Just Desserts: Sour Cream Strawberry Custard

I stumbled across this recipe when flipping through a Rachael Ray magazine and jotted it down to try sometime. With a couple days off this weekend and the possibility of springier weather, I decided to give it a try. And Yum!!! Jeremy said this was better than ice cream or vanilla yogurt (both of which he is quite a fan). I say, this recipe is delicious and simple, coming together in about 15 minutes.

And, I’ll let you in on a little secret, I cut back on the sugar. I put 4 Tablespoons of sugar in the custard and 2 Tablespoons of sugar on the strawberries. I also used 1/3 cup heavy cream and 2/3 cup 1% milk in place of the half and half. And I subbed in about 1/3 cup plain yogurt in place of all sour cream. I’ve included the original recipe below, but feel free to mess around with it as it suits your needs.

This makes a perfect dessert during strawberry season. It’s elegant enough for company, but easy enough just to whip up a batch for the family. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

SOUR CREAM STRAWBERRY CUSTARD
(from Every Day With Rachael Ray, May 2010)
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1 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (such as Knox brand)
2 1/2 Tablespoon cold water
1 cup half and half
6 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2 cups sliced strawberries
3 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the half and half with the 6 Tablespoons of sugar, stirring until the sugar has melted. Whisk in the vanilla and the softened gelatin, then whisk in the sour cream.

Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, toss the sliced strawberries with the 3 Tablespoons of sugar and the balsamic vinegar. Cover and refrigerate.

Top the custard with the balsamic strawberries. Serves 4.

Off the Shelf: Nigel Slater Appetite

Appetite by Nigel Slater is one of my favorite inspirational cookbooks. I love reading cookbooks by people who are not only passionate about cooking but also eating. And, another thing I like about Nigel is his flexibility. Many of his recipes give guidelines, not precise ingredients, and he also adds lots of suggestions on ways to tweek the recipe he gives.

The first fourth of this book contains all kinds of helpful information such as: the new cook’s survival guide, learning to trust your own taste, how to make something taste better, measurements and why you don’t always need them, kitchen kit, basic kitchen skills, ingredients — how to buy, store, and use them, herbs, vegetables and fruit, fish, meat, and dairy, as well as seasonal cooking.

Nigel then launches into the recipes which include all kinds of things: a simple loaf of bread, a great tomato sauce, variations of soup, easy pasta dinners, different ways with rice, thirty-minute fish supper, classic roast chicken, a thin, crisp, fruit tart, a warm and crumbly fruit tart, and a rib-sticking pudding for a cold day.

We have used Nigel’s Creamy, Unctuous Potato Dish over and over at family dinners and holidays. Yes, it is rich, but it pairs so nicely with holiday meats, and it is so easy to prepare, that it is fine with me to enjoy this treat once or twice a year.  (Note potatoes to the top left in picture below.)

A CREAMY, UNCTUOUS POTATO DISH
(Appetite, by Nigel Slater)

potatoes — waxy-fleshed if possible, about 2 pounds
garlic — 2 large, juicy cloves
butter — just enough to butter the baking dish thickly
heavy cream — enough to cover the potatoes (about 2 1/2 cups)

You will need a moderate to low oven, so set the heat at 325F. Peel the potatoes and slice them thinly. This, by the way, is one of those dishes where you really must peel: strings of brown, “healthy” skin are totally at odds with the gratin’s hedonistic overtones. The slices should be no thicker than 1/8 inch. If the garlic is really juicy, cut the cloves in half and rub them around an earthenware or enameled cast-iron dish, pressing down hard to release the juices. Otherwise it might be better to slice it thinly and tuck the slices between the potatoes.

Smear the dish generously with butter. Please don’t be stingy — you are only cheating yourself. Lay the potato slices in the dish, orderly or positively hugger-mugger, it matters not, seasoning with salt and black pepper as you go along. Pour the cream over the potatoes — it should just come to the top of the slices. Bake for an hour to an hour and a half, until the potatoes are virtually melting into the cream.

Enough for 6 as a side dish.

I recently made Nigel’s custard recipe and then threw it into our ice-cream maker to create this incredible frozen custard. Topped with raspberry coulis, it was a delicious, well-rounded dessert.