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:

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Five Years Ago:

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Easy Arroz con Pollo

My mom doesn’t cook very much these days, so when my family and I visit, she and I cook together. When we recently stayed with her over spring break, I forwarded a couple of new recipe emails to try. More fun that way!

As a loyal Good Morning America fan I am not sure why I receive Today show recipe emails, but some of them do catch my eye. This recipe was adapted from Kitchen Gypsy: Recipes and Stories from a Lifelong Romance with Food by Joanne Weir, via today.com. I adjusted the cooking times, used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken, doubled the garlic and peas, incorporated chicken stock, and omitted the olives (I’m not a fan.). My mom added the olives to her leftovers!

This is a delicious one-pot dish with a lovely, colorful presentation. I made it again when we came home. 🙂

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 10
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide pieces
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1/8 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 28 oz can peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes (or 2 1/2 cups diced fresh tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup Sauvignon Blanc or other dry white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
  • 2 cups Spanish Bomba or other short-grain white rice (I used white Basmati rice)
  • 1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives, sliced, optional
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen shelled English peas
  1. Rub the chicken pieces all over with 1 teaspoon salt, lots of black pepper and the oregano. Place in a large bowl, cover, and set aside in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  3. In an 8-quart Dutch oven or other heavy pot (I used enameled cast iron.), heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  4. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, add the chicken pieces in a single layer and cook, turning as needed, until golden on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  5. Return the pot to medium-high heat and add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, saffron, chile flakes, nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes.
  6. Increase the heat to high, add the tomatoes, 2½ cups water or stock, the wine, and the chicken, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and place in the oven for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove the pot from the oven, add the rice, olives (if using), and 1/2 teaspoon salt (if using water instead of stock), and stir well.
  8. Re-cover the pot, return it to the oven, and cook for another 30 minutes.
  9. Retrieve the pot again, add the peas and fluff the rice with a fork. Re-cover the pot and return it to the oven for a final 5 to 10 minutes. At this point, the rice and the chicken will be tender and the liquid will be absorbed.
  10. Remove from the oven and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes before serving. Adjust seasoning, if necessary, and serve.

One Year Ago:

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White Bean Soup with Bacon & Herbs

My husband usually rejects any soup suggestion unless it has a stew-like consistency. I think I convinced him that this brothy soup would be great because of the bacon. 🙂 By the way, of course, he enjoyed it!

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Jose Garces. It is based upon a Spanish white bean soup called caldo gallego. I doubled the garlic, used a dried bay leaf, and incorporated homemade turkey stock. The turkey stock made the soup much richer in color and more full-flavored. The fresh herbs brought freshness and color to the finished dish. and… Who doesn’t like crispy bacon sprinkled over the top of their soup? 😉

Yield: 8 to 12 servings

  • 1 1/4 pounds thick-sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 2 celery ribs, finely diced
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 fresh or dried bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 pound Great Northern beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 10 cups chicken stock (I incorporated 4 cups homemade turkey stock)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. In a large soup pot, cook the bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Drain, reserving the fat and bacon separately.
  2. Heat the olive oil in the soup pot. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf and 1 teaspoon each of the chopped thyme and rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the drained beans, stock and 3 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat and bring to a boil. Simmer the soup over moderately low heat until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Discard the bay leaf and stir in the remaining thyme and rosemary.
  6. Season the soup with salt and pepper and transfer to shallow bowls. Garnish the soup with the bacon and serve.

Note: The soup and bacon can be refrigerated separately for up to 3 days. Recrisp the bacon before serving.

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Magdalenas

I wanted to make these as soon as I read Linda’s post about this Spanish version of French Madeleines on La Petite Paniere. I also had to post them as soon as I made them! I loved her description-  they seemed like a dessert but are eaten as a special bakery breakfast in Algeria. They are very light, only slightly sweet, and were absolutely delicious with raspberry jam.

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I substituted some potato starch for the corn starch (I didn’t have enough…). I also substituted large for medium eggs, canola oil for safflower oil, and vanilla extract for the vanilla sugar in the original recipe. I also reduced the baking time for a convection oven. Tasty and pretty! 🙂

Yield: 12 Magdalenas (I only made 11!)

