Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Caramel Apple Monkey Bread

So, the current wife gave me another fantastic baking book: Irvin Lin's Marbled, Swirled and Layered. I know the author from his blog and from reading some of his great recipes. The book is filled with all sorts of baked goods that are calling me by the second. I just want to bake one, have the wife eat it and then bake the next. 

My book collection keeps growing and growing and I love it. Many people tells me that cooking books are outdated thanks to the internet, but they are wrong -they are wrong because I disagree, just to start with-. There is nothing like a good book in your hands when you are looking for a recipe and more so when you are cooking or baking. The internet is a great source no doubt but...the books are warm, human...eventually they are stained, dirty and used...they have proven their worth. So... books yes, internet ...yes if you know the website (like this one). Oh...I can tell you stories of recipes that look great on the web and when you do them they just fail. A book at least can be good fuel for my fireplace if is no good.

In any event, this recipe was on my radar thanks to Thekitchn from Apartment Therapy Co. which has amazing recipes and is quite accurate. The combo between Thekitchn and Irvin's book is what gives birth to this recipe. Honestly I barely did any adjustments as it works as a charm.
I have made white bread many many times (who doesn't love white bread?) and the name of the bread was known to me by the current wife as it happens that is one of her favorites in the whole planet.

So...the Monkey Bread was baked (three and a half hours) and consumed (two days...wow). Now with a happier wife and being close to Christmas...well...this might be my lucky Christmas and might get some love. Who knows.... 




Caramel Apple Monkey Bread

Baking Time: 45 Minutes    Prep . Time 3 hours   Makes 10 servings

Ingredients

2 Lb White bread dough (recipe in this recipe!)

1 large Granny Smith apple (at least 8 ounces)

3/4 Cup granulated sugar

1/2 Cup packed light or dark brown sugar

2 Tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 Tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 Tsp kosher salt

1 1/4 sticks Unsalted butter, melted but still warm

All-purpose flour, as needed





Baking Instructions


Basic White Bread Recipe (make this first)

Makes 2 loaves or use 2/3 for this recipe

Ingredients

2 Tsp active-dry yeast (1 packet)

1 Cup (8 oz) warm (not hot!) water

1 Tsp sugar

2 Tbsp (1 oz) unsalted butter

1 Cup (8 oz) milk

2 Tbsp white sugar

1 Tbsp salt

5 1/2 - 6 1/2 cups (24 3/4 ounces - 29 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

Baking Instructions
1. Make sure the water is warm to the touch, it should be warm not hot, otherwise you will ruin the yeast.

2. Pour the water into the bowl of a standing mixer or large mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast over top (I mix it) and add one teaspoon of sugar. Let this stand for 10 minutes in a warm place -I use the inside of the oven with the light on-. The mix will be ready when it has increased in size and looks bubbly.

3. Melt the butter in the microwave. Stir in the milk, sugar, and salt.

4. Pour 1 cup of flour and the milk mixture over the yeast. Stir until this comes together into a loose, lumpy batter.

5. Add another 4 1/2 cups of flour, reserving the remaining cup if the dough is sticky during kneading. Stir until a floury, shaggy dough is formed.

6. Using the dough hook attachment on a standing mixer, knead the dough for 8-10 minutes.

7. If the dough is bubble-gum sticky against the sides of the bowl or the counter, add extra flour a tablespoon at a time until it is no longer sticky. The dough is kneaded when it is smooth, feels slightly tacky, forms a ball without sagging, and springs back when poked.

8. Clean out the mixing bowl and film it with a little oil. Form the dough into a ball and turn it in the bowl to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm spot (inside the oven with the light on) until doubled in bulk, about one hour and a half.

9. Sprinkle a little flour on the counter and turn the dough out on top. Divide the dough in three. We will use only two of the three parts, the other you can freeze for white bread buns for another day.

10. Let the remaining ball rest for 10 minutes (the other one cover in plastic and freeze)




Baking Instructions for the Monkey Bread

1. Peel, halve, and core the apple. Cut it into 1/2-inch dice. You will need 60 apple pieces. Transfer to a small bowl; set aside.

2. Whisk the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together in a bowl. 

3. Take 1 tablespoon of the sugar mixture, sprinkle it on the apples, and toss to coat; set the spiced apples and remaining sugar mixture aside. 

4. Place the melted butter in a wide, shallow bowl. Brush the sides and tube of a 12-cup Bundt pan with a thin layer of the butter; set the pan and remaining butter aside. 

5. Divide the bread dough into 6 equal pieces. Rolling it between on a work surface, roll each piece into a 10-inch-long rope. Using a knife or metal bench scraper, cut each rope into 10 pieces. You should now have 60 small pieces of dough; cover loosely with plastic wrap.

