21 December 2016

5.08 Sopapillas w/ Cajeta - Party Food - Intermediate

Up to the final entry of FoodPoint Fiesta already! And what better way to end it than with something sweet?

I discovered cajeta while I was researching foods for this season. It's a thick, rich caramel very similar to dulce de leche, with a couple of notable differences which I'll cover further down. The real challenge was finding some way to use cajeta that didn't deviate too much from the season identity.

I'd already cooked churros way back as a bonus in Season 1, so what other options did I have? A little more research turned up sopapillas, a lesser-known fried-dough treat that can be paired with dishes both savoury and sweet

Put them together and you get a surprisingly satisfying combination.


I've seen a lot of people around the internet refer to this as "Mexican caramel" or "Mexican dulce de leche".  As mentioned above this is a fair assessment, however in order to explain the differences between cajeta and dulce de leche you first need to examine what it's made from.

1L goat milk
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod

Whereas dulce de leche would use cow's milk, cajeta uses goat's. Goat milk is more stable for the purposes of this recipe, plus it has a slightly tangy note that stops the caramel from being too cloyingly sweet.

The bicarbonate of soda is the real hero of this recipe. It causes a chemical reaction that lowers the boiling point of the milk, meaning that you're able to leave it simmering for a long time without it reaching the point where the milk would split.

In this recipe I tend to use pink salt, but you can really just use whatever type you prefer.

Cinnamon is also not something you would find in a typical dulce de leche, and it adds a pleasant, subtle warmth to the caramel. If you can't get a stick, just use a teaspoon or two of ground cinnamon.

You can also use vanilla paste/extract/essence instead of the pod if it's easier.


1. Get yourself a saucepan with a volume of at least 3 litres. (May seem like an odd start to a recipe, however the reason will become apparent later). 

2. Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds. Place this into the saucepan along with the cinnamon, sugar, and salt.

3. Measure out a couple of teaspoons of the milk and place aside for later in the recipe, then pour the rest into the saucepan and stir everything together to start to dissolve the sugar.

4. Place the pot over a medium heat until it just starts to simmer, then turn the heat off completely.

5. Add the reserved milk to the bicarbonate of soda and mix together, then pour this into the saucepan while stirring continuously. (WARNING: It will immediately start to fizz and expand, so go right to Step 6!)

6. Keep stirring the mixture to ensure it doesn't bubble over, it will take a few minutes for the bubbles to subside. (This is why you need such a large saucepan for such a small amount of mixture. I personally wouldn't exceed a saucepan with 4 litre volume as this could cause issues for the rest of the recipe, but anything smaller than 3 litres will probably result in a mess and a need to start again.)

7. Once the bubbling has subsided, turn the heat back on - this time to medium-low - and simmer the mixture for approximately 1 and a half hours, stirring every 10-15 minutes so it doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan. (As it simmers, you will see it getting darker and thicker.)

8. When the mixture reaches the consistency of pouring custard, remove the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod, then keep on stirring until thick.

9. Pour into a serving bowl and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. (It will be incredibly hot right out of the pan. TIP: This stuff is awesome with just some plain vanilla ice cream!)

Yields approx. 250ml (1 cup) of cajeta. It may not seem like a lot, but a little bit goes a long way.


Wikipedia says "a sopaipilla, sopapilla, sopaipa, or cachanga is a kind of fried pastry and a type of quick bread served in several regions with Spanish heritage in the Americas".

Basically, it's a semi-sweet, doughnut-like pastry. If you don't douse them with icing sugar, cinnamon and honey (or cajeta) then they are savoury enough to be dunked into spicy meat dishes.

2 1/2 cups plain white flour
1/2 cup milk, warm
1/3 cup water, warm
50g lard, cubed
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Oil (for deep frying)
Icing sugar and cinnamon (for dusting, optional)

Instead of goat's milk, this time you'll want ordinary cow's milk.

If you don't want to use lard (for some bizarre reason) feel free to use vegetable shortening instead.

Finally, I would use regular table salt for this recipe instead of pink salt.


1. Place all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together until dispersed.

2. Add the lard (or shortening) and rub into the dry ingredients until you're left with something that resembles bread crumbs.

3. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, then pour in the wet ingredients and mix until everything starts to come together into a dough.

4. Scatter some flour onto a bench and turn out the dough. Knead for 5-10 minutes or until smooth and springy. (You can use a benchtop mixer with a dough hook if you prefer, however it's not a particularly demanding job.)

5. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap with clingfilm and leave to rest for 20-30 minutes.

6. Once rested, dust with some more flour and cut the dough into quarters.

7. Roll each quarter out into an oblong shape approximately 1/2 centimetre thick, then slice each oblong into 6 fairly uniform square or rectangular shapes and place aside until needed.

8. Preheat your deep fryer oil to 190°C (370°F).

9. Take a piece of dough and place one edge into the oil. Once it starts bubbling, let it go. When the dough floats to the top, flip it over so that it rises evenly. Continue to fry while turning occasionally until golden brown, then remove from the fryer and drain on some paper towels. (It takes approx. 3-4 minutes for each sopapilla to cook.)

