Thursday, April 13, 2017

Chocolate and banana clafoutis to celebrate Easter

Banana and chocolate clafoutis / Clafoutis de banana e chocolate

We are a couple of days away from Easter and to celebrate it I have brought you a delicious dessert I created months ago – I love, love, love clafloutis and I wanted to add a tropical twist to this traditional French dessert. Passion fruit and white chocolate came to my mind – it is a beautiful flavor combination – but since the pulp is too moist it would not work. So I switched to bananas and changed the white chocolate for a dark one so the combination would not be too sweet.

It was absolutely delicious! I have made this recipe several times since then for it is so simple to put together and the result is so wonderful.

I wish you all a beautiful Easter break! xx

Chocolate and banana clafoutis
own creation

2 large eggs
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa poder, sifted
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
¼ cup (60ml) whole milk, room temperature
¼ cup (60ml) heavy cream
2 bananas (about 250g in total), sliced
¼ cup (42g) dark chocolate chips – the one I used has 53% cocoa solids
1 colher (sopa) demerara sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter a 1-liter capacity heatproof baking dish – the one on the photo is 20cm wide and 3.5cm deep.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, granulated sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour, cocoa, cinnamon and salt and whisk until smooth again. Whisk in milk and heavy cream. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Spread the banana slices and the chocolate chips over the mixture. Sprinkle with the demerara sugar.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until puffed, golden and a nice crust forms from the demerara sugar. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-5

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Orange, rye and nutmeg slice and bake cookies

Orange, rye and nutmeg slice and bake cookies / Biscoitos de laranja, centeio e noz-moscada

Today’s post is about how much I love the Internet and it is probably the 15th time I tell you that. :)

I had been testing recipes with rye flour, but was not very happy with the results: when I made breads, for example, it was fine, but for cookies, muffins and cakes the flour was too thick and the baked goods were not as light as I wanted them to be. So I decided to put the rye recipes aside for a while.

Months later, while browsing one of my favorite Instagram profiles, I learned about a food store that sells spelt flour (which is hard to come by here in Brazil) and there I found a different type of rye flour, called “fine rye flour” – I bought it and retested all the recipes I had made before, and the results were wonderful!

One of those recipes is for these slice and bake cookies, deliciously fragrant from the orange and nutmeg: the rye flour lands them a nutty flavor and a beautiful color.

Orange, rye and nutmeg slice and bake cookies
slightly adapted from Deb’s recipe

1 ½ cups (210g) all purpose flour
½ cup (70g) fine rye flour*
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
2/3 cup (93g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
200g (7oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whisk together all purpose flour, rye flour, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, place sugar and orange zest and mix them together until sugar is fragrant. Add the butter and mix until light and creamy – scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally throughout the making of the recipe.
Beat in yolks, one at a time. Beat in the vanilla. On low speed, mix in the dry ingredients and mix only until a dough forms – don’t overmix.

Divide the dough into two equal parts. Place each on a piece of parchment paper; shape dough into logs. Fold parchment over dough; using a ruler, roll and press into a 3.5 cm (1.4in) log – like Martha does here. Wrap in parchment. Chill in the fridge until very firm, about 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F; line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
Unwrap one log at a time (keep the other in the fridge). Cut into 5mm (¼in) thick rounds; space 2.5cm (1in) apart onto prepared sheets. Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, 12-14 minutes. Cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then carefully slide the paper with the cookies onto a wire rack and cool completely.

* for the cookies to be light in texture, make sure the rye flour you use is finely ground

Makes about 50

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Chocolate cashew brownies for another budget-friendly Easter

Chocolate cashew brownies / Brownies com castanha de caju

Close to paying bills and getting up early in the morning to go to work nothing makes me feel more like an adult than realizing that time really flies – saying it out loud every so often basically turns me into my grandmother. :D

Days ago I thought about what I would make to celebrate Easter this year and I remembered these chocolate cookies – when I searched them on the blog I was surprised to find out that the post is from two years ago!
I read the post and well, I continue refusing to buy expensive chocolate Easter eggs – so on top of getting old I am still cheap. :D

Brownies are a hit with everyone I know, not to mention how easy to make they are: out of a 20cm square pan you get 16 brownies and wrapped nicely you easily have 3-4 gifts covered – I have used cashew nuts for I wanted the brownies to have a Brazilian touch, but feel free to replace them with any other nut you fancy.

