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Flan, Heaven on a Plate!

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This is one of my favorite desserts of all time.  It is the perfect ending to a delicious meal of Venison/Nilgai/Wild Pork Enchiladas with Creamy Poblano Sauce.  And Pheasant Enchiladas with tomatillo sauce. And Faux Venison Barbacoa.  You get the idea.  Flan is perfect.  Texture, creamy. Simple in preparation and perfectly simple in flavor.

The point I’m trying to make is that Flan is perfect….. and simple.

I got this recipe from a dear family friend, Tony. I wrote it on the back of a Sea World coupon shortly after Sea World opened in San Antonio.  See I was teaching back in those days.  I had stuff like that in my purse all the time; hall passes, detention slips, notes from parents, confiscated rubber bands, water guns, gum.          DSC_0218

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Notice the expiration date; Oct. 1, 1990.

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The best-loved recipes are usually the ones that have been through many years of wear and tear.  Every time I pull out this splattered and worn scrap of paper, I remember the  very evening that Deerslayer and I visited with our new baby in tow. (She’s 27 now and teaching at the university!)   We enjoyed a delicious meal of chicken enchiladas with tomatillo salsa, Mexican rice and the best flan I’d ever eaten.  Tony graciously shared all the recipes and allowed me to watch him prepare them.  Looking back, I think that these were some of the very first GOOD dishes that I ever cooked.  Thank you, Tony!

Ingredients

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1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 can evaporated milk

4 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

½ cup sugar (I usually use a bit more cuz I love the caramelized sugar)

That’s right!  There are only 5 ingredients.

You will also need a 9″ Pyrex pie plate, a trivet or folded kitchen towel and a larger oven-proof pan that will hold the pie plate and some hot water.

Preheat oven to 350°.   Combine all ingredients (except sugar) in a bowl and whisk together. Set aside.DSC_0223DSC_0234

For the next part, set out what you will need.  Time will be of the essence as you prepare the caramelized sugar and pour it into a Pyrex pie plate.  Have it sitting on a trivet, or folded kitchen towel, ready for the molten sugar.

You will need to work quickly once the sugar is ready to

Pour sugar into a small sauce pan.  Over high heat, gently stir until sugar begins to melt. I like to use a wooden spoon.

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Continue stirring as sugar starts to caramelize.

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It will begin to look clumpy.  Don’t worry.  Keep stirring.

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Be sure that the sugar does not boil over or burn.  Simply lift the pan off the heat if begins to boil over.

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After most of the sugar clumps have dissolved, you may pour it into the Pyrex pie plate that has been set on something to protect the surface of the counter.  It also serves to prevent the Pyrex from being too cold  when you pour the hot caramelized sugar.

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Tilt the pan to allow the sugar to coat the bottom.  You must work quickly because the sugar will harden almost instantly. Don’t worry, though.  The caramelized sugar will create a luscious syrup in the oven. (Notice the trivet that I got as a birthday gift during my first year teaching in 1983.)

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One last whisk of the egg mixture before you pour it over the sugar.

Prepare a water bath for the pan.  I set my pie plate in a larger cast iron skillet.  Place the pie plate into a larger pan on the middle rack of the oven. Add some hot water to the outer pan until the water is half way up the side of the pie plate.

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Bake for 50 minutes.  Flan will jiggle joyfully.  Don’t fret.

Allow to cool for about 20 minutes.  Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Run a knife around the edge of the pie plate.  Invert onto A SERVING PLATE THAT HAS A LIP AROUND THE EDGE!  The liquified sugar mixture will spill out onto the plate.  You’ll have to restrain yourself from lapping it up.

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Please let me know if you agree that this is the simplest, most elegant, most perfect dessert you have ever prepared and eaten.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2016 in Sweet Things, Uncategorized

 

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Cool and Spicy Coleslaw

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Recently, during our annual camping trip to Wyoming, I offered to make a side dish for one of the dinners for the 44 campers in our group.  I brought all the ingredients to make a coleslaw recipe that’s pretty popular in the Deerslayer household.  The feedback from the camping crew was positive.  All the coleslaw was gobbled up and I was asked if the recipe was on my blog.  So I was happy to oblige.

