Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Travel & Food: Puerto Rico, Plus Caramel Flan Recipe


That was my second time to visit Puerto Rico in the last two years. I enjoyed beautiful beaches, exotic plants and animals as before, but this time I was more focused on food, I wanted to spoil myself by cocina criolla. (that’s how Puerto Ricans call their cuisine)



It was funny I expected some seafood stuff, but it turned out Puerto Ricans are not crazy about that, what they really like it is roasted pork. Whole grilled one... that’s their favorite. I read somewhere that Puerto Rico was surrounded by very deep ocean so fishermen were not able to catch a lot, so they had to import fish and other. Not sure about that, but anyway Puerto Ricans are big fans of “inland” stuff. They like to grill meat and you can see a lot improvised grill places all around.







Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try street food, but I used every opportunity to try local food in the restaurants. I have to say the best restaurants you will find are in resorts and in the capital city, San Juan. What I ate the most was plantain. It happened that every local dish had them. My favorite one was “Mofongo”, the ball made of mashed and fried plantains and stuffed with fish or chicken or beef and sauce poured over. 

1. Pasta with Plantain; 2. Mofongo; 3. Plantain Soup

Also, I tried for the first time Puerto Ricans’ favorite desert “Flan”. I was amazed with its taste so much that the first thing I did when I came back home was make this gorgeous goody. After ambitious research I came up with a wonderful recipe. There is a tricky part with making good caramel and it took me a while to figure out the best way to do it. Flan looked and tasted so smooth and professional... no need to mention I was super proud of my work.

Caramel Flan



You need:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can (12 oz) carnation or evaporated milk
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract


Steps:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F (175C).
  2. Find a round glass baking dish with about 9 inches diameter. You need outer pan too.
  3. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt sugar, stirring constantly. If you want you can add a tablespoon of water. As soon as sugar becomes golden brown and liquid remove it and pour over the baking pan. Don’t wait otherwise you will get dark and hard caramel which is useless. Cover the sides of the pan with caramelized sugar too. Cool it until is cracked and cold to touch. Set aside.
  4. Blend eggs, both milks and vanilla extract in an electrical blender.
  5. Add flan mixture into pan. Cover the pan using double aluminum foil. To be sure that steam doesn’t penetrate into pan cover it by lid too.
  6. Pour water in outer pan half way through.
  7. Bake flan for 60 min.
  8. When it is done cover it by plastic foil and remove to the fridge for overnight.
  9. When ready to serve remove it from the fridge, give the pan a gentle shake to loosen the flan from the pan’s side or use a knife. Place a plate on top and flip from top to bottom. When you remove the pan, some caramel will start to fall down over flan, some will stay on the top.
  10. Serve flan with a cup of coffee, the best Puerto Rican one.





 







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