Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Custard That's Not a Dessert


In fact, it could be a delicious appetizer, or a starch side dish.  Natasha MacAller, who wrote the cookbook Vanilla Table, has been talking with Tonia's Kitchen all week about different and bold ideas for Vanilla.  And today, Natasha, told Tonia about a wonderful, savory vanilla custard, that's definitely not for dessert.  Instead, it could replace the potato on your dinner plate.  Give it a try!

Caramelized garlic
Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4.
Cut top off garlic head to expose cloves. Peel away just the outer layer of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves. Wrap loosely in foil and drizzle over the oil. Pinch the foil closed at the top, place in a baking pan and cook in oven 30–35 minutes until squishy, caramelized and golden brown.

Custard cups
Butter 6 small (120 ml/4 fl oz) custard cups. Set inside a baking dish large enough to hold the cups.

Cut the vanilla pod in half but don’t split and scrape it, to keep the custard ivory coloured. Squeeze 6 caramelised garlic cloves into a saucepan and add apple sauce/ applesauce, vanilla pod, cream, milk, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring just to a simmer, turn off heat and cool.about 20 minutes.

Turn the oven to 160ºC/325ºF/gas mark 3.

In a large jug/pitcher, whisk the eggs well, then add ricotta. Place a sieve/strainer over the jug/pitcher and strain the milk mixture into the eggs, pressing the garlic through with the back of a spoon. Discard the vanilla pod or rinse, dry and save for another use. Add Parmesan, salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and whisk together.

Pour custard into cups. Lift pan into the oven, then fill with very hot water to come halfway up the outside of the cups. Bake for 20 minutes until custard has browned and set but is still jiggly in the centre. Serve warm as is or top with a spoonful of green pea pesto.