25 March 2013

Custard with Port Wine Sauce

Oh my, how things have changed. When I created this blog, it was in large part to give myself a challenge. Things are slower here in Portugal than they were in my action-packed workaholic US life, so cooking Portuguese food, taking pictures of it, and writing about my attempts was a fun new hobby and filled many quiet hours.

Now, as the mother of a ten-week old, I shake my head nostalgically at the thought of those quiet hours.

Bottles and blender... Port and high chair.  Counter space has suddenly gotten tighter around here.
We have a brand new baby in the house, an adorable tiny boy who keeps us in constant motion and fills our kitchen with things like bottles and play chairs with five point harnesses. He is also adept at filling my hours from dawn until dusk and through to dawn again, making it hard to carve out time to cook new things and even harder to find time to take pictures and thoughtfully blog.

This weekend, though, Bacalhau Boy took charge of the baby for a few hours while I shut the kitchen door and-- like any good Portuguese mom-- pulled out a bottle of Port wine. (For cooking purposes only, of course.)

I used the port in a sauce that we poured over a simple baked custard. Custard has the advantage of looking posh and decadent but actually being incredibly simple to make. In fact, the recipe I used called for nothing more than a blender and a baking pan. Rich vanilla-scented deliciousness with less than 5 minutes of prep? Yes please, and thank you.

The Port wine sauce was scarcely more complicated, just five ingredients and a saucepan. It gave off the most amazing scent as it reduced, which frankly was a huge payoff for very little effort. Simultaneously cozy and very adult, it was just the antidote for the mommy sweatpants doldrums that have been threatening to set in.

In fact, the alone time in the kitchen making a decadent custard and wine sauce dessert had me almost feeling like my old self, rested and refreshed and in charge of my kitchen again.

Until BB opened the kitchen door and brought a fussy baby in to see his mommy. Looking at this little munchkin, I can say I have gained a whole lot more than I lost-- even including the counter space.

Enjoy the custard and Port wine, and I will be back posting as much as baby and time allow! Keep your fingers crossed that as one grows, so will the other...

Baked Custard and Port Wine Sauce
slightly adapted from Not Your Mother's Casseroles
serves 6

For the custard:
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt

For the sauce:
1 cup Port wine (ruby will be sweeter, tawny will give it a big tang)
3 tbsp sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 strip lemon peel
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 325F (160C) and get out a 9x13 baking dish. Put a kettle of water on to boil.

2. Put the eggs and yolks in the blender and blend well, until beaten and lightening in color. Add the rest of the custard ingredients and keep blending at high speed until frothy. Pour into baking dish.

3. Place the baking dish in a slightly larger one, and pour the boiling water into this larger pan until it comes up to about 1 inch high on the outside of the custard pan. This step is a pain, and I do skip it on occasion, but it ensures that the cooking will be even and the texture of the custard consistently creamy.

4. Bake the custard for one hour, until it is barely set and the center is still wobbly. Remove the custard pan from the water bath and place the custard immediately in the fridge to stop the cooking.

5. To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan over a medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling and the sugar is dissolved, turn the heat to medium-low and simmer slowly until the sauce is reduced by half, about 15 minutes for me. Remove from heat and let cool.

6. Serve the custard warm or chilled, topped with a little of the sauce. Be careful, that stuff has a potent flavor!

No comments:

Post a Comment