Sunday, July 28, 2019

Leche Flan


12 egg yolks
1 can evaporated milk, especially Carnation brand
1 can condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
  2. Whisk egg yolks gently, then add condensed milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla extract and stir until combined. (If you whisk too hard, you'll get little bubbles in your flan.)
  3. Add the sugar and water to a pot over medium heat and cook until sugar dissolves. Lower heat and cook, shaking pan (don't stir!) until dark golden brown. Pour melted sugar into a baking pan (I used a 9-inch cake pan) and tilt pan around until evenly coated. Let set for a few minutes until it hardens.
  4. Pour the milk and egg mixture through a fine sieve into the pan, on top of the caramel. Take a baking tray or dish—anything that is large enough to fit your flan—and place the pan inside. Pour about an inch of boiling water into the large, outside tray. Put the tray (with the pan inside) into the oven and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, around 50 to 60 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the water bath and let cool. Then, refrigerate until cold. (Don't rush this! If it it's too warm, it might fall apart.) Once cold, run a knife around the edges. Invert onto a rimmed serving plate (there will be extra syrup that flows around it).
Recipe from food 52:

The Leche Flan That Helped 3 Generations of Women Find Their Way
One family's story in 12 egg yolks and a river of caramel sauce.
July  9, 2019

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, a writer shares the story of a single dish that's meaningful to them and their loved ones.

Leche flan doesn’t particularly stand out on a table of desserts. The baked custard is an inch high at most, and unassuming shades of pale yellow and brown. At family parties, it didn’t hold a candle in the looks department compared to showy Goldilocks cakes or vibrant ube ice cream. However, it is the first dessert to disappear, hotly contested in the ancient Filipino tradition of taking home days of leftovers after a gathering.

Rich and velvety, leche flan is the Philippines’ answer to Spanish flan. It’s a dish for celebrations—birthday parties, graduations, anniversaries—given the call for a hefty dozen egg yolks. Condensed and evaporated milk make the custard extra creamy and thick, and are much easier to keep good in steamy Filipino weather.
I can’t think of leche flan without thinking of the Salvador women, especially my lola(grandma), Nelia. Her food figures prominently in my childhood: tortang tilong with eggplant from her garden, bowls of salty-sweet chicken adobo, impossibly crispy lumpia that took a production line of relatives to prep, assemble, and fry. But it’s her leche flan, surrounded by a river of caramel sauce, that I remember most.

My lola brought her leche flan recipe with her when she immigrated from Manila to Brooklyn in 1971. She came alone to work as a nurse, her husband and children following behind a year later. I think of the courage it must have taken to come to an unfamiliar country by herself. Brooklyn was worlds away from her former life: bone-chilling winters, crammed apartments, people who resented her community’s presence but happily used their labor. Only decades later did she reveal that she cried almost every day from sheer loneliness.

In spite of their hardships, Lola and Lolo carved out a new life in the States. They worked tireless, long hours at their jobs, she as a nurse and he as an accountant. Though they cultivated a circle of friends in the Filipino community and raised four children, I don’t think America ever felt like home to them in the same way the Philippines did. My grandparents came for a chance to give their children better prospects and worked hard to achieve that. Survival was primary. I don’t think the luxury of feeling “at home” was something that ever crossed their minds.

Lola’s leche flan recipe calls for 12 egg yolks, a true extravagance. My mom remembers that Lola could make it with just four or six eggs in lean times. At fiestas, leche flan was a perfect window back into their old life. Despite their circumstances, Lola always set her table with largesse. Relatives mentioned how she could stretch a single egg across her behemoth of a wok, so everyone would get a piece.

When my paternal grandfather passed away, I was surprised to see Lola join us on the flight to Florida. She barely knew my grandma and didn’t speak great English. Lola, however, made short work of little barriers like that. She cooked Western food that was unfamiliar to her and tidied their condo until spotless. Once I saw her and my other grandma sitting in silence next to each other. They didn’t talk and I don’t think they needed to. Compassion is quiet.
My mother, Clariza, like many first generation daughters, worked hard in school growing up, went to a good college, and then moved back in with her parents. She broke the mold when she announced she was moving to Los Angeles. The family was aghast. Lolo (briefly) disowned her. But Lola quietly packed a bag and flew across the country to help my mother find a place.

