Basic Flan

Basic Flan. Yum!

Flan. Not what most kids want for dessert. But, if you can get them to TRY it, many will like it. As an adult, with more mature tastes, almost everyone will appreciate it. Flan is a custard that is pretty firm, and is baked with caramelized sugar that becomes a syrupy sauce.

Many cultures have a version of flan, especially Latino and Hispanic cuisines. The one I am doing here is a pretty simple, basic Mexican style flan. I ordered a flan pan via the internet to cook mine in; however, you can use an 8″x3″ deep cake pan or something similar, with or without the water bath. Using the water bath, I believe is supposed to give a more even heat and a finer texture.

Here’s the recipe:

Basic Whole Egg Flan

5 whole eggs

1 can of evaporated milk

1 can of condensed milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup granulated white sugar


Preheat oven to to 350F. Add sugar to a small saucepan, preferably non-stick, over medium heat. Pay close attention and stir often. Adjust heat as necessary.

Starting the caramel.

Sugar starting to melt. Stir!

In a large mixing bowl, add 5 whole eggs. (I remove the little white globs with a fork, or you could strain, after mixing in other ingredients.) Add condensed and evaporated milks and vanilla. Combine well, using a wire whip.

Eggs and milks.

When the sugar is completely melted, it should be a nice amber color. It will burn VERY quickly, so don’t push it too much and pay close attention! It will be extremely hot and sticky, so handle with care! I think I went just a bit too long, as some stuck to the pan and was hardened. (see photo below)

Caramel is ready!

Carefully pour the caramel into the flan pan or baking pan.

Caramel in the pan.

Ladle the egg mixture into the pan. I probably should have let the caramel set-up just a minute or two. We’ll see how it turns out. (see photo below)

Custard mixture added.

If using flan pan and water bath, affix lid to flan pan, place in a larger, oven safe dish, on a sheet pan or other larger baking pan. Add boiling water to the bath pan, coming halfway up the flan pan. Carefully transfer to preheated oven.

In the water bath and oven.

If not using flan pan  or water bath, just put baking pan on a cookie sheet onto the oven rack. Oven rack should be in the center of the oven. Bake for 60 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Refrigerate for a least a couple hours prior to serving.

Out of the oven and cooling.

To serve, run a knife around the sides to release, invert a serving dish onto the flan baking dish. Make sure you have a dish that will hold the caramel liquid, without overflowing!

I used a pie plate to invert my flan onto.

Carefully, but quickly flip over, and then remove the baking dish.

Ta da!!! Looks like I should have let the caramel set for just a minute, but looks pretty good.

Some caramel hardened onto the pan. Next time, remove from heat sooner?

Heading to the fridge for a couple of hours.

Cut into servings, plate, spoon syrup over.

May be served with whipped cream and/or berries, if desired.

You can find versions of flan with various flavors, such as coffee, chocolate, pumpkin, almond, coconut, and more. Once you are comfortable with the basic recipe, try some variations! Enjoy!

UPDATE  (9/2/17)  Since the initial post, I’ve made a couple more flan and experimented a little. First, the hardened caramel kind of bugged me, so I’ve tried to remove it from the heat sooner…just trying to make sure its completely melted. I also have given just a couple of minutes before adding the custard mixture. I’m still getting some hardened caramel, though. But I’ve found that I can break it up, and either eat it like candy, or try to melt it in a sauce pan with a couple tablespoons of water and then pour it back over the flan, after it has cooled. Melting it again takes some time and constant vigilance, though.

Eat it,or melt it?

It has produced a better top surface…nice and smooth.

Nice smooth top.

Other experimentation, has been in flavoring variations. The above photo is actually a coffee flavored flan. I just dissolved some instant coffee, about 1/3 cup, into just enough water to dissolve it. I stirred than into the custard mix until well combined. I think it was very good.

The other variation, that I did today, was chocolate. For this one, I added 1/3 cup cocoa powder directly to the custard. It was a little messy and slow to get mixed in, but I worked at it and prevailed! Here are a few photos of that flan coming out of the pan:

Out of the oven and lid removed.

Smooth, glassy top!


Nice! Definitely has that cocoa powder chocolate flavor.



