Friday, April 18, 2008

Sunday Dinner and Creme Brulee at the Bradys'

Growing up, I somewhat resented family dinners. While I appreciated the fact my parents were trying to have us bond with one another, the truth was we usually sat in conversation about the weather over greasy Chinese. How I longed to be hanging out with friends instead, burrowing my head in a book, or even doing my homework.

As I grew older and slowly shed my selfish desires, what we had of these dinners became fewer in between. Though I tried harder to make conversation, I realized there was little to be said between us, no matter how hard I tried. Perhaps the awkward silences were a cultural thing; I'm not sure.

When a foodie friend of mine (and former coworker) first invited my husband and I over for dinner a year ago, I was excited. Not only was her mom a food editor (dream job!) but my friend had always described these amazing-sounding meals that I was jealous to experience. What I didn't expect though, was the warmth that encircled my husband and me when we walked through the front door. Over roast lamb, we were included in the stories about cousins, cats and other drama that made me feel more at home than I ever did in the family dinners of my childhood.

During the most recent Sunday dinner, Mrs. B made a delicious homemade tagliatelle (from the Italian tagliare, meaning "to cut") with a meat ragu sauce. The pasta was made from scratch by hand, which results in a chewy doughiness I love and is impossible to recreate with dried pasta. As usual, I probably ate more than my fair share, but it's hard to pass up something as satisfying as homemade pasta.

The highlight of the night though, was my friend's creme brulee. There is a restaurant in nearby San Carlos that offers a unique creme brulee offering of orange and lavender flavor, so that was the inspiration for our dessert that evening. As most people know though, the challenging (and fun) part of making a creme brulee is torching it in the end:

The creme brulee waiting to be adorned with sugar.

A thin, even layer of sugar is the way to go for a delicate burnt sugar crust.

Holding the torch at an angle, have the flame slowly circle around
the creme brulee so that small, brown bubbles form evenly throughout.


There have been a number of Sunday dinners since that first Sunday dinner, but my husband and I continually feel excited whenever we are invited over for another one. Delicious food aside, the only thing better than a memorable meal is the company you have the privilege to enjoy it with.


yasmin said...

I wish I had that torch.. any suggestions on other uses apart from creme brulee ? Still undecided whether to buy or not. Your dessert looks great, beautiful photos.

Cindy. Lo. said...

I just ordered a torch online after my recent burned wound while making creme brulee!

eatingplum said...

Hi Yasmin,
I think a torch is a great investment! If you go to my post:

you can see that you can torch meringue too (and you have much more control over it than a broiler). I also make creme brulee oatmeal sometimes...delicious! A torch doesn't have to be that expensive either--there are some for about $30.

Hendersonville Epicurean said...

Your memories of family dinners are so poignant. It’s a good thing you followed those memories with tales of the wonderful meals with your friend’s family. Your post took me from feeling a little sad, to happy…..and wanting a crème brulee. How lucky you and your husband are to have found a second family.

Loren said...

Hi Jen,

I'm tagging you for my Five Facts Meme.