Thursday, April 20, 2017

a tablescape mystery item?

Last week when my sister was thrifting without me she found this fun rack with six small covered ramekins.  They were white and she knows my penchant for small white dishes especially and white dishes in general.  So she grabbed it up and I set about researching it as to its use.

It has a chrome rack with a folding handle.  The ramekins hold 1/4 cup.  The rack holds them up off the table about 1/4 to 3/8 inches.  The covers rest on the lip but do not fasten.  Both the ramekins and the cute covers have raised fluting. Were they used for cooking something?  I tried to think of what I could cook in them that a quarter cup serving would be  the right amount for.  I had recently been making pot de cremes but it seemed small for that.  Was the rack with the handle for lifting the collection out of a water bath?  I had heard about but never cooked coddled eggs.  A quick google search for egg coddlers showed a similarly sized container but one with a screwed on metal lid.  None with a rack and none that matched my little cuties.  

 It kind of reminded me of the marsala dabba that I found a few weeks ago.

When the marsala dabba showed up at Goodwill it was something that I had not seen before but it had markings on the side so I was able to google it.  It holds Indian spices.  My new ramekins were not marked in any fashion.  I googled ceramic spice containers and found many sets of little dishes, many with covers and some with covers with a notched out area that held a tiny spoon.  Mine did not come with notches or tiny spoons.  Many of them were pairs or three matching pots on a rack or wood tray.  Some were called spice jars, some condiment jars.  There were none that are exactly like mine.

I may never know what their intended purpose was or how they were marketed and sold but I might give coddled eggs a try.  I am not into exotic spices yet and if I were I have that dabba to hold them.  As often happens I fully expect that when I quit looking for them I will discover their purpose.  Until then they will dress up my collection. 

Joining Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch here.
 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

yum

I don't know about where you live but in my neck of the woods there is a short window of time in late winter/early spring when Meyer lemons show up in our local produce sections.  I have been watching for them because awhile back I saw a recipe for a Meyer lemon margarita on the web.  It was a Rick Bayless recipe and it looked doable and good.  I don't drink a lot of margaritas but it is almost required, to my thinking, when at a Mexican restaurant.  Even then I usually choose a fruity, kind of sweet margarita.  (Peach is one of my favorites).  I am not really much of a tequila drinker aside from a shot of Don Julio in memory of my brother a couple of times a year. I was eager to try this recipe.

This year when the Meyer lemons were spotted I bought four bags and a bottle of tequila.  I only needed two but I also have the extras soaking in Everclear to make a batch of limoncello.  That post won't be written for another four weeks.

To make Rick's margarita the tequila is infused for four days with the lemon peel and then strained.  The simple syrup is cooked with additional Meyer lemon peel to infuse the syrup.  The Meyer lemon juice is collected for the third part of the recipe.  When the family was together at my mom's for Easter some of us  had a batch of margaritas.  It is made by the pitcher so it couldn't be easier.  Our ingredients were refrigerated and we poured it over ice to serve.  It had a strong tequila presence and was a little less sweet than I am used to but boy was it yummy.  It was easy to do and I tried to make it easier since I would be taking everything along.  When I had finished straining the tequila I poured it back into the bottle.  It would make two pitchers.  When I was done making the simple syrup I measured out the amount that I would need for a pitcher and placed it in small canning jars in the freezer.  I also measured out the juice and put the right amount for a pitcher in another canning jar.  When I headed into Mom's I grabbed the tequila, two jars of frozen infused simple syrup, and two jars of frozen lemon juice.  By the time it was time to throw together the drinks the frozen parts were still partially frozen and made for an icy drink when mixed together and poured over ice cubes.  

no ice in this picture but pretty yellow color
 Rick Bayless' recipe can be found here.

Cheers!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

ooh la la French desserts

When my favorite thrift/estate store had a big sale in preparation for moving one of my treasures purchased was a stack of cookbooks.  I already have many, many cookbooks so I patiently poked thru their selections and grabbed several that I didn't already have.  Included in my choices was a small paperback book called Simple French Desserts that had been published in 2000..  I love all things kitchen related so many of the tools and dishes needed for these desserts were things that I had already been collecting.  I have individual souffle dishes, individual tart dishes  for creme brulee, other small dishes suitable for pots de creme and I had recently found a coeur a la creme mold and a kitchen torch.  I was set to go.

I didn't make the souffle, that will be for next time.  But this weekend provided a couple of opportunities for trying other recipes from the book.  On Saturday my brother was visiting at my parents and so we got together for supper.  My sister and her daughter and daughter's boyfriend joined us and I brought creme brulee for dessert.

On Sunday my son and his girlfriend were visiting and we got together at my parents' house again for dinner and this time I brought two versions of pots de creme, one chocolate and one coffee.

I did also make a coeur a la creme but it needed to drain for 24 hours so it wasn't ready for the weekend due to my not planning ahead. I also decided that since many of the dishes required separated eggs and I had whites left over that it was a good time to make another French goodie, macarons, with the whites.   Once I had a refrigerator stocked with the extra desserts it only made sense to arrange them on a tray and take a couple of pictures.


None of the dishes were particularly difficult but they did involve several steps and seemed to create a mountain of dirty dishes.  The pots de creme and the creme brulee are essentially custards and so they require egg yolks to be separated from the whites and beaten with sugar, cream that is heated, then strained, and then mixed with yolks and then once poured into the little individual dishes they are baked in the oven in a bain marie or water bath. They were served with creme Chantilly, a sweetened whipped cream.  The coeur a la creme required both whipped cream and whipped egg whites and the macarons, whipped egg whites.  My mixer got a work out. I must have washed that bowl and beater five or six times.  For the chocolate pots de creme the heated cream was poured over chocolate to melt it.  For the cafe au lait pots de creme the broken coffee beans were steeped in the hot cream to infuse the cream with a coffee flavor and then strained before mixing with the eggs.
creme brulee

crunchy sugar topping

cafe au lait in an espresso cup

cafe au lait, creamy coffee color

pot de creme

coeur a la creme with blackberry coulis

tasted good but difficult to serve prettily

macarons with meyer lemon buttercream

I love fussy cooking so this was right up my alley.     

 

Not exactly a tablescape but still joining BNOTP for Tablescape Thursday here.