OK, I know it's a little boring that I made the Chocolate Creme Brulee a second time this holiday season. What? On Christmas and then New Year's Eve? Well, it was for a whole new crowd AND making a truly great recipe is not only brilliant (knowing a beautiful thing when you find it) but it's damn Lazy! Doing a super-easy recipe a second time in one week is super-brilliant and super-Lazy! Another opportunity to use my new kitchen torch: Priceless.
Now, when you have a super-easy recipe it is easy to get cocky when manifesting all its goodness out of a series of ingredients. And, having just read the book "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" which is a gloriously funny study of punctuation and how we arrange our words and things on a page, well I just about fell over when I saw that I had missed ONE WORD when I made the recipe last time. The word? Strain. The sentence from whence it came?
Strain and pour into individual porcelain ramekins.
I have a serious problem with that sentence. It is physically impossible to do both straining and pouring in one step when dealing with just about any substance, but particularly with a rich, thick chocolate soup type mixture. You need to strain from one large vessel (the recipe says 8 portions, it's closer to 10 or 11) to another. Then you take the strained thick yummy liquid and pour it into ramekins. This is two distinct, rather complex moves. Pouring a thick batter of any kind into any vessel without spilling is its own feat. Bottom line: you cannot "strain and pour." You strain. Then, you pour.
Did it change the recipe? Indeed, it was smoother. Was it better? No. A little different texture, with not as many deep chocolate surprise speckles for the taste buds in the second strained version. Yet, both were outrageously good. So, now you have an excuse to make it twice too!
Lesson learned: When a recipe looks and reads as unbelievably simple, stop, read it aloud so you can catch any strain-like potential landmines hidden in the minimalist instructions.
The other recipes which were, in my mind, absolute winners, which I will do again and again are Greek Spiced Baked Shrimp and Greek Lemon Pilaf. I easily made the Shrimp the night before, up to the point of baking. Perfect for dinner parties where you don't want to slave while entertaining.
The rice I did an hour before the party began, and I was afraid it was going to be goopy, but I left it on the stove for the next hour and a half -- obviously heat off -- and it dried up perfectly. It was absolutely gooey and not ready to serve at the recipe's completion so I had a back up plan (mix in perfect microwaved Trader Joe's rice bag) but luckily it took care of itself. I love anything lemony, and this is delightfully lemony and a perfect match for the Shrimp dish.
Buon Anno Nuovo Appetito to all.
LInks to all the recipes: