“Happiness is not a checklist. A dream job, a fast car, a good home, even love, mean nothing at all if you have not found a way to feel full and content in your own mind and heart.”
I suppose it is never too late to wish a Happy New Year and with the wise words above I wish for this year to bring fulfilment to each heart, a nudge to the right path and reasons to begin each day with a smile.
I have a particular reason to leap out of bed with excitement these days, news that came just in time for Christmas. My cookbook L’Art de la Table has been named the best Mediterranean cuisine book in the Netherlands in Gourmand World Cookbook Awards!
It was most certainly the best Christmas present ever and I am feeling immensely grateful for my food and art project, I had the opportunity to write, photograph, and design being noticed in such distinguished competition.
Other than the wonderful news our days here have been rather dark and dreary. We’ve had the most wonderful autumn and January, but now winter seems to be made of more of rain than snow, and it is the sort of weather that invites to be barricaded within lovely walls and cozy up to the fireplace. Of course ours decided to misbehave just in time for this weather, so I’m enjoying it in spirit.
This sort of weather calls for bright and very comforting foods and with Valentine’s day around the corner something sweet as well. Last year we went to the French culinary capital, Lyon, for a weekend and I probably discovered my new favorite restaurant (Canut et le Gones), where traditional food is revived with creative spark and the result and atmosphere are simply amazing. One of the things I’ve tried was a violet and sweet potato crème brulee and I’ve been working on recreating this desert ever since. It’s is wonderfully creamy with delicate floral notes and rather surprising taste. Basically, everything I search for in a dessert.
To make it, you will have to source violet liquor or crème de violette, which, if you fancy violet flavor, will open up a new page of opportunities. If you’re on Instagram (which is where I live daily @gintare_marcel), I will be sharing some ways to use it in the coming weeks. Otherwise, if violets are not to your liking, whiskey makes a great addition as well and works beautifully with sweet potatoes and it is something I use a lot in another recent favorite.
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 ½/360ml cup cream
- ½/120ml cup milk
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp light brown sugar plus extra for sprinkling
- 1 vanilla bean seeds scraped out
- 2-3 tbsp violet liquor/crème de violette
- Preheat the oven to 220C/430F. Roast the whole sweet potato (skin on) for 45-60 mins, depending on the size and till it is soft inside. Scrape out the flesh, pass it through a sieve and let it cool down. You should have about a cup (250ml) of sweet potato puree.
- Preheat the oven to 160C/320F.
- Sit 6-8 ramekins in a large, deep roasting tin.
- Bring milk and cream up to the boiling point and while it is heating up beat the eggs yolks with vanilla seeds and sugar till it is nice and fluffy.
- Stir in violet liquor into sweet potatoes and stir them directly into egg yolks. Then slowly pour in hot cream stirring all the time.
- Divide between ramekins, pour hot water in the roasting tin till it comes about half up to the ramekins and bake for about 45 minutes. The crème brulee should still be a bit wobbly in the center.
- Let them cool and set in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
- To serve, sprinkle each with about a teaspoon of sugar and caramelize with a blowtorch. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Life has been generous with clementine’s recently and morning juices apart they make outstanding cocktails with a touch of rosemary and whiskey. To do so take: 1 part of rosemary syrup (bunch of rosemary brought to boil and left to infuse for 30 mins with 1 part water and 2 parts sugar) 1 ½ part whiskey, 2 parts clementine juice and 1 part lemon juice, stir it up and pour over ice!