Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Weekend Good Stuff

Of course, it's not all sadness all weekend around here. Friday night, for example, I was very pleased to arrive home from work and find these little beauties sitting on a plate: Basil Ricotta Gnocchi. To celebrate his retirement, our kids gave Pater a series of cooking lessons at The Dirty Apron cooking school in Vancouver, and so far I've been the prime beneficiary.

The gnocchi are from the Italian class, and they were melt-in-your-mouth perfection. After they spent a moment or two in that boiling water bath, they were scooped out to be dressed with some olive oil.
They shared headlines with a magnificent sauce featuring these chanterelles. . .

alongside some beautifully seasoned lamb chops. And a glass of Cab. Sauv., if I remember correctly. I'm usually brain-dead by Friday night, although this went some way toward reviving me.


Not enough, unfortunately, to remind me to get my camera out for the pièce de résistance, the crème brulée. Delicious, with pistachio-lemon flavouring. And happily, Pater was very dissatisfied with the fact that it wasn't properly set. Why happily? Because he tried again to perfect it on Saturday night. When it didn't set again, but was appreciated just as much by me.

We've consulted a few books and websites, and suspect the solution is in checking the oven temp and playing with the makeshift bain marie. And practise, practise, practise. See? Not all sadness (I can do fake jaunty with the best of them!)


  1. Wonderful food...creme of my favourites.
    "fake jaunty" love that pairing of words...sometimes faking it makes it happen...jaunty I mean.

    May I boldy suggest a wee treat ?
    ...a massage or a facial
    they work for me, especially when it has been dark and dreary out and the rain has been pouring for days.

  2. Oh, this is making my mouth water....

  3. You seem like a woman who'd enjoy a little gnocci ;)

  4. GORGEOUS! How did the creme brulee fail to set? Was it over cooked i.e. sandy or floury tasting? Too egg-y? Liquidy?

  5. Yum!! You probably know that creme brulee is one of my absolute favourites ... I wonder why it didn't set? The gnocchi look wonderful, and those chanterelles - wow. Lucky you to be cooked for.

  6. The gnocchi and chanterells look divine. Tonight my sweetie is cooking for me. I think it will be Turkey meatloaf, also divine. And homey.

    We used to make the Cooks Illustrated crème brulée but these days we're trying to reduce. For us, savory is more important than sweet.

  7. NOM!

    And they say wearing a smile creates the affect. Not always, but sometimes. You're also in transition now, what with Pater home all the time. Lovely, I'm sure, but you are losing your solo self. Maybe that's not important, but just in case, I'm waving to the Mater that lived mostly alone on an island:).

  8. I have been doing so well on my diet. I think this post may be what inspires me to celebrate with a trip to a place that does a proper gnocchi. Uh, do you have reservations available Friday at 8 pm for two and a well-behaved dog?

  9. Hostess: I've been thinking about a facial and a salt scrub. Sadly, given the stack of papers I have to mark this weekend, there will probably not be time for that, but I'll dream about it anyway. . .
    Pseu: It was really good!
    Duchesse: Ha! Indeed!
    K: Liquidy. . . and that's right, you'd be the perfect consultant on this. Not sure I want him to solve the problem too quickly, mind you . . .
    Tiffany: Yes, another potential consultant on the custard-setting!

  10. Susan: The meatloaf sounds so comforting, just what I'd like right now. We prefer savoury as well, as a rule, but I'm very partial to a good creamy dessert.
    Lisa: Nom?
    You get close to an aspect of what I'm working through right now -- Pater's retirement has changed fundamental roles, or at least I feel that way. And upset a few bargains made long ago, ones that were never well articulated and perhaps were never legitimate, but nonetheless. . . . And the Mater who lived alone felt a bit safer in many ways, 'cause she knew she could do that. Thanks for waving to her -- she doesn't want anyone to forget her nor to forget that she's still here.
    LBR: Okay, I just told the chef that a famous writer, someone who blogs for Psychology Today and gets written up in numerous glossy mags, will be stopping by tomorrow night looking for gnocchi. See you then!

  11. If you or your husband want to email me the recipe I could (maybe) make some suggestions. Of course, I understand if you don't want that to happen :-)

    FYI - If you've got the bain marie water at the height of the contents in your ramekins (and you're using the temp suggested i.e. in the range of 325) it could be the recipe itself.

    PS: If you've got a gas stove, that can also have an impact on the quality of the custard. Gas stoves are notoriously tricky for baking because of the heat variations.

  12. Excellent ! I got dad the Italian classes, I thought he would like the gnocchi!!
    This makes me happy. Did dad make the creme brulee in the ramikins I got you for Christmas a while ago? Cool :)
    yum yum yum

  13. K: Paul's away right now, but I'll show him your comments when he gets back. I don't think the fault is the recipe because he had success with it at the cooking school (which has a pretty good rep) -- as did the other students. So it's something in the sitch here. From what I read in Harold McGee's Science of Food book, my money's on the oven temp -- his cookie-sheet covered with water was a very poor sub for the bain marie, I think.
    Have to say, though, that it tasted very yummy and I'm not unhappy about him having to practise 'til he gets it right!
    Girlcook: Yes he did use those ramekins (they're mine, right? but I'll def. loan them in this very good cause!) -- we need a refill on the blowtorch though. Any thoughts re the custard-setting?

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  15. Eeek - I'm sure it's the cookie sheet! He should use a roasting pan with sides at least 3 inches high (even a disposable one from the grocery store might work). I should have said, the water should go up about 1.5 inches. Ramekin size and fill up of custard can vary.

    Also, if the brule still doesn't set after that suggestion, my money is on reworking slightly the egg to cream ratio. I know it worked at the school, so the recipe is good, but you'll get more set depending on the ratio of these.

    He may have used smaller eggs or a different type of cream than at the school. Sounds like he's following directions to the letter, but maybe confirm? I've done that by accident before.

    How I can be a person that has 3 different fat contents of cream in my fridge at any time is beyond me. But that's another story.

  16. K: He can't believe I thought he used a cookie sheet -- that's what I heard him say, but apparently he used a roasting pan. I think he's going to fiddle with ratio tomorrow night, and quite honestly, I'm pretty accepting of the trial-and-error process. Our kids used to complain that they had to eat paella almost every Sunday because he was perfecting his recipe -- if you ever make it out to our part of the world, you can check it out, a standing invite . . . anyone with 3 different kinds of cream in the fridge at once is a friend of Paul's. . .

  17. I wondered how he could have used a cookie sheet! :-) I totally want to come for dinner and try out your husband's fantastic food. Paella is good stuff! (And children, what do they know?) Now that they're in their Kraft Dinner phase, I'm sure they would appreciate such a lovingly constructed dish :-)


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