My friend Marty Durrett and I enjoyed going to the Tea Dance and Captain’s Reception on two special occasions during our recent Central America cruise. She looked absolutely stunning in her red silk
sheath, custom-made on a trip to China.
It’s funny to see how the gene pool works, because there before our eyes were several doppelgangers (literally doubles, or people strongly resembling someone we know). If I didn’t know better, it was if we were watching Cambrians Debbie Boutros, Shirley Green, Fay Kennedy, Verna Koch and Jo-Ann Youngner tripping the light fantastic with one like Bob Heald, one of the “men at sea”
hired to squire the lovely ladies on the dance floor.
When frequent cruisers were introduced, those who have traveled just
aboard the sister ships of the Crystal liners, we were astounded to hear the record number of trips they have made, some for three weeks plus many other world cruises. I mean like 40. The most amazing was one lady with but merely 15 combined cruises since 2004, who was celebrating her 98th birthday by dancing every dance very well that evening. When I grow up I want to be like that lady.
Actually, Marty and I are going to make it to 100 with our laughter therapy, I’m sure. We enjoyed a comedy routine one night by a woman who lapsed in and out of various personas of female performers, breaking into song when appropriate. We appropriated one of her best lines to use when ordering from the dessert menu. Our unflappable waiter barely flinched when Marty pointed to the menu and, using her best Paula Dean drawl, requested “chocolate covered chili a la mode.”
On the other hand, my drink waiter was bewildered when I chose to celebrate entering the Panama Canal with a frothy pink blender specialty by ordering a Pacific Sunrise. “Madam, do you mean a Pacific Sunset, or a Tequila Sunrise?” Well, no one ever accused me of being sophisticated.
With all the talk of food, and the requisite sampling of everything tropical and or unique, I was tempted one last time at the Nobu dining room aboard the Serenity, and enjoyed a little dessert trio of crème brulees: mango, passion fruit and ginger. When Marty asked later if I’d like one last vanilla bean crème brulee, I declared myself on cruise control.
Upon return. wouldn’t you know, there would be this recipe submitted by friend Toni Weaver, requested by many after she prepared it for the Cambria University Women’s New Members’ Tea:
Flan con Queso
1/2 cup brown sugar 1 tblsp. water
4 large eggs
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese (not
lowfat), cubed 1 14-oz. can sweetened
condensed milk Lowfat or homogenized milk
Choose a one-quart ceramic or Pyrex baking dish and a pan which will hold it in a water bath. In a small saucepan, caramelize the sugar and water over a slow flame. When thickened, pour into the glass dish.
Place the eggs in a blender and give a quick pulse to stir them lightly. Add the cubed, room-temperature cream cheese and condensed milk. Fill the can with milk and add it in, blending slowly until just smooth without causing bubbles. Pour over the caramel in the prepared dish.
Place the pan in a preheated, 325-degree oven, set the dish in the pan, and pour hot water to fill to a little more than halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake for 60-90 minutes, or until a knife in the center comes out clean (ovens will vary). Remove from oven to cool, then chill until set.
To serve, you may place a platter over the flan and invert the dish, spooning the syrup over the top. Toni prefers to leave it in the dish. She adds that after an hour and 45 minutes her knife does not come out clean, but chilling does solidify the dessert anyway, and produces eight very generous servings. She learned of this recipe from the L.A. Times, citing the rich sweetness of the condensed milk and cream cheese, which she prefers to the “eggy” taste of traditional flans.
We are in the Culinary Corner every second, fourth and any fifth Thursdays. Please share your ideas with Consuelo, c/o The Cambrian, 2442 Main St., Cambria CA 93428; or email to cam- firstname.lastname@example.org.