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Creamy French Vanilla Crème Brûlée
There's simply no way to go wrong with this classic French dessert. It's all the joy of a day spent in Paris, wandering the galleries of the Louvre and the sunny streets along the Seine... encapsulated in one perfect little dessert. Smooth, creamy vanilla custard contrasts with a crackling disc of caramelized sugar in this purely authentic recipe from Alton Brown. It's sweet without being cloying, and satisfying without being heavy – basically, the perfect dessert. Great for impressing dinner guests (with little effort required on your part), or for a sweet after-work indulgence that you can pop out of the fridge at a moment's notice. Classic French Vanilla Crème Brûlée Ingredients 1 quart (4 cups) heavy cream 1 vanilla bean 1 cup sugar* 6 large egg yolks 2 quarts hot water *You can use vanilla-flavored sugar if you like. 1. Pre-heat the oven to 325°F. Cut the vanilla bean in half length-wise with a small, sharp knife. Scrape the back side of the blade down each half of the bean to remove its pulp. 2. Place heavy cream, vanilla bean pulp, and the scraped bean halves into a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer. When it reaches a steady bubble, shut off heat and set aside. Remove the vanilla bean shells; you can throw them away, or pop them into a tupperware of sugar to make vanilla sugar for your next batch of crème brûlée (or whatever vanilla-flavored dessert you happen to bake next). 3. Place your egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl and whisk them until they're slightly lighter in color. Add cream, still hot (but not hot enough to cook the eggs) slowly, whisking as you go. 4. Place a tea towel at the bottom of a large roasting pan, one with enough room to comfortably fit your ramekins. Pour the liquid into six 7-8 ounce ramekins (6 ramekins holding 7-8 oz. each, in case that wasn't clear! Haha). Place them in the roasting pan. The tea towel will keep them from sliding around. Finally, pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins; this will help with even heat distribution. 5. Bake just until set, around 45 minutes. It might still seem raw, but it should be trembly in the center. Since it's egg-based, you definitely want it to seem "underdone" when you remove it from the oven; it'll continue to solidify as it cools. Remove ramekins from roasting pan, and refrigerate anywhere from 2 hours to three days. Take them out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before caramelizing. 6. Complete this step just before serving. Divide remaining 1/2 cup of sugar equally between the 6 ramekins, sprinkling sugar evenly over the custard's surface. Shake each ramekin a little to allow the sugar to ensure equal sugar distribution. Using a cooking torch, melt and brown the sugar until it forms that classic, gorgeous crispy top. Let sit 5 minutes before serving. Voilà! Crème brûlée does require a few kitchen tools that you might not have laying around at your disposal – so I've saved you the hard work and hunted down a few low-cost, high-quality materials! The BonJour Professional Grade Culinary Torch from Amazon ($23) has excellent reviews from casual cooks and real-world chefs alike. Amazon also carries the corresponding butane fuel ($3.25) for the torch, which unfortunately you do have to buy separately. Finally, my fave kitchenware store, Crate&Barrel, has perfect round, fluted 7 oz. Crème Brûlée Dishes for only $2.95 each! I cannot wait to whip up this lovely, decadent dessert for my next gathering of friends. Thanks to Alton Brown for inspiring my adaptation of the recipe! If you enjoyed this traditional French dessert, check out my recipe for Kir Pêche, a classic French cocktail! Bon appétit :)
Fruit-Topped Frangipane Tart
Have you ever heard of frangipane? It's AMAZING. I love the stuff, and because it's not a common thing over here in the States, I can never get enough of it. For those of you not in the know, frangipane is a creamy mixture made from mixing almond paste with flour, sugar, butter, and all that good stuff. The first time I tried it was in France, where it's a popular filling for the "galette des rois," or king cake, a traditional dessert eaten in January to celebrate the Epiphany. There's always a little figurine, or fève, hidden in one of the slices; whoever finds it becomes king or queen for the day. This lovely tart does not include a fève, nor does it make you queen for a day, but eating it definitely makes you one happy camper! It looks complex, but it surprisingly easy to recreate in your own kitchen. If you don't believe me, watch the video: See? It's so simple! The video even includes techniques for achieving that gorgeous layered pear design. Fruit-Topped Frangipane Tart Prep Time: 30 min. Chill Time: 25-30 min. Bake Time: 40-55 min. Yields one 9, 10, or 11-inch tart. Difficulty: Easy Recipe by Truffles and Trends All you need to make this recipe is a shallow tart pan, like the one shown, an electric mixer, a mixing bowl, and a rolling pin. Ingredients Tart Dough: 2 3/4 cups flour (all purpose or cake/pastry flour) 1/2 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar 2 