Saturday, February 27, 2010

a hug across the sea

Francis is home my mom said.. Would you like to talk to him?

From my mom's tone of voice I could hear a sense of relief, in someways saying "praise God he's recovered".  A voice filled with joy and happiness, and the ripple of comfort hit deep inside me, I was relieved to hear that my youngest brother is alive and surprisingly doing well.  The good news is that he is expected to fully recover over the next few weeks.

Before I could rehearse in my head how I would begin the conversation with my brother, a voice on the other end of the phone said  Hi Lou ! How are you?  I was expecting someone who would sound tired, having just endured a threadmilll of unfortunate events.  Instead, I heard a voice that is full of life.  It was like he just stepped out of a refreshing bath, feeling relaxed and ready to start a new day.

Our conversation drifted from one story to another, one boisterous laughter to another.  I felt dissolved in the moment, I could  talk to him forever.  Last month  he was lying on a hospital bed, wincing in pain. Today, it was the first time I felt like he was back to his old self.  He made me laugh so hard until tears rolled down my cheeks. He made fun of his serious condition, making me feel like I finally woke up from a bad dream and he was comforting me, saying everything will be ok.

One of the sad truths about me being so far away from home is that I am not there when I am needed most.  Two life threatening instances: the first was the horrendous typhoon and flooding only a few months ago, and the second a sudden illness... two instances I wanted to offer a hug to the ones I love, but  how do I send a hug across the Pacific?   It's only when I close my eyes, seeing my parents and brothers, can I be close to home...

Among other things that I talked about with Francis was my blog.  Of course, the blog will always come up if you happen to ask me how am I doing these days.  I mentioned to  him that it's that time of the month again where I will be joining Kulinarya for a feature parade. And since he's a very creative person (an artist in my view), I asked him if he had any idea how to present my next post...he advised "use sago (tapioca pearl) to elevate the flan... exaggerate the caramelized topping by tweaking it..."  His suggestions opened up so many ideas of inspiration

But of course... it was food that connected us.  Indeed food is about joy, about the experience of sharing it... about the bond with my brother that no ocean can break apart.

So Francis, I hope I am able to do justice to what you perceived my post would be...I'm sending this post 7300 miles as my hug across the seas....and everytime I bite into the flan, I would know that you are here with me... sharing the same air that I breath, the rain that falls upon us, and the love that we give to each other unconditionally.

me and my brother Francis during my last visit in the Philippines

Leche Flan


For Flan
8 egg yolks
1 can condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk

For Caramel
1 cup of sugar

Tapioca Pearl
Sesame Seeds
Clear Gelatin (follow the direction in the box, when it was about to settle, I scattered some pearls in it)



Ok this is the part where I had difficulty with, but after so many tries, I finally figured out how to do it.  Use a heavy saucepan.  Pour sugar, cook over medium heat.  Cook until sugar dissolves and appears brown.  Immediately pour to the baking pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine all the wet ingredients in a bowl, condensed milk, egg yolks and evaporated milk.  Stir well.  Pour the flan mixture into the baking pan.  I used a baine marie or deep tray with hot water to submerge the baking pan.  Bake for 30-40 minutes ( I used small baking pans so it cooks quickly). Flan is ready when the surface is firm.   Remove baking pan from water and let it cool to room temperature.  Unmold it and voila , enjoy.

For my take this is what I did: 
Here's the flan
and I wasn't too happy about it.  For one, it had dimples, second, the sides are not velvety smooth...
Time to dress it up just like what my brother suggested.

Pinoys usually put macapuno on top of leche flan, well for me I put macapuno ice cream... yeah Magnolia Ice Cream from the Philippines...

Plus toasted sesame seeds, tapioca pearls and  gelatin... and VOILA!


Kulinarya was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney, who are passionate about the Filipino culture and its colourful cuisine. Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes. By sharing these recipes, we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino Food as we do.

If you are interested in joining our Kulinarya Cooking Club, please feel free to drop by our foodblogs and leave a comment – we would love to hear from you!
Asha –
Cherrie –
And of course… Trisha of Sugarlace and Trissa of Trissalicious and Kath of A Cupecake or Two!


  1. Wow this looks great!and very touching story.I am glad that your brother is doing better!

  2. That looks incredible, what a touching story. It honestly made me cry. It made me miss my family overseas. Thanks for joining Kulinarya. You are breath of fresh air and your post are honest and hopefully some day we will get to meet.

  3. AWWW Malou - your brother must be so happy to see this! It looks AMAZING! I love his idea of using the sago pearls so you have two textures in one... it is a brilliant idea!! I'm so glad you joined Kulinarya - so great to have you with us inspiring us with new ideas.