Chocolate cashew brownies
own creation

½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, softened and chopped
100g dark chocolate, finely chopped – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
¾ cup (130g) light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (140g) all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon table salt
¾ cup (105g) unsalted cashew nuts, toasted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 20cm (8in) square pan, line it with foil leaving an overhang on two opposite sides, and butter the foil as well.

In a large saucepan, combine butter and chocolate and cook over low heat, stirring, until both are melted. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Whisk in both sugars. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth. Stir in the vanilla, flour and salt, mixing just until incorporated. Stir in the nuts.
Spread batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies comes out with moist crumbs. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Cut into squares to serve.

Makes 16

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Mayo marinated roast chicken

Mayo marinated roast chicken / Frango assado marinado em maionese

I have told you that I am a very visual person and that beautiful food photos get my attention instantly, and a while ago I found out that my husband is just like that too. :)
Now, every time I see something delicious on a magazine or cookbook I immediately show him the picture – that has made my life so much easier! :)

I was reading Bon Appétit the other day and saw this insanely golden chicken – it caught my eye right away. When I read it was marinated in mayonnaise I was even more curious about the recipe, so I lifted the IPad and told him (I might have screamed, I am not so sure): “LOOK at this chicken!” to what he replied: “please make it for lunch next weekend?” :D

So in a matter of minutes the menu was decided and I got to learn that marinating chicken with mayo makes it really, really tender and beautifully golden – and all those spices combined with the onion and garlic added a wonderful flavor to it.

Mayo marinated roast chicken
adapted from Bon Appétit magazine

1 large onion, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup mayonnaise
4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 1½ pounds total)
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

Make the marinade: in a food processor, process onions, garlic, lime zest and juice, paprika, cumin and cayenne pepper until a rough purée forms. Transfer to a large baking dish and stir in salt, black pepper and mayonnaise. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours (overnight is even better).

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large and shallow baking dish with a double layer of foil and brush it with olive oil. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and scrape off the excess marinade. Place chicken onto the foil, skin side up, drizzle with the olive oil and roast for 60-70 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Serve immediately – I served it with watercress salad, like it was on the magazine, and it was delicious

Serves 2


Friday, March 24, 2017

Bolo de fubá (Brazilian corn flour cake) - the first recipe I made in life

Bolo de fubá da tia Angélica / Brazilian corn flour cake

Most of you already know that I started cooking at a very early age – it was purely out of necessity, but it became a true passion over the years. The first recipe I ever learned how to make was this corn flour cake, or “bolo de fubá”, and it was my great-aunt Angelica who taught me how to make it – she would then after that cake teach me how to cook all sorts of food, mostly by phone. <3

I hadn’t baked her cake for several years for I no longer had her recipe, but after searching all over my place, including very old notebooks I finally found it – it is really, really delicious and exactly how I remembered it: tasty and very light in texture.

I have made other cornmeal cakes over the past years, but this is the one that got me in the kitchen for the first time ever in my life, the recipe that showed me how magical and wonderful cooking and baking can be – if it wasn’t for this cake, this blog would probably not exist, and that makes this recipe even more special for me.

Bolo de fubá (Brazilian corn flour cake)
my great-aunt Angelica’s recipe

1 cup (140g) all purpose flour
1 cup (120g) corn flour (fine cornmeal - fubá) – not corn starch, the same corn flour used in these tartlets
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
4 large eggs
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (224g) granulated sugar
¾ cup (180ml) canola oil
1 cup (240ml) very hot whole milk

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter and flour a 20x30cm (8x12in) rectangular baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, corn flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs on medium speed until foamy. Gradually beat in the sugar, and then beat the mixture on high until thick, glossy and very light in color – scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally during the making of the recipe. Turn down the speed to medium and slowly pour in the oil down the sides of the bowl, then beat to combine. On low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients and mix only until incorporated – do not overmix to avoid losing the air previously incorporated in the batter. Gently stir in the milk with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for35-40 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack.

