Caramel Flan V1

flan

Gah…so January’s been eventful already! I’ve been so good with eating healthily as per the rituals of The January Detox (I’m currently eating a bowl of steamed purple sprouting broccoli…no jokes) that I started to reminisce about this mega easy flan I made for a huge Christmas feast last December.

Now there’s a reason that this recipe is called version 1, because this produces quite a firm flan with more of a bite than a creme caramel’s soft unctuousness, but it’s yummy, velvety and uses whole eggs. Which is handy if you don’t really have the time to separate your yolks and have left over egg bits. PLUS it’s probably the only non-cooking recipe I’ll post here because it uses tins of evaporated milk and condensed milk. But once I crack the perfect soft flan that doesn’t liquify on turning out, version 2 will be out with a gusto. I can promise you that.

Mega Easy Flan:
1 cup caster or granulated sugar
1 tbsp water
3 eggs
1 (14 ounce) can condensed milk
1 (12 ounce) can of evaporated milk
1/2 cup of whole milk
1 tbsp vanilla essence

Get your oven to 170°C.

Put the sugar, and tablespoon of water in a heavy bottomed pan on stove on medium heat. Without shaking the pan, wait for the sugar to caramelise. Careful not to let it burn, you can use a metal spoon to stir it all together towards the end, but in general with making caramel just leave and watch it. While it’s getting on its way to all lovely and golden, take the dish you’ll cooking your flan in (I used a 10 inch pyrex dish) and place it in the oven for a bit just to warm it up. This just stops the caramel from seizing up in a cold dish.

So once the caramel’s done (try not to place the spoon covered in liquid hotter than the sun in your mouth) carefully pour it in your dish and swirl it all around set it aside and let it cool.

In a large bowl, pour in all the condensed milk and carefully stir in the eggs. ‘Stir’ being the operative word, you don’t want to vigorously whip it all up and create air bubbles. Once throughly mixed add the evaporated milk, whole milk and vanilla essence and combine it all together.

Decant your creamy mixture through a sieve into your caramel dish. Cover with foil. Now place this into a water bath in the oven. So that’s a larger deeper oven tray filled with water until it reaches halfway up the flan dish. Bake for 60 mins. Or until the centre is no longer liquid when you wobble it a bit.

Leave it to cool thoroughly and when you’re ready to serve, run a sharp knife round it, place a plate on top and flip that flan over. Feeds 6-8.

Chinese Salted Eggs – 鹹蛋

salted eggs

I mentioned a salted egg and prawn dish I made with my Aunt a couple of weeks ago. Which aptly coincided rather neatly to my mother preserving her own eggs over Christmas.

W.I eat your heart out.

As I’ve never salted them before and my mum swears it tastes a million times better, I thought I’d get some duck eggs and give it a shot.

Salted Eggs:
6 duck eggs
3/4 cup of salt
1/2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
3 tbsp rice wine
3 cups boiling water

Wash your duck eggs. In a clean jar put the salt and boiled water together, stir until all the salt has dissolved. Add the rice wine and peppercorns. Wait until the liquid is room temp before you add your duck eggs. Leave for at least 1 month.

So I’ll post some recipes involving these bad boys in at least a months time. Laters.

Crusted Pumpkin with a Yogurt Dip

Crusted Pumpkin

It’s the first week back to work for me, and boy has 2013 started off with a bang. I feel like I’ve had the hit the ground running from the airport since arriving back from Hong Kong. It’s also really rather cold in London compared to the shockingly low temps of 11°C I had to endure over the holiday so all I want to eat is warming comfort food. Amazingly I had all the ingredients for this at home, plus it uses up breadcrumbs that tend to sit around forever in the cupboard. What’s not to like?

Crusted Pumpkin:
a small pumpkin
A large handful of grated parmesan
A smaller handful of panko breadcrumbs
A handful parsley - finely chopped
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Zest of a lemon
1 garlic clove
3 tbsp olive oil
A pinch of sea salt
A few cracks of black pepper
4 tbsp plain yogurt
1 tsp sumac

Oven to 190°C. Cut your pumpkin into 1 cm wedges, leave the skin on. Get them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. In a separate bowl mix all of the crust ingredients together (except for the yogurt and sumac), you can use ordinary breadcrumbs of course, but I don’t have any of those. Besides, get yourself a bag of panko it’s way *way* nicer. You’ll wait to taste your mix before adding salt as the cheese will be salty.

