Where Did Flan Come From?

It's a story with twists and turns and starts with chickens. The Romans were the first to domesticate chickens. Finding themselves with a big egg surplus, the Romans stole, make that borrowed, from the Greeks to develop new egg-based recipes. Early versions of flan were savory not sweet. 
          Somewhere along the way, someone tossed honey in the pot instead of fish flakes and sweet flan was born. Romans conquered basically all of Europe, and their customs, beliefs, and recipes went with them. Sweet flan enchanted the newly vanquished lands and when the Roman Empire fell in 476 AD, flan survived.
          Of all the peoples introduced to this dessert, the Spanish loved the stuff and were the first to add burnt sugar caramel. Like the Romans before them, the Spaniards brought flan to new lands. And in 1518, famous Cortés the conquistador landed in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.
          Mexican cooks took flan from a simple creamy treat to a whole new level. Coffee, chocolate,…

Meatless Monday Idea

Looking for easy ooohs and awwws? 
Whip up this elegant and filling vegetarian treat. 
Halved in size they make a fabulous "heavy" appetizer. Started out as a puff pastry tart, but the bottom never quite crisped up. 
If there's one thing I cannot abide, it's a soggy bottom. A minor brainstorm and tada ... savory puff pastry hand pies!

Mushroom, Leek, Goat Cheese Savory Hand Pies Ingredients: 1 package puff pastry, thawed 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 1 tablespoon EVOO 2 small leeks, white & pale green parts (halved lengthwise  then thinly sliced crosswise, rinsed & drained 4 or 5 large chopped white button mushrooms salt and pepper to taste 1/4 cup goat cheese 1 tablespoon ground parmesan 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves flour (as needed for rolling) 1 egg white (mixed with 1 teaspoon water as egg wash)
Directions: Place oven racks in top and center positions. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Melt butter and EVOO in a medium sauté pan set at medium heat. When foaming subsides a…

For the Love of Pierogi

The women in my husband’s family were expert pierogi makers. His late aunts were part of a still ongoing brigade of the tasty Polish dumpling makers at St. Stanislaus Parish - a church so beautiful it is designated a minor Basilica. 
More savory cabbage and sweet cheese pierogi are sold the weeks before Easter and Christmas than the ladies ( and a few talented men) at our parish can keep up with. It helps to have an “in” with the pierogi making crowd for advance notice of when there’s a batch ready for sale. A successful pierogi purchase feels like a Pat’s touchdown in the last moments of a tie game. And if you’re really lucky enough to be the recipient of your Polish aunt’s cookbook with a variety of sweet and savory pierogi recipes to be cherished, and celebrated by making them at home. Thank you, Cioce (pronounced Chutchee) for your lifetime love of cooking and us.
Blueberry PierogiDOUGH2 cups plain, all-purpose flour1 tbsp powdered sugar1 egg + 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten together1 c…

Lemon Love!

Luscious lemon flavor that's one helluva science experiment ... you mix up a batter, pour it in a baking dish. Forty-five minutes later the miracle happens every time, somehow it separates into a creamy lemon pudding on the bottom of your pan, topped with a light sweet-tart sponge cake. Sift a little powdered sugar for lovely finish, and there you have it.

For a low sugar version, a good Stevia baking blend does the trick with no loss of flavor or texture. If you're a lemon lover, be prepared to fall head over heels!

LEMON PUDDING CAKE 4 large eggs, separated 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest  1/3 cup lemon juice 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted  1 cup sugar 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1-1/2 cups whole milk
Place a roasting pan large enough to accommodate an 8-inch square baking dish on a rack in the center of the oven. Fill the pan with about 1-1/2 inches of water. With the pan inside, heat the oven to 350 degrees. 
Butter the 8-inch square baking dish. Set aside.

Best Belgian Waffles EVER!

The secret? Seltzer instead of water or milk. Our favorite for sweet morning brunch waffles is Polar raspberry lime flavored ... but when fried chicken and waffles are on our supper menu, there's nothing quite as good as Spindrift seltzer with cucumber!

If soft cake waffles are your bag, this recipe is not for you ...

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon Truvia baking blend
2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled 
1 large egg
1 (12 fl oz can) seltzer or club soda, plain or flavored
coconut oil spray for waffle iron 

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Add butter, egg, and seltzer and whisk until smooth.  Lightly spray a preheated Belgian waffle iron coconut oil.  Pour about 2/3 cup of batter (should barely fill the bottom grid).  Cook according to appliance manufacturer’s instructions. Makes 3-4 waffles, depending on the size of your waffle maker.

The politics of broccoli ...

“I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.” George H. W. Bush

Remember that quote?

Seriously, #41 ... you should never have dissed the glories of broccoli.

"Let's put broccoli in the White House again."

Broccoli lovers everywhere believe that Hillary Clinton hit on something with that sign in 1992. After all, her husband, #42 ended your presidency.

Ten years later, your own son #43 feebly attempted to defend the family honor by flashing a thumbs down on broccoli. He had to think fast and instead tossed cauliflower under the bus when he remembered that his host Mexican President Vincente Fox was a broccoli farmer.

Finally, broccoli has found real love from #44 with President Obama claiming broccoli as his favorite vegetable. Coming full circle, he's endorsed fellow broccoli lover Hillary Clinton. Her position on the beautifu…

REALLY good rice pudding.

The news from U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark that Nazda Alam was to be her guest at President Obama’s State of the Union address brought a round of cheers in Democratic party circles here in Massachusetts. 
My first introduction to Nazda started with a phone call. She was running for Democratic State Committee and hoping I would consider voting for her as an Affirmative Action add on candidate. She talked about the importance of encouraging civic and electoral participation in immigrant populations and communities of faith. She talked about her own experiences as a Muslim American and her love of this country that she chose to pledge her allegiance to as a new citizen. She was gently insistent and passionately sincere. I said yes. Her hard work and advocacy has led to an appointment to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Immigration and Refugee Policy and the State Treasurer’s Diversity Council. Nazda is a great Democrat and even more impressive she is a faithful American patriot. She says he…