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

Dough:
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

Filling:
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

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Stuffed zucchini, not like my grandma's

Stuffed zucchini / Barquinhas de abobrinha

One of the dishes that remind me of my grandmother the most is stuffed zucchini: she would make these quite often when she lived with us because my father liked it a lot.

I did not like meat growing up and back then I did not understand why my grandma would make this dish so often, but now that I am all grown up it makes a lot of sense to me: it is delicious – when prepared properly – and it makes things quite easier for the cook, since you only need a green salad on the side to call it a complete meal.

This is my version of stuffed zucchini: out with the mushy rice mixed with pale beef, in with with wine, tomatoes, fresh marjoram and gorgonzola – absolutely delicious (sorry, grandma). :)

Stuffed zucchini / Barquinhas de abobrinha

Stuffed zucchini
own recipe

4 zucchini, about 250g/8oz each
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
400g (14oz) beef mince
salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup (60ml) dry white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 ripe tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
handful of fresh marjoram leaves
150g (5oz) gorgonzola, coarsely grated or crumbled
finely ground parmesan, for serving

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and brush it with some of the olive oil.

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise – you should then get 8 halves that look like little boats. With a small spoon, scrape some of the flesh – do not carve the zucchini halves too much or they will be too flimsy. Chop the flesh and set aside. Place the zucchini on the prepared sheet and brush the inside of each half with some of the olive oil.

Bake for 20 minutes – in the meantime, make the filling: heat the remaining olive oil in a large nonstick frying pan over high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant – do not let the garlic burn or it will turn bitter. Stir in the mince and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden. Season with salt and pepper – go easy on the salt since the cheeses can be salty. Stir in the wine and cook again for 2-3 minutes or until wine is reduced – using a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits in the bottom of the saucepan for extra flavor. Stir in the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, ¾ cup of the reserved zucchini flesh (you can freeze the remaining flesh and use it to make vegetable stock) and the marjoram. Cook for about 5 minutes or until tomatoes are soft. Remove from the heat, stir in the gorgonzola and divide the meat filling among the zucchini halves. Bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the parmesan and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Apple cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing

Apple cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing / Pãezinhos de maçã e canela com cobertura de cream cheese

Baking bread is something I deeply enjoy, even though I have not done that much lately. Unless you have access to good artisanal bakeries (which are very few here in Sao Paulo), it is the only guaranteed way of having good bread on the table.

These apple rolls were my idea to turn the humble cinnamon roll into something even more special, to get people interested in them again – like Nic Pizzolatto casting Mahershala Ali for the third season of True Detective, after that not-so-great season 2. :D

I was very happy with the recipe: the rolls are tender and perfumed with cinnamon and the tangy icing compliments the apples beautifully. They disappeared quite quickly every time I made them, and next time I prepare this recipe I intend to use pears + nutmeg instead of apples + cinnamon – I believe it will be just as delicious.

Apple cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing
own recipe

Dough:
200ml whole milk
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, room temperature and chopped
2 ¼ teaspoons (7g) dried yeast
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (75g) granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ¼ cups (455g) all purpose flour

Filling:
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, softened
4 Granny Smith apples (about 650g/1 ½ pounds), peeled, cored and cut into small dice*
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (44g) light brown sugar, packed
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Icing:
½ cup (113g) cream cheese, very soft
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, very soft
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (140g) icing sugar, sifted

Start by making the dough: in a small saucepan, heat milk until it starts to boil. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and let it melt. Once the mixture is lukewarm, pour it into the bowl of an electric mixer and stir in the yeast and sugar. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg, salt, vanilla and flour and mix with the dough hook for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Transfer to a lightly buttered large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 ½ hours.

Generously butter a 20x30cm (8x12in, and 13x9in also works) baking pan. Set aside.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 30x40cm (12x16in) rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough leaving a 1cm (½in) border. In a medium bowl, stir the apples with the sugar and cinnamon until well coated, then spread evenly on top of the butter layer. Starting from the longest side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder, then slice into 12 equal pieces. Place the slices side-by-side in the prepared pan, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and set aside to prove again, 40-45 minutes – in the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°/400°F.

Bake the buns for 25-30 minutes or until risen and golden. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully unmold the buns onto the rack. Now, make the icing: in a small bowl, whisk the ingredients together until smooth. Spread over the buns and set aside to cool completely, or serve them warm.

* it is important to keep the apple pieces small otherwise they will not bake properly inside the dough

Makes 12

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

My tuna salad sandwiches

My tuna salad sandwiches / O meu patê de atum

My husband and I are not people who swap meals for sandwiches very often – we do like our rice and beans, soups, pasta dishes, and now Joao has some serious competition on my Bolognese sauce, since my 2 ½ year-old nephew loves it as much as Joao does. <3

However, when burgers or tuna salad sandwiches are involved we are happy to have sandwiches for lunch or dinner, and more recently, the sardine rillette has become part of that small list. I did not imagine my husband liked tuna salad sandwiches until the day I made this recipe, which I have been making for over 20 years. He went crazy for the tuna salad and it instantly became part of our favorite things to eat on lazy weekends.

This tuna salad goes very well with all kinds of bread – including the soft rye bread I posted a while ago – but I find it very important to have the slices toasted if the kind of bread chosen is not very sturdy: it prevents the sandwiches from getting soggy.

My tuna salad sandwiches
own recipe

1 can of tuna preserved in water (120g/4oz drained weight)
1 carrot (about 100g/3oz) peeled and coarsely grated
1 small onion, finely diced*
handful of fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
½ cup green olives, pitted and chopped
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oli
2/3 cup mayonnaise – homemade is even better
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Drain the tuna very well, then transfer to a large bowl and flake it with a fork. Mix in the carrot, onion, parsley and olives. Drizzle with the olive oil and mix well. Mix in the mayonnaise, season with salt and pepper and serve immediately with your favorite kind of bread.

* this recipe is delicious too if you replace the onion with celery

Makes 5-6 sandwiches using regular, white bread


Friday, September 15, 2017

Orange, cinnamon and clove cake and the second recipe I ever learned

Orange, cinnamon and clove cake / Bolo de laranja, canela e cravo

Most people who know me or read the blog know that the first recipe I ever learned how to make was a Brazilian cornmeal cake, the one I published a while ago. I was 11 years old and right then and there a whole new world opened up in front of me: from that day on I engaged in a relationship with food and cooking that changed my life for good.

