Friday, May 16, 2014


I alluded to today's theme as I was pondering on a recipe for an upandcoming, one that required an ingredient that's visited us in  a few scenes, on occasion. It was persistent, the mindnag and I couldn't disregard it, nor forget the REMforced anxiety dream that took place the night before. Signs that conveyed a need that it be known, loudly, and touching these pages here. As you can see I gave in, since I sit to type the virtues of the topic, all after taking a few hundred pictures which left me exhausted and my photolibrary requiring backup.

This, friends, is a shining example of where culinary attempts can lead to virtuous, in-depth studies , channeling in a single ingredient to be just as important as the roles it is deemed to further on play, in a grouped, maybe grander environment. 

I speak on account of  the Epic Role taken by the segment's hero, butter, and how it refashions itself to a higher liquefied form, unburdening much of what it was, to be reassembled into a wondrously purified creation. This fat's needtobetold dialogue ends in the subject that is much the rage these days, making its way around whole, natural, and raw food circles .

Ghee is what I'm talking about, that which needs not much introduction. For before the world of paleo and health purists, Indian Ayurveda had long been touting its many distinguished wellness benefits. Ghee is liquid butterfat that is separated from whey, and dairysolids, thus designating it in a final newsuited form, that of clarified butter. It comes about when butter is simmered for a substantial amount of time, setting in wake also, the fact that the end could actually turn out better than its beginnings. The cooking off of water and curds which is the key here, makes way for a brilliantly goldentranslucent oil, depthfully rich, and a culmination that is to be extolled.

Throughout the 25 or so minutes of gheemaking, I realized there is something calming, therapeutic about the whole show, watching butter melt, bubble, swirl and do the many routines in the pan that it's assigned to. Then again, that could just be me. Still greater, the staggeringly good fragrance that covers every square foot of your home is a must mention, rather unbeatable and has you yearn for it to never go away.

With ghee's exceptional intensity and flavor, I would not be surprised for it making way to be your newfound beatsall(!)condiment, secret recipe add-on and better-than-nutella bread/toast/ricecake topper. Must I mention too the special something that happens when you add it to a bowl of rice? All this with the one single ingredient from start to finish. Can it get any better?
The whole dialogue made for wonderful visuals, and so I took the liberty of fogging my lens to gather the almost half-hour production. Do make yourself comfortable. Maybe grab some popcorn while you watch. It's about to begin.

 Start with one tower pound of butter. 
Cut the sticks into smallish pieces.
Place in a heavy pan over medium heat, butter will melt quickly and turns into thick foam. 
The foam will start to bubble. Stir it once in a way, while this happens.
And so it will boil, bubble and pop. Stay clear, as it sometimes gets vicious. This is the clarifying part, and will take more than 15-20  minutes of your attention. Enough to grab a stool and paint your toenails.
Do you see the those foam clouds fragment and stick to the sides? You're almost there. 
Alas the light! Fatbits are separated and banished to the bottom of the pan while they turn brown and oil on top clears.
Almost, almost. A semiopaque foam surfaces over a now transparent amber colored liquid. 
Ding! Turn off heat. There you have it. Clarified butter.

  • 1 lb (pound) unsalted butter
  • Place butter in a heavy set medium saucepan or skillet, on medium-high  heat.
  • Bring butter to a boil, giving it a stir once in a while. Reduce heat to medium.
  • There will be a thick foam that soon covers it, all the while the mixture will bubble and simmer, takes about 15-20 minutes.
  • The whey proteins will start to fragment and float down. Soon there will be a light seethrough foam on top of the ghee. Wait a few minutes. When it turns a clean gold color (the separated curd bits at the bottom will be a reddish brown) Immediately turn off heat and remove pan.
  • Set aside and allow to cool. Most of the fat will settle to the bottom of pan.
  • Once cooled gently strain the ghee, using a fine mesh sieve/cloth into a clean glass jar or container. (Most of the browned particles will stay at the bottom).
At room temperature or when refrigerated it solidifies to a pale yellow cream. Perfect for toast. Even doubleslabbed on oatmeal.

Sidenote~ I used regular unsalted butter here, not organic. But you could certainly take that route if you so, please.

Last year, this time~ quatro leches pudding.

"Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky..." Phillipians 2:14,15

Friday, May 9, 2014

Flan/Caramel Custard

This is the dessert that's been on post horizon for quite some time. It is probably one of my favorite  indulgences under all accounts, being I ordered my first slice from Tandoor Cochin's menu card,  eons ago. A visit to an aunt, several years later, confirmed that I could have it everyday, a most wonderful revelation. She taught me the sweet luscious is not demanding, would not require many ingredient runs, since it was elemented with so few, not even delegate a huge chunk of daylight to bring it into being. It is, has always been, swift, uncomplicated and I was elated when you gave me that nod of approval, here, to see it have a song of it's own. I'm not immune to the requests, I heard your yays resound. So it is today, we talk flan.

Once you type in the words flan, creme caramel, caramel custard, google inundates your screen with over a few thousand suggestions of just what everyone thinks about it. And it does sentiment well and mean quite a few things to many people. Custard with yolks, few whites, whole eggs and few yolks, no whites, and all yolk, milk, cream, condensed, evaporated... Really, all this translated? That's where it gets simple, being a well-executed presentation of dairy and eggs.

Then, do I add? To the cluttered up webfill ? I think I shall, after which you can decide, whether you've reached the end of this dessert's rainbow.

Though it's not to drag you through a course on another perfect(!) recipe. I think that through the standard 6 items, I've nuanced it up for a near matchless custard construction, major snags fixed and neatened. I believe this is the consummate caramel custard, puddingfromscratch, extraordinaire. Whereby, you may also want to trial-and-error it to  your level of justright.  I've surely done enough of that, because this is the most made dessert in my house.

The heft of the whole matter lies in the burning of sugar, which sets the base. If the sugar is not delivered to the point of above-caramel, near-cola  color, it may not bring in that significant and deep bite. Too burnt would change the scenario and probably lead to a memorably brutal aftertaste. Results are bested with a timer, eight, almost nine minutes past melt-point and you have achieved caramelized sugar perfection. It hardens once syrup hits the pan, but marvelously turns to a sheet of liquid gold, finally blanketing a flipped over, what- would- have- been pale custard. It truly is a gasp-worthy scene, the moment you see what's on the other side.

The silk and luxe of flan is maintained through the eggs. Five whole large ones, ratioed in with over 4 cups of milk, sugared and not, leads to a wellconclusive  production, custard that's firm, with not too tight of a pudding build. Just the right landing for your spoon to scoop into Velvet Cream Spectacular.

Truly mindboggling and enchanting, today's discourse, once you realize the potential of milk, eggs, sugar and the miracles that happen in wake.

The recipe is my gift to you, desires not more than a few grabs from cold shelves, and cooperation from two, yes three kitchen appliances. What are you waiting for?

So, soon-to- be Queen (or King) of The Flan/ Caramel Custard, I bid you on. Go forth and conquer.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 ¼ c 1% milk
  • 2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
Sidenote~ though I mention 1% milk, I always use skim, makes for an easy conscience when I eat through half of a whole pan. Truth. It depends on your need for richness. No complaints if you use fullfat. 

  • Preheat oven to 325° F.
  • Place 13×9" baking pan in center of a larger roasting pan. 
  • Have sugar and water come to boil over medium -high heat in a deep saucepan.  Reduce heat to medium, simmer till the sugar mixture comes to a deep brown, about 7-9 minutes. Working swiftly pour liquid into the baking pan you will using. Tilt pan to spread caramel evenly.
  •  In the meantime, put eggs, milk condensed milk and vanilla into a blender. Blend for almost a minute, until ingredients are well combined, pale in color.
  • Allow air bubbles in mixture to subside. Pour mixture into baking pan (s) over the caramel.
  • Set the roasting pan with the baking dish onto middle rack of oven. Pour hot water into roasting pan to a depth of 1-1½", almost half up the sides of the pan your pudding is in.
  • Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until sides are set and center is still soft, but does not wobble.
  • Take off heat and transfer baking pan to a rack to cool. Once cooled, refrigerate, covered for at least 4 hours or until completely chilled. 
  • If serving in individual ramekins, invert onto dessert plates. Otherwise cut into slices and serve with caramel sugar side up.
Notes~ The custard sets further once you take it out of the oven and will firm up in the refrigerator.
Ambition could make for pretty presentations. Divide syrup/custard into individual molds, accessorize with fruits, nuts or hardened praline. 
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27