Thursday, September 21, 2017

My Favourite Dessert: Crème Caramel

            Having my career so focused on food, people always ask me what my favourite thing to make is. This is a very difficult question to answer, but when it comes to dessert my favourite thing to eat is Crème Caramel. This has been my number one choice as an adult for as long as I can remember.

Although the process of this recipe requires a bit of care and attention, this is sure to become a favorite decadent dessert in your home and with guests. Crème Caramel is much like Crème Brûlée, but the caramelized sugar goes into the ramekin first, rather than torched on top as with a Brûlée. The result is a complex caramel layer on top of the inverted custard and a residual complex caramel sauce that is a perfect companion with each bite of the delicate custard.
            This recipe is also included as one of the over 150 recipes in my 'best of' cookbook: The Best In Your Kitchen.
            This is our personal recipe that my wife and I have perfected, and we make it for many special occasions. Enjoy, and until next time... Happy Cooking!

Crème Caramel

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

1/4 tsp salt


2 cups whipping cream

1 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

1/2 tsp salt

One 2-inch strip of lemon zest

3 large eggs

3 large egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease 6 ramekins with butter.

2.     Put the 2/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water and 1/4 tsp salt in a small heavy bottomed saucepan over medium/low heat until the sugar dissolves. When it starts to turn brown, swirl in the pan but do not stir until it turns dark rich brown, but not burnt. Immediately pour equal amounts into the prepared ramekins.

3.     In another heavy bottomed saucepan, bring the whipping cream, milk, vanilla, salt and the lemon zest to just below a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and let sit while preparing the eggs in the next step.

4.     Whisk the 3 whole eggs with the 3 extra egg yolks and the 1/2 cup sugar until frothy.

5.     Remove the zest from the cream mixture. Very slowly drizzle the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture while whisking constantly. Doing it slow will prevent the eggs from curdling.

6.     Pour this prepared custard mixture into the caramel lined ramekins.

7.     Place the filled ramekins into a large pan. Pour boiling water into the pan until the water level reaches approximately half-way up the outer sides of the ramekins.

8.     Carefully put this pan into the oven and reduce the temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the centers of the custards are almost set (cooked).

9.     Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours and up to 2 days.

10.  To Serve: Loosen the custard in each ramekin by running a butter knife all around the edge of the custard. Invert a plate over the ramekin. Quickly flip the ramekin/plate over and gently jiggle until the custard/caramel come loose. Remove the ramekin and serve on the plate.

Makes 6 portions

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Rosemary Maple Bacon Jam... Yes, I said Bacon Jam

            Many people sing the praises of bacon, and I am no different. What happens however, when you take that wonderfully complex flavour and turn it into jam? True bliss. Recently I featured my recipe for Rosemary Maple Bacon Jam at a local fair and the popularity of this recipe was overwhelming... so I decided to share it with you.

            The best tip I can give you is to use premium bacon from a butcher for best results. This is not a recipe for your “run of the mill” grocery store brand. Don’t get me wrong, you can still do it with regular bacon, but the results are much better with premium bacon. Also, this recipe is not a place for dried rosemary. Fresh rosemary full of wonderful essential oils is the way to go. Oh, and one last note on the ingredients, please use pure maple syrup and not regular pancake syrup.

            Somebody asked me “what do you put bacon jam on?” I replied “Everything!” Seriously though this is awesome on crackers with goat cheese, pizzas, bruscetta, sandwiches, and almost anywhere you would like a sweet and savoury concoction.

            This recipe is also included as one of the over 150 recipes in my 'best of' cookbook: The Best In Your Kitchen.

            Enjoy! You can thank me later... Happy Cooking!

Rosemary Maple Bacon Jam

Recipe created by Chef Dez

“The perfect topping for almost any appetizers you may be thinking of offering to your guests, like bruscetta, cheese & crackers, canapés, etc. My favorite is paired with soft unripened goat cheese (chevre) as the creamy tanginess is the perfect match for this sweet complex concoction.”

1 pound bacon slices, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

2 medium onions, quartered and sliced thin

6 to 8 garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup black coffee

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

1.     Add the bacon pieces to a large heavy bottomed pan or dutch oven. Turn the heat to medium/high and cook the bacon until almost crisp (browned and cooked, but not crisp), reducing the heat to medium as it starts to turn brown, stirring occasionally, approximately 20 minutes. Remove the cooked bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels to drain.

2.     Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat from the pan. Turn the heat to medium and stir in the onions to the tablespoon of bacon fat followed by the garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until this onion/garlic mixture is softened and slightly browned, approximately 5 to 7 minutes.

3.     Add the coffee, brown sugar, maple syrup, vinegar, rosemary, and reserved bacon. Stir to combine and increase the heat to medium/high to bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium/low and simmer uncovered for approximately 90 minutes until the mixture is syrupy and has a jam like texture.

4.     Transfer this mixture to a food processor and pulse a few times until the consistency/texture is what you desire. Will last up to 3 weeks in your refrigerator.

Makes approximately 2 cups