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Crispy Maple Lentil Crème Brulee

Crispy Maple Lentil Crème Brulee

It is that time of year again, the annual Canadian Lentil contest! I use lentils year round so am always excited about this contest! I also look forward to it as it pushes me to think outside of the box as to how I can use lentils.

For the dessert round I am going fancy. It is actually the first time I have ever made Crème Brulee. It is quick and easy yet is such a striking elegant dessert.

Now from the reading I have done one of the best parts of creme brulee is the hard sugar layer you crack through to get to the creamy custard. My thoughts were to take this layer up a notch. I set forth to make a batch of maple candied lentils to go on top of the maple custard.

You can make the lentils while the creme brulee is cooling in the fridge.

Crème Brulee

2 1/4 cups (560 ml) 35% cream

1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon of vanilla

5 egg yolks

1/4 cup of sugar

1/4 cup of sugar for the finishing of the crème brulee

1/2 cup of crispy maple lentils

Preheat the oven to  325 ºF. In a saucepan, heat the cream for 5 minutes with the maple syrup and vanilla.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Stir in the hot cream. Pour the mixture into four 3/4 cup  crème brulee dishes.

Bake in a water bath. To do this, place the dishes in a baking dish. Pour hot water 3/4 up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 40 minutes.

Let cool and refrigerate to chill completely.

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To finish sprinkle with the additional sugar and caramelize quickly with a kitchen torch.

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Once the sugar layer has been torched and it still sticky sprinkle with a layer of the crispy maple lentils.

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Enjoy immediately!

Maple Candied Red Lentils

2 cups of red lentils

3 1/2 cups of water

3/4 cup of brown sugar

1/2 cup of butter

1/4 cup of maple syrup

Place the lentils and water into a medium sized pot. Bring to a boil and cook for 8-9 minutes testing around the 7 minute mark. You do not want to over cook the lentils, soft with a bit of bite is the goal here. Once they are cooked strain in a fine mesh strainer.

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Place back into the pot with the butter, sugar and syrup an cook over low heat for 5 minutes.

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Strain again with the fine mesh strainer and allow to cool.

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Once cool spread the lentils on two parchment lined cookie sheets to the thin layer. Place in a  325 ºF oven. Check every 10 minutes stirring the lentils and rotating the pans between the shelves. Once they start to brown turn the oven off and let the lentils finish drying.

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Store in a covered container.

You can use Candied Maple Lentils in granola, on salads or anywhere you want to add a touch of crunch to.

 

 

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Making Ricotta Cheese

Making Ricotta Cheese

Have you ever come across a technique that you have been intrigued by and been surprised that it is something you can easily do at home? I had heard many times how easy it is to make your own ricotta cheese and knew I had to give it a try.

They were not kidding when they used to term simple. The hardest part was finding a store that carried the cheese cloth used to drain the liquid off.

It take less then 10 minutes cook time and 10 minutes drain time and you have a cup and a half of the freshest ricotta cheese available!

The ingredients are minimal and you only need a few tools for the job. Cheese cloth is needed to drain the cheese and a cooking thermometer is very helpful though you can still make it without the thermometer. You can usually find the glass candy thermometers in the gadget section of your grocery store for around $5.00.

And don’t be surprised if you eat at least half of your first batch over the sink while taste testing it.

Ricotta Cheese

4 cups of whole milk (3%)

1 cup of buttermilk

1/3 cup of whipping cream

1 tablespoon lemon juice

salt to taste

In a large pot bring the milk, cream and lemon juice to a simmer over medium high heat.  Allow to come to a temperature of 185 degrees. This will take less then 10 minutes.

Cooking milk to make ricotta cheese in the Nutmeg Disrupted kitchen

Stir occasionally. If you do not have a thermometer just watch the milks and when the curds separate from the whey it is ready to come off the burner.

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Line a fine meshed colander with two layers of cheesecloth.


Straining the ricotta in the Nutmeg Disrputed kitchen

Slowly pour the curd into the colander to drain. Once the liquid has drained off bundle up the cheese cloth and give it a bit of a squeeze. Remove the cheese to a bowl and lightly salt.

Depending on what you plan on using your ricotta for you could add some extra flavor but adding herbs or garlic. But it is just fantastic the way it is and I have found myself adding it to all sorts of dishes and even enjoying it just by itself, which I have never ever done with store bought ricotta.

Try it once and you’ll be hooked. Seriously good stuff!

 

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Creamed Bacon Lentil Soup

Creamed Bacon Lentil Soup

2014 seems to be the year of the lentil.

I started off creating recipes from The Big Book of Little Lentils cookbook. Then it was announced that Canadian Lentils  was having a recipe contest that has seemed to explode online. Everyone has gotten involved and why not. Lentils are not only amazing to cook with they are Canadian. And when you can cook with products that are grown at home that is a bonus. Plus they are inexpensive, easy to use and a power house of nutritional value.

For the Entrée round I submitted my vegetarian Lentil Chili that I posted some weeks back. It is quick, supper easy, inexpensive and full of amazing flavour.

This soup is my submission to the Free Style round.

It is rich and full of amazing flavour. It is like this luxurious warm liquid bacon hug. Perfect in every way!