  • 125 g all-purpose flour
  • 125 g corn starch (I substituted some potato starch as well)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 100 ml sunflower oil or canola oil
  • 200 g granulated or caster sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C  or 350 F degrees on convection.
  2. Using cooking oil spray, grease small individuals mini magdalenas mold or muffins tray. (I used standard-size brioche tins.)
  3. In a bowl, combine the flour, the corn starch and the baking powder with a whisk.
  4. Separate egg yolks from whites (in two different large bowls).
  5. In the bowl with the 5 egg yolks, add the sugar, the vanilla extract, and the lemon zest. Whisk together all the ingredients until they become creamy.
  6. Add the oil and continue to mix.
  7. Add the flour, the corn (or potato!) starch and the baking powder mixture. Mix all of the ingredients together. (The batter is quite thick.)
  8. In the second bowl whisk the egg whites until soft peaks begin forming. (I used a hand mixer.)
  9. Incorporate the whisked egg whites to the egg yolk-flour mixture and fold in until combined.
  10. Spoon into molds and sprinkle with a little of turbinado sugar over the top. (I used a large ice cream scoop.)
  11. Bake for 17 or 18 minutes on convection (more or less depending the oven) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  12. Remove from the oven and set aside for 15 minutes. Transfer into a serving plate or basket. Serve with jam or orange marmalade on the side.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Rick Bayless’ Roasted Poblano Gazpacho

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Gazpacho is an essential summer soup in my world. Because my husband disagrees, I usually make a humongous batch when my gazpacho-loving family will be around to enjoy it with me. 🙂 This summer, along with my bounty of CSA tomatoes, I bought all of the remaining ingredients to make it when my family came to visit. Unfortunately, I was too busy to throw it together… 😦

When life returned to normal (sans visitors), with all of my ingredients on hand, I had to make it. Lucky for my husband, I had a new version in mind. This Mexican twist on the classic Spanish soup pleased even my non-gazpacho-eating husband! The multiple toppings made it fun and even more fabulous. This recipe was adapted from Fiesta at Rick’s and Season 6 of Mexico—One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless, via RickBayless.com.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, preferably vine-ripe heirloom tomatoes, divided
  • 2 large poblano chiles
  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 medium (10-12 ounce) seedless European cucumber
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 small yellow onion or 1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 thick slice bread (I used whole wheat)
  • 1 T vinegar, preferably sherry vinegar
  • 2 T olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups croutons, for serving (I used Trader Joe’s garlic-cheese croutons – amazing!)
  1. Chop the cilantro in a food processor. Remove half of the cilantro and place into a serving bowl (which will hold the remainder of the chopped vegetable topping ingredients).
  2. Preheat the broiler. Spread half of the tomatoes and both of the poblanos onto a baking sheet, and roast 4 inches below the broiler until blistered and blackened in spots, about 6 minutes per side. The poblanos may blacken before the tomatoes – remove them as soon as they are done.
  3. Cool the tomatoes and poblanos, then pull or rub off the blackened skins. For chiles, pull out the stems and seed pods, then quickly rinse off seeds and stray bits of skin.
  4. Scoop the roasted tomatoes into the bowl of a food processor, along with any juices on the baking sheet, and the remaining half of the cilantro which was left in the bowl.
  5. Roughly chop half of the poblanos and add to the roasted tomatoes in the food processor.
  6. While the tomatoes and chiles are roasting, roast the garlic directly on a dry griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until soft (they’ll blacken in spots, too), about 10 to 15 minutes. Cool, peel off the papery skin, roughly chop and add to the roasted tomato mixture in the food processor.
  7. While the tomatoes, chiles, and garlic are roasting, bring the eggs to a boil in heavily salted water. When the water comes to a boil, remove from the heat and cover. Let sit for 12 minutes. Drain the hot water and fill the pan with cold water to stop the cooking process. When the eggs are cool, peel and finely chop the eggs. (I use an egg slicer and cut through each egg twice, rotating the egg 90 degrees between presses.) Scoop into a small serving bowl, cover and refrigerate.
  8. Finish the chopped vegetable topping: Chop the remainder of the poblanos into 1/4-inch pieces and place into the topping serving bowl along with the reserved cilantro. Chop enough of the remaining unroasted tomato into 1/4-inch pieces to yield 1 cup; add to the serving bowl with the poblanos and cilantro. Chop half of the cucumber into 1/4-inch pieces and add them too. Stir everything to combine.
  9. Scoop the finely chopped onion into a strainer, rinse under cold water, shake off the excess moisture and add to the vegetable topping mixture in the serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate the topping until you’re ready to serve the soup.
  10. Roughly chop the remaining unroasted tomatoes and cucumbers, and add them in the food processor to the roasted tomato, poblano, garlic, and cilantro mixture. Add the wine, bread, vinegar and olive oil. Process to a smooth puree. Stir in about 1 to 1 1/2 cups water to give the mixture the consistency of a light cream soup. Taste and season with salt, usually about 2 teaspoons. Add freshly ground pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, usually about an hour to overnight.
  11. Ladle the soup into chilled soup bowls. Sprinkle the eggs and chopped vegetable topping generously with salt, stir, then pass them separately with the croutons for each guest to add al gusto.

