Friday, November 04, 2005
Two-Day Egg Custard
How is it that I can make something like dried ancho chiles stuffed with potatoes and chorizo in a chile-seed tomato sauce, yet a simple thing like egg custard defeats me?
Perhaps I never got around to making it in my 40-plus years of existence because of the name. "Egg custard." Are there two more ugly-sounding words in the English language. Say them. They just die on the middle palate (ok, that is one of my favorite wine-snob pronuncements (because it is pretty much undefineable and therefore unarguable)) but you get what I mean. Plah. Egg. Custard.
The other night Mr. Snackish requested egg custard. I flew into action, checking the internet for recipes because the infamous recipe bookcase was blocked by the furniture, which had been moved (and never replaced) for carpet cleaning.
Voila! A recipe for MICROWAVE egg custard. No stirring. No baking. No splashy dangerous bain marie!
I stirred together the few simple ingredients (eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla) and popped the things in the micro.
What emerged seven minutes later looked less like custard than thick, wet omelettes. I, not being too familiar with egg custard quality control, showed them to Mr. Snackish for his approval.
"What did you DO?" he wailed. "How can you screw up an egg custard so badly?"
Fortunately for me, the dog loves thick, wet omelettes.
Not to be deterred, I unwedged the Betty Crocker Cookbook from behind the couch, which was resting on its side in front of the bookshelf.
The only recipe for egg custard in the index was a custard you make for some kind of alcoholic beverage. Ok. It required cooking but no baking.
I assembled the ingredients and cooked, stirring constantly. And kept stirring. And kept stirring, long past the 20 minutes it said it would take to coat the back of a spoon. The Daily Show came and went, as well as most of the brilliant Colbert Report. It thickened, somewhat. I figured it would finish in the fridge.
The next day Mr. Snackish proclaimed his outrage at my having screwed up the recipe again. He said it was still thin and watery.
"Did you bake it?" he asked. "You have to bake it!"
So I suggested baking the custard I had already made. "It's the same ingredients that the baked custard recipes call for," I reasoned.
He finished the dish by baking it for 40 minutes in a bain marie. He took the dish out, as proud as if he had made it all himself.
"Now THAT," he said, "Is egg custard."
I would give you the recipe but I am sure there are better and easier ways to make egg custard than my 2-day method.
Or maybe the two-day method is just a family secret. My mom has an infamous 2-day potato salad that she makes. Take ordinary potato salad and mix in about 10 phone calls and a medical emergency and there you have it - 2-day potato salad.
If you have any one-day egg custard recipes, will you let me know?