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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

Directions

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!

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Chinese Sausage Baked Buns

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I  bought a package of uncooked Chinese style sausage recently at my local supermarket and decided that this would be the way to go with it.

Raw Chinese style sausage

Raw Chinese style sausage

I thought about doing steamed buns, however; I couldn’t locate the steamer baskets for my wok. Baked buns, it is. The recipe I used for the dough was taken from Pinterest. I generally credit things like this, but I completely forgot to make note of the source. But for full disclosure, I did NOT create this dough recipe. If you search Pinterest for Chinese Baked Buns, you may stumble across it. The filling IS my creation. I just boiled the sausage to cook it through before making the filling. So, here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

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Filling:

3 Chinese Sausages, cooked and diced small

1 T. Fermented Black Bean Paste

2 T. Ketchup

2 T. Soy Sauce

1 T. Honey

2 T. Vegetable Oil

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Combine all the ingredients, except the sausage, and make a sauce/marinade.  Add the cooked, diced sausage and stir to evenly coat. Place in refrigerator until ready to assemble buns.

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Dough:

10 TBSP whole milk

4 TBSP butter

2 tsp rapid-rise (instant) dry yeast

2 1/2 TBSP lukewarm water

1 large egg

2 1/2 TBSP sugar

12 1/2 oz All-purpose flour (About 2-3/4 cups)

1 large egg, lightly beaten (To brush buns before baking)

Glaze:

2 TBSP honey mixed with 1 TBSP warm water

For the dough, melt the butter with the milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Set aside to cool for about 5 minutes, or until warm (about 110°F). (I melted butter in the microwave, added milk and microwaved another 15 seconds and then cooled briefly.)

Put the yeast in small bowl, add the water, and set aside for 1 minute to soften. Whisk in the milk mixture and the egg to blend.

Combine the sugar and flour in a food processor. Pulse two or three times to blend. With the machine running, pour the yeast mixture through the feed tube in a steady stream. After a sticky mass of very soft dough forms, about 5 seconds, (I added about 2 extra tablespoons of milk for mine to form the ball) continue processing for 45 to 60 seconds to form a smooth, slightly sticky dough that mostly cleans the bowl.IMG_20160210_121839764 The finished dough should stick a bit to your finger when pressed. Lightly oil a clean bowl and add the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm, draft-free place (for example, the oven with the light on) to rise for about 45 minutes, or until nearly doubled.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper before beginning to assemble the buns.

Remove the dough from the bowl and put on a lightly floured surface. Knead it a few times, then cut it in half. Cover one-half with plastic wrap or an inverted bowl to prevent drying. Roll out the dough into a 12-inch log, and then cut it into 8 or 16 pieces for medium or small buns, respectively. I find the bigger ones easier to handle and fill.IMG_20160210_132400953 (Halve or quarter the log first to make it easier to cut even-size pieces. The tapered end pieces should be cut a little longer than the rest.) Lightly roll each piece between your hands into a ball and then flatten each one into a 1/4-inch-thick disk. Use a wooden dowel-style rolling pin to roll the pieces into circles, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter for small or 3-1/4 inches in diameter for medium buns. The rim should be thinner than the center; keep a 1-inch-wide belly. The finished circle will rise as it sits. Lay the finished circles out on your work surface, lightly dusting their bottoms with flour if you fear they will stick.IMG_20160210_132704653

To form a bun, hold a dough circle in a slightly cupped hand. Use a spoon or fork to center about 2 teaspoons of filling for small buns, or about 4 teaspoons of filling for medium ones, on the dough circle, pressing down very gently and keeping about 1/2 to 3/4 inch of the dough clear on all sides; your hand will automatically close slightly.IMG_20160210_133007204 Use the thumb of the hand cradling the bun to push down the filling while the other hand pulls up the dough edge and pleats and pinches the rim together to form a closed satchel. (I don’t know about the crimping meticulously thing, but I got mine sealed and ball shaped.)

Pinch and twist the dough closed at the end. Place the bun pleat side down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough circles, spacing them 1-1/2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Loosely cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Set in a warm, draft- free place (for example, the oven with the light on) for 30 minutes to rise. Meanwhile, work on the other dough half to form more buns.IMG_20160210_133242039

To bake the buns, about 10 minutes before the rising time is over, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F. (Let the buns finish rising at room temperature if you’ve had them in the oven.)

Bake one baking sheet at a time, brushing the top and side of each bun with the egg right before baking.IMG_20160210_153039114 Bake small buns for about 14 minutes and medium buns for about 18 minutes, or until a rich golden brown; the cooked buns sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove them from the oven, set on a rack, and let cool for 5 minutes.

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Brushed with honey glaze

Brush the honey mixture on the buns for a sweet-glaze finish that will also soften the crust. Enjoy warm and out of hand. Refrigerate left- over buns for up to a week and reheat at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes, until hot. When making the buns in advance, wait to brush on the glaze until after you’ve reheated the buns. These buns may also be frozen for up to a month. Thaw them completely before reheating.