6. Press 1 piece of apple into a piece of dough, wrap it completely in the dough, and roll it into a ball. Clean your fingers each time so the dough stays sticky and each ball closes otherwise it won’t close the balls! 

7. Return the dough ball to the work surface and repeat  until all the dough pieces are filled with apple.

8. Working with 6 dough balls at a time (softly put together 6 small balls into a larger one), roll them into the butter to coat, then roll them in the sugar mixture to coat. Rewarm the butter as needed if it cools down and starts to congeal; warm butter makes a thinner coating.

9. Place the sugared dough balls into the prepared pan, layering them over any spaces as you go. (Don't worry about being too precise.) Repeat with the remaining dough. The pan should be about half full.

10. Drizzle the remaining butter over the monkey bread and sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture. This will turn into a caramel over the monkey bread.

11. Cover the pan loosely with the plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place (again…the oven with light on) until puffed and risen to about 1 inch from the top of the pan, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 

12. About 20 minutes before the bread is fully risen, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F.

13. Uncover the monkey bread and bake until golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Place  the pan on a wire cooling rack and cool for 5 minutes. (Do not cool any longer or the caramel will harden and stick to the pan.)

14. Invert a cake stand or serving platter over the Bundt pan. Holding onto the platter and the pan at the same time (use oven mitts or a towel — it's hot!), flip it over. 

15. Remove the Bundt pan (you may need to use a fork or knife to pry the pan up to lift it off). Let cool at least 15 minutes more before serving warm. Warm is just fantastic!

16. Enjoy!   



















Thursday, October 6, 2016

La pasta ńcasiata´ di Montalbano (Baked Eggplant on Tomato Sauce)

In my pursue of happiness and trying to recreate Salvo Moltalbano's favorite dishes, this time I decided to try this "encapsulated" pasta dish that originally was baked on embers that were placed on top and bottom of the cast iron dish. Took me a while to get the sense of the true Sicilian dish and, as usual, the dish has very humble origins and can not get more Italian than this: eggplant, tomatoes, pasta and cheese.

I did my research and a lot of Italians serve it on a plate "unmounted" from the cast iron pan (like a dome)...but to do that I had to wait 10 or 15 minutes so the pasta would cool down and then unmold it. The problem here is: who in their right mind can wait THAT long to enjoy such a fantastic dish?
We didn't, buy hey...I do what I can.

Also I have seen some people that cook this dish using the eggplant as the base of the dish (is placed on the bottom and sides of the cast iron pan)...but the cubing method was more appealing to me.  The addition of the bacon also I saw in some recipes and considering that one must die of something I said...sure, let's add bacon to this dish!!! and the end result was incredible.

The current wife thought that the whole pan was for her, so a fight broke, but at the end we both ended eating and sharing (me with some bruises).

Again...one of my two favorite Italian detectives have given me a great time and a superb dish. Sometimes is Brunetti and sometimes is Montalbano. Considering that I like Star Wars (their food looks awful), Game of Thrones (raw meat anyone?) and House of Cards (Southern ribs...), well...my Italian friends have advantage. They solve crimes and eat...I eat avoiding a crime (I stay alive from this food grabbing fights with the current wife)



La pasta ńcasiata´ di Montalbano (Baked Eggplant on Tomato Sauce)


Cooking Time: 45 Minutes   Makes 4 servings
Ingredients

2 Eggplants

Water 

1 Tbsp Salt 

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

500 g Maccheroncini or Macaroni pasta as dictated by tradition from Messina.

200 g Stewed Tomatoes 

1/2 Onion sliced

Basil

Oregano

5 slices Bacon -optional-

 250 g Mozzarella cheese cubed

200 g of Parmesan cheese, grated



Cooking Instructions

1. Cut the eggplant into cubes (about 1”  inch) and put the cubes in salt water in a colander and leave  for about 50/60 minutes.

2. Rinse in water the eggplant cubes to remove excess salt and dry them by putting them in a cloth. Leave them to dry for about 1/2 hour to get them a bit dry.

3.  In a medium size pan, on medium heat, put the 2 tbsp of olive oil to fry them. When they look a bit brown (light brown!) place the egg plant on a paper towel to get rid of the excess oil -NOTE: the egg plant will absorb quite a bit of the olive oil so leave it on the paper towels for a while, otherwise the dish will be greasy-. Reserve

4. Now, let’s prepare the tomato sauce: In a medium size pan, medium heat, caramelize the onion until it gets a bit translucent, add the stewed tomatoes (I used a can of stewed tomatoes as the tomato season is gone) , the basil and the oregano to taste and lower the heat to simmer. Cover and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

5. While the tomato sauce cooks, let’s prepare the bacon, if you decided to use it -not in the original recipe from way back , though- to leave it crispy. Place in paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Reserve

6. To save you time, while the sauce is simmering, in a large pot with boiling water cook the pasta (I never add salt nor olive oil to the pot where I cook the pasta…). Cook until is al dente, drain and reserve.

