Saturday, January 20, 2007

A soup, a stew and chocolate pie.

I had a few things on the go Saturday. I made cream of corn soup to give to my grandfather. The recipe is from the Complete Canadian Living cook book. It is fantastic: sweet, spicy and easy.

While the soup was cooking, Paul helped me whip up some "lentil cassoulet" - although I left out the duck confit and halved the recipe. This lentil stew is definitely a recipe I will be making again. Sadly, like all my lentil dishes, this stew is madly unphotogenic. But this is the perfect thing to make if you have just been out for a cold winter walk.

The main attraction for this Saturday night has to be the chocolate custard pie I made to take to my parents for Sunday dinner. This little pie is a hybrid of the chocolate custard pie from "the Joy" and the chocolate pots de creme recipe from the Nov 2006 Cooks Illustrated. The main difference from the Cook's Illustrated recipe is I added corn starch to make the custard a little thicker - and thus more suitable for pie. A bonus feature of adding corn starch is the likelihood of overcooking, which produces a grainy custard, is lessened. This is because the starch prevents the protein in the eggs from producing little yucky clumps. But, it is essential that the custard is brought to the boil, otherwise there is an enzyme in the egg yolk that will digest the corn starch. So you pie that was perfectly set on Saturday night will end up a little watery and soupy. Quick aside, I learnt all this from On Food and Cooking. It's a little dry, but I like to know why things work in the kitchen so when I start frankensteining recipes together they are more likely to work.

When I tasted the custard after it was cooked I was a little worried because it did not seem sweet enough. But when it cooled down the sweetness came through. The custard was still a little soft for a pie filling. If you know how many custards you need it is maybe easier to fill some little dishes. But I am never sure how many will be at my parents for dinner, so it is better to make a dessert than can be cut - thus the pie.

The corn starch really helped the texture. I didn't need to use a candy thermometer to cook the custard and I didn't have to stress about over cooking it.

Chocolate Custard

8 oz 70% cocoa chocolate, finely chopped (I used Lindt brand, if you have 60% use 10oz)
5 eggs yolks
5 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp corn starch
2 cups 18 % cream
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp instant coffee
1 tbsp vanilla
9in baked pie crust (I use an oreo cookie crumb crust).

1. Place chocolate in a large heat proof bowl. Find your mesh strainer and have it handy.
2. Mix sugar, yolks, corn starch, cream and milk. Cook over medium heat until mixture starts to simmer. Adjust heat to keep mixture just simmering. Simmer for 1 minuet.
3. Pour milk mixture through the mesh strainer over the chocolate. Let sit for 5mins. Add instant coffee and vanilla and mix until chocolate is dissolved.
4. Pour into custard dishes or prepared pie crust.

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