Sunday, 16 September 2012

Tres Leches Cake inspired by a great meal and better friends

Every so often some friends and I take the opportunity to go and eat at really good restaurant. We spend more money than we would normally in the hopes that we will be rewarded with a meal that is not only incredibly enjoyable but also challenging and inspiring. We also use these meals as an excuse to get dressed up and play a little at being fancy. As all of my friends will tell you I am as far from fancy as you can get but it is fun to play none the less. My friend Toby and I inevitably start to break down the food, trying to figure out what made a dish great and how we could pull these things off in our own kitchens. These meals serve a couple of purposes, to me at least, beyond just reveling in the glory that is sitting down and eating really good food. The food humbles me a little, which is good. Food that is amazingly prepared and thoughtful, where each component of a dish serves a purpose without taking away from the whole is something that I strive for always and accomplish every once and a while. The other is simply inspiration. Seeing a dish arrive at the table, taking that first bite and being blown away by the flavours moves me to try and figure it out. It pushes me to try new things and that is always a good thing.

This recipe comes from one of these meals and is inspired by the second best thing that hit our table in my opinion. Now the first was a mussel dish which was sublime. Toby has just posted an article on mussels, which you should check out, so it seems that I would be treading in the same water. Toby’s recipes are great and are totally worth giving a go, so why rehash something that is all ready good. So Johnny is taking on dessert. I have tried to give a little nod to everyone sitting at our table. So the fact that it is baking goes out to kid sister Tiff as she is one of the bakers in our little group. The technique is all for Toby mainly the fact that you have to whip egg whites which I know makes him smile. The use of blueberries is for my friend Fyfe who put the use of them into my head. And the use of Gin is for my little one Kelly whose love for that spirit knows no bounds. Johnny bakes, very much out of my comfort zone but it was a challenge and I took it on to some pretty decent results. So here is Johnny’s take on a Tres Leches cake. It was not as good as the one that we had that night but it is not bad for an amateur. Enjoy.

Tres Leches Cake with Blueberries Marinated in Gin and Honey to the tune of Gaucho by the Dave Matthews Band

The Berry Part

1 carton of blueberries
1cup of water
2oz of decent Gin
3 tbsp good quality honey
Zest of 1 lime

-Combine water, Gin, honey, and lime zest in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Reduce by half and it is syrupy. Let it cool.

-Combine berries and syrup in a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

The Tres Leches Cake part

I did individual servings but you can do one big cake the cook time for a 9” cake is 45-50 minutes

1 cup white sugar
5 egg yolks
5 egg whites
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 can evaporated milk
1 can condensed milk
¼ cup whipping cream

-Preheat your oven to 350. Grease 2 muffin tins.

-Beat egg yolks and ¾ of the sugar until it has doubled in volume. Add in the vanilla and milk and mix. Whisk your flour and baking powder together and add to the yolk mixture and stir together.

-In a separate bowl beat your egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add in the remaining sugar and continue to beat until they are firm but not dry. Fold the egg whites into the batter gently until they are incorporated.

-Spoon the batter into the muffin tins just shy of all the way full. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the tins and place on a deep serving tray.

-Mix together the three milks. You will have lots left over. I recommend that you use it in your coffee. It is delicious. Using a carving fork or skewer poke a bunch of holes in the cakes. Spoon the milks over the cakes allowing it to absorb into the cake fully.

-Top with your berries and you are set. Give it a go.

Greekesque Food for Sammy

            This one goes out to my friend Robyn who I call Sammy. Sammy asked me to put together a couple of recipes for some Greek style food for her and here it is. Now I will say here that this is more of a blending of Mediterranean styles. The Skewers themselves are very much in the Greek style, the rice has a little more of a Moroccan thing going on but it is the closest thing I could find to what I think she was looking for while still using Greek flavours. Or at least what I think of as Greek flavours. Now I struggled a little bit trying to make this taste what I think of when I think of good Greek food and not what you would find in a mall. Mediterranean food by definition is great due to its simplicity and letting the ingredients shine through above and beyond any of the techniques that you employ. So this is Johnny telling you not to scrimp on the quality of the ingredients. So here we go. This one is for you Sammy.

Chicken Skewers and Rice Greek Style to the tune of Moving Right Along by the Alkaline Trio
(It’s a Muppets Song)

The Chicken Part:

3 cloves of garlic minced
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp oregano
1 ½ cups of plain yogurt
Salt and pepper
3 Chicken thighs, you can use the breast meat if you like but I find the thighs to be a little cheaper and a lot juicier. Cut the meat into moderately bite sized pieces.
3-4 skewers, I use the bamboo kind as they are cheap and easy to use. Make sure that you soak them in water for a while so that they won’t burn when you put the heat to them.

-Mix all of the ingredients, except the chicken, in a bowl and put aside (this is your marinade) until you have your meat taken care of.

-Skewer your chicken and then place in a baking pan, cover with the marinade, wrap in cling film, and put them in the fridge and let them work for at least 2 hours, over night is better.

-Heat up a large skillet and add some oil to prevent sticking. Toss in your skewers and brown them on all sides and cooking them all the way through. You now have your skewers, well played now on to the rice.

The Rice Part

4-5tbsp butter
1 onion cut into a small dice
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 cup of rice, I used a long grain variety
2 cups of chicken stock
A pinch of saffron, like half a pinch, this stuff is crazy expensive and a little goes a really long way.
8-10 pitted black or green olives the best that you can afford cut into quarters

So this is a pilaf sort of a thing. Now all that means is that the rice is fried in a fat, like butter, and then the liquid is added.

-Take your tiny bit of saffron and dry toast it in a small pan over medium heat just to wake it up a little bit. Toss it into a bowl and add 1 cup of the chicken stock and let it infuse.

-In a large sauce pan, over medium high heat, add ½ your butter, onions, and garlic until the onions are translucent.

-Toss in your rice and the rest of your butter and let it work for about 5-7 minutes stirring all the while.

-Add your stock including the saffron infused stuff and crank up the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Let it go for 20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat, toss in your olives and recover and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir it up with a fork and you are good to go.

Enjoy Sammy I hope that these work out for you.