Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to an advanced preview screening of “The Hundred-Foot Journey” which comes out in Brisbane on August 13. Heading off to Event Cinemas VMAX at Carindale with friend B we arrived at the screening ready to be transported to a world of romance and comedy for foodies starring Helen Mirren (whom I adore ever since her Oscar winning performance in The Queen), iconic Indian actor Om Puri and up and comers Manish Dayal and Charlotte Le Bon.
Set in the South of France in a rural village called Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val this film is everything I adore – fusing my passion for food, anything French and love of delightfully sweet storytelling and narrative. I don’t want to give too much away but think a foodie rom-com version of Romeo & Juliet where Haute Cuisine meets Sabrina with a touch of Julie & Julia heart. Along with my invite I was also sent the best selling novel (which I now have to go back and read!) and French inspired recipes from the film. Being a complete Francophile I was like a pig in mud or more appropriately, porc dans la boue, so over the weekend I decided to make a crème brûlée for one and attempt Bal’s Crème Brûlée – a recipe inspired by the pages and now the screen of The Hundred-Foot Journey. I’ve shared the exact recipe below, or, read on for my version where I’ve made a few “Mimi adjustments”…
Crème Brûlée literally translates to “Burnt Cream” and was something I had only ever indulged in for my dessert course while dining out. Its French origins date back as early as 1691 and has always been “a simple combination of cream, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla, topped with a disc of hardened caramel which needs to be cracked through to access the dessert”. It epitomises culinary France with it’s luscious richness and complex flavours despite few ingredients. However, when I cook I tend to health-i-fy things, partly because I want my home cooked meals to be both delicious and good for you, staying as natural as possible and partly to counterbalance my partiality to dining out! So, instead of fennel seeds and cardamom powder (because of course I didn’t have any in the pantry and didn’t feel like venturing back out to the shops to buy some) I used a small amount of intensely infused Red Seal Black Adder liquorice tea and cardamom pods popped open and emptied. I omitted the sugar in the custard mixture and once I infused the bananas and added the liquorice tea it was plenty sweet enough! So you can either follow the recipe step by step or opt for Mimi’s Crème Brûlée for One inspired by The Hundred-Foot Journey. Enjoy!
Pour around a cup and a half / two cups of milk (full-fat preferred but I only had Trim in the fridge!) into a saucepan on a medium high heat and add the popped cardamom pods and infused liquorice tea (approx. 50mls).
Add two large bananas (fresh or defrosted) and stir until it starts to bubble. Taste the mixture and if sweet enough (the heat brings out the fructose in the banana and infuses the milk!) strain through a sieve and keep the liquid warming over a low-medium heat. Whisk three egg yolks with a beater until thick and pale yellow.
Turn up the heat slightly on the saucepan and slowly add the yolks into the milk mixture stirring simultaneously so it doesn’t scramble.
Once combined bring to just boiling and then remove to pour into a ramekin. Place the ramekin in a baking tray and add water half way up the ramekin to form a water-bath. Bake in the oven at a medium temperature for half an hour.
Remove and allow to cool on the bench top before putting in the fridge to completely chill.
Once cold, sprinkle a thin layer (half a teaspoon) of caster sugar over the top of the custard. If you’re a foodie with a well equipped kitchen use your blowtorch to caramelise the top layer to get that lusciously golden, burnt sugary top…or, if you’re more like me take care holding it under the griller until it starts to char. Just make sure when you hear crackling it’s the sugar and not your oven mit! Once done, sit back to admire your handiwork before you “knack” the top with a spoon and take a generous mouthful. Creamy, sweetly spiced banana custard with that crispy caramelised top and you have an (almost) clean crème brulee with a twist that leaves you wishing you didn’t make just the one…
Do yourselves a favour and see this film! You’ll laugh, be inspired and want to go out immediately to eat both Indian Murgh Masala and freshly baked Naan bread as well as Boeuf Bourguignon with a glass of wine. It’s a cinematic culinary delight with standout performances from Mirren and Puri and will make you laugh, tear up and cause your mouth to water!