Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tres Leches Cake

I know I have not posted in a while and I plan to remedy this. Last week was Trinity's Birthday and I didn't have it in me to go and buy a cake. It's only eggs and flour and they charge wayyyy too much for those things. Originally I had planned to do a Coconut Cake for her birthday but she didn't seem overly excited by that prospect, so the morning of her party being the foolish risk taker that I am I decided to do something else. I tend to do this a lot when I'm baking and it's probably not the best move in the world but I've never failed at it (knocking on wood), besides I'm not gonna make a cake on a Monday night for no reason whatsoever. So I took the risk and I was very pleasantly surprised with the results.

Alton John's Tres Leches Cake

For the cake:
  • Vegetable oil
  • 6 3/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces sugar
  • 5 whole eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the glaze:
For the topping:
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 8 ounces sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour a 13 by 9-inch metal pan and set aside.
Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and with the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar over 1 minute. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches and mix just until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. This will appear to be a very small amount of batter. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.
Remove the cake pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer or fork. Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.
For the glaze:
Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the half-and-half in a 1-quart measuring cup. Once combined, pour the glaze over the cake. Refrigerate the cake overnight.
Place the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk together on low until stiff peaks are formed. Change to medium speed and whisk until thick. Spread the topping over the cake and allow to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve

Variations: I shingled sliced strawberries and bananas before putting the icing on this cake. Mango would be amazing as well.

Since I made this cake the day that it was served it did not get to refrigerate overnight.  It still came out very good. However, I feel that if it had gotten the opportunity to soak in all of that delicious glaze overnight it would have tasted even better.

Note: If you don't have a stand mixer a hand mixer should give you comparable results so don't let this stop you.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Beef Braciole with Red Wine Mushroom Pan Gravy

Going into this week I was so excited about all of the possibilities. I had a great weekend with awesome friends over the weekend and I felt like it could only get better because this week was my birthday. Wrong. I started coming down with a cold that was being passed around on Sunday and is was completely laid up for the whole beginning of the week. By the time my birthday rolled around I was only starting to feel semi-human again and completely not up for cooking anything. I had been browsing books and magazines plenty because when I'm sick, that's what I do. I get a pile of cookbooks and sit down and watch a movie that I've probably already seen. I even took my birthday money to Barnes and Noble and got myself a couple of cookbooks. I love going to that place when I know I'm going to be going home with a cookbook. I feel like a kid in the candy store and I want to buy everything and I don't know how I can possibly decide. I'm just standing there staring up at the cookbooks with my eyes wide and glazed over. This is always a happy moment for me! :)  I eventually did decide though and I have been enjoying looking at my birthday cookbooks all week..but it's been one of those weeks for me that nothing has stuck in my brain as something that I just Have to make. So I decided to go to the store and let inspiration lead me where it might and if you have never tried this you definitely should. So I came home armed with flank steak and pretty red potatoes and a good idea of what I was going to make... One of my favorite comfort foods.. and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do.

Beef Braciole with Red Wine Mushroom Pan Gravy

1 1/2-2 lb Flank Steak
1 Red onion (sliced thin in half moons)
4 cloves garlic chopped and divided
1 c. Parmaesan Cheese
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp fresh chopped or dried thyme or rosemary
1 standard package of baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 c of good red wine ( I used a Norton malbec)
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 tbsp good olive oil

Oven set to 350
In a lg. skillet heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and add the onions saute for a couple of minutes then add half of the garlic and the thyme and season with salt and pepper and continue to cook until the onions are a golden brown color. Next add the balsamic vinegar and cook until it is syrupy then remove from heat. Set aside to cool
While the onion mixture cook lay out your flank steak on a cutting board with the pretty side facing down and cover with plastic wrap. Then with a meat mallet point out the meat until it is about a half in thick or so. This is not an exact science, It doesn't have to be perfect just try not to put holes in it. Season the meat with salt and pepper on both sides
Next take the cooled onion mixture and spread it over the pounded out flank steak leaving about an inch border. Then take the cup of parmesan cheese and spread it over the onion mixture. Roll up the meat like a cigar and tie with butcher's twine. (I added a link) making sure to tie up the ends so the filling doesn't come out.
Next sear the meat on all sides until it is a beautiful golden brown and then put it on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven for 35-40 minutes.
While the braciole is roasting clean out the pan that you seared the meat in and add the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and allow the pan to get hot. Add the garlic and cook for a little while then add the mushrooms. Allow the mushrooms to brown and season with salt and pepper then add the tomato paste and cook for a little bit followed by the wine as the sauce thickens add a cup of water and continue to let it cook for about 10 minutes, tasting to make sure it's well seasoned.
When the meat is done pour the pan juices into the mushroom sauce and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Slice the meat and serve with the sauce.

