Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Adding Some Class with Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic

Something new for 2014...

Standard operating procedure for almost any blogger is to write a blogroll. I, too, have my own blogroll but I have felt for some time that blogrolls are inadequate.

Primarily the issue I have is that it gives no incentive for the reader to click on the link beyond the suggestion, so I thought why not bring that blogger to my readers? Instead of telling you why I read a blog, ask the author to demonstrate what makes them so exemplary. This is the reason I've created this new (hopefully) monthly series called Adding Some Class with...

For my inaugural post, I present to you Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic. You might remember her on a number of different occasions. In September of 2012, I wrote a guest post for her while she was out of town. More recently she featured me on her website last month where she replicated my Bucatini all'Amatriciana, which happens to be my second post on this site.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. For me, Kim separates herself from any other blogger with her wit and humor. More than any other food blogger I've met online, somehow she draws out my sarcasm. In fact, I wrote a pretty straight forward guest post in 2012 because I figured if I tried to outwit her, I'd lose. For example, when I was sending her some pictures for her Burning Down The Kitchen feature, I told her she couldn't print out my avatar and throw darts at it to which she replied I'd never throw darts. We have a bow and arrow for things like that.

Kim's sense of humor isn't her only quality I admire. For one, she manages two sites. Her other one is Kiss My Smoke where she profiles grilled dishes. None of this would matter, however, if she wasn't a talented cook. She is the proverbial double-edged sword where she makes stunning desserts on top of drool-worthy entreés. On top of all this, her photography is light years better than the chicken scratch I publish here. Just look at that picture above.

So, without further ado, I'll leave you in the expert hands of Kim...

Well hello Crazy Foodie Stunt readers. I'm pleased as punch to be here with you today. Any friend of DB's is a friend of mine.
I'll start by introducing myself. My name is Kim and I am the lady behind Cravings of a Lunatic. It's a blog about recipes, and my silly life. I have to admit most of the recipes are fairly indulgent, but there's the odd salad thrown in just to keep my readers on their toes. I also have a grill site called Kiss my Smoke. I started that one last year to share my love of grilling with my readers. Years ago I learned that asking my hubs to grill was a good way to throw food away. The man gets seriously distracted outside. I'd go out to check on how the food was coming along, the grill would smoking and he'd be in the pool with the kids. Needless to say I had to take over the grill, and what started as necessity turned into passion. I love to grill and pride myself on being pretty dang good at it. Hubs grilling responsibilities have been downgraded to starting the grill, or covering the grill. Occasionally I'll let him do the dishes, because I'm a giver.
I have to admit I was a bit nervous about swinging by DB's place to guest post. I don't do many guest posts. I tend to put too much pressure on myself and get super nervous. Add to that DB's food philosophy and I was a bit of a wreck. I love that DB pushes himself to try new techniques, his approach to cooking is inspiring. He's so adventurous and curious when it comes to food. I knew I didn't want to show up with a simple recipe. I tend to be known for easy, accessible recipes, lots of no bake and quick recipes for busy families. This seemed like a good time to show what else I can do. I used to spend hours perfecting techniques and trying new things. However these days I'm so busy with my family's crazy schedules that I rarely have that kind of time any more. But for DB I made the time, because I adore him.
Like all things in my life good intentions turned into crazy antics. I planned a day that I had lots of time to make these since it's step heavy. Let's just say the plan went to hell in a handbasket pretty quickly. I cleared my schedule, I preheated the oven, I started pulling out the ingredients so I could mise en place. To my shock I didn't have enough cream. I always have enough cream. Usually I have tons of it in the fridge. But not the day I needed it apparently. So a trip to the store was in order. When I got back I continued pulling out ingredients and realized I didn't have enough eggs. Seriously, you would think I would have made a list before running out the first time. So another trip to the store was in order. By the time I got home I needed a nap. No, just kidding. I pulled everything together, cooked and popped it in the fridge. Then I realized with all the trips to the store that I had lost the light for photos. I waited until the next day and was so excited to photograph the dish. I waited for hubs to get home so I could take some in process shots. You definitely need two people for that. We got everything set up and I had him taking the photos while I torched the tops. I got half way through the first one when the butane ran out. Some bad words were said then hubs ran into the garage to grab the big torch. The tip was broken off so we couldn't use it. More bad words were said. I finally decided to pop them under the broiler. Don't pop them under the broiler. I don't find it works the same as a blowtorch. Meanwhile Hubs had run to grab me a new deep fryer and was thoughtful enough to grab me some butane. I had made extras so we grabbed them, and ran into the studio to take photos. We had three minutes to shoot the photos before the light was gone. By the time we were done we were both exhausted and wanted to hurl the Crème Brûlée out the window. Now aren't you excited to make it?
Crème Brûlée Recipe:
4 cups heavy cream
1 whole vanilla bean, split and scrape the inside bits out
10 whole egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar, (vanilla sugar if you have it)
6 tablespoons superfine sugar (for the final step!)
Custard Step:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
In a medium saucepan combine the heavy cream, the whole vanilla bean and the bits you scraped out of it. Simmer over medium low heat until it starts to steam. Remove from heat and allow the vanilla bean to steep in the warm milk for another 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the bean.
In a stand mixer whip the egg yolks and the sugar (vanilla sugar preferably) until they become pale yellow and thick. This will take a few minutes, and it quite cool to watch. It will go from a fairly vibrant yellow to a gorgeous pale yellow.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Some people do, some people don't.
Now while your mixer is on low, pour a little bit of the cream mixture slowly into it. Start with about 1/4 cup and work slowly up to 1 cup of cream. The purpose of this is so you do not cook the eggs. Slow is the way to go. Once you have that first 1 cup added to the egg mixture you can then slowly add the rest of the cream mixture. Mix until combined.
Now you can fill your ramekins with the mixture. Depending on the size you could end up with anywhere from about 6 large to 12 small. Place them in a rimmed pan and place in the oven carefully. Pour cold water into the pan (on the outside of the ramekins of course). Shut the door and wait for the magic to happen. Bake for about 20 to 40 minutes, pull them out before they get brown, and they should have a little wiggle to them in the middle.
Allow to cool for about 30 minutes on counter. Then transfer to the fridge for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.
Torching the top step:
Pull the Crème Brûlée out of the fridge. Allow to set on the counter for about 20 or 30 minutes before doing the sugar.
Spoon the superfine sugar over top of the ramekins. Take your torch and start to work on the tops, use a lower setting so you don't over-torch them. Try not to point straight down, an angle is good for torching slowly. You want to torch them to your own taste. Some folks like a nice light, barely golden top, some folks like it darker. You do what works for you.
This is where the fun comes in. That first crack of Crème Brûlée is the best sound in the world. I try to steal the tops of everyone's else's Crème Brûlée. It's like candy.
Serve with a big old smile!
Recipe adapted slightly from The Pioneer Woman
This dish is a tad step heavy. While making it only takes a short time, there are lots of inactive time so be sure to plan ahead. Quite honestly I'd say this is a 2 day project. I would suggest making the custard the night before or in the wee hours of morning, then you can give it lots of time to set up in the fridge. That's super important before you tackle the next stage, which will be torching sugar on the top of it. 
I went with the classic vanilla Crème Brûlée. I tossed some raspberries on top to entice my very picky daughter to try this dessert. The fresh raspberries go perfectly with the creamy custard inside and the candy coating you crack into to get to the custard. This is definitely a dish that requires some patience, some time, and some basic blowtorch knowledge. I would not say it's overly difficult though. The only issue I ran into was forgetting my ramekins cracked months ago so I used tiny canning jars. It worked perfectly. My only regret with this dish was not taking more time to wipe the edges of the dish for the photos. I sloshed the around a lot while making some other dishes at the same time. Next time I'll take the time to wipe the edges for a cleaner presentation. Other than that I couldn't be happier with these. They were a huge hit.
I told DB I'd love to come back another time when I have the forethought to plan well enough ahead so I can share a recipe for cured meat. I have plans to whip up some bacon soon, as well as some pastrami. I've taken great strides to slow my life down recently so I can spend more time doing things that I love. Things like spending time at the barn with my horse, working out and spending time with my family. And I'll be honest, a girl needs more time for important things like watching The Real Housewives and The Kardashians.
Thanks so much to DB for having me today. It was my pleasure to do this. I hope you invite me back again soon.
Toodles and smoochies! xx

