“Bacon and eggs” truffle infused custards with crispy prosciutto

Most of Thomas Keller’s recipes (of French laundry fame) are too complicated for my short attention span but this one is not too hard and is absolutely life changing.

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8 large eggs (the fresher the better)
2/3 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup milk
1& 1/2 tbsp truffle oil
sea salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste

Finishing Touches
1 tbsp chives (finely diced)
1 oz (2-3 slices) prosciutto

Ragout
1/3 c veal or chicken Stock
dash of fish Sauce (or dash of white wine vinegar)
1 tsp unsalted Butter
1/2 tsp truffle oil

A used egg carton

Custards

Prepare the egg shells
With an egg topper or serrated knife, cut off wider end of the egg (make sure cut is low enough that a spoon can fit in the opening.) If cutting with a serrated knife, lay the egg on a towel, and with a steady but gentle sawing motion, cut halfway through width of egg.
Remove knife, turn egg upright, and pop off the top of the egg. Pour 2 of the eggs into a bowl to reserve for the custard, and the others you can save for any other kitchen uses you might have for them. Reserve the paper egg carton. Reserve the shell bodies.
Under running water, using your fingers, carefully remove the membrane from inside the shell bodies. Clean up any loose shell pieces from the edges of the shell cavity, then set aside.

Prepare the Custards
Preheat oven to 275°F

In a saucepan, heat the heavy cream and milk. As soon as it reaches a boil, transfer to a blender. Carefully pulsing, slowly build speed of blender to prevent extreme splattering. While blending, add the 2 reserved eggs, truffle oil, salt and pepper to taste.
Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher that pours well. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then skim foam from top of custard.
Place the shell bodies upright into a reserved egg carton (cut away extra spaces to make carton smaller.) Carefully pour custards into shells, filling about 85% full. (If pitcher is pouring like a bitch, use a funnel to help aim the pours.)
Using a pan that is a least 3 1/2 – 4″ deep, fill about 1″ of hot water into the pan. Place custards (carton and all) into the water, and top off with more water (if necessary) to have water level reach 3/4 ths up the sides of the eggs. Place pan into oven, cover with a lid or baking sheet, and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until custards are set. Remove from oven and set aside (They can stay in the warm water for about 2 hours if needed.)

Prepare the Finishing Touches and Ragout
Heat a saute pan over med-high heat, add a touch of oil, and crisp up prosciutto (just like cooking bacon.) Dab on paper towels to remove excess oils, then cut into 1/2″x 2″ pieces (there will be spare tidbits you’ll get to snack on.)
Dice the chives.
Put the stock and fish sauce into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 3-4 minutes, or until it coats the back of a spoon. There should be about 3 tbsp of sauce.

Finishing
Swirl the butter and truffle oil into the reduced stock. Season to taste. Place each egg in a cup, and spoon about 1 tsp of ragout on top of the custards. Add a sprinkling of diced chives, then place a prosciutto crisp in each egg.

Thanksgiving or Christmas breakfast bread pudding

I am a bread pudding nut, and on these festive holidays, there is nothing nicer than to sit in the kitchen in the morning with the fire on, drinking champagne and smelling the aroma of something cooking slowly in the oven. The beauty of this dish is that it can be prepared up until cooking, the night before and refrigerated until needed.

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Serves 4

1 lb good quality pork sausage-meat
6 cups cut or torn up up French bread, about 1/2″ thick
3 cups whole milk
8 large eggs, organic preferably
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 sage leaves
5 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tsp maple sugar
butter for the pan

