Thursday, April 22, 2010

Orange Baked Pears with Grand Marnier

A few days ago while in the waiting room in the hospital I picked up a magazine and found an extremely simple pear recipe. I thought about tearing out the page and taking it with me, but I just couldn't do it. I whipped out a pen and started copying away in a rush, hoping to be called in by the nurse. I came home after my procedure and to take my mind off of any upcoming pain, I checked to see if I had all of the ingrediants;

- Ripe Pear (Any type, I used a Bosc)
- No Pulp Orange Juice, 1 cup
- Light Brown Sugar, 6 Tablespoons and some more to caramelize
- Grand Marni er, 1 Teaspoon (You don't have to add)

You see, you don't need that many ingredients. Anyone can do this and you don't need much equipment;


- Measuring Cup
- Tablespoon Measurer
- Torch
- Wooden Spoon
- Large Non-stick Pan


1. Peel ripe pear with vegetable peeler and cut in half. Using a melon ball scooper remove the seeds of the pear.

Tip: Once you cut it in half you will notice a circle about the same size of the melon ball scooper. In other words, there is no way you wont know where to remove it.

2. Pour only 1/2 cup of orange juice in the pan and 3 tablespoons of light brown sugar. Mix the orange juice and sugar together over medium high heat.

3. Place the pears sliced side up in the pan with the orange juice and sugar.

Tip: Spoon some of the juices over the pears.

4. Cover pan with aluminum foil until the pears soften about 5 minutes.

5. Remove lid, turn pears over and simmer about another 2 minutes.

Tip: Make sure to remove the aluminum foil with plastic tongs, so that you don't burn yourself with the steam.

6. Once you remove the aluminum foil lid, turn pears over and simmer for about another 2-4 minutes.

Tip: You'll know if they are ready if you puncture the pears with a fork and they go in easily.

7. The original recipe, uses the broiler instead of a torch, but since I already purchased a torch, I might as well use it. While in the pan, sprinkle some brown sugar on the pears and torch them to get them caramelized.

8. Remove the pears and put them on your plate. I noticed that a lot of what got caramelized fell off when I transferred the pears to the plate. No worries! Just put some more sugar on the pears and torch again.

9. To the non-stick pan add the other half a cup of orange juice and brown sugar (3 tablespoons) and with the wooden spoon mix it up. You want to reduce the sauce. I reduced the sauce and use it on my plate for decoration.

10. Add some powdered cinnamon or sugar over to decorate and enhance flavors of your pear. I also added some whipped cream.

This was an extremely easy recipe even for those that are 100% amateurs. Now the truth, was it delicious out of this world? No. It was refreshing and healthy tasting. It was a beautiful presentation. This is a great dessert to have instead of a fruit salad. Is this something that I'm going to be craving for, probably not. But, I hope to make it for a dinner party soon.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lemon Ginger Creme Brulee

I am a huge fan of Creme Brulee's, who isn't? So, why not give it an Asian twist! I started googling some key Asian ingredients that would be good as a dessert and creme brulee. I found a mango, green tea, coconut, and ginger creme brulee. I tried the green tea and ginger creme brulee before starting this blog. Along the way, I discovered something refreshing about Ginger. This new discovery was my motivation for the Lemon Ginger Creme Brulee.

Every time when I thought of Ginger, the first thing that would come to mind were Gingerbread Houses and the somewhat taste of pumpkin spice. I purchased ground ginger and a fresh ginger root. I opened the ground ginger and had a little taste. I was disappointed that I didn't love the taste, but promised not to make any prejudgements until I finished the dessert. I started peeling the ginger which wasn't as bad as I thought giving the fact that it has such a strange shape. Once I peeled it, I started chopping away and was amazed at the citrus smell! Fresh Ginger is extremely citrusy with a spice. And yes, it can be very spicy. This was my, YES moment! How about a Lemon Ginger Creme Brulee. It would be the perfect combination.

