Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pastel de Tres Leches

Pastel de Tres Leches (Spanish) - Three Milk Cake (English)

This is my husbands favorite cake of all time.  
It's origin is disputed by many but some say it originated in Nicaragua, others say Mexico or Costa Rica.  No matter where it came from it is a fantastic dessert, and it's simple to make.
It's a sponge cake soaked with three kinds of milk then topped with whipped cream and fruit if you like.  I have tried many recipes but this one is my favorite. It's best made early in the day or the day before. 

Click on picture above to see how the milk has absorbed into the cake.

5 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups whole milk
1-14 oz.  can sweetened condensed milk
1-12 oz. can evaporated milk

1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 f.   Grease and flour (or use cooking spray) a 13X9 inch baking pan.

2. In a small bowl using a whisk mix flour and baking powder together, set aside

3. In a medium bowl with a hand mixer cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add  vanilla and eggs one at a time mixing well between each egg.

4. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture 2 tablespoons at a time, mix until well blended.  Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.  

5. Bake at 350 f. for 20-25 minutes or until it springs back when lightly touched in middle. Cool

6. Pierce several times all over the cake with a fork.  

7. Combine milk, evaporated milk, and condensed milk together.  *Pour all of the milk mixture slowly over the top.  

8. Whip the whipping cream with 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup of sugar until fairly stiff.  Spread over the top of the cake.  Garnish if desired with fresh fruit, or canned mandarin oranges, maraschino cherries, pineapple etc....  or you can sprinkle with chopped nuts instead. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

*yes use all the milk mixture.  Most of it will soak in, but it is normal for the cake to have some milk on the bottom as you serve it.  Enjoy!

Stuffed Vetkoek

Vetkoek Afrikkans for "fat cake" is a fried bun doughnut like in texture.  My husband goes wacky over these things.  In South Africa Vetkoek are cut open and filled with curried mince or jam.   I found a recipe that puts the curried mince inside then you fry them.  I just had to try them out.   They turned out very nice! You can freeze the leftovers and reheat them on the fly for a quick snack. 


4 cups (560g) all purpose flour
2 teaspoon (10 ml) salt
10 g sachet instant yeast (a packet will do)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) cooking oil
1 -1/2 to 2 cups lukewarm water
Cooking oil for deep frying

Curried Mince

1 tablespoon (15 ml) cooking oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tablespoon(15 ml) medium curry powder
1 lb. (about 500 g) ground beef
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1/2 green apple, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon (15 ml) white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon (2 ml) turmeric

To make the vetkoek, sift together the flour and salt, then mix in the yeast.  Mix in the oil and enough  water  until a dough forms.  Knead well until smooth and elastic. Cover dough on floured surface let it rest for about 15 minutes.

For the filling, heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic until soft.  Add the curry powder and fry for about 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and fry until brown.  Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for about 10 minutes, then set aside and cool.

Knock dough down and divide into 14 equal balls.  Flatten each slightly and place some filling in the center.  Press the ends together to enclose the filling.   Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or deep fryer.  Fry the vetkoek for about 4 minutes, turning often until golden brown.  Drain on a rack over paper towels.  Serve warm
Makes 14

Monday, March 23, 2009

Linguine with Spinach and Feta Cheese

1 16 oz. pkg linguine
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups tomatoes chopped
1 pkg fresh mushrooms, sliced
handful of fresh thin asparagus tips (optional)
3 cups fresh spinach leaves
6-7 whole Kalamata (pitted) olives
salt and pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
8 ounces of feta cheese

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, cook pasta as directed on pkg. 

Meanwhile heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, saute onion until just beginning to soften, add garlic and saute for about 1 minute.  Add mushrooms and asparagus (if using) and saute for about 2- 3 minutes, until softened.  Mix in tomatoes , spinach leaves, olives, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Heat until spinach has just wilted and tomatoes are heated through.  Stir in pasta and feta cheese, cook until heated through.  Drizzle with a little olive oil if desired.  Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, the salad below and a nice french bread.