10. Repeat Step 9 in batches until all the dough is cooked.

11. Serve while still warm. If you're going the sweet route, dust with some cinnamon and icing sugar. Traditionally you can also drizzle them with some honey, but that's not necessary if you and serve with the cajeta.

Makes approx. 24.

A video of these recipes is available at https://youtu.be/ZXRdexIqNds.

13 December 2016

5.07 Grilled Pineapple - Baking & Desserts - Low-Fuss

Onto the desserts!

I had a bit of difficulty choosing which desserts to include in this season as there are so many different varieties. In the end, after going to a Churrasco restaurant for my birthday dinner, I was inspired to go with this.

Warm and juicy and sweet an sour with just a hint of caramel, this dessert is incredibly satisfying (and not too naughty, either!).

1 pineapple
1 lime
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Only 4 ingredients, how could you go wrong?!


1. Trim the ends off the pineapple, then slice it in half down the middle lengthways. (Count: You'll now have 2 pieces of pineapple.)

2. Cut each half into halves again, then remove the core from each quarter. (Count: You'll now have 4 pieces of pineapple.)

3. Cut each quarter into 2 pieces, then use a small, sharp knife to remove the rind from each segment of fruit (kind of like filleting a fish). (Count: You'll now have 8 pieces of pineapple.)

4. Place the fruit onto some paper towel and pat dry.

5. Take some skewers and impale each segment down the middle, leaving enough of the skewer exposed for easy handling. Place aside until needed.

6. Zest the lime into a bowl, then add in the sugar and cinnamon and mix until well combined.

7. Scatter a generous amount of the spiced sugar onto each pineapple skewer, then gently rub in until evenly coated.

8. Place the pineapple skewers onto a hot grill pan (or a barbecue if you prefer) and grill for approx. 2 minutes on each side. (You're just trying to get caramelised bar-marks on the fruit, rather than actually cook it.)

9. Once marked on each side, remove from the pan.

10. Serve warm with wedges of lime for squeezing over. (TIP: Use the lime you zested earlier, obviously.)

Serves 8

A video of this recipe is available at https://youtu.be/719RLI21BpQ.

6 December 2016

5.06 Slow-Cooked Beef & Beans - Meat & Poultry - Intermediate

This is the ultimate in versatility when it comes to Mexican food. You can use this meat in tacos, burritos, nachos, etc. or just eat it as is with some rice.

I know that most people probably can't be bothered waiting 4 hours for something (yep, 4 whole hours!) but I think it's totally worth it!

Other than the long waiting time, this recipe is fairly simple, so don't be deterred.

2kg meat on the bone (i.e. osso bucco or short ribs)
1 1/2 cups dried kidney beans
500ml vegetable stock, hot
400g tin Mutti Polpa
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 ancho chilli
2 pasilla chillies
2 dried jalapeno/chipotle chillies
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp cocoa powder
Oil (for frying)

Although I didn't specify in the ingredients, you're supposed to be using beef (it's the name of the dish,  after all). As mentioned, you can use osso bucco (like I did), or short ribs, or even oxtail if that's your thing.

If you can get your hands on dried pinto or borlotti beans, use them instead. Kidney beans are just easier to get. I chose to use dried beans for 2 reasons: 1) they will hold together better after simmering for 4 hours, and 2) they will absorb some of the liquid and help the sauce thicken. If you want to risk using tinned or fresh beans, I'd recommend to add them in for the final hour of cooking.

The stock should be hot but not boiling. I used vegetable stock, but if you want to use beef or chicken stock go right ahead.

Yep, I just recommended Mutti Polpa again... I'm not a shill, I just love the product (as I've said before). If you can't find it, any tinned chopped tomatoes will probably work fine.

The ancho, pasilla and chipotle chillies are negotiable. If you prefer a different mix or to just use 1 type, that's on you. Keep in mind this will probably change the flavour of the dish slightly.

I suppose you wouldn't really expect to see brown sugar or cocoa in a savoury dish, but cocoa (and chocolate) tend to be used this way in Mexican cuisine to add richness of flavour. The sugar is to mellow the bitter edge that comes as a result.


1. Pour the hot stock over the chillies and place aside to soak until soft. (This will take around 10-15 minutes.)

2. In a bowl, mix together the ground coriander, cumin and approx. 1/2 tbsp of salt until combined. Scatter this onto a plate and coat your meat in it.

3. Heat a generous slosh of oil in a large pot over medium high heat and sear the meat for a couple of minutes on each side, then remove from the pan.

4. Leave the pan on the heat, add in the onion with a large pinch of salt and fry until softened.

5. Add in the garlic and fry until browned.

6. Place the soaked chillies and stock into a blender and blitz until smooth, then add this puree to the pot and stir until mixed.

7. Add in the tomatoes, then fill the tin with hot water and pour this into the pot. Stir until combined.

8. Add in the cocoa and sugar along with another pinch of salt and stir until combined.

9. Mix in the beans.

10. Return the meat to the pot, then bring to a simmer and turn the heat right down to low, place on the lid and allow to simmer for approx. 4 hours.

11. Remove the meat from the pot and allow to cool slightly before shredding the meat back into the pan.

12. Stir the beef into the beans and serve.

Serves 6-8.

A video pf this recipe is available at https://youtu.be/z1HkkftzSKQ.