Thursday, November 16, 2017

Peanut butter panna cotta with oat praliné

Peanut butter panna cotta with oat praliné / Panna cotta de amendoim com praliné de aveia

Months ago, when the doctor told me I was lactose intolerant I felt quite sad: I immediately thought of my deep love for cheese and how that would impact my food habits. However, days after that, it hit me really hard: many of the desserts I love so much are cream based, not to mention the ice creams…

I felt miserable.

Now I have learned to deal with it and it is not as bad as I thought it would be: I can replace some of the ingredients with lactose free versions, plus I always have located pills in my purse – they are not foolproof, but it is indeed better than nothing. I have yet to try making a panna cotta with lactose free heavy cream, and I might start with the one I bring you today: it is absolutely delicious and one of my favorite recipes from the times I was working on recipes for the cookbook.

Peanut butter panna cotta with oat praliné / Panna cotta de amendoim com praliné de aveia

Peanut butter panna cotta with oat praliné
panna cotta: own recipe, oat praliné adapted from this book

Panna cotta:
½ tablespoon powdered unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
½ cup (150g) smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons demerara sugar – I used demerata to enhance the caramel flavor; can be replaced by granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk

Oat praliné:
½ cup (45g) rolled oats
1/3 cup (67g) demerara sugar – I used demerara to enhance the caramel flavor; can be replaced by granulated sugar

Set aside four ½-cup capacity (120ml) glasses or ramekins.

In a small bowl, mix together the gelatin and water. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, sugar, salt and vanilla. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream and milk together until they start to boil. Remove from the heat and pour over the gelatin, whisking well to dissolve it. Pour this over the peanut butter mixture and whisk well until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve and divide the liquid among the four glasses. Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours – the panna cotta can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days, just keep it covered with plastic wrap so it does not dry out.

Now, make the praliné: line a baking sheet with a piece of foil. Spread the sugar in a medium frying pan and cook over medium heat, without stirring. When sugar starts to melt and get golden around the edges, stir gently using a rubber spatula until all the sugar is melted. As soon as that happens, remove the pan from the heat and add the oats, stirring to cover it well with the caramel. Quickly pour the mixture on top of the foil and spread as much as possible, creating a thin layer. Set aside to cool completely. When it is time to serve the panna cotta, break the praline into smaller pieces and place on top of the the panna cotta – do not do this ahead of time for the moisture in the panna cotta can dissolve the caramel of the praliné.

Serves 4

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Red onion tarte tatin with rye pastry

Red onion tarte tatin with rye pastry / Tarte tatin de cebola roxa com massa de centeio

I was never a pie/tart maker (one look at the blog index can confirm that), but I do love pies and tarts: I just don’t have much time for them, I guess. Two things that have helped me with this matter is making the pastry in one day and assembling and baking the pie on the other, or keeping an extra batch of pastry in the freezer – nothing like having the pastry ready when you find beautiful veggies or fruits in the market: lunch, dinner or dessert are halfway there.

This pastry is delicious and flaky, very similar to the corn flour pastry I posted a while ago. The onions not only make the tarte tatin beautiful but also very flavorsome: the time in the stove top and then in the oven transform their acrid flavor into something sweet and mellow.

Red onion tarte tatin with rye pastry
own recipe

¾ cup (105g) all purpose flour
3 tablespoons (30g) fine rye flour
¼ teaspoon table salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
3 tablespoons sour cream, chilled*
1 tablespoon iced water

2 red onions (approximately 250g/9oz in total)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon olive oil
5 fresh thyme sprigs
½ teaspoon demerara sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dry red wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Start by making the pastry: in a food processor, pulse all purpose flour, rye flour and salt until well combined. Add the butter and pulse a few times until mixture resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Mix sour cream and water in a small bowl, then with the motor running, gradually add the mixture and process just until a dough forms. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

20 minutes before the end of the resting time of the pastry, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F and start prepping the onions: peel them and cut them in half lengthwise. Then slice the onions in to 1cm (roughly ½in) half-moons – if the slices are too thin they will melt in the oven. Set aside.
Heat a 22cm (9in) frying pan over medium heat – for this recipe you need a frying pan that can go into the oven. Add the butter and the olive oil, followed by the thyme sprigs – this way they will be on the top of the tart once you invert it. Remove the frying pan from the heat for one moment and arrange the onion slices on top of the thyme, placing the slices close together, for they will wilt slightly when cooked - cover the entire frying pan with the onion slices. Put the pan back on the heat and cook for 10 minutes, shaking the pan slightly instead of stirring the onions, to avoid them sticking to the bottom, but keeping them in place. Sprinkle with the sugar, drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and the wine, season with salt and pepper and cook for another minute. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Red onion tarte tatin with rye pastry / Tarte tatin de cebola roxa com massa de centeio

Place the dough onto large piece of baking paper, cover with another piece of paper and roll into a rough 24cm (9in) circle – work fast in order to keep the pastry chilled. Peel off the paper from the top, then roll the pastry into the rolling pin, very gently, then unroll it on top of the onions (be careful since the pan will still be hot). Tuck the pastry in, make a small hole in the center of the pastry so the hot air can escape, then bake the tart for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the heat and very gently loosen the pastry from the edges of the pan. Top the pan with a plate and carefully unmold the tart – don’t worry if any onion bits get stuck in the pan, just loosen them up with a spatula and arrange them back on top of the tart. Serve with a green salad.

* homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

Serves 4 with a green salad on the side

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Banana and blueberry crumble

Banana and blueberry crumble / Crumble de banana e mirtilo

I do not mean to sound like a broken record (again), but things have been a bit slow on this blog and that usually happens when things are everything but slow on this side of the screen. Too much work, all sorts of other things going on… And on top of that I have had almost no energy to cook or bake, let alone photograph and type posts.