7. Time to put it all together: pour the pasta in a large bowl, add the mozzarella cheese and 100 grams of grated parmesan cheese, the cubed eggplant and the bacon. Add the sauce and mix until everything is incorporated. The idea here is to allow the cheeses to melt on the warm tomato sauce. This is not a layered pasta dish: all must be combined before the final step.

REMEMBER that the dish 'ncasciata has a single layer - is what differentiates it from the traditional Italian oven baked pasta - so the first step is to cook the entire mixture in a bowl and not doing layers.

8. Turn on the oven to 360ºF


9. Final stage: put the ‘ncasciata dish mix into a cast iron pan (or a dutch oven), top it with the other 100 grams of grated parmesan cheese (we want a crust) and bake for15 minutes. Once it looks “crusty” then the dish is ready to be eaten right away.

10. Enjoy!

*According to tradition, the 'ncasciata is baked  directly in the pot with a layer of embers underneath and another layer on top of the lid. If you feel mega traditional go for it…I use the oven. Actually ‘ncasciata means “encased”


This is where the dish takes its name: the cooking on coal embers  is one of many the traditional Sicilian ways of preparing pasta. In this case the name comes from 'u ncaçio’ (in embers)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Scalloped Potatoes Layered with Anchovies

I have to admit. I am not a root vegetable kind of guy, probably because I don't know much about them nor I have eaten them frequently. In Mexico we really don't eat that many root veggies because of the climate. Pretty much we can eat the same food year round because climate wise it is paradise. Here is different. Summer time is warm and Winter is cold and each comes with a different variety of fruits and vegetables and obviously people have learned to cook whit what they got.

The current wife likes root vegetables and gave me this book called Down to Earth (Georgeanne Brennan) and I decided to give it a try by doing a recipe that I knew I would love. Scalloped potatoes are fantastic and this recipe just makes them way (WAY) better. I prepared them with nothing else to eat but that and, believe me, it is plenty. It really doesn't need anything else buy I'm sure that can be a side dish too.  We ate them and we had leftovers for another day (plus two lunches for the current wife). Try them, you'll see. Honestly a fantastic recipe. Soon, I'll try another one.



Scalloped Potatoes Layered with Anchovies
Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

1 Tbsp Butter

6 Medium sized potatoes (Yukon Gold or similar) about 2 1/2 Lb

2 Large white onions (yellow preferable)

6 Anchovy fillets in Olive oil, cut into 1/2  inch or so. Keep the oil!


2 Tbsp Fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream

- The oil of the anchovies

- Parmesan cheese 


Cooking Instructions

1. Peel and then cut lengthwise the potatoes, French style (like French fries) into batons 1/2 inch thick and slice the onions into rounds about 1/4 of n inch thick and reserve. 

2. Preheat the oven to 350˚F 

3. Butter a 2 quart (medium size) baking dish that has a lid (I used my Dutch oven).

4. Arrange 1/3 of the potatoes in a layer at the bottom of the buttered dish and scatter 1/2 of the anchovies and 1/2 of the rosemary (remember to keep the oil!). 

5. Now, top with a layer of onions and add some of the rosemary.

6. Add the second layer of potatoes, then the anchovies and then the rosemary and repeat the layering until the upper layer are the potatoes.

7. In a medium size bowl mix the anchovy oil with the cream and pour over the potatoes. Cover with the lid (must be tight, otherwise also use aluminum foil and then the lid).

8. Bake for 35 minutes until the potatoes are tender, then uncover and cover with parmesan cheese and bake again for an extra 15 minutes.

9. Broil for 5 to 7 minutes until some potatoes are a bit brown


10. Enjoy!!!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Montalbano's Tomato and Black Olives Pasta (Pasta al pomodoro e olive)


Andrea Camillieri's Inspector Salvo Montalbano is a peculiar character and a favorite TV series in my household. I don't remember how many seasons or how many episodes are there, but we have watched them all, including the spin off The Young Montalbano which is as great as the original.

Two peculiarities of Salvo Montalbano are, one that he does not talk while eating (not a word in a whole dinner or lunch for example, regardless of who is with him) and that he loves Sicilian food. As a fact, he is a true Sicilian and loves all about this place. I share Montalbano's personality in two areas: one he has a sense of humor and he loves food.

