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.