Many times in the past I read my favorite food bloggers write about burnout syndrome and I think that maybe the time has come for me, too: I don’t know for sure and my mind sometimes is a blur, to be honest. I have just come back from a wonderful trip to NYC in which I had fabulous food in all sorts of ways, and I thought this would give me inspiration to go back to the kitchen, but honestly, that has not kicked in yet.

Anyway, on a sweeter note: I have baked this crumble several times in the past year and a half and it has become one of my favorites, so here is the recipe.

Banana and blueberry crumble
own recipe

¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (125g) all purpose flour
¼ cup (50g) demerara sugar
¼ teaspoon baking poder
pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
¼ cup (22g) rolled oats
¼ cup (25g) flaked almonds
4 bananas, about 140g/5oz each
1 cup (120g) blueberries, fresh or frozen (unthawed)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Set aside four 1-cup (240m) heatproof ramekins – if you prefer, bake the crumble in one 1-liter heatproof baking dish.

Crumble topping: in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add the butter and rub the ingredients together with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Using a fork, stir in the oats and almonds. Freeze the mixture for 5 minutes while you prepare the fruit.

Cut the banana in round slices and divide among the ramekins. Sprinkle with the blueberries. Cover the fruit with the crumble topping and bake for 25-30 minutes or until topping is golden and blueberries are bubbling. Serve warm with ice cream or heavy cream.

The crumble topping can be kept tightly sealed in a plastic bag in the freezer for 1 month – whenever you feel like having a crumble for dessert, sprinkle the mixture over the fruit of your choice and bake – do not unthaw before using.

Serves 4

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Pear, olive oil and chocolate cake

Pear, olive oil and chocolate cake / Bolo de pera, azeite de oliva e chocolate

I have been running around like a headless chicken lately, with loads of work and other things to solve. For that reason, I haven’t posted much and I am also behind with my personal emails.

I decided to stop by very quickly with an equally quick to make cake: put together in almost no time, it is a tender and delicious combination of fruit, olive oil and chocolate. Good for those weeks you have barely time to breathe but still want a slice of cake and a cup of coffee or tea at the end of a tough day.

Pear, olive oil and chocolate cake / Bolo de pera, azeite de oliva e chocolate

Pear, olive oil and chocolate cake
own recipe

2 large pears, about 200g (7oz.) each
lemon juice, for drizzling over the pears
1 ½ cups (210g) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup (120ml) extra virgin olive oil
½ cup (130g) plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
50g dark chocolate, finely chopped – I used one with 70% cocoa solids

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a tall 20cm (8in) round cake pan with a removable bottom or a springform pan*, line the bottom with a circle of baking paper and butter it as well.

Peel and core both pears, slice one thinly and dice the other. Drizzle with a little lemon juice to keep them from browning.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, salt and sugar. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, olive oil, yogurt and vanilla. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in the diced pear. Pour into prepared pan and smooth the top. Arrange the pear slices on top of the batter, then sprinkle evenly with the chocolate. Bake for about 50 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.

* if your pan is not very tall, use a 9in (23cm) pan

Serves 6-8

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Spinach, cheese and chorizo calzones

Spinach, cheese and chorizo calzones / Calzones de espinafre, queijo e chorizo

When I have difficult and/or very busy days I usually take a breather and go to People magazine’s website: I get to read about celebrities and for that I don’t need to use any of my brain cells. :D

Today I read about how Kim Cattrall “killed” the plans of a third SATC movie, and for that we all have to send Kim a big thank you card – the first movie was nice, but the second was absolutely ridiculous and just the thought of certain scenes makes me agonize all over again. Some of the comments suggest that the writers kill Samantha Jones and do the movie with the other three women instead, however I don’t find it a smart decision for the fun of the TV show was the four of them together, and Samantha was always my favorite character (followed very closely by Miranda).

I will borrow inspiration from SATC and present you these delicious calzones: the filling is a combination of spinach, cheese and chorizo and I beg of you not to remove any of the ingredients from it: the calzones would not be the same. The spinach and the cheese benefit intensely from the saltiness of the chorizo, however if you can’t find it bacon goes well here too.

Spinach, cheese and chorizo calzones
own recipe

2 teaspoons dried yeast
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups (300ml) lukewarm water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 ¼ cups (455g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup (105g) finely diced chorizo
2 large garlic cloves
2 cups (120g) fresh spinach leaves, packed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (200g) coarsely ground yellow mozzarella*
extra virgin olive oil, for brushing the calzones

Start with the dough: in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the yeast, sugar and water with a fork. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the olive oil, flour and salt and mix for 6-8 minutes or until a soft and elastic dough forms. Shape dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to proof in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

In the meantime, make the filling: heat a large nonstick frying pan over high heat. Add the chorizo and cook stirring occasionally until the pieces are golden and crispy. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant – do not let it burn or it will get bitter. Stir in the spinach leaves and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper – go easy on the salt for the chorizo is usually salty. Cool, then stir in the cheese.

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and brush it lightly with olive oil.
Divide the dough into 8 equal parts – each will be around 100g (3 ½ oz.). Roll out each portion of dough on a lightly floured surface until you get a rough 25cm (10in) circle. Place some of the filling on one side of the dough and fold the other half over, pinching the seams well to keep the filling inside. Repeat the process with the remaining dough and filling. Place the calzones onto the prepared sheet and brush them lightly with olive oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Serve immediately.

* the yellow mozzarella I used is not like fresh mozzarella balls, therefore it does not release too much liquid. Replace by cheddar or something similar texture wise.

Makes 8

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