In each episode you will always see how a different dish is either prepared for him, eaten at his favorite restaurant or is prepared by him. There is a huge emphasis on his love for food but, believe it or not, there is not one single book (a descent book, though) that contains his recipes (contrary to Inspector Brunetti's, who has a great cook book), so trying to cook something I want to replicate takes tons of research, mostly in Italian. The dishes are not designed for the show but Sicilian and some are simple, like this one and other ones are quite complicated -like the Cassatta that is in this blog). 

I will start a section dedicated to Montalbano's food in my blog and hopefully Camilieri or his family, publisher or lawyers don't come after me. At the end is Sicilian food, but my reference is him and his food. 

This is a terrific dish. It is simple to do and quite different to other recipes that I have done (like the Cherry Tomato Pasta). It is delicious, so it is my opening of a new page on my blog.

To Camilieri, to Salvo and to all who love food!


Montalbano's Tomato and Black Olives Pasta (Pasta al pomodoro e olive)

Cooking Time: 40 Minutes   Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

800 g Tomatoes (I use small tomatoes, golf ball size but not cherry tomatoes)

100 ml Olive oil
1 large garlic clove, crushed

100 g black olives, pitted and halved

- Salt to taste (I used raspberry salt)

400 g Cavatappi or Fusilli pasta

- Basil, chopped

- Parmesan cheese



Cooking Instructions

1. Chop the tomatoes (in my case I cut them in quarters) leaving skin and seeds and stir together with the oil, crushed garlic and olives in a metal bowl big enough to eventually hold the pasta. Season with salt (I used raspberry salt just to add a bit of extra flavor)


2. Leave the bowl at room temperature to macerate for at least half a day (prepare in the morning, cover with plastic film and leave it there..to do its magic)

3. In a large pot, put water to boil and cook the pasta (as it is short cut extruded pasta it will take about 12 to 15 minutes to be ready. Check after 10 minutes so you don’t overcook it) AND place the bowl that contains the tomato mix on top of the large pot if possible, otherwise use a medium size pot, put some water and heat it up, then place on top the tomato mix, as we don’t want to actually cook it, but just warm it up).

4. Drain the pasta when is almost done (not undercook but almost cooked) and then add it to the tomato bowl. Move the big bowl to a side, mix it up perfectly and add the basil.

5. Serve with some parmesan cheese on top.

6. Enjoy!

Note:


You can actually eat this pasta cold and it will be as delicious as when you eat it warm.

I don't know which episode this dish belongs to...

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Fried Milk (Leche Frita) AKA Cream Toasts (Tostadas de Crema)

If you go to Spain, they call them Tostadas de Crema and they are part of the Carnival food, which is fantastic. The Carnival is celebrated to commemorate the arrival of Easter and it is when people use costumes, there is music and food, food and more food. Or that is what they say, as I have never been to Spain (but it is in my bucket list). Obviously the dessert is also eaten in Mexico, but there they call it Leche frita (literally fried milk) and it is served in many spaniard restaurants and some traditional Mexican restaurants they serve it too, claiming that it is a Mexican dessert. I honestly can't see how this would be a Mexican dessert as before the Spanish Invasion there were no cows in Mexico. Go figure.

In any event, it is a fantastic dessert to make and a crowd pleaser (who doesn't like fried food?...I already talked about it not long time ago). They serve it warm and it is delicious. The current wife who claims to be Mexican and that she comes from a long line of Mexican people going all the way to Quetzalcoatl. I have to admit, when she gets upset she does look like a feathered snake with red eyes and about to eat you, so I believe...well, she had never tried this dessert, so proudly I had a chance to show her something Mexican that she had never eaten. Ha!

This is a great dessert. It really doesn't take that much time, but it takes...muscle. Stir and stir and stir... but, at the end, the result is so tasty that you don't care (and gives you an opportunity to complain which can be good to your marital relations...looking for sympathy). Try and see...


Fried Milk (Leche Frita) AKA Cream Toasts (tostadas de crema)

Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 20 units
Ingredients

600 ml Milk

80 g Corn Starch

90 g Sugar
5 Egg Yolks

1 Cinnamon Stick 

-The peel of half a lime or lemon

1 Cup of flour

2 Eggs (beaten)

To prepare part II

1 Cup Canola oil or

3/4 Cup canola oil and

125 g Butter (choose either all canola oil or the mix canola-butter)

To Finish

1 Cup sugar
2 Tbsp Powdered Cinnamon

Cooking Instructions 

1. Using 100 ml of the milk, we’ll mix the corn starch with the little bit of milk that should be  cold, so is easy to mix. Reserve


2. Ina medium size pan, over high heat, warm the milk but do not reach  boiling point, adding the cinnamon sticks and the lime peel. Keep it in medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes so the flavor of the lime and the cinnamon is absorbed by the milk. Turn off the heat and reserve. 