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One Year Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Watermelon Sangria

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This is a sweet and festive summer punch- fun for a crowd. I loved the presentation with the skewered watermelon too. This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Andrew Zimmerman of Del Toro Café in Chicago. Chef Zimmerman created a summer version of this traditional Spanish punch with vodka instead of brandy. Cheers to summer & Happy Fiesta Friday #24 at The Novice Gardener! 🙂

Yield: Makes 6 to 8 drinks

  • 2 pounds seedless watermelon, peeled and cubed, plus 1/2 pound watermelon cut into balls with a melon baller and skewered on picks
  • 1 bottle dry white wine
  • 6 ounces citrus vodka
  • 4 ounces Cointreau or triple sec
  • 4 ounces Citrus Syrup, recipe below
  • Ice
  1. Make the Citrus Syrup: Combine 3/4 cup water, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 1-inch strips lemon zest, and 2 1-inch strips orange zest in a small saucepan. Cook until sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a blender, puree the watermelon cubes. Pour through a fine strainer into a pitcher. (Makes approximately 4 cups.)
  3. Add the white wine, vodka, Cointreau and cooled Citrus Syrup. Stir and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Stir again, then pour the sangria into ice-filled white wine glasses and garnish with the skewered watermelon balls.

One year ago:

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Carrot-Pine Nut Romesco Sauce

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This dish was unbelievably flavorful, colorful, delicious, healthy, and quick to prepare! I am such a fan of Spanish romesco sauce which is usually prepared with red bell peppers; this carrot-pine nut version was wonderful. This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit. I increased the amount of pork, greens, and red wine vinegar. I also used red pepper flakes instead of Aleppo pepper and baby arugula in lieu of watercress or baby mustard greens. We ate it with roasted gold potatoes on the side. Fabulous!!

  • ¼ cup raw pine nuts
  • 1½ pound small carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise if larger
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium pork tenderloins
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper or ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, divided, plus more to taste
  • 7 ounces spicy greens, such as baby arugula, watercress, or baby mustard
  1. Preheat oven to 350° (on convection roast).
  2. Toast pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 4 minutes; let cool.
  3. Increase temperature to 450° (on convection roast). Toss carrots with 1 Tbsp. oil on another rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and black pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until softened and browned, 15–20 minutes; let cool slightly.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season tenderloins with salt and black pepper and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown, 10–15 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and roast pork until a thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 145°, 8–10 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
  5. Mince garlic in a food processor. Add toasted pine nuts and remaining 3 Tbsp. oil and pulse to a coarse paste. Add Aleppo pepper, one-fourth of carrots, 2 Tbsp. vinegar, and 1 Tbsp. water. Process, adding more water as needed, to a coarse purée; season romesco with salt, black pepper, and more vinegar, if desired.
  6. Toss greens with remaining carrots and remaining 1 Tbsp. vinegar in a large bowl; season with salt and black pepper. Drizzle pork with pan juices. Serve pork with romesco and salad.

One Year Ago:

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