Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bourbon for Brunch?

The little town where we live now (because I go to school here) has been feeling, in all honesty, a tad lonely. We don't often think about this because well, we don't have to, but it's not always easy making friends. For the time being, though, we're both trying to be positive and not let the change of scenery and its confines hinder the things we really love and believe in doing. The closest I can come to a conclusion about all of this is that sometimes life rearranges around you in a way that you (even if momentarily) need to make yourself happy while you work your way toward something. This isn't self-deceit, it's honest and hard work and it requires creativity and humility. It's something like the opposite of escape to the sanctuary of the familiar. Food is a big way we keep our mental health; really. Taking time with food makes an unbelievable difference.

Caramel Bourbon Croissant Pudding à la Nigella
  • 3 stale croissants
  • 6-8tbsp sugar (white or brown)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 125ml light/heavy cream
  • 150ml milk
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • 3 eggs, beaten
Preheat the oven to 180°C

Tear the croissants into pieces and put in a small gratin dish (you can save one whole and put it on top of the pieces for aesthetics); a cast iron oval dish would work perfectly but use whatever you've got.

Swirl around the sugar in the water in a saucepan to help dissolve before putting on the stove over medium/ high heat. Caramelize the sugar and water mixture by letting it bubble away, without stirring, until it all turns a deep amber colour (3-5 minutes). Turn to low, pour in the cream and whisk while adding the milk and bourbon. Take off the heat and, still whisking, add the beaten eggs.

Now you've got a bourbon custard, which you will pour over the croissants and leave to steep for 5-10 minutes depending on how stale the croissants are. If you have a whole one on top, poke holes in it and press it to make sure it soaks up enough custard.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and the custard has set. Serve with Strong coffee and something light like citrus segments... Life is good.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fowl cookery

This might be some kind of blasphemy, but I don't really like turkey unless it's been deep fried whole. I have to admit though, at a friend's cabin this past Thanksgiving--- it's mid-October on a Monday in Canada, as opposed to the upcoming last Thursday of November down south---, we tried leftovers from a gobbler that he'd roasted on a charcoal barbecue that was succulent, flavourful, smoky and so tender as to almost not need chewing. It was scrumptious, but the rest of my family is vegetarian and I have no interest in standing over a hibachi for five hours slowly tempering the flames to avoid blackening the bird. So, for those of us with smaller appetites, here's a recipe for roasted fowl (chicken, quail, cornish hen or pheasant will all do just fine.)

Herb encrusted Roast Bird(s) with autumn vegetables
All measurements are for a whole roaster chicken, adjust accordingly. You'll also need twine or skewers.

For the rub

3 sprigs rosemary, stemmed and finely chopped
2 tbsp coriander seeds, cracked (put them under a tea towel and smash them with something blunt)
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried parsley
1tbsp olive oil

For the veggies

2C pearl onions, peeled and halved
2 bunches baby carrots, cleaned and sliced lengthwise
2C new red potatoes, quartered
1tbsp olive oil

Take your bird out of the fridge and let it sit on a plate to adjust to room temperature. Put a bowl of soapy water in your sink for later. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

In a roasting pan, coat your vegetables in a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper generously and toss everything together. Mix all of the herbs and spices for the rub in a bowl and set aside. Pour the olive oil directly onto your bird, or into your palms, and rub thoroughly on the skin and underneath directly onto the flesh of the bird. In the soapy water, wash and dry your hands.

Salt and Pepper the bird. Now rub all of the spice mixture into the bird until it is completely coated above and beneath the skin. Tie the bird's legs tightly together and skewer its wings into the body, or alternatively, twine the whole bird. (I try and avoid doing this because the twine tends to tears the crispy skin after its removed, and make the bird look like it's been cooked in a waffle iron.) Now place your bird into a well of vegetables in the middle of the roasting pan and put it in the oven for 20 to 75 minutes, depending on the size and variety of fowl you've used. Some indicators: it should be golden brown and crunchy on the outside. You can take the bird out after twenty minutes to stir the veggies and check the temperature with a thermometer to gauge your its progress.

Also, here's a link to cooking time chart

Enjoy your fowl and be thankful for all the good eating, it's always a privilege.