There are soooo many varieties of coleslaw.  Some are quite sweet and others lean heavily on a mayo base.  Still others have an almost sauerkraut vibe.  My recipe is creamy, without relying on too much mayo.  There are layers of flavor that come from rice vinegar, greek yogurt, a tiny bit of sugar and some cayenne pepper.

This has become my go-to side dish for BBQ sandwiches and pulled pork, too.  It’s actually pretty good plopped right on the sandwiches  I always have to prepare more than I think I’ll need because it really disappears.  The cool, creamy sauce plays well with the main course. The rice vinegar adds a pleasing tartness and the cayenne brings a subtle, yet surprising, heat.

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½ cup Greek Yogurt

2 tbs. Ranch or Caesar dressing

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tbsp. milk

1 tbs. sugar

3/4 tsp. ground  black pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

16 oz. shredded cabbage (Add carrot, slivered fresh jalepeño, radish, jicama, or something else crunchy and delicious if you like.)

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Combine all ingredients (except cabbage) in a bowl.

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Whisk ingredients together.

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Notice the delicious spices!  That’s what makes this coleslaw special.

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Add cabbage and toss together. Set in the fridge or in a cooler (if you’re camping) to allow the flavors to combine.

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Done! Enjoy!

Feel free to add fresh, sliced jalapeño, jicama, or radish to change things up.  Make it your own.

The dressing could be prepared in advance, poured into a jar, and taken on a camping trip.  I wouldn’t advise tossing the coleslaw up ahead of time, though, unless it’s gonna be eaten within a few hours.  You  want the cabbage to stay nice and crisp.  Camp on!

 

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Hash Browns for Camping! Genius!

I have to admit that my level of excitement over these hash browns that I just discovered bordered on embarrassing. One morning during our recent Deerslayer Clan camping trip, I walked down to the camp kitchen to the following sight.  A gorgeous mound of hash browns, sizzling away on my Camp Chef griddle, enough for our crowd of 44 (many of them teenagers). It brought a tear to the eye!  What angel fluttered down from heaven to prepare this delicious camp breakfast?  As it turned out, a dear friend of the Deerslayer Clan had rustled up this mess of hash browns.  How did she do it?  This was a mess of potatoes.

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She shared her secret.  She told me that she used dehydrated potatoes that come in pint cartons, like milk cartons.  Because their dehydrated, the hash browns weight practically nothing.  The small, sealed containers are easy to store in a camper or storage container. They are available in 8-packs at Sam’s Club and Costco.  DSC_0203

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It doesn’t get any easier than that!

Our friend, Lisa, used my Camp Chef griddle (best investment ever), hot and liberally oiled for the potatoes.  The hash browns sizzled happily until browned and crispy.  They were flipped and sizzled some more.  This was an amazingly simple and camp-friendly breakfast side.  Thank you, Lisa, for sharing.  You are the most extraordinary camper I have ever known.  You have everything a camper ever needs, you know every camping secret.  Our annual trip wouldn’t be the same without you.

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Here’s a picture of my Camp Chef griddle on my two burner Browning cook stove. Perfect for pancakes, tortillas, bacon, and, of course, hash browns!

 

Camping with Knives

It’s time for the annual camping trip to Wyoming and we in the Deerslayer household are busily preparing.  There’s much to be done; checking out the camper (greasing the bearings, checking all the seals, topping off the propane, and such), planning the meals, packing bedding, towels, paper plates, cutlery.  We’re driving from the southern-most tip of Texas to Wyoming and there will be no running home for stuff we forgot.

Part of a successful camping trip is being prepared.  Having fabulous food is the most important thing.  And appropriate beverages.  But nothing can throw a damper on the occasion like starting to slice some beautiful tomatoes, a mouth-watering steak or sausage, only to discover that your knives are dull and won’t stand up to the job. There are three things to consider when packing knives for a camping trip:

  1. Choose the knives you will want to have with you.
  2. Be sure that they are sharpened to perfection.
  3. Transport them in a way that no one gets hurt.

Before you leave for a camping/hunting trip, you should have, to a certain degree, your meals planned out.  Are you planning to grill steaks, prepare some cuts of venison, chop any veggies for salad or pico de gallo?  Slice some bolillos, baguettes, or banana bread?  Keep these things in mind as you choose your knives for the trip.

