Friday, April 29, 2011

Egg Casserole with Ham, Cheese and Spinach

wonder what to do with that last bit of Easter Ham?
your family has probably just about had it with ham sandwiches...
use those last few slices in an egg casserole....make these cute little appetizer or snack bites, serve as a whole for a fabulous brunch or reheat for an on-the-go breakfast or lunch

on  a side note...i have to throw in a picture of my HAM...MAPLE BROWN SUGAR GINGER GLAZED HAM.  this was my 1st HAM.  i am so proud of my HAM.  i don't think anyone else truly appreciated MY HAM as i did.  we usually spend $50.00 - $60.00 for a dependable Honey Baked Ham, but the store closed here in Newport Beach.  so sad.  i look forward to a nice big ham every year.  once a year i am engulfed in ham glory.  no one else really cared.  no one else is in love with this year i went for it and decided to do my own ham...guess what?

AND IT COST $9.53 !!!

well, i'm not wasting a morsel of this ham.
as a matter of fact...i am the only one left eating the i've been finding ways to use up the rest of the 11.5 pounder that i made.

this egg bake recipe is so versatile and easy i think you'll enjoy it as much as i do.  it's perfect for the left-over ham or any other meat veggie combo.  a few weeks ago i used up a roast chicken from Cost-co and turned it into a Mexican Egg Casserole...delicious with fresh salsa.  i love to have a substantial breakfast or lunch that i can easily rewarm or eat on the fly and this fits the bill.  it's great right out of the oven for the whole family or reheated for a quick on-the-go breakfast or lunch.

as shown in the photos, it's also a great idea for hors d'oeuvres.  make this the day before, cut them up in little squares and decorate them with something cute like these perky little grape tomatoes.  set out at room temp with a side of dijon mustard and your fuss and i bet you'll get raves.

i should also mention this is pretty healthy.  depending on the ingredients you add to the basic recipe, this can be fairly low in carbs, fat and calories.  i made mine with 1/2 eggbeaters and half real eggs...there's no heavy cream or milk and can be made with low fat cheeses.  i think the surprise ingredient is washed and drained cottage cheese.  sounds weird, but it works.

adapted from Kalyn's Breakfast Casserole at Kalyn's Kitchen

please check the link for the original recipe and Kalyn breaks down the quantities for small, medium, large casserole dishes.  the whole web site is great for healthy diet alternatives.

below is the recipe for what you see in the photo, but many variations are possible

5 large eggs
5 eggs substitute equivalent
1 tsp salt (watch your salt because the cheese and ham is salted)
1/4 cup small chopped chives
1 - 1 1/2 cup ham...diced or baton cut (julienned)
2/3 cup low fat grated Mexican cheddar blend
1/3 cup grated good, real Monterrey Jack
4 oz. cottage cheese, rinsed so whole curds remain and pat off water with paper towel
1 pkg frozen spinach.  drained and squeezed very well.
2 -3 Tbsp canned diced jalapeno

preheat your oven to 375 F degrees and spray a 7 x 11 glass pyrex dish.
thaw, drain and squeeze your frozen spinach.  cut your meat and grate your cheese.
in the bottom of your casserole dish layer the meat, cheese, 1/2 of the chives.  add the squeezed spinach.  you'll have to pull it apart in small clumps to evenly distribute.
in a bowl mix your eggs until well combined, but not over beaten.  add the cottage cheese curds to the eggs and season as you would scrambled eggs.
pour this mixture over the meat and cheese in the dish and gently stir or prod with a fork so that all the ingredients are evenly distributed in the eggs.  sprinkle with a little more Monterrey Jack and chives

bake for 20-25 minutes or until middle looks set.  it's okay if the sides get a little golden brown.  you'll notice the middle puff up a little.

let set a little before serving or cool completely and refrigerate.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mocha 'spresso On-The-Go Jello

forget those 5 hour energy drinks that cost a fortune.  make yourself some Espresso jello cups for those inconvenient times you need a pick-me-up.

i love these friends love these will love these things.  i think i've already made about 5 batches and i'll make more tomorrow.

