Cook’s Corner

Pumpkin flan a lovely addition to a dessert buffet

 

Quick Bread

Molasses Johnny Cake

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup flour

1 egg

4 tablespoons brown sugar

4 tablespoons molasses

4 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup milk

1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ginger (optional)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square cake pan.

Mix all ingredients and pour into prepared pan. Bake 20 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean. Makes 12 servings.

Per serving: 170 calories (27 percent from fat), 5 g fat (3 g saturated, 1.3 g monounsaturated), 28 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates, 0.5 g fiber, 717 mg sodium.


Seasoning

Homemade Steak Rub

1 tablespoon coarsely ground salt

2 tablespoons coarsely ground pepper

1 tablespoon granulated or powdered garlic

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon parsley flakes

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Combine ingredients in a jar and shake to blend. Use as a rub on steak. Makes about 4 ounces, to generously rub on 4 to 6 steaks, depending upon size and cut.

Per serving (based on 6): 25 calories (14 percent from fat), 0.4 g fat (0.1 g saturated, 0.1 g monounsaturated), 0 cholesterol, 0.1 g protein, 5.3 g carbohydrates, 1.7 g fiber, 1,168 mg sodium.


Dessert

Tres Leches Pumpkin Flan

1/2 cup sugar

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 eggs, at room temperature

2 egg yolks, at room temperature

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

1 1/2 cups milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup pumpkin puree (preferably fresh or canned organic)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 10-inch Bundt pan with cooking spray.

Cook sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes or until melted and medium-brown in color. Drizzle the sugar mixture into the Bundt pan and swirl to coat the bottom. (Because of the temperature change, the sugar may harden quickly. Don’t worry; once the flan is baked it will liquefy into a beautiful golden syrup.)

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add eggs and egg yolks; beat until well blended.

Slowly add all three milks and the vanilla, and beat at low speed for 1 minute. Add pumpkin puree and spices and continue to mix for 1 to 2 minutes.

Pour mixture into prepared pan. (Mixture may be slightly lumpy. If you want a smooth flan, strain the mixture before you pour it into the pan.)

Place Bundt pan in a roasting pan. Place roasting pan on the center rack of oven and add hot water to the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until edges are set (the center will not be set).

Remove roasting pan from oven and remove Bundt pan from water. Place on a wire rack and let cool completely for at least 1 hour. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 8 hours.

Carefully run a butter knife around edges to loosen, and invert flan onto a serving platter. Makes 12 servings.

Per serving: 328 calories (41 percent from fat), 15.3 g fat (8.7 g saturated, 4.3 g monounsaturated), 110 mg cholesterol, 9.4 g protein, 40 g carbohydrates, 0.5 g fiber, 178 mg sodium.


Sleuth’s Corner

Q. I am hoping one of your readers can help me make a bar cookie I tasted recently that was out of this world. It had a light brownie base and was topped with caramel, pretzels, peanuts and I’m not sure what else. It was sweet but slightly salty, crunchy but also tender on the bottom. I’d love to take these to the office for our cookie exchange.

Lydia


LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com

Q. I have been invited to a dessert buffet party. Everyone loves my flan, but it is soft and I don’t think it would hold up well for a buffet where you have to get many small individual servings. Can you suggest something similarly easy?

Anna

The pumpkin flan recipe here is rich and velvety, fragrant with traditional pumpkin-pie spices, yet has the texture of a cheesecake. The cream cheese makes it firmer than a traditional flan, so you can slice it into thin servings, yet it is still soft and creamy.

The recipe is from a wonderful new cookbook, Muy Bueno: Three Generations of Authentic Mexican Flavor, by Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack, Veronica Gonzalez-Smith and Evangelina Soza (Hippocrene, $22.50). Three generations of a Texas family — immigrant grandmother, daughter and granddaughter — share their takes on Mexican cooking, from traditional to Tex-Mex to fusion.

The cookbook evolved from a desire to save a beloved abuelita’s recipes and stories for future generations, so in addition to the food you become immersed in the culture evolving from another time and another place — a part of the American experience sure to resonate with all of us who are children of immigrants.

Johnny Cake

Nancy Girton asked for help finding a recipe her mother made in the mid 1950s for a Johnny Cake that used molasses. She believed it might have appeared on a box of Flako or Jiffy mix. Mary Porter of Wilmington, N.C., knew right away what Girton was seeking.

“Johnny Cake is just a quick bread you make with cornmeal that dates back to the pioneer days,” Porter writes. “They called it hoecake when it used to be cooked on the back of a hoe or a shovel set over an open fire. The molasses version is more authentic than modern versions because you were more likely to have molasses than white sugar in your pantry back in the day.”

Q. I love the steak and prime rib seasoning you can buy from a company in Kansas, but it is very expensive. I have tried to mix spices to make one similar but have not had any luck. Any guidance or similar recipe would be greatly appreciated.

Regina

The recipe you refer to is, of course, proprietary. But I ordered a few envelopes, tried them on steak, and am convinced that what is at play is mainly salt, pepper and granulated garlic, plus some sweetness for flavor and to develop char. I fiddled with proportions, guessed as to spicing and came up with a darned good rub if I do say so.

It is important when using a rub to first coat the meat with a light brushing of oil. That way the salt won’t suck all the juices from the meat. You should also wait until the meat is about at room temperature to apply the rub so it will cook more evenly.

You can add or subtract ingredients to make your own special blend — dried chipotle powder if you like it hot, for example, or dried lime peel if you find a hint of citrus appealing. Pack it into an attractive jar and you’ve got a an easy-to-make gift.

Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com or Food, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132. Personal replies are not possible.

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