Filipino Catholics headed to church very early this morning as today is the start of the Simbang Gabi, a nine-day novena which starts from December 16 to December 24.
As quoted from Wikipedia :
"The Simbang Gabi originated not just out of devotion, but also due to practicality. In the early days of Spanish rule, it was the customary tradition to hold novenas in the evenings during the Christmas season. However, the friars and the priests saw that the people attending the novenas were tired and numb from work in the fields, even though they continued to want to hear the word of the Lord. This was because in the Philippines, an agricultural country, families started their day even before the sun would rise to avoid the inhospitable temperatures in the fields. As a compromise, the clergy began to hold Mass early dawn when the land would still be dark, a break in tradition prevalent in Spain and her Latin American colonies.
Filipinos came by the countless multitudes to the Simbang Gabi. Afterwards, it became a distinct feature in Philippine culture to celebrate Holy Mass at such a rather early time. In time, Simbang Gabi became a symbol for Sharing, in both hardship and happiness, for the largely Catholic nation."
Philippines is distinctly known as country with the longest celebration of Christmas. As early as September (which is the first day of "ber" months), you'll hear christmas carols. And we usually put down the parols, Belen and other christmas decors after the celebration of Epiphany or January 6, which marks the end of Christmas season.
The long days of celebration gives us also a long list of preparations. And one thing that wouldn't miss is the list of our favorite noche buena foods. So, what's on your list? Let me guess. I'm sure this one has always been a part of your feast, the Leche Flan. Though christmas or not, this is one of our favorite desserts... never mind the calorie load. Hay! But this this so delicious. So creamy. So sweet. Personally, I like using egg ducks for the flan. Ducks eggs are larger than chicken eggs and tastier. Traditionally, we use steamer to cook this. But I prefer using the oven. And here's the twist to the flan, I topped it with coffee caramel. Here's how i do it...
|Lechen Flan with Coffee Caramel|
10 eggs yolks (i used duck eggs)
2 cans 370ml evaporated milk
1 can 300ml sweetened creamer ( or condensed milk)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp calamansi juice ( i wonder where the lemons are, the grocery ran out of it. But instead of lemon rind, i used calamansi juice to remove the slight pungent smell and taste of the eggs. and it makes the flan smoother)
brown sugar, about 1 cup
1/2 to 1 tsp coffee, or as preferred
- I used 2 oblong molds (llanera) and 6 small round molds for the above flan mixture.
- In a saucepan, let the sugar caramelize over low heat.( Or you may use the llanera itself instead of saucepan, if you'll be using about 1 or 2 llaneras only). Continuously stir, until the sugar melts. Then add coffee. Then spread the caramel evenly on the bottom flat layer of the molds. The more caramel you put on it, the sweeter the leche flan will be. So pour in just enough to cover the bottom of the molds.
- Set aside the molds. Let cool.
- In a bowl, put the yolks, beat slowly. Then add evaporated milk, condensed milk, vanilla extract and calamansi (or lemon rind if you're using one). Mix slowly. Avoid creating bubbles. Just mix it nice and slow.
- Strain the mixture with a fine strainer for a smoother flan.
- Then pour the flan mixture into the molds (llaneras). Then cover each mold with aluminum foil.
- Steam for about 30 minutes.
- OR, If using oven:
- Pre-heat oven to 190°C
- Place the molds in a larger baking . Then fill this large pan with hot water, with almost halfway level to the sides of the llaneras.
- Bake for about 1 hour or until the flan is firm.
- You can tell if it's cooked through inserting toothpick, if it comes out clean then it's cooked.
- Let the flan cool. Then refrigerate. It sure is worth the wait.
- To serve, gently turn the mold upside down. Now you see, the sweet golden caramel on top and some dripping on the sides.
- Enjoy a melts-in-the-mouth leche flan!
|A creamy, delicious, melts-in-the-mouth Leche flan|
This is my recipe for the Kulinarya Club, which tasks us to share one of our star recipes for Noche Buena. This simply is it, my leche flan coffee caramel. My family's Noche buena isn't complete without it. Seafood Paella has also been part of my family's Christmas dinner tradition. My daughter has started to like glazed Ham (she even calls it "the noche buena") so I guess we won't be skipping with that, too. I would also like to try the Kinulob na Itik (deep-fried duck seasoned with secret spices ) which is one of Victoria, Laguna's specialty . There's a new branch near our place, so I might as well try it. they said it really tastes good.
But let us not forget, whatever food we prepare, the more delicious and sweeter it is when it's shared with the whole family. Let us not also forget the real essense of Christmas spirit which teaches us to love, to share and to forgive. Let the brightest Star of Christ shine among us all.
This post is linked to : eRecipecards , Food Trip Friday, Food Friday