sticks (8 oz.) butter, cubed 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 eggs Almond Cream (Frangipane): 8 oz. almond paste 1/4 cup sugar 1 stick (4 oz.) butter 1/4 cup flour 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Fruit: 7 canned or poached pear halves (about 1 1/2 cans) 1 container (6-8 oz.) blueberries Apricot jam/preserves + a few teaspoons of water 1. Make the crust: In a food processor or large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Pulse/stir. Add in the cubed butter and pulse or crumble with hands until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add in the vanilla extract and eggs. Mix and knead till you form a dough. Wrap dough in plastic, flatten, and freeze for 25-30 minutes, until it's cold and hardened. Grease a 9, 10, or 11 " tart pan (best if it has a removable bottom) and set aside. The smaller the pan, the more dough you will have left over (you can use the extra dough to make tartlets). 2. Form the tart base: Unwrap dough and work it with your hands to soften it slightly. Flour your surface and the top of the dough. Roll out dough gently with a rolling pin to a bit less than a 1/4 " thickness, flouring as necessary. Roll dough onto rolling pin and unroll into the tart pan. Lift up the excess dough/overhang while pressing the dough into the bottom and sides of the tart pan so you don't stretch out the dough. Roll your rolling pin over the pan to cut off the hanging dough. Refrigerate the crust while you make the filling. 3. Make almond cream (frangipane): Cream the almond paste and sugar in a machine with a paddle attachment, or with an electric mixer. Add in the butter a little at a time, and cream until incorporated and you have a minimal amount of almond paste chunks left. It's okay if you still have a few chunks. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add in the flour and mix. Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix until fluffy and light. 4. Assemble the tart: Remove the crust from the fridge and spread the almond filling into the pan evenly. Place back into fridge. Preheat oven to 375°F. For the pears, slice each half thinly, scoop it onto your knife, and spread the slices to fan them. Place into tart, with the wider part touching the edge of the pan. Your tart will probably need 7 pear fans. Fill the empty spaces with blueberries. Or, if you prefer to use different fruits, you can use any kind you like. Try doing all blueberries, all raspberries, or sliced canned apricots. 5. Bake: Bake the tart for 40-55 minutes, till golden brown. Brush fruit with glaze after the tart is cooled slightly. To make the glaze, place the apricot jam and water in the microwave or in a small pot and stir till warm and runny. Serve and enjoy!
A Crème Brûlée, in Cocktail Form
As @marshalledgar recently observed, there truly is a made-up food holiday for every day of the year. And according to the powers that be, today is National Crème Brûlée day! Why do we Americans celebrate a dessert that the French, Spanish, and British all claim to have invented, you ask? Because it's PURE AMAZINGNESS. Delicate vanilla cream with a crunchy, crackling caramelized shell – come on, who wouldn't want to dedicate an entire day to singing its praises? Not all of us have the time or tools to whip up a crème brûlée at a moment's notice (although you totally should, using my recipe here), so I've researched an easier way to get your fix this holiday: the Crème Brûlée cocktail. There are plenty of versions out there, but so far, this one seems the best and most accurate in flavor. That's thanks to the homemade "burnt sugar"-flavored simple syrup, to give the cocktail a true authenticity. Give it a try tonight, and share your thoughts! Crème Brûlée Cocktail Original recipe by A. Huddleston of Cook In / Dine Out To make this incredibly delicious drink of the gods, you will need: 1 oz. vanilla-flavored vodka (like Stoli Vanil) 1 oz. heavy cream 1 oz. vanilla burnt sugar syrup (see recipe below) Assembling the cocktail is simple. Chill a martini glass in the freezer for at least 10 minutes. Stir the ingredients together, and then serve in chilled martini glass. If you have a cocktail shaker, try shaking the ingredients together with ice, and then straining into the glass for a colder final product. Vanilla Burnt Sugar Simple Syrup To make the easy homemade syrup, you will need: 1 cup water 3/4 cup sugar 1/2 vanilla bean pod 1. Heat the sugar in a small (8-inch) frying pan over medium heat. Leave sugar undisturbed until it begins to melt and then stir sugar as in melts and caramelizes until all the sugar has melted and it is a dark amber color. 2. Meanwhile, add water to a saucepan. Cut the vanilla pod in half lengthwise and use a knife tip to scrape the vanilla beans into the water. Add the pod halves to the water and bring to a boil. 3. Pour the burnt sugar syrup into the boiling water (be careful of sputtering, you may want to stand back a bit). Continue boiling and stir to dissolve any hardened clumps of syrup. Set aside to cool. Strain when cooled and store in a container in the refrigerator. I hope you all celebrate this lovely holiday with a sweet and creamy Crème Brûlée Cocktail. Enjoy!
