Sunday, Lavender Sunday
My dear friend, Maggie, is a wise, wise woman. She’s taught me that food does indeed taste better when prepared with a wooden spoon, that Jägermeister WILL fight the germs during cold season and that Sunday is intended to be a day of rest. She’s managed a very successful career in the culinary world making it very clear to employers that she will give her all Monday thru Saturday but does not work Sundays. I think since there’s an assumption she may attend church, no one questions it. As her friend, you just know not to call her Sunday before 2pm, since she’s likely praying to her pillow.
I don’t rest enough. I know this; I like being busy but I wear myself down and crash too often. Even before kids, I was one of those jerks that would say, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. (If only I knew then what a luxury sleep would become once I had kids!) There is always something to work on; somewhere to be. Thanks to family, my spiritual friends and some Buddhist inspiration, I am actually beginning to learn the craft of moderation. Maggie has always had it right: Work hard. Play hard. Rest on Sunday. No matter what you have on your plate this week, at some point, remember to STOP, PUT YOUR FEET UP and just ENJOY your surroundings. I recommend Sunday with a crispy-topped custard in hand
Crème Brûlée is my personal favourite dessert and with all of the over-extending of myself I’ve been doing lately, I’ve been in need of a treat. Torn between creating a Chocolate Chai or a Lavender-Infused Crème Brûlée, Brett was happy to make the final call. He loves the subtle, floral, herbal flavour of lavender, it makes him feel “healthy”. Fortunately, we have a beautiful bounty of lavender blossoms from our garden to dry and work with, so I was happy to oblige.
Crème brûlée seems to be one of those treats that most only order when eating out but YOU CAN very easily prepare this at home and it will taste just as great as the French Bistro’s – if not better. A few things to know:
1) Great brûlée is a 2 day process: mix and bake the night before. Bring to room temperature (at least an hour), then refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, to set. Remove from fridge, add sugar top and serve.
2)You don’t need a kitchen torch BUT they are really cool and can be very handy in your kitchen. Most kitchen supply stores retail a decent torch around $35. Amazon has some great full kits, if interested. For those without, use your oven’s broiler setting to caramelize the sugar: move your oven rack to the top position, broil (with oven door ajar) for about 60 seconds.. use those “Miss-i-ssip-is”.
3) Don’t prepare your custards when over tired and accidentally forget to separate the eggs. Sounds foolish, I know, but I’ve done it. Last Christmas dinner I hosted, I basically served my family scrambled eggs in ramekins for dessert. Not sure I’ll ever live that one down (regardless of the 12 other unique dishes I had prepared for it!)
Most important thing to remember: don’t be intimidated to try something new. Custards are surprisingly simple to create and enjoyed by all, young and old a like. Fear nothing, try everything!
Lavender Crème Brûlée
Makes 6 traditional ramekin servings
My greatest find in preparing this dish was using the small glass mason jars in place of ramekins. I always want to gift my custard and finally have a great way to deliver, without distributing my nice ramekins across town. I prepared 8 jars.
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tbsp dried lavender
- 8 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar + about 4 tbsp for coating
- pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 325°f. In a saucepan, combine the cream, the 1/2 cup sugar and the salt and bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, stir in the lavender, cover and let stand for about 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks to combine. A little at a time, begin whisking the warm cream into the yolks until the bottom of the bowl is warm. Whisk in the remaining cream a little more quickly. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a large liquid measuring cup; discard the lavender.
Place six 3/4 cup ramekins in a 13×9 baking pan. Divide the yolk-cream mixture evenly among the ramekins. Transfer the dish to the oven and pour enough very hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the custards jiggle just slightly in the centers when the ramekins are gently shaken, 30 to 35 minutes. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and let the custards rest in the water bath for another 30 minutes. Then remove each ramekin from the pan, wipe the bottoms dry and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.
When ready to serve, unwrap the custards and gently blot the tops with paper towel to soak up any moisture on the surface. Sprinkle sugar across the tops. If using a kitchen torch, caramelize the the sugar by moving the torch in a circular motion until the sugar is evenly browned and melted. (Alternatively, place the ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and broil until the sugar bubbles and caramelizes, about 1 minute.) Serve immediately with a small dessert spoon and a great big accomplished grin. Enjoy! xo … Feet up!!