Italian Garden Salad

If you have ever had Olive Garden's soup and salad lunch, this salad comes real close to that. My Daughter said she thinks this salad dressing tastes better than theirs!
Salad Dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 tsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. freshly grated Romano cheese
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
sugar (optional)*

Whisk all ingredients together until well blended. Chill for at least an hour for the flavors to blend

*Personally I like it just like that, but if you feel it's just a little too tart add a pinch or two of sugar.

For the Salad:

1 bag American blend salad (or one that is mostly Iceberg lettuce)
4-5 thinly sliced red onion rings
4-6 Kalamata olives
2-4 Pepperoncini peppers (can also use banana peppers)
1/2 cup seasoned croutons
1 small tomato quartered
freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
salad Dressing

Chill large salad bowl in freezer for at least 30 minutes. Place bag of salad in bowl. Place on top of lettuce, red onion, Kalamata olives, Pepperoncini peppers, tomatoes, and croutons. Add some freshly grated Parmesan cheese if you like, pour entire salad dressing mixture over the top. Mix thoroughly at the table.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Garden Box

They did it out of Love :  )  
A little inside joke, when my son told me after their hard work that I owed them big!  His dad said (with a grin) no-no we do this out of love...  

Isn't it cool though!  Robert built the box last week, but we had about 5 inches of rain over the past week, so they didn't get to filling it until yesterday.   I promptly planted some veggies and herbs.  Thanks guys, I love you with all my heart for it!

Friday, March 13, 2009


This is a cool cucumber, yogurt and mint salad to temper spicy Indian foods.   

2 English cucumbers, seeded and chopped fine*
1 1/2 to 2 cups plain yogurt** 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika
pinch of sugar 
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped 

Place yogurt in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and let drain for about 1 hr.  in the refrigerator. Discard liquid from the bowl.  

Mix with the rest of the ingredients and stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hr. to cool and blend. Stir well and serve. 

*Peel cucumbers and cut lengthwise in half, and lengthwise in half again.  Remove the seeds by sliding a sharp knife down the edge with the seeds.   

**if you can find plain Greek yogurt, you can omit draining it.  Greek yogurt is much thicker than regular plain yogurt. 

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken from India

2.5 lbs.  skinless and boneless chicken thighs
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 (1 ½ -inch diameter) cube of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1¾ teaspoons garam masala
¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, or to taste)
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
½ to 1 teaspoon red food coloring  

Rinse and pat chicken dry with paper towels. With a sharp knife, make 2 diagonal slashes on each thigh.

Put onion, garlic, ginger and lemon juice in a blender, and blend to a smooth paste. Transfer to a bowl large enough to accommodate the chicken. Add the yogurt, spices, salt, oil and food coloring, if using. Mix thoroughly. 

Add the chicken to the marinade and rub the marinade into the slashes with your fingertips. Cover and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours, turning the chicken 4 or 5 times while it is marinating. 

To cook on a gas grill: Preheat grill by turning all burners on High for about 15 minutes. Once grill is hot, turn one burner off and turn the others to Medium. Place chicken pieces over the burner that is off. Close the grills lid and cook the chicken for 45 to 60 minutes, turning the chicken every 15 minutes. The chicken is done when the juices run clear. 

If using a charcoal grill, light the coals about 1 ½ hours before serving; it should take 20 to 30 minutes to get red-hot. Place the barbecue grid on its lowest setting.  Lift the chicken pieces out of the marinade and place on the barbecue rack. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes on each side, then position the rack farther from the heat source. Cook the chicken more slowly for another 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally and basting with the marinade from time to time. The chicken is done when the juices run clear.


Monday, March 09, 2009

Pico de Gallo

Fresh and simple!
I like to make this when making Fajitas or Tacos, but it is also nice with a big bowl of Tortilla Chips.  

1 1/2 - 2 cups tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped fine*
handful fresh cilantro chopped
1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
dash or two of salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Toss chopped tomatoes, jalapenos, onion, and cilantro together.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and lime juice, then stir in olive oil.  

If the tomatoes are a little too acidic, a little sprinkle of sugar (not too much) will tame that down. 

* the heat of the peppers are mostly in the seeds and the white pith they are attached to - depending on how hot or mild you like it add those accordingly.