Easy Spinach Artichoke Quiche Cups – Gimme Some Oven
Do you love quiche? I'm always down for a slice of my favorite savory brunch staple. Quiches are cool because you can vary them in so many ways, depending on how you dress them up. These mini quiches from Gimme Some Oven are filled with artichokes and spinach, then baked in a muffin tin so they're extra-cute! ^.^ Super easy and SUPER delicious, these are definitely worth making ASAP :) P.S. All photos are by the magnificent Gimme Some Oven! :D Easy Spinach Artichoke Quiche Cups Prep Time: 10 min. Cook Time: 20 min. Difficulty: Super Easy Recipe adapted from Gimme Some Oven What You'll Need 1 (14.5-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped 1 package frozen spinach, drained 5 eggs, whisked 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 2/3 cup milk (any kind) 1/2 cup chopped white onion 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 2 cloves garlic, minced 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper Directions 1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray (or line with paper liners). 2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir together. 3. Divide the mixture evenly among 12 baking cups. They should be almost full. 4. Bake until eggs are set and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the quiche comes out clean – about 20 minutes. Serve immediately, or freeze for a delicious breakfast on-the-go! Enjoy :) For more yummy recipes, follow my Cooking collection! Let me know if you make these – I'd love to hear how yours came out :)
Travel the World with These 5 Delicious Vegan Recipes
If you're anything like me, you're definitely an international foodie. You've tried Russian food with your friends or tried making your own vegetarian sushi at home. Trying international foods is a terrific way to find out more about a culture - and it's certainly cheaper than a roundtrip ticket! Below I have five different vegan and vegetarian-friendly recipes from five different countries: Spain, France, Ethiopia, South Korea, and Jamaica! Try them out the next time you want to travel the world from inside your kitchen. Paella de Verduras (Spain) Vegetarian Paella (From La Tienda) MAKES 4 SERVINGS INGREDIENTS: 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 3 piquillo peppers 1 large bermuda or Vidalia onion, chopped 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped 1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped 3 large cloves or garlic, peeled and finely minced 1 - 1/2 tsp bittersweet Spanish paprika (Pimentón de la Vera) 5 - 10 strands of saffron 1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cubed 4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (or 8 - 10 halved grape tomatoes) Salt and pepper to taste 1 1/2 cups Bomba rice, or Calasparra rice 3 cups vegetable stock, or 2 cubes vegetable bouillon. (Keep stock warm!) Finely minced parsley DIRECTIONS: 1) In a 13" paella pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat. Add the Piquillo peppers, onion and bell peppers. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, smoked paprika, saffron, zucchini and tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes more. Stir in the rice and warmed stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until most of the stock is absorbed. 2) Cover with foil, put in 350 F oven for another 10 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. 3) To serve, decorate with lemon wedges and chopped parsley. Pissaladiere (France) Marseilles-Style Pizza (From Eat Live Run) MAKES 3 SERVINGS INGREDIENTS: 1/2 recipe Vegan DIY pizza dough (or store bought works well) 2 tablespoons pesto (store bought or homemade) 2 tablespoons tomato sauce or paste 5 white onions 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1/2 teaspoon oregano 1/4 cup water 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1/3 cup sliced black olives 1/4 cup sliced sundried tomatoes A pinch of red pepper flakes DIRECTIONS: 1) Slice onions very thin and toss them in your largest pot along with the water, oregano, salt and pepper. Turn heat on medium low, stir and cover. Let cook for a little over an hour, stirring occasionally.They will get very, very soft and translucent. 2) Roll out pizza dough very thin. Place in greased long rectangular tart pan and prick the bottom with a fork. Brush with pesto and tomato sauce and then add a thick layer of cooked onions (you might not need all the onions). Sprinkle the sliced olives and sundried tomatoes on top and finish with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. 3) Bake at 450 for about fifteen minutes, or until the bottom of the pizza is done. Remove and let cool then pop out of tart pan and trim sides. 4) Serve with a glass of red wine and pretend you’re in Nice. Alitcha Aterkik (Ethiopia) Yellow Split Peas (Adapted from Afra Cooking) MAKES 4 SERVINGS INGREDIENTS: 4 cups water 1 cup dried yellow split peas Olive oil, to taste 1/2 small onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 inch of fresh ginger peeled, finely chopped 1/2 tsp ground turmeric Salt, to taste DIRECTIONS: 1) Place 3 cups water (or a stock if you wish) and the yellow split peas in a large saucepan and bring to a boil on high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until most of the water has absorbed, about 40 minutes.In the meantime, saute your onion until clear, 5 minutes. Then add ginger, garlic, and turmeric and cook 1 minute. 