3. In a medium size bowl mix the egg yolks with the sugar (mix for about 5 minutes so the sugar is 100% dissolved). Reserve

4. Place the bowl with the egg yolks-sugar mix on top of a pan with some water and warm it up using medium heat. Once is lukewarm add the milk with the cinnamon stick and the lime peel, in batches, stirring often so it incorporates to the egg mix. Once all milk has been incorporated to the egg yolks, keep stirring at
medium heat.

5. Now, let’s add the corn starch-milk mix and keep stirring. This is when the mix will start to thicken, so keep stirring for about 10 to 15 minutes. The mix will start to thicken (be patient!) and we will keep stirring until we get a firm mix with the consistency of mash potatoes. This is the point where we turn off the heat and reserve. It is extremely important that the mix is thick, otherwise the recipe will not work!!

6. Butter a glass (or metal) square pyrex baking dish, making sure that the bottom and the sides are perfectly buttered. Pour the mix, flatten with a metal spoon, cover with plastic film and put in the fridge for 3 hours, so the custard hardens a bit.


7. Now we are going to start our frying process. Mix the two eggs in a small bowl until incorporated and reserve. Fill with flour a second small bowl and reserve and start heating the oil (or the oil-butter mix). The difference will be in the flavor and the butter-oil mix will get you a crispier dessert. Keep it hot (frying temperature) and reserve.

8. Cut in small squares (about 2” x 2” or so) the custard with a knife. Now we’ll start the frying part: cover in flour each square and then cover in the egg mix and very carefully start frying three or four at the time, turning them once when the bottom starts to brown. Once they are golden all over, put them on a paper towel to get rid of the excess oil. Reserve

9. In a medium bowl mix the sugar and the powdered cinnamon. Dip each square into the mix (cover them perfectly) and serve them warm.

10. Enjoy!

Notes:

  1. If you use the oil-butter mix the batter will get crispier than with the oil, but in Mexico and in
    Spain they use canola oil, so that is what I use.
b) If you have leftovers, put them in the fridge and cover with plastic wrap. They will release some juice…it doesn’t matter. Once you are about to eat them, put them in the toaster-oven and bake at 375˚F for 10 to 15 minutes, then cover them again in the sugar-cinnamon mix and serve. 


c) If you have a heavy bottom pan, you can heat up the mix if you stir often so the custard doesn’t stick to the bottom. This is the method I use (less to wash, though)







































Monday, September 5, 2016

Banana and Raisins White Bread

Banana and Raisins White Bread

I have always felt awkward when buying bananas at the supermarket. I almost feel that I am doing something wrong and illegal when I break in two a bunch of bananas, leaving the other half there for someone to pick. The problem is that I am the only one who eats bananas at home, as the current wife just doesn't like the texture. She does, however, likes cake or bread and it doesn't matter if contains bananas or not. Go figure.

In the other hand I do like banana bread basically because: one, I don't like the idea of throwing them away when they turn brown  (which often happens as all bananas ripe at the same time!) but I don't like the look of the traditional banana bread. It just looks...too ...hmmm...healthy?...brown?...plain?

So, this week I had two bananas left and decided to bake a bread, a banana bread. This time, though, I was going to do it more appealing to me, so this is recipe shows what I did and, I have to say, the cake is easy to make, moist, tasty and...looks great! I baked it yesterday. Today there is only half: the current wife has awakened!...any baking goods are in danger and there is no hero to come and save them. Cruel destiny of a tasty cake.

Banana and Raisins White Bread 
Cooking Time: 90 Minutes   Makes 12 servings
Ingredients

125 g Butter, room temperature

200 g sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature


2 Tsp Vanilla

2 Ripe bananas (large)

1/2 lime (the juice of)

3 Tsp Baking powder

300 g Flour

1/8 Tsp salt

100 g Raisins

optional glazing sugar for decoration



Baking Instructions
  1. Mix the butter and the sugar until you get it creamy and smooth, about 10 minutes, medium speed.

