Look, it’s Vol. 250! A few months ago, when I noticed this milestone was coming, I decided to do something really special. Then I forgot about it and just kept on cooking stuff. So here we are.
Today’s post does include two vidyas: One of me thumping the side of my very first flan, to see if it ripples in waves, or wobbles as one; and one of me attempting to turn said flan out of the pan. Stay for the flan drama, which includes schlorping!
Here’s what we ate this week:
Smoked ribs and brats; spicy Asian coleslaw
Damien got a new smoker to replace the one that was essentially a rusty garbage can. He christened it with these wonderful smoked ribs, while several of the kids and I went to explore Madame Sherri’s castle and forest. There is a short loop trail and a longer loop trail, so we chose the short one, hiked half of it, somehow looped into the long one, did the entire thing, rejoined the first one, and finished that. I think. There was a mountain involved. In my defense, I am stupid.
Anyway, we did get back home eventually, and there were these magnificent ribs waiting for us:
He made three racks of ribs, and also smoked a bunch of beer brats, too. We had leftover spicy Asian coleslaw from last week , so that rounded out the meal.
Absolutely delicious. I’ll put the recipe card at the end.Jump to Recipe
Hot dogs, fries
Nothing to report. I don’t even remember what we were doing on Sunday. Something strenuous, no doubt.
Caprese chicken burgers, broccoli and dip
Elevate that chicken burger! Plenty of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, kaiser rolls, and tomatoes and basil.
I forgot to get cheese, but nobody noticed.
Salad with chicken, strawberries, feta, and walnuts
Here I would like to pause and congratulate myself for serving all the meals this week in the correct order. I had tomatoes, basil, strawberries, and (as you will see) avocados and mangoes, and we ate everything when it was ripe. I’m just patting myself on my back for this achievement. And it’s easy, too, ever since I grew this third Pfizer arm. *pat pat*
Anyway, broiled chicken breast with salt, pepper, and garlic powder; strawberries, feta cheese, red onions, and toasted walnuts. Toasted by putting them in the microwave for a few minutes.
Oh, and croutons. We had no end of leftover hot dog buns in the house, which make great croutons. Tons of butter, pepper, garlic salt, and oregano in a 300 oven for maybe half an hour.
Tacos, guacamole and chips, flan with mangoes, palomas
Just regular old tacos, to everyone’s relief. And some guacamole made with a sight tactical error: I used canned tomatoes because the two tomatoes I had set aside the other day vanished down someone’s gullet. I know canned tomatoes are no good, but I did it anyway. I don’t know why.Jump to Recipe
Anyway, the big deal was that I wanted to make flan for the first time. I adore flan. I adore custards of any kind. I had heard that flan is rather fiddly to make, but I wanted to at least try.
Guys, it was really easy. This recipe has five ingredients, and the hardest part is how boring it is to stir the sugar when you’re melting it for the topping. So basically you have to stir it forever over a medium heat, so it melts into a lovely caramel:
Then you pour it into your dish (I couldn’t rustle up enough ramekins, so I made one big flan) and let it spread over the bottom and a bit of the sides.
(It hardens like candy at this point; but after it sits for several hours with a custard on top of it, it loosens up into sauce again.)
Then you whisk together the rest of the ingredients — eggs, condensed milk, evaporated milk, more sugar, and vanilla — and blend them well, and pour them into the pan on top of the caramel. Then you bake it, covered, for a long time in a water bath (which just means inside a bigger pan that’s full of hot water. This steams the custard and helps keep it cooking at an even temp throughout).
You do want your eggs to be room temperature so they meld nicely into the custard. Here’s a tip I didn’t know until this week! You can take cold eggs and put them in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes, and guess what? They warm up! If they’re not warm enough, do it again. How about that?
So here it is in its bath:
It took considerably longer than expected to cook — almost 2 hours. You will know when it’s done when it wobbles as one, rather than rippling, when you bump it, like so:
Then you cool it, chill it in the fridge, and then you run a knife along the edge to loosen it, and flip it upside down, and that’s how you get that gorgeous caramel sauce gracing the top. For some reason I thought this, too, was worth documenting on video, so here I am, schlorping it out of the pan:
And here it is! Lovely, lovely caramel flan, shining like the setting sun.
It has a bunch of air bubbles along the outer edge, which apparently is a point against it, but it didn’t bother me!
I had a bunch of mangos, so I scattered those over the slices of flan.
Truthfully, it was fully sweet enough and didn’t need the mango. Next time I will try maybe toasted coconut, or toasted pecans maybe. Or nothing. It was so good on its own. Silky smooth, creamy, mellow, buttery, warm, rich. Just perfect.
Damien also made a new-to-us drink: Palomas. It’s tequila with grapefruit soda, and salt on the rim.
It was pretty good. Not as good as the fact that the grapefruit soda is called “Squirt.”
Puntas de filete
Something new. It’s basically — well, pieces of meat in a sauce, served over rice or noodles (fideos). That doesn’t narrow it down much, but the kids liked it, and I thought it was tasty enough. The version I made is very mild.
I browned up some beef chunks in oil, then took the meat out, melted a bunch of butter in the same pot, and cooked up some diced onion, then minced garlic and serrano pepper, then added in beef stock, crushed tomato, bay leaves, and salt. Put the meat back in, heated it through, and that was it.
Here’s the recipe I used, from an actual paper book called The Border Cookbook: Authentic Home Cooking of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico.
If you’ve got all your ingredients prepped, it comes together very quickly. I served it with cilantro, on rice cooked in chicken broth, which the kids like so much, I’m starting to think they’re making fun of me in some way.
If you’ve made this dish, tell me your favorite variations! I definitely want to make it again, but with a little more flavor in the sauce.
Sugar rub chicken thighs, brats, Fasier cake
Today is Moe’s 19th birthday, so Damien fired up the smoker again, and we’re having sugar rub chicken thighs, which everybody loves, and I guess a Frasier cake. Clara’s been slaving over it for about 48 hours and I’m almost afraid to look. I sure do have weird kids, but they make cakes for each other, so that’s nice.
For the chicken thighs, Damien uses the same sugar rub that he used for the pork ribs (or I guess it’s never quite the same, but it’s the same basic idea), so if you want to do this recipe (WHICH I RECOMMEND), just do the sugar rub part.Jump to Recipe
Oh, one more thing: We’ve been using white pepper a lot, because, I don’t know, we lost our regular pepper. White pepper is really interesting. It’s not necessarily more spicy than black pepper in itself, but it adds a kind of fizzing spark to other things and enhances their spiciness, somehow. I like it! But you have to not get carried away.
And them’s the facts!
sugar smoked ribs
the proportions are flexible here. You can adjust the sugar rub to make it more or less spicy or sweet. Just pile tons of everything on and give it puh-lenty of time to smoke.
- rack pork ribs
- yellow mustard
- extra brown sugar
For the sugar rub:
- 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cups white sugar
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 2 Tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 Tbsp salt
- 1 Tbsp white pepper
Coat the ribs in yellow mustard and cover them with sugar rub mixture
Smoke at 225 for 3 hours
Take ribs out, make a sort of envelope of tin foil and pour Coke and brown sugar over them. close up the envelope.
Return ribs to smoker and cook another 2 hours.
Remove tinfoil and smoke another 45-min.
Finish on grill to give it a char.