Cake can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Serves 20

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pesto and cheese rolls and family traditions

Pesto and cheese rolls / Pãezinhos recheados de pesto e queijo

Yesterday I started thinking about family traditions and how some of them go from one generation to the other, sometimes without us even noticing.

My brother and I have become much closer since my nephew was born, and that brings me a lot of joy. So on weekends we are inevitably all together, either they come to visit Joao and I or we visit them – I love that. It reminds me of when I was little and we would go for Sunday lunches at my grandmother’s or my aunt and uncle from the country side would come to spend the day with us – we are doing exactly what our parents did almost forty years ago and that happened so naturally I only thought of it now.

One of the times they came to visit us I had just finished baking these pesto rolls – they smelled wonderful and I thought the adults would love them, but to my surprise my nephew was the one that enjoyed them the most. I had no idea he would like bread filled with pesto – I thought he would find the flavor too strong or something like that – but I was wrong. Therefore I bring you these today and hope you the adults reading me like them as much as the little one at home did. :)

Pesto and cheese rolls
own creation

Dough:
¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water
¾ cup (180ml) lukewarm whole milk
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons dried yeast
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¾ teaspoon table salt
2 ¼ cups (315g) all purpose flour
½ cup (70g) whole wheat flour

Filling:
½ cup (40g) fresh basil leaves, packed
2 tablespoons finely ground pecorino
1 small garlic clove
2 tablespoons pine nuts
¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
200g shredded cheese – I used one kind of mozzarela we find here in Brazil that is yellow and drier than fresh mozzarela; replace with cheddar

Egg wash:
1 egg + ½ teaspoon water, beaten with a fork

Start by making the dough: in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together with a fork the water, milk, sugar and yeast. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg, butter, olive oil, salt and flours and mix on medium speed until a smooth and elastic dough forms, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside on a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.

Filling: place the basil, pecorino, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and black pepper in a blender or food processor and blitz until a paste forms – I don’t add any salt for the cheeses are already salty. Set aside. Brush a 12-hole muffin pan with butter.

Knock down the dough to remove any excess air. Roll it on a lightly floured surface until you get a 30x50cm (12x20in) rectangle. Spread the pesto over the dough, leaving a 1cm (½in) border. Sprinkle evenly with the shredded cheese. Beginning with the longer side, roll the dough tightly like a cylinder. Cut into 12 slices and place each slice, cut side up, inside a hole in the muffin pan. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise again for 40-60 minutes – in the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°C.

Brush the rolls with the egg wash and bake for 20-25 minutes or until deeply golden and cooked through. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully unmold each roll and transfer to the wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Rolls can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Reheat them in a 180°C oven for 8-10 minutes before serving if desired.

Makes 12

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Chicken fajitas with homemade tortillas

Chicken fajitas with homemade tortillas / Fajitas de frango com tortillas caseiras

I always think about how much my understanding of food has changed over the last decade or so – I feel grateful for how much I have learned after I started writing this blog, back in 2006.

Back then, I had already been cooking for seventeen years, for at the age of 11 I was already cooking dinner for 5 people every night. But after the blog I have come to learn dishes I had never heard of before, new ingredients, amazing flavors, and all of that has improved my cooking immensely.

I first heard of fajitas a long time ago, and I don’t even remember where I first saw it. After that, I ate them a few times in a Tex-Mex restaurant, but I can tell you that nothing, nothing beat homemade fajitas, especially if they are served with homemade tortillas – it is a whole new thing completely.

These tortillas are so delicious that I make them quite often, even to be served with guacamole only – after he tried these for the first time, my husband told me he would never eat store bought tortillas again. :)

Chicken fajitas with homemade tortillas
own creation, inspired by lots of sources

Chicken:
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a few drops of Tabasco
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
a few drops of Worcestershire sauce
1 large clove of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 chicken fillets (about 250g in total), cut into strips
1 small yellow bell pepper (about 150g), sliced
1 small red onion, sliced in half moons
1 tablespoon water

Tortillas:
2/3 cup (94g) all purpose flour
1/3 cup (46g) whole wheat flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup (80ml) warm water

Start by marinating the chicken: in a shallow medium bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, salt, pepper, Tabasco, cumin, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and garlic. Add the bay leaves and the chicken and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, 2 hours if possible.

