Tres Leches Cake

I made this incredibly moist sponge cake for dessert after our Cinco de Mayo feast this year. It would be perfect served after any Mexican-inspired meal.

The recipe was adapted from my food blog friend Ronit Penso’s Tasty Eats blog, originally posted as a round cake on MySliceofMexico.ca. I modified the method and the baking time for a convection oven, used sea salt and a combination of vanilla bean paste and extract, and modified the amount of topping.

Although I reduced the amount of topping, we found that it was absolutely essential. I also thought that the fresh strawberry garnish made it even more beautiful and delicious. Festive and great.

For the Cake:

  • cooking oil spray, for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 7 large or extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

For the Syrup:

  • 1 can (12 fl oz/354 ml) evaporated milk
  • 1 can (14 oz/396grms) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

For the Topping:

  • 1 cup heavy cream, cold
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • fresh strawberries, sliced
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C). (I used the convection setting.)
  2. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9”x13” (23×33 cm) metal baking pan, and dust with a bit of flour. Turn the pan upside down and tap on it, to get rid of excess flour. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt.
  4. In a liquid measuring cup, mix the milk with the vanilla bean paste. Set aside.
  5. Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk. Start whipping on low speed and gradually add the sugar.
  6. Once the sugar has been added, increase the speed to medium-high, and whip until frothy and thick, about 3 minutes.
  7. Lower the speed to medium. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the liquid ingredients (milk/vanilla), in three batches, and beat shortly, about 10 seconds, after each addition. You should have a smooth and frothy batter.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  9. Bake for about 25 minutes on convection, or up to 35 minutes in a standard oven, until the cake is deep golden in color and if you gently press on the top it springs right back. The sides should also begin to pull away from the edge of the pan. (I baked mine for 27 minutes on convection.)
  10. Place on a wire rack to cool slightly while you prepare the syrup.
  11. In a bowl with a spout, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream.
  12. Prick the top of the cake with a toothpick or fork.
  13. Pour the syrup over the top of the cake. Keep at room temperature until all of the syrup is absorbed.
  14. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. (I chilled mine overnight.)
  15. Just before serving, make the topping. In a large cold bowl, combine the cold heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla.
  16. Whip with a hand blender on medium-high to high speed, until firm peaks form, or as desired. (I stopped whipping the cream somewhere between soft and firm peaks.)
  17. To Serve: Slice cake and top each slice with a dollop of topping and a sliced strawberry.

Shortcut Chicken & Dumplings

More weeknight comfort food! This dish uses rotisserie chicken meat and store-bought gnocchi as shortcuts to create a close match to traditional chicken and dumplings. It was quick to prepare and very tasty.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Alexa Weibel. I incorporated my CSA parsley, leeks, carrots, and collard greens. In addition, this soup could easily gobble up many other vegetables such as frozen peas, fennel, squash, parsnips, or mushrooms. We ate it with a green salad. Great.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 to 5 cups 1/2-inch ribbons of collard greens or kale, ribs removed (optional)
  • 2 medium carrots or 8 ounces butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium leek, trimmed, white and pale green portion halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1 cup) (can substitute 1 large shallot, if desired)
  • 2 medium celery stalks, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick (about 2/3 cup)
  • additional vegetables such as frozen peas, or diced parsnips, fennel, or mushrooms, optional
  • 3 to 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (optional)(I omitted it)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 (16 to 18-ounce) package fresh or shelf-stable store-bought gnocchi (I used Trader Joe’s 17.6-ounce gnocchi)
  • 1/2 store-bought rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded, meat torn into bite-size pieces (about 2 to 3 cups shredded meat)
  • fresh tarragon, parsley or dill, for garnish

Creamy Corn Ice Cream with Caramel

Caramel corn ice cream? Yes! Sweet summer corn is puréed, strained, and cooked down into a sweet pudding before it is incorporated into the ice cream base. The caramel drizzle was an essential finishing touch.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Jesse Houston. The original recipe was “no churn” but I did churn it to expedite the freezing process.

After using a Vitamix to purée the corn and significantly increasing the cooking time, I had double the volume of corn pudding required for the ice cream. I’m planning to use it for another batch. 🙂 I may layer it with caramel or dulce de leche prior to freezing next time so that it will have a caramel swirl.

Yield: about 8 cups (2 quarts)

Key Lime Bars with Vanilla Wafer Crust

These sweet-tart bars are a wonderful summer dessert. They transport well and are perfect for sharing.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Samantha Seneviratne. The dollop of lightly sweetened freshly whipped cream was essential.

Yield: 16 bars

For the Crust:

  • 1 (11-ounce) box vanilla wafers
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons/115 grams unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:

  • 1 ¾ cup/420 milliliters condensed milk (1 14-ounce can plus 1/2 cup)
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup/180 milliliters Key lime or conventional lime juice (from 5 to 6 conventional limes or 12 Key limes)
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest

For the Topping:

  • 1 cup/240 milliliters cold heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides.
  3. In a food processor, combine vanilla wafers and sugar, and pulse until you have fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and process until evenly moistened.
  4. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and press it down into an even layer. (I use the base of a dry measuring cup.)
  5. Bake until fragrant and a shade darker, 14 to 17 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together condensed milk, egg yolks, lime juice and lime zest.
  7. Pour filling over crust (it’s okay if it’s still warm) and bake until the filling is set, about 15 minutes.
  8. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  9. Use a sharp knife to release edges. Using the parchment overhang, carefully lift and transfer the bar to a cutting board.
  10. Just before serving, whip heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form. (I use a chilled bowl.)
  11. Cut bars into 16 squares. Top each bar with a dollop of whipped cream to serve.

