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things are looking up

Recipe: green tea crème brûlée

I was feeling quite low Saturday morning. Kaweah’s moderate improvement went down the tubes. She barely moved, cried in pain anytime we tried to help her get up, and looked so depressed. It was completely unlike her, our normally happy little girl. Kaweah has a fairly high threshold for pain and we were both very concerned. Jeremy and I would stroke her belly to comfort her and look at one another wondering if this was it. We called our vet as soon as he got into the office and he added some more pain killers to the regimen of muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory drugs. Within an hour of taking her meds, she was back to her old self – wandering around the house, wagging her tail, holding her head high, happy.

A college friend of mine had mentioned that he has traction socks for his dog on their hardwood floors. So I went to the store and picked up the only similar thing in stock. They’re little rubber booties. I wasn’t sure they would work, but I was willing to try anything.


They don’t bother Kaweah like her old hiking booties did (the ones she wore once, in the house and then never again). I think that’s partly because she has lost a lot of feeling in her hind paws. They do offer her incredible traction on our floors and she’s been walking around like a champ these past two days. Of course, we had to modify the booties – a clip at the tops so as not to cut off circulation in her ankles, and several holes on the tops and bottoms because her feet were getting hot and sweaty.

she’s hasn’t been this mobile in over a year

they’re like a doggie version of crocs

The combination of the non-slip booties and pain meds has turned Kaweah into a younger version of herself. We can’t get over how happy she is padding about the house asking to be let out on the deck, asking to be let back in (and so on and so forth). When she walks, the little rubber booties sound like clown shoes squeaking on the floors. As I look to see where my little clown is, I usually catch her tail wagging high in the air as she squeak-squeak-squeaks around the corner looking for wayward treats.

Kaweah’s recovery was just in time because my parents and my aunt (who is visiting my folks) came up to our house for dinner Saturday evening.

mom and her sister

one of five courses: butter-sautéed chanterelles in cream, white wine, and garlic with bacon on pappardelle

I wanted it to be a special dinner since it was my aunt’s first visit to our house and probably the last time I’ll host my parents this summer before they head home to Virginia. As most of my friends know, I serve multiple desserts to dinner guests. I love variety and I want guests to feel like they have a choice… or a sampler! Knowing that my dad is rather fond of crème brûlée, I went for a slightly Asian version: green tea crème brûlée.

matcha green tea powder, eggs (yolks), pinch of salt, sugar, vanilla, cream

add sugar to the yolks

and the matcha powder

If you keep matcha powder around a while, it will lose its lovely green color rather quickly. I bought this batch a couple of months ago and it is already a paler green. So if color is important to you, buy it fresh. The nice thing about this recipe is that making green tea crème brûlée is practically the same as making regular crème brûlée.

whisk until thick

add cream and vanilla


The toughest part of the entire process is probably the water bath. Do you pour the hot water into the pan when it is in the hot oven or do you pour the hot water into the pan first and then cautiously lower it onto the rack in the oven? The former runs the risk of spilling water into the ramekins if the water is poured into the pan with enough momentum (water is an incompressible fluid and conserves momentum) – i.e. it splashes. The latter involves moving a volume of hot liquid into a hot oven and all manner of scenarios can play out where you introduce a little momentum into the system and you wind up splooshing hot water on yourself and dropping the whole pan and oy… But once the pan makes it safely into the oven, you’re pretty much home free.

divide the custard among the ramekins


I forgot the part where you skim any foam off the tops of the custard. Honestly, I don’t think it matters much because I’m going to cover that surface with sugar. Give the custards time to chill. I really recommend an overnight stay in the refrigerator if possible. When you are ready to serve, bring the custards out of the refrigerator and sprinkle a couple spoons of sugar on top. Use whatever sugar you like. Real sugar. Don’t use that substitute crap – it won’t caramelize. Don’t skimp either or else the shell will be too thin and will dissolve before you can even eat it. At our elevation, we have found the little kitchen propane torches to be completely useless. So we have the standard propane torch you can get from any hardware store. Don’t have a propane torch? Never fear, you can use the broiler on your oven to caramelize the sugar (just keep an eye on it).

sprinkle sugar on the tops after chilling the custards

torch it

Crème brûlée is something you need to make ahead of time, but isn’t terribly labor-intensive and is a big crowd pleaser. The best part (in my opinion) is running around with a propane torch! Okay, I don’t run around with it – we are VERY careful not to burn anything down… like the state of Colorado. I just love my torch. And the dessert itself? It’s wonderfully green tea-ish and deceptively light and delicate. A perfect ending to a special dinner.

top with fresh (organic) berries

dreamy crunchy creamy

Green Tea Crème Brûlée
[print recipe]
based on this recipe

8 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsps matcha green tea powder
3 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar (I used turbinado)

Preheat oven to 300°F. Set a kettle of water on the stove to boil. When it comes to a boil, remove from heat and set aside. Whisk the yolks, sugar, and matcha powder together on high speed until the sugar dissolves and the mixture becomes thick and turns a pale greenish yellow color. Add the cream, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until blended. Strain the custard into individual ramekins or vessels. Skim any foam off the tops. Place the ramekins in a large roasting or baking pan (something big enough to fit the ramekins so they aren’t touching each other or the sides).