What not everyone knows is that the second recipe I learned how to make was an orange cake – very simple, yet so delicious, I can almost smell it if I close my eyes for a moment. For that reason (aside from the fact that I am a citrus nut) orange cakes have a special place in my heart and I am always looking for new ways to make them.

The one I bring you today is perfumed with both cinnamon and cloves and the inspiration for this combo of flavors came from the sablés I posted a couple of years ago, when I was saying goodbye to my dear Peggy Olson.

Orange, cinnamon and clove cake
own recipe

2 cups (280g) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (240ml) sour cream*
Icing sugar, for dusting the cake

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter and flour a 2-liter capacity Bundt pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine granulated sugar and orange zest and rub them together until sugar is fragrant. Add the butter and using the mixer beat until creamy and light in color – scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally throughout the making of the recipe. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

On slow speed, beat in the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the sour cream in two additions (start and end with the dry ingredients). Beat just until incorporated. Pour into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until cake is golden and risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 20 minutes, then carefully unmold onto the rack and cool completely.
Dust with icing sugar before serving.

* 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 8

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Asparagus and gorgonzola galette with corn flour pastry and creative days

Asparagus and gorgonzola galette with corn flour pastry / Galette de aspargo e gorgonzola com massa de fubá

I could start several posts with “when I was still working on the book project” because during that time I exercised my creativity almost on a daily basis. Everything I saw was a source of inspiration, and a trip to the grocery store or the farmers’ market would turn into an idea, that turned into a recipe, that turned into several tests in my kitchen. Several times my husband and I ate the tests for lunch, and whoever came to my house would be served cake or cookies I had been working on – everyone became my guinea pigs. :)

I was at the grocery store with my husband one day when I saw beautiful asparagus – I brought them home with the idea of making a frittata, but I decided for a galette instead: I love galettes, they are my favorite kind of tart – they are easy to put together (no blind baking involved) and they always look stunning.

We ate this galette for lunch 3 times – I was going to make it a few times anyway to test the recipe in different occasions, however it tasted so delicious that making it again never felt like a chore.

Asparagus and gorgonzola galette with corn flour pastry
own recipe

Pastry:
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (150g) all purpose flour
¼ cup (35g) corn flour (finely ground cornmeal, not corn starch)
¼ teaspoon table salt
100g unsalted butter, very cold and diced
¼ cup (60ml) sour cream*, very cold
2 tablespoons iced water

Filling:
100g fresh ricotta – I use homemade
50g gorgonzola, coarsely grated or crumbled
1 tablespoon sour cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g fresh asparagus, already trimmed

Egg wash:
1 egg yolk whisked with 1 teaspoon sour cream

Start by making the pastry: in a food processor, pulse all purpose flour, corn 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.

Place the dough onto large piece of baking paper, cover with another piece of paper and roll into a rough 20x35cm (8x14in) rectangle. Slide the paper with pastry into a baking sheet and remove the paper from the top. In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta, gorgonzola, heavy cream until a paste forms. Season with salt and pepper (go easy on the salt since gongonzola can be salty). Spread the dough with the filling leaving a 2.5cm (1in) border. Arrange the asparagus on top of the filling, pressing them slightly to adhere. Carefully fold one edge in towards the center of the filling and continue folding all the way round, bringing the edge of the pastry towards and over the filling/asparagus. Freeze the galette for 15 minutes – in the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.

Brush the pastry with the egg wash and bake for 30-40 minutes or until pastry is golden. Serve warm.

* 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, September 12, 2017

Tangerine Prosecco gelatin and a scary movie

Tangerine prosecco gelatin / Gelatina de tangerina e prosecco

I am not very brave when it comes to horror films, but after watching the teaser for It I really wanted to watch the movie. My husband asked if I was sure this was a good idea, and I told him that I would be OK since I am not afraid of clowns.
A few minutes into the movie and I was scared as hell and with my eyes closed. :D To be honest I did not recall the 1990 movie being so scary. :S

As promised, I bring you today a recipe that calls for the tangerine juice left from making the financiers I posted yesterday – and the color of the gelatin reminds me of Beverly’s beautiful hair (I was impressed at how much the young Sophia Lillis looks like Amy Adams). I added Prosecco to the gelatin to make this an adult dessert, but if you don’t drink alcohol or want to make this for kids just replace the Prosecco with more tangerine juice.

Tangerine Prosecco gelatin
own recipe

1 ¼ teaspoons gelatin powder
1 ½ tablespoons water
200ml fresh tangerine juice, strained
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
100ml Prosecco
whipped cream, for serving (optional)

In a small bowl, combine the gelatin with the water. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan combine the tangerine juice and sugar and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is lukewarm. Remove from the heat and whisk in the Prosecco, followed by the gelatin. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into four ½-cup capacity glasses. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until set.
Serve with a dollop of the whipped cream.

Serves 4



Monday, September 11, 2017

Tangerine coconut financiers, videos and texts

Coconut tangerine financiers / Financiers de coco e tangerina

I was talking to my husband the other day about why I still blog, after eleven years. I was telling him how people are drawn to videos nowadays and that everyone says that blogs are a thing of the past.

The conversation started because I wanted to read reviews about a hair product and all I could find was videos about it. I did not want videos, I wanted text, and there were hardly any. Until that day I used to tell my husband that I did not make recipe videos because I do not have time for them (which is true), but I suddenly realized that I actually don’t like recipe videos (with very few exceptions) – I prefer text whenever possible. I like to read people’s ideas, and it makes me happy when they read me too.

These financiers are a result of replacing almond meal with desiccated coconut, and such a tropical flavor paired beautifully with the citrus touch from the tangerines. This recipe goes to those of you who still feel that blogs are worth reading, and I hope you come back later this week: I will post another recipe using the juice of these very tangerines, since in the financiers you will only use the zest.

Tangerine coconut financiers
own recipe

3 tablespoons (30g) all purpose flour
2/3 cup (67g) desiccated unsweetened coconut
½ cup (70g) icing sugar, sifted
pinch of salt
finely grated zest of 2 tangerines
3 egg whites (84g)
1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, coconut, icing sugar, salt and tangerine zest. Whisk in the egg whites. Whisk in the butter and vanilla until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Butter twelve 2-tablespoon capacity molds or mini muffin pans.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the top. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden and risen – a skewer in the center should come out clean.
Cool in the pans over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully unmold and transfer to the rack, cooling completely.

Makes 12

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Banana and chocolate cake with coconut glaze for a lazy holiday

Banana and chocolate cake with coconut glaze / Bolo de banana e chocolate com glacê de coco

Tomorrow is a national holiday in Brazil and I really need some time off – the past few weeks have been intense workwise. For that reason, I bring you today a very short post, but with a delicious cake: the recipe is very straightforward too and can be done without any electric equipment – perfect for the lazy days ahead.

