Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tres Leches Cake or A Little Slice of Heaven, you decide!

Okay, so I'm back with a recipe for Tres Leches Cake that I promise will knock the zapatos off anyone who eats it.  I used the Spanish word for shoes, because I don't know the Spanish word for socks and I am way too lazy to look it up, even on El Google.  For a long time, I searched the land, far and wide, for a decent Tres Leches Cake recipe.  Oh yes, I had tried others, but they all came out soggy and soupy and slushy and a myriad of other adjectives that start with "s" and end in "y".  Alas, it seemed I would never find Tres Leches Cake nirvana.  

Then one day, about a year ago, I happened to be perusing the magazine rack at my local (dreaded) WalMart.  I picked up a publication with which I was not familiar called Taste of the South.  It was a thin magazine, but the pics were glossy and pretty, and the food looked tasty, so I gave it a good thumbing through.  The featured Southern city that month was Memphis, so I paused to take a closer look.  One of the pages featured a brief write-up regarding The Peabody Hotel.  I was familiar with this hotel from a previous visit to Memphis many moons ago, so I paused to read it.  Low and behold, there it was.  A recipe for Tres Leches Cake shared by the chef of the fancy schmancy restaurant located in the hotel, Chez Philippe.  I glanced through it and it looked pretty solid, so I bought the magazine and took it home to give the recipe a test ride.  The only component that seemed to require a bit of effort was a sabayon sauce.  Something with which I was not familiar.

I have to tell you, this recipe is a keeper.  If I need to impress someone, this is my "go to" dessert.  It is as stunning to look at, as it is delicious to eat.  The cake is easy to make and I am proud to say that I can now make sabayon in my sleep.  Sometimes I make the sabayon without the cake and just serve it over grilled angel food with berries.  Originally, I was tempted to forego the sabayon, but let me assure you...if you take the time to make it, you will be rewarded with a look of surprise and admiration from all who have the pleasure of partaking of this decadent creation.  JUST DO IT and I promise you will be placed on the cake baking Hall of Fame pedestal.

The starring players.

This journey begins with egg whites beaten to stiff peaks.

But, wait!  Their yolky counterparts want in on the action, too.

Gently fold the flour in to maintain the light airiness of the batter.

Into the pan.  Note all of the fabulous air bubbles.  

Ahhh, the headliners!  Please give up a big round of applause for the Three Amigos aka Three Milks.  

Be sure you have your Dia de los Muertos trivet close at hand.  A regular trivet will do until you round up one of these.  

Do not over bake!  The cake will appear a very pale golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.

Don't let the cake cool!  Immediately ladle your combined milks over the hot cake.  You might be skeptical that the cake will be able to accommodate all of the liquid, but it will.  

Within minutes, the cake will absorb all of the milks.  The divot in the middle is my fault because I became impatient with ladling and actually dumped the remaining milk onto the cake.  Don't do this.  

Time for sabayon!  Have your ice bath handy.

I replace the port with orange juice and this gives the sauce a light citrus flavor.  Whisk the ingredients continuously over a double boiler until ribbons fall from the whisk when lifted.  This will take approximately 20-30 mins to attain.

It's really hard to capture the ribbons falling while holding the camera with one hand and the whisk with the other.  

Into the ice bath, we go!  Whisk until completely cooled.  Sauce will thicken.  Look at those ribbons now!

Beat one cup of heavy whipping cream and fold into the mixture in thirds.

NICE!!!  Now the cake and the sauce can go into the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.  Whatever's convenient.

Once the cake is chilled it takes on almost a custard texture.  The fruit lightens the dish and the sauce makes your eyes roll back in your head.  Seriously.  
Mmmmm...this is my hand selected piece.  Hey, I made it!  I get first dibs!  ;D

This post is a little picture heavy.  I apologize for that.  I hope you'll try this recipe.

Tres Leches Cake with Sabayon  -  printable recipe
8 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk

1 1/4 pounds fresh berries (I like a combination of blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries)
4 tablespoons of sugar (add more or less depending on your preference)

4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice (recipe calls for port, but I make this substitution)
1 cup unsweetened whipped cream

1.  Preheat oven to 350*.  Grease and flour a 13x9x2 backing dish.
2.  For cake, in a bowl, beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
    add egg yolks and continue beating until fully incorporated.  With mixer running, gradually add sugar.
3.  Fold flour into egg mixture.  Transfer batter to prepared cake pan, smoothing top to level.
4.  Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, approximately 20 mins.
    Do not over bake.
5.  Meanwhile, in another bowl, combine whipping cream, condensed milk, and evaporated milk, stirring
    well to blend.  When cake is done, immediately pour combined milks over the hot cake.  Let cool, then 
    refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  
6.  For berries: 1 hour before serving, slice berries  and toss with sugar.
7.  For sabayon, combine egg yolks, sugar, and orange juice in the top of a double boiler over simmering 
    water.  Do not let bowl touch water.  Whisk until very thick or until ribbons form.  Whisk over an 
    ice bath to cool.  Sabayon should thicken further at this point.  Fold in whipped cream.  Refrigerate 
    until serving time.  Sabayon can be made a day ahead.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Food Blogging is Hard! **whine**