i got this idea from Nicole at The Galley Gourmet.  in the post titled "Sunday Dinner" she had this fabulous photo of Chocolate-layered Espresso Jellies.  her recipe sounds absolutely delicious and a perfect end to a fabulous Sunday Dinner.

i, on the other hand, don't throw too many lavish dinner parties...none, if truth be known, so i came up with this easy Mocha 'spresso On-The-Go idea.  how much fun would it be to whip an espresso shot out of your brown bag lunch?...or pass these out at your next tailgate party?  try this for an afternoon pick-me-up or an after dinner guilt-free treat.  these are pretty guilt-free...just a little shaved dark chocolate never hurt anyone.


below are the instructions for the way i have been making it, but of course, there are many many variations.  have fun with it...

makes 4 1/2 cup servings
1 packet of plain gelatin (7g per packet)
1/4 cup cool water
3-4 shots of espresso (equal to 3/4 cup)...HOT-reheat if you have to
1 cup vanilla protein drink (milk would probably work, but the protein drink is creamier, extra flavor, less calorie and low carb...Muscle Milk or Pure Protein are good)
sweetener to taste
(a splash of no sugar Hazelnut or Irish Cream sweetener is great.  i use Davinci's)
dark chocolate bar for shavings

NOTE...whatever espresso/protein drink/milk/water combo you use your goal is to end up with 2 cups of liquid. this can be like a straight up espresso shot or a flavored latte.  you want the liquid to taste as you would a favorite coffee/espresso drink, but a little more rich.  most friends liked the one with a little more latte flavor, but the straight up espresso was brilliant, if ya ask me...

pour 1/4 cup cool liquid (milk, protein drink, water) into a 2 cup pyrex measure.  add the gelatin packet and let the gelatin bloom for about 5-10 minutes.  stir it so that it doesn't clump up.  if it clumps, use a fork or spoon to mash clumps...a few little clumps are okay.  
pour your hot espresso into this gelatin mixture and stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved.  do a taste it sweet enough?...remember this is a treat.

shave a little chocolate into the vessel of choice.  i got these little toss aways at Smart and Final.  reusable tupperware would be more green of me, but i never get them back and people tend to throw those away. i reuse these as much as possible.

pour the mixture in the cups and refrigerate until firm...takes a few hours

shave some more chocolate on top and you're ready to go...ANYWHERE


Friday, April 22, 2011

Vanilla Bean Herb Homemade Farmer's Cheese

yes, more cheese...this one is FARMER'S CHEESE.  
i love making cheeses and yogurts... continuously trying out different methods, milks and flavors.  am i becoming a cheese head?...should i get a goat in the back yard?   funny thing is...i really don't eat THAT much's just so rewarding and i seem to be fascinated with the science behind it.
 Farmer's Cheese is a basic fresh cheese with a slight tang.  it's a great cheese to start with.  when making it at home you can choose the flavors and regulate how hard or soft you prefer.  i don't care for the crumbly type, i prefer it a little moist like a Neufchatel or a very thick cream cheese...easy to slice or wedge but still spreadable...

farmer's cheese is quite delicious and well worth the few hours it takes to create...BUT it was this flavor combo that made it fabulous...

with a little honey and a pinch of sea salt and fresh pepper

the vanilla bean along with fresh rosemary and thyme from the garden was a hit.  of course, i thought it was something new, but low and behold...i was at the market to peruse the cheese station like i always do and isn't there just a big fat log of goat cheese with the flavor printed right on the front...Vanilla Honey !!!...well, to my credit...i had never heard of vanilla bean in savory cheese there!

do you think i could go as far as...


i've been obsessed with vanilla beans lately, trying to sneak them into everything i can...  please do try this combo out in something...i've made some thick Greek yogurt and some "Goat-Yo" (goat-yogurt) with these flavors and i love it...i posted about Skyr (Icelandic Yogurt/Cheese) just a few days ago and used the vanilla herb mix in that for a tasty breakfast treat...along with some fresh berries and you're set. 


