Sunday, August 16, 2009

Crème Brûlée

And yes, you do need butane to use a kitchen torch...they don't work well without!

Coffee-Caramel Crème Brûlée

The custard in this clever crème brùlée tastes just like a rich caramel cappuccino.

2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
1/4 cup dark-roast coffee beans (such as French roast; about 3/4 ounce), crushed with mallet in plastic bag
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup water
2 cups half and half
8 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 teaspoons raw sugar*


Bring 1 cup cream and coffee beans to simmer in heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat; cover and let steep at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Stir 2/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, swirling pan occasionally, about 11 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Add remaining 1 cup whipping cream (mixture will bubble up). Stir over low heat until caramel is smooth. Stir in half and half. Strain coffee-infused cream into caramel cream; discard coffee beans in strainer.
Whisk yolks, salt, and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in cream mixture. Strain custard into large measuring cup.
Arrange eight 2/3-to 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups in roasting pan. Divide custard among ramekins. Add enough warm water to roasting pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins or custard cups.
Bake custards until just set in center, 65 to 70 minutes. Transfer custards from water bath directly to refrigerator. Chill uncovered until cold, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
Sprinkle top of each custard with 1 teaspoon raw sugar. Using kitchen torch, melt sugar on each custard until deep amber. (Alternatively, preheat broiler. Arrange custards on small rimmed baking sheet; broil until sugar topping melts and browns, about 2 minutes.) Refrigerate custards until sugar topping hardens, at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour (do not chill longer than 1 hour or topping will start to soften). Serve custards cold.
* Also called turbinado or demerara sugar; available at most supermarkets and at natural foods stores.

Really, though, the best crème brùlée that I've ever had was this one:

Ginger and Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée
For Custard
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
5 large egg yolks

For Crème Brûlée
12 teaspoons sugar
Sliced tropical fruit (such as mango, papaya and/or kiwi)

Make custard:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Place three 4-inch-diameter fluted flan dishes* in each of two 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pans or place six 3/4-cup ramekins in 1 pan. Mix cream, sugar and ginger in heavy medium saucepan. Using small sharp knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean. Add seeds and bean to saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to simmer. Cover pan, reduce heat to very low and simmer gently 10 minutes to infuse flavors. Strain into large measuring cup.
Whisk yolks in medium bowl until well blended. Gradually whisk in hot cream mixture just to blend. Return custard to measuring cup; divide among dishes. Pour enough hot water into pans to come halfway up sides of dishes. Carefully transfer pans to oven.
Bake custards until almost set in center when pans are gently shaken, about 30 minutes for fluted flan dishes and 35 minutes for ramekins. Using metal spatula, transfer custards in dishes to work surface; cool 30 minutes. Chill at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.
Make Crème Brûlée:
Sprinkle 2 teaspoons sugar evenly over each custard. Working with 1 custard at a time, hold blowtorch** so that flame is 2 inches above surface. Direct flame so that sugar melts and browns, about 2 minutes.
Refrigerate until custards are firm again but topping is still brittle, at least 2 hours but no longer than 4 hours so that topping doesn't soften. Garnish crème brûlées with fruit.
*Four-inch-diameter fluted clear glass flan dishes are available at cookware stores and many hardware stores. They are about 2/3 inch deep and hold about 1/2 cup liquid.
**Available at some cookware stores.

France Entrees

All recipes from

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Mustard-Tarragon Sauce


  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 6 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme
  • 8 whole allspice, crushed
  • 2 (12-ounce) pork tenderloins

  • 5 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon


Mix wine, garlic, oil, rosemary, thyme, and allspice in large resealable plastic bag. Add pork and turn to coat. Marinate at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour, turning bag occasionally.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove pork from marinade and place on rack on rimmed baking sheet; discard marinade. Spread 3 tablespoons mustard all over pork. Roast until thermometer inserted into thickest part of pork registers 145°F, about 25 minutes. Transfer pork to platter and let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil cream, broth, tarragon, and remaining 2 tablespoons mustard in heavy medium saucepan until reduced to 1 cup, whisking occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season sauce to taste with pepper.