  4. Wonderful post, I'm glad your brother is better.

    I love your presentation of the leche flan and the addition of the different textures with the ice cream and sesame seeds and tapioca, very nice!

  5. Nicely done. I hope you can make this for me, Malou. From now on the leche fan would remind me about your love for you brother. We usually make leche fan every December too and I just love contrast of the syrup and the flan itself.

  6. This is a very sweet and touching post. It sounds like your dear brother is on good trajectory to recovery.

    This dessert looks amazing!

  7. What a sweet post through and through! I am glad your brother is feeling much better. His flan suggestions are great, chewy sago to contrast with the flan is genius and love the addition of ice-cream, Magnolia macapuno flavor no less - so over the top, I love it! :)

  8. Wow! WOW! Wow wow wow! Honestly I don't know what you were worried about because this is absolutely stunning! It looks like something from a 5 star fine dine restaurant and I bet it taste just as awesome!

  9. I want that flan, looks so yum

  10. I love the spiralled toffee topping, very artistic, ganda! Oks ang suggestion ni brother ;)

  11. This is really good news. I'm so glad Francis has recovered and in very good spirits. What a beautiful bond you have with him.

    I love the twist you made with the leche flan. Who can resist leche flan, sago and ice cream? I absolutely love the presentation!

  12. First, wishing your brother continued recovery and health! I know how you feel about being so far from family: my sisters are all in California and my parents are back in the Philippines. I worry about their health and am grateful for our extended family that looks out for them. As much as possible, my husband and I would like to make more regular visits there.

    Now, as for your leche flan, you certainly know how to accentuate the positive - the presentation is gorgeous!

  13. What a beautiful post. So glad your brother is better. The flan looks good too!

  14. oh my, your presentation is something out of the kitchen of five star hotels :)

    ..I'm happy for you and your family that your brother is doing well now..

  15. @houston: Hi great to see you here!
    @kath: im sorry i made you cry, but i think that's the road we immigrants opted to take...yeah i want and i hope to meet you someday.

    @trissa: i'm honored to be amongst you ladies of Kulinarya.. it's like having sisters on the blogosphere!

    @Natasha: thank you for your continued patronage... i am blush everytime I see you.

    @divina : speaking of another 'sister" on the blogosphere. thanks for being there always!

    @peach: hi nice to meet you and thank you for dropping by.

    @Christine: thank you for being here again, for me you are a NETSTAR!

    @Caroline: now that's really a compliment coming from an artist/expert yourself! thank you mucho!

  16. @Trisha: the flan had so many flaws... it wasn't that smooth as I envisioned it to be... but when ate it, the flaws were forgiven asa the flan tasted soooo divine.

    @Kenny T- everyone in the house... let's all greet Kenny a happy birthday... thanks for dropping by.

    @cusinera: thank you for your kind words... im a constant visitor of your site too.

    @@cookies and cream: thanks for your unending support. you're such a sweet friend...

    @Tangled Noodle: another NETSTAR in the house folks... thank you for gracing the house... im always thrilled to have you around!

    @El: Hello, welcome to my site, so great to see you.. and thank your for the kind words.

    @Olive: thank you for the compliment, you have a wonderful blog yourself.

  17. it is never about how long you've been apart from a loved one. never about not being there on the exact moment when you were needed. we always have to believe that we are there ... hugging him or her and being hugged back. he knows you're with him even if you're 7300 miles away. happy to know francis is home. past weeks must have been a painful struggle for you. it's time to treat yourself to something sweet. go eat your leche flan. indulge. life's sweetest moment is best experienced after a bitter and sometimes sour patch. - teyene.

  18. Awesome job on the dressing up.. looks fantastic!

  19. What a wonderful blog post! How amazing your brother is. The flan is beautiful too. :)

  20. oh so pleased to hear your brother is better its hard being away from home I am in the US and my family in the UK, wow this flan is beautiful

  21. Extreme Decadence Alert!!!

    How can anyone eat this amazing work of art? It is so pretty and at the same time so mouthwatering.

    Love the food and love knowing your baby brother is doing great!!!

    P.S. I dont care if Im being redundant - but honey, you outdid yourself, AGAIN!

  22. What a wonderful post..Your brother will be so happy to read this. Happy to know that he is getting better.
    Fabulous flan and lovely presentation :-)

  23. Beautiful flan! Even more beautiful is your story. Hugs.


  24. Your leche flan looks amazing. Great idea from your brother to use sago. The combination of the leche flan, sago and the ice cream is pure decadent. Yummy!

  25. Never tried making a flan using condensed milk before but I make this easy to make favourite French dessert Far Breton (a flan).

    Glad to hear your brother is ok. Living abroad and far away from your family is never easy.