Banana and chocolate cake with coconut glaze
own recipe

Cake:
2 cups (280g) all purpose flour
¾ cup (67g) unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Dutch cocoa powder)
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon table salt
2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
¾ cup (180ml) canola oil
½ cup (130g) plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas, mashed with a fork

Glaze:
1 cup (140) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons coconut milk
¼ cup (25) toasted coconut, for sprinkling over the cake

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 12-cup capacity Bundt pan.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, oil, yogurt and vanilla until smooth. Mix in the bananas. Fold in the dry ingredients just until incorporated – do not overmix. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until risen and a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 20 minutes, then carefully unmold onto the rack and cool completely.

Glaze: place the sugar in a small bowl and gradually whisk in the coconut milk, mixing until you get a drizzable consistency – for a thicker glaze, use less milk. Pour over the cake and sprinkle with the toasted coconut.

Serves 10-12

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Zucchini, bacon and cheese clafoutis

Zucchini, bacon and cheese clafoutis / Clafoutis de abobrinha, queijo e bacon

Those of you around here for a while know that the other habitant of my house used to be a very picky eater until he spent (precious) days in China - one of the things he did not eat back then was heavy cream (!).

That has luckily changed and many times in the warmer months, when we wanted something light but still delicious I made savory clafoutis for lunch and served with a big salad. Joao’s favorite mix of flavors is the one I bring you today: the salty bits of bacon pair wonderfully well with the cheese and the zucchini. My favorite clafoutis is the one made exactly like this, however swapping the zucchini for a handlful of button mushrooms that get browned in a drizzle of the leftover bacon fat before being added to the batter. If you ever try any of the versions I will love to hear your comments about it.

Zucchini, bacon and cheese clafoutis
own creation

2 slices of bacon, chopped
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk, room temperature
½ cup (70g) all purpose flour
1/3 cup gruyere cheese, coarsely grated
1 medium zucchini (about 200g/7oz), in small dice
2 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Set aside a 1-liter capacity heatproof baking dish – the one on the photo is 20cm (8in) wide and 3.5cm (1 1/3in) deep.

Heat a small nonstick frying pan over high heat and cook the bacon, stirring occasionally so the pieces brown evenly. As soon as they are crispy, remove them from the saucepan using a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Use some of the rendered fat to grease the insides of the baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, cream and milk until smooth. Add the flour and whisk until smooth again. Stir in the cheese, zucchini and thyme leaves, then season with salt and pepper. Pour into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the bacon bits.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve immediately.

Serves 2-3 (depending on what is served with it)

Friday, September 1, 2017

Brown butter rye choc chip cookies - another great recipe with rye flour

Brown butter rye choc chip cookies / Cookies de manteiga queimada, centeio e chocolate

My confessed love for the fine rye flour has been resulting in several great recipes in the past months, and it makes me really happy that my dear and lovely reader Ellen from the U.S., together with several other readers of my Brazilian blog have been enjoying one of them: the soft rye bread I posted a while ago.

It is my favorite recipe made with rye – and it does taste exceptionally good paired with the sardine rillette, it is like they were made for each other. However, the bread has been closely followed by the cookies I bring you today: the combination of the nutty rye flavor with brown butter and dark chocolate is one the most delicious out there – trust me. ;)

Brown butter rye choc chip cookies
own recipe

½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (160g) all purpose flour
½ cup (70g) fine rye flour – the one I mentioned on this post
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon table salt
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
¾ cup (131g) light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped or in chips – I used one with 70% cocoa solids

Start by making the brown butter: place the butter in a small saucepan (avoid using dark nonstick since that way you will not be able to see the color of the butter clearly). Cook over medium heat until butter is golden and smells nutty, swirling the saucepan around a few times – butter can burn very quickly, to keep an eye on it. Remove from the heat and transfer to a heatproof bowl to cool completely.

Now, the cookies: preheat the oven to 150°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, rye flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Place brown butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until creamy and light in color – scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally throughout the recipe making. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. On low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients and mix only until a dough forms – do not overmix. Stir in the chocolate pieces. If day is too hot, refrigerate dough for 30 minutes before baking.

Drop 2 leveled tablespoons of dough per cookie onto the prepared pans, 5cm (2in) apart. Bake the cookies for 12-14 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 23

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Zucchini and chorizo risotto - a truly delicious recipe

Zucchini and chorizo risotto / Risoto de abobrinha e chorizo

You might think that I obsess over sweet ingredients only – and taking a look at the blog, who can blame you? :) – but some savory ingredients make me so happy I want to include them in just about anything. Chorizo is one of them: ever since I tried it for the first time I have been using it in several dishes, always with delicious results.

I make risottos often and it was only a matter of time before I added chorizo to them, however, I was trying to play with different textures and wanted to add layers to my risotto. Adding the crunchy bits of chorizo on top was one of the ideas, which turned out to be a win/win situation, since I used the fat rendered from the chorizo to coat the rice and removing it from the saucepan before adding the liquid I avoided it from going soft. I also wanted two different textures for the zucchini, so half of it was thinly sliced and grilled – which added a nice smoky flavor – and the other half was incorporated in the risotto. I do not mean to brag, but this is one of the most delicious dishes I have ever cooked.

Zucchini and chorizo risotto
own recipe

Grilled zucchini:
1 large zucchini (about 200g/7oz)
olive oil
salt

For the risotto:
50g (2oz) chorizo sausage, in small cubes
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter – divided use
½ small onion, finely diced
1 sprig of fresh thyme
¾ cup (165g) Arborio or Carnaroli rice
¼ cup (60ml) dry white wine
3 cups (720ml) hot vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g (2oz) Canastra cheese, coarsely ground*
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese

Slice half the zucchini into thin slices and dice the remaining in to small cubes. Set the cubes aside (they will go in the risotto). Drizzle the zucchini slices with just a bit of oil and season with salt. Heat a large nonstick skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat and grill the zucchini slices for 1-2 minutes each side or just until golden. Set aside on a plate.

Heat the chorizo cubes in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally so the pieces brown evenly. As soon as they are crispy, remove them from the saucepan using a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Add ½ tablespoon of the butter to the saucepan , followed by the onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent. Add the zucchini cubes and the thyme sprig and cook for 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, until rice is nicely coated in the fat. Stir in the wine and cook until it evaporates. Stir in the hot stock, 1 ladleful at a time, and continue to cook, stirring until all the stock is absorbed, before adding more stock.

