Friday, September 19, 2008

Chocolate Almond Creme Brulee

2 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 whole vanilla bean
1 (3.52-ounce) Toblerone chocolate almond bar, finely chopped
6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar, plus more for topping

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Pour the cream into a medium saucepan over low heat. Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean down the middle, scrape out the seeds and add them to the saucepan. Put the vanilla bean in there too for extra flavor. Bring the cream to a brief simmer — do not boil, or it will overflow. Stir in the chocolate and remove the vanilla bean. Remove from the heat.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar with a whisk until the mixture is pale yellow and thick.

Slowly pour the chocolate cream into the yolks, continuously whisking. Do not add hot cream too quickly or the eggs will cook. Whisk until well combined.

Fill a baking dish a 1/4 full with water. Set 4 6-ounce ramekins in the water bath. Using a ladle, divide the custard into the ramekins, filling about 3/4 full. Bake until barely set around the edges, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the water and cool. Refrigerate the creme brulee until completely cold, about 2 hours or up to overnight. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar on top of each one, caramelize the tops with a creme brulee torch and serve.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cheesy Tator-Topped Chili

6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), corn oil or vegetable oil
2 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons (very red) chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
Pinch of cinnamon
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 bottle stout beer
1-1 1/2 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons butter
7 scallions, white parts finely sliced (use tender green parts for garnish)
1-1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
2 cups extra-sharp white cheddar, shredded

In a large pot, boil the potatoes until they are fork-tender.While the potatoes are coming up to a boil, pre-heat a deep skillet or wide, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO and ground beef and crumble up the meat as it cooks, using the back of a wooden spoon or potato masher, for about 8 minutes, until brown and caramelized.Add the onions, garlic, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, cinnamon, salt and tomato paste to the meat and cook another 5 minutes. Add the beer and stock, and stir to loosen any bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until thickened. Season the chili with salt to your taste.Once the potatoes are done cooking, drain and return them back to the same pot. Place the potatoes back over the heat, shaking them around a bit to dry them out. Add the butter and the whites of the scallions to the potatoes, and sauté the scallions 1-2 minutes, until tender.
Remove the potatoes from the heat then add in the milk, egg yolks, salt and ground black pepper. Mash them up with the potatoes masher. Fold the cheese into the potatoes and allow it to melt.At this point the chili should be ready to be poured into a casserole dish and topped with the cheesy scallion potatoes. Place the chili tater-topped casserole into the oven and brown the top, about 2-3 minutes. Garnish with the reserved green scallion tops and serve.

Sasha and I saw this dish prepared on the Rachel Ray cooking show. She decided she wanted to make it for my birthday dinner. It was delicious! I had never had cummin before and had no idea what I was missing out on all these years. (The stores were out of ground cummin, so we processed the cummin seeds in the vita-mix.)