If you are particularly coordinated, set the pan on a rack in the middle of the oven. Carefully pour the hot water from the kettle into the pan taking care not to splash water into any of the custards. Fill the pan with enough water to cover at least an inch of the ramekins. If you aren’t terribly coordinated, you can pour the hot water into the pan BEFORE you set the pan in the oven, although that can result in splashing of hot water (and the pan gets heavy). Either way, just be careful. Bake the crème brûlée for 40-50 minutes (mine took 40 minutes) until just set. It will wobble in the center a little, but it shouldn’t wobble a lot. Carefully remove the pan from the oven. Let the ramekins cool in the water bath. Remove from the water bath and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving (but overnight is recommended). When you are ready to serve, sprinkle 1-2 tbsps of sugar on each custard (depending on how much crust you want and how wide the surface area of the ramekin is). Burn (caramelize) the sugar with a propane torch or under a broiler until the sugar is melted and browned. Makes ~6 ramekins.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

chocolate espresso crème brûlée pistachio crème brûlée chocolate pots de crème chinese steamed crabmeat egg custard

33 nibbles at “things are looking up”

  1. Julia says:


  2. Lisa is Bossy says:

    I kinda love and hate reading the posts about Kaweah. They make me freak out and then smile at the same time. I’m feeling a little bi-polar. Sending her (and you guys) many hugs. As much as she makes you so happy, it’s such a difficult time. I don’t envy you, but we’ll be there in some years down the road…

    Hey and not that you’ll want to stay in the East Bay of the Bay Area – but pretty soon we’ll have more space to allot to visitors!! Closer to Napa/Sonoma from the new home than the old!! ;)

  3. debbie says:

    Glad to read that Kaweah is feeling better. My little chihuahua is 9 years old and it’s an old 9 years. Animals have a way of tugging at our hearts that is just so special. (Your dessert looks delicious too!).

  4. Kristin says:

    Hooray for people who design things to help pets & the people who love them. I’m so glad that Kaweah is doing so much better with her booties! The creme brulee sounds delicious!

  5. says:

    First things first, that’s great news about Kaweah being up and about. And second, I have made baked custard many times and find that pouring the water from a pitcher into the pan when it’s already in the oven works better than attempting to transfer. I also place a paper towel under the ramekins which helps reduce splashing.

  6. Eva @ Eva Bakes says:

    I’m so happy to hear that Kaweah is feeling better. Those little booties are precious! I love your idea of an Asian version of creme brulee. So awesome!

  7. Susie says:

    I’m happy reading that Kaweah is doing better! and as usual your food and photography are beautiful :)

  8. Rachael @ Set the Table says:

    This look so delicious- I love creme brulee. And dessert samplers. Can I have that for breakfast please?

  9. Christine T says:


    I have been a silent follower and love your blog… your photography.. food..Kaweah = )

    I would like to recommend to you to try this for Kaweah. I have taken it myself.. my 3 dogs and my friend’s dogs… all to very good results

    Synflex liquid glucosamine. you can visit them at if you email to me.. I can send you the link so that you can get 10% discount.

    I hope Kaweah feels better. = )

  10. Melissa says:

    I am sooo glad to hear your girl is doing better. That sad face wasn’t a good look on her. ♥ You know my heart skips a beat when it comes to sweet Kaweah. Give her a nuzzle for me, would you?

    (and that creme brulee is beauuutiful!)

  11. Jasline @ Foodie Baker says:

    It hurts when a close family member falls ill :( But I’m glad Kaweah is doing better! And your creme brulee is so beautiful! Love the matcha twist you made :)

  12. Deb says:

    Hi. I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while and I too have an elderly lab (13 years old). I’ve considered getting her an assisi loop when her legs start to give her problems, which may be soon.

  13. Laura says:

    Thanks for posting about the dog anti-slip socks! Just what my 2 old dogs need!

    Great recipes too!

  14. Kristy says:

    So happy you’ve found a solution for your adorable puppy (because they are all puppies no matter how old they are)! I was wondering if you have a recipe for the “butter-sautéed chanterelles in cream, white wine, and garlic with bacon on pappardelle” – it looks amazing!

