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°/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





Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Yogurt panna cotta with strawberry gelatin and killing classics (or not)

Yogurt panna cotta with strawberry gelatin / Panna cotta de iogurte com gelatina de morango

Every time I hear about movie remakes I feel a pang in my heart – why mess with the classics and ruin what is great already?

When I first read that Hollywood was working on a remake of Blade Runner I thought: “they are going to destroy such an amazing movie”. Weeks ago I saw the first trailer and it was actually a thing of beauty – it is not actually a remake, it is a sequel. We know sequels and prequels don’t always work – right, Mr. Scott? – but this time Denis Villeneuve is directing it, which makes me hopeful already – Arrival should have won Best Picture last February, even though I did love Moonlight. As of now, it seems they are not killing a classic – let’s wait until October to be sure.

And speaking of classics, I know that some people turn their noses up at panna cottas made with yogurt for they are not “the real deal”, however I love them: you still get richness from the cream, with a nice tang from the yogurt, which for me is a perfect combination – and the texture is amazing. To make the panna cotta even more interesting, I added a layer of strawberry gelatin – homemade, of course – and it is so delicious you can even skip the panna cotta, make only the gelatin and serve it on its own: truly delicious.

Yogurt panna cotta with strawberry gelatin / Panna cotta de iogurte com gelatina de morango

Yogurt panna cotta with strawberry gelatin
own creation

Panna cotta:
2 tablespoons cold water
1 ½ teaspoons powdered unflavored gelatin
1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
¾ cup (195g plain yogurt, room temperature
¼ cup (60ml) whole milk, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Strawberry gelatin:
600g fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (75g) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160ml) cold water, divided use
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
2 teaspoons powdered unflavored gelatin

Start by making the panna cotta: set aside six 200-ml glasses.
Put the water in a small bowl and sprinkle over the gelatin. Set aside for 5 minutes for the gelatin to absorb the water – in the meantime, in a small saucepan, heat together the cream and sugar over medium heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar. When the mixture starts to boil, remove from the heat and stir in the yogurt, milk, vanilla and salt. Whisk in the gelatin until dissolved. Pass mixture through a fine sieve and divide between the glasses. Refrigerate for about 4 hours or until firm.

Now the gelatin: in a medium saucepan, combine the strawberries, sugar and 1 tablespoon of the cold water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until berries are soft and release their juices, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a blender. Add ½ cup (120ml) of the cold water and the lemon juice. Blitz until smooth, then pass through a fine sieve back into the saucepan.
Place the remaining cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle over the gelatin. Set aside for 5 minutes for the gelatin to absorb the water.
Heat the strawberry juice in the saucepan over medium heat until it starts to boil - remove from the heat and whisk in the gelatin until dissolved. Stir through a sieve again, let cool to room temperature, then carefully pour over the set panna cotta, dividing the strawberry mixture among the 6 cups. Refrigerate again for about 4 hours or until jelly is set.

The dessert can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days, covered with plastic wrap.

Serves 6

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Chayote, carrot and white bean soup

Chayote, carrot and white bean soup / Sopa de chuchu, cenoura e feijão branco

Days ago I was watching a clip about the last Berlinale in which there were a few interviews with directors and actors, and that included The Lost City of Z cast.

There was a lot – A LOT – of screaming when Robert Pattinson hit the red carpet and I truly cannot understand why someone would go crazy over him like that while Charlie Hunnam was on the very same red carpet. :)

That made me think of this soup I made a while ago, using chayote. I find chayote so bland – Robert Pattinson-kind-of-bland – that I rarely use it in recipes, but it worked well in the soup, combined with other veggies. The addition of white beans makes it hearty and fulfilling, perfect for cold nights, and any leftovers can be kept tightly covered in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Chayote, carrot and white bean soup
own recipe

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ tablespoon olive oil
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 leek, light green part only, finely sliced
½ large onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 ripe tomato, deseeded and diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 chayote, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 potato, peeled and diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups (960ml) hot vegetable stock – homemade is better ;)
2 cups (480ml) hot water
2 bay leaves
2 thyme sprigs
1 ½ cups (250g) canned white beans, drained and rinsed

In a large saucepan, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the celery, leek and onion and cook, stirring every now and then, until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the tomato and cook for about 2 minutes or until tomato starts to dissolve. Stir in the tomato paste, cook for 1 minute, then add the chayote, carrot and potato. Cook for 3-4 minutes, season with salt and pepper and add the stock and the water, followed by the bay leaves and the thyme. When mixture comes to a boil, cover it partially, turn down the heat and cook for 30-40 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

Remove from the heat. Remove the bay leaves and the thyme from the soup, then blitz it with a hand mixer until partially chunky (or to taste). Add the beans and take soup back to the heat just until beans are heated through.

Serves 6

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Brazilian carrot cake waffles with chocolate glaze

Brazilian carrot cake waffles with chocolate glaze / Waffles de cenoura com calda de chocolate

One of the childhood memories I most cherish is the image of my mom in the kitchen baking cakes – she was a hell of a cook but was also famous for her sweet treats.

