Flan de Naranja – Orange Custard

Flan de Naranja - Orange Custard

Flan de Naranja is a light and silky custard dessert topped with soft caramel. Instead of milk or cream, this recipe uses freshly squeezed orange juice brightened with its own zest.

This light, dare I say healthy, flan recipe is also as easy as custard desserts get. There is no need to precook the custard, which means there’s zero chance of screwing up and ending with orange-flavored scrambled eggs.

The trickiest part is making the caramel. I’m hoping that rendering a few pounds of sugar inedible for the sake of testing means that I’m somewhat qualified to give a few tips on caramelizing.

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Pasencia – Filipino Meringue Cookies

Pasencia Filipino Meringue Cookies

If there is one cookie I’ve had the most of in sheer volume alone, pasencia cookies would easily top the list. This is one of those things you mindlessly snack on while reading a book or waiting for dinner to get done.

This recipe is an easy way to use up those pesky small amounts of leftover egg whites. For larger amounts of about a dozen whites, angel food cake comes to mind. I have yet to see a killer egg white omelet recipe, not that I’ve been actively looking for such a thing.

These fat-free meringue cookies are light and crisp with a hint of vanilla. It’s a lot like making French macarons but instead of almond flour, we use plain old wheat flour.

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Bread Bowls for Soups

Bread Bowls for Soups and Dips Recipe

We’re all about baking and cooking from scratch here. Homemade serving vessels might be taking things a bit too far, though. Gently nestling flattened pieces of dough on upturned bowls seems so… homely. I feel like scrapbooking or knitting a sweater after making bread soup bowls.

These are always fun to have on hand whenever soups and stews are on the menu, though. Aside from a less cluttered kitchen sink, the bread bowls itself are actually worth eating. These are nothing like the stale leathery bread bowls tougher than tupperware.

This recipe for bread soup bowls is quick and easy. Get the dough started before preparing dinner and the bowls be done by the time your soup starts simmering.

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Potato and Orange Salad – Ensalada Valenciana

Potato and Orange Salad - Ensalada Valenciana Bowl

Ensalada Valenciana is a simple salad of potatoes and oranges dressed with a red wine vinaigrette. This light salad has several layers of sweetness — subtle red potatoes, fresh and fruity oranges, and roasted savory pimientos.

What is a pimiento? It’s a generic Spanish word for peppers, but in this recipe, pimientos refer to roasted, skinned, and seeded sweet peppers. Pimientos are available canned or jarred but can be easily made at home.

For homemade pimientos, roast whole sweet peppers (such as your standard red bell) at 375ºF / 190ºC for about 30 minutes, turning halfway through roasting. The skins will blister and blacken. Peel the roasted peppers and remove the seeds. Refrigerated in an airtight container, pimientos will keep for several days.

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Ensaimada – Filipino Cheese Brioche

Ensaimada - Filipino Cheese Brioche Crust

Edam cheese is essential for making ensaimada. Filipinos know it best as queso de bola, bowling balls of cheesiness covered in a protective shell of red wax. These big-as-your-head cheese balls always made our dinner table during christmastime. We have this tradition of rounding up thirteen different types of spherical fruits to symbolize prosperity for the new year, so queso de bola fits in quite nicely, if I do say so myself.

No one ever told me that the waxy coating on queso de bola was, in fact, actual wax. Other kids voluntarily ate glue; I unknowingly ate paraffin. Copious amounts of it. Needless to say, I hated queso de bola with a passion, but continued to eat it anyway because everyone else seemed to enjoy it.

Now that I know better, I always keep a wedge on hand. I find Edam plain and inoffensive as far as cheese goes, but finely grated and baked with sweet brioche dough, we end up with a well-loved Filipino bread along the ranks of pan de sal and pan de leche. There are many other ways to enjoy queso de bola, of course.

Storebought versions are more like sponge cakes heavily topped with sugar, cheese, and butter. This breadier version has a fluffy interior, deeply browned flaky crust, and a nice buttery finish. I prefer to keep ensaimada plain because there’s enough cheese, butter, and sweetness in the bread itself, but there’s nothing wrong with a light dusting after baking. I listed a number of optional glazes and toppings.

This recipe for ensaimada benefits from an overnight rest in the fridge mainly to maximize flavor development. It really makes a huge difference in taste and texture. The dough is filled with cheese and coiled into snail-shaped rounds, so chilling also makes shaping easier, fun even.

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