2. Add one egg at the time and continue mixing for another 2 minutes, until fully incorporated, then add the vanilla. Reserve

3. In a medium bowl, mash the bananas and the juice of half a lime and mix until fully incorporated. Reserve

4. Turn on the oven to 350˚F and butter a bundt pan (or a bread pan)

5. Add the first 100 grams of flour and one teaspoon of baking powder to the butter-sugar mix, combine well, then add 1/3 of the banana mix (2 minutes); then add another 100 grams of flour, another teaspoon of the baking powder and 1/3 of the banana mix. Combine until incorporated (2 minutes); then add the last 100 g of flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder and the last third of the banana mix, combine until incorporated -2 more minutes-. At the end add the salt and mix all together until you get a consistent (a bit wet) mix. Reserve

6. Fold the raisins

7. Pour the mix into the baking pan and put in the oven for about 60 minutes (mine took 90 minutes!) but keep an eye on it and check how well is done at 45 minutes and then every 15 minutes or so. You will know that is ready when the toothpick comes out clean and the top of the cake is golden.

8. Allow it to cool in a cooling rack for 30 minutes, then unmold and allow it to cool completely.

9. If you want, decorate with powdered sugar and

10. Enjoy!


Monday, August 29, 2016

Cheese stuffed cauliflower in tomato sauce, Mexican style (Coliflor rellena de queso en caldillo)

Cheese stuffed cauliflower in tomato sauce, Mexican style (Coliflor rellena de queso en caldillo)


Even though I really like deep fried almost everything, the part of me that knows better -or at least believes that knows better-, called "a wife" stops me from doing so with some exceptions: deep fried Twinkies, deep fried Oreos,  doughnuts, deep fried Mars Bars, tempura and other foods that I can't remember. She takes care of me...oh love....

I usually don't eat cauliflower and I really don't know why as it is quite tasty (if it is next to some dressing or in a food...because raw is just disgusting) and I went back to memory land and remember that this dish is quite similar to one that the woman who claimed to be my mother use to make, without the cinnamon, the clove and stuffing the cheese the way I did. In Mexico they usually cut the cauliflower in pieces, mix it with the egg batter and deep fry them -called "tortitas de coliflor"-. So it kind of seems similar to the traditional Mexican way, but I think that this way is somehow a bit more tasty and you don't get the oil and the egg batter aftertaste. It also looks awesome. 

As we are only the two of  us, this dish lasted for two days and for a hungry wife lunch, but usually this should be plenty to feed six people. Honestly, the touch of cinnamon and clove and the way the cauliflower is presented is just super tasty. When you cut into the cauliflower and the cheese melts in the plate incorporating itself into the tomato sauce...is just a mystical experience. Try it...you will know then what separates mixing ingredients and cooking. 

Cheese stuffed cauliflower in tomato sauce, Mexican style (Coliflor rellena de queso en caldillo)


Cooking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 6 servings
Ingredients

1 Medium size FRESH cauliflower,
separated in small trunks.

For the caldillo (runny tomato sauce)

1/2 Onion, chopped

1 Garlic clove

2 Large tomatoes

1/2 Beef broth cube (knorr os similar)

Water as needed

1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

1 Clove, ground

For the stuffing

200 g Mozzarella cheese (or Panela cheese if you can find it), sliced in 1/4 inch pieces.

2 Large eggs, room temperature

To put together the cauliflower

  • 12 Tooth picks
  • Flour
2 Cups of canola oil to fry the battered cauliflowers.

To serve
  • White rice, Mexican style


Cooking Instructions

1. Boil water in a medium size pan and once is boiling add the cauliflower trunks (in Mexico they call them cauliflower “trees”) and cook them for exactly 5 minutes -otherwise they will turn soggy-, then drain the water and reserve.


2. In a medium size pan, heat the oil and add the onion so it gets a bit translucent, then add the garlic clove (just broken by using a knife) and mix the until the garlic has browned a bit. Reserve

3. Using your blender or food processor blend the tomatoes  and then add the  onion/garlic. Blend again and reserve in the blender.

4. Using the same pan where you fried the onions, add a bit more canola oil and, once is warm, add the tomato mix, add the 1/2 beef cube, the cinamon and the clove, mix and cover. Reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes. If, after the 20 minutes the mix looks a bit dense, add some water as we are looking for a more liquid mix -called “caldillo" in Mexico. Taste and correct if necessary. Reserve

5. Now, we are going to prepare the egg batter. First separate the eggs and reserve the yolks. In a medium size bowl use your hand mixer to beat the egg whites until you  get them stiff (you can turn upside down the bowl and it won’t make a mess). This should take about 3 to 4 minutes; then we are going to add one egg yolk and mix again until incorporated, then add the second egg yolk, mix until incorporated too. Reserve

6.  Now, we are going to prepare the cauliflower. First let’s divide each cauliflower piece in two and put a piece of the mozzarella cheese in the middle then put together with two tooth picks, like a sandwich where the cauliflower represents the bread and the cheese is the sandwich filling. Reserve 
7. In a deep small pan, heat the 2 cups of canola oil to frying temperature and it in that temperature.