The night before- cook the pork sausage-meat until it is nicely browned. If the sausage is in links, then remove the casings and crumble the sausage.
Mince the sage and toss it with your torn/cut bread in a large bowl
Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper then pour it over the bread. Stir it around several times, let it sit, then stir again.
Butter a 9″ by 9″ baking dish.
Stir the bread again. Most of the liquid should be absorbed.
Spread half of the bread mixture in the bottom of the greased baking dish.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage-meat from the pan and spread it over the bread.
Now dot the cream cheese in with the sausage. Top with the remaining bread and pour any unabsorbed custard over the top.
Cover and stick in the fridge overnight. Go to bed.
The next morning…. Preheat the oven to 350 F
Pull the pudding from the fridge and drizzle the maple syrup over it, then sprinkle with the maple sugar.
Put it in the oven. Now it’s going to take a while as it’s dense, so go and enjoy yourself with your family while the aroma slowly seeps around the house.
It will turn a dark golden brown, be crunchy on top and puff up a bit. It might take up to 1 hour 30 mins, but check after 1 hour.
When you think it’s done, take it out of the oven and let it rest for a little bit. This goes really well with mimosas!

Avocado and lime mousse

Wondering what to do with all those avocados?
Here is a super, light and tangy recipe, great as a starter for a nice dinner.
Yields 4 servings
2 large ripe avocados
grated zest of 1 lime
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
3 1/2 oz low fat cream cheese, softened
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp unflavored gelatine powder
1 egg white (optional)
You will need nice glass dishes as the picture above or 4 x 4oz ramekin dishes
 Pit and peel the avocados and scoop the flesh into a blender or food processor.
Add the lime zest and juice and process until really smooth.
Add the cream cheese and blend until completely combined.
Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl.
Sprinkle the powdered gelatine over 2 tbsp water in a small heatproof bowl. Let it stand until it starts to look spongy . Place the bowl in a skillet of barely boiling water so it comes about halfway up the sides and sir constantly until the gelatin dissolves.
 Drizzle the dissolved gelatin over the avocado mixture and stir well.
If using, beat the egg white until it forms soft peaks. Fold the egg white into the avocado mixture.
 Spoon into the dishes and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or so until chilled and set.
Serve chilled

 

Blueberry and brioche brunch bake

Another fab Holiday brunch dish prepared the night before. This one oozing with sweet blueberries then covered in a warm blueberry sauce for good measure.

Makes 6 servings

For the breakfast casserole

4 brioche (about 14 oz in all)  or 8 x 1” thick slices of brioche or other white bread, cubed
1/4 lb cream cheese, cut into cubes
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 1/2 tbsp grated orange zest
6 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

For the blueberry sauce

3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tsp unsalted butter
3/4 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 12 x 9 x 2 (approx) baking dish

Arrange half the brioche slices or cubes in the bottom. Scatter the cream cheese cubes, 3/4 of the blueberries and the orange zest over the brioche or bread. Top with the remaining brioche or bread cubes.

In a bowl, stir the eggs, milk and maple syrup to blend. Pour this egg mixture evenly over the entire casserole. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Remove the casserole from the fridge 30 minutes before you cook it.
Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered until puffed and golden, about another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the blueberry sauce;

In a large saucepan, blend the sugar and cornstarch, then stir in the water. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture boils, thickens, and becomes clear, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the blueberries. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the blueberries burst, about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and lemon juice and keep warm until the casserole is done.

Cut the baked casserole into 6 squares, and transfer to plates. Pour abut 1/4 cup blueberry sauce over each portion and serve hot.

 

 

Baked potato skins mac and cheese

Utterly decadent, rich and satisfying for the whole family. All it needs is a green salad.
This comes from a fellow food blogger called “A Spicy Perspective”

Serves 8

24 oz baby potatoes
2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1 lb elbow macaroni
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup sour cream
1 1/3 lbs shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
10 oz cream cheese, divided
12 oz bacon, fried and crumbled, divided
1 cup chopped green onions, divided
Cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tbsp of oil.
Salt and pepper liberally and shake the pan a little to coat them with oil. Roast for 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Then set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, cook the macaroni in a large pot of salted water, according to the package instructions.
Drain and set aside in a colander.

Using the same pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour and cook the roux (butter-flour) for 1 minutes.
Then whisk in the milk and add the sour cream and 8 oz cream cheese. Bring to a simmer and whisk until the mixture is thick and smooth

Add 1lb shredded cheddar and whisk until smooth. Then add a dash or two of cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the cooked macaroni, 2/3 crumbled bacon and 2/3 cup green onions into the cheese sauce. Stir to coat.

