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Archive for the ‘Mexican’ Category

Tres leches cake is, so I hear, quite ubiquitous in Latin America and very popular in the US. It is also, apparently, quite the fashion in Albania. I’d love it to become more popular here in blighty since it’s pretty darn good cake. It is, essentially, a light-as-air sponge cake soaked in ‘three milks’: sticky, sweet condensed milk, evaporated milk and rich, fresh cream; and, if you like, a kick of rum. The sponge, being made of eggs whipped up to frothy peaks, is full of tiny bubbles which act as little pockets to hold the milks which means the cake is incredibly moist but not soggy. As you can probably imagine, for something soaked in condensed milk, this cake is quite sweet so it is just perfect topped with softly whipped cream and fresh summer berries which are tart enough to balance out the favours.

Tres leches cake makes a wonderful summer cake for a tea party or dinner; it’s so pretty decorated with a riot of red, pink and purple berries, simple and elegant at the same time. Once it’s been doused in milk, the cake goes in the fridge to chill so it’s cool and remarkably refreshing when served: not what your guest are expecting but a pleasant surprise. And that’s what I really love about tres leches – it’s not your everyday cake, it’s a bit of a surprise. Tell someone you’re serving them sponge cake soaked in milk and they’ll probably think you’re nuts (unless they’ve already been inducted into the tres leches club) but one bite in they’ll wonder how they’d gone so long without this cake in their lives.

Tres leches cake with berries

Adapted very slightly from Simon Rimmer on Saturday Kitchen

Serves 8

For the cake:

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 150g sugar
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the milk sauce:

  • 397ml condensed milk
  • 350ml evaporated milk
  • 200ml double cream
  • 3 tbsp rum

For the topping:

  • 150ml double cream
  • fresh berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, red currants, cherries)

First make the cake. Preheat your oven to 180°C and grease a 23cm square pan (but not one with a loose base! I used a pyrex dish).

In a spotlessly clean bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks, add 50g sugar and beat until stiff.

In another large bowl beat the yolks and remaining sugar until pale and fluffy. Sift over the flour and baking powder and fold in. Stir in the milk and vanilla.

Fold one-third of the egg whites into the yolk batter to loosen then gently fold in the rest of the whites. Pour into your prepared pan and bake for 30–40 minutes. The cake is ready when it’s golden and a skewer comes out clean.

While the cake is baking stir together the milk sauce ingredients.

As soon as the cake comes out the oven prick it all over with a fork and gradually pour over the majority of the sauce, about ¾. Allow to cool in the baking dish then chill.

Two hours before serving pour over the remaining sauce.

Just before serving turn the cake out and whip the 150ml cream to firm peaks. Spread the cream over the top of the cake and decorate with fresh berries.

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I had been planning to make a pot of vegetarian three bean chilli for some time but as the weather has become more spring-like I’ve been eating less soup and stew for lunch and more salads and sandwiches. Since my kitchen is now in a state of disrepair (more on that soon) it seems a lot more sensible to make a salad than try and cook something up on my paltry single hob. Despite fancying a cold lunch, I still wanted the flavours of a good bowl of chilli so I set out to make something spicy and smoky but salady at the same time. (more…)

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I like to make use of my free time at the weekend by making long and involved recipes or at least recipes that take a long time to cook, they’re not usually very involved. That way I can get on with the gardening/cleaning/DIY as is required. This recipe for carnitas needs three and a half hours cooking at a low temperature to transform the meat in to meltingly tender, juicy bites which are then crisped up under a hot grill. The Coca Cola may seem an odd addition but it tenderises the pork and caramelizes under the grill.

We ate our carnitas wrapped in toasted flour tortillas with a herb salad, quick pickled onion slices and lashings of sour cream to cool the spicy heat. Between the two of us there should have been enough for leftovers on Monday but it was so good we ended up almost finishing the lot. Good thing I went for a run while it was in the oven…

Coca cola carnitas

Serves 3-4

  • 1-1.5kg boned pork shoulder, rind removed
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp cayenne
  • 1 dried chipotle chilli*
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • ½ can Coca Cola (not diet)
  • 60ml vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 130ºC.

Cut the pork into large pieces, about 5cm. Place in an ovenproof dish so the pieces fit tightly together in one layer.

Add the onion, garlic, spices, bay leaves and salt, mix and pour over the cola.

Pour the oil evenly over the top and tightly cover the dish with foil.

Bake for 3½ hours until the pork is tender enough to pull apart. Strain everything through a wire sieve reserving the liquid in a large bowl or jug.

Pull the pork apart into smaller pieces and discard the cooked onion, garlic, bay leaves and spices.

Once the reserved liquid has settled, skim off the fat and add it back to the pork. The juices can be reduced to make a sauce.

At this point you can cover the pork and keep it in the fridge ready to reheat when needed. Or, to serve straight away, heat the grill up as hot as it goes. Put the pork under the grill for 6-10 minutes until the pieces start getting crisp. Stir well so the un-crisped pieces get to the top and grill for another 6-10 minutes.

Serve with which ever Mexican accompaniments you enjoy – tortillas, rice, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, pickles, salad…

*If you can’t get chipotle chillis, try 1-2tsp smoked paprika.

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