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Because we spend a good deal of time camping (not as much as we’d like!) I keep duplicates of all my most used knives in our camper.  Starting on the left, I chose a medium all-purpose knife, a small chopping knife for onions, jalapeños, garlic, and such, a larger butcher knife for meats, a huge heavy butcher knife for ribs and the like (Deerslayer is roasting a couple of small wild pigs on this trip), two sizes of fish fileting knives which are my favorites for removing fascia (silver skin) and sinew from cuts of venison and wild pork.  I particularly like these two knives because they have very thin blades, a long, sharp tip, and their own leather sheaths. I also keep 4 steak knives to use with our meals. There’s nothing more aggravating  than trying to cut into a delicious steak with a plastic knife!

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Sometimes, the Crock Sticks come with a plastic, protective shield to help prevent cuts.  If you are sharpening many knives with gusto and exuberance, as Deerslayer often does, it doesn’t hurt to provide a little added protection, thus the oven mitt. (Trust us on this!)

Once you’ve decided which knives to bring, be sure that they are perfectly sharpened.  It’s not that hard to do at home and, ohhhh, so worth it.  Deerslayer always sharpens my knives to perfection. He uses Crock Sticks which are available from various sources on the internet. He’s used the same sharpening apparatus for years.  The ceramic rods, while very breakable, can be cleaned with abrasive cleanser to remove the metal dust that accumulates during the sharpening, allowing the Crock Sticks to be used for many years.   YouTube provides several tutorials on using the Crock Sticks sharpening system. DSC_0204 Deerslayer learned the importance of keeping all our knives razor-sharp from his dad, who knew a knife was sharp enough when he was able to shave the hair from his arm with it.  I’ve really been spoiled when it comes to having perfectly sharpened knives at the ready.  It’s important to note that it isn’t necessary to pay a fortune for “designer knives” to have professional quality tools. A sharp edge can be achieved at home.

Once you’ve decided which knives you’ll be needing, choosing a safe way to transport and store the knives can be tricky.  There are fabric and leather pouches available that have pockets for each knife.  The pouch rolls up and ties closed. In my book, that’s money that doesn’t need to be spent plus the pouch doesn’t allow me to grab what I’m looking for.  I stumbled upon this method that keeps my knives at the ready while not taking up space in my camper drawers.

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The cardboard cylinders from paper towels and gift wrap make safe transport sheaths for my knives.  Rubber bands keep everything in place.

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Knives can even be stored in the concocted sheath in a shoebox or drawer of a camper. No cuts while rummaging through the knives! 

Trip to Wyoming:

  • menus – check
  • food and beverages – check
  • camper – check
  • towels and bedding – check
  • knives – check

It’s gonna be a great trip!

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2016 in camping, Uncategorized

 

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Jalapeno/Wild Pork/Bacon Snacks

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It’s time to gear up for the annual Deerslayer Camping Trip.  Every year the entire clan (three generations) converges upon southern Wyoming for two weeks. We’ve been doing it for years. In its heyday, there would be sixty-plus people coming and going during the two-week stretch.  Now, all the kids are growing up. Many are going away to college.   I have a feeling that the group will continue to gather, with the younger ones bringing their own families.  My generation will become the one that all the kids roll their eyes at, the group that everybody brings drinks and food to.  Sounds like fun! Can’t wait!

I have to admit that, for me, the preparation is part of the fun. I love the list-making, the planning, the menu-planning, and the cooking for the whole group. This year we’ve decided to prepare:

  • Steak tacos with fresh flour tortillas, pico de gallo, beans with smoked wild pork shank, and Mexican rice
  • A whole roasted pig, roasted corn, and coleslaw
  • Venison and nilgai enchiladas with creamy poblano sauce, beans, and  Mexican rice.
  • Pulled pork on toasted buns, potato salad, coleslaw.

In addition, we decided to try our own version of jalapeno poppers that would include some of our ground wild pork. Sadly, due to my busy camping  prep days, my post is coming out after my dear friends, Patrons of the Pit, who beat me to the punch with their own version of a stuffed jalapeno recipe. Theirs is absolute perfection with a glorious glaze of maple syrup.  You go, guys!

