Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter…those holidays mean two things to me (other than the obvious!): family and food. So when holidays roll around here, and Josue and I are far from both of our families, food becomes the real focus :) We had an awesome Thanksgiving last fall, when I baked my first turkey, made my first pie crust, and put on my first Thanksgiving away from home, and it was a wonderful success…food and all. As Easter got close, I asked Josue if there was anything traditional his family eats at Easter. At first he said no, but then he came back to me asking me to make Torrejas.
I’d never heard of, tasted, or even seen Torrejas. My sweet mother-in-law gave me her best description/recipe over the phone, but like most experienced cooks, she doesn’t use a recipe…she goes by feel and taste. But I’ve never felt or tasted a Torreja! Nonetheless, I scribbled down a page of notes, and gave it my best shot. Here’s my version! I’d say they are like a fancy, spiced French toast with fancy syrup…Salvadorian style. Quite tasty and quite time-consuming.
What you need:
Sugar, Pepper, fresh Ginger, fresh Cinnamon, a pound cake (or some other heavy, non-flavored cake), and a few egg whites
First you make the syrup:
1. Add 4-5 cups of water to a large pot
2. Toss in a few whole peppercorn balls (5-6), some chunks of fresh ginger (6-7), a few cinnamon sticks (5-6) and allow to boil for about 30 minutes (or until the water seems to have absorbed lots of the flavor).
3. Fish out as much as you can of the floating spices and add about 3 cups of sugar. Allow to boil for 30-40 minutes or until it starts to thicken. Then remove from heat. Should look something like this
4. In the meantime buy or make a pound cake. Slice it into slices about 3/4 to 1 inch thick:
5. Whip up some egg whites, and when they are nice and fluffy add the yolks
6. Dip a slice of cake into the egg mixture:
7. Then place it into a hot pan (medium-high heat) with a little oil and fry it lightly:
8. You can add more than one at a time, flip after about a minute…should look like this:
9. Submerse into the cooled syrup (you can leave them there, or dip and place into another dish and when finished pour the rest of the syrup on top.
And voila! There you have Salvadorian Torrejas (at least my slightly Americanized version of them)!