1/2 gallon whole milk...NOT ultra pasteurized
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tsp salt
flavor option...1 vanilla bean scraped
1 tsp fresh minced rosemary
1 tsp fresh minced thyme
fresh ground pepper
and maybe a little more salt to taste when cheese is nearly ready...don't over salt in the beginning because it will get more concentrated as the whey drains

make sure your utensils are clean...i read that you should use all stainless steal
heat milk in a large stock pot SLOWLY to 190 F degrees
take off the heat and stir in the vinegar.  the milk should immediately start to curdle
let the milk/vinegar sit for 15-20 minutes

place a large colander over a large bowl or pot.  drape a few layers of cheesecloth or fine muslin over the colander.  pour the cheese curds into the cheesecloth.  the whey will drain and the solid curds will remain in the cloth.  i let this sit on the counter for about an hour so that most of it drains.  when the dripping slows, pick up the 4 corners and squeeze more whey out...or what i  like to do is tie up  the corners and hang from a wooden spoon or something...keeping something under to catch the dripping whey.  when you feel the cheese is hard enough to shape and the dripping has stopped, unwrap it and take a peek.  i like to taste it at this point...add salt if necessary.  if it looks too "curdy and crumbly" put it in a bowl and stir (or mash it together with a fork)  to bring it together...more spreadable.  take the ball of cheese and pack it into a mold...i find that a ramekin works well.  cover and refrigerate.  you might want to line your mold with plastic wrap for easy removal if you are looking for a cheese that will stand alone (as shown in photos).  sometimes i will just use it straight out of the ramekin if there's no need for presentation.

your fresh Farmer's Cheese should be ready in a few hours.  enjoy
this is a fersh cheese so it should be eaten within a week to 10 days.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Finally, The Successful Souffle this is what i'm talkin' about.



well, i can cross this off my "Bucket List"

success with the "CLASSIC CHEESE SOUFFLE"
light, soft, airy, smooth, dissolve in the mouth cheesy egg goodness.  like a little cloud of heaven has finally arrived on the plate.

if you're interested in making a savory souffle and it's your first attempt, i suggest you try this recipe by Alton Brown...really, no kidding.  who would have thought Alton Brown vs our beloved Julia Child in a recipe match?...i choose Alton?...yikes!  well that's just crazy talk...but true for this novice souffle cook.

as you might already know this is not my first attempt at "The Elegant Souffle".  i posted about my failure with Julia Child's Souffle a few days ago.  i was so dismayed and upset with my failure that it took a while for me to try again.  i was up late one night and caught an Alton Brown rerun...he seemed to demystify "The Souffle".  in this episode he just showed the basics of souffle making...nothing crazy, no contraptions, just straight up souffle talk.  i had to try again...even though it was an Alton Brown recipe.  not to diss Alton by any means, but he does get carried away sometimes with his complex instructions and odd contraptions.

photo above is right out of the oven...
the other photos of the full souffle were taken anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour after taking it out.  it held up VERY well.
the little photo below of the single serving is the only picture i could get before i finally HAD to dig in.    sorry it's not the beauty shot i had hoped for, but you can see how well it held up on the plate.  i was just so excited that it turned fabulous, light and fluffy all on it's own.  i think it would also be delicious with a sauce of some sort.  can't wait to try it again and give it some more thought.

NOTE to first time souffle cooks....have everything ready.
get your mise en place in place!
be ready with all the separate bowls and utensils...that said, be ready for a big mess, or just a lot of dirty bowls and such.  i'm sure the second time around it won't be so bad, but it's all worth the trouble...

trust me, a successful souffle can make your day !

recipe from Alton adaptations
i have copied the recipe exactly for your convenience, but please check link for printable recipe, others comments, ratings and reviews.