Link for tying a roast. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbMsXEz_LtE

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Strawberry Jam Bread Pudding

Ok...first let me say this before you go any further. I am NOT a baker.... Baking is my least favorite culinary talent and I attempt to avoid it at all costs. But... #1 I'm attempting to change that fact about myself and          #2 with Bread Pudding I'm totally cheating the whole baking scenario but none would be the wiser. This is the perfect dessert for someone like me because it is so easy to prepare and then simply put it in the oven, set the timer, and forget. Strawberries are amazing right now so make sure to take advantage of it...They're as cheap, beautiful and tasty as they'll be all year and they are sooo many uses for him.. i.e. I can think of some delicious poolside drinks and fruit salads, pies, cakes, etc..

Variation of Bobby Flay's "Jam and Bread Pudding"


  • 1 loaf brioche, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons strawberry preserves.
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • Fresh strawberries, for garnish.


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Arrange half of the brioche along the bottom of the dish, and cut or tear the slices to fit. Spread 3/4 cup of the jam on top and cover with the remaining bread.

Whisk the eggs, sugar, 2 1/2 cups of the milk, and the vanilla together; pour over the bread. Press to soak and brush the top with 4 tablespoons of the melted butter. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 15 minutes longer or until the pudding is set. Remove from the oven.

Preheat the broiler. In a bowl, whisk the remaining 1 tablespoon of milk with the confectioners' sugar. Stir in the remaining melted butter and jam until the mixture is smooth. Spread the mixture over the top of the pudding, place under the broiler, and broil until the glaze is golden. Serve hot or warm, garnished with fresh strawberries.

Variations: I used croissants instead of the brioche and it worked beautifully and I put a white chocolate sauce over the top and I was very pleased with the results.

Note: Might want to let this bread pudding go about 45 minutes or so...I felt like the 30 minutes was not enough, but keep a close eye to make sure.

Brian Garner about the bread pudding said "This is awesome!"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ultimate Steak Sammies

Lately I've formed an obsession with sandwiches.This is my latest rut but I have no intention of getting out of it anytime soon. Why should I when there are so many possibilities? There is the Muffaletta, Philly Cheese Steak, Croque Madame, Po Boys, Lobster Rolls, Crabcake Sandwiches... I can go on all day with these. God could not have created a more perfect food combination..Meat, veggies, and condiments slapped between two slices of preferably buttered and toasted bread...What more could man want? Except maybe an ice cold beer to wash it down. So bear with me with this sandwich rut...there will be more to come. :) So, this time I made Tyler Florence's Ultimate Steak Sandwich (with some variations) because I've been drooling over it for a while now and have only now gotten around to making it. But let me tell you that this sandwich is well worth all of the effort!!

Tyler's Ultimate Steak Sammies


Gruyere bechamel:

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk.
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish.

Arugula mayonnaise:

  • 1 bunch baby arugula
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup mayonaisse.

