A certain smell. A prize-winning (or at least often requested) recipe. Her inclusion of an ingredient that other people would never consider. Maybe the fact that she managed to burn frozen dinners. For many of us, memories of Mom and her cooking go hand in hand, and those recipes are passed along to us and our children, baked into our very being. Here are some of our favorite “From Mom” recipes: Tres Leches from Maria, Salmon Spread from Amanda, Chocoflan from Aidée, and Corn Soufflé from Danielle.
Murph’s Corn Soufflé
Growing up, I knew from a very young age that my mom was an excellent cook. When she made dinner, everyone looked forward to her menu. My mom’s food was nurturing and comforting to all. I have followed in her footsteps in that I often show love to others by serving them a delicious meal. This Southern classic is a people pleaser and the most requested potluck item I have ever encountered. You can call it Corn Casserole, but we like to fancify our canned recipes. Easy, quick, and fun for the kids to stir, I present Murph’s Corn Soufflé.
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can cream style corn
1 stick butter, melted
8 oz. carton sour cream
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 pkg. Jiffy cornbread mix
1 cup milk
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Mix all ingredients together, but save 1 cup of the cheese. Bake at 350°F for one hour or until set.
Top with remaining cheese, and bake another 10 minutes.
Pastel Tres Leches
This is such an easy and delicious version of Tres Leches. My mom would make it often and add berries to the topping for a little tartness and color. It was easy to make in a disposable container to take to a friend, a party, or potluck. It was also one of the first recipes I called to ask my mom for after I got married. It can also be made a little different by adding some amaretto to the cake or making it tiramisu style with espresso or coffee.
For the cake
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter
2 cups of milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
For the topping
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar
Cream the butter and sugar. Slowly add in eggs and vanilla. Sift the flour and baking powder into your mixture and mix until smooth. Bake at 350°F until a fork comes out clean. Let cool. Combine milk, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk. Poke holes into the cake for it to absorb the milk mixture. Pour the milk mixture over the cake. (At this point you could add amaretto or coffee; you would just need to pour less of the milk mixture onto your cake.) Whip heavy cream, vanilla, and sugar until medium stiff peaks form (like whipped cream) your topping, and spread it over the top. It goes well with fresh strawberries!
Chocoflan (The Impossible Cake)
For the cake
1 package chocolate cake mix
1 cup original pancake mix
Oil and water as indicated in the chocolate cake mix box
For the flan
1 can condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
Cajeta (dulce de leche)
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a tube cake pan with butter and add the cajeta or dulce de leche at the bottom. In a large bowl, beat all ingredients for the cake and pour them over the cajeta in the pan. Place flan ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Carefully, pour mixture evenly over batter. Note: Even though the flan mixture will mix with batter, they will separate during baking, forming one layer of cake and one layer of flan.
Place the cake pan in a roasting pan with one inch of water (this is what we call “Baño Maria,” “Bain Marie,” or “water bath”). Bake for 60 minutes until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cake. Remove cake pan from roasting pan and cool at room temperature. Use a metal spatula to loosen cake. Place serving plate upside down on cake pan; turn plate and pan over. Add more cajeta if desired and decorate with walnuts. Enjoy!
My mom has an uncanny ability to recreate foods she’s tasted that she didn’t cook or have a recipe for. A restaurant in town makes an amazing salmon spread they serve as a passed appetizer. I loved it so much that after begging a little bit, I convinced her to figure out the recipe, and it’s become a staple in our house for holidays and parties. It’s one of my most favorite things she ever “hacked” and so simple to make.
1 package your favorite smoked salmon
8 oz. cream cheese
4–8 oz. sour cream
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
2–3 Tbsp. dried or fresh dill* (chopped, if fresh)
*My mom uses Cherchie’s Lemon Dill Dip mix
Blend salmon and cream cheese together in food processor until almost smooth. Add 4 oz. sour cream, lemon juice, Zest, and dill. Pulse a few times to combine. The consistency should be smooth and spreadable but not loose. Serve in a bowl accompanied by crackers, toast, or crudite. Alternatively, pipe or dollop onto crackers or toasted baguette.