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Creamed Bacon Lentil Soup

3 Tablespoons butter

4 garlic cloves, chopped

8 shallots, chopped

1-1/2 cups red lentils lentils

10 slices of bacon, chopped

7-8 cups chicken stock

1  sprig of thyme

1 cup cream

pepper to taste

Melt the butter over med-low in dutch oven.

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Add the bacon and cook until almost done. Reserve a few pieces for garnish.  Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes until soft but not browned.

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Shallots, garlic bacon and lentils as the base for Creamed Bacon Lentil Soup

Stir in the lentils, 7 cups of chicken stock and the thyme sprig. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes until the lentils are soft.

Place a colander over a large bowl. Pour in the soup, separating the lentils from the broth. Pour the broth back into the pot. Place the lentils and bacon in the bowl of a food processor and purée. Stir in the lentil purée. Stir in the cream. Simmer over med-low heat for about 10 minutes to heat through. Add pepper to taste.  Garnish with bacon crumbles and fresh thyme.

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Sugared Cranberry Bites

Sugared Cranberry Bites

We recently did an entertaining tasting event at work. Being a produce manager my selection to choose from is quite extensive. There are so many things I could have featured. At a meeting before the event someone had mentioned cranberry sauce. That started the gears in my mind turning. I thought it was a fantastic idea.

So many people automatically reach for the canned cranberry sauce on the shelves they have no idea how easy and flavorful homemade cranberry sauce can be.

The result were show stopping and fabulous! We had people coming back four and 5 times.

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By the end of the evening we sampled out over 400 bites and had received rave reviews from everyone.

Because of the volume of samples we presented costs and time available for prep were kept in mind. If I were to make these at an event I hosted in my home I would have chosen phyllo cups as the vehicle for the bites.

This is a three step appetizer so planning ahead is essential.


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Sugared Cranberries

2 cups fresh cranberries

1 cup of maple syrup or honey

1/2 cup of water
1 cup granulated sugar

Rinse cranberries and place in a large bowl. Heat syrup or honey and water in a small sauce pan just until warm. Pour the syrup over cranberries when warm. You do not want the syrup too hot as you do not want the cranberries to pop. Allow to cool. Cover and let the berries soak in the refrigerator overnight.
Drain cranberries in a colander. Place sugar in a large bowl or baking dish. Add cranberries in small batches and roll around until lightly coated in sugar. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet until dry, 1 to 2 hours. When dry the berries have a nice crunchy candy coating.

Cranberry Sauce
1 bag of cranberries – fresh or frozen
1 cup of mango melon juice
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of honey

Place all the ingredients in a small pan. Cook  on low – medium heat, stirring occasionally.

As they heat up, the cranberries will pop open. You know the sauce is done when 90 % the berries have split open.

Pour into a bowl to cool.

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 Sugared Cranberry Bites
crackers or phyllo cups

soft spreadable cream cheese
cranberry sauce
sugared cranberries
fresh mint for garnish

Spread the crackers with the cream cheese, add a teaspoon of cranberry sauce, and 4 or 5 sugared cranberries. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Coronation Grape Meringue Tarts

Coronation Grape Meringue Tarts

I have a new gig.

I am the Produce Manager at the local Co-op. And with my new found position I find that I am doing much more experimenting with fruits. After all, I am surrounded by them for the majority of my week.

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I had to pick up a box of the Coronation Grapes when they came in. It was actually the first time I had ever seen them so was excited to see what I could come up with.

Being an avid jam/jelly maker I knew that was the direction I was going to go with them. But I just couldn’t stop there. Tarts seemed like the perfect vehicle for the grape jelly. I nice finish of meringue would make it the perfect bite.

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Making grape jelly is quick and easy. The most time consuming part is removing the grapes from the stems.

Once they are removed give them a good wash. Place them in a medium sized pot and add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and place over medium low heat.

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Coronation Grape Jelly

1 1/2 pounds of Coronation Grapes

3 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 cup of sugar

Bring the grapes and lemon juice to a simmer over medium heat for 12 minutes or until all the grapes are popped.

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Strain the grapes in a fine mesh strainer until all the juice stops dripping. I did press the grapes to get every drop of juice I could.

Straining coronation grape juice for jelly

Place the juice and sugar back into the pot and place over medium heat.

Coronation grape juice for jelly

Bring to a low boil stirring occasionally until a temperature of 220 degrees is reached. Remove fro heat and allow to cool fully. The jelly will set once cooled.

While the jelly is cooling make the tart shells.

 

Tart Shells

3 ounces of cream cheese – softened

1/2 cup of butter – softened

1 cup of flour

 

Cream the cheese and butter with a mixer. Add the flour and beat until a dough is formed.

Cream cheese dough for tarts

Place in the fridge to chill for about 20 minutes.

Roll into 24 balls.

Spray a mini tart pan with non stick spray. Press the dough ball into each cavity and form the shells.

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Bake in a 325 F degree oven for 20 – 25 minutes until lightly browned.

While the tart shells are baking make the meringue.

 

Meringue

3 egg whites at room temperature

3/4 cup of sugar

Whip the egg whites until foamy with a mixer. Once foamy slowly add the sugar whipping well. This should take about 8 minutes.

Once the tart shells are done spoon a generous teaspoon of jelly into each shell. Using a pastry bag or a teaspoon place a dollop of meringue on to each tart. Broil for a few minutes until nicely browned.

Coronatio Grape Meringue Tarts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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