aboutWe are Akila and Patrick. Our minds (and waistlines) expand as we travel, cook, and eat our way around the world with our two dogs.
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lavender ginger creme brulee

Lavender ginger creme brulee

Lavender ginger creme brulee

One year ago, we were in Jacksonville, Florida, dreaming, planning, and preparing for our round-the-world adventure.  In April, we took our first tangible step when we purchased plane tickets to Sydney.  Then, there was no turning back and we rushed into the trip headlong, worried about the risk to our careers, the financial burden, and the "scary, unknown, and consequential" journey we were about to take.

Spices for lavender ginger creme brulee

Vanilla, lavender sugar, and ginger

But, once we left in September, those fears melted into the Australian sun.  We just stopped stressing.  That doesn't sound like an earth-shattering event but, for us, it was.  I, the quintessential Type A personality known to my friends as the planner, found myself walking into towns without reservations or agendas and simply an open mind. 

Cracked eggs

Cracked eggs

I stopped worrying that our careers wouldn't wait for us because we are able to make money while on the road.  Instead of hours spent on treadmills or using our Wii Fit, we hiked mountains hanging over brilliant blue lakes.  Through Skype, the internet, and this website, we felt close to our family and friends though we were thousands of miles away; we even were able to "talk to" our puppies, Chewy and Abby, via Skype webcams. 

Ginger and vanilla strained

Ginger and vanilla strained

Despite the worries we have for friends and family hit by the recession, we are happy.  Really, really, gosh darn happy.  So, yesterday, I struggled to find a dessert that would be light and joyful, yet serious enough to express the enormity of the changes that we have made in the last year and expect to find in the next year.  It's a lot to ask of a dessert, right?

Lavender ginger creme brulee in water

Custard before baking

But, I think I have found it in this lavender ginger creme brulee.  I wish we had smell-o-internet because the cosiness of those spices made me want to curl up in front of a warm fire and a movie.  At first, we tasted only the creaminess gliding through our mouth.  Then, that ginger and lavender hit our tongues, packing a solid punch of spice without overpowering the creaminess of the dessert.  This isn't a creme brulee for the timid but for those who love strong, gorgeous flavors.

Baked custard

Baked custard

As you can tell by now, we like our lives full of spice and 2010 looks to be no exception.  It is hard to believe that we started this website seven months ago because blogging fast became an obsession for me and Patrick rediscovered his love of CSS.   In the last two weeks, we have completed a much needed redesign of the front page of our website and have now incorporated a super cool flash map (at least, I think it is super cool) into the world trip page.  We are delving into video editing this year and will keep on bringing you stories and photography of amazing places and food in 2010.

Creme brulee being torched

Torching custard

As far as our travels, we leave for Southeast Asia and India next week and then will be in Japan and China in May and June.  After that, we plan to head to Africa and the Middle East.  And, after that, who knows?

Creme brulee

Creme brulee

Last night, as 2009 passed into memory, I was right where I wanted to be: cuddled on the couch with Patrick, Chewy, and Abby, watching the blue moon light the sky above the lake that straddles my parent's house.  Today, as 2010 starts, I am right where I want to be: with my eyes wide open and a future filled with moments of craziness, silliness, and fun.  I hope for all of you the same sort of happiness as this new year begins. 

Lavender ginger creme brulee

Lavender ginger creme brulee

Lavender Ginger Creme BruleeLavender sugar

Adapted from Epicurious Ginger and Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
Time: 30 minutes active time; at least 3 hours to refrigerate
Serves: 6 people

Ingredients

2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup lavender sugar*
2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
5 large egg yolks

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 325°F.

2.  Place three 4-inch-diameter fluted flan dishes in one 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan or place six 3/4-cup ramekins in pan.

3.  Mix cream, sugar, lavender sugar and ginger in heavy medium saucepan. Using small sharp knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean. Add seeds and bean to saucepan.

4.  Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to simmer. Cover pan, reduce heat to very low and simmer gently 10 minutes to infuse flavors.  Strain through fine sieve into large measuring cup.

5.  Whisk yolks in medium bowl until well blended. Gradually whisk in hot cream mixture just to blend.

6.  Divide custard among ramekins or bowls. Pour enough hot water into pans to come halfway up sides of dishes. Carefully transfer pans to oven.

7.  Bake custards until almost set in center when pans are gently shaken, about 30 minutes for fluted flan dishes and 35 minutes for ramekins.  (My oven runs a little cold and it took almost 40 minutes for the fluted flan dishes).

8.  Using metal spatula, transfer custards in dishes to work surface; cool 30 minutes. Chill at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

9.  Sprinkle 2 teaspoon sugar evenly over each custard.  The easiest way to do this is to sprinkle the sugar in the middle of the custard and then gently shake the ramekins so the sugar is evenly distributed across the custard.

