I am a big fan of coffee, an even bigger fan of caramel, and these two flavors together really make me happy. This coffee-caramel Crème Brûlée and reminds me of a rich caramel cappuccino. I could eat this every day but generally save it for special occasions.
Crème Brûlée sounds intimidating but it’s really not. The tricky part is making sure that your custard does not cook when adding the hot cream to the egg yolks. Once past that part, it is relatively smooth sailing.
The caramelization of the sugary top can be done in your oven’s broiler. But it is more fun to use a kitchen torch.
More fun than that is going to Home Depot and discussing the pros and cons of different blow torches with the knowledgeable sales staff .
“Exactly what do you plan to use this blow torch for?” the kind salesman finally asked after several minutes of deliberation.
“Crème Brûlée, of course.”
And then we laughed all the way home. Here is the recipe…
It’s coffee mania all up in here. New York has gone coffee crazy as of late. Starbucks, which used to be on almost every street corner, is getting some stiff competition from numerous artisanal coffee bars and cafes where coffee and the art of making it is being taken super seriously. The New York Times recently published an article on the fact that the city is no longer second-string when it comes to finding a good cup.
I, for one, have always taken my coffee seriously. As in I seriously need a cup or two in the morning. I prefer it strong, usually make by own, and have nothing against Starbucks, as passé as it has become.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting Portland, OR for the first time, for the wedding of two very special people. Portland is home to many wonderful attractions, one of which is Stumptown Coffee Roasters. I had read about Stumptown and know a few people who swear by their coffee but had never really given it much thought. Upon checking in to our hotel room, we discovered a welcome basket lovingly prepared by the soon to be bride and groom. One of the elements in the basket? A bag of Stumptown coffee – Ecuador Quilanga Reserva.
On the next morning, I visited Mother’s Bistro for breakfast and was given too many coffee options. After much deliberation and questioning of our server, we finally settled on a French Press pot for two of the Stumptown Indonesia Gajah Aceh. Stumptown again. Could it really be better than some of my local favorites? The short answer is YES.
I then visited the Stumptown shop once a day during my remaining days in Portland. While there, I bought a bag of this Indonesia Gajah Aceh. Upon my return to NYC, I purchased my first French Press. Although I still have my regular, not so artisanal blend, during the week, I now grind my Stumptown to order, alternating between Ecuador and Indonesia, press it and savor it on the weekend.
And the good news is that when I run out I can replenish my beans at the newly opened Stumptown outpost in NYC’s Ace Hotel. Not that I would mind making a return visit to Portland….
Our dear friend and soon-to-be sister-in-law, Gail, sent us the most lovely gift from the Middle East – ground Turkish coffee, an ibrik (special Turkish coffee pot) and a baggie full of a spice combination called zaatar.
I have only had real Turkish coffee once, at a restaurant in New York. My not-so-funny dining companion (you know who you are) instructed me to give it a good stir before I drank it. Luckily, he called off the prank because that is not how you drink Turkish coffee. More on this later.
Turkish coffee is derived from the Arabica bean and is ground to a very fine powder. Cardamom pods are sometimes added to the beans as they are being ground (ours was of this variety and …delicious). Gail suggested that we visit YouTube and check out a video by Mustafa Arat on how to make this tasty concoction before we went any further.
I watched this a couple of times and made my first, and definitely not last, pot of Turkish coffee. Important note! There will be a lot of undissolved, leftover sludgy stuff in the bottom of your cup. Do not drink it!
Now, what about this zataar?
Gail let us know that zaatar contains oregano, basil, thyme, savory and sesame seeds and is used on everything – from Greek yogurt with olive oil to bread to meats. I thought we should try it on bread first and used it on the remaining flatbread dough from when I made the coca mentioned in an earlier post.
The ibrik, coffee, and zaatar (also spelled zaa’tar) can all be found in New York at Kalustyan’s, a gold mine for hard-to-find ingredients and an amazing place to kill a couple of hours. Luckily, they also have a website with online ordering.
The Turks have a saying that “one cup of coffee is worth forty years of friendship.” Thanks, Gail. We look forward to it.