{TWD} Crème Brûlée

Recipe #271

Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake selected this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was Crème Brûlée, which 9 out of 10 times is my desert choice in a restaurant. So of course, I used it as an excuse to run out and buy cute dishes and a kitchen torch. Instead of buying six matching dishes, I decided to mix and match. I found the dishes at Cost Plus World Market for only $1.99 each (of course I ended up buy $30 worth of chocolate because it was sale).

For the torch, I  went to the new Sur la Table and ended up spending way too much on other kitchen toys.  😛

Using the torch to create the brûlée part of the dessert was a little scary and I’m sure there is a technique to it. Regardless, the burnt sugar was nice and crisp and provided a nice textural difference to the chilled, cremey custard. Crème Brûlée is easy to assemble and make ahead for a dinner party and would certainly wow the guests. I’ve never met someone who doesn’t like it. Simple ingredients: cream, milk, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla.



I was set to make anadama bread. Then I learned today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, so I decided to make challah instead. Challah is the braided Sabbath bread of Judaism. I’ve eaten store bought challah before and it makes excellent French toast. I’ve recently learned the symbolism of this bread. There’s nothing better than cool symbolism. Okay, there is-but it’s still pretty cool.

Baked traditionally in a long, puffy braid each section represents the twelve tribes of Israel and the loaf is a symbol of God’s love and bounty. For Rosh Hashanah, the loaf is often baked into a round and is a symbol of the world having no beginning or no end (except when you are an beginner baker like me and you can clearly see where there is a beginning and end on my round).

The three strands used to make the braid symbolize truth, peace, and beauty. YY The braid itself symbolizes the ascent to God, which is very reminiscent of the kundalini in Hinduism and other Eastern religions and spiritual beliefs.

You can also add extra sugar to the dough, symbolizing starting the New Year in a sweet/sweeter way (I didn’t). The sesame seeds, liked I used, or poppy seeds symbolize the falling of manna from heaven.

I used baker’s math for the first time and doubled the recipe in order to have enough to bring into work and still have some at home. I don’t think doubling was enough. It’s almost all gone! I may hide the last loaf to make sure we have enough for French toast on Sunday.  😛

I used Peter Reinhart’s formula from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread to make 4 lbs of challah which I made into two small loaves and two rounds.

Challah Baker’s Percentage Formula

  • Bread flour–100%
  • Sugar–5.5%
  • Salt–1.4%
  • Instant yeast–0.85%
  • Oil–5.5%
  • Eggs–18%
  • Egg yolks–7%
  • Water (approximately)–45%

Ice Cream Flavor of the Week: Sweet Basil Ice Cream

Recipe #263

No figs at the farmers’ market again. That’s okay, I’ve discovered heaven on earth and it has come from the last place I expected it. I’ve been adding fresh basil to everything this summer. It’s only $1 for a big bunch at the farmers’ market. Sometimes I can use it all up before it spoils–usually when I make pesto. I needed to find a more creative way to use the fresh basil before it went bad.

Luckily, David Lebovitz has a recipe for Basil Ice Cream in his book The Perfect Scoop. I was apprehensive about making it, but I thought “what the heck” and made it anyway. I am so glad I did. I tasted it at every stage: when I made the custard, fresh out of the ice cream machine, and completely frozen. The taste is pure euphoria. Every stage tasted good, but it got better as it aged. The end result is an ice cream with a subtle basil taste that blends well the taste of the cream and sugar.

Pairing the ice cream with Strawberries in Lemon Syrup as suggested in the book is beyond euphoric: Words. Cannot. Explain. I urge you all to make this ice cream. This is now my favorite ice cream.

Basil Ice Cream

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop.
  • 1 cup (25 grams) packed basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
  • 2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream  (I use the not ultra-pasteurized heavy cream from Trader Joe’s; it’s the only place I’ve found that sells this type.)
  • 1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 lemon, organic

Grind the basil leaves, sugar, and 1 cup of the cream in a blender until the leaves are as fine as possible. Pour half of the mixture into a large bowl and add the rest of the cream. Place a strainer above the bowl. Place the bowl in an ice bath.

Warm the rest of the mixture in a saucepan  with the milk and salt. In another bowl, whisk the the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warmed basil mixture into the egg yolks a little at a time while continously whisking. Pour the egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Constantly stir the mixture over medium heat. Scrape the bottom as you stir until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Zest the lemon directly into the mixture. Stir the custard until cool.

Pour the custard into a quart size container and place until the refrigerator overnight (preferably). Freeze according to your ice cream manufacturer’s instructions. Yummy! Do not eat in one sitting.  😛

Strawberries in Lemon Syrup

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered

Combine water, sugar, and zest in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Cool completely. Once cooled, pour syrup over strawberries and let the strawberries macerate for 1 to 3 hours.

Dish the strawberries into a bowl and scoop basil ice cream on top.

Farmers’ Market Pick of the Week: Pomegranates

Pomegranates showed up at the farmers’ market this week. I bought 3 and decided to use them in a recipe in the October issue of Vegetarian Times. In elementary school, pomegranates were all the rage. We loved picking each seed out of every nook and cranny. We didn’t care about the juice running down our fingers and faces–the messier the better. Now as an adult, I prefer to be at least a little neater. A few months back on an Alton Brown show I saw him demonstrate how to get the seeds out of a pomegranate without making a mess and destroying each seed. All it took was a bowl of water! Last week I came across the method again in a magazine.

How to remove pomegranate seeds:


1. Cut off the top

2. Cut in quarters

2. Cut in quarters

3. Fill a bowl with cold water

3. Fill a bowl with cold water

4. One at a time submerge a pomegrante quarter in the water and use fingers to remove each seed. The seeds will sink to the bottom and the white pith pieces will float to the top.

5. Skim off the floating pith and strain the seeds!

6. Voila! One medium pomegranate yields approximately 1 cup of seeds.

6. Voilá! One medium pomegranate yields approximately 1 cup of seeds.

Autumn Apple Salad with Pomegranate

Adapted from Vegetarian Times.

Serves 2 main course or 6 first course salads

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 head of red leaf lettuce, chopped (approx. 12 cups)
  • 1 apple thinly sliced
  • 3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds

Heat oil in an 8″ inch skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and sauté until soft and clear or for approx 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add vinegar and honey. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Toss lettuce and apples. Drizzle 1/2 of the dressing and toss again. Divide salad among plates, top with goat cheese, pomegranate seeds, and remainder of dressing. Enjoy!

{TWD} Dimply Plum Cake

Recipe #262

Phew! I almost didn’t make it this week. The weekend got away from me. I baked a bunch of other stuff and never got around to making this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe: Dimply Plum Cake selected by Michelle of Bake-En. Instead of the all-purpose flour called for in the recipe, I used whole-wheat pastry flour. I also used golden plums instead of the darker, Italian prune plums.

I made this so-last-minute that I haven’t had a chance to taste the finished product. Based on what others have posted on the TWD site, it should be good. The raw batter was tasty…