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Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!

27 Nov

Let’s celebrate a holiday where everyone, even the turkeys, can enjoy…

Let’s be thankful for all the great things in our lives – today and every day.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Shel Silverstein Tksgvg DONE

Pumpkin Tres Leches or is it Cuatro Leches???

17 Nov

This recipe is the first one I made for the Spanish Recipe portal Qué Rica Vida to celebrate Fall and Thanksgiving season.

I have been meaning to develop a recipe for a Pumpkin Tres Leches for several years now.  After few failed attempts, I knew I needed to come up with a new recipe.  A cake that would soak up all the milks like a sponge…  a SPONGE!!!!  That was the key!!!  I needed to develop a sponge cake recipe without using eggs.

Chia Seeds were the key… they worked even better than my usual and trusted egg-replacer.  Chia seeds, as I have shared previously, are full of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, anti-oxidants and even calcium.  And they work perfectly to substitute eggs in recipes because they gelatinize when they come in contact with liquids so they rise the batter they’re added to.

And why call it a Pumpkin Cuatro Leches, or 4 milks, instead of the usual Tres Leches?  Because traditional Tres Leches cakes are soaked in a mixture of fresh milk, evaporated milk and condensed milk but have a meringue topping.  Our version still is filled with the sweet flavors of the traditional 3 milks, but used a whipped cream topping, making the heavy cream the 4th milk in the recipe.

I tested and tested this recipe and it now has a following among the taste testers… hope you also join the group.

Pumpkin Cuatro Leches Cake

PUMPKIN CUATRO LECHES CAKE

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp chia seeds
2 tbs butter, melted
2/3 cups milk, I use 2%
1/3 cup fresh pumpkin, steamed and mashed
½ tsp vanilla powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg

In addition:

6 oz fresh 2% milk
6 oz evaporated milk
6oz sweetened condensed milk

For the topping:

1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tbs condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla powder
½ tsp grown cinnamon, to decorate

It seems like a lot of ingredients… but it’s a really easy recipe to make.  I use a rectangular baking dish 8” x 6” x 2” or a round 8” cake pan.  And I also make this recipe in my toaster oven.  I believe this recipe is co chuck full of flavor and sweetness that a little bit goes a long way.  Although I do know a few that could easily eat a whole Pumpkin Cuatro Leches cake in one sitting… no problem, you all shall remain nameless.

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  2. Butter the baking pan in which you’ll make this.  This will be the same pan in which you’ll serve it.  After greasing pan, set it aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder and the chia seeds.  Whisk them well to make sure there are no lumps of flour or brown sugar in the mix.
  4. In a measuring cup measure and add the milk, melted butter and mashed pumpkin.  Mix it well to create a homogeneous mixture.
  5. Add it to the dry ingredients and whisk together until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  6. Season mixture with salt, vanilla powder and spices.
  7. Pour the mixture in the prepared greased pan.  It may seem like little batter for the size of the pan, but remember we’ll be adding later on 18 ounces of milks and they need a place to go.
  8. Bake in oven for 20 minutes until the cake has risen and it’s golden on top.  After 20 minutes have elapsed, turn the oven off but do not take the cake out.  Not even open the oven door!! Wait about 40 additional minutes for the cake to complete cooking with the residual heat already in the oven.  There’s nothing to see… but your patience will be rewarded.
  9. After those additional 40 minutes have elapsed, take the cake out of the oven and rest it on a cooling rack so it cools completely.
  10. When it’s completely cooled, pierce it using a toothpick, a skewer or even a fork.  The idea is to make perforations so the milks can seep and soak the cake all from the inside.  It will not matter if the cake looks kinda ugly, because later on we’ll cover all that with whipped cream.  No one will see this but you…
  11. Mix the 3 milks in equal parts in a large measuring cup or a small pitcher.  It helps that the vessel you use has a spout so it’ll be easier to pour over the cooled cake.
  12. Pour half of the milks’ mixture over the pierced cooled cake.  You’ll probably not be able to pour more because the milks might overflow the cake pan.  That’s not a problem… just wait out a few hours for that first half to be absorbed and then you’ll be able to pour in the remaining milks.
  13. If the temperature where you live is cool, you can leave the cake soaking over your kitchen counter at room temperature.  If it’s too warm, you can cover the cake and place in the fridge over night while the milks are absorbed by the cake.
  14. The next day, pour 1 cup of heavy whipping cream in a large bowl and whip using an electric hand mixer.  Make sure the heavy cream is cold and start at a low speed and increase speeds slowly.  When bubbles start to form, add the condensed milk and the vanilla.  Continue whipping until soft peaks form.
  15. With an offset spatula, spread the whipped cream over the cake, which should have absorbed all the milks by now.  Decorate with a light sprinkle of grown cinnamon using a very fine sieve.

