- whole wheat-walnut sour dough bread
- a dipping oil of balsamic & black fig vinegar in extra virgin olive oil with a few sprigs of rosemary
- parmesan reggiano cubes & quince paste (membrillo) cubes on picks (Clay's idea!)
- pitted kalamata olives
- oil cured greek olives
- mixed spring greens
- sliced red pear
- a sprinkle of spiced walnuts & pecans
- a drizzle of port vinaigrette
- a shaving of frozen blue cheese.
The port dressing was particularly spectacular and will become one of my often prepared dressings. You need to reduce a cup of port down to about 1/4, so I suggest that this be done when you have the time to reduce a lot of port, then bottle it and stick it in the fridge.
No Fat/No Sugar Vanilla Bean Custards
4 1/4 cups Land O Lakes Fat Free 1/2 & 1/2
1 pint egg substitute such as Kirkland Egg Starts from Costco. (Egg Beaters has too much sodium.)
3/4 cup Splenda (From the large bag used for baking. The small packets are too sweet.)
1 whole vanilla bean
Set oven temp at 300 with rack placed in the middle.
Whisk the egg substitute with the Splenda in a glass or stainless steel bowl large enough to later hold the 1/2 & 1/2.
Scald the 1/2 & 1/2 with the vanilla bean over medium heat just until small bubbles form all around the edge of the saucepan. Do not let boil. Remove from heat. Remove the vanilla bean, score it length-wise with a sharp knife, open the bean and scrape the tiny seeds (looks like a very dark paste) into the cream mixture.
Slowly whisk the cream mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so as not to curdle the egg stuff.
Pour all of this through a strainer into a clean bowl and allow to cool slightly.
Place 8 - 3/4 cup ramekins in a large roasting pan. Pour the custard base into the ramekins, dividing equally.
Place pan in the oven then pour hot water into the pan to come about halfway up the ramekins. Bake for about 1 hour. I start checking after 1 hour of baking time. The custards should be rather firm except for a small spot in the middle (about the size of a quarter) which should move when jiggled. Remove from water bath and refrigerate until ready to use.
Note: I developed this recipe and have made it 3 or 4 times. One time I forgot and left the custards in the oven for over 2 hours. The tops had developed a skin that was really rubbery (which I actually like!), but after they were in the fridge overnight, the custard inside was smooth and creamy. Very forgiving of them.