Repeat this until all the stock has been used, the rice is al dente and the risotto is thick and glossy – about 20 minutes (you might not use all the stock). Season with salt and pepper, but go easy on the salt since chorizo and parmesan might be salty.
When the rice is al dente, remove the thyme sprig and stir in the cheeses and the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Check the seasoning, put the lid on and wait 2 minutes. Transfer the risotto to the serving plates, top each with the grilled zucchini slices and the crispy chorizo and serve immediately.

* for this recipe I used a kind of cheese typical from Brazil called Canastra cheese. Feel free to replace it by Grana Padano, more parmesan or any other cheese you like – just keep in mind that chorizo can be salty, so very salty cheeses might not go well in this recipe

Serves 2

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Coconut apple galette - coconut, again :)

Coconut apple coconut galette / Galette de coco e maçã

Even though it is a controversial ingredient/flavor, I do love coconut and when I was working on the book project I tried to include it in several different recipes – not only I got delicious results out of it, but it was much cheaper than my lemon frenzy. :)

I made muffins, cakes, crumbles, popsicles and cookies using coconut, and I cannot wait to share more with you: today I bring you a galette, in which I replaced part of the flour with desiccated coconut. I paired the lovely coconutty pastry with apples and added a touch of both lime (in zest and juice form) and cinnamon to the fruit – it tasted and smelled delicious.

This galette is wonderful either warm or at room temperature, but I urge you to try it warm with vanilla ice cream on the side – it is truly heavenly.

Coconut apple galette
own recipe

Pastry:
1 ¾ cups (245g) all purpose flour
1/3 cup (33g) unsweetened desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch of salt
¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1/3 cup (80ml) iced water

Filling:
4 Granny Smith apples (about 700g/1 ½ pounds), peeled, cored, cut in half then thinly sliced
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lime
freshly squeezed juice of ½ lime
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Egg wash:
1 egg yolk + 1 teaspoon whole milk, room temperature, whisked well together in a small bowl

Start by making the pastry: in a food processor, pulse flour, coconut, sugar and salt until well combined. Add the butter and pulse a few times until mixture resemble coarse breadcrumbs. With the motor running, gradually add the water and mix just until a dough forms. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Place the dough onto large piece of baking paper, cover with another piece of paper and roll into a rough 30cm (12in) circle. Slide the paper into a baking sheet.

Place the apples in a bowl with the sugar, lime zest and juice and cinnamon and toss to combine. Arrange the apple slices on the center of the dough – arrange them as you please. I prefer to put them side by side, that way the heat can circulate better through the fruit and tart bakes more evenly. Carefully fold one edge in towards the center of the fruit and continue folding all the way round, bringing the edge of the pastry towards and over the apple slices. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and bake for about 40 minutes or until pastry is golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6-8

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Orange olive oil waffles

Orange olive oil waffles / Waffles de laranja e azeite de oliva

I do not make waffles very often because my husband does not like them, leaving me to eat the whole batch alone (not pretty), but since I like them a lot I am always interested in trying new flavors and toppings. A bit of research led me to the fact that the key to get crispier, crunchier on the outside waffles was to use oil instead of butter, and it actually worked.

Now that I no longer can eat regular dairy I have been making my waffles like the ones I bring you today, with olive oil and lactose-free milk, but if you prefer the butter flavor over the crispy texture it is just a matter of replacing the olive oil with melted unsalted butter.

I absolutely love the combination of orange and blueberries – one of my favorite flavor combos – so it is my duty to tell you that the waffles taste amazing served with the baked blueberry jam I posted a couple of years ago (it works well with frozen, thawed blueberries when fresh ones are not available).

Orange olive oil waffles
own recipe

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 large egg
¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup (180ml) whole milk, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, place the sugar and orange zest and rub them together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk well.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, olive oil, milk and vanilla. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir just until incorporated – do not overmix.

Heat a waffle iron until very hot; lightly coat with nonstick spray – my waffle maker is nonstick, so I do not coat it.
Working in batches, cook waffles until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet and keep warm in oven until ready to serve.

Makes 5-6 waffles

Friday, August 25, 2017

Hasselback baby eggplants

Hasselback baby eggplants / Mini berinjelas Hasselback

If you have been reading me for a while now you probably know that I am a huge fan of Nigella Lawson – I was lucky enough to meet her a few years ago and got one of my books autographed. She is the one who, ages ago, introduced me to Hasselback potatoes, a recipe I find not only delicious but also really pretty.

When I was still working on the book project, I thought one day: “why not Hasselback other veggies, too?”. One day, at the farmer’s market, I saw these beautiful baby eggplants and the Hasselback feeling came back to my mind. To make things more interesting, there had to be cheese, of course, but a strong flavored one. A drizzle of garlic oil turned everything into a delicious and perfumed side dish – if my husband saw this post he would strike the word “perfumed” off, for that and “gorgonzola” cannot be in the same sentence as far as he is concerned. :D

Hasselback baby eggplants / Mini berinjelas Hasselback

Hasselback baby eggplants
own creation

12 baby eggplants (about 600g/little less than 1 ½ pounds)
4 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove
salt and freshly ground black pepper
75g gorgonzola cheese, firm enough to be sliced

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Tear 12 pieces of foil, about 20x20cm (8x8in) each, then crumple each one of them formatting into little nests – they will be the support for each eggplant, that way they don’t roll around the baking sheet.
Place the foil nests on a large baking sheet and brush their cavities with a little of the olive oil. Set aside.

In a mortar and pestle, place the garlic and salt and pound until a paste forms. Add the black pepper and the remaining olive oil and mix well.

Place each eggplant on a wooden spoon and cut into slices without going through the end – you want the eggplant to remain whole. Cut the gorgonzola into thin slices and place them inside the slits in the eggplants – make sure the cheese slices are thin enough to fit into the eggplants. Place the eggplants into the foil nests and drizzle with the garlic oil. Bake for about 25 minutes or until eggplants are tender.

Serves 4 as a side dish

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Brownies with white chocolate chips and cocoa nibs

Brownies com chocolate branco e nibs de cacau / Brownies with white chocolate chips and cocoa nibs

One can tell that I am crazy for brownies by the amount of brownie recipes on this blog, however in my defense I have to say that I do not bake them for my own pleasure only: every time I want to make someone’s day better I give brownies as gifts (some of my friends already know that very well). :)

I had a small package of cocoa nibs at home and wanted to use them in a nice recipe – since they are on the bitter side, I thought that pairing them with the sweetness of white chocolate would work well - the creamy, gooey brownies are the perfectly vessel for that flavor encounter, and I added a touch of dark cocoa powder to the batter for extra richness.

