Saturday, July 30, 2005

I'm no Superman...

I love Creme Anglaise.

I just do. I can't explain my love of this simple vanilla sauce, but I can tell you how I got to this point...

Flashback to 1994: I was a wide eyed food newbie with no true culinary experience whatsoever, I mean c'mon, my family is mostly German.
I was put together with three other people and our group was assigned different jobs on different weeks. One week, we were in charge of desserts. One of the guys in my group, Jim, brought up the idea of making a Creme Anglaise. I had no clue what he was talking about, but I was on board. Basically, we had to make enough for about 50 people over a 4 hour period of service. Simple, right? Absolutely...

We prepped it, got it on the fire and figured it would take about an hour to complete. The trick to an Anglaise, in my opinion, is the stirring. Constant freeking stirring. So we took 15 minute shifts. Jim started it, I went second, and a girl -whom I have since forgotten anything about- went third. The third shift fucked everything up. She whined about the stirring and the boredom and about the heat and... Okay, the point being that she didn't stick to the plan. She turned up the heat from low to just above medium and stopped stirring. We got vanilla scrambled eggs and had to scrap the whole batch. We couldn't even strain it, it was so gummed up... Disastrous.

Skip ahead to 2002: Jeb, Kristen, Baxter and I go to J. Alexanders one evening for dinner. We all ordered our entrees and went about drinking and talking about working. When the salad came to the table, it was garnished with a croissant glazed with Creme Anglaise. I didn't think much of it in the moments before I ate it, but as soon as I tasted it - I was hooked back in.

I hadn't thought about it for years. The initial failed attempt had long given way to other more spectacular failures. But that night changed everything...

Now I make a batch once or twice a year for various reasons. It's a sweet sauce, so I feel it goes better with pastries or sweet desserts rather than Caesar salads. If you're patient and have a use for it (Croissants, on ice cream, ect.) I highly recommend trying it. I'm going to drizzle some over a few of those amazingly good lava cakes I made the other night...

Creme Anglaise
1/2 Cup Whole Milk
1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1 T Vanilla Extract

3 Egg Yolks
3 T Sugar

Combine Milk, Cream and Vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer then remove from heat. Hold aside.
Combine egg yolks and sugar till smooth and not grainy. Gradually stir hot milk into egg\sugar mix.
Return sauce to saucepan, place back on stove over LOW heat.
Stir continually till sauce thickens slightly but DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL.
Strain sauce through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and let cool slightly.
Cover and chill.

Seriously people, LOW HEAT. If you get impatient, you're screwed. And you need to Stir, STIR, STIRRRRRR! If by chance you get fidgitty and start to scramble the eggs, get it OFF the heat immediately and strain it two or three times until it's smooth and there are no lumps. Every second counts, regardless of weather you screw it up or not. Trust me, this sauce is easy but you need to be dedicated to it.

And that's it, I'm done.

Groove to this:
Groove Armada - Easy
Cornershop - Brim Full of Asha
Space Monkeys - Sugar Cane
Bran Van 3000 - Come On Feel The Noize

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