Yep, it's been over 2 weeks since my last post.  Looks like I've really got this new blog off to a great start, huh?  Here's what I have found out during that 2-week period...FOOD BLOGGING IS HARD!  Imagine that phrase being said in a high-pitched, sing-songy, whine (and not the good, makes you a little giggly kind, either).

When Kirk started his BBQ blog, I was full of advice..."you MUST have at least 2 posts each week, otherwise folks will not come back"..."you MUST have big beautiful pictures of your dishes"..."you MUST engage the reader with thoughtful content"..."you MUST be mindful of typos and grammatical errors"...the list goes on.  Oh, yes, I was full of advice.  Truth be told, the only thing I'm full of is caca, bull hockey, matter what you call it, it don't amount to sh*%.

When I blog a card, I photograph it.  If it doesn't turn out, I photograph it again.  No big whoop.  Food blogging is a bit different.  If your photos don't pass muster, or you forget to take a pic of the final plating, it's too late.  Food goes in mouth, then into belly, and it's gone forever (additional details of journey have been omitted because TMI is not a good thing when discussing food).  Missed photo op, end of story.  That's what happened with my Tres Leches cake recipe.  I took numerous photos, but didn't capture the final plating.  It has literally taken me weeks to rectify it, looking for the right moment to make it again, because I'm sure my family and friends are getting tired of eating it.  Finally, an opportunity arose this past Sunday when we had guests in addition to the usual dinner crowd and I needed something impressive with which to end the meal.  Ahhh, Tres Leches to the rescue!  YES!  I was actually able to take a good photo of the end result!  It only took me 2 1/2 weeks of preparation to gather the info for the next post, so please read it.  I'm begging you!  Do it for me, because dammit...FOOD BLOGGING IS HARD!!!  ;D

Monday, June 6, 2011

Gold Bars: a peanut butter blast from the past for some

My first official recipe post.  Welcome to my new food blog.  I'm no expert in the kitchen, but I've been eating food since I was a baby, so that should count for something.  What's that?  You have, too?  Perfect!  We'll get along just fine ;D  

My first post is for a super simple recipe that seems to have some nostalgic appeal for lots of folks who attended Albuquerque Public Schools in the 80's and 90's.  I didn't go to school here, so this Gold Bar phenomena was unfamiliar to me.  It began like day I happened to catch a comment on my Facebook feed from one of my friends referencing something called a Gold Bar.  It immediately elicited numerous responses and practically lit up as people clamored to reminisce about their fond memories of this mythical confection.  What the heck was this Gold Bar and why were these folks so enamored with it?  I had to find out!  

Being close friends with the smartest person on earth, I asked my buddy Google to explain it to me.  Google responded with various links, but no recipes.  After much digging through deadend websites, I finally found myself in the middle of forum discussion that was at least 5 years old.  When I end up in places like this on the net, they usually resemble a Ghost Town with dirt devils and tumbleweeds blowing past due to inactivity, and I typically turn tail and leave, but something caused me to start reading this thread.  A few posts down, there it actual recipe.  It only consisted of 6-ingredients, but they were good ones, and combined, would indeed result in something tasty.  I decided to make it for our upcoming Christmas party that Kirk and I host each year.  My Facebook friend who planted the seed for this quest was going to be in attendance, so I would know for sure if these were the right bars.

The only way these bars could have been easier to make is if Santa's Keebler Elves had dropped in and whipped them up while I was sleeping.  When I put them out at the party, they literally flew off the plate and friends who had grown up here in Albuquerque waxed nostalgic with stories of buying them from the lunch ladies who sold them in the cafeteria for fund raisers. They even received a big thumbs up from my FB friend, Tanya...(hey, grrl)!  Eureka!  They were immediately added to the recipe repertoire!  

Scroll through the pics and you'll find the recipe at the end.  Make them, I insist ;D  

Only 6 ingredients away from Nirvana...crunchy peanut butter, powdered sugar, Rice Krispies, light corn syrup, butter, and Hershey's chocolate bars.

Everybody (except the chocolate) into the pool!

Ouch!  Kitchen casualty!  You will be missed, special scraper paddle attachment :(  Please join hands and bow your heads for a moment of silence.

Into a lightly oiled pan lined with plastic wrap.

My ghetto double boiler.  Works like a charm!  Bowl should sit over simmering water, but should not actually touch the water.

Schrapnel from my afternoon snack!

Kidding!  Into the double boiler...yummm!

Nice and velvety!

A delectable topper to the peanut butter base.

Smooth and shiny.

Into the fridge for 30 mins, then pull it out.  The chocolate will begin to change from a shiny sheen to a dull matte finish.

Cut with a knife and then back into the fridge to finish it's transformation into Gold Bars.

Ahhhh!  Ready to be devoured!  Should we bother with a plate?

Okay...we'll use a plate ;D

Gold Bars -  printable recipe


2 cups crunchy peanut butter

2 cups Rice Krispies

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

4 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

11 standard Hershey chocolate bars, melted

Directions:  Mix peanut butter, Rice Krispies, powdered sugar, butter, and light corn syrup until well blended.  Press mixture evenly into a 9 x 13 inch pan that has been lightly oiled and lined with plastic wrap.  Melt chocolate bars in a double boiler.  Spread evenly over the peanut butter mixture, chill until set but not hard.  Chocolate will begin to lose its shiny appearance.  Cut into pieces of desired size.  Return to refrigerator until chocolate has hardened completely.  Remove from the pan and store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

What's in a name?

Why Risotto Stone?  Am I some sort of risotto aficionado?  No.  Have I ever made risotto or even attempted to make risotto?  No.  Do I crave risotto morning, noon and night?  No.

At this point in the conversation I'm starting to lose you.  You're getting bored and wondering why you decided to visit me here.  I'm actually starting to bore myself and also wondering why I decided to visit me here, as well.  Oh, right, I don't have a choice, but you...there's still time for you to save yourself.  Run away!  Okay, enough with the dramatics.  Here's the scoop.

Every Sunday night, Kirk and I, play host and hostess for Sunday dinner.  Attendees include, of course, Kirk and myself, but also my sister, Patricia, and her boyfriend, Sean.  It's usually a grand evening of fine dining, delicate china, polished silver, and scintillating dinner conversation sparkling with intellectual wit and just the right amount of joie de vivre.  Okay, so it's not quite like that.  In fact, I didn't even know how to spell "joie de vivre" until a few seconds ago when my little buddy, Google (the smartest person I know), whispered it in my ear.  Truth be told, Sunday Dinner is more likely to be eaten on battered white plates, using water-spotted cutlery, the likes of which would make Martha Stewart turn beet red with shame.  Come over early and you'll receive the added bonus of a show before dinner, by being able to witness the cooks irritating each other in the kitchen.  If you listen closely, you'll also hear the occasional obscenity being bantered about...a lot.  In other words, it's a hell of a good time.

On this particular Sunday, Trissi was in attendance, as was our friend Drew, who is back in town after abandoning us for 2 or 3 years.   They were playing the "catch up" game where the participants ask each other questions about current events in each other's life in order to feign interest.  Maybe they were truly interested in each other's answers, but really, how often do you get to use "feign" in a sentence?  I couldn't resist.  Soon the topic turns to jobs and perks, as it often does, and Trissi mentions that her employer is providing access to the Rosetta Stone Spanish language program.  In all seriousness, that's a pretty great thing, but let me pause and provide a bit of background before I go on.

I like words.  They are fun.  I am particularly fond of puns, homonyms, alliteration, non-tradtional contractions, and just plain old made up words that don't exist anywhere except inside my crazy tiny brain.  To entertain myself, I will frequently listen in on a conversation, pick up on a word, and then interject a word that sounds similar to it, but either changes the meaning or makes it completely nonsensical.  I've played this game with myself for a long time and thought myself a little kooky until I met Kirk, who does the same thing.  Years later, I met my friend John, who again, does the same thing, but has elevated it to an art form.

Back to my story, we're standing in the kitchen...Trissi and Drew are having a completely respectable conversation and then I hear the phrase, Rosetta Stone come up.  Maybe I wasn't loved enough as a child, I don't know, but all of a sudden,  I can't control myself and I feel the uncontrollable need to interrupt, so I blurt out "RISOTTO STONE"!  No response, just blank stares and raised eyebrows that read, "girl, you crazy", so I say it again "RISOTTO STONE"!  Still nothing, maybe a few crickets chirping in the background, so I do it one more time, "RISOTTO STONE"!  Finally, maybe in an effort to put a stop to my insanity and my pathetic plea for attention, Kirk says, "You know, that would be a great name for a food blog".  After thinking about it for a couple of days, I decided he was right.  So this is my blog equivalent of blurting out "RISOTTO STONE" in the middle of your conversation.  Enjoy ;D