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.

Fish Tacos with Wakame Slaw

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Craving fish tacos but don’t want to go to the trouble of deep-frying? Then try this recipe. I thought I’d miss the crispy batter, but honestly, the flaky cod, the Old Bay Seasoning, and the tangy, seaweed-laced slaw make these my new favorite fish tacos. And they’re waaaay healthier and easier to make.

This recipe makes more wakame slaw than you’ll need for the tacos, which is fine, because it’s delicious on its own as a salad.

Fish tacos with wakame slaw

Ingredients:

For the fish:

2 pounds boneless cod fillets
3 tablespoons avocado oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
Corn or flour tortillas

For the slaw:

2 ounces dried wakame seaweed
1/2 to 1 red cabbage, thinly sliced
2 carrots, grated
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1/4 cup tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced

1. Make the slaw: Soak seaweed in warm water for 10 minutes to re-hydrate, then blanch by tossing into boiling water for 15 seconds. Drain wakae in a colander and rinse in ice bath. Drain wakame again and squeeze out excess water. Cut into 1-inch pieces.

2. Make the dressing for the slaw: stir together tahini, lemon juice, water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, garlic, and ginger, adding salt to taste if necessary. Toss wakame, cabbage, carrots, and green onions with dressing and sprinkle salad with sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Set aside.

3. Make the fish: Season fish with Old Bay and salt. Heat a large pan to medium-high and add avocado oil. Saute fish until cooked through and golden on both sides, about 7 minutes for each side.

4. Warm up the tortillas in a pan on medium heat for about 30 seconds per side. Place fish on a warm tortilla and top with a generous serving of wakame slaw.

Citrus Daiquiri

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Forget the adult slushie association. A true daiquiri is simple and balanced: a bit of rum, a dash of sugar, and a squeeze of lime. It should be bright, not sickly sweet. If you’re trying to figure out what to do with the last of the winter citrus, this daiquiri recipe is a creative riff on the classic, livened with the addition of mandarins. Feel free to substitute kumquats or tangerines.

Citrus daiquiri

Ingredients:

1/2 lime, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 mandarin, cut into half
2 ounces aged rum

1. Muddle lime and sugar in a cocktail shaker. Add mandarin and muddle until lightly crushed and juices are released. Fill cocktail shaker with ice, add rum, and shake vigorously until very cold, about 20 seconds. Pour into a glass and serve. Makes 1.

Strawberry-Mint Agua Fresca

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My favorite thing about this strawberry agua fresca (outside of it being immensely refreshing) is the Persianity factor. The Iranian vibes are strong with this one, my friend: a generous addition of not just mint but heady rosewater takes this agua fresca to the next level.

You’ll be sipping this all spring (and summer). Happy strawberry season.

Strawberry-mint agua fresca

1 pound strawberries, trimmed
1/3 cup mint leaves, plus sprigs for serving
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon rosewater
Club soda
Lime wheels, for serving (optional)

1. Puree strawberries, mint leaves, lime juice, agave nectar, rose water, and 2 cups water in a blender until smooth. Transfer puree to a container, cover, and chill until cold, about 1 hour.

2. Skim off any foam from surface and pour puree into four serving glasses filled with ice. Top with club soda and garnish with mint sprigs and lime wheels.

Butternut Squash and Chicken Chorizo Hash

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Sick of butternut squash yet this season? Me neither. But seriously, it doesn’t have to be all butternut squash soup all day. Transform the humble squash into a powerhouse with this hash, decked with meaty chorizo and brightened with lime. And put an egg on it, obvs. Breakfast is served.

Butternut squash and chicken chorizo hash

2 tablespoons (or more) olive oil
8 ounces fresh chicken chorizo
1 pound butternut squash (about 1/2 of a medium squash), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
Salt
Pepper
4 eggs
Lime wedges and cilantro leaves, for serving

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high. Cook chorizo, breaking up into small pieces, until browned and cooked through, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon; reserve skillet with fat.

2. Add butternut squash and onion to reserved skillet and cook over medium-high, adding more oil if needed and stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in chorizo and season with salt. Squeeze a lime wedge over and top with cilantro.

3. In the meantime, heat remaining tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Fry eggs sunny-side up until whites are cooked through and yolks are still runny, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Divide hash among four plates and top each with an egg. Serve with additional lime wedges for squeezing over.