 

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My Dad’s Rolls

Dad's Yeast Rolls...none better!

Dad’s Yeast Rolls…none better!

It’s been decades since I’ve had a yeast roll made by my Dad. Well, he IS 88 years old and hasn’t really cooked in many years, to my knowledge. There was a time when he did, from time to time. In fact, I got really tired of his Shrimp Fried Rice (though it was really good!). His rolls were always welcome though. I tried to Google a recipe last thanksgiving and that recipe failed pretty miserably. So, I asked for the recipe soon after. What I got was an old recipe notecard with ingredients and pretty sparse instructions. I don’t know where the recipe originated. The card says to cut the dough in strips, stack in 3’s and “cut 1/2 inch and butter”. That’s not what my Dad did…I have no idea where he got his technique, but I like it. I’ll go over it in the recipe. Anyway, I made the recipe for the first time tonight and I feel like I have tasted my Dad’s rolls for the first time in decades. Kind of a big deal. Thanks, Dad!

Ingredients for Dad's Yeast Rolls.

Ingredients for Dad’s Yeast Rolls.

Dad’s Yeast Rolls

Dry ingredients:

4-1/2 cups All Purpose Flour

1/4 cup Sugar

1 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/4 cup Crisco Shortening

1 pkg. Dry Yeast

Wet ingredients:

1/4 cup Water, warm

1 cup Buttermilk, lukewarm

2 Eggs, slightly beaten

Melted Butter for brushing

Directions: Proof the yeast in the warm water. Meanwhile, add the dry ingredients to a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Blend the dry ingredients briefly. Add the Crisco and blend on medium speed until incorporated. Combine the wet ingredients and stir together. With the mixer running on medium speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.

The dough coming together.

The dough coming together.

When the dough comes together, switch to the dough hook attachment and run on low speed for 5 minutes, or until the dough is elastic and not sticky.

Low speed with the dough hook.

Low speed with the dough hook.

Grease the bowl or spray it lightly with nonstick spray. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover, and place in a warm draft-free place, until dough doubles in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Time to rise!

Risen!

Punch dough down…

Punching down the dough.

Punching down the dough.

…and roll out into a circle, about 1/4″ thick. Cut into 2″ circles.

Rolled and cut dough.

Rolled and cut dough.

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Fold the dough circles in half, using a slight pulling motion to stretch a little. Place on the baking sheet and brush with melted butter.

Folded and brushed with butter.

Folded and brushed with butter.

Heat oven to 400F and bake in the center of the oven for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter again.

Baked and butter brushed again. Mmm!

Baked and butter brushed again. Mmm!

Serve warm! These rolls are great with jam/jelly or gravy, too. Enjoy!

 

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Trader Joe’s Punjab Choley Pizza

Trader Joe's Punjab Choley Pizza

Trader Joe’s Punjab Choley Pizza

An unabashed appeal to Trader Joe’s to try my recipe and publish it on their website. Maybe get a plug for my blog…maybe a sponsor? I don’t mind hawking a few Trader Joe’s recipes…I regularly visit my local Trader Joe’s and enjoy their products. This recipe uses their very convenient pre-made pizza dough, a spicy Indian chick pea dish that comes in a shelf-stable package (and is really good over rice!), and their Authentic Greek Feta packaged in a little plastic tub of brine that lasts well in the refrigerator. This recipe is versatile and easy. Add more or less cheese, to your taste. Add garnishes to your liking…if I had some on hand when I made this, I would have used some finely diced cucumber and some cilantro leaves after the sour cream drizzle. A very light dusting of cumin would be nice. In the summer, some roasted or grilled veggies. Maybe add a sprinkle of corn kernels before baking…hey, it’s pizza…do whatever you like! So far, it’s vegetarian, but it doesn’t have to be. Add some diced ham or tandoori chicken, maybe? Enjoy!

Trader Joe’s Punjab Choley Pizza      created by Matt Miller

Ingredients:

1 Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough

1 pkg. Trader Joe’s Punjab Choley

2 to 3 ounces Trader Joe’s Authentic Greek Feta, crumbled (to taste)

2 to 3 ounces Trader Joe’s Shredded Mozzarella (to taste)

3 T. Trader Joe’s Sour Cream

1 t. Trader Joe’s Half’n’Half or Heavy Cream

All –Purpose Flour, for dusting

Olive Oil or Non-Stick Spray

Directions:

Coat a mixing bowl with olive oil or spray with non-stick spray. Place dough in the bowl and turn to coat in oil/spray. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.

Dough and Punjab Choley

Dough and Punjab Choley

Preheat oven to 475F and place pizza stone in the center of the oven, if you have one, and prepare pizza on a flour dusted pizza peel  or cutting board. Otherwise, prepare the pizza and use a flour dusted pizza pan or pizza screen. First, squeeze bubbles out of dough and roll out in a circular shape to about 14”. Use a fork to poke holes in the dough all over. This is called “docking” and reduces large bubbles forming in the oven. Empty the contents of the Trader Joe’s Punjab Choley onto the center of the dough. Spread the Punjab Choley evenly across the pizza.

