Monthly Archives: November 2008

the magical pumpkin flan cake

even i got tired of looking at the healthy salad below…
i just couldn’t gather up the passion to photograph my latest dishes and disasters, then upload and write about them.
more important “stuff” needed to be faced and puzzled over.
but Thanksgiving is this week, and the giving thanks needs to be addressed too…to gather round and get cozy–we’ve been having way below normal temperatures around here, it feels like January in Boston! bleh.
it’s going to “warm up” to the 40’sF, thank goodness.

i’ve been obsessing about making a flan cake. specifically a pumpkin flan cake. i wanted to present it to the family Thanksgiving table, which i am once again hosting this year. crazy me.
the idea is to make a pumpkin cake with pumpkin flan on top. baked at the same time. i thought it might be impossible–how could a cake be baked such that when you flip it, the cake is on the bottom and the flan on top? wouldn’t the heavy cake batter float down, and the light liquid flan mix, float to the top? so when you flip it, it would be a big ploppy mess with the cake weighing down the flan?

i searched for recipes, and i did find a truly beguiling photograph. i emailed the owners of the site for the recipe but got no response. i searched some more and found chocolate flan cake.

it called for a cake mix, with a plain creamy flan on top. the blog owner reassures that the cake batter will rise to the top with the flan settling cozily down to the bottom.
it called for a caramel sauce instead of caramelized sugar.
the beautifully stark contrast of dark chocolate cake topped with creamy flan on top… it was too much for me, i just had to experiment.

so i got down to the nitty gritty. for the caramel, commenters had recommended cajeta, a Mexican caramel of cow’s milk and goat’s milk boiled down till it’s thick and gooey. instead i cheated simmered a can of condensed milk for a couple of hours–i am aware that this is so against the rules but we’ve been doing this since we were kids and what can i say, it works!

caramel, cajeta style

i prepared the flan mixture first, then the cake, but the cake batter is poured into the Bundt pan first.
it looks horrible and impossible but just let it go and resist the urge to open the oven door–just hover nervously and peek through the glass.
ta dah! a gravity defying flan cake…. it was so gut-wrenching-awesome watching the cake batter rise up to the top.
pumpkin flan cake 1

i think it could look a little bit prettier and i will try to work out the kinks–perhaps use a less thick cajeta, perhaps cover the pan with aluminum foil as it bakes, as prescribed by cookie madness but which i overlooked–but i’m just happy that it didn’t turn out to be such a flop on the first try.

do you believe in magic now?
pumpkin flan cake


recipes? i’ll be happy to share…but later :wave: .

some rain

into each life some rain must fall,
some days must be dark and dreary.

The Rainy Day, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

yes this has been my “earbug” of late. the lines had been echoing around in my brain this past week….until i had to search to find out what it really was. it is truly apt for the recent weather we have been having as well, and for all the leaves we have to rake and brush away from the windshields before we can hie off to our daily grind…

and with each falling leaf and each fallen drop of rain is the constant craving….for comfort food.

if i gave in to each constant craving i’d be quite ill, obese, or comatose by now. fried garlic rice and garlic sausages (longganiza) or dried salted fish and fried eggs? sure! i’ll take it! but instead….

salad and vinaigrette
an inspired salad substitutes.

boiled potatoes and beets, steamed asparagus and tuna and “2” anchovy fillets, hard boiled eggs if you can spare the calories…on a bed of the cute little lamb’s lettuce (i much prefer that name to mache!) with a spicy vinaigrette based on Nicoise salad from Delia Smith’s How to Cook.

12 ozs. red ripe tomatoes
4 ozs. lamb’s lettuce
1/2 small young cucumber
4 ozs. asparagus, steamed
1 lb. new potatoes, boiled
1/2 lb. baby beets, boiled
4 shallots peeled and finely chopped
2 cans tuna fish in oil, well drained
2 large hard-boiled eggs, boiled,quartered
2 anchovy fillets
2 oz.s black olives
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley (optional)

dressed with
1 tsp. sea salt
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 & 1/2 tsps. mustard powder
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
6 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsps. finely chopped fresh herbs (chives, tarragon, parsley, basil, chervil or mint, for example)
freshly ground black pepper

using a mortar and pestle crush sea salt to a powder, then add the peeled clove of garlic and pound them together, which will immediately bring out the garlic’s juices and turn it into a smooth paste. next add the dry mustard, work that in, then add the vinegar and some freshly ground black pepper and mix thoroughly until the salt dissolves, finally add the olive oil.. stir the herbs into the vinaigrette. pour into a jar that has a tightly fitting lid, to shake vigorously before pouring over the salad.

LP#32: maalaala mo kaya?

grabe talaga ang pagsisisi ko sa pagkapabaya sa pagsali sa Litratong Pinoy. talaga namang nakaka-miss! hinayang na hinayang akong hindi nakasali sa halos lahat nang mga kabanata…
sa Litratong Pinoy Bilang 32: maalaala mo kaya?, sana hindi pa ako huli.

gusto kong sumali kasi kailan lang ako’y pinadalhan ng aming kuya ng link tungkol sa aming lumang bahay, kung saan kami lumaki. magmula nung makita ko ang mga larawan, napuno ako ng galak sabay lungkot.

ako’y nagagalak lang na hindi tinibag at giniba ang buong gusali…isa na itong kainan na sikat!
medyo kahawig pa nga sa itsura ng bahay na ipinagawa ng aking mommy at daddy…sayang lang at wala akong larawang maipakita dahil hindi pa ko nakakapag-paalam sa mga may-ari ng websites pero makikita niyo dito sa our awesome planet ang aming lumang driveway, at dito naman ang kanilang mga mukhang napakasasarap na pagkain.

