Pumpkin-Orange Flan

30 Nov

“So many recipes, so little time.” The Thanksgiving holiday has drawn to a close, and I was still thinking about an orange-flavored pumpkin flan that I had planned to try. As much as I enjoy using pumpkin in recipes, my interest peaks during the fall. Once I see the calendar turned to December, the poor pumpkin takes a back seat to Christmas-y ingredients.

When I saw a recipe for “caramelized orange pumpkin flan” in the October issue of Sunset, I thought I had a winner. Reading through the recipe, though, I turned my nose up at some the the ingredients and decided to come up with my own version.

My flan recipe was adapted from one in Anna Thomas’ “The Vegetarian Gourmet” and I have used it for years. There was one remaining can of organic pumpkin pureé that I spiced up and added lots of orange zest to both the caramel and the custard. It turned out to be a nice way to say “See you next fall” to pumpkin.

Serves 6

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar, divided use
  • 1 cup organic pumpkin pureé
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • zest of 2 oranges, divided use
  • 3 cups half-and-half or whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Heat the half-and-half or milk in a medium-sized saucepan, just until it simmers. Remove pan from heat and add the vanilla.

3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with 3/4 cup sugar. Beat in the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Add the salt and the zest of one orange. Mix well. Slowly add the hot milk, stirring as you pour.

4. Using a heavy-bottomed small saucepan, heat the remaining 1 cup of sugar over medium-high heat. Stir the sugar until it melts into a light brown syrup. Turn off the heat and stir in the zest of the second orange.

5. Working quickly and carefully, pour the zest-infused caramel into a soufflé dish. Tilt the dish so as to coat the bottom and sides with the caramel. It will harden quickly.

6. Pour the custard into the caramel-glazed dish. Set the soufflé dish into a square-sided baking dish. Place this in the oven and fill the square dish with hot water until the water is about halfway up the side of the soufflé dish.

7.Bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted into the flan comes away clean. Remove the soufflé dish from the pan of water and allow to cool on a rack. Chill in fridge for several hours before turning onto a serving dish. Use a knife to loosen the edges of the flan, if needed. Spoon the extra caramel sauce over the flan and serve.

Mango Colada

20 May

Home from Camp Blogaway, I was delighted to receive a box of beautiful mangos from the mango team who had been a popular sponsor at camp. I’m a mango-lover from way back, starting with my mother’s mango chutney, so it was fun to choose a new recipe to highlight the mighty mango.

I knew I hit pay dirt when I saw a recipe for pina coladas in the current issue of my favorite food magazine, Cooking Light. I substituted mango for pineapple, added some Meyer lemon juice for acid and was good to go.

The reduction of both calories and saturated fat in CL’s version is pretty impressive. The secret lies in making your own coconut milk, a trick I plan to implement in other recipes calling for coconut milk.

Since the light was perfect just as we finished lunch, I got my shot and we had a cocktail at 1:00 in the afternoon. Larry made the brilliant suggestion to freeze the rest of the batch, followed by an almost instant siesta.

TIP: This cocktail involves some planning since the coconut milk needs to “brew” in the fridge for at least 4 hours, and the chopped mango sits in the freezer for an hour or two.

Yields 6-8 cocktails

  • 2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated fat-free milk
  • 2 cups chopped fresh mango
  • 2 cups ice cubes
  • 3/4 cup gold rum
  • 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons light agave nectar

1. Using a medium-sized saucepan, heat the coconut and evaporated milk over medium-low heat until small bubbles form along the edges. Do not boil. Remove from heat and chill in a covered container in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

2. Peel and chop the mangos. Place fruit in a large baggie and press to flatten in a single layer. Freeze for 1-2 hours.

3. Using a sieve, strain coconut milk, pressing to squeeze out as much milk as possible. Discard coconut.

4. Using a blender or processor, combine the mango, ice, rum, lemon juice and agave nectar. Process until smooth. Add the coconut milk and blend until well mixed.

5. Pour into martini glasses and serve at once.

Pennsylvania Dutch Apricot Noodle Pudding

16 May

Mother’s Day without my mother is a difficult day. It comforts me to spend time working in the garden, remembering where my mother was so content. In the past five years since she died, I have made this a tradition, planting something special in her memory. This year, it was basil plants in the herb garden and four new tubs of spring flowers on our deck.

Last Sunday, I felt I needed a little more comfort after all that gardening – in the form of dessert. I remembered how Mama used to make this apricot noodle pudding, a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe she used to prepare for our family when I was young. I made it off my mother’s dented and smeared recipe card, adding only a pinch of cardamom and some vanilla to put my signature on it. When the pudding began to brown a bit too quickly, I played with both the cooking time and the oven temperature.

