June 15, 2010

6/16: Honduras v Chile, Spain v Switzerland, S. Africa v Uruguay

I've been thinking about today's meal since this project was barely a dirty thought in the back of my mind. When I looked at the schedule and saw Spain playing Switzerland, I was elated. Finally, an excuse to make Manchego fondue, a dish I have not eaten in nearly a year. Richly satisfying, my Spanish fondue is not a dish I would recommend other countries start competing with. Luckily, Chilean cuisine, save for the addition of a few very latin dishes and fruits, is nearly identical to traditional Spanish cooking. Not wanting to leave Chile out, I'm making the sacrifice and pairing the fondue with a Chilean Carménère, the grape for which Chile's wine regions are most renowned. It also happens to be one of my favorite wines, though overshadowed by Rioja but hey, I'm giving Spain the cheese AND the meat here. A medium bodied wine, the Carménère will compliment rather than do battle with the complex flavors of the manchego and chorizo, but its smokey and spicy notes will be sure to bring something to the table.

If I will indeed by celebrating the Spanish win that I expect, this may just be the best meal EVER!

Spanish Fondue
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 C dry Spanish white wine
1.5 lb Manchego, grated
1 T cornstarch
2 tsp Pimentón (Spanish Paprika)
2 T dry sherry (optional)

Sauté garlic for ~1 min in oil.
Add wine and bring to a simmer. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add cornstarch and season with Pimentón, salt and pepper to taste.Transfer to a fondue pot and add a splash of sherry just before serving. Fondue dippers are up to you, but I'll be going with the following: pain de compagne, roasted garlic and of courses, slices of Spanish dry-cured chorizo. Serve with Chilean Carménère such as Montes Alpha.

For dessert, Honduras

Although hesitant to include this ubiquitous Latin dessert, I concluded one more authentic, quality Tres Leches recipe on a global network swarming with the culinary equivalent of blasphemy wouldn't be such a bad idea. Since the dessert did originate in Nicaragua it makes sense to feature it here, represented by it's northern neighbor. Characterized by ample use of coconut and renowned for its rum, Honduran Tres Leches puts a complex and flavorful spin on the Mexican version that is most widely known throughout the States. 
The "Real" Tres Leches Cake 
Prepare the cake:
1 C AP Flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
5 eggs
1 C sugar
3 tsps real Mexican vanilla
1/3 C milk

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs. Beat the yolks, gradually adding 3/4 C sugar until pale and frothy. Stir in milk and vanilla. and gently combine with flour mixture. Beat whites until soft peaks, then slowly add the remaining 1/4 C sugar until stiff peaks (French meringue, do not over beat!) Fold the whites gently into the rest of the batter. Pour into prepared pan and tap to even the surface. Bake ~30 min until set.
Prepare the leche:

5 oz evaporated milk (1 can)
12 oz sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
1/4 C good quality coconut milk (not sweetened)
1/4 C heavy cream
Good dark rum such as Flor de Caña to taste ~4 T
Mexican vanilla to taste ~1 T

Whisk together all of the above ingredients.

I also used a splash of this Coconut Chocolate liquor a friend recently brought me from the BVIs.
Assemble the cake:
Pierce the surface of the cooled cake with a fork and pour the leche over the cake, allowing it to absorb the liquid. You may have to wait up to 30 min for the cake to take all of the liquid. If it sits overnight in the fridge, even better!
Prepare the topping:
Although the whipped cream topping is tasty, I encourage you to try a meringue at least once for both texture and aesthetic. I recommend using an Italian meringue here since the stability is helpful in serving the cake.

Meringue Topping
2 large egg whites
2/3 C sugar
1/4 C water
A pinch of cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla/rum or a splash of both

Boil the water and sugar together until it reaches soft ball stage, 235-240 F. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites to soft peaks, add vanilla/rum. Slowly pour the hot syrup into the egg whites, beating constantly. Beat until the bowl is cool and the meringue is glossy. Spread or pipe in a design onto the cool cake. 

I like to run a torch over the meringue for a few seconds to give it nice golden peaks. Decorate with slices of mango, or as in our case,flambéed bananas.

Prefer to eat out instead? Our Houston dining guide tells you where and why.


  1. I'm not usually a fan of sweet food, but I do love tres leches! Thanks for this recipe!

  2. Sure thing, Migration Mark! I'm not a fan of the usual overly sweet tres leches either actually. That's why I prefer this version with the rum and coconut milk. Tart fruit like a bit a bit of papaya can really compliment it as well.