Toasted Caramel Flan

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This is both the most delicious and the ugliest flan I’ve ever made. The texture is unbeatable: think the silkiest flan you’ve ever tasted, and then some. I didn’t do a good job unmolding the flan, hence the awful photo. But the recipe is too good to not share. You probably already have these ingredients at home, so why not make it now? Enjoy.

Toasted caramel flan

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
3 cups whole milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Place a kitchen towel on a work surface and set a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie plate on towel to protect from the heat. Place sugar in a medium heavy stainless steel saucepan. Cook over medium until sugar becomes fragrant and begins to melt around edges of pan, about 6 minutes. Gently swirl pan to incorporate melted sugar. Continue swirling pan until all of the sugar is completely melted and has darkened to the color of dark brown sugar, about 10 minutes. Immediately pour melted sugar into prepared pie plate, coating the bottom evenly. Let stand until cool, about 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, fill a large, deep roasting pan with hot water to a depth of about 1 inch (enough so it will not overflow when flan dish is added). Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Add whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla bean seeds, and whisk until smooth. Add milk mixture to pie plate.

3. Set pie plate in the roasting pan and carefully place in the oven. Bake until edges are set and center retains a slight wiggle, about 50 minutes. Remove pie plate from water bath. Cool completely on towel, about 2 hours. Run a knife around edge of flan to loosen. When pan is rotated, flan should float in caramel. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface; chill at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.

5. Set pie plate in a shallow dish of hot water to soften caramel, about 2 minutes. Invert flan onto a large rimmed platter and serve.

Crispy Cod with Miso Vinaigrette

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Who knew that corn, miso, and fish would pair so well together? I use cod in this east-meets-west entree, but you can use halibut too — any firm, flaky white fish will do just fine. I love the crunchy, crispy, creamy melange of textures in this one-dish meal. Don’t be put off by the long ingredient list; this dish may take a while but the technique is straightforward.

Crispy cod with miso vinaigrette

Ingredients:

For the ginger-green onion oil:

2 tablespoons minced green onion
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/4 cup vegetable oil

For the vinaigrette:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons chicken stock
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white miso
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup water, or as needed

1 pound cod or halibut fillets
Salt
Pepper
3/4 cup panko
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons butter
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
2 green onions, trimmed and julienned into thin strips 2 inches long
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

1. Make the seasoned oil: Heat a small skillet over high heat until just hot. Add the vegetable oil and heat just until it begins to smoke. Carefully add the green onion and ginger to the oil. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. Make the vinaigrette: Whisk the olive oil, rice vinegar, chicken stock, mayonnaise, miso, sugar, peanut butter, mustard, and sesame oil in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in enough water to attain a syrup-like consistency.

3. Season the cod fillets with salt and pepper. Drizzle enough of the ginger-green onion oil onto the fillets to coat both sides. Pat the bread crumbs onto both sides of the fish.

4. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat until hot. Heat the 1/4 cup vegetable oil and place the fillets in the pan. Cook, turning once, making sure the bread crumbs do not burn, until both sides are golden and the cod is cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Remove and place on paper towels to drain. Pour the oil out of the pan.

5. Add the butter to the pan and melt over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the corn and saute for another 3 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste.

6. To serve, spoon the vinaigrette onto a serving platter. Make a well in the center of the vinaigrette. Spoon the mushroom and corn mixture onto the well. Set the cod fillets on top. Scatter the green onion strips and sesame seeds over the fillets. Drizzle a small amount of the seasoned oil over the fillets and serve.

Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms

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If you’re looking for a seasonal vegetable dish that’s easy and tastes more decadent than it really is, look no further. Tender asparagus and earthy mushrooms come together in a super-simple sauce that drapes the whole thing in herby butter. Enjoy this as a side dish with just about anything.

Roasted asparagus and mushrooms

Ingredients:

1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut crosswise into 3-inch pieces

1 pound oyster or maitake mushrooms, trimmed and torn into bite-size pieces
2 teaspoons olive oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons butter

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling


1. Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange asparagus and mushrooms in an even layer on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and toss to coat. Roast in oven, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender and beginning to turn golden, about 15 minutes. Add butter and thyme leaves. Once butter is melted, toss vegetables to coat, and roast about 5 minutes.


2. Arrange roasted vegetables on a platter and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. 


Persian Gulf-Style Date and Coconut Balls

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We eat a lot of energy bars in our household. You know the kind: grain-free and heavy on the dates and nuts.

These Persian Gulf-style date and coconut balls are just like those protein bars you’d find at Whole Foods, but more ancient and more delicious. And they’re a breeze to make. Serve these with tea for dessert or have them for breakfast. They pack well too, making them perfect for the road.

Persian Gulf-style date and coconut bars

Ingredients:

1 cup dried unsweetened coconut, ground to a coarse powder in a spice or nut grinder
2 tablespoons ground pistachios
1 tablespoon neutral oil
2 cups dates, pitted and sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons tahini
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup walnuts
1 teaspoon orange blossom water

1. In a shallow bowl, mix the ground coconut and pistachios and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a wide skillet over medium-low heat. Add the dates and saute for 4 minutes until they are soft. Add the cardamom, cinnamon, tahini, almonds, and walnuts and saute for 2 minutes.

3. Let the date mixture cool, then transfer to a food processor and pulse until you have a grainy paste.

4. Use a spoon to pick up a 1 tablespoon portion of the paste. Moisten the palms of your hands with the orange blossom water and shape into a bite-sized ball. Repeat with the remaining paste and orange blossom water.

5. Roll the date balls in the coconut mixture until they are lightly coated. Serve at room temperature or store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Soy-Marinated Eggs

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My favorite part about ramen are the marinated eggs and quite frankly, if I could order just a plate of those alone, I would. These soy-marinated eggs are a riff on ramen eggs, albeit with more garlic and a bit of vinegary and peppery tang. Make a batch of these ahead of time and enjoy them with breakfast or as a snack.

I like my yolks a bit jammier than in the photo below, so stick to a 6-minute cooking time (instead of 7 minutes, as I originally did) if you want a jammier consistency too.

Soy-marinated eggs

Ingredients:

6 large eggs at room temperature
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 dried chiles de arbol
3/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons mirin
2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1. Gently lower eggs into a saucepan of boiling water. When water returns to a gentle boil, cook 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water and let cool 3 minutes. Remove eggs from ice water and carefully peel.

2. Bring garlic, chiles, soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, and 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add eggs. Let sit at room temperature for an hour. Once cooled, transfer eggs and liquid to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1 day.

2. To serve, drain eggs and halve.