Exceptionally Creamy Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I have made many tried and true dinners and desserts during this quarantine period- more than usual. I was surprised to realize that I’ve never posted our gold standard and absolute favorite ice cream. This is it. 🙂

The recipe is from Food and Wine, contributed by Jeni Britton. I have made it for years! According to the recipe, the ice cream is exceptionally creamy from the inclusion of cornstarch to help thicken the base and cream cheese to make it more scoop-able. I confirm the results. Fabulous.

Yield: 3 1/2 cups

  1. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
  2. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth.  (I use a stainless steel bowl.)
  4. In a large saucepan, combine the remaining milk with the heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla bean and seeds.
  5. Bring the milk mixture to a boil and cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves and the vanilla flavors the milk, about 4 minutes.
  6. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  7. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth.
  8. Whisk in the salt.
  9. Set the bowl in the ice water bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 20 minutes.
  10. Strain the ice cream base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (I churn it in the ice cream maker for 25 to 30 minutes.)
  11. Pack the ice cream into a plastic container or loaf pan.
  12. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ice cream and close with an airtight lid or with additional plastic wrap.
  13. Freeze the vanilla ice cream until firm, about 4 hours.

Note: 1 tablespoon of Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste can be substituted for the split vanilla bean.

Creamy Bucatini with Crispy Mushrooms

As in my last post, this wonderful dish is also part of Bon Appétit’s Most Popular Recipes of 2019. I made this and several other dishes on the list before it was compiled- apparently I was not alone! 😉

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Andy Baraghani. I added garlic and white wine. Yummy comfort food.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb mixed mushrooms (such as maitake, oyster, crimini, and/or shiitake), torn into bite-size pieces (I used 10oz quartered cremini and 8oz torn shiitake)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 lb spaghetti or 12 oz bucatini
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 oz Parmesan, finely grated (about 1/2 cup), plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot over medium-high. Cook half of mushrooms in a single layer, undisturbed, until edges are brown and starting to crisp, about 3 minutes. Give mushrooms a toss and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until all sides are brown and crisp, about 5 minutes more.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms to a plate; season with salt.
  3. Repeat with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and mushrooms and more salt.
  4. Finely chop the shallots and garlic in a mini-food processor, if desired.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low and return all of the mushrooms to the pot. Add shallots and garlic; cook, stirring often, until shallots are translucent and softened, about 2 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
  7. Using tongs, transfer pasta to pot with mushrooms and add cream, white wine, and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  8. Increase heat to medium, bring to a simmer, and cook, tossing constantly, until pasta is al dente and liquid is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
  9. Remove pot from heat. Add lemon zest and juice, parsley, butter, 1/2 oz Parmesan, and lots of pepper and toss to combine.
  10. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Adjust consistency with additional pasta water, if needed.
  11. Divide pasta among bowls and top with more Parmesan and parsley, as desired.

One-Skillet Rotisserie Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie is one of my ultimate favorite comfort food dishes. This version was fabulous! The use of rotisserie chicken meat in the filling and puff pastry as the crust were wonderful (and delicious) shortcuts.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Molly Baz. I modified the proportions and used rainbow carrots instead of turnips in the filling to add a little color. GREAT.

Yield: Serves 8

  • 5 cups coarsely shredded rotisserie chicken meat
  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 1 lb rainbow carrots or turnips, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 T thyme leaves
  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 2½ tsp Kosher salt, divided
  • 1½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 10 oz bag frozen peas
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (1/2 box/8.6 oz), thawed overnight
  1. Place a rack in center of oven; preheat to 400°, preferably on convection.
  2. Remove and discard skin from a rotisserie chicken. Using your hands, shred the meat into 1″ pieces until you have 5 cups; set aside. Reserve any leftover meat for another use.
  3. Cut the onions in half through root, trim root ends, then peel. Finely chop onion and transfer to a medium bowl.
  4. Peel the carrots (or turnips), then trim off the ends. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer to another medium bowl.
  5. Lightly smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of a chef’s knife. Peel, then coarsely chop. Transfer to bowl with the carrots/turnips.
  6. Add thyme leaves to bowl with carrots/turnips and garlic.
  7. Melt butter in a 12″ oven-proof skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft but not browned, 5–6 minutes.
  8. Add carrot/turnip mixture, season with 1 tsp salt and 1½ tsp pepper, and cook, stirring often, until just beginning to soften, 3 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, until flour begins to stick to bottom of pan, about 30 seconds. The flour is going to help thicken the gravy you’re trying to create.
  10. Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, to burn off some of the alcohol, about 1 minute.
  11. Set aside 1 tablespoon of heavy cream. Add remaining cream, reserved chicken, peas, and 1½ tsp salt and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Cook, tossing occasionally, until warmed through, 3–4 minutes.
  12. Transfer skillet to a rimmed baking sheet, which will prevent any juices that bubble out of the pan from spilling onto your oven floor.
  13. Roll out the thawed puff pastry on a lightly floured surface into a 13″ square (large enough to cover skillet with a bit of overhang). Roll pastry up onto rolling pin. (You could use an empty wine bottle if you don’t have a rolling pin.) Unfurl pastry from rolling pin, draping it over skillet.
  14. Trim pastry so that there is a 1″ border all around. Fold edge of puff pastry under itself. Crimp edges with a fork (just like you would do when making the top crust of a pie).
  15. Using a pastry brush, brush top of pastry with reserved cream. Cut 5–6 small slits in the center so steam can escape.
  16. Bake pot pie until crust is light golden brown, 22 to 24 minutes.
  17. Reduce oven temperature to 350°, preferably on convection, and continue to bake until filling is bubbling around the edges and crust is well browned, 22 to 35 minutes longer.
  18. Let sit 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

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