My mother spent some of her formative years abroad in Bolivia and Costa Rica before moving to Hawaii in 1967. With that time in South America she spoke Spanish tasted authentic Spanish influences including flan. One thing my mother was always good at has been baking. Her creative endeavors didn’t end at the canvas, she has quite the knack for anything elaborate, chocolate, and above all heavenly on the tongue. Anything custard holds an especially dear place in my heart for sweets, long johns anyone? I don’t recall the first time I ate my mother’s flan, but every time we ate out and ordered flan, my mother would always say hers was better.
Around the house when I was young it was a common sight to have dessert for dinner. We often stopped by Craig’s bakery in Kailua for their day-old specials, including their delicious custard pie. I now understand how absurd it was to be eating whatever I wanted to for dinner as a kid, including dessert, but my mom always said, “eggs, flour, milk, well why not it’s healthy?” I now suffer from an insatiable sweet-tooth that was earned from many of these “dessert for dinner” nights.
Recently I asked my mom how to make her delicious flan. She likes her caramel a little bit towards the dark and almost burnt side. Turns out I do too. I was always afraid to try making this dish fearing it was much too difficult. A bit tricky, but it turns out not too hard at all. We have our own hens and ducks, and if you can get your hands on some duck eggs it’ll make your custard divine.
My Mother’s FLAN
cooling after baking
specks of vanilla bean here
setting the pudding dishes in the pan before adding hot water and in the oven
2/3 cups granulated raw sugar for caramel
5 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
1 can sweetened condensed milk plus 1 can condensed milk or evaporated milk plus nonfat milk to equal 4 cups.
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or almond extract if you prefer)
Have your baking dish/es ready, and be sure it is dry.
Melt and caramelize the 2/3 cup raw sugar in a heavy skillet. (I use my 2qt le creuset)
When sugar melts and turns a light golden color (or darker if you prefer, but make sure not to burn it), which takes about 5 minutes, quickly pour in the pudding dish/es and tilt back and forth with a swirling motion to cover bottom of dish. Set aside and cool.
Beat eggs and yolks into the cream mixture and add salt. Stir. Add vanilla. Strain over a fine mesh strainer and pour into prepared pudding dish/es.
Set dish in pan of hot water and baker covered with foil in preheated 325 degree oven for 20-30 minutes for small ramekins, to 1 1/2 hours for a large dish. Note: Depending on the size of the pudding dish you use, a 2-quart dish or individual ramekins, your cooking time will vary.
Insert knife in center, if knife comes out clean flan is done. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Place a round, rimmed plate/platter over flan to flip over slowly. Flip carefully as the caramelized sugar syrup will pour out along with the flan. Enjoy warm or chilled.
With Thanksgiving this week, I thought I would share my memorable 36 hours in Boston last month. I was impressed with how beautiful the city was, and just how old many parts remain. Boston’s T (light-rail) makes it impressively easy to get around. My childhood friend from Hawaii lives in Cambridge with her husband, and it was a delight to see Boston’s famous North End with her. After an amazing cannoli at Mike’s pastry and a pit stop at a delightful Italian grocery, I made my way along the Freedom trail. Exploring on foot I was able to take my time, and really take in the history evident before me. Placards are all over the trail, with lots of great information. I didn’t bother doing a tour or downloading the audio tour, though I’m sure for some they add to the experience. If only the government shutdown hadn’t been happening the day I was there, I would have enjoyed walking up the Bunker hill monument to take in the views of the city. On my way back I had amazing fresh squid ink pasta with little necks and shrimp at the Daily Catch. If you have a chance, and don’t mind waiting for one of just 20 seats in this itty bitty restaurant, it’s absolutely worth it. Delicious!
This country hardly has a perfect past, but history is what it is, and it’s an impressive sight to see no matter where you stand. I’m still proud to be an American. Happy Thanksgiving.
Flying into Boston
A view from Mariko’s apartment
All of fall’s glory
On the T
Impressive selection at Salumeria Italiana in North End
The best, a must go!
the best cannoli I’ve ever had!
With Markio at Mike’s
Interesting festive street decor
Next to Paul Revere’s statue
a 9/11 memorial
Old cemetery next to Old Church
One of the oldest houses left from revolutionary times
Notice the 3rd floor shorter than the first & second floors.
This is as close as I got to the USS Constitution thanks to the Gov’t shutdown
Brick demarkations in the sidewalk to follow the freedom trail
Two summers ago Melissa Clark from the New York times published this awesome recipe. It’s still one of my favorite ways to use nectarines that are a little too ripe to eat plain. Its so delicious and easy. I recommend doubling it as it is so delicious everyone wants seconds!
3 cups fresh nectarines or peaches in 1/2-inch slices, or a combination (about 1 pound)
5 ounces sugar (about 3/4 cup)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 ounces flour (about 3/4 cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large pan over medium heat combine the fruit slices, 1/4 c sugar and lemon juice. Stirring constantly until mixture comes to a simmer. Take off heat.
In another small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat, melt the butter, swirling the pan occasionally, until it smells very nutty, and turns golden, and flecks of brown appear, 2-3 minutes. Pour into 8 x 8 baking dish.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, the remaining 1/2 c sugar, baking powder and salt. Pour the buttermilk into the dry ingredients. Mix until just moistened.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan with the butter. Scrape to make sure the batter is evenly distributed, but careful not to mix the butter into the batter.
Scatter the nectarines/peaches and juices on top of batter without stirring.
Sprinkle with almonds, nutmeg, and Demerara sugar.
Bake until golden brown, 50-55 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Serve warm.
Original clipping from the NYTimes
Step 1. Cut fruit in 1/2″ slices.
Step 2: simmer sliced fruit in saucepan.
Step 3a: Brown butter in another saucepan.
Step 3b: pour browned butter into 8×8 pan.
Step 4a: Mix dry ingredients with buttermilk until just mixed.
Step 4b: Pour batter into buttered 8×8 pan.
Step 5: Pour fruit on top of batter
Step 6: Scatter with sliced almonds and sugar. Bake for 50-55 mins.
Your finished baked brown buttered nectarine cobbler/cake!