Tag Archives: milk

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


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

Whole Wheat Bread Budín

20 Nov

I had not shared this recipe with you guys because at some point… this recipe was helping me make a living. When I was still figuring out this thing of working by myself, on the side, I was baking some things under the KarmaFree Cooking banner. I baked lots and lots of carrot cakes, made tons of hummus, veggie dips and red bell pepper dips. I also baked a lot of these budíns… especially for my friend Vanessa, may she rest in peace!  She would order one from me almost every week…

This whole wheat bread budín is the Puerto Rican version of a bread pudding. The cool thing is it needs no egg custard to cook or any pre-soaking, like many recipes I have seen made at the Food Network. Just whiz the bread on the food processor, mix the rest of the ingredients and BAKE!!!

See why this was so cool to make for sale?? I hope you enjoy it as much as my friends enjoyed it when I was cooking for them…


Whole Wheat Bread Budín

1 lb package of 100% whole wheat bread
1 quart of milk, I usually use a box of Parmalatt milk
2 cups brown sugar
6 tbs melted butter or you can use 5tbs of coconut oil too
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla powder or extract
Cinnamon to taste
1 cup of raisins
8oz guava paste
  1. Process the bread in a food processor until you get crumbs.

2.  Transfer the bread crumbs to a large bowl and mix the rest of the ingredients, except the guava paste.

3.  Transfer to a 9 x 13 pan. I used to make this whole recipe to make 3 smaller size pans for sale. A lasagna pans is what the supply shop used to call this size. If I had one here I would measure it.

4.  Bake in a 350F oven for 45 minutes. I turn off the oven at 45 mins, but leave the pans in for an extra 10 minutes with the residual heat. That will ensure the budín is cooked, yet not too dry on the outside.


5.  After the budín has cooled off a bit, in a small sauce pan, add the guava paste with a little bit of water to make it into a pourable spreadable sauce. Pour on top of the budín as a glaze.

You just serve it directly from the pan… cut it into squares and serve your guests or bake sale customers.

We came to show Eskimos how to make ice…

11 May

It’s incredible… how daring we are sometimes.

My friend Tania visited Paraguay for the first time about 6-7 years ago. During that first trip she learned from our Yoga friends over there how to make Eggplant Milanese using cornstarch and oatmeal as the breading. We all loved the fried eggplants when she first made them at the Yoga Center.

Flash forward to March 2012… here you have Yazmín and I making Eggplant Milanese in Paraguay. Not helping them make them… noooo, making them ourselves to treat everyone after our short retreat near Asunción.

How dare we come and cook something for them that they actually taught us how to make??? We are daring indeed…

Something I have learned over the years I’ve known how to make these Eggplant Milaneses:

  • No need to actually use a mandolin. They actually come out better when cut not as thin. After a nasty mandolin accident making these milaneses at home recently, I now cut them with a knife and they come out even better than with a mandolin even if they’re a tad uneven.
  • No need to marinate for a long time. Soy sauce is fine, but you can only marinate for about 30 minutes and you’ll be fine. A tad of sesame oil adds a nice twist too. And when they marinate less, your end up with a juicier fried eggplant.
  • Season the milk and the oatmeal very well before breading the eggplants. When the milk and the oatmeal are well-seasoned, it compensates for the short marinating time. Add generous amounts of powdered garlic, salt, paprika, pepper… your choices are endless.

I’ve been having cravings for these eggplants since I left Asunción. Time to run to the store and make some more…

Thanks Tania and the great cooks in Paraguay for their wonderful culinary inspiration always!!!!

Almond Milk Oatmeal

17 Oct

Oatmeal for me was an acquired taste. I was always a Cream of Wheat lover when I was a kid. I LOVED when my grandma made cream of wheat or farina for us for breakfast. We used to pour cold milk around the rim of the bowl to cool the cream enough to be eaten.

I did not like the texture of oatmeal too much… until I had to work for Quaker Oats. Oats, as I learned thru lots of consumer research, is a very polarizing food. Some people love it, some people hate it. Some people, just like me, grow to love it. I worked on the brand just when the news broke out that the soluble fiber in oatmeal helps lower bad cholesterol. It was one of my favorite accounts to work on and I got to travel to Jamaica and Guatemala because of it.

I remember talking to consumers that some people did not like preparing oatmeal in hot cereal form or “creams” as we call it locally in Puerto Rico because they believe they need to stand in front of the stove stirring the oatmeal all the time to avoid it getting lumpy. Well… allow me to get into a little secret. That’s not necessary AT ALL.

Making hot oatmeal cereal is super simple and all you need is time and something else to do… as the saying goes, “a watched pot never boils.”… The same applies to oatmeal. The least you tend to it, the better it is.

