I’m writing this in the dark.
It’s been snowing all day. Around 6 pm we lost power. When I called the electric company to report the power out, a recorded message listed outages all across the city. Ours was apparently caused when a falling tree took out the main electrical line going into a substation.
[4/16/08 UPDATE: According to the Anchorage Daily News, yesterday’s snowstorm was unprecedented for so late in the year.]
Recently, I’ve been playing around with grape syrup, called Petimezi in Greek and Saba in Italian. I started by making Thyme-Braised Lentils with Petimezi and Pan-Fried Salmon; it was a great success.
My next foray with grape syrup was cool and creamy Clove Custard served with warm Petimezi. Clove is a strong enough spice that it stands up well to full-flavored Petimezi. If the sign of a good dessert is one that leaves you wanting more, Clove Custard and Petimezi met that test. Sadly, I only made half a recipe.
The recipe for Clove Custard was adapted from Lynn Rossetto Kasper’s recipe for Cinnamon and Clove Custard (Budino all’Emiliana) in The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food. This is my favorite Italian cookbook, and Kasper one of my favorite food writers and commentators. Links to Kasper’s writings, recipes, and podcast are on her Splendid Table website.
Clove Custard and Petimezi (Grape Syrup) (Κρέμα με Γαρίφαλο και Πετιμέζι)
Serves 4 - 5
Adapted from The Splendid Table by Lynn Rossetto Kasper
The custard is wonderful on its own. Because it’s richly sweet with warm spices and flavorings, the custard doesn’t need the syrup. On the other hand, sweet and tart grape syrup is the perfect foil for creamy, clove scented custard. Since different people like different amounts of grape syrup, warm it and serve on the side.
2 1/4 cups milk
6” strip of lemon zest
9 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
Petimezi, Saba, or Grape Syrup (optional) (see NOTE 1)
Mix the milk, lemon zest, cloves, cinnamon stick, and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, and cook for 10 minutes, being careful not to let the milk boil over. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the sugar until it melts, and cool the milk to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Butter five 1/2 cup ramekins or one 7” baking dish.
Strain the cooled milk into a mixing bowl. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolk until the mix is thoroughly combined. Pour the mix into the ramekins or baking dish, and cover each dish with foil. Bake in a water bath (see NOTE 2) for 25 – 30 minutes for the ramekins or 50 – 55 minutes for the baking dish. The custard is done when a knife inserted halfway between the custard’s center and its edge comes out clean. Turn off the oven, open the door, and let the custard sit in the water bath for 15 minutes. Cool on a rack.
Turn the custard out on a plate or plates. Cover and chill. When ready to serve, heat up the grape syrup (if using), and drizzle it over or around the custard.
NOTE 1: To make grape syrup (Kasper calls it sapa), wash and stem 4 1/2 pounds of red grapes. Finely chop them in a food processor, and refrigerate for 48 hours in a glass or stainless steel container. Strain the grapes, pressing as much liquid out of the solids as possible, and scraping any solids on the underside of the strainer into the juice. Boil for 20 – 30 minutes or until reduced to 2 1/4 – 2 3/4 cups. When it’s close to the right thickness, the syrup will foam with large bubbles. Blend in 1 cup wine, boil for 1 minute, and cool.
NOTE 2: To make a water bath, you need a baking pan large enough to hold the ramekins or 7” baking dish. Cover the bottom of the baking pan with a folded dish towel. Boil 2 quarts of water. Pour enough water into the baking pan so it will go 3/4 of the way up the sides of the ramekins or baking dish. Put the baking pan in the oven on the center rack, and set the foil-covered ramekins or baking dish into the water. Shut the over door and bake the custard.
This is my entry for Think Spice … Think Cloves an event created by Sunita from Sunita’s World and hosted this month by Canela & Comino.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
I’m writing this in the dark.