitivity to wheat is the best thing to ever happen to me. I have finally started going to restaurants with trained cooks so that when I say, "No bread, I'm allergic to wheat." I don't get, "but this is white bread" in response. Yes, that's a true story. I now know what I've been missing, I often know when something is done incorrectly (like the horrible soggy skin on my wahoo) and am finally beginning to truly learn my way around a kitchen myself, though I admittedly still have far to go. This is all thanks to people like Michael Ruhlman, Bob del Grosso, and everyone who loves great food, and shares that passion with the rest of us.

Jennie/Tikka said...

P.S. Addendum to the posts about Roux.

You kids are swell but really I must mention - the bechamel/alfredo sauce was not mine...I had it at an otherwise very good Italian restaurant that makes the best pizza in the entire world. Sadly, they can't make an Alfredo to save their lives. I used the term "homemade" because its a family-owned place. What that apparently boils down to is a kid in the back with canola oil and all-purpose flour.

My spouse (think back to the heretofore posted pastrami incident) knew it was bad and failed to warn me, leaving me to "discover" its badness for myself, which I did....

Egaeus said...

You know, nobody asked the really important question:

What did you do with the other half of the caramelized sugar that you didn't pour into the baking dish? (I don't have a copy of The Way to Cook)

Bob del Grosso said...


LOL. I followed the recipe, friend. I reserved it remainder of the caramel. It is sitting by the stove in a ramekin waiting to be called into action.

I'll put it to work tomorrow after I unmold the custard.

Looks like we will have at least 30 people in the house tomorrow. I'm totally psyched.

I worked like a b--ch all day at the farm today and expect to be at the stove for another couple of hours here. Life is good.