Monday, February 27, 2012

Milk, Eggs and Sugar

I told myself that this would be a blog strictly for needlework, but when my obsession with such a magical combination was unleashed, it could not be stopped.

The British call it custard, but this delicate yet versatile ingredient trio appears under several other names and forms: creme anglaise, creme caramel, creme brulee, zuppa inglese (Italian), kogel mogel (Polish), 鲜奶炖蛋 (steamed egg pudding sometimes served with ginger, Chinese), iles flotants (French)... A most simple dish, so often associated with comfort, warmth and childhood, that can be so fiendishly tricky to prepare. (Of course, depending on which form you choose to make!) The difficulty lies in pouring the hot milk mixture into the egg and beating it in such a way that a silky consistency is achieved, without curdling the eggs by applying the heat too fast. On the other hand, there is also the more stalwart kogel mogel: often constituted of raw egg, milk and sugar, beat till light and fluffy, then consumed over fresh strawberries or similar fruit.

Of course, one could argue on the side of shop bought custard or the powdered variety (a tip of the hat to Mr. Bird), but if you have the time and, like me, absolutely adore the challenge of a custard with such a rewarding end, there seems to be no end of delectable adventures in the kitchen. That being said, I do love custard... so whether presented with shop-bought, home-made or Mr Bird's, I find no sides to take.

I am not British, neither did I grow up in Britain (though I was brought up on Enid Blyton). My love for custard began with my grandaunt's creme caramel... sitting at her glass table slowly savouring every spoonful, ensuring optimum levels of caramel sauce and creme before I could put it in my mouth. It's funny how things stay with you like that. Now at university I have the freedom of my own kitchen, the luxury of time, and 6 housemates eager to eat whatever I cook.

My journey begins with this: