Monthly Archives: May 2008

Latin Lover

I have lots of friends that are Latin here at school. And I’ve been bragging for the past year about the Tres Leches Cake I used to make for Jules. Once Alex donated a bottle of cajeta to the cause, I finally lived up to my big mouth. Everyone was on a sugar high for days!

Tres Leches Cake

Cake:
3 large eggs, separated
1 cups granulated sugar
1 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Milk topping:
1 5-ounce can evaporated milk
1/2 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream

Filling:
1 23-ounce bottle of cajeta (optional)

Icing:
3 tablespoons water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large egg whites
or
1 ½ cubs of heavy cream
½ cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 10-inch round cake pan.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the egg whites on low speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually with the mixer running and peak to stiff peaks. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after the addition of each.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and add to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk. (Do this quickly so the batter does not lose volume.) Add the vanilla. Bake until golden, 25 minutes.

To make the milk topping: In a blender, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream and blend on high speed.

Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack. After about 15 minutes, run a knife around the outside of the cake to loosen it. Invert it onto the wrack and let cool further. Once the cake is cooled to room temperature, using a serrated knife, cut the cake into two even rounds. Place one cake half back into the baking pan. Place the other into a 10-nch round spring form pan. Pour half of the milk mixture over each half. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours.

After 4 hours, squeeze the cajeta over the cake half that is in the spring form pan. The cajeta should make an even level and cover all of the exposed cake. Quickly invert the other cake half over top of the cajeta. If it breaks, pat it back together. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

To make the icing: Once the cake is completely chilled, in a saucepan combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 235 to 240 degrees F. Remove from the heat. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. While beating, add the hot syrup in a stream. Beat until all the syrup has been added, the mixture cools, and a glossy icing forms. If this is too complicated, you can beat the whipped cream with the sugar and use it in place of the meringue icing. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and spread the icing evenly across the top.

Just before serving, un-mold the cake from the spring form pan. Serve with fresh fruit if desired.

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Welcome Home Cake

My downstairs neighbor Dave isn’t a big fan of sweets. However he likes two things, clean apple tarts and not so sweet Tiramisu. For his homecoming from Switzerland, I had to make it.

Tiramisu

1/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup strong brewed espresso coffee
1/4 cup cognac
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 pound mascarpone cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 pound fresh savoiardi
Cocoa powder for dusting the surface

For the syrup, combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat, cool and add coffee and cognac.

For the filling, whip cream with sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Fold cream into softened mascarpone.

To assemble, dip individual savoiardi, bottom side only, in the syrup. Line the outer collar of a 10-inch spring form pan, top side facing the ring, with vertical savoiardi. Then dipping both sides of the savoiardi in the syrup, line the bottom of the pan. Cover with half of the cream mixture. Cover that layer with more dipped savoiardi and cover with the remaining cream mixture. Smooth the top with a spatula.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving. Immediately before serving, place cocoa in a fine strainer and shake a light coating on surface. Remove the outer ring from the spring form pan.

Single Saturday Night Steak Dinner

When I want “me” time, the best thing to do is pretend I’m a big shot guy and cook a big steak. This is the best way to make a steak at home, it always come out perfect and doesn’t stink up the house too much.

Steak

1 ½ lbs good steak
salt and pepper
garlic powder
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a cast-iron pan or a nonstick metal handled heavy frying pan, heat olive oil on medium high heat. Sear the steak on one side. When it is browned and caramelized, flip it over, put in the oven meat thermometer and place it in the over. Cook it till desired doneness.

Let the steak rest for 10 minutes. And then slice it against the grain. Serve with polenta, sautéed mushrooms and a reduced balsamic sauce.

Deadliest Catch

I watched the weekend long marathon of the Deadliest Catch on The Discovery Channel. I wanted shellfish, in the worst way. This was the most decedent way I could think of to make it.

Seafood Gratin

Butter
1 lb raw halibut filet
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut in half longwise
1 lb scallops ounces cooked lobster meat, cut into 1-inch chunks
salt and pepper
garlic powder
Cajon seasoning
1 cups choped leeks, white and light green parts (2 large)
2 small white sweet potatoes, shaved into rounds on a mandolin

1 cup stock
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup white wine
3 tablespoons tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cups choped leeks, white and light green parts (2 large)
2 small white sweet potatoes, shaved into rounds on a mandolin
1 cup panko (Japanese dried bread crumbs)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 clove garlic, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 13 by 9-inch baking dish.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in the bottom of a large non-stick stock pot. Season the seafood with the salt, pepper, garlic powder and seasoning. Sear the fit filets, on either side in the pot. Remove to the baking dish and flake into bite size pieces. Add another tablespoon butter to the pot and sauté the shrimp. When cooked, sprinkle them over the fish. Melt one more tablespoon of butter in the pot and sear the scallops on each side.

Melt one tablespoon of butter in the pot and sauté the chopped leaks until translucent. In a separate sauce pan, boil some water and add salt. Quickly blanch the potatoes until cooked but not mushy. Drain the potatoes and add them and the leaks to the seafood, toss to mix.

Combine the stock, cream, 1/2 cup of the wine, the tomato puree, and saffron in a saucepan that was used to cook the seafood and leaks. Bring to a boil, and ontinue to cook the sauce until reduced by half, about 12 minutes. Mash 1 tablespoon of the butter together with the flour. Whisk the butter mixture into the sauce along with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Combine the panko, Parmesan, parsley, tarragon, and garlic. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and mix it into the crumbs until they’re moistened.

Fold the sauce into the seafood and spoon the crumbs evenly on top. Bake for 20 minutes, until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly. Serve hot.

Mexican in Italy

When I was in Milan, everyone served spicy Mexican chocolate. It was amazing and crave-able. This is the best way to get my fix. Be careful, its ultra rich.

Spicy Mexican Chocolate Mousse

3/4 cup heavy cream
1 stick of cinnamon
1 dried chipotle chili

8 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream and chocolate shavings, for garnish

Heat the cream, cinnamon and chipotle in a small saucepan until scalding, not boiling. Let the cinnamon and chipotle steep in the cream overnight. Once the cream mixture cool to room temperature, cover and place in the refrigerator. Discard the cinnamon and chipotle.

Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan containing about 1-inch of barely simmering water (or use a double boiler). Stir with a wooden spoon until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool slightly. Then grab a whisk and beat the egg yolks into the chocolate, 1 at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

In a chilled bowl, beat the heavy cream until it begins to thicken up. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the vanilla and continue beating until the cream holds soft peaks.

Now that you’ve got the elements prepared, put it all together. Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Then, fold in the whipped cream. Take care not to over work the mousse or it will be heavy. Divide the mousse between 4 individual glasses. Cover and chill for several hours. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings before serving.

Is It Summer Yet?

Sometimes you just get a craving for the fresh and luscious fruits of summer. Thank goodness for the freezer section!

Blueberry and Peach Cobbler

2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 ½ cup sugar
1 package of frozen blueberries
2 packages of frozen sliced peaches
2 teaspoons vanilla
zest of one lime
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar

Mix the cornstarch with the sugar then add in the fruit, vanilla and zest. Butter a 13 by 9 inch glass dish and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Transfer the fruit mixture to the baking dish. Heat it in the oven until it bubbles, about 20-30 minutes.

In the mean time, make the cobbler topping. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large metal mixing bowl. Using a fork, mix in the butter until the mixture resembles course meal. You will need to smash in the butter and cut it into the flour. Quickly mix in the milk. Do not over mix, but make sure that all of the dry ingredients get wet.

Once the fruit mixture if bubbling, pull it out of the oven and drop the topping mixture onto the fruit via spoonfuls. Try to distribute the dough evenly over the fruit. Sprinkle it with the last tablespoon of sugar.

Bake until the topping is golden brown, for about 35 minutes. Serve the cobbler warm with vanilla ice cream.