3 Leches for Tres Leches Cake

If you want to double this recipe, you certainly can… and you can use a 9” x 13” baking dish.  By going larger on the pan, you’ll probably need a larger oven and to increase the cooking time to 30 minutes and allow the cake to rest inside the hot oven for an additional 30 minutes, for a total 1 hour in the oven.  For the 3 milk mixture you can just mix a can of evaporated milk a can of condensed milk and the same amount of one of those cans of fresh milk.  With that, you’ll have the perfect amount of milk to soak your cake.

I prefer to use evaporated and condensed milks that come in UHT packaging instead of cans, but I understand they’re difficult to come by.  So if you can find them near you, by all means use them.  Just make sure you have equal amounts of milks and the total amount should be between 18 and 20 ounces of liquid to soak the cake well.

Pumpkin Cuatro Leches Cake

Roasted Pumpkin Orzo with Goat Cheese and Cranberries… or Thanksgiving in a bowl

16 Nov

I am not sure if I’m doing Thanksgiving with the family this year… my family on this side is very thin and they all have their own thing going. I may even accept an invitation to do Thanksgiving in the BVIs.

And it got me thinking of all those people out there that do Thanksgiving by themselves… or just with a partner or a family member. Those people, who like me, have their bulk of the family far away from them. My friend Sue reminded me that not everyone has or likes to cook Thanksgiving for tons of people. Sometimes it’s just you. And that’s also something to be thankful for…

I’ve done and practiced this recipe only for myself… so why adapt it to make for more people?? I’ll share it for just one person, but YOU can feel free to multiply it for as many people in your dinner party. It’s indeed something to indulge and maybe even use up any leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner.

Regardless of how I decide to celebrate Thanksgiving this year… and celebrate I will, I already know I can capture all the flavors and feelings of Thanksgiving in this bowl.

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Roasted Pumpkin Orzo with Goat Cheese and Cranberries

1/3 cup whole grain orzo pasta
2 cups of pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
3 ounces goat cheese, divided
3-4 Sage leaves, fresh or dried
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
¼ cup dried cranberries
  1. In a baking dish place the pieces of pumpkin, crumble or chop the sage leaves and spread all over the pumpkin pieces. Season with salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Toss well to combine. Add about half the goat cheese in pieces andnestle them in between the pieces of pumpkin. Drizzle an extra olive oil stream over the goat cheese to make sure the cheese browns.
  2. Roast in a 400F oven for about 30 minutes. No need to move or flip anymore. When the time is done, turn off the oven. Leave everything in there to finish cooking while you boil the pasta.

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3.  Boil the pasta in salted water according to the package directions. Orzo cooks very quickly… Drain most of the water, but not all. I do not use a colander for this; I just strain most of the water thru the pot cover. The water left will help create the sauce.

4.  Add the remaining goat cheese to the pasta. Stir well to combine, melt the cheese and create a sauce. Add the roasted pumpkin pieces with the toasted goat cheese. You can save a few pieces to use for garnish if you’d like. Add the dried cranberries. Mix all the components well.

5.  Serve using the reserved pieces of pumpkin and goat cheese and maybe a few extra cranberries too.

It’s quick… and almost needs no tending to. It’s a great pasta dish to enjoy during Thanksgiving or to use up some pumpkins you may still have left from Halloween, huh??

 

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The cranberries might sound funky to you, but they balance out the tanginess and savory aspects of the goat cheese and the sage. I might add some toasted nuts next time to see how that plays up. But for now, it’s delish!!!

Puerto Rican Pumpkin Fritters

3 Dec

In Puerto Rico, these pumpkin fritters are called “barriguitas de vieja” or “old lady bellies”… I just think that name is a tad discriminatory. Who said all old ladies bellies are sweet and wrinkly??? I am sure some old bellies out there are not sweet… LOL!!!!! I am so lame, I laugh at my own jokes…

Enjoy these, which are super delicious regardless of my bad jokes.