I was so excited to start my first blog with my new citrus creme brulee with my Asian twist. Have the new professional camera ready to capture the great moments. All this excitement for a creme brulee that didn't come out right! Why was this happening to me? I had already done it once and it came out just fine. I was so upset that I hadn't saved the recipe. The truth is that I always read many recipes of the same dessert and then did it my way, taking a little from every one's recipe. How stupid can one be? There is a SCIENCE to BAKING and my way was not working this time. So, what happened when I failed attempt 1, 2, 3, and 4? My first attempt wouldn't set. I thought maybe it was my oven so I left it in the oven for close to two hours. Two times more what any recipe said. Why in the world would I believe that I was the only one with non-working well oven!? My second attempt in trying a recipe that called for an aluminum paper place on top of the ramekins ended up looking like scrambled eggs. My third attempt looked down from the outside but once you dove in with a spoon it was curdled. My fourth attempt separated and was watery and oily.

Now I'm frustrated! I have to figure this out and try my great new concoction of Lemon Ginger. I didn't care how many attempts I need or how many blogs or websites or books I could find on tips to doing creme brulees. I wanted to figure out the science or just tips to make it work! Here are some pertinent things I realized;

- Only use egg yolks
- Only use Heavy Cream
- Don't leave it for more than 50 minutes
- You must use a water bath or in French "bain marie"
- Fill up the water bath half way to the top
- I'll add some more when I write out the recipe.....

Finally, I found one recipe that worked. I needed to figure out how to make a regular perfect creme brulee before adding my twist! I found the recipe video on YouTube from The French Culinary Institute,
. Yes, the secret video is out and for my addition;

Prep Time:15 Min
Cook Time:40 Min
Tip: Don't leave it in the oven for more than 55 minutes.
Ready In:6 Hrs or whenever they set completely and cool cold.


2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup white sugar
1 pinch kosher salt
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract (make sure it's PURE)
4 egg yolks
2 teaspoons of ground ginger
1/4 cup of ginger grated
1 whole lemon zest
Brown or White Sugar to torch


1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and make sure you have a rack in the middle of the oven.

Tip: Set up all of your ingredients ready to be dumped into the recipe. Don't way to you get to a step to measure, etc. Time is part of science.

2.Bring a large pot of water to boil. I had my water boil in my tea kettle.

3.Combine cream, vanilla essence, ground ginger, lemon zest, ginger grated, and salt in saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally 4 to 5 minutes, until steam rises,, but don't let it boil. Once you see the smoke remove it from stove top and let all of the ingredients steep, approximately 10-15 minutes.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and sugar until smooth.

Tip: Whisk slowly and lightly. Don't let it froff or even get light yellow. Trust me it will all get stirred in.

5. Pour about 1/4 of the heavy cream mixture into the yolks. Make sure you whisk it all in, but do this lightly. This step is called tempering. Once that's done, a little at a time start stirring in the rest constantly, until all cream is incorporated.

Tip: You should be using a BLENDER or HAND MIXER! Do this lightly and try not adding air or get a lot of bubbles.

6. Put mixture through strainer and throw away lemon zest and ginger grated. This was added just for flavoring.

Tip: Now look at your mixture, do you see bubbles? Let's get rid of them. I didn't see this in any other recipe, but it worked. Use your torch to remove them or with a spoon.

7. Pour mixture into six 4 oz. ramekins.

Side Note: It doesn't really matter what size you are pouring them in. Just make sure to pour it almost to the top like less than half an inch.

8.Place ramekins in the baking dish, and place dish on oven rack. Pour boiling water into dish to halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Do this immediately.

Tip: Don't cover with any aluminum like mentioned in many recipes.

9.Bake for approximately 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until custard is just set.

Tip: Grab plastic tongs and move the ramekin, does it jiggle like a big wave? Once it does that, it's ready.

10. Chill ramekins in refrigerator 4 to 6 hours or however long it takes to completely set and cool up completely.

11.Before serving, sprinkle about 1 tablespoon sugar over each custard. I prefer using brown sugar and not light brown sugar. Sometimes I would sprinkle the brown and add a little white sugar.

Side Note: It doesn't have to be an exact amount, just sprinkle over it all.

12.Use a torch to broil it. This is probably the most fun part. I wouldn't do it with the broiler, just go out and buy yourself a torch. I bought mine at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for $19.99. I read in many places that you can get one at Home Depot.

Tip: Make sure to torch it all on the top quickly and let it cool. There's no rush to this part, so let it brief like twice when you do it.