10.  If you have a blowtorch:  Working with 1 custard at a time, hold blowtorch so that flame is 2 inches above surface.  The sugar will melt and brown.  If you do not have a blowtorch:  Turn broiler to low and place custards about 2 to 4 inches from the broiler.  Keep a close eye on your custards because they should turn brown within 30 seconds to 1 minute.

11.  Refrigerate until custards are firm again but topping is still brittle, at least 45 minutes but no longer than 3 hours so that topping doesn't soften. (The original recipe recommends refrigerating for 2 to 4 hours before eating but we thought the topping was crunchiest after 45 minutes in the refrigerator and became soft at the 3 hour mark.) 

* I used Ali'i Kula Lavender Sugar, one of our souvenirs from our trip to Maui, but we have also seen lavender sugar at Whole Foods.  Or, you can substitute the lavender sugar with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tablespoon dried lavender.

01/11/2011 20:22
A delicious dish. My mom has made this on the first day of new year. It was awesome..............
dovecote's recent blog post: By: Mark
01/26/2011 09:17
Gourmantic, I think you are absolutely right. Travel has absolutely changed what we perceived as "the way we are." And, clearly, great minds think alike because creme brulee and souffle are my two signature New Year's Eve desserts. Funny enough, I have never tried making a panna cotta because I always find them gritty at restaurants. Maybe, I should reevaluate soon.

Thank you Keith! The same to you.
Akila's recent blog post: hangi in rotorua
01/27/2011 09:57
I understand type A personalities and the need to plan everything in advance. Somehow I sense it was liberating for you to 'go with the flow'. I feel travel can sometimes change the way we look upon ourselves and it frees us from our established ways.

I too have feasted on creme brulee for NY! It's my speciality dessert among friends and family. I have made a ginger and lime variety in the past but being a 'purist' when it comes to it, I like to stick with the original vanilla flavour. But Im tempted to try your lavender/ginger in a panna cotta.
Gourmantic's recent blog post: What to Do with a Truffle
01/29/2011 09:51
Love the redesign - the homepage looks really great - easy to find all of the latest stories :-) And this desert :::sigh::: it sounds so delicately flavored - the recipe has just been copied into my cookbook so I can try it someday!
01/31/2011 08:43
I've been waiting for the lavender in my garden to blossom to be able to make my own Herbes de Provence mix. I had so much extra lavender that I thought I'd make our family's favorite dessert. Yes, cr�me brulée strikes again! Lavender has a strong floral taste, so a little bit goes a long way. To enhance the lavender aroma, I added lavender extract that I bought at Sur La Table store in Palo Alto. I really thought that the unusual flavor would turn off the kids but my little munchkin loved the lavender dessert the most and kept saying "It tastes like a flower, I love it!"
01/31/2011 08:44
Dina, you can make this - I promise it's not too hard at all and just takes a little bit of patience. Try it, I think you'll love it.
Akila's recent blog post: unsettled
02/05/2011 09:19
Thanks Kathy! We love lavender.
Akila's recent blog post: lavender ginger creme brulee
02/06/2011 11:25
Wishing you a 2010 filled with fondness, wonder, and gratitude.
Keith's recent blog post: New Year’s Revolution
02/09/2011 10:07
Thanks Shannon! We are so glad to be mostly done with the redesign (though the problem is that once we start changing things, we find more to change.) Happy New Year!
Akila's recent blog post: lavender ginger creme brulee
02/27/2011 16:16
Lavender ginger creme brulee? I never thought of it! I hope someday I will encounter this (I'm not a great creme brulee maker at all), I'm curious!
Dina VagabondQuest's recent blog post: Friday Photo: Torch dancing
03/13/2011 05:25
Thank you so much for adding this recipe. IÂ?ve been looking so long for good recipe on creme brulee. IÂ?m going to prepare this dessert as a surprise for my boyfriend!
04/14/2011 21:58
A perfect dessert for the first day of 2010!
08/23/2011 08:27
I recently had lavender creme brulee at a restaurant here in Austin, Texas. At first it felt like I bit into a piece of a scented candle, but once the initial burst of floral flavors passed and tit became more subtle, I really began to enjoy it. The chef came over and explained how he made it...I would never have though of infusing milk with lavender (which is probably why I am not a chef).
Emily @ Maiden Voyage's recent blog post: Win a 2-Week Gap Adventures Trip to Costa Rica
08/15/2013 19:17
That's so funny that you felt like you were eating a scented candle and then started to enjoy it. It definitely is an unusual flavor combination but I think the ginger helps make it feel a little less like a floral candle and more like an actual dessert.

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