Making Bagels


So, I’ve made bagels once before, but it’s been awhile. For some reason, I just felt like making a batch. Who knew that today (February 9th) is National Bagel Day?! Was there something subliminal going on there? These won’t be baked until the following day, though…but I made the dough and shaped them on National Bagel Day. That still counts, right? Right.

To give credit, where credit is due, I am using a recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, by way of a website: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/. The recipe makes 12 bagels. It begins with a “sponge”, which is similar to a sourdough starter, except all the ingredients are fresh. About half of the flour is used with all of the water and half of the yeast. After a couple of hours, the sponge is combined with the rest of the ingredients to make the dough. After the dough is made, kneaded, and portioned, it is allowed to rise. Once formed, the bagels relax briefly and then are refrigerated overnight. The process is finished in the morning.



1 t. Instant yeast

4 c. Bread flour

2-1/2 c. Water


1 t. Instant yeast (original recipe calls for 1/2 t., but mine has been in the fridge for awhile, so….)

3-3/4 c. Bread flour

2-3/4 t. salt (why not 3? I don’t know, but I followed directions here.)

2 t. malt powder (not malted milk powder) You could substitute a tablespoon of malt syrup, honey, or brown sugar, according to the recipe. (I used a tablespoon of molasses.)

1 T. baking soda (to add to boiling water for cooking)

Corn meal for dusting the baking sheet

Toppings, if desired. Poppy seeds, dehydrated chopped onion or garlic, salt, sesame seeds, etc. (I don’t do sesame, due to an allergy in the family.) I made my own mixture for Everything Bagels.*

Day or Evening Before

Make the sponge. Combine the ingredients and mix to combine. It will be wet and sticky. Cover and allow to rise for about 2 hours.

Sponge for making bagels

Sponge for making bagels

The sponge has risen!

The sponge has risen!

Make the dough. After rising, add 3 cups flour, yeast, salt, and malt powder (or substitute) to the dough and mix as well as you can.

Turn out on a clean, floured surface and begin kneading, using the last 3/4 c. flour to keep from sticking, incorporating it as you go. Knead for 10 minutes.

Kneading the dough.

Kneading the dough.

Immediately after kneading, divide the dough into 12 equal portions (about 4-1/2 oz). My scale is broken, so I had to eyeball it. Line a sheet pan with parchment and lightly spray with non-stick spray. Shape the portions into balls and put them on the cooking sheet. Cover the dough balls with a damp towel or damp paper towels and let rest for twenty minutes.

Divide the dough and shape into balls.

Divide the dough and shape into balls.

After resting, use your thumb to punch a hole in the center of each dough ball, and rotate the dough around to widen the hole. Try to maintain even thickness all the way around the bagel.

Shaping the dough.

Shaping the dough.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. You are done until tomorrow morning!

Ready for the refrigerator, overnight.

Ready for the refrigerator, overnight.

The Next Morning

Preheat the oven to 500F. Prepare a baking sheet with a sprinkle of corn meal. Bring a large, preferably wide, pot of water to a boil. Add the baking soda and stir to dissolve. This helps the dough brown properly, when baked. The original recipes from many, many years ago, called for lye. For some reason, that is frowned upon these days. (Seriously, don’t do it.) While the water is boiling, drop bagels in, one at a time, until the surface is covered. Boil for one minute, flip over carefully, boil for another minute.

Boiling the bagels.

Boiling the bagels.

Place the boiled bagels on the baking sheet and, if using toppings, apply them at this point, while bagels are still moist. Continue until all bagels have been boiled and topped.

I did half "Everything" and half plain.

I did half “Everything” and half plain.

Place the bagels in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to 450F, rotate the pan, and cook for another 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Remove from the oven and cool…until you can’t stand it any more! Note: my bagels took about 18 minutes, actually.

Done! How long can I wait? Not long!

Done! How long can I wait? Not long!

My “Everything Bagel Topping” without sesame seeds: I used about two tablespoons each of Roasted, salted sunflower seeds, minced dehydrated garlic, chopped dehydrated onions, and then about a tablespoon of poppy seeds. I used a mortar and pestle to break up the big stuff a little before adding the poppy seeds.

My "Everything Bagel Topping", no sesame seeds.

My “Everything Bagel Topping”, no sesame seeds.


