Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bangers and Mash

On a recent trip to Bar Harbor, ME, we went to this Irish pub/restaurant-- the only place that would take 15 of us half an hour before closing. This restaurant, McKays, seemed pretty casual and laidback, set in an oldish looking Victorian with a beautiful front garden. The chairs and tables were traditional, almost plain wood, again adding to the oh so casual ambience. But let me tell you the food was anything but plain and casual! Like most places in Maine, seafood- lobster in particular was the highlight but having OD'ed on lobster (never thought that would happen!) over the past couple of days I settled on their version of Bangers and Mash made with duck. Bangers and Mash is basically British slang for sausage links and mashed potatoes, it makes for a simple, delicious yet hardy dinner especially on a particularly cool night on Mt. Desert island. I'd never had duck before and couldnt have asked for a better first. Spicy duck sausage complemented by slightly bitter greens and velvety smooth mashed potatoes topped with a tangy mustard sauce....mmmmm....comfort food glory!

So when I came back home and had a major craving I hit the stores but couldnt find duck sausages anywhere. Grudgingly I had to settle for Whole food's Smokey Andouille Chicken sausage. Although, I must admit they were really good- they paled in comparison to the crumbly texture of duck...oh well, am sure we'll go back to McKays again someday and when we do...Mr. Duck sausage better be ready to get annihilated (have been hanging around nephews too long!)...

Recipe (serves 2)

For "Bangers":
1/2 lb chicken sausage (2 gigantic links)
1 tbsp vegetable oil

In a shallow but wide pan fry the sausages till golden brown. Cut lengthwise through the middle invert and fry again to make sure the insides also get a crispy coating. Take sausages out, drain on paper towels till ready to assemble (should be quick).

For Greens:
4 cups of fresh greens
2 cloves garlic minced
salt to taste

Add garlic to the same pan you fried sausages in. Fry for about a minute on low-medium heat. Add spinach and salt and cook till wilted and dark green (about 4 minutes).

For Mashed potatoes:
5 small-medium cooked and peeled red potatoes (cooked in microwave HIGH for 12 mins)
1 1/2 cups of milk
salt and pepper to taste

I wanted bland mashed potatoes so their taste and smell didn't overwhelm all the other flavors, hence the super simple recipe. Bring milk to a boil in a saucepan. Add cooked potatoes and mash till smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. If potatoes seem to thick, add more milk/water.

For mustard sauce:
1 tbsp coarsely ground mustard
1/4 cup Italian dressing

Whisk the two ingredients thoroughly and heat in a saucepan.


I put a layer of mashed potatoes on the plate, then some greens and then added the sausage. Finally topped it off with mustard sauce.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Leche Flan

My father had lots of Filipino friends in Kuwait. In fact our neighbors across the street from us had loads of parties and we were always invited. There were some party staples I always searched for-- Pancit (a noodle dish) , the most amazing fruit salad (still looking for ingredients to make this) and what they called Lamington pudding. I looooooved the "Lamington pudding", I could make dinner out of that alone. But of course back then I was too young and didnt think of asking for recipes so I'd just eat them at said parties. But a couple of weeks ago when I asked my Filipino friend for the recipe she didnt quite understand what I was talking about. And then I described it...its this really thick, creamy pudding with a beautiful dark caramel topping --"Oh! You mean Leche Flan!" she said. Apparently I grew up with a complete misnomer, its ok wouldnt be the first. My friend said that it was super easy and she could usually make it in less than an hour with about 10 mins of actual work. Great! With a baby who knows no naps thats about all the time I can spare. So I gave it a shot and she was right super quick, delicious and just the way I remembered it! My mom makes Creme Caramel which is somewhat of a similar concept-- vanilla flavored pudding with caramel syrup but the texture is just not the same. I know there is Mexican Flan which from what I remember of the one time that I tried it was similar to my mother's version but can't say for sure.

Leche Flan
For pudding:

1 (14 oz) can of condensed milk-- I used Carnation just b/c it was lying around
1 (14 oz) can of evaporated milk
12 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

For caramel syrup
1 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of water

Preheat oven to 350F.

Put sugar and water in a saucepan and let boil on medium heat till nutty brown and thick (will still be of pourable consistency). This will make the caramel sauce. In the mean time beat egg yolks till pale. Add condensed and evaporated milk and vanilla extract. Beat, the mixture might seem too runny but its ok. Keep aside till ready to assemble everything for flan.

Once the caramel is ready, pour it into a mould. I used a 10in deep glass pie dish but small ramekins for individual portions will also work. Then pour the egg mixture into the mould. Seal the mould with aluminium foil. Place the mould in a larger oven-proof dish and fill the large dish with water till about 1 cm below the edge of the mould (make sure no water gets into the covered mould!). Put the larger dish with mould into oven and let bake for about 45 mins or till set. You can tell when you touch the top of the pudding lightly and your finger does NOT leave an imprint. Let the pudding stand till it comes to room temperature. To remove from flan from mould, run a knife around the edge of the mould, cover with a serving plate and quickly invert. You should hear a big sluuurp, and then remove the mould. Although you can eat it at room temperature I like mine cool, so we cut it after refrigerating for a couple of hours. Delicious!!