Brownies with white chocolate chips and cocoa nibs
own recipe

¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened and chopped
170g dark chocolate, finely chopped – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
¾ cup (105g) all purpose flour
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon table salt
100g white chocolate chips
1/3 cup (40g) cocoa nibs

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 bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water) combine butter and chocolate and stir occasionally until both are melted. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Whisk in sugar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth. Stir in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, mixing just until incorporated. Stir in the white chocolate chips and cocoa nibs.

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

Monday, August 21, 2017

Roasted tomato and red lentil soup and freezing feet

Roasted tomato and red lentil soup / Sopa de tomates assados e lentilha vermelha

I believe that one of the reasons why my love for the winter has considerably decreased is the fact that at least here in Sao Paulo we are not actually prepared for cold temperatures: there is no heat inside most of houses and apartments, stores and restaurants – one suffers with the cold both outside and inside. Taking a shower is a nightmare, getting dressed another one. :S

As I type this recipe on a very cold Sunday with a piping hot mug of tea by my side, my feet are covered in two pairs of socks and yet they feel like two ice cubes. I dream of nicer weather, and while that does not happen I make soup – this is simple, delicious and the heat turns the tomatoes into gold even if they are not at their peak, while the lentils make the soup thicker and more fulfilling.

Roasted tomato and red lentil soup
own recipe

For the roasted tomatoes:
8 ripe Italian tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 sprigs fresh oregano
2 bay leaves

For the soup:
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large leek, white part only, finely sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 cups (720ml) vegetable stock, hot
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (100g) dried red lentils

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil.
Place the tomatoes on top of the foil, cut side up, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Place the oregano and the bay leaves on top of the tomatoes and roast for 40 minutes or until very tender. Remove from the oven and discard the oregano and bay leaves.

Start the soup: melt the butter with the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with any juices from the sheet. Add the vegetable stock, then blitz with a stick blender until smooth. Stir in the lentils and cook until they are tender, about 10 minutes. Check seasoning and serve.

Serves 4-6

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Coconut sour cream buns and polarizing flavors

Coconut sour cream buns / Pãezinhos de coco e creme azedo (sour cream)

I thought I was crazy for sweets until I started working at my current job, two years ago: my coworkers are addicted to all kinds of sweets, and being a Swiss company you can imagine the ridiculous amounts of chocolate coming every time someone travels from headquarters to Sao Paulo. :)

One of the executives at the office keeps a jar of candy on top of his desk, and the group is welcome to get some whenever a sugar high is needed. Everyone that travels brings candy for the jar, which I find very nice and generous. Last week we started a debate about flavors because of the jar: my boss reached out for some candy, and since she does not speak Portuguese I warned her that those were coconut-filled candy bars. She told me she loved coconut, and then someone else replied that they hated it, while another person said they loved it too, and my boss said she believed that coconut is one of those flavors that polarize people: you either love it or hate it – like cilantro. :)

I am part of the coconut fan club for I love it in absolutely anything, including savory dishes. For that reason I wanted to come up with a recipe for buns made with coconut, but no only in the filling, as most recipes I have seen – I wanted a double splash of coconut, both in the dough and in the filling. I came up with these delicious buns that look super cute by being baked in a muffin pan, and they taste oh, so good. The addition of both sour cream and butter to the dough makes them insanely tender.

Coconut sour cream buns
own recipe

Dough:
2 ¼ teaspoons dried yeast
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
½ cup (120ml) lukewarm water
½ cup (120ml) sour cream*
1 large egg yolk
2 ½ cups (350g) all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/3 cup (33g) unsweetened desiccated coconut
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, very soft

Filling:
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, very soft
2/3 cup (66g) unsweetened flaked coconut
4 tablespoons demerara sugar

For the egg wash and sprinkling the buns:
1 egg, + 1 teaspoon water, lightly beaten with a fork
3 tablespoons unsweetened flaked coconut

Start by making the dough: in the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough attachment, mix yeast, pinch of the sugar and water with a fork. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the sour cream, yolk, remaining sugar, flour, salt, coconut and vanilla and mix for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Gradually beat in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition – dough will be soft. Transfer to a lightly buttered large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 ½ hours.

Generously butter a 12-hole nonstick muffin pan. Set aside.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 30x40cm (12x16in) rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough leaving a 1cm (½in) border. Sprinkle the butter with the sugar, then with the coconut. Starting from the longest side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder, then slice into 12 equal pieces. Place each piece into a cavity of the muffin pan. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and set aside to prove again, 40-45 minutes – in the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.

Brush the rolls with the egg wash and sprinkle with the coconut. Bake for about 25 minutes or until risen and golden. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully unmold the buns and transfer them to the rack to cool completely (they are delicious served warm, too).

* 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)

Makes 12

Friday, August 11, 2017

Orange, blueberry and olive oil muffins and a lactose problem

Orange, blueberry and olive oil muffins / Muffins de laranja, mirtilo e azeite de oliva

I know how rare it is nowadays to post recipes on the blog on two consecutive days, and I am still running around like a headless chicken trying to do everything I have to do lately, but since next week will be even busier than the week ending today I decided to go crazy and bring you these muffins: again a speedy recipe, but a very delicious one. These muffins are golden and really moist, very tender and perfumed with orange zest.

I am a complete sucker for citrus as you all know and in these muffins the orange flavor compliments the blueberries in the most wonderful way. The addition of olive oil is a nice surprise, not to mention that this became my go-to muffin recipe after I was diagnosed as lactose intolerant, a month ago or so: I have made it using lactose-free milk with good results (next time I will try making them using almond milk).

Orange, blueberry and olive oil muffins
own recipe

¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
1 ½ cups (210g) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg, room temperature
½ cup (120ml) whole milk, room temperature
1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (140g) blueberries, fresh or frozen (unthawed)

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with 8 paper cases. Fill the empty cavities halfway through with water (this will prevent the pan from warping).

In a large bowl, place sugar and orange zest and rub them together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Whisk in the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, olive oil and vanilla until smooth. Pour over dry ingredients and stir lightly with a fork just until combined – do not overmix or your muffins will be tough; muffin batter is not smooth as cake batter.
Stir in the berries. Divide the batter among the paper cases, then bake for about 20 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the muffins from the pan and transfer to the rack. Cool completely or serve warm.

