Sunday, March 19, 2006

Dinner for 4

We invited our friends M and C for dinner on Saturday night. It took me a while to decide on a menu, but I settled on a Brazilian dish. I made some Puffy Cheese Balls (Brazilian Pao de Queijo) and Hot Pepper Jelly and cream cheese with toast to munch on while I was cooking dinner. I made a Brazilian Shrimp Pie with Hearts of Palm (it has a dough similar to a quiche but it's called a pie because the dough covers the filling as well. The filling is made of shrimp, onions, cilantro, and hearts of palm), I also made some steamed broccoli and a Arugula Salad with Pecorino Cheese and Crispy Prosciutto.
I set the table nicely with my new blue placemats. The centerpiece was a square vase with roses and candleholders on both sides of the table.
The dessert was my favorite part! I made Chocolate Crème Brulee for the first time. I have made regular and pumpkin Crème Brulee several times but Chocolate Crème Brulee beats them. I posted my recipe below. That's a winner for sure, it's going to be included on my "Favorite Recipes" binder.
We had a great time, it's always fun to have M and C over. Saturday was a day that I (literally and figuratively) stopped and smelled the roses. In our hurried lives we forget to enjoy life's pleasures: good friends and good food.

Chocolate Creme Brulee

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons sugar for topping

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Mix the cream and vanilla bean together in a double boiler. Heat the mixture for 10 to 15 minutes and stir in the chocolate. Remove the vanilla bean.
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Slowly pour the chocolate cream into the egg mix, continuously whisking. Place the bowl over simmering water until the cream mix thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 6 to 8 minutes. Pour into 4 (4-ounce) custard dishes. Place in a large baking pan and add enough water to come up halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the custard is set, about 1 hour. Remove from the water and cool. Cover and refrigerate. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar on top of each one and with a brulee torch, caramelize the top and serve.


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