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home gourmets

A food blog & other culinary chitchat

Updated: 2017-09-23T18:38:25.917+01:00


Daring Bakers - Brioche cake, savoury and sweet


These days I try my best not to miss a Daring Bakers challenge. March has been full of so many emotions with Spring and the sunny weather making an appearance every now and then. Baking brioche is such a nice addition to a cup of tea in the afternoon. This recipe is wonderful. Thanks Jamie and Ria!The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.For the yeast coffee cake dough:4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature2 large eggs at room temperatureFor the meringue:3 large egg whites at room temperature¼ teaspoon salt½ teaspoon vanilla½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugarFor the filling:1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped pecans or walnuts2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolateEgg wash: 1 beaten eggCocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakesIn a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. Ria’s version: add the 10 saffron threads to the warmed liquid and allow to steep off of the heat for 10 minutes. This will give the mixture a distinct aroma and flavor and a yellowish-orange hue.With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.Prepare your filling:In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling if using. You can add the chopped nuts to this if you like, but I find it easier to sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately.Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.Assemble the Coffee Cakes:Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the e[...]

Daring Bakers - Panna Cotta with Rhubarb Jelly!


It has been a while since I wrote here for the last time. Life has been hectic over the past months. I still find a little time to blog but I've done it in Portuguese. No time for the english corner, which I miss a lot. Better days will come, I'm sure. In the meanwhile, here is my Panna Cotta with Rhubarb Jelly, and just the smell of Florentine Cookies that didn't last enough to be caught on camera!The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.Giada's Vanilla Panna Cotta1 cup (240 ml) whole milk1 tablespoon (one packet) (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)1/3 cup (80 ml) honey1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) granulated sugarpinch of saltPour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta). Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage).Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes.Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin.Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve.Nestle Florentine CookiesRecipe from the cookbook “Nestle Classic Recipes”, and their website.2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5.3 oz) unsalted butter2 cups (480 ml) (160 gm) (5 2/3 oz) quick oats1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) granulated sugar2/3 cup (160 ml) (95 gm) (3⅓ oz) plain (all purpose) flour1/4 cup (60 ml) dark corn syrup1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extractpinch of salt1½ cups (360 ml) (250 gm) (9 oz) dark or milk chocolatePreheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat. To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches (75 mm) apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula. Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets. While the cookies are cooling melt your chocolate until smooth either in the microwave (1 1/2 minutes), or stovetop (in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water, being sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl). Peel the cookies from the silpat or parchment and place face down on a wire rack set over a sheet of wax/parchment paper (to keep counters clean). Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the chocolate.This recipe will make about 2 1/2 - 3 dozen sandwiched Florentine cookies. You can also choose not to sandwich yours, in which case, drizzle the tops with chocolate (over your wax paper.My thoughts on the challenge: - I've done 1/4 of the vanilla panna cotta recipe. It was enough for the 4 of us with rhubarb jelly. I did mess a little with the jelly layer as I didn't wait until the panna cotta was completely set. Not a major problem anyway.- The florentines were pretty nice. I did make sandwiches - drizzled with a little chocolate was what all it was required. Unfortunately there's no photos of them. - I absolutely love panna cotta so this was a lovely challenge. Thank you, Mallory![...]

Daring Bakers - Christmas Stollen


Again I'm late with my season's greetings. Let me start wishing you all a delicious 2011! Now on to the cake. Stollen is a traditional Christmas cake made with mixed peel, fruit and citrus zest. It was on my to do list for a while, just waiting for the opportunity. This Christmas I finally baked Stollen, and we all enjoyed it very much. The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.Stollen WreathMakes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast1 cup (240 ml) milk10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first - then sift- plus extra for dusting)½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon3 large eggs, lightly beatenGrated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel 1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins3 tablespoons (45ml) rum12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almondsMelted unsalted butter for coating the wreathConfectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreathIn a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside. See Note under raisins.To make the doughPour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium - low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn't enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (sinc[...]

Daring Bakers - Crostata!


