Lemon Thyme Crème Brûlée
dessert veg
50 cl whipping cream
5 or 6 twigs fresh thyme
zest of 1 lemon, grated
4 egg yolks
60g raw unrefined Caster cane sugar
Serves 4
Bring the cream to the boil, remove from the heat and add the thyme and lemon zest.
Leave to infuse for 15 minutes (or continue to simmer gently if you're in a hurry).
Preheat the oven to 160°C (350°F).
Beat together the egg yolks and sugar then beat in the strained cream. Add a few choice thyme leaves and lemon granules. Pour the mixture into 4 ramekins, place them in an oven tray, surround them with an inch of boiling water and bake for 45 minutes.
Leave to cool Some suggest refrigerating overnight. Just before serving, sprinkle with sugar and grill until the sugar caramelises.

The ramekins were a little overcooked - almost browned. Either the oven was a little hot or they were in for too long. Keep an eye on them!
The brûleées were quite tasty, and very lemony (perhaps too lemony), but there was little sign of the thyme. It might be better to infuse strips of lemon peel rather than grate it. Also perhaps use more thyme. The additional lemon peel added after mixing might be minced, though I was tempted to make some candied lemon peel for that purpose.

Pumpkin Brûlée
dessert veg
For 6 ramekins
2 cups (1 pint) single cream, or half double half single
1 vanilla pod
1 cup pumpkin purée
8 egg yolks
½ cup ginger sugar (from making the crystalized ginger) or demarara caster sugar
¼ cup of Grand Marnier
generous grating of nutmeg
1 small slice of crystalized ginger per ramekin. Julienned
ground cinnamon and extra sugar for the topping
Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Prepare a baking tray with 2" boiling water
Whisk the egg yolks with the demarara sugar (if using). Warm the cream with the vanilla pod. Dissolve the (lumpy) ginger sugar in the grand marnier, then heat these up with the cream and pumpkin purée. Grate in the nutmeg. Beat into the egg yolks. Scatter the julienned crystallized ginger into the bottom of the ramekins, fill them with the custard mix, place in the oven for around 45 minutes (check after 30) until just set (move when tipped but slightly wobbly in the centre). Refrigerate

Top with a thin layer of cinnamon sugar and caramelize.

When I first made this I expected using all "ginger" sugar to be too strong, but actually it's fine. You need to use (raw cane) caster sugar for the topping - the granulated kind doesn't caramelize evenly enough. I used about 1:2 cinnamon:sugar mix for this.

Crystallized Ginger
ingredient veg vegan
This is not a hard recipe, but it needs to be watched, and the heat regulated carefully, so that all goes Slowly, and that the cooking is stopped at the proper time. I took these notes this evening from a batch I just finished, hope it can be understood

For this recipe, buy about 10 ounces of ginger, which will give you about 6 ounces of cleaned and sliced ginger root. Once you have learned the basics, this recipe can be multiplied to almost any quantity.

First, carefully peel off the outside brown skin of the root. Remove the secondary knobs, freeze them for something else. Cut out any discolored or dried out spots. Cut the root into 2 inch lengths and slice lengthwise into 1/8th inch slices. Punch holes in the slices with a needle or fork, sort of like you would tenderize a steak. Toss the slices in a bowl with
2 Cups raw cane sugar.
Add 1 Tbl of water to a 6 or 8 inch iron frying pan or a heavy wok, pour in the ginger and sugar, and bring very slowly up to a gentle simmer. Stir occasionally for an hour. Lower the heat to a minimum and let very slowly simmer, stirring occasionally and separating the slices, until the syrup starts to get thick and crystallize. There will be a rim of sugar that crystallizes out around the edge of the pan, and the mixture will become quite thick and syrupy, and will have a lot of sugar crystals in it. Soon the mixture will bubble slowly all over the surface, and when gently stirred will crystallize more and more. (This last phase only takes a few minutes, so watch carefully toward the end. If it carmelizes, it is junk.) Soon the syrup is mostly crystals, and the whole mass will start coming together when stirred. When you can make a pile of it in the middle of the pan, and very little syrup drains out, take it off the heat, and toss gently while it cools. Make sure the slices remain separated. If done right, the crystallized ginger slices will separate from the sugar at this point. Spread it all out on a tray to cool and dry, then store airtight somewhere dark and cool. Use the sugar in coffee, cookies, or anywhere else that a fresh, clean ginger accent would be nice.

Pumpkin Puree
ingredient veg vegan
1 pumpkin
- A small (culinary) pumpkin tastes better, and gives a denser, less watery purée
Roast the pumpkin as follows:
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 Slice the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds (and stringy flesh). Clean the seeds off (even wash them) and put them in a roasting tin with a drizzle of olive oil and a scattering of salt. Put the pumpkin halves cut-side down on another roasting tin. Bake the pumpkin until soft and ready to separate from the skin. Bake the seeds until browned and crispy. Scoop out the pumpkin flesh and purée.

Praline Topping
ingredient veg vegan
I must admit I haven't found a lot of use for this cookbook, but this looks like an interesting take on the brûlée topping.
The Lemon Crème Brûlée might be worth trying too...

100g 3½ oz caster sugar
To make the praline top, put the sugar in a small saucepan with a few drops of water and simmer until it darkens to caramel. Lightly butter a metal or marble surface. Pour out the caramel onto the surface and let it cool and harden before you break it off and smash it with a meat mallet or pulse it in a blender until it is in crumbs.