Makes 8

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Peanut cinnamon amaretti and no time for blogging

Peanut cinnamon amaretti / Amaretti de amendoim com um toque de canela

My days have been pretty busy lately, and I guess that some of you already know that given my disappearing from the blog. :)

However, I wanted to stop by quickly today and give you a recipe that I simply adore - and that is also quick to put together: the amaretti I make by replacing the almonds with a very Brazilian ingredient, peanuts, and adding a touch of cinnamon. Let’s call this an Italian-Brazilian cookie (I do like to mix and match countries in my kitchen). :) They go wonderfully with coffee and tea, and are also delicious broken into smaller pieces and sprinkled on top of ice cream.

Peanut amaretti
own recipe

2 ½ cups (250g) peanut meal (finely ground peanuts)
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 large egg whites (56g)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the peanut meal, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the egg whites and the vanilla and mix until a dough forms.

Roll 2 teaspoons of dough per cookie into balls and place onto prepared sheets 2.5cm (1in) apart. Press down slightly with your fingers. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Cool in the sheets over a wire rack.

Cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Makes about 35

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Broccolini, caramelized onions and mozzarella frittata, or eggs are my kitchen heroes

Broccolini, caramelized onions and mozzarella frittata / Frittata de brócolis, cebola caramelizada e mozarela fresca

I can surely say that eggs are one of my favorite things to eat and to cook with: I love how tasty, healthy and versatile they are. No matter how empty your fridge and cupboards are, if you have eggs on hand you have dinner, and usually quickly.

I make frittatas quite often for in them I can use whatever I have begging to be used in the fridge. The one I bring you today is one of my favorite combo flavors, and I sometimes buy broccolini and/or mozzarella especially to make it – the broccolini tastes amazing paired with the gooey pieces of cheese, but to me what really makes this dish are the sweet, delicious onions, so take your time to caramelize them, even if it sounds like a boring chore, I assure you it is worth it. I have used fresh oregano to replace thyme a couple of times and it worked beautifully, too.

Broccolini, caramelized onions and mozzarella frittata
own recipe

½ large onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
salt
1 ½ cups (60g) broccolini florets
3 large eggs, room temperature
freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup (60g) fresh mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Heat the olive oil in a 20cm (8in) frying pan over medium heat – make sure you use a frying pan that can go into the oven. Add the onions and stir to coat them in the oil. Sprinkle with the sugar and a pinch of salt, then lower the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until onions are golden brown and soft.

Stir in the broccolini and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. In the meantime, crack the eggs in a medium bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk. Whisk in the thyme leaves. Give the broccolini and onions a good stir to avoid the onions being all in the bottom of the pan, then pour over the egg mixture. Tear the mozzarella into pieces and place them around on top of the eggs. Cook on the stove over low heat for 2 minutes without stirring, then transfer to the oven and cook for 8 minutes, or until puffed up and golden. Serve immediately.

Serves 2

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Almond poppy seed cake to celebrate the simple things

Almond poppy seed cake / Bolo de amêndoa e sementes de papoula

I was thinking the other day of things that have the power of making my days better and it was sort of a surprise to acknowledge that most of them are really simple: to arrive home from work and immediately remove my shoes (especially when I am wearing heels), to take a piping hot shower in these cold days – I know it is not good for the skin, but who can resist? –, to put on my pyjamas and relax at the couch with a mug of hot chocolate… Some days can be really difficult and it amazes me how much comfort can be found in small things like these (or maybe I am easy to please, who knows?). :)

As I was cooking lunch last Saturday, it suddenly hit me: I hadn’t baked a cake in a long time – and baking cakes is something that really makes me happy: it falls into the category of simple things that can brighten up my day, the ones I mentioned on the beginning of my post. And there is always the advantage of reaching out for a slice of freshly baked cake between meals when you are half hungry/half craving something sweet and a fruit just won’t do.

This is a recipe I baked a couple of times in the past and like the things I describe on this post it is very simple and yet very good: moist and flavorsome. It goes well on its own, with tea or coffee, but I had such pretty and sweet strawberries in my fridge that I served the cake with them and some whipped cream on the side. Still simple, still good and comforting – like being barefoot after a day on top of stilettos. :)

Almond poppy seed cake
own recipe

¾ cup (105g) all purpose flour
1 cup (100g) almond meal
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1/8 taspoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 orange
½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons Amaretto
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (130g) plain yogurt

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

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, rub sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Add the butter and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy – scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and the Amaretto.

On slow speed, beat in the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the yogurt in two additions (start and end with the dry ingredients). Beat just until incorporated. Pour into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cake is golden and risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Unmold carefully, peel off the paper and transfer cake to a serving plate.

Serves 8

Friday, July 7, 2017

Roasted butternut squash, bell pepper and chickpea soup with chorizo and a change of mind

Roasted butternut squash, bell pepper and chickpea soup with chorizo / Sopa de abóbora assada, pimentão, grão de bico e chorizo

Those of you who have been around here for a while know that I love cold days and that I also complain a lot about the hot summer temperatures – well, my dear readers, people can change their mind, can’t they? Not sure what happened in the last year, but as of now I no longer like the winter weather – I have felt miserable in the last days waking up to 9-10°C degrees days.

The ones in colder countries are probably laughing out loud now of me calling 9-10°C “cold”, I know. :D

I was never an outdoorsy person (not even as a kid), but in the past months I have been enjoying being outside a lot, especially taking long walks in parks – the smell of the trees brings me a mix of comfort and happiness. Maybe that is the reason why I am so upset with the winter – I miss spending time outside and I am not brave enough to go to the park on a 12°C evening.

A piping hot bowl of soup has been the best dinner option for me lately, and today I bring you a recipe I created with Spain in mind: I found that roasting the squash instead of only cooking it in the stock makes it creamier and adds another dimension of flavor, more caramelized. And who can say no to small bits of crispy chorizo? I certainly cannot – I might not be crazy for pork like my mother was, but bacon and chorizo make my heart beat faster. <3 I was a vegetarian for eight years and during that time the only meat I actually missed was bacon. :)

Roasted butternut squash, bell pepper and chickpea soup with chorizo
own recipe

1kg (2 pounds) butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into cubes
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves
5-6 sprigs of fresh oregano
100g Spanish chorizo, cut in small dice
½ large onion, finely diced
1 small red pepper, finely diced
3 cups (720ml) hot vegetable stock
1 ½ cups (300g) canned chickpeas

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and brush it slightly with some of the olive oil. Transfer the squash to the foil, add the oregano and the garlic and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix well with your hands to make sure all ingredients are covered. Spread the pieces of squash and the garlic cloves throughout the foil and arrange the oregano sprigs on top of the squash – make sure the oregano sprigs are coated in olive oil to avoid burning. Roast for 30-35 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove from the oven and when garlic cloves are warm enough to be handled remove the pulp from the skins. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, cook the chorizo over high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove chorizo pieces from the pan and set over paper towels. In the rendered fat, cook the onion and the bell pepper, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the squash and cook for 3 minutes. Pour in the stock and once the mixture comes to a boil turn the heat down and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and using a stick blender, blitz the soup until creamy. Stir in the chickpeas, check the seasoning and serve sprinkled with the crispy chorizo bits.