Traditional Scottish Shortbread

32 year holiday tradition!

32 year holiday tradition!

Well, I thought I had documented this recipe somewhere before, but I could not find the entire process anywhere. So, this is it! I was reading food magazines and cookbooks when I was a kid (along with comic books). In 1983, Cuisine Magazine printed an article called “My Father’s Scottish Shortbread”. It was a beautiful remembrance of a woman’s Father and his tradition of making Scottish shortbread, by hand, and how he passed it along to her. I kept that magazine and faithfully re-read the article every year and followed the process religiously for decades. Eventually, I lost the magazine. Then, with age, my hands started having trouble with creaming the sugar into cold butter and then working in the flour. I have, in the last few years, adapted to using my KitchenAid mixer to make the dough.

Creaming sugar into COLD butter.

Creaming sugar into COLD butter.

You just have to make sure the butter doesn’t warm and soften, or it will separate. Once you start the dough, you need to work steadily until it is back in the refrigerator.

Also, the tradition was to make the shortbread only between around November through February or March. This was when the cows were brought in from pasture for the Winter and they switched from eating a variety of plants to eating grain. “Summer milk” is less consistently flavored than “Winter milk”, so goes the butter. However, with today’s milk production practices, that isn’t really true anymore…unless you get your milk from a friend’s cow and make your own butter.

The recipe is deceptively simple. Just four ingredients. But the process is a little more intense. And, unless you are really good or have someone make you a frame, the dough may not have the same dimensions every time. The important part is to get the thickness pretty uniform, about 3/8″, and the length and width in dimensions the one side can be marked off in one inch increments and the other side in two inch increments.

Dough rolled out and scored.

Dough rolled out and scored.

Then you use a straight edge and score the pieces and mark each with the tines of a fork, three times. This is both for decoration and prevents the dough from puffing up during baking. I roll my dough on parchment or wax paper.

Ready for the refrigerator.

Ready for the refrigerator.

Make sure you have a refrigerator shelf clear and transfer the dough to it. I carefully slide my dough onto a cutting board to move it to the fridge.

Using cutting board for dough transfer.

Using cutting board for dough transfer.

The dough needs to chill for at least 30 minutes; otherwise, the cookies will spread when they bake. When ready, you carefully break into pieces and bake.


1 lb real Butter (I use lightly salted)

1 cup Sugar

4 cups unbleached All Purpose Flour

1 teaspoon Salt (1/2 tsp, if using salted butter)


Cream the sugar in the cold butter, until well blended, but still cold. Add the flour until the dough is starting to come together. It will be crumbly. Don’t overwork it. Using you hands, press it all together and compact it into a dough. Overlap a couple of pieces of wax or parchment paper. Roll dough out and form a rectangle about 3/8″ thick and about 10″x 15″. That can vary. See notes above. Mark 1″ x 2″ pieces, score the dough and prick each piece three times with the tines of a fork. Transfer to refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes.



Preheat the oven to 325F. Put the dough on ungreased cookie sheets leaving an inch or so between them. Pop in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.

Ready for the oven.

Ready for the oven.

Immediately turn oven temperature down to 275F. Do not open the door for 30 minutes! What you are looking for is a sand color for the tops and lightly browned on the bottom.

Light brown bottoms.

Light brown bottoms.

Sad colored tops.

Sand colored tops.

You make have some ready before others, depending on size and thickness. It may take 40 to 50 minutes to finish cooking each batch. Reheat oven before the next batch goes in, but don’t forget to adjust it back down as soon as the dough goes in the oven. Remove to wire racks to cool. They smell great, but need to cool to really be good. Enjoy!




Yellow Squash Banana Bread

Mmm...warm Yellow Squash Banana Bread!

Mmm…warm Yellow Squash Banana Bread!

I’m making a version of this recipe that I found at :http://www.cooks.com/recipe/5s7g16m9/squash-banana-nut-bread.html   I always like to give credit to my sources and recommend them.

