I developed this butterscotch pot de crème recipe for Tilia‘s dessert menu. Steven Brown, the chef/owner wanted a turbo charged version of the butterscotch pudding from his childhood. We went with a Pot de crème, which is essentially as decadent as creme brulee, without the crack of caramel resting on top. The texture is like silk and the taste is lightly sweet, with just a slight bitter edge from the burnt sugar in the butterscotch. Cooking the butter and brown sugar together until it is smokin’ hot (and I do mean smoking) is the key to the flavor. If you don’t bring them to the brink of burning the pudding will be way too sweet for my taste. The crème fraîche (young sour cream) is unsweetened and the perfect balance for the pudding. If you don’t happen to live near Linden Hills (a small village of a neighborhood in Minneapolis), where you can order this at Tilia, you can now make it at home.
This photograph of me was taken by Susan Powers, while we sat at Tilia and sampled ALL the desserts. Our day together began baking Linzer cookies, carrot cake cupcakes and a gluten-free pizza for lunch, at my house. Being a food blogger and writing cookbooks is, for the most part, a solitary profession. It was such a treat for me to share the kitchen with Susan and her partner in Shoot The Kitchen, Stephanie Meyer.
My ideal day consists of walking around NYC, eating oysters, going to museums to see great quantities of art and then finishing with an incredible meal. This is precisely what I did with my family during our trip last month. My boys were fine until about hour 3 at the Met, when they just wanted to leave to grab a hot dog and run wild. They were fed up with all the talk of brush strokes, juxtapositions, impressionists and cubists. Yeah, it was a stretch for them, but I figure someday they will appreciate me for it, or not? We grabbed them a snack to take the edge off and then headed to dinner. I was so excited for this meal because devi is the restaurant owned by my dear friend Suvir and his food always brings me joy. I was also thrilled to be sharing the evening with my family, including my mother and my aunt and uncle. My aunt Sally’s mother grew up in India and had introduced me to Indian cuisine when I was a kid, in fact, Sally introduced me to most foods when I was a kid. I knew she would fall quickly in love with devi.
(picture of Suvir by Charlie Burd, picture of devi by Ben Fink)
I met Suvir several years ago at a pastry conference hosted at the CIA. Suvir was one of the presenters. He talked about blending more flavors of the world into the palate of American desserts. He was confident Americans want to experience flavors beyond vanilla and chocolate, and I whole heartedly agree with him. His food at the conference was intense, fresh and clean. You could taste every spice and ingredient. It was unlike any other Indian food I’d ever eaten. I was in awe and have been ever since. He has become a mentor, a brother and a dear friend to me. His skills go way beyond the kitchen. He and his partner Charlie have established a farm where they raise animals and run the American Masala empire. They design kitchen accessories, write cookbooks and Suvir is on a team at Harvard to educate people on how to eat a healthier diet. Now you see why I am in awe. But, the reason I fell in love with this chef was only partly because of his food, it is also his generosity and heart. He and Charlie give back to their community and to society as a whole. They are the epitome of good people!
More about our meal at devi, a Sticky Toffee Cake with Nut Brittle Ice Cream recipe:
Thank you for visiting Zoë Bakes! I wanted to write a short post to let you know how much your lovely comments of encouragement have meant to me. As many of you have noticed I’ve taken a sabbatical of sorts from blogging. I miss it and will be back soon. Jeff and I are working on our third book (Pizza and Flatbreads in Five Minutes a Day) together and it is due at the beginning of December. It is so exciting and tremendous fun, but it is like a child and has taken most of my time.
I have also been presented with an opportunity to work with one of my all time favorite Twin Cities chefs. Steven Brown, who I worked with many years ago is opening his own restaurant in Minneapolis called Tilia. I got down on my knees and begged him to let me be a part of it and help him with the desserts. What a crazy good time, playing with sugar in the presence of such an inspired chef. The picture above are just a few of the desserts I created for our first tasting together (sticky toffee cake, soaked in caramel and glazed with chocolate, a German Chocolate Cake and an apple-pear spice cake with orange cardamom glaze). It will be a menu of our interpretation of some classics, made with the best local ingredients and a whole lot of love. To find out more about Tilia and watch the process of opening a restaurant you can visit the Tilia facebook page.
I have so much to be thankful for this holiday season and I look forward to coming back to Zoë Bakes soon to blog about all that I have been working on.
Last summer Graham and I went to NYC to eat, take in a few museums, visit with cousins and eat some more. Graham’s cousin Riad is the executive chef at Pastis and Balthazar (and the author of the The Balthazar Cookbook). It goes without saying that Riad is an amazing culinary guide. I’ve never eaten so well and so much in my entire life!
After a 12-course meal at Devi (you must eat Suvir Saran‘s food at least once in your life), Riad took us to meet Johnny Iuzzini, the extraordinary pastry chef at Jean Georges. They worked together at Daniel and Riad wanted to show off Johnny’s talents. We arrived at 11pm and Johnny marched through the dining room carrying 24 desserts. Twenty Four exquisitely plated desserts, plus truffles and other small delicacies he whipped up. They were absolutely gorgeous, so despite the 12 courses we had just consumed, we tasted them all! The perfect evening.
Last week Graham and I went to dinner at Cosmos restaurant in Minneapolis where my friend Khanh Tran is the pastry chef. She is a brilliantly talented woman and all of the desserts were breath taking. I am not generally this liberal with my praise of sweets. I’m often disappointed and rarely quiet about it. Khanh has managed to balance the art of beautiful presentation with deep and true flavors. The last thing we ate that night was a plate of mignardises (small bite sized desserts) and on the platter were two of my all time favorites; French macaroons and fruit pâtes. (more…)