I have a few favorite comic strips on the side of my refrigerator. Most have to do with food. One is from Baby Blues (a hilarious strip for anyone with kids). Darryl and Wanda are sitting across the kitchen table from each other, with a recipe box in between them.
Wanda: What should we have for dinner tonight?
Darryl: Let's see...We had hamburger Monday night...We had chicken last night...
Darryl: Unless I'm mistaken it's hamburger's turn again.
Wanda: Is it just me, or does it seem like we're in a food rut?
Raise your hand if you know the feeling... =)
I've been feeling like I'm in a rut lately. About just about everything. I need something to shake me out of it, but I'm still trying to figure out what. Food seems like a good place to start, since I spend so much of my time focused on it. I don't blog about savory food, but I cook a lot. It seems like lately we've been eating the same things over and over. Some of that is because I'm trying to come up with quick things so I can get the girls to bed (and that's another post). Some is just because I don't know where to start looking for new ideas. Any suggestions for new things to try?
I don't have as much trouble with baking, especially since being a part of blogging groups forces me to try new things. But I've been having a hard time finding the motivation to make stuff lately--even Tuesdays with Dorie hasn't been inspiring me as much. Thank goodness for my friends on Twitter. I'm more likely to want to make something when others are making it at the same time. That's what several of us did on Sunday morning for Christine's pick of Chocolate Pots de Creme.
Making custardy things can be a little scary, but in this case, the oven does most of the work for you. For this chocolate version of pots de creme, you start off by making ganache with the chocolate and some of the cream. I used a mix of El Rey 58% and 70% (what I had on hand). I didn't have whole milk, so I used a bit more cream in place of a bit of the milk. I also cheated and heated my milk/cream mixture in the microwave. While it was heating, I whisked the yolks and whole egg together, then gradually whisked in the sugar and a very generous pinch of salt. The milk was then gradually whisked into the egg mixture and then the whole thing was stirred into the ganache.
The recipe calls for eight 4-ounce ramekins. I only have four, so I used those and four 6-ounce ones. I'm glad I did, since my custard mixture filled them nicely. I didn't want to get out my big roasting pan, but I couldn't get the cups to fit into my 13"x9" pan, so I had to use it. And then I had to heat more water for the water bath, because the roasting pan is so darn big. =) But finally I got it done, including covering the whole thing with foil, and got everything into the oven. I checked at 30 minutes, and the custards were nicely set, with some jiggle left in the middle. After a 10-minute rest in the pan on the stovetop, the custards were a little more firm. Perfect. I took the cups out of the water bath, let them cool to room temperature, then put them in the fridge.
The verdict? Mmm. The pots de creme were really good. They have a lovely smooth texture. After tasting the custard before baking, I wasn't how chocolatey it would be. But after baking, the chocolate flavor was more intense, and it wasn't too sweet. The pots de creme were a big hit with Brianna and Gillian, who love anything resembling chocolate pudding. Of course, Jamie and I were happy to eat our share. I'm not sure that this recipe will supplant my favorite (a non-baked version from Cook's Illustrated), but I'm really glad I tried it.
If you'd like to try these for yourself, Christine will have it on her blog. Or you can just get a copy of the book for yourself. =) To see what everyone else thought of this recipe, check out this week's Links.
Two more quick things... In another effort to shake myself out of my rut, I decided to play around with my blog's design. I pretty much hadn't touched it since I first set it up over three years ago. What you do you think? And you just never know when something unexpected will inspire you. When I was going to take pictures of my pots de creme, Jamie was sitting at the kitchen table, in my usual photography spot. Rather than disturb him, I looked around the house for another place to take pictures. I ended up in the front room of the house, in my girls' play kitchen area. Their little table is up against a window, and the light was great. I'm really happy with how the pictures turned out. So it never hurts to try something new.