Slice pork crosswise into rounds and serve with sauce.

Duck with Raspberries (Canard aux Framboises)


  • 4 pounds boneless magret duck breast halves with skin (about 4)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup raspberry vinegar
  • 1 cup demi-glace (6 1/2 ounces; preferably D'Artagnan duck and veal demi-glace)
  • 2 cups raspberries(12 ounces), divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits


Put a large shallow flameproof roasting pan in middle of oven and preheat to 400°F.

Pat duck dry and trim off any excess fat. Score skin in a crosshatch pattern at 1/2-inch intervals with a sharp knife, then season with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper (total). Roast, skin side down, in hot pan until an instant-read thermometer inserted diagonally into center registers 125°F, 20 to 25 minutes.

Turn on broiler. Turn duck skin side up. Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer duck to a cutting board and let rest (skin side up) 10 minutes.

While duck rests, pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pan, then add shallots and garlic and saué over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and cook, stirring, until dissolved. Stir in vinegar, scraping up brown bits. Add demi-glace and bring to a simmer. Stir in half of raspberries.

Force sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a small saucepan, discarding solids. Skim off excess fat. Over low heat, swirl in butter. Remove from heat and add remaining raspberries.

Slice duck and serve with sauce.

And, the piece de resistance:

Potatoes Cooked in Duck Fat (Pommes de Terre Sarladaise)

  • 1 1/2 pounds waxy potatoes such as Yukon Gold
  • 3 tablespoons rendered duck or goose fat
  • 1/2 cup packed curly parsley leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves

  • Equipment: an adjustable-blade slicer


Peel potatoes, then cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices with slicer. Rinse in 2 or 3 changes of cold water until water runs clear. Drain and pat very dry.

Heat fat in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until melted. Cook potatoes with 3/4 teaspoon salt, turning gently, until coated with fat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, turning occasionally, until golden in spots and potatoes are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, finely chop parsley and garlic together.

Gently stir parsley mixture into cooked potatoes


So, it took awhile to get France off the ground and I'll take the blame for it - so much rugby! Please notice I did not say "too" much rugby! However, we were able to work it all out with holidays, summer vacation and "early preparation" ie, preparing to be away from work.

France, the land of wonderful wines, incredible apperitifs, and invincible food. Wow. This was the best installment of the AlphaGourmet Club yet! Our appetizer recipe is AWOL at the moment...ahem...but our entree and our dessert (to only call it dessert is really an injustice - it was divine) recipes are ready to go.

Oh, and we made this small discovery of Ricard apperitif from France. Actually, Alicia just invited us in to her little secret. It's also good on carmelized peaches as we discovered a few weeks later!

Egypt Pictures

The table and yummy food:

And, finally:

No...I can't do it. Suffice to say, an embarrassing photo should probably not go on the internet.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Egypt Pictures

Prior to dinner, Tigger finishing off a dead hamster...I mean, Kibbeh.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Finally - Egyptian Dessert!

Stevens and I apparently have different ways of spelling "phyllo" pastry..."fillo" anyone? Whatever the spelling is, it was damn tasty.

Desert: Om Ali (translates to "Mother of Ali"Bread Pudding)

We used this recipe from "Egypt Online"

6 sheets of fillo (or any puff pastry, pancakes or bread)
6 T of butter, melted
2/3 C. black or golden raisins
1 C. mixed whole or slivered almonds (blanched), chopped hazelnuts and chopped pistachios (we used pecans because we like them)
5 C. whle milk
1.25 C. heavy cream
1/2 C. sugar
1-2 t. of cinnamon

Keep fillo pastry or bread in a pile, covered with a damp towel to keep them from drying out. Brush each with melted butter and place on top of one another on a buttered baking sheet. Bake in a 350 F. oven for about 10 minutes or until they are crsip and a bit golden on top. When cool enough to handle, crush the pastry/bread into pieces by hand and put into a deeper baking dish in layers with the nuts in between.