  15. Abbe@This is How I Cook says:

    I am so happy they make doggie socks now! Great idea. And so is this creme brulee. Perfect for making any day special!

  16. Kath the Cook says:

    happy the pup is feeling better – she’s very cute with clown shoes. what about the other courses? those two look great.

  17. Louise says:

    Whatta girl Kaweah! Absolutely gorgeous in those boots!

  18. Denise@There's a Newf in My Soup! says:

    Oh Jen, I know what you are going through with Kaweah, but it comforts me to know you keep finding solutions to keep her comfortable and able to enjoy life as much as possible. I bought Dooley (13 year old Newfoundland) traction socks to help on the wood floors, but puppy Trapper just loved the smell of them when we took them off before our walk. He grabbed one out of my hand one morning and wanted to play keep away. Long story short, he swallowed it. The vet was able to induce him to cough it back up, but out came a total of 3 socks (Dooley only wore his on the back paws and Trapper apparently found the other two when we weren’t looking). To this day, I have to hide my socks from Trapper ;-) Love you and your blog. Newf kisses to Kaweah.

  19. Cindi says:

    The brulee looks so delish… And SO happy to hear Kaweah is better! Her little “Crocs” are funny little things and YAY that they are helping her! (And the meds, too – good girl, Kaweah, for taking them!)

  20. Denise Dewire says:

    Love the clown description of little Kaweah! So glad you found those little booties!

    And can’t wait to try that recipe! One of my hubbies favorite desserts!

  21. Miss B says:

    Thanks for the info on the traction socks. It looks like these have made a world of difference for Kaweah! Can’t believe I never thought to look for something like this before. We’ve been using various rugs, stairs, etc. to help our 14 year old boy. The socks look like they should work out so much better. I ordered some last night, so we’ll see.
    Our pup and Kaweah are roughly the same age and have lived somewhat similar lives as far as exercise (we live on a nature preserve), food preferences, and the rather spoiled only-dog status. Our boy has recently begun to lose his hearing too, so we’ve been learning sign language. I agree that it’s tough to watch your best pal experience the woes of aging, but as you know, there is still so much joy to be had. Thank you for getting the word out about these socks. They won’t fix every health issue an older dog has, but they may make a significant improvement in our boy’s life. I can’t wait to feel him hop up on our bed in the middle of the night again!

  22. jill says:

    I’m going to see if my sister is interested in those booties for Dozer, her again Chocolate Lab. The hardwood floors are so hard. Plus he’s loss so much muscle, he has a flipper foot going. Oh man it is tough.

    Love that you are always a cooking fool, just give you an occasion. Hope your mom had a lovely visit with her sister!

  23. Mrs B says:

    Good evening. I have been (quietly) following your blog for quite some time now. Dog stories always tug at my heartstrings, if you read this you’ll know why. I love how you effortlessly combine your love for cooking, the great outdoors and your beloved 4 legged companion and always look forward to catching up with your stories, a definite treat. I hope Kaweah has many more happy moments to share with you.
    That’s it ;)
    Greetings from North Wales (UK)
    Babs B

  24. Sophie says:

    Wonderful to read how K is doing :) Warms my heart. What a fantastic solution! She is looking just like Mario Batali in those lil’ booties!

    Five courses, I love it! I like to do the same, but try to pull it off without standing over the stove the whole time guests are here. I’m learning. I imagine you pulled it off beautifully! How great does that pasta sound!

    Thanks for more great inspiration here…. especially for the matcha tea powder I just bought, and I didnt know the color would fade. Great info, as usual, Jen!

  25. Melanie Evans says:

    I’m so glad to hear of your solution for K. My ex-husband’s dog was having some trouble on some surfaces and booties are definitely the solution. Their confidence can be shaken when they lose traction and perhaps splay and collapse. The booties help return their self-confidence as you’ve seen with K. I’m so glad she’s doing better. It’s so hard watching our sweet babies age and such a relief and joy when they are clearly happy and cheerful. I wish you much more time with her and her with you. Give her a smooch for me and tell her she has friends she hasn’t even met who love her and wish the very best for her! Best! Melanie

  26. swan says:

    hey jen:

    haven’t written in awhile but always look at the site. just wanted to give you a cyber hug to you and jeremy re: kaweah. i am a black lab addict! please know you 3 are in my thoughts daily and she is such a lucky girl to be in your family.

    thank you for all the updates on your girl, your amazing photos (love the clouds and sunsets!) and recipes.

    take care!

    swan in san ramon

  27. Virginia L. says:

    aside from the love you & Jeremy already give her, Kaweah has got to be the most loved dog on the planet :)

    I frequently show your blog to my parents and ask them to compare your traditional recieps to how they prepare them, which usually results in “why don’t YOU just cook it for us?” I’ll have to hide this particular post from them heh heh :P

    I’m curious to know what the other courses you served were!