Assembled and just put in the oven.

Assembled and just put in the oven.

Distribute the mozzarella and feta cheeses evenly across the pizza as well. I recommend not covering with mozzarella as heavily as you would an Italian pizza.

Transfer the pizza onto the pizza stone or place the pizza pan in the oven. Bake until bottom is golden brown and the cheeses are bubbly and lightly browned.

Cooked and cut.

Cooked and cut.

While the pizza is baking, mix the sour cream and half’n’half or cream together to make a thick sauce. I like to put the mixture into a zip lock bag, seal and squeeze into one corner.  IMAG2454When the pizza comes out of the oven, cut into pieces and serve hot. Just before service, cut a tiny corner off of the zip lock bag and squeeze a drizzle of the sauce onto each piece. Enjoy!

Drizzled with sour cream and served.

Drizzled with sour cream and served.

Optional: You can garnish with finely diced cucumber and/or cilantro leaves, if you like.

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Sandy Cauliflower and Cheese

Fresh out of the oven!

Fresh out of the oven!

This is a roasted cauliflower recipe that also includes dry breadcrumbs and cheese. I have tried a couple of roasted cauliflower recipes lately that used a thin batter and a buffalo sauce. They were okay, but the batter reminded me of PlayDoh…it cooked, but didn’t brown and it just tasted salty. I thought a breadcrumb recipe would be better, but not a standard au gratin recipe with a crumb topping. I wanted to toss the cauliflower in the crumbs. But I feared the crumbs would burn if I tossed them at the start, so I came up with the following recipe. Enjoy!

Sandy Cauliflower and Cheese

Cauliflower tossed with olive oil and garlic

Cauliflower tossed with olive oil and garlic

1 head Cauliflower

2 T. Olive Oil

2 cloves Fresh Garlic

1 t. Kosher Salt

1 cup Dried Bread Crumbs

4 T. Butter

4 oz Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven to 400F. Wash and break down cauliflower into medium florets. Spin dry in a salad spinner or dry on paper towels. Toss with olive oil. Finely chop garlic or pass garlic through a press. Toss garlic and salt with cauliflower and olive oil. Roast cauliflower on a sheet pan for 20 minutes or until starting to brown on the edges.

Cauliflower with olive oil and garlic after 20 minutes in the oven

Cauliflower with olive oil and garlic after 20 minutes in the oven

While the cauliflower is roasting, melt butter in a 8″ non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and toss until the butter is distributed. Continue to toss occasionally until breadcrumbs are evenly toasted, about 10 minutes. Remove breadcrumbs from heat and set aside.

Browned bread crumbs

Browned bread crumbs

Add crumbs to melted butter

Add crumbs to melted butter

When the cauliflower comes out of the oven, put the florets in a large mixing bowl and add the breadcrumbs. Toss to coat evenly.

Toss with bread crumbs and transferred to baking dish

Toss with bread crumbs and transferred to baking dish

Transfer the cauliflower to a baking dish and return to the oven for 10 more minutes.  Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the cauliflower and return to oven another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Don’t add too much cheese. Serve hot and enjoy!

Not too heavy on the cheese!

Not too heavy on the cheese!

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Salted Baked Potatoes and Roasted Cabbage Steaks

How about some salt-baked Yukon Gold Potatoes and some Garlic-Rubbed Cabbage Steaks and maybe some soup?

How about some salt-baked Yukon Gold Potatoes and some Garlic-Rubbed Cabbage Steaks and maybe some soup?

I call this my “Nouveau Irish” combo! You can find the recipe for the Cabbage Steaks on Pinterest…basically it’s 425 degrees for 25 minutes per side. Cut them so that the root holds it all together. Brush both sides with olive oil and garlic that has been run through a garlic press or minced fine. For the potatoes, I can’t remember where I heard about coating them in salt. I’ve been doing it for ever for baked potatoes. I use kosher salt these days, but regular salt works fine. Wash your potatoes and, while still wet, pour a couple of tablespoons of salt in your hand. Roll a potato in your hand until coated. (I know, you waste some salt. So, don’t use your fancy fleur de sel or pink Himalayan salt.) Basic salt is pretty cheap. Repeat with all potatoes. If you are doing large bakers, you can bake at 450 degrees for an hour. If you are doing the cabbage combo, use smaller potatoes, like Yukon Gold or Redskin and heat your oven to 425 degrees. The 50 minutes for the cabbage works out for the potatoes, too.

Salt-Baked Yukon Gold Potatoes and Garlic Rubbed Roasted Cabbage Steaks

Salt-baked Yukon Gold potatoes and Garlic Rubbed Roasted Cabbage Steaks

While you can eat the skins of the traditional bakers (usually Russet) and the salt-roasting makes them better, the smaller ones are REALLY good! I like the cabbage “as is”, but you can drizzle with a little Balsamic vinegar or pepper vinegar. Serve the potatoes with butter and sour cream or your favorite baked potato toppings. (I like salsa on them in the Summer!) If you are a meateater, some corned beef would complete the combo nicely. Enjoy!

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