This is more a method than a recipe… you can certainly add or subtract or change any ingredient as you see fit. But this is my basic formula for making oatmeal as breakfast in the morning… although I highly encourage you to have some oatmeal for lunch or even dinner too. Just like some people eat cold cereal as a light and east to put together dinner alternative, hot oatmeal can be a great “hot something” for the soul now that the weather up north is getting nippier. I sold this idea to Quaker once… I hope you buy it from me too.











1 ½ cups almond milk
4 tbs of steel cut quick cooking oats
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla powder
A pinch of salt
powdered cinnamon (optional)

NOTE… I cook this in an electric stove, which I believe retains the heat longer than gas stoves.

  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat I add the almond milk and I season it with the sugar, vanilla powder and salt. Mix together to combine well. Immediately after, I add the oatmeal. Mix well again and partially cover allowing an opening for you to see the milk and how it’s coming to temperature.
  2. When the milk starts to boil, in about 2-3 minutes, stir everything to combine and allow all the boiling to subside a bit. Lower the temperature of the stove to low and continue to cook partially covered.
  3. After about 5-6 minutes of cooking, you’ll see the oatmeal starts to thicken a bit, but not quite done yet. I cover completely. Count to 10 and turn off the stove. Turn it off and walk away. Don’t look, don’t peek… just walk away.
  4. After about 15 minutes of letting the oatmeal stand, it’s done. I usually let it stand for about 30 minutes to allow it to be a tad cooler. I can’t eat oatmeal too hot… it makes me sweat.
  5. Sprinkle some powdered cinnamon on top before serving.

I like oatmeal on the loose side… but if you want thicker oatmeal just add a few tablespoons more of oats. Adjust the amount of oats and seasonings to your liking.

I did this almond milk version for the first time to watch Princess Kate and Prince William Wedding with my mom… the home-made almond milk gives it a nice creamier, more luxurious touch, but store-bought almond milk will do too.

Ahhh, and almond milk, just like soy or regular milk, WILL BOIL OVER if left completely unattended. I have cleaned my stove way too many times to vouch for that…

Almond Milk from Scratch

19 Aug

Yes… Madelyn, lover all things dairy and cheese, has been put on a dairy-free diet for at least 30 days. 😦

And maybe you’ve found yourself in the same predicament… where most of your go-to recipes have some sort of cheese or dairy component, right?? It’s a way for us vegetarians to get some protein, no???

Nuts, and particular, ALMONDS are a great way to get some protein in you… and you usually think of adding nuts to your diet in a salad or as a garnish for a main dish or a dessert. But what about making milk out of it??? You see alternative dairy products in all major supermarkets now. But have u ever attempted to make it on your own???

It’s easier than you think…


About 1 cup of almonds

Yep… that’s all you need. And some tools you already have in your kitchen anyways.

Start by soaking the almonds in some filtered water. I like to soak the almonds for about 1 hour to take off the skin. This is certainly not necessary, but I like my almond milk to be WHITE, just like regular cow’s milk is. After I peel the skins, I re-soak again in more filtered water. This can be from 3-4 hours to overnight. But if you will not do it in 3-4 hours, I recommend placing the soaking almonds in the fridge to prevent fermentation.




Gather all your equipment, just as if you were making a sesame seed horchata – a large pot with a fine sieve, a bowl to collect the ground almonds after they’ve been blended once.

  1. Place some of the almonds in the large container of your Magic Bullet or blender. Fill almost to the top with filtered water. Here I show you how much water I use.
  2. Process for a few minutes in 30 second intervals to puree the seeds as much as possible.
  3. Drain the milky almond pureed water over the sieve. Use a large spoon to move the slush around, but you don’t need to press extremely hard to release all the liquid. If you do, you’ll only push a lot of sediment into the finished “milk”. So there’s no need to use extra muscle for this. Allow gravity and a slight firm hand to do its job.
  4. Save the leftover almond slush in a bowl for re-processing. Repeat with all the never-processed almonds in the same way as before. I usually divide the original almonds into 3.   After processing all the almonds once, reprocess in the exact same way, diving it into batches, but this time after passing it through the sieve, just discard the leftover almond meal.
  5. Transfer to a bottle where you can serve the almond milk from.
  6. Chill before serving.

The almond milk will separate when standing in the fridge… but just mix well before serving.

If you want to drink the almond milk by itself… I would add about ½ cup of honey and would strain it again thru the finest sieve you can find. Almond meal is way finer than sesame seeds and there’s much more sediment than when making an horchata. Use a clean fine cotton cloth or even a coffee filter we call “media” to strain as much sediment as possible.

This is an excellent source of calcium and is great to drink by itself, in oatmeals, other hot cereals and smoothies.

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