Sunday, 31 March 2013

Curried Easter?

Curried Easter?

And did I curry Easter, as I claimed I would?  Last Easter I did, but that was a huge dinner, very mild with lemons and chicken, and the masala not too shocking for conservative taste buds. 
Today was just a huge brunch, but with a few Indian touches.  This combination of flavours and dishes would work well for any Sunday Brunch, a gorgeous combination of sweet and savoury.
Although the kiddies did their Easter Bunny droppings hunt, and found a lot of chocolate scattered about, more chocolate still went into the cinnamon buns, and how could we celebrate Easter without eggs?  This year I didn’t do the traditional dyed eggs, so I served eggs in an English baked custard, with a few tweaks. 

No lemons this year, instead we had cherries scented with just a touch of rosewater.  Here’s the scoop on how it all went:

English Baked Custard
This one is so simple, but smooth and elegant.  I’ve been making this since I was twelve, but never before with so much cream and never with a whole vanilla pod.

4 cups 2% milk
1 cup 10% cream
5 tablespoons vanilla sugar (or to taste)
1 teaspoon homemade vanilla (you can use commercial, but be sure it’s real!)
6 eggs
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
Heat the milk and cream to the simmering point in a pan.  Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a deep oven proof container, and add the sugar.  Use a fork to blend the eggs and sugar, but don’t whip, as you don’t want air bubbles in this. 

Once the milk/cream mix is simmering, take off the heat, and carefully scoop out a cup of it and dribble into the egg mix while stirring.  Scoop out another cup of milk and cream, and dribble it into the mix while stirring, continue till all the hot milk and cream are in the egg mixture.  This needs to be done slowly, or the eggs can curdle.  Some people strain the mix, but I didn’t and it was still smooth and silky. 
I keep vanilla beans in sugar, but also in vodka to make my own vanilla, so I plucked a bean from the vodka, split it down its length, and used a sharp knife to scrape out the seedy goo.  The seedy goo got mixed into the custard mix, and the empty pod went back into the vodka bottle.  Waste not want not. 
Baked Custard requires a Bain Marie!

This mix requires a steady heat, so put the oven on to 350 F, and put a tea towel into an oven proof pot big enough to hold the baking dish that the custard will cook in.  Place the dish on the tea towel in the big pot, and carefully pour boiling water up to the level of the custard.

This cooking method is called a Bain Marie, aka Mary’s bath, most appropriate for me! Slip into the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until the custard looks set in the middle.  Remove it all from the oven, and pluck the baking dish out of its water bath.  Cool, then refrigerate.  (I did this the night before.)  Dead easy!

Cinnamon Rolls

Sweet Shalini's brilliant idea!
While I was making the custard, I also cooked the required potato, complete with potato water for the cinnamon rolls.  These I made the next morning, getting up early.

These cinnamon rolls are half pure American and half sort of Indian.  It’s a great combination. 
I pretty much followed the dough recipe from this Iowa State Fair championship recipe, although I used half whole wheat flour, and vanilla scented sugar. Their filling looked too plain to me, so I rushed to this bedazzling Indian blog for a truly inspired filling dreamed up by Shalini, who astonishes her neighbors with her magnificent chocolate and coffee scented cinnamon buns. 
I also fiddled a bit with her recipe, and used two types of chocolate, a milk chocolate mix for one batch, and an unsweetened baking chocolate for the other.  I added the chocolate directly to the jaggery and butter mix, but otherwise followed her directions, mostly.  Am not good at following directions.  I  buttered and sugared the pans instead of lining them with parchment paper, and I slipped a bit of cream in her coffee flavoured glaze… 

Black Sweet Cherries
As if we didn’t have enough sugar, I thawed some black cherries, straining the juice, which I then reduced to a syrup, and tweaked that with a drop or two of rose water.  No additional sugar though, these cherries are already very sweet with their own natural goodness.

Whipped Cream
To further dress the custard and cherries, I whipped a little 35% cream, adding a teaspoon of homemade vanilla and a teaspoon of vanilla sugar at the last minute.  Oh, lusciousness.

Grilled Sausages
To counteract all these sweets, Husband Person went into the back yard and grilled two kinds of Spolumbo Sausage.  We are so lucky to live in the land of Spolombo Sausage, making us the envy of the rest of Canada.  He grilled chicken and apple, which darkened and caramelised wonderfully, and spicy chicken.

This was a dreamy and luxurious feast, the kiddies bug eyed and sugar delirious by the end of the morning.  Off they all staggered, bearing well earned baskets of chocolate goodies, heading toward other big Easter meals with other relatives, later in the day.  Husband Person and I took the dogs for a walk by the river, relaxed and snoozed in the afternoon, and enjoyed this perfect Easter Day. 

Happy Easter everyone!

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