Bring the milk and cream to a boil in a pan with the sugar and pour over the pastry. Sprinkle with cinnamon and return bake at 450 F. for about 20-30 minutes or until slightly golden Serves 8. We served warm but would have preferred ice cream to go with for a Northamerican twist.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Hamada's Authentic Egyptian Kusherie


1 cup lentils

1 quartered garlic clove

1 tablespoon cumin

3 large onions

1 cup oil

6 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni

2 cups dry rice


chicken stock or vegetable stock

1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce

1 dash lime juice

2 minced garlic cloves

1 dash yellow mustard

2 tablespoons vinegar


1. Chop the onions into small pieces ( I use the small electric food chopper and chop them in batches ) Reserve 1 tablespoon of the chopped onions for use later in the sauce

2. Heat the oil on med high heat, you want the oil to be very hot before putting in the onions.

3. Add the onions in batches and fry until you get a deep brown (but not burned) color. You want them to be crispy. Be sure to watch them carefully as they go from medium brown to dark kind of quickly.

4. Drain them onto paper towels and set aside.

5. Boil lentils in water (about 4 cups) along with 1 clove garlic cut into quarters, and 1 tablespoon cumin until cooked, drain and set aside. MEANWHILE:

6. Boil the macaroni until done (about 10 min).

7. Cook the rice in the chicken stock add salt if the broth is unsalted.

8. Put them all together in the same pot and mix well.

9. Make the sauce.

10. In 1 tablespoon oil heated over medium heat add 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tablespoon chopped onions that you reserved from before, and a dash of salt, stir and fry about 2 minute

11. Add 1 and ½ teaspoon sugar to the onion garlic mixture and mix well.

12.Next, add one can 15 oz can tomato sauce.

13. Now add 2 tablepoons vinegar, a small squirt yellow mustard and a dash of lime juice. You can adjust the amounts according to your personal taste but it should have kind of a slight puckery bite.

14. To serve, put the kusherie onto a plate and add a SMALL amount of sauce to the top. (A little goes a long way, and you can always add more according to taste) Sprinkle the whole thing liberally with the fried onions. Mix together and enjoy!

Lamb Pie!

So, so good!

Egyptian Lamb Pie


1/2 cup dried apricot

1 large onion, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb ground lamb

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons fresh coriander leaves, minced

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup beef broth

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

8 sheets phyllo dough, halved crosswise and stacked between sheets of waxed paper, and covered with a dampened paper towel.


1. In a small saucepan combine the apricots with 1 1/2 cups water and them over moderate heat for 10 minutes. Drain the apricots and quarter them.

2. In a skillet cook the onion in the olive oil over moderately low heat, stirring, for 8 minutes, or until they are softened. Add the garlic and cook the mixture for 2 minutes. Add the lamb and cook the mixture over a moderately high heat, stirring for 5 minutes, or until the lamb is no longer pink. Add the cumin, the coriander, nutmeg, cloves, beef stock, and the apricots and simmer the mixture, stirring stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Add pepper to taste and let the mixture cool for 15 minutes.

3. Brush a 10 inch cast iron skillet with some of the butter, put 1 piece of phyllo in the skillet, and brush it with butter. Layer 7 more pieces of the phyllo in the skillet,, brushing them with butter in the same manner, spoon the filling with a slotted spoon into the skillet and smooth the top. Layer the remaining 8 pieces of phyllo buttering them, over the top of the filling and tuck the edges under. Score the top layer of phyllo into 6 wedges and bake the pie in a preheated 400 degree F oven for 30 minutes, or until it is golden.