Steak sandwich:

  • 2 soft hoagie rolls
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound rib-eye, finely sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Make the bechamel cheese sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly to incorporate - you do not want any color. Gradually pour in the milk as you stir, and whisk out any lumps. As the mixture thickens up continue to stir until it reaches a boil - this ensures the flour is cooked completely. Dump in the cheese and stir for another minute until the cheese is completely melted. Stir in the horseradish and season with salt and pepper, then set aside to keep warm.
Make arugula mayonnaise: Put arugula in a food processor with the lemon juice and salt and pepper. Top with mayonnaise and process until well combined. Give it a taste and adjust seasoning if required.
Prepare the steak: Take the finely sliced steak and shingle it out into 2 portions on a clean cutting board lined with parchment. Put the shingled meat between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound out using either a saute pan or a meat mallet. After first pounding, remove the plastic wrap, fold in the edges, replace plastic and pound the meat some more. Store wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator. Now the meat is ready when you want to cook it.
Heat a large, flat grill-pan over medium heat. Split hoagie rolls in half, drizzle with olive oil and place onto griddle.
Take the meat out of the refrigerator. Peel off 1 side of the plastic wrap and season with salt and pepper. Put this side down in the pan and then quickly peel off the other side of the plastic wrap and season again. Cook slowly in the pan until juicy and tender and just past pink in color. Turn the meat over and then fold with some of the cheese sauce.
To serve, smear each half of the roll with arugula mayonnaise. Top the bottom with the steak and cheese, top with arugula and sauteed red onions.
Variations: For this recipe I used New York Strip instead of Ribeyes because they were on sale...but I still think Ribeye is the best steak for this recipe if it's economical. I seasoned the NY Strips with chopped garlic, chopped thyme, and salt and pepper and grilled them to about medium doneness. Then I cut them against the grain of the meat into strips. I also added sauteed Red Onions to the sandwich. I sauteed the onions with a little olive oil and thyme and salt and pepper until they became a golden brown. Instead of using the Gruyere cheese I used a white cheddar in the cheese sauce and had no problem (but feel free to use whatever you prefer). and Finally I topped the Sandwich with Arugula for extra crunch.
This definitely was a win in my opinion. There were a couple of things I would change for next time. 1) I would use more horseradish in the cheese sauce 2) Ribeye is my first choice for the cut of meat. But all in all I was pleased with how this came out and I hope that You Enjoy it Too!!!

& Thanks to my brother Chris for helping me make this, This sandwich would not have been so awesome without your help :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pan Roasted Shrimp and Tomatoes over Lemon Risotto

There are soooo many shrimp recipes out there that they all just kind of blend together in my mind. I'm always struggling to think of something that stands out from all the other stuff that I've already seen and had before, but to me this is why food is so interesting. The combining of different ingredients and the ways that you choose to prepare them can drastically change what the dish is all about. For example, roasting tomatoes concentrates their natural flavor and sweetness and turns them into a beautiful red color. Roasting is a great way to make simple flavors brighter. So give it a try! Trust me, you'll like the results.

Pan Roasted Shrimp and Tomatoes
2 lbs shrimp, deveined and detailed
2 packs grape tomatoes
2 Tb fresh thyme, chopped
about 12 cloves of garlic (about medium sized or if they are large just cut them in half)
1/2 stick butter
1 lemon 
1 cup dry white wine 
Olive Oil
    Oven set at 375
Combine tomatoes with chopped thyme and garlic and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spread them on a sheet pan and put in the oven for about 20 minutes or so until they are bursting and their skin is wrinkling.
Once the tomatoes are done pull them out of the oven and transfer them to a lg skillet at med-high temp. Add white wine and cook for about 3 minutes at a simmer. Add butter until incorporated them add the shrimp and put back into oven until the shrimp are completely cooked. Only about 5-7 min. Be careful not to overcook. Finish with lemon juice.  
Note: if you don't have an oven proof skillet it is fine to finish the shrimp on the stove.

Lemon Risotto
1 1/2 cup Arborio Rice
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Zest of 2 lemons

In a medium bring chickenstock to a simmer.
Meanwhile in another medium saucepan add butter until melted then add onions and cook until transleucent. Add the rice and stir to coat and season with Salt and Pepper. Add wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 ladles full of the chicken stock. Stir and simmer over low heat until it is all absorbed, about 5-10 min. Continue to add the stock and stir until the mixture is almost dry before adding more stock. Cook about 25-30 minutes. Stir in parm and lemon zest and serve.