27 December 2011

Crema Catalana | Eating France

So, where to next on our Eating France journey? Languedoc-Roussillon, the last region left to discover in southern France, of course! To start 2012 with a new area of France seems like a good idea (western France, here we come!), so with no further ado, let's migrate from the cold North to the (possibly) sunny South.

But first, the basics: Languedoc-Roussillon borders the regions Provençe-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Rhône-Alpes, Auvergne and Midi-Pyrénées on the one side, and Spain, Andorra and the Mediterranean on the other. Like many French regions, it's made up of several historical territories: Languedoc, parts of Gévaudan and five Catalan pays, including Roussillon.
To be honest, I wasn't sure what to make from Languedoc-Roussillon. There were quite a few recipes I wanted to make, but I lacked the specific regional ingredients needed. Plus, I was having trouble even finding good recipes. And a lot of the local food is quite Provençal-ish, whereas I was eager to find something unique-ish. But I know no people in Languedoc-Roussillon (so no asking for help!), and have never been so far south in France (so no culinary memories). Not to say that I wouldn't love to go there! The fortified city of Carcassonne particularly intrigues me, and I can't wait to set my teeth into an authentic cassoulet. What really interests me about this particular region is the mixture of cultures, and hence, foods, that make up the Languedoc-Roussillon cuisine. A good chunk of it is Occitan (think claufoutis), and some is Catalan. So seeing as part of the region is Catalan, why not make Catalan? Pourquoi pas? 

Crema catalana it is then. Now there will be some out there that'll protest. But crema catalana is the same as crème brûlée! And it is not very typical of Languedoc-Roussillon! To those I say, in upper-class Norwegian, blæ. Personally I think the two are quite different, although they are similar to texture and look. Typically crema catalana is with whole milk and corn flour, whereas crème brûlée is made with cream or half-and-half. Plus, no essences or flavourings are added to crème brûlée (at least in my recipe). By contrast, both orange and lemon zest, and some cinnamon too, makes their way into the crema catalana, leaving it with a completely different taste altogether. Finally, whereas crème brûlées are left in water baths, crema catalanas are simply left in the fridge overnight to harden. Whole different ballgame.

Hang on a moment! What about the taste? I can safely say that crema catalana is delicious. The taste - sweet, with just a hint of citrus and an even stronger hint of cinnamon, makes it a perfect dessert to a light meal. I also think the cinnamon addition gave it an extra Christmas touch, though it is not a Christmas dessert. Would I make it again? Yes, indeed I would. It's a little more time-consuming than crème brûlée, but I find it's all worth it :)

As the Catalans would say, bon profit!

Crema Catalana
Recipe from La Llavor dels Origens , Barcelona via Gourmet Worrier

1 litre whole milk

8 egg yolks
200 g. sugar
40 g. corn flour
½ cinnamon stick
Peel of one lemon
Peel of one orange
Sugar, for burning

1.Place the milk, citrus peels and the cinnamon stick in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and allow the milk to stand for half an hour to allow the flavours to infuse. After half an hour or so strain the milk.

2.Mix the egg yolks with the sugar until they are pale and creamy. Dilute the corn flour with a little cold milk and add to the egg-sugar mixture. Add the egg-sugar mixture slowly to the strained milk and stir carefully until well combined.

3.Over a low heat, bring the mixture slowly back up to the boil and cook it carefully, so to prevent the edges from burning. Strain the mixture again and then evenly pour it into shallow terracotta cazuelas (or crème brûlée moulds). Once they are cool place them in the refrigerator overnight.

4.When you are ready to serve, remove from the fridge and heat the iron. Sprinkle a little sugar over each crema and use the iron to burn the sugar. If you don't have a branding iron a domestic blowtorch will do.

Crema Catalana
Oppskrift frå La Llavor dels Origens , Barcelona via Gourmet Worrier

1 liter heilmjølk

8 eggeplommer
200 g. sukker
40 g. maizenamjøl
½ kanelstang
Skalet til ein sitron
Skalet til ein appelsin
Sukker, til topping

1.Kok opp mjølka, fruktskala og kanelen i ei gryta. Ta or varmen og la stå i ein halv time. Sil mjølka.

2.Visp saman eggeplommene med sukkeret til blandinga vert kvit i ein bolle. Bland saman maizenamjølet med litt kald mjølk, og ha i eggeblandinga. Hell eggeblandinga i mjølka og bland godt saman.

3.Kok opp blandinga over låg varme. Pass på å ikkje brenna mjølka! Sil blandinga ein gong til og fordel på åtte eldfaste former. Legg i kjøleskapet når formene er kolne. La stå over natta.

4.Ta formene or kjøleskapet og strø eit lag med sukker på toppen. Brenn av sukkeret med ein crème brûlée-brenner.

8 comment (s):

K said...

That looks really delicious. Hope to try it myself some time.
Hugs from Africa :)

Marion said...

Thank you and I miss you. Come home!

爸爸 said...


Simply Tia said...

Oh, this is right up my alley. Gorgeous and tempting. A little different from my beloved creme brulee but looks rich and tasty all the same

Sending you my best wishes for a Happy and Prosperous New Year

Mor said...

Denne var veldig god, Marion! Smaker som ein god og "creamy" dessert, samtidig som smaken er frisk. Anbefales.

Marion said...

爸爸: 谢谢!

Simply Tia: Thank you and a Happy New Year to you too!

Mor: Tusen takk!

Baltic Maid said...

I love all your French recipes!!! Makes me want to cook/bake more French dishes as well.
Frohes Neues Jahr!!! :-)

Marion said...

Danke schön! You really should, though, French food is amazing :) Frohes Neues Jahr!

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