Now, the tortillas: in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix well the flours, baking powder and salt. Add the oil and water and mix on medium speed until a smooth and elastic dough forms, about 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Divide dough into 6 equal portions – each should be about 40g. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough until you get a thin circle, 20-22cm (8-9in) in diameter. Heat a large nonstick frying pan over high heat. Grill each disc of dough for 1-2 minutes each side, or until a few brown spots appear on the surface – if you want soft tortillas, immediately transfer them to the plate and cover with a clean kitchen towel; if you want crispy tortillas, let them cool on a wire rack, without overlapping them. Repeat the process with all the remaining dough.

Cook the chicken: on a large nonstick frying pan over high heat, heat the remaining olive oil. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until tender. Add the chicken and cook, stirring a few times, until chicken is golden and cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the water, scrape the bottom of the pan to remove the delicious burnt bits and then serve immediately with the tortillas and guacamole, if desired.

Serves 2



Monday, March 13, 2017

Clementine posset

Clementine posset / Potinhos de tangerina

As much as I try to make new things in the kitchen, I have another priority: not to waste food, not even 1 ounce, if possible at all. It is not always possible, and I fail miserably sometimes, but I keep on trying.

Last week, when I placed the tangerine cookie dough logs in the fridge, I looked at the zested clementines and decided to make something tasty with them. I also had some cream in the fridge, so a posset immediately came to mind – it is such a ridiculously easy to make dessert I feel ashamed of even calling this a recipe, but the result is so delicious, velvety and delicate I had to share it with you.

Clementine posset
slightly adapted from the always great BBC Good Food

300ml heavy cream
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60ml) clementine juice, freshly squeezed
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the cream and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Turn up the heat and bubble for 2 minutes exactly. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the juice – mixture will being to thicken slightly. Stir in the vanilla. Sieve the mixture into a jug, wait for it to cool slightly, then divide between 4 glasses. Chill for at least 4 hours or until set.

Serves 4


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Clementine spiced cookies

Clementine spiced cookies / Biscoitos de tangerina e especiarias

I think one can say I am addicted to baking cookies – as you have probably noticed already – and for a good while now slice and bake cookies have been my favorites: they are easy to make and the uncooked dough can spend some time in the fridge or in the freezer waiting for the right moment to be baked.

Even though the dough can be kept for a good while before baking, I hardly ever keep it that long: I prefer to bake lots of cookies at once and eat them and also share them with my family and friends – a “spreading joy” operation, let’s say. :)

These cookies, deliciously fragrant from the tangerine zest and with a kick from the spices, will make your kitchen smell like heaven. The almond meal makes them quite delicate and tricky to be transported, so for a bit firmer – but still wonderful – cookies omit the almond meal and use a total of 175g all purpose flour.

Clementine spiced cookies
slightly adapted from Annie Rigg's breathtakingly beautiful book

1 cup + 1 tablespoon (150g) all purpose flour
¼ cup (25g) almond meal
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
finely grated zest of 2 clementines
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 pieces of crystallized ginger, cut into small dice

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
Put zest and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer and rub them together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Add the butter and using the mixer beat ingredients together until creamy and light in color. Beat in the honey and vanilla. Turn off the mixer and mix in the dry ingredients using a rubber spatula just until a dough forms – do not overmix.

Place the dough on a large piece of parchment paper; shape into a log. Fold parchment over dough; using a ruler, roll and press into a 3.5cm (1.4in) log – like Martha does here. Wrap in parchment. Chill in the fridge until very firm, about 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F; line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
Unwrap the dough log and cut into 5mm (¼in) thick rounds; space 2.5cm (1in) apart onto prepared sheets. Gently press a piece of crystallized ginger in the center of each cookie. Bake until golden brown around the edges, 10-12 minutes. Cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then carefully slide the paper with the cookies onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Makes about 30

Friday, March 3, 2017

One bowl chocolate cake for my nephew

One bowl chocolate cake / Bolo de chocolate de uma tigela só, ou "Bolo Pinguinho"

Up until two years ago my apartment was a home of two adults with no kids: glass objects here and there, pointy drawer handles… Now, there are safety nets on the balcony and on the windows and the glass objects get moved to a very high shelter every time our favorite visitor – my baby nephew – is around.

