The bulbs we planted in the fall are slowing started to emerge. Many have frost burned tips but they are welcome signs of new growth. The grass is also growing quickly during these warm, dry days. Walking the vegetable field though was overwhelming. The warm weather seemed to have promoted rot. The lettuce beds that I had been waiting to harvest are just too flooded. I am thankful for the stored crops!
This weeks's pick list:
- Winter Squash
Pumpkin Flan, nytimes.com
- 1 ¾ cups/350 grams granulated sugar, divided
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cups/473 milliliters half-and-half
- 4 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (see note)
- ⅛ teaspoon fine salt
- ½ cup/125 grams pumpkin purée
- ½ cup/125 grams butternut squash purée
- Make the caramel: In a heavy saucepan, mix 3/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water. The mixture should look like wet sand. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it begins to make large bubbles. Continue to cook without stirring, rotating the pan regularly, until the caramel is translucent and amber-colored, 12 to 15 minutes. Working quickly, pour caramel into a 2-quart oven-safe glass bowl and rotate the bowl so it coats the sides.
- Make the flan: In another saucepan, combine remaining sugar, cinnamon stick and half-and-half. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl until well blended. Whisk in vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, salt and pumpkin and squash purées. Add cooled cream mixture and whisk well.
- Pour custard mixture through a mesh sieve, stirring and pressing with a spatula. You can do this directly into the bowl with the caramel, or into a separate bowl first, and then pour the strained mixture into the bowl with the caramel.
- Place the bowl with the custard into a larger baking dish and carefully add warm water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the flan bowl. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 45 to 60 minutes, or until flan is just set in the middle, but still jiggles slightly. (A wider, shallower baking vessel will cook more quickly than a deeper one.)
- Remove flan from water bath and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until completely cool, preferably overnight. To serve, run a knife around the edges of the flan, then put a serving platter on top of the bowl and invert. The flan should slip easily onto the serving platter with the caramel sauce pooling nicely around it.
For the pumpkin pie spice, you may substitute 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and pinch each of allspice and cloves. To make pumpkin and squash puree, halve it, remove the seeds, roast in a 400 degree oven until soft. When cool, puree it in the food processor. For best results, strain it overnight in a colander to remove extra liquid.