butter, room temperature, for greasing souffle dish
2 Tbsp FINE grated Parmesan
1 1/2 oz. butter...3 Tbsp
3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1 1/3 cups milk, hot
4 large egg yolks
6 oz sharp cheddar cheese
5 egg whites plus 1 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

use room temp. butter to grease an 8 inch souffle mold.  add the grated Parmesan and roll around the mold to cover the sides.  cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 5 minutes.
preheat oven to 375 F
in a small sauce pan, heat the butter.  allow the water to cook out.
in a separate bowl combine the flour, dry mustard, garlic powder, and kosher salt.  whisk the mixture into the melted butter.  cook for 2 minutes
whisk in the hot milk and turn the heat to high.  once the mixture reaches a boil, remove from heat.
in a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks to a creamy consistency.  temper the yolks into the milk mixture, constantly whisking.  remove from the heat and add the cheese.  whisk until well incorporated.
in a separate bowl, using a hand mixer, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until glossy and firm.  add 1/4 of the mixture to the base.  continue to add the whites by thirds, folding VERY gently.
pour the mixture into the souffle dish.  fill the souffle 1/2 inch from the top.  place on an aluminum pie pan.  bake in the oven for 35 minutes.  do not open the oven during don't want any of the heat to escape...even cooking temp. is important.

serve immediately...or at least call everyone or ANYone into the kitchen to marvel at your success.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Julia's Cheese Souffle

i believe someone, maybe even Julia herself, said...


 well, i must say...i have proven this to be incorrect...
taste?...not so good, but okay...
looks?...complete failure...

i must preface this post by saying that i made the attempt at Julia's Souffle a few months ago.  it was my first attempt at a souffle and it literally kicked my butt!...i have since made another souffle with complete success...will post about the FABULOUS SOUFFLE asap
 i didn't want to post about this one because it was such a failure in puffy delicate souffle terms...but i think it's necessary to show the failures to put us in our place, but better make our successes stand out even better...when something turns out perfect  people should stand up and cheer...there should be a national souffle day...or a big banner outside the house...big party...big something!....

(this is how my post read right after i made Julia's souffle)
just look at my poor little souffle....i'll bet you wouldn't even know it was a souffle if i wasn't calling it that. trust IS a souffle. don't get me wrong here, i wasn't trying to be creative and take license with Julia's recipe...i wouldn't do that. i know i like to change things up by adding this or that to a lot of recipes i try, BUT for this one i went by the book. Julia's book...Volume ONE. i'm just glad that i read somewhere that a fallen souffle is not a failed souffle...because BOY did this one fall.

i followed the instructions to the T, even down to the straight-pin collars. Julia suggests using straight pins to hold it together so i dug around in the sewing room and found the darn pins...i wanted everything to be just right. i was so proud of my little collared ramekins.

i carefully prepped everything. mise en place at the ready. i think the rule is that when any recipe calls for folding in whipped egg whites you should be well prepared. time is of the essence. i had both of Julia's books out on the counter - "The Way To Cook" and "Mastering The Art Of French Cooking Volume One".  no room for error, or so i thought.  everything came together just fine. the instructions are precise and easy to understand.  i thought i was on top of everything...checking and rechecking the step by step help from my sous chef aka the peanut gallery.  i was totally ready to take the credit for my wonderful souffle, but also fully aware that i would also be the one to blame for failure.

the photo above is one of the only shots i could salvage of the souffle still above the rim of the ramekin.  i wish i would have had a video of my 15 seconds of souffle fame.  i swear, the second the collar came off this thing just sank.  i had the camera set up t o shoot the finished product right out of the oven because i read that they usually fall within 5-10 min. i thought i had a little window of time there to get at least one decent shot of the real deal....NOT ! as fast as i could push the shutter release it was falling, falling falling...FALLEN.
right when they came out of the oven the souffles were up near the top of the collar...a good 2 inches from the rim of the ramekins, but as you can see in the photo below they quickly sank to 2 inches below the rim of the ramekin...

so...long story short.  yes, i ate them.  yes, they were OKAY, but did not resemble any souffle i had ever tasted, seen or ever imagined.  they were more like an over cooked cheesy omelet...and not a very good one at that.  will i try this again?...YES!

the souffle will not win !!!

stay tuned for the Perfect Souffle...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

