So yes, I am officially a softie. :)
I was crying easily for days and feeling very emotional. Then I decided to start watching a new TV show, but it could not be Stranger Things for everyone had been talking about it so much I was already fed up with it (plus all those spoilers on Facebook, why to people do these things?).
I went for River because I adore Stellan Skarsgård (ever since he had loads of hair in Breaking the Waves). I watched the pilot and indeed, it is an excellent show, but I felt so miserable at the end I could not bring myself to watch the second episode – I just told my husband: “let’s please watch one episode of The Blacklist now?” – I needed some of Raymond Reddington’s witty lines to improve my mood.
Beautiful things improve my mood, too, and I felt incredibly happy when my husband arrived home with a bunch of rhubarb stalks – he definitely knows my favorite kinds of gifts. ;)
I ended up making two recipes with the rhubarb, both delicious, but decided to share with you the most beautiful of them: the giant financier I made using a rectangular tart pan – I was very pleased when I got it out of the oven, it looked amazing!
I used Bill Granger’s friand recipe, one that already worked so well with cherries and pears, and added orange zest for zing. It was delicious, with a nice texture and wonderful flavor. On top of tasting great, the giant financier looked beautiful, so I had a slice of it with a cup of coffee while watching Red Reddington and I was happy again.
Orange rhubarb giant financier
adapted from Bill Granger’s friands
140g (5oz) trimmed rhubarb, cut into sticks, about 8x1cm (3x½ in) each
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
finely zest of 2 oranges
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (160g) icing sugar, sifted
1 cup (100g) almond meal
½ cup (70g) all purpose flour
pinch of salt
6 egg whites
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons Cointreau – optional
Place the rhubarb in a bowl and sprinkle with the granulated sugar. Mix lightly, then set aside for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Generously butter a 30x10cm (12x4 in) rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom.
In a large bowl, mix the orange zest and the icing sugar and rub with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Whisk in the almond meal, flour and salt. Stir in the egg whites until just combined. Stir in the melted butter and Cointreau (if using).
Pour the batter in the pan and smooth the top. Drain the rhubarb sticks and place them gently on top of the batter, without pressing them onto the batter.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden and risen and a skewer inserted in the center of the financier comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack. Carefully unmold to serve.
Financiers are best eaten the day they are made, but can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Saturday, August 13, 2016
So yes, I am officially a softie. :)
Thursday, August 4, 2016
Some recipes get stuck in my head for a really long time: I see them once, twice, five times, and don’t make them for a number of reasons. Then, after a good while, I see them again and I don’t even remember if I actually made them already or if they are still part of my (very lengthy) mental to do list – I guess that is natural after ten years of blogging. ;)
I saw this cake on Good Food Magazine many months ago, and then saw it again a couple more times. I loved the idea of mixing blueberries and coconut, but each time I saw the recipe I did not have one of the two ingredients. Months went by and I found a handful of blueberries in my freezer, but it was half the amount requested in the recipe: I decided to spin the recipe a bit, added lime zest and poppy seeds, and instead of mixing the berries into the batter, I sprinkled them on top of the cake before baking it. The result as a very moist and tender cake, with a beautiful touch of citrus and with tiny pockets of blueberry deliciousness here and there – I don’t mean to brag, but my twists to the recipe worked like a charm (and I can cross that recipe off my mental to do list). ;)
Lime, coconut, poppy seed and blueberry cake
adapted from the great Good Food magazine
2 cups (280g) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
pinch of salt
½ cup (50g) unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 limes
1 cup (240ml) canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
175ml whole milk, room temperature
½ cup (70g) fresh or frozen (unthawed) blueberries
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°C. Generously butter and flour an 8-cup capacity Bundt pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, poppy seeds and coconut. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine sugar and zest and rub them together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Whisk in the oil, eggs and vanilla. Alternately, fold in the flour in three additions and the milk in two additions, starting and ending with the flour.
Transfer the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the berries. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then carefully unmold onto a wire rack. Cool completely.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
I don’t know why, but I have felt very sensitive in the past few days – I even thought it was PMS, but no.
I saw a photo of a father playing with his two little girls in a destroyed bathtub – someone posted it on Facebook – and cried my eyes out. I was not having a very good day, and when I saw those kids playing in a place completely destroyed by war I felt so insignificant… My problems were nothing compared to that.
Then I watched Michelle Obama’s amazing speech last night and the tears came down hard – wow, that woman touched my heart in so many ways! My husband was in the kitchen making dinner and he was like “what happened? Are you OK?”, and I was just watching Michelle being fantastic.
Minutes ago, as I reached for this recipe and started writing down the post, I thought of my nephew and how much he enjoyed these cookies: it was a matter of remembering him eating them and bam, there came the waterworks. Lately, actually, everything related to him makes me cry: as I spend time with him, watching him discover the world, I think of my mom and of how much she would enjoy sharing these moments with us. My nephew is a very smart kid – he has long conversations with us, even though we don’t understand everything he says – and he is very tender and sweet – I get kisses and hugs all the time, plus he sometimes calls me “mom”. I get emotional every time I think of her and of how much she would love her grandson if she was around. I have cried often lately, sometimes they are tears of joy and sometimes they are tears of sorrow. I guess that is life, right?
