Saturday, September 17, 2016

Three-Milk Cake (Tres Leches)--an Easy and Light Version

Tres leches is a famous cake from Latin America. Last year, I tried it for the first time. It was delicious and seemed very simple, so I recently decided to replicate it. I looked up different recipes, ask a Latino friend about ingredients, and finally came up with my own version of it. Last night, I served it to a friend who considers tres leches one of her favorite cakes. She said that the best tres leches she ever had was from a South American restaurant in Chicago, but when she tried mine, she admitted that it was even better, and asked for a recipe.

As always, I made my version lighter and less sweet than the traditional recipe calls for. As a base, I used my own sponge cake, which does not contain any butter although it features in many tres leches recipes. I use this sponge cake base to make a birthday cakes. It is light and easily absorbs all kind of liquids that you wish to saturate it with.

I used exactly three milks--evaporated, condensed, and whole milk, and no heavy cream, which I only used for decoration. With all those changes, the sweetness of the cake turned out to be perfect, that is the way I like it. I served it not with candied fruits but with fresh raspberries which gave it bit of tartness and nice presentation.

Three-Milk Cake (Tres Leches)

For a 10" sponge cake:
4 large eggs, room temperature,
2/3 cup sugar,
2/3 cup all purpose flour,
1 tsp baking powder,
2 tbsp natural breadcrumbs,
1 tbsp butter.
For the three-milk mixture:
1 14-oz can evaporated milk,
1 can sweetened milk,
2/3 cup whole milk,
1 tsp vanilla extract,
1 cup heavy whipped cream,
2 tbsp sugar,
raspberries or any berries you like.

1. Preheat oven to 325F.
2. Grease the bottom and the walls of a baking form with butter and dust with breadcrumbs.
3. In a bowl of a mixer place eggs and sugar. Beat until pale yellow and almost stiff.
4. Mix flour with baking powder and sieve into the egg mixture. Gently fold in until well incorporated.
5. Transfer to a baking form and bake for about 40 minutes, until set and gold on top. Let it cool completely.
6. In a large jar mix all the milks and the vanilla essence.
7. Transfer the cake to a serving plate with at least one-inch high walls. Using a wooden skewer poke the cake several times. Slowly pour over the milk mixture making sure that outside walls are also well soaked with it.

8. Cover the cake and let cool in a refrigerator overnight.
9. Whip the heavy cream with 2 tbsps of sugar until stiff. Spread on top of the cake, decorate with fruits and serve.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Zucchini Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce

A few years ago a friend gave me as a gift a spiralizer, a simple tool which makes any long vegetable into spaghetti threads. At the time I got it it was not available in the US stores. In the past year or two a spiralizer became easily available in many American stores so today I decided to post a recipe for a vegetable dish with the use of a spiralizer.

Many vegetables, for example carrot, squash, cucumber or zucchini can be spiralized. My favorite became green zucchini which I make often in the fall when local big zucchinis are available. And in that case the bigger zucchini the better. I make a zucchini spaghetti which is a simple dish of fried zucchini with tomato sauce on top. This is not only an easy dish but also almost entirely made of fresh and pure vegetables, an excellent dish for any fastidious vegan and gluten- or lactose-free diet believer. I shred some Parmesan on top of the sauce but the dish is very tasty also without it.

Zucchini Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce

6 large green zucchinis,
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil,
4 medium tomatoes,
1 small onion, chopped.

1. Blanch tomatoes in hot water, peel off and cut into cubes.
2. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a medium pot and add onion. Fry on a medium heat until transparent. Add tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes.
3. Spiralize the zucchinis.

4. In a large frying pan heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add minced garlic and fry until gold. Add spiralized zucchini and fry on a high heat tossing it often until all the water evaporates. Zucchinis should be cooked but still firm. Do not salt them as they will release too much water and become very soft and overcooked. The bigger zucchinis the less water they will release.

5. Turn off the heat and season the zucchinis with salt and pepper. Transfer them to the plates, spoon the tomato sauce on top and serve.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Cauliflower in Tahini Sauce

The start of the cauliflower season prompted me to write today about a very simple yet delicious cauliflower dish. It comes from Lebanese cuisine. I have made it quite often ever since I tried it first at my friend's the past summer. Almost everyone who tasted it complemented an interesting and unusual combination of cauliflower and tahini. I have been often asked for the recipe, which I share today.

The whole secret of the dish lies in the right combination of the tahini sauce ingredients. The sauce should be not too thick and rather tart in taste to contrast the mild taste of the cauliflower. Cauliflower can be cooked or roasted, and it can be just white or, in one of the now fashionable yellow or purple color to make it more fancy.

I make this dish often just as a lunch dish and eat it with pita bread, but it can also be served as a side dish to accompany grilled meats.

Cauliflower in Tahini Sauce

1 large cauliflower,
4 tbsps tahini paste (available at Middle Eastern groceries),
3-4 tbsps freshly squeezed lemon juice,
1 garlic clove, minced,
salt and pepper to taste,
fresh chopped parsley.

1. Cook cauliflower until soft but still firm. Drain.
2. Pour tahini paste in a medium bowl. Add 4 tbsps of water, then start adding lemon juice, alternating with more water to obtain a creamy sauce with the consistency of a heavy whipping cream. Add minced garlic and season with salt and pepper.

3. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and finish with chopped parsley.