Monday, November 28, 2011

The Continuing Feast


The day after Thanksgiving, I sat thumbing through my cookbooks and making a shopping list.  With no time to waste, I was preparing for yet another fête with friends at home on Saturday night.

You see, feasting is in my blood.  Maybe I'm a distant descendant of Louis XIV, but in my more immediate ancestry, my parents hosted an awful lot of lavish dinner parties in my youth and that had a profound effect.  My mother was a "foodie" before the term was coined, my father is a baker, and I inherited their love of entertaining.

In my last post, I mentioned that my mother had written a cookbook.  In 1989, during a losing fight with cancer, her friends rallied her to the task.  She spent many months surrounded by piles of her favorite cookbooks, equipped with a purple pen for editing.  She put together the recipes and stories that shaped her own childhood and her 20-some years as an avid home cook.  She called the cookbook Elizabests, The Continuing Feast and in it she had lovingly documented the foods of my early years. When the book was printed,  it was an unspoken challenge to her husband and two teenage girls to carry on with our lives, always with good appetite.


I've posted many of her recipes on this blog, like orange cumin beef stew, ginger molasses cookies, Italian bread wreath to name a few.


So on Saturday night, we dined on roasted salmon and potato latkes with roasted apple sauce, cranberry orange relish, and mixed greens from the Green Market with a warm anchovy garlic dressing.  For dessert, we indulged in David Lebovitz's creamy, dreamy Lemon-Ginger Crème Brûlée, talking and laughing the evening away.


It's the season of indulgence and togetherness, so I urge you to enjoy some wonderful foods in good company. There is no better time than now. Don't worry, there should be plenty of room for moderation in January.

Lemon-Ginger Crème Brûlée
From Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz

Makes 6 servings

3 ounces (85 g) fresh ginger, thinly sliced
3 cups (750 ml) heavy cream
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar plus 12 teaspoons (60 g) for caramelizing
Grated zest of 2 organic lemons
6 large egg yolks
pinch of salt

Put the ginger slices in a medium saucepan and add water to cover.  Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat and simmer for two minutes.  Pour off the water.
Add the cream, 1/2 cup sugar,  lemon zest and ginger to the saucepan.  Heat the mixture until warm, then remove from the heat, cover and let steep for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).  Set six 4 to 6 ounce ramekins in a deep baking dish.
Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the ginger slices and lemon zest from the mixture, add the salt, then reheat the cream until it's quite warm.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, then gradually whisk in the warm cream, whisking constantly as you pour to prevent the eggs from cooking.  Pour the mixture through a mesh strainer into a large measuring cup or pitcher.
Divide the custard mixture evenly among the ramekins.  Fill the baking dish with warm water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake until the perimeters of the custard are just set and the centers are slightly jiggly, about 30 minutes.
Transfer the custards to a wire rack and let cool completely.  Refrigerate until chilled.
Just before serving, evenly sprinkle each chilled custard with 2 teaspoons of sugar and caramelize with a kitchen torch.


  1. What a treasure. A beautiful treasure. It stopped me in my tracks today.

  2. And here is your creme brulee. Such a beautiful post and what a treasure from your mom.

  3. Hi, Nicole. I agree with Tracy. A treasure. And I like your idea of waiting until January for moderation.

  4. I can't wait to make this, it's very inspiring that your mother published a cook book, it must be such a wonderful thing to sit down with and flick through all the while conjuring up sweet memories.

  5. I went back and read those posts I had already read and enjoyed them again. Your mom sounds like she was an incredible woman and what a wonderful gift to leave her family, to remember her with every day. Then I popped over to your dad's website: I love that he is starting this business. Well, no I have no doubt where your cooking genes come from...both sides! This dessert is sublime. I don't feel justified at this point to invest in a kitchen torch, but when that time comes I know what I am making.

  6. What a wonderful treasure to have and a great thing your mother did to get that published. That creme brule sounds absolutely wonderful. Have to give that a try.

  7. Wow that creme brule looks fantaztic! It must be great to have a book with all the recipe your mom used to cook!

  8. So glad you uncovered the secret to your recipes: family heirlooms like this one are so precious, this is a moving story!
    That ginger creme looks sinful!

  9. Thank you all! I've been enjoying your comments as I nurse a sick toddler (hopefully) back to health :)

  10. I agree; moderation is hopeless until January--so don't worry, just enjoy. and that creme brulee is positively dreamy.

    what a wonderful legacy in food and recipes you have--I look forward to seeing some more of Elizabests (those chocolate cookies have All the right stuff)

  11. Nicole: you seem to have a continuing bond with your mother and its so sweet to see you continue her feast. "Indulgence and togetherness" now...and "moderation" later (in January): that's how life should always be, because it is fleeting. The Crème Brûlée is smoking hot by the way.

  12. The cookbook is lovely, I'm doing a similar thing with my grandmother, trying to write down all of her recipes so they can live on :)

    And there is ALWAYS room for creme brulee yum!

  13. I was only stopping by to check out your site but ended up getting lost in it and spent over an hour on it. I love your site ! The love, the pictures, and everything. Its just amazing!

    I love it! it was so nice meeting you today. I wish I had a chance to talk to you a little longer without coordinating all the cookies :)

  14. What an amazing legacy to cherish! And I can attest to the deliciousness of this recipe. The ginger/citrus combo is divine in this creamy concoction.


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