8. Take each cheese stuffed cauliflower piece, cover with flour and cover with the egg batter, then carefully drop it in the frying oil. Once the bottom part has browned, using some tongs turn the cauliflower so the other half gets to brown. Once the whole piece is done, remove using the tongs and place each piece on a kitchen paper towel to remove the excess oil. Reserve

9. Once we have all the fried cauliflower pieces ready, we are ready to serve. In each plate put one or two pieces of the battered cauliflower and cover them with the tomato sauce, which should be a bit loose (caldillo), then on the side add some Mexican style white rice and serve.

10. Enjoy!

  


Friday, August 19, 2016

C-52 Cake (Kahlúa - Cabot Trail-Grand Marnier cake)

C-52 Cake (Kahlúa - Cabot Trail-Grand Marnier cake)

Trying to keep my creativity spurge and hiding from the Sun (it is warm today and I rather wait until I'm in Hell to suffer this kind of heat) and based on the famous B-52 classic drink, I decided to create this cake to pamper my ex-student, now friend, that came for a visit yesterday. She is not a person who likes sweets so I took this in consideration. Also as Canadian (yes, yesterday I was in my Canadian mood) I decided to give a twist to the B-52 cocktail and add the Cabot Trail Maple Cream which on its own is fantastic (and...no, they don't pay me to say this).

The cake is not hard to make, but it takes a bit longer to bake than a traditional cake because I didn't want to loose the liquors flavors due to high temperatures. The frosting is soft and delicate and creates a fantastic mix with the chocolate cake. I served it on a bed of Kahlúa and Cabot Trail and...wow...it is absolutely fantastic. It is moist, soft and creamy. I kind of think that even kids can eat it without the cocktail bed.

The evening was great and the catching up was very nice. The current wife also was there, but I am guessing that she was more for the cake than for the chat...but it is only my guess.... 

Today there is only 50% of the cake left. My prediction? It won't make it till Sunday. Honestly I can say that when the end result is so fantastic and is one's creation..it feels good. 

Please feel free to copy the recipe, just credit the site !


C-52 Cake (Kahlúa - Cabot Trail-Grand Marnier cake)

Baking Time: 60 Minutes   Makes 16 servings

Ingredients


340 g Dark chocolate, chopped into pieces 

340 g  Unsalted butter, room temperature

1 Cup milk  (lukewarm)

1/2 Cup Kahlúa

1/2 Cup Cabot Trail Maple Cream

1/2 Cup Grand Marnier

2 Tbsp instant coffee

1 1/2 Tsp vanilla extract

2 1/4 Cups (450 g) Sugar

3 420 g All-purpose flour

1 1/2 Tsp Baking powder

1 Tsp baking soda

3/4 Tsp kosher salt
3 Large eggs, room temperature

Glaze 

1/4 Cup Kahlúa

1/4 Cup Grand Marnier

1/3 Cup Cabot Trail Maple Cream

 8 Oz (one packet) Cream cheese, room temperature

175 g confectioner’s sugar, sifted

1/4 Tsp kosher salt


Instructions

1. Preheat an oven to 300˚F and generously butter a 12-cup bundt pan all over to the very top of the pan, making sure to get every single millimeter!. Dust it with flour and place it on a rimmed baking sheet.

2. Place the chopped chocolate and the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the milk and over low heat, melt the chocolate-butter-milk mix, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in, Kahlúa, Grand Marnier and Cabot Trail and add the instant coffee and vanilla, stir for 5 minutes then remove from heat.


3. Pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar 1/3 part at the time and beat to incorporate between additions, about 10 minutes, then add the flour one cup at a time, stirring on slow speed until the flour is absorbed before adding the next cup. Add the baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir on slow speed to incorporate. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed to incorporate before adding the next egg. Pour the batter  into the prepared bundt pan... it will be a wet mix, don't worry. It will fill the pan up pretty high so
make sure the pan is on a baking sheet because it will overflow (it actually overflows...but reserve the overflow bits and eat them warm....yum)

4. Bake in the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes -depends on your oven- until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean (mine takes 1 hour 45 minutes). Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes then invert the pan while still hot (wear heat proof oven gloves!) onto a wire rack. Remove the pan and let cool
completely (2 to 3 hours)

5. To assemble the cake, brush 1/4 cup of Kahlúa and 1/4 cup of Grand marnier over the entire cake, letting it absorb the liqueur. Place the cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, the Cabot Maple Cream and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until a glaze forms. If will be a super creamy mix…don’t eat it, remember is for the cake.

Put the glaze on the cake with a silicone paddle and let the glaze
dry before serving.

Serve on a plate with a small amount of Maple Cream and Kahlúa around it. It is nothing but extraordinary!