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I used about 18 jalapenos to make 36 delicious, bacon wrapped portions.

18 jalapenos

1 lb. ground wild pork

4 tsp. LEM sausage seasoning

1/8 cup water

36 strips of cheese (I used a strong cheddar)

18 strips of very thin, inexpensive bacon, cut in half

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Mix 4 tsp. of seasoning mix with water and blend with ground pork.

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Cut the ends off the jalapenos.

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Call me a wimp, but I’ve learned over the years that wearing rubber gloves results in a lot less pain and discomfort.

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Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds and white membrane.

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Slice cheese into strips the length of the peppers.

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Add a slice of cheese and some pork sausage to each pepper.

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Wrap each pepper with a half slice of bacon.  This is why the bacon should be the cheapest you can get.  The thinner, the better.

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Once the peppers are ready to go on the grill, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for every possible scenario!  I filled two 9 x 13 pans with the jalapenos.  One batch went on the grill, the other went into the freezer for the camping trip.  I wanted to make a test batch first, in addition to seeing how they would freeze for later use.  The frozen ones will be transported in a Yeti cooler with dry ice.  They will stay frozen for up to a week if we’re careful not to open the cooler too much and store it in the shade once we’ve arrived at our destination.

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The peppers were cooked for about 45 minutes on a sheet of foil on the grill over indirect heat.

A nine, tasty morsel for a camping trip!

 

 

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Lovely and Delicate Wild Pork and Mushroom Quiche

DSC_0116When it comes to food and the important role that it plays in our lives,  it is not surprising that some foods seem to form connections in our minds with events and special times.  Bar-b-que and beer make most people think of outdoor get-togethers with family and friends, laughing and telling stories.  Mexican food and beer… same. Football and hot wings. Hotdogs and baseball. And for many,  quiche conjures up images of brunch… with mimosas… and ladies in hats.

No deer slayer in his right mind would be a part such a scenario. But throw some wild pork sausage into the mix, and his interest will be piqued. Suddenly quiche is transformed into a hearty and savory manly meat and egg pie. Perfect for a Father’s Day breakfast. It’s all in how you present it.

This recipe allowed me to use some of the 55 pounds of ground wild pork in my freezer.  My experimentation with wild pork pan sausage began with maple pan sausage.  Because I use my one-pound packages of ground pork for a number of recipes, I never know if I’ll want it for pan sausage, or to mix with venison for burgersmeatloaf, or lasagna, or some other new recipe.  With that in mind, I season up my wild pork sausage one pound at a time as needed depending on whether I’m in the mood for maple, traditional with sage, or Italian sausage.  That way, I’m never left with a freezer full of the wrong sausage for my recipe or mood.

I’ve had a great deal of luck with LEM brand:

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I photographed the Sweet Italian variety (which is great) but for this recipe, I actually used the “regular” flavor, with some added rubbed sage.

 

Wild Pork and Mushroom Quiche

(Manly Meat and Egg Pie)

This recipe has 3 steps; preparing the sausage, preparing the crust (or use a prepared crust), and preparing the filling.

The Sausage:

1 lb. coarsely ground wild pork (The quiche will only use about ½ of the cooked pork)

3 tsp. LEM brand sausage seasoning

1 tsp. dried sage

1 oz. water (about an 1/8 of a cup)

To start this recipe, I mixed up a batch of LEM brand traditional sausage seasoning with my ground wild pork. Although the instructions suggest 2 teaspoons from the seasoning packet, I found that 3 produced the intensity of flavor that I was looking for.

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In a small glass bowl, I mixed the seasoning, 1 tsp. of dried, rubbed sage, and about an eighth of a cup of water.

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I poured the mixture into the ground pork and worked it in with my hands until the seasonings were fully incorporated into the meat.

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Then I cooked up the newly prepared sausage in a skillet and set aside.

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Next, I prepared the crust using a recipe I got from The Lard Cookbook:

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Preparing the crust:

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1¼ cups all-purpose unbleached flour plus more for dusting

 1 tsp. salt

½ cup cold and coursely chopped lard

3 tablespoons ice cold water

For the crust, combine the flour and salt in a bowl.  Using a pastry blender, two butter knives, or your fingers, cut in the lard until the mixture is a very fine crumble, about the size of peas. Sprinkle the cold water over the mixture and combine just until the mixture sticks together..Form the dough into a ball and press into a disc.  Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes*.

