Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Creating New Memories on Birthdays and Celebrations!

Felisa Buado Delacruz, surrounded by her first born, Enrique and her youngest born, CJ on her 94th birthday. A great gift to her is to have her children's company and her grandchildren. For her birthday, I made her a heart-shaped coconut leche flan. Recipe is below. Yes, that is a huge ube gelato on top of a halo-halo at Jeepney Asia Grill in Cerritos, California.
A summer of 2010's harvest, directly from the farmer's market: heirloom tomatoes, blackberries, white peach, yellow sweet corn, yellow zucchini, green beans, apricots, cherries and okra in the middle. The best dinner that got a thumbs up consisted of steamed artichokes with aioli, yellow corn, okra and Vietnamese basa cooked with dill, olive oil, herbs de provence and cherry tomatoes. It was light, satisfying in terms of flavors and ended with fresh cherries and blackberries as dessert.
Independence Day Celebration hosted by the Philippine Consulate at the Rizal Hall, it was simple and austere, but full of camaraderie. Those in attendance, from left: Enrique Delacruz, myself, Sion Abarquez-Ferrer, John Davis, a former Bayanihan dancer whose name escapes me, Zen Lopez and Charina Vergara, the birthday Independence Girl!
It was Carmen's birthday. Instead of joining her for a birthday dinner that she and her sister usually cooked for her family and some of the folks in the neighborhood, we decided to surprise her: a lei to crown her Queen for the day, a platter of sushi, two platters of assorted barbecue, seafood and vegetables from Salakot. Folks dropped in and had their photos with her. She was elated and her family treated her to another surprise dinner at a Silverlake restaurant. In all, two surprises in a day! Everyone wore a sticker which said " We heart Carmen " and of course, Carmen had a sticker which said " it's my birthday ! ", simple celebrations with such depth of affection made it so so special!


Coconut Leche Flan using Azukar Organics' Coconut Milk Powder


1 tablespoon of Sugar
1 can of condensed milk
6 egg yolks
1/2 can of water, with 2 tablespoons of Azucar Organics' coconut milk powder added


Caramelize over low flame one tablespoon of sugar in a mold. It will first dissolve and then, after awhile turn into brown color. Set aside to cool down to form a glaze. Then, break 6 eggs, take the yolks only. Set aside the egg whites for future use ( be careful not to keep more than two days in the fridge, as egg whites can go bad ).

Mix the egg yolks and 1 can of Lechera Brand condensed milk. I use Lechera as it is less sweet than the other brands. Then, after emptying the can of condensed milk, fill it with water, up to half of the container, then, add two tablespoons of Azukar Organics' dried coconut milk powder. Stir it until dissolved and add to the egg yolk/condensed milk mixture. Do not overmix, as it introduces too much air bubbles.

Strain the mixture to make sure it is a very fine, smooth mixture. Pour the mixture into the brown glazed mold of caramelized sugar. Double wrap with foil to ensure no water or unnecessary steam can get in to spoil the texture and create bubbles or indentations.

Then, prepare the double boiler or steam bath. Steam the mold, now covered with foil, double layers for complete coverage, and over boiling water for about 45 minutes. Cool in the fridge, keep it there for at least 24 hours before unmolding.

Voila, the rest is perfection, a perfect heart-shaped leche flan that got a thumbs up from Carmen, the Queen of Pico who has platinum palate, she said " it has the right texture, flavor and so smooth! " And the best part, all of the leche flan was eaten up by Felisa on her birthday, she had three servings all to herself and today, June 22, 2010, a whole plate of coconut leche flan disappeared in less than 15 minutes. Now, that is good if I may so, based on how fast folks ate it and how they wanted more servings.

Tomorrow, I am supposed to deliver another batch for friends to snack on. I was asked why? Because Josephine started the circle of kindness when one evening, unbeknowst to me, she hands me a package of Sarangani Bay Marinated Bangus. I fried it the other evening when we could not figure out what to eat and we paired it with fresh tomatoes, fresh cucumbers and steamed green beans, with seasoned rice vinegar. Oh my, what a meal! But, then, I was still asked if Josephine gave you the bangus, how come other women got the leche flan?

Why? Because kindness is about paying it forward, it is multiplied exponentially that way when something is given out of affection, not out of expecting something in return, not a currency for getting benefits, but a currency of love for others! I learned that from Josephine and Carmen and I am simply passing it forward! In passing it forward, my summer feels abundant in grace and unexpected surprises!!


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