Ginger Creme Brulee

This really does NOT qualify as a Chinese recipe, but being someone who always craves a sweet after dinner, I thought I’d share this version of a favorite dessert…. Crème brûlée is supposed to provide contrast, both in temperature (hot crust, cold custard) and texture (crisp top, creamy bottom). It’s easiest to make with one of those mini blowtorches chefs often have, but never fear – it is possible to make in a regular broiler. The key is to have the tops of the dish close to the broiler and not wait too long – the sugar should just start to brown and bubble.

4 servings


  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1″ piece of fresh ginger root, coarsely chopped
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 2 T sugar


  1. In a heavy sauce pan, bring the cream and chopped ginger to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 m, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. In a double boiler or in a bowl over simmering water, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick. Be careful not to overcook, or you’ll have scrambled eggs!
  3. Strain cream/ginger mixture, then add it to the egg/sugar mixture, stirring constantly.
  4. Continue to cook over simmering water, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, approximately 10 m. When you draw a line through the mixture on the back of the spoon, it should not run back together.
  5. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the butter until completely combined.
  6. Pour into 4 oven-proof ramekins or little bowls. Place the ramekins in a baking dish, then pour ice water into the baking dish, being careful not to pour it into the ramekins.
  7. When the custard is cooled to room temperature, place the dish into the refrigerator to chill completely, approximately 4 h.
  8. Just before serving, sprinkle the remaining sugar over the custards and caramelize the sugar under the broiler, taking care not to burn it. Serve immediately.

Central Paradox in the Central Valley

“Food Desert” is a term that’s quickly becoming familiar to those interested in the so-called “good food movement.” (If you’re interested in learning more about the problem of food deserts, check out this 2009 report by the USDA: “Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food.”)

Most people imagine that food deserts are something one finds in America’s inner cities (think Chicago and Detroit), but at, writer Beth Hoffman describes the existence of a seemingly paradoxical food desert in the heart of California’s produce country: “The ‘food desert’ in the heart of California’s farming region.”

It’s hard to imagine anyone in the Central Valley of California, which reportedly produces up to 1/2 of the produce grown in America, going without fresh produce, but that is exactly what is happening. Kudos to Hoffman for writing so eloquently and concisely about the problem and raising our awareness of another facet of the food system’s problems, the question of social justice.

Happy Year of the Rabbit!

…which means our own little Rabbit is turning 12 this year – YIKES!