Brush the pumpkin slices generously with the oil and coat them with the crust mixture, you’ll want a few millimetres of the deliciousness. Gently pat the mixture to bind it better.

Whack it in the oven for around 30 minutes. I’ve burnt mine a wee bit as I left them in a bit long. Oh well. Texture!

While that’s cooking mix up your yogurt dip with some salt, pepper, maybe a bit of olive oil or cream if it’s not the consistency that you want. Sprinkle with the sumac before serving. Get those wedges out of the oven when done and maybe squeeze some lemon juice over them. Super easy and fun to eat.

Golden Prawns – 黃金蝦 – Prawns stir fried with salted egg yolks

黃金蝦

I few posts ago I mentioned my Auntie Ann who is a great home cook, and I realised I had to learn how to make her lotus root fritters once I went back to visit the family in Hong Kong. So since I’m here at the moment, I asked her about a cooking lesson and she was so pleased I wanted to learn, that a date was quickly set. It was only a couple of days ago that I had the pleasure of not only making said lotus root delights but also this particularly scrummy prawn dish. For those uninitiated to the salted egg yolks stir fried with prawns, I can imagine that it’s actually a pretty bizarre taste sensation. It’s creamy, mushy, salty, deliciously prawny & and has a texture a bit like wet earth. This is from the preserved salted egg yolks and it’s the earthy sensation that actually makes them *good* so don’t be too alarmed next time you try this dish at a decent Chinese restaurant. I learned loads of new techniques and was even more impressed that my Aunt can churn out all this great food on just a two hob stove in a kitchen a third the size of my own mini proportions back in London.

To make this dish you want to buy some salted eggs from your local Chinese supermarket and you’ll need about 1 salted egg yolk per 2 big ass prawns. We had six prawns between the two of us. Oh, and I guess I should give a bit of a warning here: this dish is absolutely loaded with cholesterol. But that’s what makes it so utterly delicious.

Golden Prawns:
6 large prawns with their shells still on
3 salted eggs
1 1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil - not olive oil
2 tbsp corn flour
couple of pinches white pepper
1 tbsp butter

Depending on what type of salted eggs you buy (or you know, you can make your own), they are raw inside so you want to clean off the charcoal stuff before you cook with them. Crack your salted eggs into a plate and steam them for around 15 minutes until the egg yolks are just cooked. When they are done, remove the yolks from the egg whites and put them in a small bowl. Using a metal spoon, gently cut each yolk in half and remove and discard this hard pea sized nubbin from inside (removing this is actually optional, it’s just a harder piece of yolk, my mum says keep it in – meh – sisters will disagree). With the same metal spoon roughly chop the yolks – you want nice bits to chew on so nothing smaller than a centimetre cubed. Save for later on.

Wash and prep your prawns*. Use a pair of scissors and trim the legs off, cut off the sharp front part off the head – chop off about about half an inch- and trim a bit off the tail. At the bit of the prawn where the head meets body, make about a half an inch incision along the top of the the body and remove a bit of that section either side of the body. This helps keep the prawn intact as most of it’s shell is still holding it together, but also gives the yummy egg mixture a chance to get to flavour the fleshy bits of the prawn. Now use a small paring knife and tease the black vein out of the prawn. Rinse and pat dry the now cleaned and prepped prawns with a paper towel. Stir the corn flour with a couple of pinches of white pepper and dust dust dust each prawn and set them aside.

Wok on stove to high heat with a tablespoon of oil. When the oil is good and hot, stir fry your prawns until they are half cooked. Remove prawns and set aside on some kitchen roll.

Wipe down the wok. Heat to medium high. Add half a tablespoon of oil and one tablespoon of butter. When the butter is at heat, get your egg yolks in and gently toss, it should all foam up and smell really nice. Carefully toss in the prawns and take the heat up high to finish it all off. You really don’t need to cook these for long you just want to coat the prawns and cook them through. Serve!

prawn illustration*Doodle of prawn prep

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