  26. i didn't realize your brother was sick but I sure am glad to hear that he is going to be okay! Food is definite one of the best sweet that he wanted to help you out on your flan...which looks mouth-wateringly good by the way!

  27. Very touching story! I can fully identify with you. I really miss home :( I miss talking to my family face to face. Cooking always brings me close to them in my heart.

  28. Nice post and very touching...great pictures...and the flan looks delicious, great presentation as well :-)

  29. You so dang this amazingly cutey n touchin and am so glad he well now....ur flan is gorgeous n so reminds me of our pudim de ur zest n punk and the way u write,actually u took me to paradise with ur sweet sprinkle back home...
    cheers and happy day to ya.....

  30. What a touching story! I too live miles away from my two brothers, one of which lives with his family in Singapour and I wish I live closer! I am glad your brother has recovered and it is wonderful to be able to get feedback from him on your recipes and cooking projects; I think his advice on the flan was well taken! Great results.

  31. @Teyene: i devoured the leche flan thank you very much LOL! but seriously, thank your for stopping by and the words of wisdom!

    @Asha: thanks for dropping by and coangratulations on the feature... you rock girl!

    @Mother Rimmy: Thank you, I'm glad we've been bumping into each other in the blogosphere!

    @Rebecca: I hope you communicated with your family regularly... and thank you for the mention on tweeter! you're so sweet!

    @Basil: hahahah you crack me up... and i love it that you are always always there for me!

    @Gulomohar: Thank you for stopping by. I am excited to try your mung bean on friday!

    @Ju: awww thank you for skipping over here at my site. i hope you feel better now.

    @Cherrie Pie:yes indeed it was yum... and the gelatin too... they all blended well together

    @The Cooking Ninja: I'm so glad to see you really i'm thrilled!

    @Joanne: Oh yes he's doing a lot better. In fact he's been doing his normal activities already... thank you for the best wishes!

    @Mary Moh: awww, I wish you could spend more time with them then... i mean yeah face to face!

  32. @Juliana: Hellowh... great to see you here... thank you for stopping by!

    @VSB: I love the paradise hahaha.. I believe we're together in this... the feeling is mutual!

    @TOB: I know it's hard but for as long as the love is there, no distance could break that apart. Thank you for stopping by!

  33. wow this is leche flan heaven! you are killing me Malou. I want this badly!
    And your story is so touching. Definitely need to eat leche flan after reading it!
    Keep blogging.

  34. This is fabulous. Send me some, please, pretty please.

    Listen, you did not miss the giveaway. There is a week on it. Come back and sign up. I did not post your note about it being too late. Didn't want anyone else to think it was too late.

  35. I am touched by your writing. Whatever your brother is going through he will come out fine. Beautifully done flan..kudos!

  36. I'm so glad that your brother seems to be in such great spirits despite the lemons that life has handed him. They always say laughter is the best medicine!

    Your leche flan looks SO SO SO pretty! I love the stringy caramel strands. I've always wanted to learn how to do that so you'll have to do a tutorial some day :) When I was in college, my specialty was leche flan and it was probably one of the few things that I knew how to make. It's been a while since this decadent dessert has grazed my taste buds and I think it's about time I revisit!

    Thanks for sharing such a touching story and a gorgeous dessert!

  37. @Anonymous: thank you for dropping by... now i'm trying to guess who you are because you didn't leave a name ahahaha.

    @Chaya: aww that was sweet of you for coming over here to tell me... that's wonderful then, ill skip over to your place and join.

    @Nostalgia: oh thank you. great of you to skip to malou!

    @Dhale: oh dhale i'm glad you're back... i hope you had a great time with his DAD! oh well about the stringy thingy, I did it by accident. Remember I was getting frustrated with the look so I tried to caramelize more sugar and by doing so over and over, I literally just poured all the caramel into the plate and voila it formed into strings hahaha!
    Looking forward to your post as well!

  38. Malou that was such a beautiful story -- it must be hard to be so far away from family especially your parents and brother nonetheless. I am so glad to hear that he is doing better and what a great way to send him love through a glorious dessert. The way you dressed it up was beautiful, I loved the little spirals of sugar yum yum yum :) Your words are captivating, this post left me with a huge smile on my face so thank you for that!

  39. I just discovered your blog--what a refreshing blend of lovely writing and storytelling along with recipes and photos. Glad to hear your brother is doing better, and excited to try this recipe. I love flan!

  40. The Leche Flan was perfect, I added dayap or lime and it was good

  41. You are just the best Malou, You make cooking so easy and so delicious. God bless your kind heart for sharing your recipes, it give me, my friends and family to enjoy life more, Thank you so much for Skip to Malou, indeed a blessing!

  42. I have read your article post. thank's for sharing & tips. I am a regular reader of your post.I appreciate with you.Thanks for sharing the blog and always keep it


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