Pour the macaroni into a deep 9 by 13 inch baking dish and set aside.

For the potato skins recipe;
Preheat the oven to broil. Cut each potato in half lengthwise. carefully scoop out most of the flesh, leaving just a little potato attached to the skin. Reserve the crumbled potato flesh.

Brush the potato skins with oil. With the remaining 2 oz of cream cheese, place a scant 1/2 tsp dollop of cream cheese in each potato skin.

Sprinkle the crumbled potato over the mac and cheese then arrange the potato skins over the top.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 lb shredded cheese over the potato skins and add pepper to taste.

For creamy mac and cheese;  place the dish in the oven under the broiler for 2 to3 minutes, watch carefully though. You want the cheese to melt and the tops to toast, but not burn

For a more traditional firm dish; turn the oven to 400 F and bake for 20 mins until the tops are golden.

Once out of the oven, sprinkle the remaining green onions and bacon over the top and serve warm.

 

Mango and ginger cheesecake with kiwi fruit sauce

I must thank the wonderful New Zealand cookery book writer, Annabel Langbein, for this wonderful recipe.
It is utterly sumptuous and darn right sexy!  The kiwi fruit sauce is so easy and adds such a wonderfully exotic and refreshing addition too.
You can cut individual cheesecakes like the one pictured above with a round cutter which look great or you can serve it in slices.

Serves 8

1 1/2 cups plain sweet cookie crumbs
1 1/2 cups finely chopped macadamia nuts or toasted almonds
4 oz butter, melted
3 tsp powdered gelatine
1/4 cup water
9 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup cream
2 x 15 oz cans mangos in juice, drained
1/4 cup chopped crystallized or uncrystallized ginger

Method

Mix the cookie crumbs and nuts together.
Stir in the melted butter and combine evenly. Press into a 9-10inch spring form pan.  Chill

Heat the gelatine and water in a small pan and stir well to dissolve.
Place in a food processor bowl with the cream, cream cheese, sugar, cream and half the mangos.
Puree until smooth.
Finely chop the remaining mangos and stir into the cream cheese mixture with the ginger.
Pour into the prepared base.
Chill for 4 to 5 hours.

This will store covered for 2 to 3 days.

For the kiwi fruit sauce
 
3 peeled kiwi fruit
2-3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
Place 2 of the peeled kiwi fruit and the other ingredients in a food processor. Puree in short bursts to prevent seeds pulverizing. (or the sauce will be bitter)
Chill.  it will keep 2-3 days.
Use the 3rd kiwi to slice and fan across the cheesecake.
Makes about 1 cup

Pate with Asian influence

This pate is a little different due to the Asian flavors added. Thank you to the wonderful Hugh Carpenter who has some superb Asian-ized recipes which I adore!

It takes minutes to make this in a food processor and continues to improve in flavor if made a day or two in advance

Serves 8 to 10 as an appetizer

1/2 lb chicken or turkey livers
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 tbsp finely minced fresh ginger
2 shallots, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp dry mustard powder
1 heaped tsp grated or finely minced orange peel
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/3 tsp 5-spice powder
1/4 tsp Chinese chile sauce (optional)
3 oz cream cheese
2 tbsp Cognac
Sprigs of fresh herbs for garnish

In advance

Trim the fat and sinew from the livers and discard. Cut the livers in half.

In a 10 inch saute pan set over medium heat, melt 2 tbsp butter saute the shallots, ginger and garlic for about 30 seconds.
Add the livers, cover the pan and cook until the livers are no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the livers to a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Scrape all the pan juices into the processor as well then add oyster sauce, mustard powder, orange peel, salt, sugar, 5-spice and chile sauce.
Process until completely smooth.
Add the cream cheese to the food processor and blend briefly.
Add the remaining butter and blend until very smooth.
Add the Cognac and blend again briefly.