I'm completely flattered that Kim went through the effort to make this dessert for me. I can just tell by the pictures that they came out perfect too: the creamy custard contrasts well with the hard shell to create a balance of textures. I'm also a little envious of Kim's blowtorch because I've always wanted to prepare a crème brûlée myself properly, but lacked the equipment. (I'm also reluctant to intentionally light my food on fire. I've never made a claim against my renter's insurance policy and I'd like to keep it that way.)

Oh and homemade cured meat? I absolutely love the idea! Just let me know when The Real Housewives season is complete.

I also referred to pictures, as in plural? Kim took additional shots but added some cinnamon to the shell. Her pictures follow:

Seriously folks, if you aren't already familiar with her, get to know her. You'll thank me for it. She can be reached at Facebook, G+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, twitter on top of her Kiss My Smoke Facebook and Pinterest pages. Visit her on all of them.


  1. Kim always does the best recipes! And any recipe that requires a torch is good. Just sayin' ;-) This is wonderful -- thanks.

  2. Ha, I forgot about the bow and arrow comment. I'm nothing if not adaptable.

    I'm so flattered myself. This was just the sweetest thing. Totally made my day. Now who do I make the bribe check out to, cash or Crazy?

    Seriously though, I am completely digging the idea of a monthly feature. It's a cool way to introduce people to bloggers they may not be familiar with. Plus it's just good karma to spread the blogger love around. I'm curious who you will feature next.

    Thanks again for letting me take the reins for the day. I really enjoyed making something a bit more difficult than my typical no bake stuff. I used to spend all day on recipes when the kids were young so this was a nice reminder to go back to basics, and why I love cooking so much. It was an honour to be here today and I'm so glad I met you through the blogs. Now we just need to get you to a conference so we can meet in real life. We should talk sponsors for the SS one. You totally have to go.

  3. Had to pop over after getting a ridiculous craving for Creme Brulee over at Kim's site. Kim and I go way back and she's an absolute doll. Thanks for featuring her and this wonderfully evil dessert :)

  4. It's nice to "meet" you DB! I'm here from Cravings of a Lunatic. I love the idea of giving a little bit more of why blogs are on your blog roll. Since we both know that Kim is awesome, I can't wait to see who you feature next month! And I am totally saving this recipe. I don't think I've ever heard that first "crack" when the spoon reaches through that sugary bruleed crust because my heavy breathing drowns it out. I always get excited for creme brulee so I can't help it.

  5. What a great start to your Adding Some Class series, DB! I'm such a huge fan of you and Kim. She cracks me up all the time and yes, everything she makes is droolworthy. I've never made creme brulee so I'd love to try this recipe someday. I'm amazed she still had the energy to pull up her bootstraps and make this after all the missing items and trips to the grocery store. I'd totally have taken that nap ;) This is a wonderful feature on Kim.


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