SKYR...Homemade Icelandic Yogurt

just look at those curds!
i love making yogurts and cheeses.  for some reason it's like baking bread.  i don't know why, but the smell of fresh yogurt right when you open the pot or while it's hanging in the fridge... gets me every time.  even when i'm having a bad day yogurt makes me happy.  if i've accomplished NOTHING in the day, at least i know i'm making yogurt...and it's gonna be good!
well, as promised, here is the SKYR recipe i use.  i should first state that i have not ever had "REAL" Skyr.  you have to go to Iceland to have "REAL" Skyr and i have no immanent plans to rush off to Iceland in the near future so i can only liken mine to the store bought here in America.  in any case if you haven't heard of is an Icelandic dairy product resembling Greek yogurt, but thicker and with a very slight cheese tang.  some say it's not a yogurt at all.  it actually IS a cheese.  the process of making it is like yogurt, but it calls for Rennet, a cheese making ingredient and the incubation doesn't seem to be as temperamental.

the important thing is you have to have skyr to make skyr.  luckily it seems to be growing in popularity.  like Greek yogurt, it is high in protein, low or NON fat and low in carbohydrates.  also a great way to get in some calcium.  the only brand i have seen around the markets is called Siggi's Skyr
if you can't get ahold of some Siggi's i read some other recipes that say buttermilk or other  live active culture yogurt will do, but there is something in real skyr that these don't have.  try high end markets or health food stores to find Siggi's

i've got this skyr thing can too.  as i mentioned, it seems to be a lot easier than plain yogurt and the incubation is not as precise.  i get these beautiful curds every time.  i just can't help myself from taking a picture or calling someone into the kitchen to admire my curds... don't they just glisten in the sunlight?...okay...okay...enough already !!!

so you've seen the pictures of how the curds look after you cut them...above is a photo of the pot all wrapped up in 3 towels.  tightly wrapped and cozy.  i leave it this way for about 12 - 16 hours.  i didn't notice a difference in the end product if it sat 10 hours or once i left it for 18 hours...woops...still turned out great. i should mention i live in Southern California where the weather is not too extreme.  my house doesn't really get higher than 75 or lower than 55 degrees.

just below is a photo of the skyr before cutting the curds.  it should look like a solid mass with a little visible whey.

the photo below is a beautiful shot of the bottom of the heavy stainless steal pot after removing the Skyr for straining.  i wanted to add this photo in to show that this scalded looking bottom is OKAY !...
just a reminder...DO NOT scrape or stir down to the bottom of your pot.  it will not hurt your batch unless you scrape it into your finished product.

again...DO NOT be alarmed if you have a little scalding at the bottom.  of course you CAN prevent this by standing there and continuously stir while it comes to temp.  i prefer to set the pot on the LOWEST heat and walk away for an hour, hence the little bit of scalding.  this works for me, but i can't guarantee it will work with your equipment.
FYI...this should clean out very easily with a little soaking

just above is a beautiful photo of the professional straining method i have come up with for the fridge.
IMPORTANT...make sure you have a big enough container underneath to catch the whey dripping...could get ugly  

i found 2 good, easy recipes for skyr.   one is at Recipezaar by Charlotte J and another was in a forum called The Icelandic Weather Report by a poster named Bigbearok.
below is kind of a combo of the two.  this works every time for me.  check the links to see if you would like to follow one of their recipes and instructions by the book.

4 quarts (1 gallon) non fat milk...NOT ultra pasteurized
 Siggi's Skyr, or another brand if you can find it
Rennet...i use liquid rennet (vegetable base)
or...1/2 Rennet tablet dissolved in a little cold water
good thermometer
good quality stock pot, stainless steel
towels for wrapping up pot
cheese cloth or a big square of muslin works better
a large strainer

make sure all of your utensils are CLEAN.  heat the milk slowly up to 195 F degrees.  be careful not to burn the bottom.  slow heating, a heavy stainless pot and stirring will prevent this.  when it reaches 190-195 degrees, turn off and cool to 110 F degrees.  mix about 3-4 Tbsps of your starter (Siggi's or other live active culture yogurt) with a couple of Tbsp of the warm milk (one at a time) in a small cup until it seems combined and pourable.  add this mixture to the warm milk and stir being careful not to scrape up any milk solids that may have formed at the bottom of the pot.  now add the Rennet...i use 7-8 drops for 1 gallon if milk..again...stir carefully.
cover your pot and wrap it in 2-3 towels all cozy and leave it on the counter.  one recipe says to let it sit for 24 hours...another says 12 hours...and another says 5 hours...i let mine sit for 12-16 hours.  i have seen no difference in a few hours here or there.
uncover and take a peek.  it should be a pretty solid mass and there should be some visible whey (yellowish liquid).  if it still looks and acts like a pot of milk...something has gone wrong.

