I got the best compliment the other day. We invited two sets of neighbours over to dinner. It was a hot day so the dinner was simple. We had an assortment of nibbles and dips to start, including sun dried tomato tapenade and feta and walnut dip. For mains, we had veal, chicken and apricot terrine with a simple cucumber salad and some roasted baby potatoes. For dessert, we had these lovely little custards, accompanied by ginger, honey and almond lace biscuits.
Now, back to that compliment. It was one of those nights where wine flowed a little too freely and everyone was a little tipsy and their guard down. We brought out the mains and were just about to tuck in when our next door neighbour incredulously exclaimed, “Oh, you make real food.” She couldn’t have guessed how pleased I would be to hear such a statement, for this has been my endeavour since retiring. To cook real food.
I understand the way our society is structured that it is a luxury only those with time on their hands can indulge. Those working will cry (and rightly so) “It is all right for you, you are retired and have all the time in the world to spend in the kitchen.” But I do lament that it is only the retired (and inclined) that have time to spend preparing food. What a pity that it has come to this. Processed and pre-prepared food is the norm and real food warrants an exclamation of amazement (and, hopefully, delight).
We had a great night. I decided to make individual desserts because I wasn’t certain whether those present would be interested in desserts and I didn’t want piles of yummy, but fattening, food left over. I need not have worried. They went in seconds, as did the lace biscuits and plenty of almond bread.
These little pots are a lovely egg custard that uses honey rather than sugar to sweeten them. The honey gives them a distinct flavour. They are especially nice if you have specific-source honey. We had honey from the local Jarrah forests – lovely.
The recipe is from Belinda Jeffery’s Desserts. I have posted the recipe for the lace biscuits in a subsequent post. They, too, were delightful.
- 375 mls cream
- 125 mls milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 120g honey
- 1 egg
- 5 egg yolks
- about ¼ cup honey (extra)
- Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean. Put the cream, milk, seeds and vanilla bean into a saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring the mixture to just below the boil then turn off the heat.
- Add the honey, stir until it dissolves.
- Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes or so for the vanilla to infuse. After the 30 minutes, warm it up again.
- Preheat your oven to 160°C. Sit six small (about 120 mls capacity) custard cups or ramekins in a roasting pan.
- In a bowl, whisk the egg and egg yolks together until they’re well combined.
- Slowly pour in the hot honey cream, whisking all the while.
- Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a jug.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the cups.
- Into the roasting pan, pour enough very hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cups, then cover the pan, loosely, with foil.
- Bake the custards for about 50 minutes until they are just set but still slightly wobbly in the centre.
- Remove from the pan and cool in the fridge until required.
- To serve the custards, warm the extra honey until it is runny and pour a small amount (about 1 tsp) onto each custard. Roll the custard around until the top has a light coating of honey.
- Serve with a ginger, honey and almond lace biscuit on the side, if desired.
Made these last weekend when guests came over and it turned out amazing! Very rich but they loved it x Lace Cookies were delicious too!
Hi Aliss, Thanks for reporting back. Good to hear you liked them.
I’m always amazed at how many people, especially younger around my daughter’s age, have never had real food. I’m not even talking about a decent meal that some of our markets prep & you only have to pop in the oven for a little while … I’m talking about those things that used to be called TV dinners in the foil dishes. When I was working I always tried to make real meals although they certainly weren’t fancy or complicated. Now that I look back, most were probably very boring & tasteless but at least I tried to cover the basics.
Now I will try more complex recipes & have really enjoyed finding completely new ideas from around the world through my blog. I can imagine how much someone would appreciate coming to your house for a meal, especially with that tasty little ending. Looks wonderful – did you make the almond lace biscuits yourself too?
Hi Diane, It is amazing isn’t it? I remember being amazed watching Jamie Oliver’s school dinners when he was trying to get a young boy to eat a crumbed chicken drum stick. He had never had real chicken and wouldn’t even try it. When I was working it was always quick food but still food we prepared from scratch. I don’t understand what has happened to the world.