The two cakes I remember the most are the chocolate cake and the carrot cake – the Brazilian carrot cake, with chocolate glaze: oh, so delicious (there is a recipe here for those of you not familiar with it).

One day I got myself thinking about mom’s carrot cake, but I would not have time to bake it. Since I wanted instant gratification I decided to tweak the recipe ever so slightly and turned the cake into waffles – they were really good!

I have been making these sometimes ever since, for they are super quick and fuss free to make – instant gratification with a touch of nostalgia.

Brazilian carrot cake waffles with chocolate glaze
own creation

Waffles:
2 small carrots (200g/7oz), peeled and chopped
2 large eggs
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (80ml) canola oil
1 cup (140g) all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Chocolate glaze:
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup (60ml) whole milk, room temperature

Waffles: place the carrots, eggs and oil in a blender and blitz until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and whisk in the flour, baking powder and salt until a smooth batter forms.

Heat a waffle iron until very hot; lightly coat with nonstick spray – my waffle maker is nonstick, so I don’t 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.
Serve waffles with the chocolate glaze.

Chocolate glaze: place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over high heat, whisking constantly, until mixture starts to boil. Cook, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes – glaze will thicken a bit more as it cools. Serve over waffles.

Serves about 6

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Chocolate granola to make breakfast even more delicious

Chocolate granola / Granola de chocolate

I know that for those of us who like to cook making things from scratch is actually fun and does not feel like a burden, but even for those who are not very fond of cooking I would recommend making their own granola – the difference in quality is huge, you have complete control over the ingredients (especially sugar) and can tweak flavors as you wish, creating delicious types of granola.

I have been making this chocolate granola for a couple of years now for it is so insanely delicious and very easy to put together – it is my favorite granola, hands down, the tastiest I have ever tried. The only real challenge is to NOT eat the entire batch while it cools down – be warned. :)

Chocolate granola
own recipe, inspired for several others I saw online

400g jumbo oats
100g sweetened coconut flakes
50g flaked hazelnuts or almonds
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
½ cup (45g) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup (100g) agave or honey – I prefer agave here because its flavor is more subtle, letting the chocolate flavor shine
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
50g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, coconut, nuts, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine cocoa, oil, sugar and agave (or honey) and whisk over medium heat until melted and sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla.

Pour over dry ingredients and stir well to coat. Spread mixture over foil and bake for 15 minutes. Stir the granola around and bake for another 15 minutes – the granola will still be soft and will get crunchy once cooled. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the chopped chocolate. Wait 1 minute for it to melt, then mix everything together. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Serves 8-10

Friday, May 12, 2017

Broccolini and gorgonzola risotto

Broccolini and gorgonzola risotto / Risoto de brócolis e gorgonzola

As I was choosing and editing the photo for this post I started to think of how and when I became such a great fan of risottos and… I could not remember. I can’t remember when I first tried risotto or which flavor that was, and I can’t remember when I first cooked a risotto myself either.

I usually have strong memories linked to my favorite foods, but not this time – I have no recollection whatsoever. I might remember some time and the best way of exercising my brain is to make more risottos, right? ;)

The one I bring you today combine broccolini and gorgonzola and it tastes really good – perfect for the cooler fall nights we have been having here lately.

Broccolini and gorgonzola risotto
own creation

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
salt
1 ½ cups (330g) Arborio or Carnaroli rice
½ cup (120ml) dry white wine
200g broccolini florets
5 cups (1,200ml) hot vegetable stock
freshly ground black pepper
150g gorgonzola, coarsely grated or crumbled

Heat half the butter – 2 tablespoons – and the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. As soon as the butter melts, add the onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent. Add the rice and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, until rice is nicely coated in butter/oil. Stir in the wine and cook until it evaporates. Stir in the broccolini florets, followed by 1 ladleful of hot stock, and continue to cook, stirring until all the stock is absorbed.
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). The broccolini florets will break into the rice making it look freckled. Season with salt and pepper, but go easy on the salt since gorgonzola is a salty cheese.

When the rice is al dente, stir in the gorgonzola and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Check seasoning, put the lid on and wait 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Monday, May 8, 2017

Plum and almond crumble and the end of "Girls"

Plum and almond crumble / Crumble de ameixa e amêndoa

After I binge-watched Girls while sick with the flu last year I could not help but continue watching the show even though Hannah got on my nerves most of the time – I sometimes wonder if the writers are trying to create the most stupid character in the world of the TV shows.

On the other hand, Elijah and Ray were my favorite characters of the show. :)

So I watched all the seasons, up to the series finale, and at the end I felt that the actual finale was episode 9 – there were several beautiful scenes, and I felt that the story could have ended right there. To be fair, I felt that the whole final season was much better than the others – and it moved me a lot more, too.

I am no stranger to making crumbles to go with my dear TV shows, and this time I made again the plum and almond crumble I had made months before, when I had last found good plums at the grocery store: plums and almonds complement each other perfectly. With my almond crumble and a nice, soft blanket and I was more than ready for Girls – and even though I was never a huge fan of Hannah and the ladies I shed a few tears at the end of the episode.