if all has gone well it is now time to cut the curds...
as shown in numerous photos above and obviously my favorite skyr step.  i don't know if this is completely necessary, but some recipes call for it AND i like the way it looks.  i think it helps the curds separate from the whey while straining. next, line a large strainer with a couple of pieces of cheesecloth OR i like to use a piece of thin washed muslin.
slowly spoon the curds into the lined strainer until all is in.  let this sit for an hour or two while most of the whey drains from the curds.
TIP !...i use the inside of my salad spinner for the strainer.  a regular pasta colander doesn't seem to work as well.  you need a strainer that will really allow the whey to drip otherwise it will take forever.
when it looks as though the dripping has slowed...gather the four corners, tie and hang from a wooden spoon (or something) over a sauce pan to catch the whey.  i like to move this to the fridge, but i suppose it can be done on the counter if it's not too hot.  a cool, well ventilated room is fine.  this should take a few hours.  your end result should be firm and a bit dry around the edges of the cloth...kind of cheese-like..i like mine a little thicker than commercial Greek yogurt, but not as thick as cream cheese.
remove from the cloth into a large bowl and stir or whisk until smooth.  one time mine was so thick i had to use the Kitchenaid mixer and whisk it up to creamy was  delicious.
flavoring is up to you.  stir in a little honey and vanilla extract...i use a few packets of splenda and one vanilla bean...or i stir in some vanilla whey protein powder to taste....a couple of times i added some honey, vanilla bean AND fresh finely chopped ROSEMARY...YUM !
NOTE...the consistency should NOT be grainy like cottage cheese...stir or whisk until smooth.  if it is too thick you can stir in some of the whey or beat in a little cream and sugar for a richer, sweeter treat.

i hope my long instructions don't turn you away from trying to make your own skyr.  it really IS EASIER than it sounds.  once you get it down i bet you'll enjoy it more than regular or Greek yogurt. here are a few more links that i found helpful.

Jo's Icelandic Recipes
European Cuisines
Recipezaar...Icelandic curds
Icecook...Icelandic Cooking Recipes and Food

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Seared Marrow on Walnut Pesto Crostinis

talk about an unctuous bite !

a nice crisp slice of lightly toasted baguette with a smear of walnut pesto and a seared medallion of beef bone marrow.  this is a great opener as an appetizer, amuse bouche, or first course.  it's rich and buttery, full of flavor and a great conversation starter.  not many people have had bone marrow or they are just plain scared of it,  but trust me, it's quite's's fabulous!  i like to call it...


most restaurants serve the marrow roasted in the bone, standing upright with a few select sides and a special little marrow knife/scoop/spoon (marrow scoop shown in photo above), but i have never seen it seared "scallop style"...i thought it was a good idea...i find it makes the marrow a little less daunting and a guest who's not into digging for gold in a chunk of bone might find this presentation a little more appealing.

marrow is definitly not for the "pansey palette".  i must admit, if i think about it too long it could give me the willies, but as you well know i like to try things that give my tastebuds a challenge.  besides people are thinking more along the lines of "NOSE TO TAIL" these let them put there money where there mouth is...right?

you can buy marrow bones most anywhere, but just use your best judgment that they are as fresh as possible. make friends with your butcher and he will cut them the right size for you.

i've posted about rendering bone marrow before so i won't write out the instructions just click here.  as i stated in that post i quite often buy the bones and render out the marrow in big pieces to use in other recipes.  you can add it to most anything to give your dish that extra layer of "yum" that boosts it past that rich cooked all day flavor.

i keep it in an airtight jar filled with fresh salted water and pull a piece out when ever i need some "bone butter"...i'm not kidding.  just try adding it to some plain old hamburger meat and create some marrow burger patties for the grill...add it to one of your slow cooker stews or take your chili to another level.