I think people are so pressed for time & the younger generation is so used to fast food that they don’t even know how to cook real food. At least here in the States a lot of school cafeterias are trying to bring in fresh produce & cut down on the junk food. It’s an initiative started by First Lady Obama & since there’s a certain element that hates anything to do with the Obamas, they’re all in an uproar claiming that she’s trying to take over their children. Can you imagine being so hateful that you’d begrudge your child a healthy meal? More than half of our school age children are overweight, many morbidly obese yet they don’t see the connection between healthy food vs. McDonalds. Did you happen to get a tv special over there called “Super Sized”. it was an experiment that was started by a man who tried to eat McDonald’s food every meal, every day. They had to call off the experiment because the man became so ill, that the doctors following him couldn’t allow it to continue.
Hi Diane, Yep we saw it. It is nearly as bad here.
Glenda I would be happy to be your neighbour and have your delicious real cooking, your menu sounded fab.
What a wonderful compliment, and well deserved 🙂 Even though I’m still… sigh… in the world of the day job, I too prefer to cook and eat real food. It’s one of the things that keeps me sane(ish), I think. The honey pots de crème look wonderful and would not last long in our house. On Christmas Eve, I was up [voluntarily] at 5.30 am cooking real food for the next day, including homemade custard but for future reference I think the honey pots de crème would be a lovely part of my deconstructed trifle 🙂
Hi Ella, your trifle sounds interesting and thank you for the compliment.
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You’re so right about ‘real food’. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Delia Smith or not from the UK – she was one of the first TV cooks. I remember her saying that eggs were mother nature’s fast food – if you have eggs you have something to eat in 5 minutes . Anyway – that’s a wonderful complement 🙂 And a lovely make ahead dessert too.
Thanks Nancy – yeah I have heard of Delia, though I don’t have any of her books. My friend makes a mean coconut cake from one of her books.
I love that compliment too. When you were working, did you cook or did you eat out of a box or freezer? I cooked. I’ve always cooked. My kids would say, “Can we have storebought bread once in a while?” I worked long hours and it’s possible to cook real food. It just takes a bit of planning ahead. Cooking fresh doesn’t that all that much longer and it’s SO much better. I love your menu.
Hi Maureen, we always cooked, though, we did regularly have a bought pizza on Friday nights. Fresh food tastes so much better but if you have never had it, how would you know? It is also cheaper. I cringe at how much people spend at supermarkets.
Oh Glenda, this post really struck a chord with me… I’ve been attempting to cook ‘real food’ for decades (and I think I’ve managed fairly well, all things considered. One of the joys of co-owning the cooking school was that I was able to inspire young and old to enjoy and indulge in cooking! You’re so right when you lament that in these busy times people opt for pre-prepared foods (or, worse still, dine out all too frequently, at least that’s how it seems to me!). Certainly in the last year or so, having retired, I now have time to ‘live the dream’ and cook to my heart’s content. As an example, it’s 7.30 on a Sunday morning but I’m up early as I’m baking bread. Delicious! Anyhoo, great post. Wish we lived closer. I’d love to break bread with you some day!
Hi Liz, You are so right. Many people eat out or buy take away food way too often. It is expensive and full of fat. I often look into people’s shopping trollies and stress, not only about the quality of the food that is in there, but also the cost of it. Maus tells the story how she saw in one woman’s trolly 5 single baked dinners. Imagine the cost. Oh, it worries me. How did it come to this?
Working mums and wives, I suppose… and damned busy lives. Being retired now, as you are, I can honestly say I don’t know how I ever had time to do anything, much less cook!, when I worked full time… and especially when I had a young family. One of the first things I did with the program for the cooking school was introduce cooking classes for kids and market tours for school groups. One of the most important life skills!
When both Maus and I worked we would decide what we were going to have in the car on the way home from work and stop in and get the ingredients. Then when Maus retired, she took over the cooking or, at least, the getting of the ingredients. Its a different world to what we live now. It was always what can we cook in less than half an hour. Stir fries were big on the agenda.
Lovely. And the whole menu sounds pretty good too.