|The 12 Seasons Cookbook, by Alfred Portale with Andrew Friedman
425 pages; color photography, $45.00 US
Broadway Books, New York, 2000
Reviewed by Patricia Ribeiro for Good Cooking
The 12 Seasons Cookbook, by Alfred Portale with Andrew Friedman is an
interesting fusion of different flavors and full of beautiful photos that make
you taste the flavor of the food before you cook it.
Good Cooking has had Pumpkin Crème Brulée before and can vouch for its wonderful flavor and creamyness. It's a real hit from this book!
While pumpkin pie deserves great respect as a Thanksgiving
dessert, it’s fun to shake up tradition and impress your friends with this
sophisticated variation. The burnt sugar top tastes especially delicious with
the sweetly spiced pumpkin cream.
Thinking ahead: These custards can be made a day in advance.
Pumpkin Crème Brulée
Makes 8 servings
For the Brulee sugar---
Preheat the oven to 250°F.
Combine the sugars, mixing well to integrate evenly. Spread on a baking sheet and dry in the oven for about 1 hour. Transfer to a blender and process to a fine powder. Set aside, covered, and store in a cool dry place at room temperature for up to a week.
For the Custards---
Preheat the oven to 350°F
In a saucepan, combine the milk, cream, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg over medium heat until hot but not boiling. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Remove the cinnamon stick. Whisk in the egg yolks, mixing until smooth. Add the pumpkin purée, whisking until well blended. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
Pour the custard into eight 4-ounce ramekins. Set the ramekins in a shallow roasting pan or baking pan and put in the oven. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the custards are set around the edges but still a little shaky in the center.
Carefully remove the pan from the oven. Remove ramekins from the water bath and let the custards cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat the broiler, or better yet, use a small propane torch designed for kitchen use. Remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle each custard with brulée sugar. Broil for 30 to 60
seconds, until the sugar caramelizes, or hold the torch over the sugar to caramelize it. Serve immediately.
Variations: Acorn, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes make fine substitutes for the pumpkin purée.