Plum and almond crumble / Crumble de ameixa e amêndoa

Plum and almond crumble / Crumble de ameixa e amêndoa

Plum and almond crumble
own creation

1/3 cup (46g) all purpose flour
2/3 cup (66g) almond meal
¼ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
¼ cup (50g) demerara sugar
4 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter, cold and diced
1/3 cup flaked almonds
4 large plums
2 tablespoons granulated sugar – if plums are very sweet, omit the sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Have ready four 1-cup capacity (240ml) heatproof bowls – you can also bake this crumble family style, using a shallow 1-liter capacity heatproof dish.

Make the topping: in a medium bowl, mix with a fork the all purpose flour, the almond meal, baking powder, salt and demerara sugar. Add butter and rub ingredients together with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Using a fork, stir in the flaked almonds – do not overmix. Freeze for 5 minutes while you prep the fruit.

Cut the plums in half and remove the stones. Cut each half in 0.5cm slices, then transfer a medium bowl. Add the granulated sugar (if using) and stir to combine – if not using the sugar, transfer the plum slices to the heatproof dishes. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit and bake for about 25 minutes or until topping is golden and crispy.

Serve with heavy cream or vanilla ice cream.

Serves 4

Friday, May 5, 2017

My Bolognese sauce, as per my husband's request

My Bolognese sauce / O meu bolonhesa

I started blogging about food in 2006 (sometimes I find it hard to believe I am still here, to be honest) and for years now many people have written to me to tell me they learned how to cook with me (Brazilians, since I write in Portuguese, too). Every time I read the emails I feel joy in my heart, for I know how liberating learning how to cook can be – it was for me.

So here we are, almost eleven years later, and this time the “revolution” is happening in my home: my husband has been learning how to cook. :) It started with sandwiches, it evolved to salads and soups (very good salads and soups, by the way) and days ago he tried to make one of our favorite dishes: Bolognese sauce. I arrived home late after a tiresome day at the office and smelled something wonderful when the elevator door opened – for a moment I thought the smell could be coming from my neighbors’, but those people, besides being incredibly noisy and rude, don’t cook food that smell that great. :)

For my surprise, the smell was coming from my apartment and as I walked in I found my husband smiling at me: “surprise! I made your Bolognese sauce!” – I helped him cook the linguine and we had a delicious dinner.

He then told me he was a bit confused during the preparation of the sauce and that he had searched the blog to make sure he remembered all the steps – “I could not find the recipe on TK”, he said, and I told him I had not published it here. He said “it’s about time”, so here we are: I am sharing with you my Bolognese sauce – and I call it “my Bolognese” because I know it is not the most authentic one out there, but it is the one I have been making for years and that my husband loves so much. I don’t always have carrots and/or celery at home for the sofrito, so onions and garlic are the aromatics of choice; also, I hardly ever have 3 hours to wait for the sauce to come together, so mine is ready in 30 minutes or so. I hope you give it a go and if you do, please let me know how it went.

My Bolognese sauce
own recipe

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
250g beef mince
salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup (60ml) dry red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 400g (14oz) can peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 bay leaves
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
handful of fresh basil leaves or fresh oregano leaves
300g linguine

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant, then add the beef and break it down with the spoon into smaller pieces. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is well browned. Season with salt and pepper. 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.

Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the canned tomatoes and smash them with a potato masher. Fill ¾ of the can with water, swirl it around and add to the saucepan. Season again with salt and pepper, add the sugar, the bay leaves, the thyme and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until thickened. Add the basil/oregano, stir to combine, remove the bay leaves and the thyme sprigs, cover and remove from the heat.
Cook linguine in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and stir in the sauce. Serve immediately.

Serves 3

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Chocolate and banana clafoutis to celebrate Easter

Banana and chocolate clafoutis / Clafoutis de banana e chocolate

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

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

I wish you all a beautiful Easter break! xx

Chocolate and banana clafoutis
own creation

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

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

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

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

Serves 4-5

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Orange, rye and nutmeg slice and bake cookies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Makes about 50

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Chocolate cashew brownies for another budget-friendly Easter

Chocolate cashew brownies / Brownies com castanha de caju

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

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

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

Chocolate cashew brownies
own creation

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

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

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

Makes 16

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Mayo marinated roast chicken

Mayo marinated roast chicken / Frango assado marinado em maionese

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

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

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

Mayo marinated roast chicken
adapted from Bon Appétit magazine

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

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

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

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

Serves 2


Friday, March 24, 2017

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

Bolo de fubá da tia Angélica / Brazilian corn flour cake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serves 20

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pesto and cheese rolls and family traditions

Pesto and cheese rolls / Pãezinhos recheados de pesto e queijo

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

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

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

Pesto and cheese rolls
own creation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Makes 12

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Chicken fajitas with homemade tortillas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serves 2



Monday, March 13, 2017

Clementine posset

Clementine posset / Potinhos de tangerina

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

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

Clementine posset
slightly adapted from the always great BBC Good Food

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

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

Serves 4


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Clementine spiced cookies

Clementine spiced cookies / Biscoitos de tangerina e especiarias

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Makes about 30

Friday, March 3, 2017

One bowl chocolate cake for my nephew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serves 16-20


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