Food Friday: Tres Leches Cake

I had to share this cake recipe with y’all even though I haven’t tried it yet, because it sounded so interesting. It uses the same device for moistness that my favorite Jello ‘poke’ cake does, except instead of Jello poured over the hot cake it’s a milk/cream mixture. It’s from Ina Garten’s new (2014) cookbook, Make It Ahead.

Tres Leches Cake with Berries

from Make It Ahead, Ina Garten

1 1/4 c all-purpose flour

2 t baking powder

3/4 t kosher salt

3 extra-large eggs at room temperature

1 c plus 5 T granulated sugar

2 t pure vanilla extract

1/2 c whole milk

1 1/4 c heavy cream

1 12-oz can evaporated milk

1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 t pure almond extract

Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean

8 cups mixed fresh raspberries and sliced strawberries, for serving

sifted confectioners’ sugar, for dustin

whipped cream [there’s also a recipe in the cookbook for this, a make-ahead version that stays whipped for a while thanks to the addition of creme fraiche]

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13x2″ baking pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl and set aside. Place the eggs, 1 cup of granulated sugar, and the vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed for 10 minutes (really!) until light yellow and fluffly. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add half the flour mixture, then the milk, and finally the remaining flour mixture. Mix with a rubber spatula to be sure the batter is well mixed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake for 25 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched lightly in the middle and a cake tester comes out clean. Set aside to cool in the pan for 30 minutes.

In a 4-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk together the heavy cream, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, almond extract, and vanilla seeds. Using a bamboo skewer, poke holes all over the cooled cake and slowly pour the cream mixture over the cake, allowing it to be absorbed completely before continuing to pour on more of the mixture. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

To serve, toss the fruit with the 5 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar, cut in squares, and place on dessert plates. Surround the cake with the fruit, put a dollop of whipped cream on top, and serve.

Food Friday: cookbook recommendation and pork & kale

Apparently Nigel Slater is some sort of culinary celebrity in the UK. I’d never heard of him until Marisa at Food in Jars mentioned his newest cookbook during her favorite cookbooks of 2014 roundup. After a while on my library’s hold queue, Eat became available this week and I really enjoyed it. I’ve not made anything from it yet – I added several recipes to my ‘try this’ queue on Plan to Eat – but I fully expect to enjoy the results. It’s written in a narrative style, in paragraphs without the ingredients being mentioned ahead of time, and that makes it a much less clinical experience to read (and, I presume, to cook with). If you’re looking for interesting but not crazy-complicated food to make at home, I highly recommend you check out Eat.

Next week I plan to post a review of two weekly meal planning services that I’ve been trying out. The below recipe is a modification of a recipe from one of them, 5 Dinners 1 Hour. In honor of Nigel Slater, I’ve written it in his style from Eat, even though he has absolutely nothing to do with this recipe.

Slow cooker pork & kale
Adapted from a recipe from 5 Dinners 1 Hour

Plug in your slow cooker and spray with cooking spray. Add 3-4 pork chops* to the bottom (preferably bone-in, about 1 1/2 – 2 pounds). Clean a bunch of kale and tear into medium-sized pieces, adding on top of the pork. Dice a medium onion and toss it in (or be super-lazy and use half a bag of frozen chopped onions). Open a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes (preferably with garlic) and pour on top. Add a couple glugs (~2 tablespoons) of balsamic vinegar. Cook until tender, 3-4 hours on high or 6-7 on low, I would guess, stirring the greens and tomatoes occasionally if possible. If you get home early and you have a bunch of spinach or arugula to use up, dump that on top to cook down for the last 30 minutes to an hour. Good alone or served with rice or couscous.

* I defrosted mine the day before in the fridge, but if you haven’t you could probably get away with starting from frozen, as long as you have a couple extra hours to let the whole thing cook. You might end up with too much water; I dunno.

Food Friday: Rhubarb Ginger Syrup

Sorry for the blog silence; moving and settling in to the new place has turned out to be an even more time-consuming process than I expected. The great part is that I’ve got my sewing room 75% functional and am slowly unpacking all the bits and bobs. Maybe I’ll actually sew something (other than mending) soon!

The kitchen is 90% there and I’ve begun cooking a lot more. I recently purchased a charming new cookbook called The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making, by Alana Chernila. Apparently Alana has a blog, called Eating From the Ground Up, and I suspect a lot of the recipes started there. The book is a bit of a rambler, not focused on any one type of food or cooking/preserving process. I’m not sure that I’ll actually use that many of the recipes as written; I might recommend it as a library book before you see if it’s worth the price for you. There’s a section on drinks, including making your own tea blends, homemade hot chocolate, and that sort of thing, which has the following rhubarb ginger syrup recipe, designed to be used as a concentrate with seltzer, etc.

I love rhubarb, but the spouse is not the biggest fan, so I only test his patience with a strawberry rhubarb pie once every month or so in summer. This is a nice alternative that encourages me to drink more from our Sodastream. It’s very good mixed half and half with plain Sodastream carbonated water and ice. I made it basically as written using mint; if I were to make it again I’d cut the water down so I’d end up with a more syrupy consistency for my purposes, and I’m not sure that the mint really did that much at all. If you don’t have any fresh herbs around, don’t stress.

Rhubarb Ginger Syrup
from The Homemade Pantry, by Alana Chernila

2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces
8 cups water
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 cup sugar (or more to taste
a few sprigs of fresh thyme or a handful of lemon balm, mint, or a combination of the two

1. Combine the rhubarb and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the rhubarb is almost dissolving. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the rhubarb.
2. Add the lime juice to the rhubarb water, along with the ginger and sugar. Raise ht heat to medium-high and cook at a low boil, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the mixture is slightly reduced and thickened.
3. Remove it from the heat, add your herb of choice, and cover. Let steep for 5-10 minutes. Taste and add sugar if needed. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve into a jar or bottle and let cool.