Fresh out of nursing school, my mom was nervous when introduced to my dad, one of her first patients at UCLA. They both distinctly remember her tangling him up in a mess of IV tubing. A few years after getting married, they moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to raise my twin brother and me. Chapel Hill is a liberal spot in a decidedly conservative state, but the South was wildly different from what my mother knew.

Southern suburbia is a peculiar beast. It’s a world of often difficult-to-navigate social politics, invisible to the naked eye, and deceptively insular communities. Years can pass before you break in. Eventually, she learned the intricacies of the PTA, summer camps, cotillion (a blessedly short run-in, thank god), club soccer, the local church, and what it actually means when someone says “Bless your heart.”

Most of all, Mom made leche flan. She baked it for new neighbors, for work, for potlucks, for class projects, and after school events. Today I believe my mother made leche flan as an introduction to who she was. At potlucks, it was an unfamiliar but welcome addition to the dessert table. Several co-workers specifically requested leche flan every year for the Christmas party. Even finicky elementary school kids liked its simplicity and gentle richness.
My mother’s leche flan, like her, is quiet and unobtrusive at first. She’s made of quiet steel. She’s told me about interactions where patients pointedly stated they did not want “her kind” taking care of them or the time a receptionist at a nannying agency told her “We’re not hiring” when she came to find a babysitter.

“Why didn’t you yell at them, mom?” I demanded. “Why didn’t you make a scene and storm out?”

My brother and I look ambiguous enough to pass as white, which means we don't necessarily look Filipino. Growing up, people would say to us: “I thought you were mixed with something but didn’t know what.” (This always felt like a more appropriate comment for show dogs, but okay.) My ability to pass for white also means that my life has smoother edges where it was jagged for my mother and her family. In the Philippines, an entire skin whitening industry exists because of a post-colonial legacy that positioned whiteness as the beauty standard. Filipina women who look mestiza, mixed, are celebrated in a way that darker-complexioned, curly-haired Filipina women are not.

Growing up, I picked leche flan over other desserts because 1) it is ridiculously delicious and 2) I wanted to show that even if I didn’t look quite like my mom’s family, I was a part of them. I started cooking Filipino food as a way to connect with my family’s culture. Adobo? Check. Sinigang? No problem. Leche flan, on the other hand, evaded my efforts. It curdled, it bubbled, it emerged with a tire-like texture. I became quietly transfixed by the idea that producing the perfect flan would give me, after all these years, some sort of credit.

When I went to college, I joined a program where I split four years between Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and Milan. My cohort was a diverse mix of students from all around the world, all of whom seemed to have a tight grasp on what they were—Italian, Taiwanese, Norwegian, Indian. In Los Angeles, I joined a Filipino student group. The club members could not have been more welcoming, but I couldn’t shake my internal conviction that I was taking up space I didn’t earn.
How much of a claim to my heritage do I have? In identifying as Filipino-American without fully looking the part or speaking Tagalog, am I just unfairly taking the good without the harsh realities most face? When does 50 percent round up? Many people think that it’s a product of our “snowflake generation” to obsess over identity instead of actual problems. But as Bo Ren so eloquently said, I’m endlessly grateful for my mother and grandmothers’ struggles for survival and acceptance, all so I could be tasked with the luxury of self-actualization.

One day, I finally turned out a beautiful leche flan. It was soft and perfect and didn’t curdle. My roommates loved it, yet my official Filipino badge never arrived. In fact, nothing else really changed for me.
“I did it,” I told my mom over the phone. “It turns out I just had to bake it in a water bath.”
“That’s great, honey!” she said. “But didn’t I tell you that from the beginning?”
I looked back at my notes from when she told me the recipe. “No … Mom, I wasted so many eggs.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought I told you!” she laughed. “You know, I messed up my first two because your lola didn’t say to only use egg yolks instead of whole eggs. Maybe it’s a tradition for the Salvador women to keep their recipes a secret. Maybe it’s a Filipino thing.”


Food is absolutely central to Filipino culture. One of the most common Tagalog greetings is “Kumain ka na ba?” Have you eaten yet? There’s no conceiving of a gathering of people that doesn’t revolve around food. People care passionately about what they eat, what they think you should eat and, above all, the opportunity to feed others.
The fact that I let a dessert become the crux of an identity crisis might make me more Filipino than anything else. I don’t have many of the answers to my questions about identity. Expecting a leche flan to do that was foolish. I may not have gotten an official badge, but I did connect with an integral part of Filipino culture.