4. Let the pie cook for 15 minutes and cut into wedges.

Spicy Chickpeas

Spicy Chickpeas

Recipe of the Week

Mary Kay Radnich


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tsp cumin seed

½ tsp salt

½ tsp chili powder

½ tsp lemon pepper

1 thinly sliced bell pepper

3 tomatoes, chopped

2 15 oz cans garbanzo beans, drained

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 onion, chopped


  1. In a large pot over low heat, warm oil and cumin; heat until cumin turns a darker shade of brown.
  2. Add salt, chili powder and lemon and pepper seasoning; mix well.
  3. Stir in tomatoes; once the juice begins to thicken add in chickpeas and mix well.
  4. Add in lemon juice and mix well; add onions and bell pepper and stir until they become soft.
  5. Remove from heat and place into a serving bowl; serve immediately.

Yummm...homemade Pita Bread

Homemade Pita Bread


Recipe of the Week

Mary Kay Radnich

1 envelope dry yeast

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon sugar

4 cups white all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Combine the yeast and sugar in a small bowl, add 1/2 cup of the warm water and let it stand for 10 minutes to proof and ferment it.
  2. Dissolve the salt in the remaining warm water.
  3. Put the flour in a large mixing bowl, making a well in the middle and put the dissolved yeast and salt water into it.
  4. With your hands, blend it into a dough.
  5. You may need a bit more or less water depending on your flour.
  6. Knead the dough in the bowl with your fists for 10-15 minutes or until it is smooth.
  7. Pour the oil over the dough and knead it again until the oil is absorbed.
  8. Cover the dough in the bowl with a towel and set it in a draft free area to rise to double it's bulk (1-2 hours), then punch it down and knead it again for a few minutes.
  9. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  10. Cut pieces of dough, egg size or larger, depending on the size of the pita desired, shape them into balls with your hands and roll them out over a lightly floured board or pastry cloth to 1/4 inch thickness.
  11. Set 2 or 3 pitas on a lightly oiled cookies sheet and bake them on the lower rack 2 to 3 minutes each side.
  12. Pitas should be white and soft.
  13. Wrap the baked pitas in a clean towel until they are cool, then store them in plastic bags to prevent them from drying out.
  14. When you are ready to use them, heat a bit of oil in a shallow skillet and fry them a minute or so on each side, or until golden brown.
  15. Use them immediately, because they get hard when they dry out

E is for Egypt and all things Elegant in Food!

The short wait until Egypt was most excellent - Bill and Alicia hosted a wonderful evening and we ate well. Unfortunately, my camera did not make it home with us, so Bill is attempting to find the photos we took with his camera...might take a little while!

Here is the first recipe...lots of ground beef, but they were tasty. Some sort of salsa-ish type of dip would really add to a somewhat bland appetizer.

Kibbeh (Stuffed Cracked Wheat Shells)

250 g (8 oz) burghul (cracked wheat)
500 g (1 lb) minced beef
1 onion, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper

1 onion, finely chopped
2 Tbs. sunflower oil
2 Tbs. pine-nuts
500 g (1 lb) minced beef
salt and pepper
sunflower oil for deep-frying

To make the shells, soak the cracked wheat for about 20 minutes in water, then drain. Blend the meat, onion, salt and pepper in a food processor. Then process again, in batches, with the cracked wheat and continue until the mixture is soft enough to work like a dough. Knead well by hand

For the stuffing, fry the onion in oil till soft, then add the pine-nuts and fry till golden. Add the meat, salt and pepper and stir until the meat changes colour.

Wet your hands. Take a small egg-sized portion of the shell mixture and roll into a ball. Make a hole in the centre with your finger and shape into a thin-walled pot with a pointed bottom by turning and pressing it in your palm. Place some stuffing into the hole and pinch the top of the pot together to seal it. Shape the top into a point. Repeat with the rest of the mixtures, wetting your hands frequently.

Heat the oil. Deep-fry 4 or 5 kibbeh at a time until golden brown and drain on kitchen paper. Serve hot.

Recipe found at: