As most engaged couples do, Mike and I registered for every kitchen gadget under the sun. Tiny kitchen space be damned, we most definitely did need that asparagus steamer! Oh? And glasses for port which are completely different from glasses with which to serve sherry? Two sets, please.  Well sure, we don’t really drink sherry but we might… one day.

We realized the error of our ways a few months after being married and living with all this… stuff. Most extraneous items have gone the way of the dodo, much to Goodwill’s joy. Somewhere in the DC-Nova area, a budget shopper’s kitchen is decked out with the finest items Crate & Barrel has to offer, courtesy of our family and friends. I hope they found a good home.

However, one item remained unused but stubbornly, cozily at home in the kitchen. It sat in the drawer, peeking out at me every time I grabbed a clean dish towel and mocking me and all of my intentions. That item is the creme brulee blow torch, which we registered for right away because obviouslywe would be throwing DC’s most delightful dinner parties as newlyweds and everyone knows no dinner party is complete without a luscious creme brulee.

Four years later, it was still in the packaging. My mother, perhaps hoping to prod me along, gave us a book of creme brulee recipes for Christmas one year. I thumbed through it dutifully and then onto the shelf it went, next to The Best of Russian Cooking (and we all know how well that turned out). But the June Cookbook Challenge brought this book off the shelf with a vengeance and I am so grateful that it did.

For my first ever creme brulee, I could have gone with the classic vanilla bean. That would have been a safe approach. But once I saw the recipe for ginger chile creme brulee – a spicy and sweet dessert?? – I was hooked. 

Looking back, I learned two key lessons from my first creme brulee experience. One, it takes some patience. Kinda like making risotto. And two, it’s helpful to have a blender at the ready for custard emergencies.

Recipe and more info after the jump. (more…)