My husband and I went from not knowing we had any cartoon channels on the cable TV to knowing them by heart. :)

I came to learn that there is a cartoon called Peppa Pig and one day, after my nephew saw a chocolate cake on one of the episodes he immediately asked for one, or “boo cuatche” as he says. :) I had no butter at home, so a quick search brought me this recipe. It is insanely easy to put together and tastes absolutely amazing – and even after two days the texture was still amazing, kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

From that day on I have made this cake several times – I thought it was about time I shared it with you. This recipe is a keeper and has become a family’s favorite. For the one on the photo I used some chocolate sprinkles I had left from making brigadeiros for my nephew's birthday party.

One bowl chocolate cake
cake slightly adapted from here, the icing I don’t remember where I got it from

Cake:
2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (45g) unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ¾ cups (350g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
1 cup (240ml) canola oil
1 cup (240ml) buttermilk*
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
1 cup (240ml) hot water

Icing:
3 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 ½ tablespoons unsweetened Dutch process cocoa, sifted
1 cup (140g) icing sugar, sifted

Cake: preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter or oil a 20x30cm (8x12in) deep baking pan (if your 8x12in pan is not 5cm deep, use a 13x9in pan).

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in sugar. Stir in the eggs, oil and buttermilk. Dissolve the coffee into the hot water and stir into the batter, mixing until combined.
Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. When cake has cooled for 20 minutes, make the icing: in a small saucepan, place butter, cream and cocoa and stir over medium heat until melted. When it starts to boil, turn off the heat and whisk in the icing sugar. Spread over warm cake and let cool completely in the pan over a wire rack.

*homemade buttermilk: to make 1 cup buttermilk place 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a 240ml-capacity measuring cup and complete with whole milk (room temperature). Wait 10 minutes for it to thicken, then use the whole mixture in your recipe

Serves 16-20


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Easy fish stew and memories brought by food

Easy fish stew / Ensopado de peixe fácil, fácil

Food brings a lot of memories to most people I am sure and I am no exception: certain dishes remind me of certain people.

I think of my mom whenever I eat or cook fish, for when I was a little girl she would cook it once a week, rain or shine, and would tell me every single time how good it was for the brain. :)

Mom never cooked fish the way I bring you here today, but I am sure she would approve it: the fish gets tender from cooking in this flavorsome sauce, enriched by both sweetness from the fresh tomatoes and a bit of tang from the canned ones. I make this quite regularly for my husband loves it and even though I always, always serve it with rice because of him it would be amazing with couscous, too. Easy, delicious and on the table in less than half an hour.

Easy fish stew
own creation

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow bell pepper (about 200g), deseeded and finely diced
½ onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ripe Italian tomato, deseeded and chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1/2 can of water
350g white fish, cut into large chunks
handful of fresh cilantro leaves

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat – using a large saucepan is important for it will give you room to stir the fish pieces without breaking them.
Add the pepper and the onion and cook stirring occasionally until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the tomato, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and mixture is pulpy. Add the canned tomatoes and the water and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the fish, season with salt and pepper again and cook for 8-10 minutes or just until fish is cooked through. Stir in the cilantro, check the seasoning and serve immediately.

Serves 2

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Chickpea and chorizo warm salad and a brain filled with food photos

Sherry-glazed chorizo and chickpeas / Grão de bico com chorizo e xerez

Usually, when I am very tired – which has been a constant lately, since the last weeks have been really intense at work – I flip through cookbooks, food magazines and take a look at Instagram maybe trying to boost my brain with beautiful food photos (it is either that or watching some episodes of Sex and the City for the fortieth time – that helps a lot, too). :)

That amount of food photos on someone’s brain might come in handy: I was taking a look at my fridge to prepare the weekly shopping list when I bumped into half a can of chickpeas – leftovers from a salad I had made on the weekend. Minutes before that I had seen a package of chorizo on my cupboard, and the connection was formed in my head: chickpeas and chorizo with sherry. I just was not sure exactly where I’d seen it – on a cookbook? On a magazine? A food blog? Instagram? All of the above? :) –, so I decided to freestyle and it tasted fabulous. I ate it as a warm salad, but I am sure it would work well as a side dish, too.

