Monday, January 14, 2013

Grilled Portabello Caprese and Tangy Coleslaw with a Kick

My friends roped me into an 8 week challenge of no sweets and lots of I've been finding some fun new recipes and experimenting with them. Here are two that my family and I really enjoyed - and they still tasted great as left overs as well.

Grilled Portabello Mushroom Caprese
4 large cap Portabello mushrooms
2 cups diced tomatoes
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 crushed clove
1 T. olive oil
Basil to taste (1.5 t. dried, or as much fresh as you like - chopped)

Olive oil for grilling. 
Using paper towel, remove any debris from mushroom, and lightly buff.  
Drizzle olive oil over both sides of mushroom cap and then place over medium grill for 4-6 minutes, then turn and repeat.

Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, cheese, garlic, basil and clove. Add just enough olive oil to lightly moisten ingredients.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

After removing Portabellos from the grill, fill the caps with tomato and mozzarella mixture.  Serve immediately as cheese will begin to melt, and the juices begin to flow.   

Tangy Coleslaw with a kick
4 cups shredded cabbage
1 bunch cilantro - chopped
1 onion - very thinly sliced
3 T. mayonnaise
1 T. olive oil

3 T. fresh key lime juice
3 garlic cloves

1 t. cumin
2-3 t. Frank's hot sauce
crushed red pepper seeds (optional)
pinch of sugar (optional)
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine cabbage, cilantro and onion. 

Using a food processor or blender, combine remaining ingredients, and mix until mostly smooth.  

Pour over cabbage mixture and thoroughly mix. 


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

THE BEST FLAN EVER!! "El imposible"

Flan is a traditional Mexican custard - somewhat akin to a creme bruleĆ©.  In Mexico, it is called "el imposible" which translates as 'the impossible', because it is SO hard to get it right.  
My family, well, we REALLY like flan, and for years I've used a fussy and very elaborate recipe.  The draw back was that it used a ton of cream, and took a lot of time, and sometimes the texture was just a bit off.  Yesterday however, - New Year's day no less, I found THE FLAN recipe.  I'll never look back.  
It is the HOLY GRAIL of flan.  Flavor, creaminess, TEXTURE..., and ease, oh my - this is it. 

We invited some friends from Mexico join us for dinner (I'm always nervous serving my Mexican cooking to natives since I know so many great Mexican cooks), and served carne asada (marinated in mojo), black beans and rice, with pico de gallo, along with the tortilla land tortillas from Costco that you have to cook yourself (if you  haven't tried them yet, you really should).  

 One of our guests, Ben said this, "you know when you go to an opera and the whole thing is exquisite, but then there are those few super high notes that you savor and they take you to a whole new level, and you go home completely content - especially because of those few exceptionally amazing notes?  That's what the carne asada and flan were for me tonight".  High praise indeed.   
Really - the picture above was taken by one of our guests - he couldn't cut into it until he took a photo.   

I think my guests might be embarrassed if they knew that I told everyone that they each ate 3-4 servings of the flan.  So, I won't tell you - I'll just let you wonder how much they really did eat.  

Did I mention the ease of this recipe?  
If not - here it is.  This is a non-fussy very easy 5 ingredient flan recipe.  And I had everything on hand - and chances are, you do too. 

Here we go
1.5 c. white sugar
2 cans evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
6 eggs
2 t. vanilla

Heat oven to 325*
Place sugar in a heavy medium saucepan. Begin to heat on low and allow sugar to melt. This is a slow process, and you must tilt and turn the pan swirling the sugar back and forth to help the melting process. Continue until syrup turns a deep amber. Quickly pour into an 8 x 8 glass pan or ramekins. Tilt and coat the bottom and sides before it hardens. 

Place the milks, eggs, and vanilla into a blender.  Blend until well mixed. 
Pour into prepared (with sugar coating) pan (or ramekins). 

Place 8x8 pan (or ramekins) into a 9x13 glass pyrex or similar type pan and place in oven.  Carefully  add approx. 3 cups of water to the 9x13 pan to create a water bath - water should surround and nearly reach the top of the sides of the 8x8 baking dish.  

Bake for 60 minutes. 

Remove from oven (carefully) and gently remove flan baking dish from water bath.  Flan may still seem jiggly.  Allow to cool on wire rack for approx. 30 minutes, then cover gently with plastic wrap (lightly sprayed with cooking spray to prevent sticking), and place on wire rack in refrigerator for an additional 2-3 hours or more so that it can completely set.  

To serve, run small sharp knife around flan to loosen. Set in hot water for a few minutes, or gently heat bottom of baking dish on the stove for a few seconds to thin the syrup. Invert onto a serving dish, allowing syrup to run over flan.  Spoon syrup onto each serving.