Thursday, August 18, 2016

Roasted Vanilla Amaranth Seed Cheesecake (Mexican Cheesecake)

Roasted Vanilla Amaranth Seed Cheesecake (Mexican Cheesecake)

So, the current wife invited a couple for dinner -long time friends she claims- and it just happens that one of the guests to come is celiac (for real), so the menu had to be 100% gluten free. I had some days to think about it and I decided to cook some appetizer -which I can't remember-, then Plantain stuffed chiles rellenos with Mexican rice and...I went all food designer and created my very first Mexican Cheesecake. I replaced the Graham crackers with Roasted Amaranth seeds (that are vanilla flavored and that I bought in Mexico in our last trip) for the crust and I incorporated them into the actual cheesecake. I served the cheesecake with my world famous (yeah right) Tequila drunken cherries and...success.

The couple had never tried plantain, so that was great (and if they didn't like it then they deserve an Oscar for best Guest Performance of the Night) and the dessert was the jewel on the crown. Once they had annihilated the food supply, they left. All we had left was the memory of a great dinner and good company and...my ever disappearing memory of the recipe adaptation.  As Summer is here I am overwhelmed by heat and garden duties, so just because today it is MEGA warm I am indoors and decided to write down the recipe and share. I do this while I am creating (wow...now I "create") a C-52 Cake for this incredibly smart and pleasant ex-pupil who is coming for a coffee later on today. The house smells great...if this C-52 cake works... I'll post and if it doesn't...well...tough.

So, here it is. My own recipe of a cheesecake, which I called Mexican because I relate Amaranth seeds with the Country that claims that I born in and because Alegrias are one of my favorite street treats in Mexico. If you are celiac, gluten free or just plain weird...this is for you. You will love it.

Roasted Vanilla Amaranth Seed Cheesecake (Mexican Cheesecake) 

Cooking Time: 45 Minutes   Makes 12 servings

Ingredients 

1 Cup of Vanilla Roasted Amaranth Seeds*

1/3 Cup plus 3/4 Cup Caster Sugar, separated


6 Tbsp Butter, melted

3  (225 g ea.) Packages of Cream 
Cheese, softened and room temperature

100 g Sour Cream

1 Tbsp Cornstarch 

3 Large eggs, room temperature

2 Tbsp Vanilla extract

1/4 Roasted Vanilla Amaranth Seeds




Cooking Instructions 

  1. In a medium size bowl combine the roasted vanilla amaranth seeds* with 1/3 of the granulated sugar and the melted butter until fully incorporated.

2. Cover the bottom of a 9” springform pan with parchment paper and butter the sides.

3. Pour the amaranth mix into the pan and distribute evenly only on the bottom, not the sides, and press firmly so we get a compact base for the cake. Reserve 

4. In the bottom of the oven -or the bottom rack- place a shallow baking pan with boiling water and turn on the oven to 300 ̊F. The rack for the cheese cake will be in the middle. 

5. In a mixer combine the cheese and the sour cream with the rest of the sugar until combined, then add, one by one, the eggs and keep mixing until incorporated (you will get a semi-liquid mix...don’t panic, that is what we are looking for). 

6. Add the vanilla and the cornstarch and mix a bit more until incorporated. 

7. Finally fold the 1/4 Cup of the Roasted Vanilla Amaranth Seeds and pour the mix into the prepared pan. 

8. Place the pan into the oven (middle rack), which will be a bit steamy. Allow it to cook between 20 to 30 minutes, but it might take longer (if so, verify every 5 minutes). 

9. You know that the cheesecake is ready when the outer ring is firm but the center jiggles like undone jello -you feel that is not going to happen…too liquid, but that is what we want).

10. Turn off the oven, remove the water bath and run a thin knife around the edges so when the time comes it won’t crack. Then remove the cake and allow it to cool in a semi-warm spot in the kitchen -as cooling it fast will create cracks-. This is a two hour wait. Do not unmold!!!

11. Once is cool enough, unmold and put it in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

12. Enjoy!

Here is the most important parts: 

-We know that the cheese cake is ready when we shake the pan -lightly- and we see the center part wobble but the sides not. It is shinny on the top. If it does not wobble...you over cooked the cake (still is good but not fantastic) and if you take it out when is not ready...you will have a mess. Keep an eye on the “wooblyness of 
the cake” 
-When ready, remove and place the cake in a cooling rack for 2 hours without opening the mold. 

* Roasted Vanilla Amaranth Seeds are available in Mexican Specialty Stores, Organic Food Stores or on the internet (Amazon). Just make sure that they are actually amaranth and no artificial additives whatsoever.