Puerto Rican Pumpkin Fritters

PUERTO RICAN PUMPKIN FRITTERS

2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
A few grates of fresh nutmeg
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp egg replacer + 2 tbs water
Canola Oil for frying
  1. First we steam the pumpkins to make the puree… I just peel and cut some pumpkin pieces and place them in a shallow pan that has a lid. I add about ½ inch of water and some kosher salt. Cover the pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as you hear the water inside boiling, turn down the heat and allow the steam inside cook the pumpkins for about 10-15 minutes. Check the pumpkins at about 10 minutes… if they’re not completely done, just cover again, wait about 1 minute and turn off the heat and leave there uncovered for some 10-15 minutes more. They’ll be done by then.
  2. I just take the pumpkin pieces out into a bowl and mash… if you feel they’re too stringy, you can certainly pass the mashed pumpkin thru a sieve. But I don’t usually do that… I don’t find it’s necessary. You can certainly do all this steaming and mashing ahead. I did it the night before to use the mashed pumpkin for this recipe and for a pumpkin cheesecake I was making too.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the egg replacer with the water. Stir vigorously or whisk and set aside.
  4. Now we assemble the batter… in a large bowl mix together all the ingredients, including the egg replacer mix. I use my hands to mix well and almost knead the recipe. I tried using a spoon or spatula and it does not work well.

5.  In a frying pan add about 1 inch oil to fry these fritters over medium-high heat… wait until the oil has reached temperature before adding the first one. I usually check if the oil is ready by inserting the back side of a wooden spoon into the oil. If the oil bubbles around it, the oil is ready.

6.  Using 2 spoons create little mounds of batter to fry. My mom likes to spread them a bit once they’re in the pan so they’re not too thick and they fry faster. Once they’re golden brown on one side, flip them over to fry on the other side.

7.  Once they’re cooked and golden brown on both sides, take them out and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Puerto Rican Pumpkin Fritters 2

When they’ve cooled off a bit, enjoy one after the other. You’ll see they’re addictive…

Pumpkin Cheesecake

29 Nov

Someone over on Facebook was discussing which desserts everyone was making for Thanksgiving… and someone mentioned pumpkin cheesecake. I immediately knew that would be my dessert of choice this year.

Plus… I had pumpkin my Titi Carmín gave me and I wanted to use it all in my Thanksgiving cooking. I used part in my Pumpkin and Spinach Phyllo Pie and the rest of the mashed pumpkin in my Puerto Rican Pumpkin Fritters.

This recipe is an adaptation of 2 recipes I saw on the internet… I mostly followed Martha Stewart’s recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake, but I adapted the recipe to make it vegetarian without using eggs and used fresh pumpkin puree instead of canned pumpkin.

My springform pan is super small – I use a 4 ½” pan – and I use my toaster oven to bake it, I also had to adapt the times given in the original recipes. Because most of you guys probably have regular springform pans and will need to bake this in your regular large ovens, I will give you the original recipe proportions, temperatures and times. If you would like my adapted size, temps and times for using a toaster oven, let me know and I will gladly include too. OK???

EGGLESS PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE

10 graham crackers
¼ cup brown sugar
4 tbs butter, melted
 
4 packs of cream cheese
1 ¼ cups brown sugar
1 tbs cornstarch
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup sour cream
1 tbs cinnamon
A few grates of fresh nutmeg
1 tbs vanilla powder
½ tsp salt
6 tsp egg replacer + 8 tbs water
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees, with rack in center.
  2. In a food processor, grind the 10 crackers into a meal. Add sugar and melted butter and process until well combined and resembles wet sand.
  3. Press the cracker mixture firmly into bottom of 9” non-stick spring-form pan. Bake until golden around edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool a bit before adding the filling.
  4. Reduce oven temp to 300F.
  5. For the filling, add all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse and process until the ingredients form an homogeneous mix, but stop once it’s all combined. Avoid over-processing.
  6. Place spring-form pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour filling into spring-form, and gently smooth top. Tap pan onto the counter a few times to avoid having bubbles and for the batter to settle well. Transfer to oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Turn off oven; let cheesecake stay in oven 2 hours more (without opening the door at all).
  7. Remove from oven and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to cool completely. Unmold before serving.

I actually ¼ the ingredients in this recipe and It gave me enough batter and crust to make 2 cheesecakes in my 4 1/2” pan. Because I made in the toaster oven, as I saw no need to turn on a large oven for such a small pan, I had to adjust the cooking times because it does not need as much time in the oven as for a larger pan.

The end result is a delicious, delicious cheesecake. This is certainly a winner in my book… a recipe that will stay in my Thanksgiving and Fall repertoire for years to come.

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