It is times like this that I wonder what my mother would have thought about my food blog, a tribute to her cooking lessons and kitchen memories. Would she realize how she still guides me, even now, in the remodeled kitchen she never set foot in?

Serves 6-8

  • 8 ounces egg noodles (half of a one-pound bag)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 12-ounce jar apricot preserves
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (plus extra for greasing baking dish)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain in colander.

3. Using a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together.

4. Add the cooked noodles, apricot preserves, sour cream, cottage cheese, raisins, melted butter, vanilla, cinnamon and cardamom. Mix well.

5. Turn into a 2-quart buttered baking dish. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top.

6. Bake 35 minutes. Serve warm or chilled.

Goat Milk Flan

10 May

When Larry and I visited Chicago a couple of weeks ago, we enjoyed a terrific meal at Frontera Grill, one of three adjoining restaurants owned by one of my favorite chefs, Rick Bayless. The evening was made even more special because we shared it with Larry’s daughter and her husband.

After appetizers and our entrées – I had the striped bass – we got down to the serious business of choosing desserts. Larry and Matt shared caramel ice cream, while Laura and I opted for a duo of flans, one vanilla and the other made with goat milk. We agreed that the goat milk flan got the gold star and I came home inspired to try to recreate it.

Last weekend at Camp Blogaway, a conference in the mountains for over one hundred food bloggers, I spied this portrait of a smiling goat. She belongs to Redwood Hill Farm up north in Sebastopol and the photo credit belongs to them. Isn’t she cute? I heard that a female goat produces a gallon of milk a day! I was surprised to find goat milk readily available in Trader Joe’s and both our neighborhood supermarkets.

Finally, many thanks to Susan for her speedy cardamom consult.

TIP: You will need six 8-ounce heatproof ramekins for this recipe.

Serves 6

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar, divided use
  • 3 cups goat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1. Using a medium-sized saucepan with a heavy bottom, heat 1 cup of the sugar over medium heat until it begins to melt. Stir constantly until the sugar has totally melted into a light-brown syrup, about 10 minutes of stirring.

2. Divide the syrup evenly between the six ramekins, quickly turning each ramekin so as to cover its bottom and part of the sides.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4. In a medium-sized bowl, beat the eggs with the remaining 3/4 cup sugar.

5. Using a medium-sized saucepan, heat the milk until just simmering, when steam begins to rise from the pan. Slowly pour into the egg-sugar mixture, stirring as you pour.

6. Add the vanilla, orange zest and cardamom. Mix well.

7. Pour the custard into the caramel-lined ramekins. Place the ramekins in a large baking dish. Use a large measuring cup to fill the baking dish with an inch of hot water.

8. Place the large baking dish in the preheated oven and bake 45 minutes, until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the middle of a flan.

9. Allow the flans to cool on a rack. Serve warm or chilled. To serve, run a sharp knife around the sides of each ramekin and invert onto dessert plates.

On Wisconsin!

2 May

Home from our trip to Chicago and Wisconsin, there’s just enough time to squeak out a post before heading to Camp Blogaway this weekend.

It was my third visit to Madison, home to the University of Wisconsin, since Larry and I began dating in 1996. It was his medical school reunion that motivated us to travel and included a stop in Chicago, where I  lived many moons ago and where Larry’s daughter now resides. Having attended a small college in Michigan with less than 1,500 students, I love the University’s huge campus filled with over 40,000 “badgers” who brim with school spirit and Midwestern friendliness.

First stop for a beer and burger took us to Old-Fashioned which won our blue ribbon for our best burger of the visit. I had not quaffed a beer in years, but when in Wisconsin…And don’t tell Larry’s cardiologist about the four cheeseburgers he devoured, one for each day in Madison. We shared a brat, too, just to say we ate at the State Street Brat House.

Forty degree-weather and sleet kept me from touring the famous Saturday Farmers Market on the Square, but I did make it to Fromagination, possibly the best-stocked cheese shop I have ever visited. The folks there were as friendly as could be, giving out samples even after I explained I was on my way home to San Diego.

Thanks to Jane of Let There Be Bite, we celebrated my birthday at Sardine with oysters and flounder. The olive oil cake with pink grapefruit sauce and pistachio ice cream was a perfect end to the best meal of our visit to Madison.

Next up, a recap of our trip to Chicago, including a terrific meal at Rick Bayless’s Frontera Grill. I plan to try and recreate an amazing dessert I shared with my step-daughter. Hint: it will involve goat’s milk.