Vanilla Flan

After gobbling up a double batch of chips and guacamole followed by Sam Sifton’s Middle School Tacos, we ate this flan as our celebratory Cinco de Mayo dessert this year.

A while ago, my son read a book that mentioned flan and he really wanted to make it. We actually made it together at that time. 🙂  It really is quite simple to prepare, and he felt like he had achieved a great accomplishment when it came out well. He’s been asking to have it again ever since!

I think that it is particularly delicious served with strawberries. This recipe is a blend of multiple flan recipes- including one from my grandmother.

Yield: One 8-inch flan

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (low fat can be substituted)
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • strawberries, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan; bring to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, without stirring, occasionally swirling, until amber, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Pour into a 1 1/2 to 2 qt (8-in) ceramic baking dish or 8-in cake pan, tilting to cover the bottom surface and halfway up the sides of the dish.
  5. Place the prepared dish on a dish towel or a silicone pot holder (to prevent it from shifting) inside a roasting pan. (I used an enameled cast iron lasagna pan.)
  6. Place the eggs, condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla, and salt in a Vitamix. Blend for 20 seconds. (Alternatively, mixture can be whisked in a bowl until combined.)
  7. Pour through a fine strainer into the prepared pan.
  8. Slide the oven rack out and place the roasting pan on the hot rack.
  9. Fill the outside of the pan with HOT water halfway up the sides of the flan dish.
  10. Bake for 60-70+ minutes, or until the center is wobbly.
  11. Remove from the oven; let cool to room temperature.
  12. Remove flan from the water bath. Cool and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  13. Dip the bottom of the dish in warm water, then invert onto a rimmed platter. Serve.

One Year Ago: Cheesy Enchilada Skillet

Two Years Ago: Cinco de Mayo Chicken-Chipotle Tacos

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

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Fresh Corn Grits with Shrimp & Roasted Pecan Butter

Another Easter weekend food tradition in our family is to eat shrimp and grits as a celebration of one of our favorite places- Charleston, South Carolina. The spring sunshine reminds me of how lovely it is there. It is a particularly special place for us because it’s where my husband and I met. ❤ Charleston is also an incredible food city.

I really like the story behind this amazing version. Apparently, it was created on Top Chef season 5 by Jeff McInnis, owner of Miami’s Yardbird restaurant. He was challenged to create a shrimp and grits dish without using grits. He made fresh corn “grits” using fresh corn, but, the best part was that he incorporated pecan butter in the grits because of a memory of eating fresh nut butter from his grandmother’s pecan tree. The fresh nut butter put this dish over the top. Delicious. I wish that I had the imagination to dream up a dish like this one.

This was my husband’s favorite shrimp and grits (thus far), and I’ve made quite a few versions. I pointed out that it may be because this dish didn’t actually have grits. 🙂 This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Jeff McInnis. I increased the amount of fresh corn in the grits and slightly increased the amount of prosciutto. Next time, I may reduce the amount of lager. I may increase the amount of grits as well- we wanted more!

Yield: Serves 4

For the Roasted Pecan Butter:

  • 1 cup raw pecans
  • 1/2 tsp canola oil
  • coarse salt, to taste

For the Grits:

  • 6 large ears of corn, shucked and coarsely grated on a box grater (2 cups pulp and juice)
  • 1/4 cup milk, plus more for stirring/serving, as desired
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • roasted pecan butter (about 1/4 cup), directions below

For the Shrimp Sauté:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 to 4 ounces thinly sliced country ham or prosciutto, cut into strips
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound shelled and deveined large shrimp
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup lager, to taste (I used 1 cup but may reduce it next time)
  • lemon wedges, for serving, optional

Make the Roasted Pecan Butter:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Roast the pecans about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant.
  3. Process toasted pecans in a mini food processor with canola oil until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  4. Season with salt to taste.

Make the Grits:

  1. In a saucepan, simmer the grated corn and juices with the 1/4 cup of milk over moderate heat, stirring, until thick, 4 minutes.
  2. Season with salt and pepper and fold in the pecan butter; keep warm.