These are Martha’s oatmeal raisin cookies that got turned into something a bit different: as I grabbed the ingredients to bake them, I saw the dulce de leche left from making the molten cakes I posted days ago. So I added a very generous dollop to the batter – cutting back a bit of the sugar – and replaced the raisins for chocolate chips, since dulce de leche and chocolate go so well together.
The cookies turned out fabulous and if you don’t believe me take my nephew’s word for it. ;)
Oatmeal dulce de leche choc chip cookies
slightly adapted from the goddess Martha S.
2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks/226g) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup (130g) packed light-brown sugar
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
½ cup (150g) dulce de leche
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 cups (240g) rolled oats
1 cup (165g) chocolate chips – I used ones with 53% cocoa solids
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter with both sugars, and beat until light and creamy. Beat in the dulce de leche and vanilla. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Add flour mixture, and mix on low speed just until just combined. On low speed, mix in the oats and chocolate chips.
Drop 2 leveled tablespoons of dough per cookie onto the prepared pans, 5cm (2in) apart. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes, or until they’re golden-brown around the edges. Cool completely in the pans.
Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Makes about 28
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
As much as I try to stick to the ingredients I have at home when baking, that doesn’t always happen: I sometimes cannot resist some fruits at the grocery store or buying another bar of chocolate and/or a jar of jam (I was much worse in the past, if that is any consolation). :)
It is like buying another book when you are not even close to finish reading the ones you already have (that, luckily, I no longer do). But the ingredients… I sometimes give in. :)
Last weekend, however, I reached for a batch of homemade vegetable stock in my freezer and saw a couple of bananas there. There was another ripe banana in the counter, so I decided to bake with them. The idea started as a cake, but changed to muffins when I saw these on Olive magazine – I had each and every ingredient at home and that made me feel like a winner. :D
On top of using the bananas, I was able to go through my giant peanut butter jar a little bit more, use up the remaining peanuts from this recipe and also the peanut meal I found in a shop weeks ago (and of course I had to bring it home). :D Don’t worry if you don’t have any peanut meal at hand: the original recipe calls for almond meal, so you can use either one.
Banana peanut muffins
slightly adapted from the always great Olive magazine
1 ¾ cups (245g) all purpose flour
2 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons peanut meal (finely ground peanuts)
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (78g) demerara sugar
3 ripe bananas, being 2 mashed and 1 chopped
100g smooth peanut butter
½ cup (120ml) buttermilk*
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
handful of toasted peanuts (salted are fine)
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a standard 12-hole muffin pan with muffin cases.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, peanut meal and sugar. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2 mashed bananas, the peanut butter, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla until well mixed. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a fork – do not overmix or your muffins will be tough; muffin batter is supposed to be lumpy, not smooth like cake batter. Stir in the chopped banana.
Divide the mixture between the cases and sprinkle with the peanuts – press them slightly with your fingers so they adhere to the batter. Bake for about 20 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the muffins from the pan and transfer them to the rack. Serve warm or let them cool completely.
* 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
Friday, July 15, 2016
I am completely drawn to beautiful food photos and I have a list of favorite people whose recipes I trust completely, so a couple of years ago, when I discovered Bill Granger’s column on The Independent I was really happy: his recipes always work and taste delicious and the photos posted on the paper website are truly gorgeous.
I found this cake recipe there and was curious to try it since I called for no butter and no oil. I twisted it around a little bit, but still ended up with a very moist and tender cake, perfumed with oranges. The icing goes a bit to the sweet side, but I am a fan of white chocolate, so no problem to me – if you are a white chocolate hater (as most of my coworkers seem to be), feel free to make a simple glaze with icing sugar and orange juice, it will make the cake shine, too.
Yogurt, orange and almond cake with white chocolate and yogurt icing
slightly adapted from the always great Bill Granger
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (150g) all purpose flour
½ cup (50g) almond meal
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
170g plain yogurt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons Cointreau (optional)
For the topping:
¼ cup (60g) plain yogurt, room temperature
100g white chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
2 tablespoons icing sugar
¼ cup (35g) whole almonds, toasted, cooled and then coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°C. Butter a 20cm (8in) round cake pan, line the bottom with a circle of baking paper and butter the paper as well.
Cake: in a medium bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, rub sugar and orange zest together until sugar is fragrant. Add the eggs and using the mixer whisk until thick and creamy. Beat in the vanilla and the Cointreau (if using). On low speed, mix in the yogurt. Fold in the dry ingredients and pour batter in the prepared pan. Bake for around 40 minutes, until the cake is risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan onto a wire rack.
Icing: whisk in the yogurt into the chocolate until smooth. Sift in the sugar and stir to combine. Cover and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes, or until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Unmold the cake, carefully peel off the paper and place onto a serving place. Spread with the icing and top with the chopped almonds to serve.