The recipe is as follows:



1/2 c. butter, softened

1 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. brown sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 med. bananas, mashed

1 c. grated raw squash

2 c. all­purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. chopped nuts

In a large mixing bowl cream butter with sugars. Blend in eggs and vanilla, then bananas and grated squash. In separate bowl sift together dry ingredients and beat into first mixture. Stir in nuts. Pour into greased, floured 9×5 inch loaf pan. 350 degrees 55­60 minutes.<<<

So, I made a couple of minor changes. None of us are big fans of nuts in brownies and breads, so I left them out. The recipe sounded a little bland without any spices, so I added a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a 1/2 teaspoon of ground allspice. In addition to those minor ingredient changes, I also baked mine in 5 mini loaf pans, instead of the single large loaf. I baked them at 350F for 30 to 35 minutes, testing with a skewer for doneness. (Mine did take the extra five minutes.)

Filled the mini loaf pans about 2/3 to 3/4 full.

Filled the mini loaf pans about 2/3 to 3/4 full.

The results were delicious! They were not overpowered by the spice, but it was a good tweak. The banana flavor comes through nicely. The kids love them…and THEN I told them that there was yellow squash in them. My son was shocked, but could not deny how good they tasted! (I had one that stuck to the pan a little and got a little messed up, so it was sacrificed to sampling.) This recipe WILL be used again! Enjoy!


Cheddar and Garlic Biscuits…MMM!

I have used the following recipe with great success and it’s very simple. I highly recommend it and give credit where credit is due. Please note the copyright included below and do not copy, forward, or print any of the contents without it!

>>>Recipe: Classic 3-Ingredient Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish

Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 12 min | Yield: About 6 to 12 biscuits


  • 2 cups of cold soft, winter wheat, self-rising Southern flour (like White Lily brand)
  • 1/4 cup very cold butter, shortening or lard
  • 3/4 cup cold real buttermilk


Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Coat a 10 inch cast iron skillet with additional shortening or oil and place into the oven for 5 minutes. Put the flour into a bowl and cut the very cold butter into cubes and toss in the flour. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into flour until it is crumbly. Add buttermilk and use a fork to mix very lightly. Dough will be very shaggy.

Put a bit of additional flour on the countertop and scoop dough out. Sprinkle a small amount of flour over the top and gently push together to form a rectangle. Do not overhandle the dough. Take the short sides of the rectangle and fold them in toward the middle, turn the dough, gently press down into a rectangle again and repeat. Repeat this folding once more and pat into desired thickness, usually about an inch. This folding creates flaky layers in the biscuits.

Using a biscuit cutter or the rim of a small juice glass, cut out into rounds, taking care not to twist the cutter and gently gather scraps for the last biscuits. Transfer biscuits to the prepared skillet or baking pan and bake at 500 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown on top and cooked through.

Cook’s Notes: This recipe uses self-rising, Southern soft wheat flour. Do not use regular all purpose flour.

To Freeze: Prepare as above, except set down parchment on or butter a baking sheet that will fit in your freezer. Once you’ve cut out the biscuits lay them out on the pan, freeze until they are set and then transfer to a freezer bag. To bake, reduce oven temp to 375 degrees F, and bake until browned and cooked through, about 25 minutes more or less, checking at 22.

Herbed Biscuit Variation: Add up to 1 tablespoon of fresh, chopped herbs. Good choices include sage, chives, parsley, dill, thyme, or a combination. Reduce to about 2 teaspoons max if using dried herbs. Make biscuits a smaller tea size for a potluck, church supper or a party and fill with Chutney Chicken Salad.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com<<<          http://www.deepsouthdish.com/2008/10/perfect-buttermilk-biscuits.html#axzz3hsC3wqoy

Mmmm...cheesy deliciousness!

Mmmm…cheesy deliciousness!

Now, my variation is to add a scant half teaspoon of garlic powder and a half cup of fine shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the flour and mix well, AFTER cutting in the butter and BEFORE adding the buttermilk. (You could add some parsley or chives, but my kids would refuse them if they had green specks, so I didn’t.)

In the oven.

In the oven.

And I brush the biscuits with melted garlic butter when they come out of the oven.

Done! Garlic buttered!

Done! Garlic buttered!

Great to go with dinner! Enjoy!

Oh YEAH, Babe!

Oh YEAH, Babe!