Make the Shrimp Sauté:

  1. In a large, deep skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter.
  2. Add the prosciutto and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the onion, snap peas and corn, season with salt and pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until they just begin to curl, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the lager and bring to a boil.
  6. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are cooked through and the liquid is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.
  7. Swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.

To Serve:

  1. Whisk a little milk into the grits so it’s the consistency of polenta; heat until warm.
  2. Spoon the grits into shallow bowls, top with the shrimp sauté and serve at once.
  3. Serve with lemon wedges, as desired.

One Year Ago: Seared Scallops & Cauliflower Grits

Two Years Ago: Classic Shrimp & Grits

Three Years Ago: Shrimp with Fresh Corn Grits

Four Years Ago: Shrimp & Grits with Tomatoes

Five Years Ago: Hominy Grill’s Shrimp & Grits

Irish Soda Scones with Orange Glaze

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I like to try a new version of soda bread as part of our celebration. 🙂 This version was great- light and fluffy with sweetness from the glaze. Everyone really enjoyed them.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I used raisins instead of currants, reduced the size and baking time, and made half of the batch with caraway seeds (for me) and half of the batch without seeds (kids!). We ate them for breakfast but they would be wonderful with a cup of afternoon tea as well.

Yield: 18 to 20 scones

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup dried currants or raisins
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, granulated sugar, and salt.
  3. Cut butter into small pieces; work into flour mixture with your fingers or a pastry cutter until dough resembles coarse meal.
  4. Add currants/raisins, caraway seeds, and buttermilk; stir until just combined.
  5. Using a large cookie scoop, scoop mounds of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced 3 inches apart.
  6. Bake until bottoms are golden, about 12 minutes.
  7. Let cool completely on baking sheet.
  8. Meanwhile, combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, and orange zest. Drizzle over scones; serve.

One Year Ago: Irish Soda Bread Muffins

Two Years Ago: Irish Soda Bread Buns

Three Years Ago: Skillet Irish Soda Bread

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

Panko-Crusted Roast Chicken Thighs with Mustard & Thyme

This is a superstar weeknight dinner. I already know that I’m going to make it a million times. 😉 The preparation is actually very similar to my favorite weeknight salmon recipe.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Jenny Rosenstrach. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in, and adapted the cooking temperature, method, as well as the cooking time. I roasted the chicken over sliced rainbow carrots and also roasted potatoes and asparagus on separate sheet pans in the same oven. Wonderful!

  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons thyme leaves, plus 6 sprigs
  • 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, patted dry
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pounds medium carrots, scrubbed, cut into 4-inch pieces, halved lengthwise if thick (I used rainbow carrots)
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds tiny gold potatoes, optional
  • 2 pounds asparagus, optional
  1. Place a rack in highest position in oven; preheat to 425°, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Place carrots on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the thyme sprigs and roast for 15 to 20 minutes; remove from oven and set aside. (At this point, I also began roasting the potatoes on a separate sheet pan, for about 30 minutes.)
  3. Place panko in a shallow bowl.
  4. Mash butter, mustard, and thyme leaves in another small bowl with a fork (it will be a little lumpy).
  5. Season chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper. Arrange “skin side up” over the partially roasted carrots on the rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Smear mustard-butter all over the top of the thighs.
  7. Working with 1 piece at a time, firmly press chicken, skin side down, into panko so crumbs adhere. Place back on baking sheet, on top of the carrots, with the breadcrumbs facing up.
  8. Roast until carrots are tender and chicken is cooked though, 20-25 minutes. (I cooked the chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.) (At this point, I also roasted the asparagus on a separate sheet pan, for about 15 minutes.)
  9. Heat broiler. Broil chicken and carrots just until panko is golden brown and carrots are tender and browned in spots, about 2 minutes.
  10. Transfer to a platter and pour pan juices over top, as desired.
Two Years Ago: Chicken Meunière
Three Years Ago: Chicken with Mustard
Five Years Ago: Chicken in Tomatoes

Baked Shrimp Risotto with Pesto

We’ve had a touch of spring for a couple of days in Long Island. It has been SO sunny, warm and nice. 🙂 It made me think of this dish because the pesto and lemon gave it a lot of brightness. Fortunately, I freeze giant cubes of freshly made pesto made after my final summer basil harvest.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Kay Chun. I added shallots and onions and increased the stock, garlic and the amount of lemon juice. The original recipe doesn’t incorporate white wine, and the dish was lovely without it, but I may consider adding some for extra flavor next time. I also used uncooked shrimp; it cooked very quickly in the hot risotto.