Serves 5-6

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

White chocolate and lemon blondies

White chocolate and lemon blondies / Blondies de chocolate branco e limão siciliano

Back in the days when I was still dreaming of writing a book I remember telling my husband that I intended to add as many citrus recipes to it as possible, and had all types of ideas for lemon baked goods and desserts – the thought of the fruit makes my mouth water already.

However, every time I went to the grocery store the price of the lemons made me cringe, and I would go back home empty handed. I was unemployed then, so I went from wanting a book filled with lemon recipes to choosing very wisely which recipes to use the fruit in. :(

That is one of the reasons why I am so proud of these blondies: they are delicious, perfumed with lemon and the tart flavor of the fruit goes really well with the sweetness of the white chocolate. The lemons were expensive, but it was worth spending that money to make something so tasty (not to mention easy): the blondies were gone very fast in each of the three times I made them.

White chocolate and lemon blondies
own recipe

¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
2 ½ tablespoons (35g) unsalted butter, room temperature
200g white chocolate, chopped – divided use
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup (105g) all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

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

In a small bowl, rub together with your fingertips the sugar and the lemon zest until sugar is fragrant. Set aside.
In a large bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water) combine 150g of the chocolate and the butter, stirring until they are both melted. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
Whisk in the sugar, followed by the egg and vanilla. With a rubber spatula, fold in the flour, baking powder and salt. Fold in the remaining 50g white chocolate.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack before cutting into squares to serve.

Makes 16


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Beef and leek pide

Beef and leek pide / Pide de carne e alho-poró

I believe that the first time I saw/heard of Turkish pizza was watching one of the episodes of the fantastic Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Island Feast, a long time ago – what he actually made was called lahmacun and it looked absolutely delicious, topped with a fresh salad.

Fast forward many months and I was reading about pide recipes on a magazine (the Australian Delicious, if I am not mistaken) and it looked similar to Ottolenghi’s lahmacun, however shaped slightly differently. I decided to then search about it some more, and ended up making my own version of it.

I first made pides for lunch on a lazy Saturday, already expecting compliments from my husband for he loves sfihas; However, he went so crazy about them that from the second time onwards I started making 1 ½ recipes each time – 4 pides were not enough for the both of us. :D

Beef and leek pide
own recipe, inspired by several others

Dough:
1 teaspoon dried yeast
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
1/3 cup (80ml) lukewarm water
¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm whole milk
1 ¼ cups (175g) all purpose flour
¼ cup (35g) whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Filling:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large leek (120g/4oz), white/light green parts only, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
250g (9oz) beef mince
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 ripe tomatoes, deseeded and diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped

For brushing the dough:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Start with the dough: in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine yeast, sugar, water and milk and mix with a fork. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add flours, salt and olive oil and mix using the hook attachment for about 8 minutes or until dough is elastic and smooth – if mixing by hand, 12-14 minutes should be enough. Form dough into a ball, transfer to a large lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a draft-free area for about 1 hour or until doubled in volume.

While dough is proofing, make the filling: heat butter on a large saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add the leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the paprika, the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook for another 3-5 minutes or until tomatoes are soft. Stir in the parsley, remove from the heat and cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil.
Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each portion into a rough 25cm (10in) long oval shape. Spread the cooled filling along the center. Pinch the edges together so your pide looks like a boat. Transfer to the prepared sheet and brush the dough with olive oil and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve at once.

Makes 4

Friday, June 23, 2017

Baked figs with streusel topping and Marsala whipped cream and the reason why we like certain things

Baked figs with streusel topping and Marsala whipped cream / Figos assados com cobertura de farofinha e chantilly de Marsala

Do you ever wonder why you like certain things?

I was making lunch the other day and listening to some music – Toto’s Rosanna was playing. My husband said “I did not know you liked Toto”. I replied “I like this song, because I had an English teacher that loved it, for her name was Rosana”. She was one of the best teachers I had, and on top of that I found her so, so beautiful: she was a redhead and covered with freckles – it was then, at the age of 15, that I started liking my own freckles for until that moment I felt completely awkward with them (no one else in my family, at school or at my street had freckles).

Because of my teacher Rosana I stopped covering my arms in long sleeves even when it was insanely hot. Because of her I stopped hating the way my face looked with freckles everywhere – she never knew that, but she had a big part in my acceptance of my own features. That is why I think of her when I listen to “Rosanna” and my heart is filled with joy.

Now, the figs… I like figs because I first tried them in my godmother’s house, maybe at around 7 or so. The smell of the fruit takes me back to the days I spent with her – figs and peppermint tea, it is impossible for me to try these things without thinking of my godmother. She died a long time ago, however I have lots of fond memories of her.

My godmother was a very sophisticated woman who had travelled the world, so I believe she would like this dessert very much – the figs sort of turn into a creamy jam while in the oven and the Marsala whipped cream pairs beautifully with them. I don’t think the fruit skin benefits from the heat, though, therefore I recommend you eat the pulp and the crumble topping using a spoon and consider the skin a vessel for the deliciousness only. :)

Baked figs with streusel topping and Marsala whipped cream
own creation

For the figs:
6 small figs
½ cup (70g) all purpose flour
3 tablespoons demerara sugar
3 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter, cold and diced
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

Marsala whipped cream:
½ heavy cream, very cold
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Marsala

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a small baking sheet with foil.

In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Add the butter and rub ingredients with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Cut figs in half lengthwise and place them cut side up on top of the foil. Sprinkle the crumble topping over each fig half, packing it slightly with your fingers to make it adhere to the fruit. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crumble is golden.

In the meantime, place the cream, sugar and Marsala in a small bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Serve the figs warm with the whipped cream.