wala na sa Diliman ang aking mga magulang, matagal na nilang ipinagbili. tahimik na silang naninirahan sa lugar na malapit sa dalawa kong kapatid kaya palagay ang loob ko kahit hanggang telepono ko na lang sila nakakamusta.
pero pa minsan minsan ang sarap pumikit at alalahanin ang masasayang araw ng kabataan, sa bahay na laging maraming bata, pusa’t aso (minsan nga pati kuneho, manok at isang baboy!–sa likod ng bahay ha), na pinaliligiran ng mga puno ng langka, avocado, mangga, kamias, papaya, saging, atchuete, pimenton, kawayan…

119 Kalayaan Ave Ma119 Kalayaan Ave Dad

i always regret not joining the Litratong Pinoy events, a weekly fiesta for avid photographer-bloggers with a different theme each month.
but this time i made sure i did, and i hope i’m not too late.

the theme this week is “will you remember?” loosely translated. the memory that may have faded back into the recesses of your mind, might suddenly become clear and vivid by a simple word, picture, scent…
this time it was a link from my older brother who alerted us to the current status of our childhood home. it triggered off quite a lot of conflicting feelings in me.
it seems apt now that it is a restaurant-gallery serving creative Filipino food. waves of nostalgia and alternating sadness and joy (where’s our bedroom? did they just knock down all the walls? did they rip up all the floor tiles, the hardwood floors?) washed over me as i scrolled down the pages (see above links for the websites).
i wish i could “go home again”…to that sweet place full of kids and cats and dogs (at some points, even chickens, rabbits and a pig! –in the backyard) and surrounded by fruit trees (avocado, jackfruit, mango, papaya, banana, kamias-bilimbi, annatto and peppercorn bushes, and bamboo…

serious gear

husband and his old old friends from elementary school are going to see each other tonight. yes they go way back when, immigrants and sons of immigrants who grew up in the city but every chance they got they went hiking and camping and skiing. now that they’ve settled down they see each other at parties and reminisce about the days when they’d go on and on without shaving and showering…real wild mountain men! i wouldn’t be surprised if they’d daydream about going off again in search of nature trails…and i’d point them to this website that sells these cool tactical pants…they look like real serious gear with all those pockets! and the gusseting and the sturdy fabric guarantees ample protection against poison ivy? nettles? poison oak? and whatever else this city girl can only imagine in those trails.

[canned] food finds

this is what i was craving:
pancit palabok,
shrimp and garlic sauce over rice noodles, with a sprinkling of something fishy and smoky, as is traditional.

pancit palabok w/ canned oysters, mussels....
but i didn’t have much time. i didn’t feel like cooking a pot of squid adobo, or smoking anything in particular during this cold and chilly day, with the windows all sealed tight (last time i smoked something on a wintry day one of my guests almost passed out!!!).
i watched a rerun of my favorite TV chef, Tony Bourdain in Spain….and he was indulging in the most decadent of canned seafood, –i mean, $175 a can! they gotta be soooo goood. off i went to my Asian grocery store to forage for something more affordable. like maybe 10% of the price might be just a smidgen of a hint of how good it could get.
i knew i did not want to buy anything canned from China…for all the obvious reasons. so when i found these Spanish octopus and mussels,
Spanish canned mussels

canned Octopus
and oysters from Korea,
canned oysters
along with some freshly thawed shrimp from a bag imported from Thailand….it was just about as good as i’ll ever get from here in the rapidly freezing up Northeast portion of the USA…

–with a lot of help from Vietnamese fish sauce, scallions, boiled eggs, lime wedges, and pounded pork cracklings, and a MaMa Sita palabok sauce pouch.

Christmas cards

people get ready, there’s a “train” coming…and it’s called Christmas.
i don’t know about you but i’m not the type who buys Christmas presents and ornaments and stuff, on the day after Christmas sale.
i don’t wrap presents till the very last minute.
it must be the heady rush of the deadline-approaching-fearsome-knot-in-the-stomach-adrenaline rush that makes me more productive and even sometimes somewhat creative.
but this year i’m hoping to get a little bit of a headstart and at least work on my Christmas Cards just a bit earlier.
i’m painfully aware, i’ve been really lousy with keeping in touch with my oldest and dearest friends and cherished relatives, so i try not to skip out on the Christmas greeting and send a personalized picture card. it is no substitute for keeping in contact touch i know.
i don’t do the form-letter thing either. i just send out a photo, or lately, a collage of photos, with a little scribbled note, because i think the photos say more than an impersonal photocopied 500-times litany of boasts family update can ever say.

it takes only a few minutes to upload a photo and choose the template and it can be fun especially when there are many options to choose from. plus, it can take as few as three days to get them back and start licking stamps and sending them out.

i think that’s just so precious….

cookbooks galore

on the top of my reading pile(? heap? mound?)–
new releases from

and i’m really thrilled to have the latest edition of Joy of Cooking. i got my old well-worn, oil and soy stained 1975 edition when we were “newlyweds”….i really truly loved this book, and subsequently sent copies to my newlywed favorite cousins and friends to hopefully get them enticed into the cooking world….this is published by Simon and Schuster and anyone who owns a copy is guaranteed entree into the wonderful tight-knit splendiferous world of cooking….