  28. shannon says:

    Your green tea creme brulee recipe looks delicious! I can’t wait to make this at home!

  29. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    hugs to Kaweah….

    I am a creme brulee fanatic – can’t wait to try this one…

  30. farmerpam says:

    Those pup booties are too cute, glad to hear she’s back to her old self.

  31. diane and todd says:

    Go Kweah, Go! Love the blue booties. We love you.

  32. Cindy@MijoRecipes says:

    Love it! Your recipe steps really make it easy to follow. Btw, your dog is soooo cute!

  33. jenyu says:

    Julia – hope you like it!

    Lisa is Bossy – Oh, I know. I’m just glad they go before we do – so that someone is always there to care for them until the very end. Congrats on your house!!! So happy for you guys! xo

    debbie – so true. Thanks.

    Kristin – :)

    Carole – have to agree, but someone out there is going to complain, so I thought I’d give them both options. I too place a little dishcloth underneath the ramekins to prevent sliding and splashing.

    Eva – thanks!

    Susie – thank you.

    Rachel – ;)

    Christine – thanks for the offer. We’ve already tried glucosamine on Kaweah years ago. This is not the issue she’s having. She has the doggie form of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

    Melissa – of course, I will. I think we both feel the same way about our furry companions. So special. So very very special xoxo

    Jasline – thank you.

    Deb – we’ve Macgyvered a similar thing for Kaweah, but it doesn’t seem to help too much because her feet and legs don’t really listen to what her brain tells them to do and we just wind up carrying her anyway. She’s just… old.

    Laura – Kaweah is doing much better now with those anti-slip booties. Our main concern is reducing her risk of falling.

    Kristy – Here is a similar recipe (using fresh porcinis instead of chanterelles): You can skip the dry sauté step with the chanterelles and put them in directly with the butter.

    Abbe – :)

    Kath – We started with appetizers: crudités w spinach dip, fresh figs/camembert w blue/honey/candied walnuts, prosciutto with melon. Then pan-seared scallops on sautéed corn and fresh cherry tomatoes. Then the pasta. Finally miso black cod, sautéed baby bok choy, pickled ginger. For dessert we had the crème brûlée, cacao nib cookies, and an assortment of ice creams (passion fruit, green tea, and vanilla).

    Louise – thanks :)

    Denise – they don’t seem to annoy her like the old booties did!

    Miss B – Awww, poor baby. I think the main thing you will notice (or not notice) is that as they lose strength, the chances for falling and injury increase. So that’s the big thing we wanted to avoid. Another benefit is that with the added traction, Kaweah is moving around more and easier than before – which means she’s getting better exercise and hopefully, a little stronger. Best of luck to your sweet pup xo

    jill – yup… Kaweah has both flipper feet (but the biggest offender is the right hind foot). Hope Dozer can make due with some socks or booties! xo

    Mrs B – Oh… I am so sorry. Your post broke my heart. But your devotion to your sweet companion speaks volumes. Sending much love and condolences. xo

    Sophie – ha ha!! What a great comparison, and spot on. When entertaining like that, my guests just have to accept that I’ll be in the kitchen. The main thing is to prep everything ahead of time so that when they arrive, the only thing left is the cooking (which will hopefully go quickly). It also helps that Jeremy takes care of beverages and guides them to appetizers while I get the meal ready.

    Melanie – ah, so true! You describe it so well. I know she is declining. We’re just watching carefully so we’ll know if she’s ever suffering. That’s what we want to avoid. So far, she seems happy enough. Especially when a treat is involved :)

    swan – thank you, dear.

    Virginia – hee hee!! You SHOULD cook it for them. See what they say :) Kath asked the same thing, so here’s what I answered: We started with appetizers: crudités w spinach dip, fresh figs/camembert w blue/honey/candied walnuts, prosciutto with melon. Then pan-seared scallops on sautéed corn and fresh cherry tomatoes. Then the pasta. Finally miso black cod, sautéed baby bok choy, pickled ginger. For dessert we had the crème brûlée, cacao nib cookies, and an assortment of ice creams (passion fruit, green tea, and vanilla).

    shannon – :)

    Rocky Mountain Woman – thank you xo

    farmerpam – thanks!

    diane and todd – LOVE YOU GUYS!!! xoxo

    Bindy – thank you!

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