To care so much about food, and to want to share it with others? It's a start. 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Lussekatter for Lucia!

1.5 tbsp of dry yeast
75 grams of butter
1 cup milk (I used lactaid and it was fine!)
3/4 cup quark (I used the unflavored but I like the vanilla flavored one better)
1/2 tsp saffron
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 cup all purpose flour
1 egg for the wash

1. Add the dry yeast to a mixing bowl.
2. Heat up the butter and the milk in a pan, mix so that the butter is dissolved and milk is warm to touch (but not hot).
3. Pour this butter milk mixture onto the dry yeast, mix and let sit for 10 minutes. The yeast will activate and the mix will start to foam.
4. After 10 minutes, remix the solution so that it is smooth and add in saffron, quark, sugar and salt. Mix well.
5. Add in most of the flour and work with your hands until it releases from the edges and is smooth.
6. Cover with a wet cloth and let it sit for half and hour. It should approximately double in size.
7. After the 30 minutes, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and work the dough until it is smooth and shiny. 
8. Roll the dough into a log and portion into 20 equally sized portions.
9. Take one portion, roll into a 20cm long cylindrical strip and curl two ends in different directions to form the 8 shape.
10. Lay out on baking trays. on cookie sheets, leaving room between the katter as they will expand.
11. Paint each katt with a whipped egg wash. Cover the tray with a wet cloth and let rise for 30 minutes- the katter will approximately double in size.
12. Dot the two ends of the katter with soaked raisins.
13. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350F, paying attention that the bottoms dont get burnt and the tops get a nice gold color. 

Delish! I have had versions where they work in some marsupan and those are delicious but I haven't tried making them yet. Next time!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Olives

This easy Moroccan recipe explains how to make classic Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives in an authentic tagine. Marinating the chicken for a few hours or overnight is optional.
Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives recipes are also available for conventional stove top preparation and slow roasting method.
The cooking time allows for bringing the tagine slowly to a simmer. Large chickens may require additional time.
Serves 4.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

  • 1 whole chicken, skin removed, cut into pieces

  • 2 large white or yellow onions, very finely chopped

  • one small handful of fresh cilantro, chopped*

  • one small handful of fresh parsley, chopped*

  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pressed

  • 2 teaspoons ginger

  • 1 teaspoon pepper

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric (or 1/4 teaspoon Moroccan yellow colorant)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon smen (Moroccan preserved butter - optional)

  • 1 handful green or red olives, or mixed

  • 1 preserved lemon, quartered and seeds removed

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 cup water, approximately
* Instead of chopping, you can tie the parsley and cilantro together into a bouquet and place on top of the chicken during cooking.
Prepare the Chicken
Remove the flesh from the preserved lemon, and finely chop it. Add the chopped lemon flesh to a bowl along with the chicken, onion, garlic, cilantro, parsley, spices and smen, and mix well. If time allows, let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or even overnight.
To Cook the Chicken
Add enough of the olive oil to the tagine to coat the bottom. Arrange the chicken in the tagine (flesh-side down), and distribute the onions all around.
Add the olives and preserved lemon quarters, and drizzle the remaining olive oil over the chicken. Add the water to the tagine, cover, and place on a diffuser over a medium-low heat.
Give the tagine time to reach a simmer without peaking. If you don't hear the tagine simmering within 20 minutes, slightly increase the heat, and then maintain the lowest heat setting required for maintaining a gentle, not rapid, simmer.
Allow the chicken to cook undisturbed for 80 to 90 minutes, and then turn the chicken over so that it's flesh side up. Cover the tagine again, and allow the chicken to finish cooking until very tender.
Turn off the heat, and let the tagine to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Moroccan tradition is to eat directly from the tagine, using Moroccan bread to scoop up the chicken and sauce. French fries are frequently served with this dish, and may even be placed on top of the chicken.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Pecan Pie and Pie Crust


3 eggs

1 cup of white sugar

1/2 cup dark Karo syrup

1 stick of butter or margarine (softened)

1 cup pecan halves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat eggs until light and fluffy.

Add sugar and beat again.

Add syrup, butter, pecans, salt and vanilla.

Mix ingredients together and pour into pie crust.

Cook on 350 F for 10 minutes; then reduce temperature to 325 F for 30 minutes.

Temperature reduction is to keep crust from burning.

