Hamm used to work at L.A.'s Border Grill where he especially fancied torta de tres leches

By Liza Hamm
April 05, 2013 06:45 PM
Courtesy Susan Feniger

Pop quiz, Mad Men fans: What does popular L.A. restaurant Border Grill have to do with the hit series?

Turns out there are a few connections. The series films across the street from Border Grill’s downtown Los Angeles location. Actor Ben Feldman, who plays opinionated copywriter Michael Ginsberg on the show, is chef Susan Feniger’s nephew. And the show’s breakout star Jon Hamm used to work for years for Feniger and her business partner, chef Mary Sue Milliken, as a waiter.

That, of course, makes Feniger and Milliken the perfect chefs to recommend some culinary treats to serve at your Mad Men viewing party Sunday night.

Feniger suggests a ceviche dish inspired by her nephew’s favorite on the Border Grill menu.

“Ben is a total foodie and because I’m the good Jewish aunt, I always feed him way too much, she tells PEOPLE. “Although the ceviche has tons of strong flavors, it’s light and really satisfying.”

Adds the chef, “It’s also the perfect dish to have with a martini, and what is more Mad Men than a martini?”

Milliken recommends treating your guests to a yummy torta de tres leches.

“When Jon worked at the Border Grill in the late ’90s long before he became Don Draper, he ate platefuls of our torta de tres leches,” Milliken says. “It also had a ’60s N.Y.C. look and feel to it and is always a crowd pleaser.”

Read on to create the perfect full meal to dine like a Mad Men character:


Adapted from original recipe
1 lb. skinless, boneless sustainable fish, like halibut, cut in ¼-inch dice
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
½ cup diced red onion
1 small jalapeno chile, stem and seeds removed, diced
1 small habanero chile, stem and seeds remove, diced (or aji Amarillo chile if available)
2 tbsp. diced yellow bell pepper
½-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced or grated
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
Plantain chips or tortilla chips, for serving
Pickled Red Onions (see recipe below), for serving
Sliced avocado, for serving
Serves 4

• In a large bowl, combine fish and lime juice
• Marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes
• Drain fish, reserving ¼-cup lime juice
• Combine fish with next 8 ingredients andreserved lime juice. Stir gently to combine, and chill thoroughly
• Serve in a chilled martini glass, garnished with plantain chips or tortilla chips, pickled Red Onions, and slices of avocado

Pickled Red Onions

1 lb. red onions, thinly sliced
1 cup white vinegar
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp, cumin seeds, roughly chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tbsp. sugar
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 beet, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 8 wedges
Makes 5½ cups

• Place the onions in a medium saucepan and pour in enough water to cover
• Bring to a boil, and remove from the heat, then strain and set the onions aside
• Combine all the remaining ingredients in the saucepan
• Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, andcook 10 minutes
• Add the blanched onions and simmer an additional 10 minutes
• Transfer the mixture to a container, cover, and refrigerate at least a day before serving. Pickled onions will keep in the refrigerator up to a month.
Adapted from original recipe

Torta de Tres Leches

Adapted from original recipe
Tres Leches de Café Ingredients
2 ½ cups homemade sweetened condensed milk, chilled (see recipe below)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 ½-2 cups strong, freshly brewed espresso

• Combine the three milks in a bowl. Add espresso to taste. Cover and chill in refrigerator
Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk Ingredients
2 ½ cups non-fat milk
2 ½ cups whole milk
1 ½ tbsp. sugar

• Pour the milks into a medium-sized, heavy saucepan and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally
• Stir in the sugar and continue to simmer until milk is reduced to 2 ½ cups, 30-40 minutes more
• Strain and store in refrigerator

Torta Ingredients
6 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1 ¾ cups cake flour

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and butter and flour a 10-inch x 3-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with a parchment paper round
• Place eggs, vanilla, salt, and sugar into a 5-qt. mixer bowl. Place bottom of bowl directly into a larger bowl of very hot tap water and whisk egg mixture until quite warm to the touch
• Remove bowl from water and put on standing mixer with whip attachment. Beat at medium-high speed for about 5 minutes, or until egg mixture quadruples in volume and becomes thick and light in color
• Meanwhile, sift flour twice. Remove bowl frommixer and sift flour, in two additions, into eggs, folding gently after each addition
• Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, and cake comes away slightly from sides of pan. Let cool slightly, then remove cake from pan and transfer to a rack, making sure the browned top of the cake is right side up
• When completely cooled, trim off the browned top, bottom, and side surfaces of the cake
• Clean cake pan and line with two long, crisscrossed pieces of plastic wrap. Return trimmed cake to the pan and slowly pour tres leches de café over the cake. Fold ends of plastic wrap over the cake to enclose completely
• Refrigerate overnight. Just before serving, unwrap cake and turn upside down onto a 10-inch plate with upturned edges to catchexcess milk. Pipe whipped cream on top of cake. Serve ice cold accompanied by chocolate sauce
Serves 10