Chickpea and chorizo warm salad
own creation, inspired by several recipes

1 teaspoon olive oil
70g diced chorizo
½ large onion, thinly sliced in half-moons
2 garlic cloves, minced
200g cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sherry
handful of fresh parsley leaves

Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over high heat. Add the chorizo and cook it, stirring occasionally, until crispy. Add the onion and cook until onion is tender, stirring occasionally to avoid catching in the bottom of the pan. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the chickpeas, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring once or twice, for 3 minutes. Stir in the sherry and cook for 2 minutes or until sherry is reduced. Turn off the heat and mix in the parsley. Serve warm.

Serves 2





Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Chocolate chip, crystallized peel and cranberry cookies + a hug as a gift

Chocolate, crystallized peel and cranberry cookies / Cookies com gotas de chocolate, laranja cristalizada e cranberries

As the year started and I got back from my week off, I started working on things around the house, maybe trying to clear my mind as I cleared the cupboards and the closet, I don’t know. :)

As I checked the ingredients in my cupboard, I found a bit of crystallized orange peel left from my holiday baking and right next to it I saw a jar of dried cranberries – I immediately thought of putting them together in cookies, and added a bit of dark chocolate for balance. The cookies tasted great and I turned them into a gift for a colleague who is going through hard times now – I hope she felt a bit better with the cookies and the big hug I gave her then.

Chocolate chip, crystallized peel and cranberry cookies
slightly adapted from BBC Good Food

225g all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
150g unsalted butter, room temperature
80g light brown sugar
80g demerara sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
120g dark chocolate chip or chunks
50g crystallized orange peel, chopped
100g dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars together until creamy and light. Beat in the vanilla extract and egg. On slow speed, beat in the dry ingredients and mix only until incorporate. Stir in the chocolate, crystallized orange peel and cranberries.

Drop 2 leveled tablespoons of dough per cookie onto the prepared pans, 5cm (2in) apart. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, or until they’re golden-brown around the edges. Cool in the pans over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then slide the papers with the cookies onto the rack and cool completely.
Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Makes about 25

Monday, January 30, 2017

Really simple brownies - easy, delicious recipe that yields a lot

Really simple brownies / Brownies super simples

I had been meaning to make brownies for weeks, but I wanted to try a new recipe instead of going to my usual suspects, Alice Medrich’s cocoa brownies. As I flipped through books and magazine pages and browsed around the Internet I found beautiful looking brownies – and you know I am a sucker for beautiful food photos – but as I started reading the recipes I did not feel like making them: I was not in the mood of using 350g of chocolate and 500g of sugar to make a 20cm square brownie pan.

I gave up on the brownies and baked a lemon cake instead. :)

But the brownies got stuck in the back of my brain and I went back to my search, and ended up finding these: easy to make, calling for just a bit of chocolate, yielding a big 20x30cm full of brownies with that crackly, shiny top. I tweaked the recipe just a tiny bit, since I did not have unsweetened chocolate home (I used one with 53% cocoa solids), and the brownies turned out fabulous. I have packaged some for my friends at work and I hope they like them as much as I did.

Really simple brownies / Brownies super simples

Really simple brownies
slightly adapted from here

150g dark chocolate, finely chopped or in chips – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, room temperature and chopped
1 ¾ cups (350g) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup (140g) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon (10g) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
¼ teaspoon table salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 20x30cm (8x12in) metal baking pan, line it with foil leaving an overhang in two opposite sides. Butter the foil as well.

In a large heatproof bowl place chocolate and butter. Melt them over a saucepan of barely simmering water – do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Once the ingredients are melted, remove from the heat and cool. Whisk in the sugar. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Whisk in vanilla.
Stir in the flour, cocoa and salt until a smooth batter forms. Spread onto prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Cut into squares to serve.

