If too much time has passed, the VFW neighbors find a reason to get together. One weekend, I decided to test several recipes from the authentic Mexican cookbooks that Taylor and Courtney Childress had given me for my birthday. The molé sauce was spicy. The enchiladas hot out of the oven. And this was the night that my air conditioning shorted out. They were so gracious, all of them, sweating picanté through their pores wondering if I had cut the AC as a prank.
Ryan Preston, aka P-Dawg, had come over earlier in the day to “help” - read: taste test. When I told him that I had an extra Mexican flan I needed him to try before I served them that night, he responded, “What’s Mexican flan?” Perfect, I had a guinea pig with no frame of reference. I upended the individual flan onto a plate, handed him a spoon, and waited. In his typical P-Dawg blend of eloquence and irony, he reacted, “Anyone who doesn’t like flan is unAmerican!”
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon orange rind, grated
~ Preheat oven to 325º F.
~ Heat 1/2 cup sugar in a heavy skillet or saucepan, stirring constantly until it melts and turns a dark
golden color. Remove from heat and immediately distribute evenly into custard cups, swish it around so
it evenly coats the bottoms of the cups.
~ In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Stir in milk, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla, and orange peel.
~ Place custard cups in casserole or baking dish. Pour egg mixture into the custard cups and pour
simmering water around custard cups, 1 inch high.
~ Bake at 325º F for close to l hour or until a knife comes out clean.
~ Cool flan on a wire rack. Chill for at least 3 1/2 hours in refrigerator.
~ To unmold the flan loosen edges with a paring knife then invert onto platter or small plates.
~ Garnish with curled or candied orange peel.