Serves 4


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Blackberry rye financiers and going crazy with ingredients

Blackberry rye financiers / Financiers de centeio e amora

I know many people hate to go to the grocery store, but I must confess that to me that is a lot of fun (you can go ahead and call me crazy, no hard feelings). :)

My husband finds it funny that I can get really, really excited about a beautiful fruit or certain new products – a couple of weeks ago I saw a jar of lemon marmalade on the shelf and screamed at him “LOOK AT THIS!!” from the other side of the aisle – it is a good thing he knows me well and does not mind being stared at by strangers. :)

Another discreet moment *ahem* happened months ago, when I saw these teeny tiny blackberries in the supermarket – they looked so adorable I had to bring them home. My idea was to eat them with yogurt for breakfast, however they were really sour, even for me. So half of them became a crumble and the other half were added to these financiers, in which I replaced the all purpose flour for fine rye flour (the flour I mentioned here). It was such a beautiful combo of flavors I was very happy with the result – not to mention how cute the financiers look. <3

Blackberry rye financiers / Financiers de centeio e amora

Blackberry rye financiers
own recipe

¾ cup (75g) almond meal
2 ½ tablespoons (25g) fine rye flour (the same kind I describe here)
½ cup (70g) icing sugar, sifted
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
3 egg whites (84g)
1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons Amaretto
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup (90g) small blackberries

In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond meal, rye flour, icing sugar, cinnamon and salt. Whisk in the egg whites. Whisk in the butter, Amaretto and vanilla until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Butter eight 100ml-capacity molds or mini muffin pans.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the top. Divide the berries among the pans, placing them on top of the batter and pushing them slightly into the batter. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden and risen – a skewer in the center should come out clean.
Cool in the pans over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully unmold and transfer to the rack, cooling completely.

Makes 8

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Pear lemon muffins with almond streusel

Pear lemon muffins with almond streusel / Muffins de limão siciliano e pera com farofinha de amêndoa

When I cook or bake at home I many times start with a specific idea, something I saw somewhere or that I really want to eat at that moment. However, there are times that I open the fridge or the cupboard and decide what to make at the sight of whatever there is at home.

The muffins I bring you today came to existence when I was grabbing vegetables to cook lunch: I opened the fridge and saw the pears there. My husband had brought home some beautiful lemons so I decided to pair them with the pears, and the idea to add the almond streusel topping crossed my mind because I had baked a fruit crumble with almonds a couple of days before that.

While the whole process of how this recipe was created might be very mundane, I can assure you the muffins are everything but: they are tender, smell and taste amazing.

Pear lemon muffins with almond streusel
own creation

Streusel:
2 ½ tablespoons (25g) all purpose flour
¼ cup (25g) almond meal
1/3 cup (65g) demerara sugar
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¼ cup (25g) flaked almonds

Muffins:
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
2 cups (280g) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
¾ cup (180ml) whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 small pears (about 400g/14oz in total), peeled, cored and chopped

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cups.

Make the streusel: mix flour, almond meal, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Add the butter and stir with a fork until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Still using the fork, stir in the almond flakes, but do not overmix. Refrigerate while you make the muffin batter.

Now, the muffins: in a large bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest and rub them together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, eggs, milk and vanilla. Pour them over the dry ingredients and, with a fork, gently but quickly stir to blend – do not overmix, or your muffins will be tough. Incorporate the pear pieces.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle with the streusel and lightly press it over the batter to make it stick.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

Makes 12

Friday, June 9, 2017

Soft rye bread with sardine rillette and more childhood memories

Soft rye bread with sardine rillette / Pão de centeio macio com rillette de sardinha

Many, many months ago, while I still had plans to write a book, I was reading about rillettes and found them very interesting – as I read recipes for pork rillettes, I instantly thought of my mother and her love for this kind of meat, which I link to her German heritage.

As I thought of how much she would love that kind of rustic pâté, I also remembered the sardine salad (which we call “patê” in Portuguese) she used to make for sandwiches when I was a kid – canned sardines were cheap (still are) and those sandwiches are part of my childhood memories (mom would always cut the crusts off mine). :)

Mixing everything in my head I thought of making the rillettes with sardines instead of the pork and a quick search online showed me some variations made with salmon, so I was on the right track. I ended up making this sardine rillette several times for both my husband and I went crazy for it.

After the third time, if I am not mistaken, I felt that the delicious mixture deserved a good homemade bread to go with it, and the strong flavor of rye seemed really right for it – Joao agreed, but asked me for a soft bread that we could have for breakfast on the following day as well. I made this rye bread, tender from the addition of milk but still flavorsome. The problem is that we ended up eating the whole thing with the rillette and there was nothing left for breakfast. :)

Soft rye bread
own creation

Bread:
150ml whole milk, lukewarm
200ml water, lukewarm
2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ tablespoon honey
2 cups (280g) all purpose flour
1 ¼ cups (175g) rye flour
1 ½ teaspoons table salt

For brushing the bread:
1 tablespoon whole milk, room temperature

Start with the bread: in the bowl of an electric mixer, place milk, water, sugar and yeast and mix with a fork. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the honey, flours and salt and mix using the hook attachment for about 8 minutes or until dough is elastic and smooth – if mixing by hand, 12-14 minutes should be enough. Form dough into a ball, transfer to a large lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a draft-free area for 1 ½ hours or until doubled in volume.

Lightly brush a 6-cup loaf pan with oil or butter.
Punch the dough to remove the excess air. On a lightly floured surface, using a rolling pin, roll the dough nto a large rectangle, about 20x30cm (8x12in). Starting with one of the long sides, carefully pick up the dough and roll, forming a cylinder. Pinch the seams and place the dough into the prepared pan, seam side down. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside in a draft-free area again for 40-45 minutes – in the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°C.

Brush the top of the bread with milk and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden and baked through – bread should sound hollow when tapped with your fingers. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully unmold onto the rack to cool. Cool completely.

Serves 6-8

Sardine rillette
own creation

1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
½ tablespoon unsalted butter
½ onion, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely sliced – use a mandolin
1 garlic clove, minced
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
pinch of smoked paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper
350g canned sardines, drained and flaked – I used sardines packed in olive oil for better flavor
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons sour cream*
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Place ½ tablespoon of the olive oil and the butter in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until butter is melted. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the thyme leaves and paprika, season with salt and pepper and cook, covered, on low heat for 2 minutes. Add the wine, turn the heat up and cook until wine evaporates. Remove from the heat, stir in the sardine and cool completely.
When mixture is cool, stir in the sour cream, the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the parsley. Check seasoning.

The rillette can be kept tightly covered in the fridge overnight, however it is best served at room temperature.

*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 2-3





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