Preheat the grill to very hot. Take the custards from the fridge at the last minute and sprinkle about a tablespoon of praline over each one. Spread it thinly over the whole surface with the back of a spoon. Put the custards on a rack as close as possible to the grill until the praline has melted - the custard should still be cold on the inside and the sugar crisp on the top. Serve absolutely immediately.

Crème Brûlée with Grand Marnier
Vanilla and Grand Marnier flavoured crème brûlée
dessert veg
This recipe was originally served at Restaurant 36 on Great King Street, Edinburgh

Serves 4

Heat the cream and vanilla pod together until it reaches boiling point, pull to the side and leave to infuse. Whisk the sugar and yolks over a bain marie until it becomes thick — this should take 5-6 minutes. Bring the cream back to the boil and add the Grand Marnier to taste. Pour one third of the cream into the egg and mix quickly. Pour egg mix back into cream and mix until it begins to thicken slightly. Discard the vanilla pod and pour into the ramekins. The mix will take at least 5-6 hours to set. Sprinkle the brûlées with brown sugar and caramelise to a nice dark brown colour under a hot grill.

Crème Brûlée with Roasted Rhubarb
veg sweet
Although these tasted pretty delish, my attempt to follow Gordon's recipe was a bust. It might have been because I cooked my brules in a bain marie rather than naked to the oven, as Gordon appears to. If it wasn't for my success with every other Ramsay recipe I'd be inclined to declare this one impossible, but I find it hard to see how you could get the damn things to turn out of their ramekins without being as firm as jelly. Which I'm not sure would be a good texture for a crème brûlée.

Anyway, mine wouldn't turn out worth a damn - the one I tried just came apart like runny custard. Make of it what you will, probably I should have tried his version 2.
Still tasted delish though.

Makes 5 x 150ml

Have ready the dried strawberries and jus de fraises, if using.

Peel away the stringy, coarse ribs of the rhubarb then cut the stalks first into 4cm/1½" lengths, then into bâtons. Heat the butter and honey in a large frying pan until bubbling, then add the rhubarb in a single layer and roast gently for about 5 minutes, turning carefully, until softened but still whole.
Do the best you can with this - they collapse rapidly but you only need about half to cover the ramekins. I added the seeds from half a vanilla pod to the rhubarb too.

Drain in a sieve then spread out on clean paper or towel to absorb excess moisture. Change the towel twice more. It is important to drain the rhubarb thoroughly so that it doesn't rise during baking.

Meanwhile, line the base of six ramekins with discs of greadeproof paper. When the rhubarb is quite dry, divide between the dishes, spreading the pieces neatly over the bases. Arrange the ramekins on a baking sheet.

Slit the vanilla pods, scrape out the seeds and mix with the cream. Put the cream, milk and empty pods into a large saucepan and bring slowly to the boil.
Gordon apparently prefers UHT milk here for its richness and stability.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the yolks and caster sugar with a whisk until smooth and a paler shade of yellow. Preheat the oven to 120°C/225°F/Gas Mark Low.

When the cream mixture starts to boil and rise, pour it, in stages, onto the yolks, whisking continuously. Strain through a fine sieve into a jug and discard the vanilla pods.

Pour a little of the custard over the rhubarb in the ramekins and transfer to the oven for 20 minutes or until the mixture has set enough to hold the rhubarb in place. Pour in the remaining custard and cook for a further 45-60 minutes or until lightly set. The custard is ready when, if tipped, it comes away slowly from the sides of the mould and is slightly wobbly in the centre.
This took my bain-maried brûlées about 1½ hours or more. And they still wouldn't turn out worth a damn.
Cool, then chill until quite firm. To unmould, run a table knife around the edge of each ramekin and invert onto a plate. Remove the paper discs.

Sprinkle the custards with demarara sugar, then caramelize, either with a blowtorch, or by placing under a hot grill. Tuck the dried strawberries just beneath the top of each brûlée and spoon around the jus de fraises.
Like I said. Impossible, but delish.

Rhubarb Crème Brûlée
veg sweet
A second version of Gordon Ramsay's rhubarb crème brûlées. This one treats the rhubarb slightly differently and doesn't attempt the turnout of the first, and should consequently be quite a bit simpler, and hopefully more successful.
Maybe it's also as delish as the first?

Serves 4

Heat the oven to 140°C/gas mark 1. Stand four ramekins or similar ovenproof dishes (200ml capacity) in a baking tin.

Melt the butter in a wide frying pan. Add the rhubarb, honey and seeds from the vanilla pod.

Cook over a high heat, tossing occasionally, for 5-6 minutes until the rhubarb is soft and the juices and honey have caramelised. Spoon into the ramekins.

Slowly heat the cream and milk together in a saucepan to just below the boil. Add slit vanilla pods if you prefer not to use essence. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract together in a bowl until evenly blended. Trickle the hot, creamy milk onto the egg mixture, beating constantly, until well combined. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a large jug. Skim off any froth from the surface, then pour into the ramekins.

Pour warm water into the baking tin to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until the custards are lightly set. To test, gently shake a ramekin — the custard should still be a little wobbly in the centre. Remove the ramekins from the tin and allow to cool completely, then chill until ready to serve. For the topping, sprinkle 1-2 tsp sugar evenly on top of each custard, then wave a cook's blowtorch over the surface to caramelise. Serve at once.
I'm not sure you could easily serve with jus de fraises without dissolving the caramel, but you can decide where to stick the dried strawberries