It's getting chilly in Lisbon. Autumn has been nice, sunny and warm but it's now behind us. Winter is making its way calling for a blanket. When the weather gets cold, I crave nice warm sweet consolation in fruity tarts and crumbles. A crostata di marmellata is the perfect treat with a nice cup of tea. Grazie, Simona! The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.Pasta frolla1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon [105 ml, 100 g, 3 ½ oz] superfine sugar (see Note 1) or a scant 3/4 cup [180ml, 90g, 3 oz] of powdered sugar1 and 3/4 cup [420 ml, 235 g, 8 1/4 oz.] unbleached all-purpose floura pinch of salt1 stick [8 tablespoons / 4 oz. / 115 g] cold unsalted butter, cut into small piecesgrated zest of half a lemon (you could also use vanilla sugar as an option, see Note 2)1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowlMaking pasta frolla by hand:Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or an implement of choice. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it (reserve about a teaspoon of the egg mixture for glazing purposes later on – place in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to use).Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.If you choose to make a crostata with a jam filling, you will need:1 and 3/4 cups [415ml, 600 gm, 21 oz] of jam or fruit preserves, whatever flavor you like (Note: I use my homemade fruit preserves, which have a low sugar content. I recommend you choose a good quality product, made with mostly fruit.)Assembling and baking the crostata di marmellata:Heat the oven to 375ºF [190ºC/gas mark 5].Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge, unwrap it and cut away ¼ of the dough. Reserve this dough to make the lattice top of the crostata. Refrigerate this dough while you work on the tart base.To help roll the crostata dough, keep the dough on top of the plastic wrap that you had it wrapped in. This can help rolling the dough and can also help when transferring the dough to your pan. You can also use parchment paper for this. However, you can also roll the dough directly on a work surface if you prefer. Trim the excess dough hanging over the edges of the pan. Press the remaining dough around the border into the sides of the pan making sure the border is an even thickness all the way around.Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork in several places. Take out of the fridge the reserved pasta frolla you had cut away earlier. Roll it with your pin and cut into strips or use cookie cutters to make small shapes (this is not traditional, but it looks cute); or roll with your hands into ropes.Lightly dust the top of the dough and your work surface (if you’re rolling directly on a work surface) with flour. Keep some flour handy to dust the dough as you go along.If the dough is very firm, start by pressing the dough with the rolling pin from the middle to each end, moving the rolling pin by a pin's width each time; turn the dough 180 degrees and repeat; when it softens, start rolling.Roll the dough into a circle about 1/8th inch (3 mm) thick.If you used the plastic wrap or parchment paper as rolling surface, flip dough over the pan, centering it, and delicately press it all around so the corners are well covered. Peel away the plast[...]

Daring Bakers - The best doughnuts


Where did time go this Summer and Autumn? I'm not sure. I'll be back soon with the news on what I've been doing lately. But today is Daring Baker's day! The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious. Thanks, Lori!Yeast doughnutsRecipe adapted from Alton BrownMilk 1.5 cup / 360 mlVegetable Shortening 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 70 gm / 2.5 oz (can substitute butter, margarine or lard)Active Dry Yeast 4.5 teaspoon (2 pkgs.) / 22.5 ml / 14 gm / ½ ozWarm Water 1/3 cup / 80 ml (95°F to 105°F / 35°C to 41°C)Eggs, Large, beaten 2White Granulated Sugar ¼ cup / 60 ml / 55 gm / 2 ozTable Salt 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / 1/3 ozNutmeg, grated 1 tsp. / 5 ml / 6 gm / ¼ ozAll Purpose Flour 4 2/3 cup / 1,120 ml / 650 gm / 23 oz + extra for dusting surfaceCanola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. (Make sure the shortening is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.)Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm.Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown (my doughnuts only took about 30 seconds on each side at this temperature).Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.My thoughts on the challenge:- I've made 1/4 the recipe, and it was good enough for 4 of us (2 large doughnuts each);- I've made the recipe by hand with a wooden spoon and a little kneading. Worked like a charm!_ I've said before deep-frying is not something I'd do every week or every month for that matter. In the end I was quite happy with the outcome: crispy yeast doughnuts coated with sugar and a dash of cinnamon. :)[...]

Daring Bakers - Delicious petit fours


August means holidays, seaside, picnics and being away from home. It also means very needed rest and time to do nothing except walk, read and sleep after such a stressing school year. This August wasn't very different with a getaway in between to check some exhibitions and see some dear friends. Petit fours make the perfect little treat for hot weather like we had this Summer, and I absolutely love brown butter pound cake! Thanks for choosing such a yummy theme, Elissa! The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.Brown Butter Pound Cake Adapted from the October 2009 edition of Gourmet19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring) (See “Note” section for cake flour substitution)1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar4 large eggs1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extractPreheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.Chocolate Glaze (For the Ice Cream Petit Fours)9 ounces (250g) dark chocolate, finely chopped1 cup (250 ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream1 1/2 tablespoons (32g) light corn syrup, Golden syrup, or agave nectar2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extractStir the heavy cream and light corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the dark chocolate. Let sit 30 seconds, then stir to completely melt the chocolate. Stir in the vanilla and let cool until tepid before glazing the petit fours.David Lebovitz's vanilla ice cream hereAssemble the Ice Cream Petit FoursLine a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) pan with plastic wrap, so that no sides of the pan are exposed and so there is some extra plastic wrap hanging off the sides. Spread 1 ¾ to 2 cups (450ml to 500ml) ice cream into the pan. Cover with more plastic wrap and freeze several hours.Once the brown butter pound cake has completely cooled, level the top with a cake leveler or a serrated knife. Then split the cake in half horizontally to form two thin layers. Unwrap the frozen ice cream. Flip out onto one of the layers of cake and top with the second layer of cake. Wrap well in plastic wrap and return to the freezer overnight.Make the chocolate glaze (see above.) While the glaze cools, trim ¾” (2cm) off each side of the ice cream cake to leave a perfectly square 7.5” (19cm) ice cream cake. Cut the cake into twenty five petit fours, each 1.5”x1[...]

