Crème Brûlée without an oven

I wanted to make this classic, simple, dessert so I could use my kitchen blowtorch again. The challenge in this case is that at my current place I don’t have a regular oven (only a microwave) and this dish is normally cooked in the oven.


The solution: create a Bain Marie on the stovetop with a frying pan. The capacity of this setup is rather limited, two at a time in this big frying pan, but it did work quite nicely.


Crème Brûlée

Serves: 2


  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 T sugar


  1. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the inside goop
  2. Heat the cream in a pan with the bean and its scrapings
    • just to when it starts to bubble
    • set aside for an hour or two to infuse the flavour of the vanilla
  3. In a bowl mix the egg yolks and sugar
    • Until it forms something like a ribbon when dripping off the whisk
    • Avoid getting it all foamy
  4. Reheat the cream to just bubbling
    • Remove the bean pod
  5. Add cream to the egg mixture
    • very slowly (to avoid cooking the egg with the hot cream)
  6. Strain the mixture (in case of any little lumps of cooked egg)
  7. Pour into some little dishes
  8. Place a few layers of kitchen paper in the frying pan
    • Splash in a bit of water to make things less slippy
  9. Put the molds in the pan
  10. Fill with hot water most of the way up the molds
  11. Keep the water just on the simmer
    • Add more hot water if the level drops much below 1/2 way on the molds (keep an eye on it – check every 15 minutes or so)
  12. Cook for an hour
    • Until the entire top of the custards are cooked over (it will be wiggly)
    • Most of the contents of the mold will still be liquid (not to worry)
  13. Chill a good 4 hours (or a day)
    • Cover once they’re cool
  14. Just before serving sprinkle sugar on the tops and toast with your blowtorch



  1. Or cook in a medium oven and a pan of hot water for 35-45 minutes
  2. Mess with the sugar amount if you like it more or less sweet (I doubt honey would work in this recipe but it’s worth a shot)
  3. The recipe is halved in this case but you can easily halve, double or quintuple it.  It works well at almost any volume
  4. If they’re still liquidy after cooling you can redo the “cooking in a bain marie” process until you’re sure they’re done.  Give it two hours if you have to (but it won’t be)

Short version

  1. Infuse flavor into cream by cooking the cream and the flavour component (in this case, vanilla)
  2. Mix eggs and sugar together
  3. Add reheated cream to egg mixture, slowly, and strain to remove lumps (if any)
  4. Cook in a bain marie until the top is set; then chill (the custards)
  5. Decorate with toasted sugar

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Platanos : Banana Tree

One of the neighbours has a couple of banana trees in their front yard; one of which has branches hanging over the wall.  The end of the stalk has a weird  man eating looking flower which drips (blood?) onto the sidewalk.

The bananas looked almost ripe the other day.


Alas, they’re too high off the ground to check them out. 

Chipirones en su tinta : Cuttlefish in ink sauce

You might not have ever eaten black food.  This is a good place to start.  It’s a very typical dish; a very small squid, the body stuffed with tentacles and the sauce made using the squid ink. Usually served with white rice - - for the contrast I guess.  I had it a while ago in a restaurant in town.


Chipirones en su tinta : Cuttlefish in ink sauce

Serves: 4


  • 12 or so chipirones (little squid, cuttlefish) cleaned; 1kg [2#]
  • olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped fine
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 C parsely, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 C white wine
  • 1/4 C tomato sauce
  • 1 package squid ink


  1. Clean the chipirones; see notes
    • chop
  2. Oil in a pan
  3. Onion in the pan, soften
  4. Add 1 of the garlic cloves
  5. Add the tentacles
  6. Sauté 5 minutes; just to color
  7. Add the parsely, stir
  8. Stuff into the bodies of the squid; seal the open ends (toothpicks?)
  9. In that same pan, more oil, fry the squid for color – set aside
  10. In that same pan, put the other onion - soften
  11. Add the other garlic clove
  12. Add the green pepper
  13. And the wine and tomato sauce
  14. Dilute the ink in a bit of wine and add that
  15. Add the rest of the wine
  16. Cook a good while (15 min)
  17. Puree the sauce; maybe with a stick mixer
  18. Add the squid to the sauce; bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes
  19. Remove the toothpicks



  1. Clean chipirones by removing the tentacles, eyes, beak and bone.  Keep the tentacles and the pouch
  2. If there’s not enough sauce when you add the squid to at least 1/2 cover then then use more wine or some fish stock

Had a bit of a fire the other day

The fire in the hills to the south-west eventually burned 14,000 acres.


made for some picturesque sunsets


and resulted in a lot of ash on the patios.