Flan is a traditional egg-based dessert that can be found around the world. From Latin America to Europe, you can find this jiggly, caramelized sweet in bakery windows, cooling on stove tops, and on restaurant dessert trays.
The first preparation of flan dates back to Ancient Rome, and from there, it made its way to Spain, where it picked up it's crispy burnt sugar top. From Europe, it traveled across the ocean and made an appearance in Mexico, where natives added the local flavors of coffee, tequila, coconut, and chocolate.
Flan is popular in many Latin countries and in Colombia, where coffee is king, the two blend together perfectly. A touch of rich coffee flavors the silky sweet egg custard topped with a deep caramel sauce. Coffee and dessert -- all in one bite.
One popular dish in Ecuador is goat stew or seco de chivo. My mother would prepare this recipe whenever she could get her hands on goat meat, a rarity in regular supermarkets. (Though often found in Halal or Latin food markets.) Traditionally the goat meat is cooked with chicha, a fermented drink made of corn and naranjilla, known in Colombia as lulo. Naranjilla has a citrus flavor with a combination of rhubarb and lime.
The key to deliciously tender meat in this traditional Ecuadorian stew is an overnight marinade in beer. Then the goat meat is slowly simmered with fresh tomato, onion, bell pepper, and garlic and brightened wtih a bit of spice from aji peruano and citrusy naranjilla.
Empanadas are a traditional and favorite appetizer and snack in Colombia. Easy to make in bulk, stock pile, and heat up at a moments notice, you'll find them all over the country. With so many variations for crust and fillings, each family has their own favorite recipe, and this recipe is for Empanadas de Pipian or potato and peanut empanadas is from Cauca, a region located on the Pacific Ocean side of the country, and home to the city of Popayan.
A quick simmering homemade fish broth brings rich flavor to this typical Ecuadorian dish, thickened with green plantains and seasoned with smoked paprika, fresh tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, garlic and a bit of beer . Using both the shrimp shells and meat maximize this starring ingredient without wasting a thing.
After moving from the ever-sunny Florida to the ever-changing New York, I was inspired to come up with a timely dessert. The apple-friendly, though significantly colder, winter season was my guide. Out of my kitchen came this apple flan or flan de manzana.
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