Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Is too much Brûlée ever enough?

Or, Why do I buy so many cookbooks?

Ok, so these are rhetorical questions, but I’ll give you the answers anyway. No; and because they’re there (and it’s safer than climbing Mt Everest). Actually answer number 2 could almost do for both really.

My new cookbook is Off Duty (Harper Collins, rrp AUD$49.95). It has a dual purpose: firstly it has buckets of gorge-isimous recipes penned by super chefs and is billed as what they cook on their down time. Not all the super chefs, mind, but a fair swatch of them, and even Aussies Neil Perry and Matt Moran get a guernsey. Which also makes me wonder what a collective noun might be for chefs (you know, like a flock of sheep, or a murder of crows, or a sulk of Goths). It can’t be a soupçon, not big enough. An enmity of chefs? A volatility of chefs? An invective of chefs? A bouillon of chefs? Maybe you can help me out here in the comments section and give me your ideas.

Secondly, the profits go to a good cause. The editing chef’s son sustained a paralysing spinal injury diving into the surf at Bondi, here in Sydney, while he was on his gap year between school and Uni. So David Nicholls from the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London (blimey, nice looking pub to stay at) set up a foundation to fund spinal research and injury rehabilitation. That’s where the profits go. You can eat well, feel good about it, enthral your friends, and help someone all at the same time. Not often you get a chance like that! Also, it’s probably as close as you’re going to get to Gordon Ramsay making you breakfast on Sunday. Unless you’re Mrs Ramsay or a little Ramsay.

But back to my musings. When you see a recipe for Honey, Drambuie and Whisky Crème Brûlée, you have automatically answered that original perplexing question. No contest. You must have it.

110g clear acacia honey
9 egg yolks
75g caster sugar
2 tablespoons of Irish Whisky
6 tablespoons of Drambuie
600 mls pouring or thickened cream (35% milk fat)

Extra sugar for the caramel top

As you would know from other posts about this wonderful dessert genre, I prefer a stove cooked custard, as you would do for a classic Anglaise, rather than a baked job, so I have (of course) altered the method from what’s in the book. Which brings me back to question number 2 – Why, if I don’t bother to follow the instructions, do I etc… ). Whatever.

Mix together the sugar, honey, egg yolks, whisky, and drambuie and combine (if it’s a really cold day you might need to warm the honey a little). Scald the cream and pour, whisking constantly into the egg mixture. Pour through a sieve and return to the stove and whisk until thickened. Cool, whisking occasionally so it doesn’t split or form a skin. Pour into cups or ramekins and refrigerate over night, brûlée the tops and hey presto. This produces an amazingly rich dessert full of warm honey and aromatic alcohol – I actually used it as a pre-dessert and served it in little espresso cups. Went down a treat. But I promise - no more brûlée recipes for a while - honest - unless I find somehting even MORE tempting :)


Blogger deborah said...

that looks like a damn fine brulee. reminds me to unpack my blow torch...

how about an army or brigade of chefs refering to the kitchen heirarchy...?

2:39 PM  
Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said...

Give me more!

And how about a cacophony of chefs. That's what most kitchens sound like!

3:39 PM  
Blogger Ange said...

Well it sounds like a fabulous brulee flavour, yum

4:11 PM  
Blogger jenjen said...

ooh that looks mighty good. I'm actually thinking of buying that book, now I think I will.

BTW speaking of collective nouns, today I learnt that a group of rhinos is called a 'crash'.

8:17 PM  
Blogger Ed Charles said...

Over the top with all that booze! And no too much creme brulee is never enough. I think I will die young but happy.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

Hi Saffron - spark up that torch! A brigade of chefs sounds suitably impressive.

A cacophany - very evocative Helen!

The flavour was deeeevine Ange. If you like darambuie that is!

A crash of rhinos! If you're interested in more look at

And Ed they were ROOLY ROOLY little servings. Honest. I'm sure small enough to be counteracted by the artery-cleansing effects of a glass of red wine.

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Sue said...


I once went to a place* that tried to serve me a creme brulee without a crusty top. Their torch was broken or something...I was too drunk to protest at the time but boy was I cranky later.

*Oscars, Pyrmont!

11:12 AM  
Blogger Reb said...

eeeek! No cracking sugar top! You were well justified at being miffed, Sue!

2:19 PM  
Blogger kestypes said...

A bouquet garni of chefs?
A degustation of chefs?

1:03 PM  
Blogger Reb said...

oo - I like those kestypes!

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Susan said...

A pride of chefs? & ooh I do like that flavour combination..

11:26 PM  
Blogger Sweet Treat said...

Oh yum! I have ordered my blow torch and am getting it next month. Bring on more creme brulee recipes I say!

9:47 PM  
Blogger neil said...

You have inspired me to make a new creme brulee with a secret ingredient. Now all I need is to borrow a digital camera and will post to Sugar High Friday.

7:55 AM  
Blogger Reb said...

Pride of chefs is a good one Susan! Glad you and sweet treat like the combo - I'll definitely look out for more if they're so popular.

A secret ingresient 'Taco? I'm on tenterhooks!

7:33 AM  
Blogger neil said...

Think outerspace.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Reb said...

Teflon brulee?

8:17 AM  
Blogger neil said...

Nup, a little clue would be a planet very close to earth.

11:35 AM  

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