Sunday, April 13, 2014

What happened to your flan?

I made flan and it was a disaster.

So I'm being dramatic, it wasn't exactly a disaster...It tasted good.  A toasty caramelized layer on top of essentially a blob of vanilla custard. Who doesn't like a blob of vanilla custard?

But when I unmolded my flan, it was watery. As if some of the water in the pan I cooked it in had gotten into my if the flan hadn't completely set. Which is weird, because I cooked it about 20 minutes longer than the recipe called for (to account for my janky, inefficient apartment oven).

The recipe was great. I followed a recipe from Bon Appetit for "The Smoothest Flan."  It was pretty smooth. And the caramelized top turned out beautifully, it tasted like creme brulee. Mmmmmmm.

So what happened? Any thoughts?

Here's what you need:
  • 1/4 c. plus 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1 c. half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Here's what you do:
  • Preheat oven to 325°. Stir 1/4 cup sugar and 2 Tbsp. water in a medium heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until caramel is medium-dark amber, 5–6 minutes. Working quickly, divide caramel among ramekins, coating bottoms evenly. Let cool until hard.
  • Gently whisk remaining 1/3 cup sugar and eggs in a medium bowl. Add cream, half-and-half, and vanilla; gently whisk to combine (do not aerate). Let sit until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium pitcher to eliminate air pockets.

  • Place ramekins in a roasting pan lined with a kitchen towel; place pan on a large rimmed baking sheet. Divide custard among ramekins. Pour hot water into roasting pan to reach a little more than halfway up sides of ramekins. Cover pan with foil, crimping to seal. Carefully transfer to oven; cook for 25 minutes. Rotate pan. Cook until custard is set but center still jiggles when dish is nudged, 20–25 minutes longer.
  • Uncover roasting pan. Let flan cool in pan for 30 minutes. Remove ramekins and let cool completely. Cover with plastic; chill overnight.
  • Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. Unmold flans onto plates.
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Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Healthier Pesto Makeover - with Mustard Greens and Roasted Garlic!

I am a pesto addict. Basil, olive oil, a little bit of cheese. It's like God on a baguette/pasta/chicken/anything.

When I was in college and invincible (4 long years ago), I developed the most awful habit of grabbing a container of Buitoni pesto (still, to this day, the TASTIEST brand of pesto, in my opinion) and scooping it up with tortilla chips. Just straight. Pesto overload and my mouth loved it. I could eat the entire container in one sitting if I wanted to. BAD HABIT. Don't attempt at home. Don't let it happen to you.

Long gone are the days of dipping Tostitos into pesto (that sounds kind of gross now). As I'm quickly aging to a ripe 25 years, I'm looking for healthier alternatives to my favorites. And with all of the olive oil, salt, and cheese that can be found in grocery store pesto, it's time I give my gal pal pesto a little makeover.

I picked up this little recipe from Martha Stewart Living. It's her Mustard Green and Roasted Garlic Pesto. A pepperier mustard green replaces basil. And - now this is brilliant - Martha uses a heck of a lot of roasted garlic to replaces 75% of the oil you'd use in traditional pesto. It creates a creamy, hearty finish without the fat of oil and cheese.

To make this weekday friendly, I roasted my garlic on the weekend. I scraped it from the garlic skins and kept it on a tupperware overnight. You could make the entire pesto on the weekend and toss it onto whatever you'd like - pasta, chicken, fish - for an even faster weeknight meal. I served mine with Trader Joe's Garlic and Basil Linguine. That stuff is too hard to say NO! to.

And it was boyfriend approved.

TRT: 1 hour 15 min.

Here's what you need:
  • 2 medium heads garlic
  • 1 1/4 ounces almonds, toasted and roughly chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ounce Pecorino-Romano cheese, grated (1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 large bunch mustard greens, stems discarded, roughly chopped (4 cups)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Here's what you do:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wrap garlic in foil, and roast until flesh is completely tender, about 1 hour. Let cool completely. Squeeze garlic from skins, discarding skins.
  2. Pulse garlic, almonds, oil, cheese, mustard greens, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste, and 2 tablespoons water in a food processor until a thick paste forms.

"Can I have some, too, mom?"

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lemony Chicken Souvlaki

Some people might consider not posting on their blog in two months to be a failure. Those people would be right. Whatever.

I exited my unemployment, taking a little hiatus from happy life in order to get back to work and make some money. I finished up a photography class and have just been generally really busy over the past few weeks. I have been cooking a lot, but not posting at all. I made a caramelized onion quiche that was bomb. I made an espresso pound cake with cranberries and pecans. And too many others to recount.

Lately I have been using this bag of individually frozen chicken thighs to cook dinner. It saves me like...4 hours of defrosting chicken. These defrost well in the microwave. Actually, technically I don't think you need to defrost them, but tossing frozen thighs into the pan just feels weird. Plus, for this chicken souvlaki that I make tonight, they had to be cut up. But you should go check them out at Trader Joe's, in the frozen aisle. They're actually cheaper, pound for pound, and since they're individually frozen, you can cook up just one or two, or however many you need.

Souvlaki...the fancy, Greek way of saying skewer/kebab. So underrated. And perfect for a quick and satisfying meal.

Somebody get this kid a kebab.

I've been holding onto this recipe for 1 1/2 years, it was time to get on with it.

Here's what you need:

 Here's what you do: 
  1. Soak 8 small wooden skewers in water for at least 15 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine the celery, mint, crushed red pepper, 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, and ¹/₄ teaspoon each salt and black pepper.
  2. Heat grill to medium. In a second medium bowl, toss the chicken and onion with the lemon zest, the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¹/₄ teaspoon black pepper.
  3. Thread the chicken and onion onto the skewers and grill, uncovered, turning occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the onion is tender, 12 to 16 minutes. Grill the lemon halves until charred, 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Top the pitas with the celery mixture, chicken, and Feta. Serve with the lemons.

  Easy. Done in 30 minutes after I came home from Spinning class. Done and done.

Important to note, though: this recipe is pretty high in fat. I could easily have halved the amount of olive oil used. You could also make with a chicken breast instead of a thigh if you're trying to avoid fats.

Have a wonderful weekend. Hopefully I'll be back here before long