*While the dough is chilling, prepare your filling

Prepare a work surface by sprinkling with flour, and roll out into a disc that will fit your pie plate. I always lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the dough as I roll it out. It gives me more control and allows me to lift the dough more easily into the dish and press it into place without tearing the crust.

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Trim excess from around the edges and place in the fridge until you are ready to add filling.

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Preparing the filling:

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  • a glug of olive oil ( about 1 tbsp.)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • seasoned salt, a scant amount to taste (I use Tommy’s Salt & Pepper mix)
  • about ½ lb. prepared, crumbled, and cooked wild pork sausage
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup half & half
  • 1 cup grated cheese    (Any good gratable cheese will do, according to your preference)

Heat olive oil and butter in a cast iron skillet.  Add chopped onion and mushrooms and a sprinkling of seasoned salt.  Use sparingly since the sausage is quite flavorful. Stir ingredients around until onions are almost caramelized.

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Spread onion and mushroom mixture over the  bottom of the prepared crust.

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This photo is actually from a previous cooking session.  The sausage is under the mushroom/onion mixture which is why the quiche is soooo full.

Sprinkle cooked sausage over that.  There will be sausage left over.  That’s okay!  Use any extra in breakfast burritos!

 

Combine eggs, half & half, and grated cheese. Beat with a fork.

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Pour over other ingredients until full.

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Place quiche on a cookie sheet and put in a 350° oven for 25-35 minutes or until set and browned on top.

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Happy Father’s Day, Deerslayers!

 

 

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Cheaters’ Wild Pork Ribs

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There are days when just getting out of bed seems like a major achievement.  As I stagger to the kitchen whimpering for a cup of coffee,  a pile of bills waits for me on the table.  I wade through waist-deep laundry to get to the the freezer room (yes, we have a freezer room! My husband is the Deerslayer, remember.) to decide what to fix for dinner.  I stare, bleary-eyed, at the contents,  waiting for something to jump out at me, something so easy to prepare that I can whip it up in no time and still come out looking like a Homemaker Extraordinaire.   Do you have days like that, too?

Quite by accident, I stumbled upon something that fills the bill, if you will.  A couple of years ago, Deerslayer had a great year hunting wild pigs.  There was plenty of very welcome wild pork to fill our freezers.  We ground a whole bunch of it, and had several roasts and tenderloins.  I was a happy camper.  Deerslayer asked if he should keep the ribs.  Keep in mind that wild pork ribs aren’t the same size as the ones you get at the market, much smaller.  But, what the hell, said I!  So we packaged up quite a mess of ribs, as well.

I’d been wondering for a while if I could cook the ribs in the oven like I did in my post from March 22, 2013, freeze them, label them, and toss them on the pit just long enough to impart the smoky goodness at the last minute. I decided to give it a shot.

I seasoned the pork ribs very liberally with Tommy’s Salt & Pepper mix, tossed them in my covered roasting pan with a can of Dr. Pepper poured over, and braised them for approximately a couple of hours at 350 degrees, turning occasionally, until the meat just about fell off the bone.

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I was able to pull the bones right out of the ribs.  The slabs stayed intact, however. Sorry for the bad lighting.  The meat wasn’t quite that grey.

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Then I packaged up the fully-cooked meat, labeled it, and tossed it in the freezer.

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When I was ready for a speedy, great dinner, I thawed out the meat, started some charcoal in the BBQ pit and worked on my side dishes (red bell peppers to grill, some garlic to roast, and some cole slaw).

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I put the ribs on the grill just long enough to heat them through, and slathered them with my favorite BBQ sauce.  I tossed some red bell peppers on as well after I removed the seeds, opened up the peppers to lie flat, rubbed them with olive oil, and added some Salt & Pepper mix .

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Meanwhile, back in the kitchen,  I took a slew of garlic cloves (pre-peeled from Sam’s Club), tossed ’em in a cast iron skillet with a little olive oil, and allowed them to roast until lightly browned and soft. Pretty damned tasty!  Most of them were eaten right out of the skillet before I could even get a picture!

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