I ranted about Mother's Day last year here. And I feel like it is appropriate to do it again. Maybe it will be an annual tradition. I do like annual traditions, particularly if they involve rants on over-commercialized made-up holidays.
Make no mistake: I love celebrations. I love saying I love you to those who matter. I love recognizing them, spoiling them, making them feel on top of the world for a day or every day. I love dedicating a whole day to just doing that. I do love Mother's Day. I just hate what we are making of it - the cheap meaningless jewelry, the soulless Hallmark cards, the thought that someone might actually take the woman who gave birth to him to the Country Buffet for the Mother's Day brunch special.
I will not give you a list of what to buy for Ma. I say make her a stiff drink. She needs it. Maybe this one or this one. A drink and flowers. Always get flowers. Even if Ma says she doesn't want flowers, go ahead and get flowers. Even if you think she really doesn't care about flowers, get flowers. Always- just a good rule. Let's make it even safer - get roses. And then make this custard with them!
Rosewater Creme Caramel with Primrose Sauce & Black Pepper Tuiles, a Charlie Trotter recipe
Rosewater Creme Caramel
Ingredients: 1/2 cup heavy cream; 1/4 cup whole milk; 1/2 cup sugar; 2 teaspoons orange zest; 1 whole egg; 1/2 the yolk from another egg; 2 teaspoons rosewater; 2 tablespoons water.
Put the cream, milk, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and orange zest in a non-reactive pan on medium heat. When it comes to a boil, remove from the heat, cover, and steep for 30 minutes. Return the mixture to a boil. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and egg yolk well and begin adding the hot cream very slowly. If you molest this process, your custard will break and bye-bye creme caramel! Temper the eggs patiently by adding the hot mixture gently while whisking. Mix it well together then strain through a fine mesh sieve. Add the rosewater and mix well again.
Caramel: combine the remainder of the sugar and the water in a small heavy-bottomed pan and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until it is deep golden brown and, well, caramelized.
Brush 4 small ramekins (2 to 3 ounces) with canola oil very lightly. Pour a small amout (1 tablespoon) of the caramelized sugar in each ramekin swirling immediately to coat the bottom of each dish.
Pour the custard in the ramekins and bake at 325 degrees in a water bath for about 50 minutes to 1 hour or until the custard is set. (how do you know it's set? check on it after 50 min; gently touch the top; does it feel set? i.e. does it have the texture and feel of a custard?) Remove from the water bath and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Ingredients: 1/4 cup simple syrup (make your own- half water, half sugar, bring to a boil, and cool- see? easy), 1 blackberry, petals of one large or two smaller primroses.
Combine the ingredients in a blender, and puree until very smooth, about one minute.
Strain well through a fine mesh sieve. Reserve until ready to serve.
Black Pepper Tuiles
Ingredients: 1 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter; pulp of 1/2 Madagascar vanilla bean; 2 tablespoons flour; 1 egg white; 3/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper.
Over medium heat, melt the butter and the vanilla pulp and let it cool one minute or two. Whisk the remaining ingredients into the butter and pour into ziploc bag. Make a very small hole in one of the corners of the ziploc bag and pipe the batter onto a silpat or non-stick baking sheet in the desired shapes (hearts!). Bake at 350 degrees for 4-5 minutes or until light brown. Let them cool and store at room temperature airtight.
You will have more tuiles than you need, but the good part is that (1) they are tasty, so don't hesitate to eat them, and (2) you can choose the ones that came out the best for actually using on your dish.
To serve: remove the custard from the ramekins by gently loosening the sides with a knife. Invert each custard into a shallow bowl. Gently. There will be caramel sauce dripping out. Keep it. Move the custard carefully onto the serving plate. Spoon a little rose sauce on top of it and drizzle a little caramel sauce on the plate. Top with one of more tuiles.
Photography by Jennifer Olson.