Ovens vary in performance and cook times should be adjusted accordingly (I had to cook mine an additional 10 minutes).

edited to add: (The pie can look a little buttery until it is cooked completely. Some people have reported having to cook it an additional 20 minutes)

Pie is done when center jiggles like jello when you shake the pie.

Make sure the pie cools completely before you cut it.

Pie crust:

1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup white sugar

6 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)


Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter or margarine, and cinnamon until well blended.

Press mixture into an 8 or 9 inch pie plate.

Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 7 minutes. Cool. If recipe calls for unbaked pie shell, just chill for about 1 hour.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Coconut shrimp

1. Cut off the top of the coconut, and drain the water.

On the side, make a paste of mustard seeds, onions, and cilantro/coriander. Mix with shrimp. Add salt and mustard oil.

Put the entire mix into the coconut. Put coconut on some foil, and cook till the coconut is blackened, and the mix starts bubbling.

After a few minutes of the mix bubbling, take off the stove. Serve with rice.
You'll love the taste of the malai on the shrimp, I can guarantee you that!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Basil Chicken Meatball - italian style

Mix together minced chicken, chopped up basils, a little soya sauce and an egg. Roll into balls (rather large balls) and lay them out.

Fry them in heated oil till sides are golden brown. Afterwards, lay them out on a oven safe dish.

Pour out two cans of chopped tomatoes into a pot. Add garlic and chopped up basils, and salt to taste. Add one meatball to this all let this sit on low heat for a while, about 1 or 2 hours.

Spoon out ragu on top of meat balls. Top with cheese (gouda or parmesan) and bake on 175 C for 30 mins before serving.

Suggested side: Whole wheat lime chili spaghetti.

Boeuf Bourguignon -- finally a successful recipe.

Even if I discount for my usual obsession with the French cuisine, my love for boeff bourguignon (bb) is above most food. I have therefore attempted to make bb myself several times, with recipes from different chefs. Over time, I have tried with Julia Child's (too complicated), american versions on youtube and Swedish version on Swedish french food books (too...non french) and several others that I do not recall, only to be left disappointed by the eventual outcomes. Most often the problem I felt was that it was too bland, non rustic and flavor less. They unfortunately all lacked that particular je ne sais quoi of a proper french bb affair. So I decided to take matters into my own hand. I would create a recipe based on my culinary knowledge and what I could taste in the best bb I have ever had. I did this yesterday, and I don't mean to gloat but yay! It was tres magnifique!! Just as it should be!! So here is the recipe before it escapes me:

Take a good chunk of lean beef. I used a 0.8 kg chunk. Rub with a generous amount of paprika and salt so that a layer of this covers the whole meat. Poke with fork on all sides so that some spice enters the meat. Notice here that I have used a dry rub. Heat up a pan two tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is beginning to smoke -- put in the piece of beef to sear on all sides. This will seal the flavors.

When the meat has browned up on all sides, fish it out of the pan and lay it on a cutting board to rest.

Using the same oil, put in about 250 grams of turkey bacon cut into pieces and let them fry. Meanwhile, slice up the earlier piece of beef and make then into cubes. Size of the cubes are up to your discretion but they should not be very large, about one inch by half an inch. Also make sure they are approximately even sized. This will make sure that the beef cooks evenly.

When the bacon has fried for a bit, add in the rest of the cubed meat and and stir them in together.

Add about 2 table spoons of soya sauce and stir.

Add one cube of beef stalk dissolved in 1 cup of water.

Add one teaspoon on thyme. I used the dried version but I assume the fresh version would work equally well.

Add 2 cups of peeled and chopped carrots.

Add 1.5 cups of pearl onions, picked or fresh. I used pickled.

Add half a cup of chopped celery.

Top up with red wine till it just about covers everything. I used french Clos de la Cure (Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2008) and it worked really (really!) well.

Dissolve about 2 tablespoons of corn flour in 1.5 cups of water, and mix it in as well.

Add 3 bay leaves.

Now stir till everything is well mixed.

Let the mixture come to a boil.

Pour everything into an oven safe pot. You have to choose one that comes with a cover. I used a non over safe cover, and almost got it melted :P...but managed to save it in time.

Bake covered at 175 degrees for 4/5 hours...till the carrot becomes like butter at room temperature.


Its a lot of work but omg, you won't regret it ;).

Suggested side: Herb mashed potato.