Recipe: pistachio crème brûlée
little love letter #1
I remember in the early days when we were backpacking the Olympics of Washington and it started to rain. You thought it would get better. You really believed it would because you grew up in New Mexico where it’s sunny almost every day. After 24 hours of non-stop rain I declared we were packing up and moving on, in the rain. We discovered that a journey can be magical, rain or shine or horizontal snow. And that is how we choose to live our life together to this day. Throughout the years there have been so many great moments along with a few very hard times. I’m glad that you are my eternal traveling companion – then and now, rain or shine, laughter or tears, but always love.
little love letter #2
There is no way for you to ever know how much you broke my heart the day you left. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss you. I often find myself chuckling over something silly that I know you’d appreciate or discovering a little knick knack you had given me: the little moon doggie, the office supply cube, a newspaper clipping. I still have your number in my address book, have all of your letters squirreled away someplace safe, hear your voice in my head. I don’t cry as much anymore, but it still catches me by surprise now and again. I think of the plans we had – to grow old together, to take care of Mom and Dad together, to watch your children grow up, to be best friends and sisters into old age. I still keep you in my heart.
little love letter #3
Can you tell how much I love you even though I don’t know how to say it? Some of my earliest memories include walking with you on a sunny afternoon around the neighborhood. I always felt safe and secure with you near. You were the calming presence. You never yelled, you were never mean, your eyes danced like sparkling stars when you smiled. You held my hand when I walked up the stairs as a toddler. Now, I offer you my arm or my hand when we walk together. I don’t understand everything you say to me and I’m pretty sure you don’t understand everything I say to you in my mangled Mandarin, but it doesn’t matter. Your eyes still dance when you smile and I know what you mean when you squeeze my hand.
littler love letters
Thank you for letting me be me. Thank you for getting who I am. Thank you for being you.
I honestly don’t think Moses said, “Word up, my people…” but I like the way you tell the story.
The way you think and the way you treat others challenge me to think differently, to do better, to be better. I love that about you.
We make a GREAT team. It’s a joy to work with you.
It meant so much to me that you were there when I needed you most, and I didn’t even have to ask.
Your stories make me laugh. Your curiosity helps me learn. Your enthusiasm is infectious.
Watching you raise your children makes me so proud to be your friend.
Of all the random paths we have taken in this world, I’m glad our two random paths have crossed and that you are a part of my life.
If I had a tail, I’d wag it whenever I am with you.
That good heart of yours makes this world a better place.
“I sure do love you.”
dinner: pan-seared, dry-aged beef tenderloin on polenta with chanterelles and port reduction
dessert: pistachio crème brûlée
I am a fan of love. I am not a fan of Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day isn’t love, it’s a gimmick. For me, love is a kiss and sweet words each morning. Love is that warm hug in the kitchen just because you’re there. Love is running through the house squeaking the dog toy – chasing one another and laughing hysterically. Love is poring over maps together to plan the next backpacking trip. Love is calling to the other to go outside and admire the moon one fine evening. Love is curling up under the covers and whispering plans to one another for the next day.
And in the House of Butter, love is also about making a great meal to enjoy and share.
easy: eggs, cream, sugar, pistachios
after removing the skins
sugar and pistachios
We don’t have any plans for Valentine’s Day other than to watch the weather, pack our gear, and try to clean out the refrigerator. I am an unromantic, if you will. I was vaguely aware of Valentine’s Day with the red, white, and pink assault on the interwebs and in the stores. Mostly, I tried to avoid the stuffed bears with satin pillows embroidered with “I WUV U!”, the bouquets of roses or tulips, the chocolates, and the ever-platonic houseplants. I got my groceries for the dinner I was planning and I was out of there.
pouring cream to steep
Sometimes I’ll have a dish in a restaurant and like it so much that I try to make it myself. It’s taken a few years for me to get to that point, you know. My success rate has improved considerably since I started food blogging and learning about cooking and baking. The early years had their fair share of disasters. These days it seems to fall together thanks to some intuition, research, and experience. I had been wanting to make something with polenta for a while, so that was on the weekend menu. But from the moment I tasted the pistachio crème brûlée at Bacaro I heard a little voice from the dish murmur, “I am your destiny.” Indeed – this past weekend it was my
whisk egg yolks with cream
Crème brûlée is relatively easy, but the extra step of squeezing out the nut meat makes it a little more tedious and certainly more messy. I’m here to tell you it’s worth the hassle. If you like pistachios (and I do, I really really do) then this recipe will win you over. The custard has an ever-so-faint green hue from the pistachios and the flavor is both beautifully floral and nutty.
divvy among the ramekins and bake in a water bath
sprinkle sugar on top to torch
It’s not overly sweet, which I like because the sugar topping provides what sweetness you may desire. The flavor and texture are what I characterize as delicately decadent. I served these with fruit garnishes since the acidity balances the burnt sugar and creamy custard nicely. Jeremy thought it was the perfect ending to our meal. This dessert is so lovely, I’m adding it to my dinner hostess repertoire. You might should too.
one for you, one for me
ridiculously smooth and creamy
Pistachio Crème Brûlée
4 oz. (1 cup) shelled pistachios, unsalted and no red dye
5 tbsps sugar
2 cups heavy cream
3 egg yolks
5-6 tbsps extra sugar for torching
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread the pistachios on a clean baking sheet in a single layer and toast for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Rub the pistachios together to remove the skins. Place the pistachios and sugar in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, but not a paste. Place the nuts, cream, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until it becomes hot. Remove from heat, cover with lid and let steep for 30 minutes. Boil a pot of water. Pour the contents from the saucepan through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Run a clean kitchen towel under cold water and wring out as much water as possible. Dump the pistachio solids into the center of the towel, wrap the edges of the towel up around the nut meat, and squeeze any excess liquid out into the bowl. Discard the pistachios. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl or vessel and pour the cream while whisking. Pour the mixture through the fine mesh sieve into your ramekins. Place ramekins in a large roasting pan and pour the boiling water into the pan taking great care not to let the water run into the ramekins. Bake for 35 minutes (the recipe says 20, but it was way too liquid in my oven). Remove the ramekins from the oven and the water bath. Let cool, then refrigerate for 4 hours. Twenty minutes before you are ready to serve, remove the ramekins from the refrigerator. Just before serving, sprinkle a tablespoon or more of sugar on top of each custard and carefully shake it around to evenly distribute. Light propane torch and apply heat to the sugar until it browns and bubbles or place all of the ramekins on a baking sheet and put under the broiler until sugar is caramelized. Serve immediately. Makes 4-6 (depending on the size of your ramekins).