TIME: 45 minutes
This custard is pretty basic; see the first variation for an even simpler one. Toss in a bit of cheese or fresh herbs,especially chopped chives, chervil, or a bit of tarragon, to
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot or onion
2 cups chopped shiitake, cremini, or button
mushrooms (about 8 ounces)
2 cups cream, half-and-half, milk, or a combination
1 sprig fresh thyme (optional)
2 eggs plus 2 yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1- Put the butter in a medium skillet over mediumhigh heat. When it melts, add the shallot and cook until softened, about a minute. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat a bit, pour in the cream, add the thyme if you’re using it,
and cook just until it begins to steam, a couple more minutes.
2- Heat the oven to 300°F and bring a kettle of water to a boil. Put the eggs, cayenne, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk or beat until blended. Remove the thyme and gradually add the cream to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture into a 1-quart dish or into
4 to 6 small ramekins or custard cups.
3- Put the dish or ramekins in a baking pan and pour in hot water to within about 1 inch of the top of the dish or ramekins. Bake until the mixture is not quite set—it should jiggle a bit in the middle—30 to 40 minutes for ramekins, somewhat longer for a baking dish. Use your judgment; cream sets up faster than milk. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold within a few hours of baking.
Baked Cheesy Custard. A cheese that melts easily is best here: Add 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, Emmental,Gruyère, cheddar, Jack, or goat cheese; stir into the
heated cream until melted. Omit the shallot and mushrooms if you like.
Baked Roasted Garlic Custard. Omit the shallot and mushrooms. Add 4 to 8 cloves Roasted Garlic (page303), peeled and smashed into a paste, to the egg