Even though I love making risotto in my pressure cooker, I’m not sure why making risotto on the stove is even necessary when it’s so simple to prepare in the oven! This dish was beyond easy to make, quick, and really delicious.

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 7 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of white wine, optional
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 24 shelled shrimp (I used 1 pound of 21-25 count shrimp)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • fresh lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
  • coarse salt
  • pesto sauce, for serving (I used one giant cube of basil pesto, about 2-3 T)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°, preferably on convection.
  2. In an enameled medium cast-iron casserole or pan with a lid, heat the olive oil.
  3. Add the shallots and onion, and cook until soft but not brown.
  4. Add the garlic and rice and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until very fragrant, 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil.
  6. Cover and bake for about 20 to 22 minutes, until the rice is tender.
  7. Stir in the 1/2 cup of cheese, the shrimp, butter and lemon juice; season with salt. (The shrimp is cooked when it becomes fully pink.)
  8. Serve drizzled or mixed with pesto. Garnish with cheese.

One Year Ago: Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

Two Years Ago: Classic Shrimp & Grits

Three Years Ago: Greek Red Lentil Soup

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

Italian Potato-Pasta Soup with Greens

My husband is not partial to brothy soups. Making this one required some convincing, but I was able to win him over by the inclusion of pasta and potatoes. By the way, he loved it. 🙂

This wonderful soup recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. I increased the onions, garlic, and kale, and added fresh lemon juice. I also used my homemade turkey stock. We ate it with a green salad, of course, and sliced sourdough baguette. It was surprisingly filling! Absolutely delicious too.

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for garnish
  • 2 cups+ diced onion (I used 1 1/2 large onions)
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup diced fennel or celery
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large thyme sprig or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 5 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • parmesan rind, optional
  • 3 quarts/12 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water (I used  2 quarts of homemade turkey stock and 1 quart of chicken stock)
  • 2 pounds medium-size starchy potatoes, such as Yukon Golds or russets, peeled (if desired) and cut in 1-inch chunks (I skipped peeling the potatoes)
  • 6 to 8 ounces kale or chard, stems removed, leaves sliced across into 1/2-inch ribbons (about 6-7 cups total)
  • ½ pound dried pennette, orecchiette or other small pasta
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or marjoram, for garnish
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
  1. In a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add onion, carrot and fennel, stir, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until softened and golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust the heat to prevent vegetables from browning or scorching.
  2. Stir in bay leaf, thyme sprig, garlic, paprika tomato paste, and parmesan rind (if using), and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add broth, potatoes and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a brisk simmer. Cook until potatoes are cooked through but still firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
  3. Stir in kale and pasta and simmer another 10 minutes, or until greens are well cooked and pasta is done. (Soup can be made up to this point, without the pasta, cooled and refrigerated for up to 3 days.)
  4. Add the fresh lemon juice and stir to incorporate.
  5. Ladle soup into bowls, and sprinkle with chopped rosemary and Parmesan. Drizzle each serving with a teaspoon of olive oil, if desired. Pass extra Parmesan at the table.

Note: If making ahead of time, do not add the pasta until reheating.

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Shrimp & Egg Fried Rice

This is a quick and tasty comfort food dish. It is from a century-old dim sum restaurant in New York City. I think we’re going to have to dine there soon! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, adapted from Jonathan Wu of Nom Wah Tea Parlor in New York, contributed by Wilson Tang. I increased the amount of shrimp to convert this side dish into a main dish. Perfect.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

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