Monday, December 28, 2009

Elfie's Perfect Custard

Here is how I make a perfect custard. To me perfect means that it is rich and ultra smooth with no bubbles. The consistency has to be firm but super tender.

First I lay out all the things I will need.

one big sauce pan

one big baking dish

one 8 or 9 inch round glass baking dish

wire whisk

measuring cups and spoons


paper towels

teakettle of water

and I usually forget something :)

I use

6 big fresh eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

1/2 cup sugar

butter or margarine - NOT shortening please

3 cups whole milk - please do not use skim milk

Now the magic of perfect custard is all in how the eggs are treated. They are the main magic bit! We want them treated very tenderly throughout. Not beat up, not overheated. So we are going to bake the custard in a water bath. Put a paper towel folded in half in the bottom of the large baking pan - I use my Corning ware 10X10X2 for the bottom pan. Put the round 8 or 9 in glass pan on the paper towel. Butter the inside of the glass pan. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and put the rack in the middle position. Start the teakettle heating. I do all this stuff first because once I break an egg I want my whole attention to be on the custard mixture until I get it into the oven. It sounds complicated, but it isn't really at all.

Get the big saucepan and put all the ingredients in it. Set it on a medium high burner and whisk everything together gently. GENTLY - no beating, no bubbles, just stir briskly and continue stirring. The object to it get the custard mixture to a near boiling temp without ever letting it bubble. Doesn't take very long. Once it begins steaming a little that is enough. Pour it through the sieve into the buttered glass pan. This is a crucial step - the sieve is another one of the secrets to perfectly smooth custard as it will hold out all the icky bits of the eggs. By now the teakettle should be boiling so pour the water very carefully into the large pan until it is just about up to the level of the custard. Put your custard into the hot oven and bake it for about 45 minutes. Test it by slipping a clean cold sharp knife into the center - if it comes out clean it is done. After you do this a few times you can tell just by jiggling the pan a bit. Take it out of the water bath and cool on a wooden board if available or wire rack.

Sometimes I like to put in some brandy flavor or some rum flavor - do whatever makes it into what YOU want it to be. Using dark brown sugar will make it have a slightly caramel flavor and darker color. Sprinkle it with nutmeg or allspice or cinnamon. Plain custard topped with any preserved fruit is a treat! Hot, creamy warm, or chilled on a warm evening custard is an all year round nutritious delight! Be sure to refrigerate the custard after it cools. If there is any left.

You can also make this in little dishes in a water bath if you want individual servings. I just serve it like a pie.

Any questions? I'd love to hear from you! email me at

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Taste Treat Cookie Recipe

Here are a couple variations I made yesterday to my family's favorite "Cowboy Cookie' recipe. Cowboy cookies are what we take on trail rides - like we convince ourselves that these wonderful cookies are kinda like a trailbar? Ahem...probably not quite that super healthy :)

Start with Elfie's Oatmeal Cookies

3/4 cup of butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp real vanilla
1/4 cup water
1 large egg
1 cup sifted flour
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda
3 cups of real rolled oats (NOT INSTANT)

What I do is
Beat together the butter (you can use margarine or shortening if you must) and both kinds of sugar till sort of fluffy. Then add egg, vanilla, water and beat some more.

Sift together flour, soda, and salt and add that to the first mixture. Now stir in the 3 cups of oats. Let it stand at least 15 minutes for the nicest textured cookies.

For the new variation do this

After you finish the wet mixture, add 3/4 cup of finely chopped sugared ginger and half a bag of flaked coconut - just a minute I will go see how much that is..... Ok comes out to about 1 1/2 cups and it is Angel Flake sweetened, ohh and it is so good. guess I'll just eat the rest.......

Alrighty - in case you are wondering about the ginger - I buy mine here

This is the BEST ginger I have ever found and I am a Hawaiian kid totally into GINGER! This has no white sugar - just pure cane syrup. It is fantastic. I buy the 11 pound box, but there are smaller quantities available too.

So now you have the basic mixture butter-sugar-egg-flavoring-water plus the ginger and coconut. Now you mix in the dry stuff.

Drop onto a greased cookie sheet by rounded tsp for small cookies tbsp for big ones. Bake at 350 watching carefully for burning as they are pretty sugary and melty.

My trusted buddy @Mailahug was over yesterday making wreaths with me and she went nuts for these which is a huge endorsement as Lizzy is an awesome baker :)

Oh - and I tried one other variation which is very good - just not in the same TOTALLY OUTRAGEOUS class as the ginger-coconut.

In this variation I used cherries that I dried last summer. I chopped up the dried fruit and put about 1 1/2 cups in the batter then added a cup of chopped walnuts. Those are yummy, but I did add an extra 1/4 cup of water and let it all sit for a bit to make everything tender.

I hope you like these :

Merry Christmas

And no - I do not usually cook from a recipe - I just mostly make stuff up so that is why they don't look like a cookbook directions.
But they work - I **Promise**