Transfer the puree to a 2- cups mold. Smooth the surface and cover with plastic wrap to the top doesn’t discolor.
Refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Garnish with fresh herbs and serve with either crackers or toasty bread

 

Carrot cake ice cream

So you may think this is “gilding the lily” but what do you serve this with?  Carrot cake!!
You must start making this the day before you need to serve it, don’t forget
First of all, put the inner bowl of an ice cream maker in the freezer the day before you make this.

Makes 1 quart

6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup cold sour cream
1 cup cold heavy cream
A pinch of coarse kosher salt
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp good Madagascar vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1&1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp apple pie spice (optional)

Chill a medium mixing bowl and the beaters of an electric mixer.
In the bowl beat the cream cheese at medium speed until soft and smooth.
Add the sugar, 1/4 cup at a time beating well after each addition.
Beat in the sour cream followed by the heavy cream.
Add in the salt, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Beat just until thick and smooth.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.

In the meantime melt the butter and brown sugar in a medium skillet over medium heat.
Add in the carrots, cinnamon, ginger and apple pie spice.
Saute until the brown sugar-butter mixture has thickened and reduced and the carrots are cooked.
Place in a bowl in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, chill the mixer beaters again. using the chilled beaters beat the cold ice cream base going from low speed to medium, until loose and creamy, about 3 minutes.
Pour into an ice-cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
In the last 5 minutes of mixing, pour in the carrot-brown sugar-butter mixture.
Churn until combined.
Serve immediately or, if too soft, freeze for an hour or so in a covered container until it has reached the desired consistency

 

Overnight blueberry french toast

This is well worth doing and make sure you start the night before. It’s worth it!
From the blogger, “One Perfect Bite” and adapted from a Patricia Wells recipe

Serves 8 to 10

Casserole

1 (1lb) loaf day-old blueberry streusel bread, cut into1 inch cubes, or make up the Betty Crocker or Marie Callender’s blueberry muffin mix the day before.
1 8oz package cream cheese, cut into half inch cubes
1-1/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, divided use
12 extra large eggs,organic preferably
2 cups light cream or half and half (cream is best!)
1/3 cup maple syrup

Sauce

1 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup water
1 cup blueberries
1 tbsp butter

Directions

Grease a 9x13x2 inch baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
Cover the bottom of the baking dish with half of the cubed bread.
Dot the cubes of bread with small evenly placed pieces of the cream cheese.
Sprinkle with 1 cup of blueberries.
Cover with remaining bread cubes.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, add the half and half/cream and maple syrup and mix well.
Pour over the bread mixture.
Sprinkle the top of the casserole with the reserved 1/4 cup of blueberries.
Cover and chill 8 hours or overnight.
Remove from the fridge 30 mins before baking.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 30 to 50 minutes or until puffy and golden brown before baking and the center is set.

To make the syrup;

In a saucepan, combine the sugar and cornstarch. Add water and bring to the boil over medium heat.
Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Stir in the blueberries; reduce the heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until the berries have burst.
Stir in the butter.  Serve over the French toast.

Makes 1-3/4 cups sauce

Cut casserole into desired portions. Transfer to plates for serving. Lightly drizzle each serving with about 1 tbsp of the sauce. Pass remaining sauce at the table
Enjoy!!

 

Mock garlic mashed potatoes

We eat these a lot and they contain no carbs!

 

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Serves 4

1 medium head cauliflower
1 tbsp cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/8 tsp straight chicken base or bouillon
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp chopped fresh or dried chives
1 tbsp butter

Clean and remove all the green leaves from a cauliflower. Put it into a steamer and steam until tender.
(You can also cut the cauliflower into florets and boil them till tender)
Drain well, do not let cool and pat the cooked cauliflower very dry with several layers of kitchen towel.

In a food processor puree the cauliflower with the cream cheese, parmesan, garlic,chicken base and pepper until almost smooth.
Garnish with chives and serve with pats of butter.

HINT- try roasting the garlic and adding a little fresh rosemary for a whole new taste!