My feet hurt!! Emily found me on the treadmill this morning and said, "Oh. . . I was thinking we'd walk together today since I don't have to work." I got off the treadmill and we ended up walking clear down to the Town Center in MC. That's probably a good five miles both ways, if not more! It was so wonderful to be out in the warm(er) air and to see all the new spring plants and budding trees. We found a place where I'm sure fairies have tea parties, many gorgeous tiny purple flowers that are probably considered weeds, much moss (NW! duh!) and a potato bug!
The potato bug was HUGE—the biggest I'd ever seen. Their defense mechanism is to roll up into a little ball so when Emily reverted to her childhood and picked it up, we had to take a picture. I took several, actually, of it opening back up, but she said it was tickling her hand! So we put it back where it came from and hopefully, it passed a fun-filled Cinco de Mayo.
Our Cinco de Mayo was fun, too. I grilled chicken tonight that had marinated in a mix of 'Mexican' spices (olive oil, lime juice, cumin, paprika, oregano, chili powder, cayenne. . . etc, etc, etc. . .). No specific measurements—just whatever my heart said was right! See those perfect "x-marks" on the chicken? Yeah, I'm good!
I sautéed peppers and onions and made Mexican rice, using the method taught to me by an authentic Mexican lady. I'm not sharing the method just yet because I haven't quite mastered the technique! Mine never turns out right! I'm not sure why.
Emily grated cheese, diced tomatoes, and shredded lettuce. We had salsa and chips.
The crowning moment was the Flan. I haven't traditionally liked flan, but I came across a recipe a few years ago and it is perfect! I didn't make a note as to where I found it, so apologetically, I can't give credit. Flan is kind of like Tiramisu (another favorite dessert of mine, if not the most favorite, if done right)—both are hard to get just right, but once you do. . . hmmmm! The results are worth it! This recipe never turns out grainy like some flans tend to do , it has the perfect amount of caramel, and can't have that many calories! After all, I use non-fat milk and non-fat sweetened condensed milk! At least that's how I justify enjoying it so much! J I usually double the recipe, too, ending up with 8 individual flans.
Vanilla Bean Flan
- 1 ¼ c. milk (I use non-fat)
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- ¼ c. sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- ¼ c. nonfat sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 350˚. Heat milk with vanilla bean halves in a small saucepan over moderate heat till hot. Remove from heat, cover, steep 20 minutes.
Cook sugar in a 6-inch nonstick skillet over medium low heat, swirling skillet to help sugar melt evenly, until melted and pale golden. Continue to cook until deep caramel, 1-2 minutes.
Immediately pour into (4) 5-6 oz. custard cups or ramekins, tilting cups to coat bottom. Let caramel cool.
Whisk together whole egg, yolk, condensed milk, and a pinch of salt until smooth. Discard vanilla bean pod from steeped milk and gradually whisk milk into egg mixture.
Divide custard among cups and bake in a water bath, loosely covered with a sheet of foil, (which I didn't do today because I was doing it while listening to the 5-finger C-scale from a student in the adjoining room!) in the middle of the oven until custard is set, but still trembles slightly, 35-40 minutes.
Remove cups from water bath and cool on a rack. Chill, uncovered, at least 2 hours. Unmold flans by running a knife around edges to loose and inverting onto plates.
Flans can be made 1 day ahead and kept chilled in custard cups, uncovered.
(A note—the water bath I create is in a 9 x 13 cake pan. I line it with a dishtowel so the custard dishes don't go sliding. I boil a kettle of water and after putting the custard in the dishes, I add the boiling water, making sure that I've totally soaked the dishtowel. I certainly don't want to have to call the fire department!)
(another note—it wasn't my intent to divide my attention between baking these and having a piano student! This was a make-up lesson that I was expecting at a different time, but with whom I obviously didn't communicate the time clearly enough! So, I did what I could without ruining both the flan AND the lesson!)