so there's no real recipe here, but just an idea. once you have your marrow rendered it will resemble a small log.  simply cut that (best to cut when chilled) and sear over high heat.   you can use any pesto or get creative with your spread.  the marrow is very rich and buttery so take that into consideration.   something with fresh herbs and a little acid like fresh lemon, works well.  Michael Ruhlman has a fabulous way of serving his marrow as seen HERE.  a nice little salad, Gramolata,  of fresh parsley, shallots, capers, olive oil and lemon is the classic addition.  if you're interested in a classic way of serving it in the bone i found a great post at Cube Market Place that gives Anthony Bourdain's last supper recipe for Roasted Bone Marrow.  the roasted method can be a very easy quick rich start to a light meal...the marrow being the star of the show in all it's unctuous, creamy, buttery goodness...
however you choose to serve  marrow...your guests will leave with a carnivorous grin from ear to ear.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Flan Cake. Totally worth it !

all i can say is OMG !!!

absolutely CARAMELICIOUS !!!

i might have just found the 8th wonder of the world...
the answer to all ones problems...(at least mine)
the reason for all things being...
this could actually be 

do i like this cake...why, yes, i DO
do i suggest you make this cake...yes, i DO !!!

as you might know, i did try to make a Flan Cake last week.  total Flan Cake FAILURE as seen HERE.
i knew the idea of this cake sounded fabulous, but i had no idea it was going to be this good.  as i mentioned in the "failure post" i wasn't going to give up and i'm glad i didn't.   i tried a different recipe.  i think the first one had the wrong milk to egg ratio, but of course it could have been cook's error as well.

this recipe is pretty easy.  if you break it down it's all simple stuff, but you just have to have some patience and some faith.  if you intend to have it for a dinner party i suggest you start it in the morning or it can even be made the day before.  i had to let mine sit overnight because dinner was canceled.  the cake is easy to throw together, then bakes for about an hour, cooled down for another hour, then goes into the fridge for a couple of hours or over night...then before serving it comes out of the fridge and needs to come to room temp for about 2 hours.  this is where the patience comes in play.  FAITH? need it for the final unveiling...hoping that everything has cooked through and set properly.  no worries with this recipe if you follow it as i did.  
by the way...many thanks to the original blogger at What's Cookin, Chicago?
Joelen calls this a Tres Leche Flan Cake.  i'm not quite sure where the "Tres Leches" comes into play, but i love the secret ingredient of Coca Cola.  i think it's the perfect thing to add that extra caramel-ness to the store bought box cake.  i bet no one would ever know the cake part came from a box.

so...on with the recipe?...
i usually copy the recipe for your convenience, but this time i don't want to miss a step or make some typo that would send your cake to the failure pile like my first one...

BUT i will give you my few tips i think are necessary for success.
you might want to cut and paste these tips for the actual baking day.

1.  make sure you preheat your oven well
2. important....the time and temp works best for a regular oven setting...not convection.
3.  while prepping the cake, put some water on to boil for the bain marie.
4.  don't go overboard with the caramel in the bottom of the pan.  as you can see in my photo vs the original photo of Joelen's, my cake had a little dent on the top from the caramel ring....not a bad thing by any means, but you can always add some on after it is unmolded.  i found the real caramel called Cajeta de Leche at a Mexican market.
5.  DO use the Coke to replace the water.  i did NOT use the full can.  i used the amount the cake called for
6.  for the bain marie...make sure you put your bain marie vessel (i used a roasting pan) in the oven while it is preheating.
7.  put your cake in the bain marie pan and fill the bain marie with almost boiling water.
8.  after the long 2 hours of bringing it to room temp after refrigeration, you will have a pool of soupy caramel in the middle of the bundt not be alarmed.  either before or after you unmold the cake you should scoop this out with a small ladle and save for pouring over the cake.  if you don't, when you slice it you could have quite a flowing gush of caramel on your cake plate.

so without further adieu...
i give you the link to one of the best cakes i have ever made and ever tasted !

from Joelen at What's Cookin' Chicago?
the instructions are very well written and easy to interpret.
she also has a printer friendly app that come in handy.

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