Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pink Peppercorn Creme Brulee

Our DC foodie friends, Brooke and Adrian, recently won a door prize from the Women Chefs & Restaurateurs that cannot be beat - one cooking class for 10 per month with amazing women chefs for the next 12 months! We were lucky enough to be invited to the first "Crowning Cuisine" event with Bonnie Moore and Melanie Parker at L'Academie de Cuisine.

We started the afternoon honing our knife skills making a classic French onion soup gratinee, sauteed chicken with mushroom cream sauce, rice pilaf and julienned carrots. Learning to mince garlic into a paste with a knife is something I will definitely be practicing again this weekend. (I'm sure Super Bowl cuisine requires minced garlic of some sort.)

Another favorite part of the afternoon was devouring the creme brulees we made! Here is Melanie Parker's (Equinox) recipe:

3 C Heavy cream
2 C Half and half
5 oz Sugar
1/2 Vanilla bean, split and seeded
1 oz Crushed pink peppercorns
5 oz Egg yolks

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Place egg yolks in a large, non-reactive bowl.

3. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat heavy cream, half and half, vanilla bean and pink peppercorns (or saffron or lavender). When the liquid is hot, whisk in sugar and bring mixture to a bowl. Remove from heat and strain spices from the cream mixture.

4. Temper the cream mixture into the egg yolks by adding a small amount of the hot liquid to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Add the rest of the hot liquid in a steady stream, whisking constantly.

5. Place 8 6-oz ramekins in a roasting pan or baking dish with high sides. Ladle hot custard into ramekins. Make a water bath by pouring hot water into baking pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until custards are set, about one hour.

6. Remove pan from oven and place ramekins on a rack to cool. Then place in the refrigerator for
about 4-5 hours to chill completely.

7. When ready to serve, sprinkle with granulated sugar and carefully brulee the top using a torch.

In our cooking class, Melanie had also helped us make a Saffron Creme Brulee and a Lavender Creme Brulee (photographed). She had made various fruit compotes and syrups to accompany each one. She also baked small strips of powdered-sugar phyllo dough.

Monday, January 26, 2009

5 Days Left to Vote!

Some exciting news for the last week in January: I just nominated myself for the Baker Artist Awards.

The Baker Artists Awards celebrate Baltimore's artists on the Web with an ongoing exhibition of its diverse artistic practice. As a Baltimore artist, I am eligible to win the significant Mary Sawyers Baker Prize or maybe bragging rights as Baltimore’s Choice.

Go to and sign up now to vote for your favorite songwriters, painters, printmakers, bookbinders, sculptors, composer, filmmaker, performance artist, dancer - and a few who reject all attempts to be classified.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Tonight is the kick-off of one of my favorite times of the year: Charm City's Winter Restaurant Week!

From January 23rd - February 1st, 90+ restaurants will be offering a variety of three-course dinners, in just about any cuisine that strikes your fancy, for only $30.09. Arrange a three-course staff lunch at select restaurants for just $20.09. What a perfect excuse to get out of the house on a Friday night - and not feel guilty about spending your salary from the past week.

Happy Eating!
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