Makes 24

Monday, January 16, 2017

Honey bee cake - four years later

Honey bee cake / Bolo de mel com amêndoas

I have told you already how influenced by beautiful photos I am – if I see a stunning photo of a cake or a pasta dish I instantly add it to my mental to do list and cannot wait to make it. Sometimes that happens within the following weekends, sometimes it takes months, or even years – too many recipes, so little time. :)

This cake, from this gorgeous cookbook, have been on my mind for ages – the photo got stuck in my head when I purchased the book, a long time ago (2012, to be more precise). There were times I felt like baking it but had no honey in the pantry, other times I had no almonds at hand. So here we are, more than four years later, with a cake I could not wait to share with you: tender, perfumed, sweet, delicious – I hope you don’t wait as long as I did to make it.

Honey bee cake
slightly adapted from this beautiful cookbook

Cake:
2 ¼ cups (315g) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon table salt
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (200g) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (100g) honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
¾ cup (180ml) buttermilk, room temperature*

Glaze:
½ cup (150g) honey
3 tablespoons (41g) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
½ cup (56g) sliced almonds, toasted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 20cm (8in) round cake pan with a removable bottom or use a springform cake. Line the bottom with a disc of baking paper and butter the paper as well.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, honey and vanilla on low speed until blended. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Stop and scrape the bowl down often during the whole process. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the yolk.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape the bowl after each addition and do not overmix.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Rap the pan firmly on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes or until cake is golden and risen and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean – it is OK if the surface cracks a little while baking.

When the cake is almost ready, make the glaze: place honey and butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until combined, whisking to combine. Bring the mixture just barely to a simmer. Turn off the heat, whisk in the vanilla and the salt and set aside – it has to be still warm when you pour it over the cake.

When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and poke holes all over the cake with a skewer. Pour half of the glaze over the cake, evenly sprinkle the almonds over the cake, then pour the rest of the glaze over the almonds. Place the pan back in the oven for 5 more minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Carefully unmold the cake, peel off the paper and transfer to a serving plate.

Cake can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
*homemade buttermilk: to make 1 cup buttermilk place 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a 240ml-capacity measuring cup and complete with whole milk (room temperature). Wait 10 minutes for it to thicken, then use the whole mixture in your recipe

Serves 8-10

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Orange berry financiers to start 2017

Orange berry financiers / Financiers de laranja e frutas vermelhas

Happy New Year, everyone!

I wish each and every one of you all the best in 2017 – lots of love, joy and happiness.

I am back at work, after having a week off to enjoy Christmas and spend time with my family. It was a calm week, filled with good food, TV shows and movies, hot days – which are a nightmare for me, but hey, it is summer, after all – and loads of rest, including strategic naps after lunch. ;)

I did not bake much, however: I felt paralyzed with heat and was not brave enough to turn on the oven. I made a chocolate cake for my nephew – he asked for one after watching an episode of Peppa Pig – and it was pretty much it. But I bring you a recipe I made many weeks ago and that tasted delicious: these financiers made with orange and berries. The berries become little pools of jelly when baked and their flavor pairs beautifully with the orange.

These financiers are everything I want 2017 to be: beautiful, delicate, perfumed and delicious: fingers crossed that I get my wish. ;)

Orange berry financiers
adapted from the always delicious Simply Bill

¾ cup (105g) icing sugar, sifted
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
¾ cup (75g) almond meal (finely ground almonds)
1/3 cup (46g) all purpose flour
pinch of salt
5 egg whites
100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup (35g) blueberries, fresh or frozen (unthawed)
¼ cup (30g) raspberries, fresh or frozen (unthawed)
icing sugar, extra, for dusting

In a large bowl, place the orange zest and the sugar and rub them together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Whisk in the almond meal, flour and salt. Stir in the egg whites, butter, and vanilla until batter is smooth. Fold in the berries – if you prefer, leave some to be placed on top of the financiers before baking them. Cover batter and refrigerate the batter for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter and flour ten 100ml capacity mini cake or muffin pans.
Pour the batter in the pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden – a skewer inserted in the center should come out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pans over a wire rack for 2 minutes. Carefully unmold onto the rack and to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

Financiers are best served the day they’re made, but can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days. If days are too hot, keep refrigerated to avoid the berries going moldy.

Makes 10

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