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.