2) Add to the cooked peas. 3) Add a little more water and simmer again until the peas are very soft. Add salt to taste Vegan Bibimbap (South Korea) Mixed Rice and Vegetables (From Peaceful Dumpling) MAKES 3 - 4 SERVINGS INGREDIENTS: Sauteed fern (Available at Korean supermarkets, but if you omit, that's okay too!) 1 bunch spinach, washed and trimmed 1 package mung bean sprouts (or soybean sprouts), washed and trimmed 1 medium carrot, cleaned and julienned 1/2 block extra firm tofu, cut into dominoes About 6 cloves garlic, minced 1 green onion, chopped 2 cups cooked rice 2-3 tbsp sesame oil About 1 tbsp cooking oil for stir frying 3 tbsp Korean hot pepper paste (gochujang, available in many supermarkets and Asian stores) Toasted sesame seeds (for garnish) Salt and pepper DIRECTIONS: 1) Boil mung bean sprouts in water for about 5-7 minutes until just tender. Drain thoroughly using a colander. Move to a large bowl. Using a pair of chopsticks, dress with about 2 tsp sesame oil, salt, pepper, about 1 minced garlic clove, 1 tsp green onions. Set aside on a plate. 2) Blanch the spinach in boiling water for no longer than 15 seconds and drain using colander. Run under cold water immediately, then squeeze out all the water. In the same large bowl that you used for sprouts, dress using the same exact ingredients. Move to the plate next to the sprouts (but don’t mix them together!). 3) Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large wok or frying pan over medium heat. Add carrots and saute for about 5-6 minutes until done. Set aside. 4) Using the same frying pan, pan fry the tofu until golden crispy, about 4 minutes on each side. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside. 5) In a small bowl, whisk 3 tbsp hot pepper paste with 1 tbsp sesame oil. 6) If you got the dry ferns, soak them in water for about 4-5 hours until completely reconstituted. Drain. Boil in water for about 30-45 minutes until these suckers are completely limp. Drain. Then saute in soy sauce (to taste), 3-4 cloves minced garlic, and sesame oil (also to taste) for about 5 minutes. 7) Assemble all of the above over a bowl of brown rice. Admire for a few seconds and then mix it all together with a spoon, then eat it! Veggie Patties (Jamaica) Pocket Pastry filled with Diced Vegetables (From Vegan Soul Kitchen) MAKES 6 LARGE PATTIES INGREDIENTS: 1 tablespoon coconut oil 1/2 cup 1/4-inch-diced yellow onion 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon allspice 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1/8 teaspoon cayenne Coarse sea salt 2 larges cloves garlic, minced 3/4 cup coconut milk 1/4 cup 1/4-inch-diced carrots 1/4 cup 1/4-inch-diced yellow potatoes 1/2 cup fresh green peas (or frozen) 1/2 cup sweet fresh corn (or frozen) 1/2 cup shredded cabbage 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper Pastry: 1 3/4 cups unbleached flour 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour 2 teaspoons turmeric 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt 3/4 cup chilled coconut oil 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons ice water DIRECTIONS: 1) In a medium-size saute pan over medium-low heat, combine the coconut oil, the onion cinnamon, allspice, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Saute, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are caramelized. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, carrots, and potatoes, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the carrots and potatoes are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the green peas, corn, cabbage, thyme, and lemon juice, cover, and cook for 3 minutes more. Season with additional salt and the white pepper (or to taste) and set aside to allow the flavors to marry. 2) Combine 1 1/2 cups of the white flour with the pastry flour, turmeric, and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Set the remaining 1/4 cup white flour aside. Add the coconut butter to the flour mixture and rub with your fingertip until the mixture resembles fine sand, about 10 minutes. 3) Combine the vinegar and water and mix well. Then, without overworking the dough, add the vinegar mixture by the tablespoon, while stirring, just until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and begins to coalesce. Squeeze into a tight ball, flatten, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 4) Preheat the oven to 350F and remove the dough from the refrigerator. 5) With the reserved flour, lightly dust a clean surface, roll out the dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Cut six 6-inch circles from the dough (you can use a bowl). Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of the filling onto the center of one side of each circle, leaving about a 1/8-inch border. Fold the other half over to make a half-moon, press to seal, and make ridges around the edge using a fork. (hs note: if your dough is at all on the dry side you may need to run wet fingers around the edge of the circles to help get a good seal). 6) Transfer the patties to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Serve immediately with some hot sauce.