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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Œufs au Lait

This is my comfort pudding. You might think it is funny that it is French (these little puddings are traditionally served in the charente area at the vendange, which is the feast given to the grape pickers when the harvest is in) because my Mom used to make it all the time and it wasn't the only french thing she made. It is more regular for dessert than Crème Caramel or Crème Brulee simply because when we were growing up she wanted to limit our sugar intake to minimum. I use the same trick with Nabila. In fact it is her first introduction to pudding when we ease her into sharing our meals.

Apart from yoghurt and ice cream, I try not to feed Nabila ready made desserts - which is not always successful since all kids in the Netherlands have a taste for Vla and Mona puddings.
The other thing I like about it is that it is fuss free and versatile. It is so easy to make and so quick it practically makes itself. All you have to do is whisk some eggs, warm up the milk with vanilla and sugar, mix it all together and put it in a Bain Marie in the oven. And 20 minutes later, you get pudding! I make mine with low fat milk and the results is still good. You can change the flavour by replacing vanilla with orange blossom water, rose water or even with spices like cardamom and cinnamon and it is metamorphoses into something exotic. You can add chocolate or cocoa powder into the milk and it becomes chocolate pot. Or you can add some fresh or canned fruits into the ramekins and pour the custard over before you bake.

But for me, I like it as is and like Clotilde, who has a brilliant recipe from Max's grandma in her blog said "it is the sort of dessert for which you will want to change into your pajamas."

The recipe I used:

425ml milk (I used low fat)

2 eggs

75g sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract or one pod of vanilla


1 Butter 4 ramekins - about 150ml each. Heat the oven to 160C/gas 3. Have a roasting tin ready and put the kettle on (with water in it :P)

2. Pour the milk into a pan with sugar and vanilla. Bring gently to boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes.

3. In a large bowl, whish eggs until frothy. Slowly whisk in the milk. Mix thoroughly. set the ramekins in the roasting tin and divide custard between them.Pour hot water aroudn the ramekins to come halfway up to the sides.

4. Bake for 20 minutes until just set then cool and chill. This keeps in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Monday, January 22, 2007

waiter, there is sausage in my stew!!!

I think I read his brief wrong. But the experiment was delicious and I am glad to have read it wrong. I thought he wanted a post about having sausages in a stew and I thought what a mahvellouz idea since I have been dying to try out the new fresh sausage available in my halal butcher in dalca.

Sometimes I get frustrated when a recipe call for chorizo. Halal special sausages are not readily available. Usually when I try such recipes I just used a teaspoon of my favourite smoked paprika. But I still feel there is something missing. Probably the magic that can elevate a dish from something yummy into something truly amazing. Although halal spicy sausages are available in the chill section of the supermarket they always give me horrible migraine afterwards. And my mouth is always left with a a coat of artificial-plasicky aftertaste when I cooked with them.

Since the expansion, Hassem (my butcher) has added some wonderful halal sausages and pastrami to his stock. One of my favourite is this hot and spicy lamb and beef sausages which is excellent on the grill and as I found out last weekend in dalca.

I cheated with with this version though. Instead of making it from scratch, I used the frozen lamb stock I have from a stew I made 2 weeks ago. So this one is done within half an hour. Excellent nosh to dig in to after a long walk in the forest!

Simple Dalca with spicy lamb sausages

6 spicy lamb sausages
one handful of dhal
1 carrot - diced
2 potatoes - diced
1 onion - chopped
1 tomato quartered
1 teaspoon of curry powder
1 teaspoon of halba campur (a mixture of fennel, fenugreek, black mustard, cumin seeds)
2 cups of lamb stock

1. Boil the dhal in a small pot of water for about 15 minutes - until it is soft.
2. In another pot, fry the sausages with a bit of oil or ghee and set aside. Add onion and fry for a while until it is brown and caramelised. I just love the smell of it at this stage.
3. Add a tsp of halba campur and mix it for a minute and then add curry powder. Mix and fry it for about 3 minutes.
4. Add tomato and stir for a bit.
5. Add the stock. Bring it to boil and add the potato and carrot.
6. Sieve the dhal and add into the curry mixture. Add in the sausages as well.
7. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with bread or rice.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

cranberry chutneys

It's not that I don't want to update this blog. My camera has been driving me crazy. Now that the holidays are over, I vow to conquer this new camera. I am still unhappy with the quality of these pictures and hope I will improve over time. Back to the user manual, I go!

I love giving little food for Christmas. As every year, it is usually chutneys, munchies or cookies and cakes. I usually make apple and pear chutneys at the beginning of autumn and summer fruit chutneys in summer. But last year was a whirlwind. I actually didn't have the usual numbers of chutneys to give away. The apple chutneys I do have were probably just enough for family members. So I decided to make cranberry chutneys just for Christmas.

I made three different types - one was made Mestizaje red wine from Spain with the combination of Chinese spices - star anise, Szechuan pepper, cinnamon, clove, salt and palm sugar and honey. All the ingredients left simmering together until the cranberries begin to pop. The chutney is fragrant and tasted of golden caramel from the honey and palm sugar with a restraint heat from the Szechuan pepper. although they are called peppers - the Szechuan peppers actually came from blossoms instead of peppercorn. I love this served with roasted duck and lamb.

The second type was a combination of limoncello, juice and zest of satsuma and mandarins, sliced kumquat, black pepper, juniper berries, cinnamon, cardamom and fennel and brown sugar. This version is tartier but sweeter. This one goes with everything but is especially good with game.

The third one was the *halal* version - made with no alcohol. I used Jus de Raisin Gazeifie 2006 (essentially sparkly grape juice but ohh so yummy!) from the fabulous Paul Giraud (the cognac maestro). The spices for this chutney is fresh curry leaves, fresh green chillies, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and garam masala. Instead of just combining everything together and leaving them to simmer - I fried all the spices together first and then added the cranberries and the jus de raisin and seasoned it with salt, black pepper and sugar. And then as with the other two, they are left to simmer for a while.
Chutneys usually taste better after a month and keep very well up to a year.