Yellow Squash Casserole with Swiss Cheese and Cream of Mushroom Soup


So, I’ve had this really easy recipe for a chicken dish that I got out of Southern Living Magazine decades ago. It’s boneless chicken, swiss cheese, cream of mushroom soup, white wine, bread crumbs and melted butter…baked for 45 minutes at 350F. Now that I have to cook for a vegetarian, I need to try some new things. I was looking for something to do with yellow squash from my garden and I decided to make this recipe.

Yellow Squash Casserole with Swiss Cheese & Cream of Mushroom Soup

Most of the ingredients for the casserole.

Most of the ingredients for the casserole.

5 c. Yellow Squash. cut into approx. 1″ cubes

1 medium Sweet Onion, thinly sliced

1 can Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup

About 2 cups of Shredded Swiss Cheese

2 cups Plain Panko Bread Crumbs

1/4-1/3 c. Dry White Wine

Salt & Pepper, to taste

5 T. Butter, divided


Preheat oven to 350F. In a small saute pan, melt 2 T. butter over medium heat. Add onions and saute until softened, but not browned. Spread the onions evenly over the bottom of a large casserole dish.

Sauteing onions

Sauteing onions

Cover with yellow squash and season with salt and pepper.

Onions, squash, salt and pepper.

Onions, squash, salt and pepper.

Evenly distribute the shredded swiss cheese over the squash.

Swiss cheese.

Swiss cheese.

In a bowl, mix the cream of mushroom soup and the wine. Ladle the soup mixture over the casserole, to cover.

Mushroom soup layer.

Mushroom soup layer.

Next, cover the casserole with the panko bread crumbs. Melt the remaining 3 T. butter and drizzle over the bread crumbs.

Panko and butter drizzle.

Panko and butter drizzle.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 35 to 40minutes, until bubbling throughout. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve hot, over rice.

Served over rice...yum!

Served over rice…yum!

Vegetarian approved…and I liked it too! Enjoy!


Minnie’s Cinnamon Rolls

Leftover dough equals cinnamon roll goodness!

Leftover dough equals cinnamon roll goodness!

So, with the scraps from Dad’s Yeast Rolls dough, after cutting out the rolls, I made some cinnamon rolls this morning. This takes me back to circa 1979, to my first job: Morrison’s Cafeteria. There was a short, snaggle-toothed, older German lady there that did all the baking. There was always some leftover dough and, with both managers weighing in at over 350lbs…maybe 400+…they gave her no arguement when she used it to make some of the best cinnamon rolls ever known to man! Those memories have led me to name this blog entry after Minnie. She looked like a bulldog, baked like an angel, and had a heart of gold. Thanks, Minnie!

Because I had just a handful of dough, I made my cinnamon rolls in a rolled loaf and cut them after baking. If I were dedicating a whole dough recipe to cinnamon rolls, I would roll it out a bit thinner, cut the roll into rounds, and place them on the baking sheet. The leftover dough from the previous night was wrapped in plastic overnight. If making same day, follow Dad’s Yeast Rolls recipe through until punching down the dough, after the first rise.

Sprinkled liberally with brown sugar and cinnamon and rolled.

Sprinkled liberally with brown sugar and cinnamon, rolled and brushed with butter.

The basic procedure is to roll out the dough into a rectangle, about as thin as pizza dough…maybe not quite that thin. Bush the dough with melted butter, scatter brown sugar over the dough to cover. Leave a little room around the edges. Sprinkle ground cinnamon over the brown sugar. Drizzle with a little more melted butter. (Optional: at this point, you could add some chopped pecans, if you like.) Roll the dough tightly, along the long side of the rectangle. Now, for my leftover batch, I baked the whole roll, brushed with more melted butter. For a larger batch, gently cut 1″ pieces and carefully lay them out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 400F oven until nicely browned. I have to admit, I didn’t set a timer or note the cooking time exactly, but it was probably about 15 minutes. Brush with melted butter and drizzle with icing, if you like.

Baked roll.

Baked roll.

For the icing drizzle, I eyeballed a couple spoons of powdered sugar and a tablespoon or so of half’n’half. Powdered sugar doesn’t need much to liquify, so go easy! Use a wire whip to whisk thoroughly and eliminate any lumps. Use a spoon to drizzle over the rolls. Enjoy!

Drizzled with icing.

Drizzled with icing.