Daring Bakers - Beautiful pavlova


I wished days could be longer when June comes by... Every year, this month arrives with tons of things to be done at work, short nights and very long hours. If only there could be more time for the good things of life. In between I've watched a few Wimbledon matches, cheered for Portugal at the World Cup and shared a lovely chocolate pavlova with dear friends. All in all, not a bad month!The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois PayardChocolate PavlovaChocolate Meringue (for the chocolate Pavlova):3 large egg whites½ cup plus 1 tbsp (110 grams) white granulated sugar¼ cup (30 grams) confectioner’s (icing) sugar1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powderPlace a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside. Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist.) Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon. ake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse (for the top of the Pavlova base):1 ½ cups (355 mls) heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)grated zest of 1 average sized lemon9 ounces (255 grams) 72% chocolate, chopped1 2/3 cups (390 mls) mascarpone pinch of nutmeg2 tbsp (30 mls) Grand Marnier (or orange juice)Put ½ cup (120 mls) of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool. Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova.Mascarpone Cream (for drizzling):1 recipe crème anglaise½ cup (120 mls) mascarpone2 tbsp (30 mls) Sambucca (optional)½ cup (120 mls) heavy creamPrepare the crème anglaise. Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and the Sambucca and let the mixture cool. Put the cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.Crème Anglaise (a component of the Mascarpone Cream above):1 cup (235 mls) whole milk1 cup (235 mls) heavy cream1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract6 large egg yolks6 tbsp (75 grams) sugarIn a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat. Pour about ½ cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. DO NOT OVERCOOK.Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 ho[...]

Daring Bakers - Ma [mini] pièce montée


I have a thing for choux. I love everything made from choux pastry - savoury or sweet, filled or simply dusted with icing sugar, with a glaze or on its own. I've made choux before but never dared to think of a pièce montée... Unfortunately we didn't have any celebration this month, and a croquembouche is a bit too much for the two of us. So I made a mini pièce montée with a passionfruit vanilla filling + a chocolate glaze.The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.Patê a Choux makes about 28¾ cup (175 ml.) water6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter¼ Tsp. salt1 Tbsp. sugar1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour4 large eggsFor Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of saltPre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly. Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.Piping:Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide. Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top. Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).Baking:Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool. Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.Filling:When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.Passionfruit Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk2 Tbsp. cornstarch6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar1 large egg2 large egg yolks2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter1 Tsp. Vanilla2 passionfruit Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat. Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook. Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.Continue whisking until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla. Add passionfruit pulp and gently fold. Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.Chocolate Glaze8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced) Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately. Assembly of your Piece Montée:You may want to lay out [...]

Spring colours



Winter was rigorous, Spring has been nonexistent around here. It's the middle of May and I'm yet to change my closet, moving winter coats and sweaters until the next cold season. Little dresses, light clothes or sandals are a far sight while temperatures refuse to go up and rain move to different latitudes. Today we have a glorious sun and the promise of a springy day... I'll let you know if my lighter clothes had the chance to see daylight or if I've been mislead by the beautiful sunshine outside. One perfect way to celebrate a sunny day is a colourful dessert. There's nothing easier to make than a panna cotta. C'mon Spring!


Panna Cotta with Strawberry Coulis
Adapted slightly from Laura Zavan, Dolce, Marabout.

serves 4

200ml double cream
250ml whole milk
3 gelatine leaves
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
40g granulated sugar

Soak the gelatine leaves in a little cold water until soft. Heat the double cream, milk and sugar in a saucepan. Add vanilla pod and seeds and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat. Squeeze the water out of the gelatine leaves, then add to the pan. Stir until the gelatine has dissolved. Remove the bean (clean, dry and use into sugar for flavour and aroma).

Lightly oil the cups with a neutral-tasting oil. Pour the milk mixture and leave to cool. Place into the fridge for 2 hours, until set.

for the coulis:

200g strawberries, hulled and halved (reserve 2 or 3 smaller, prettier ones to serve)
25g caster sugar (or more, if your strawberries are on the tart side)
1 tbsp sweet white wine
1 tsp lemon zest (optional)

Bring the wine and sugar to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the strawberries and lemon zest (if using) and cook for 3 minutes or until soft. Pass the sauce through a sieve into a bowl and discard (eat!) the fruit pulp.

Run a sharp knife around the edge of each panna cotta and unmold onto a serving plate. Spoon over the sauce and garnish with the reserved strawberries and extra blueberries (optional).

On broad beans and coriander flowers



It's that time of the year: broad beans are everywhere with their vibrant colour, soft texture and perfect flavour. If you're crazy about broad beans like I am, you sure understand all the fuss about them. The season is short! Of course if you dislike broad beans (like my mom) you won't really see all the joy that comes with a large bag and the promise of long hours shelling and peeling beans. No matter how unexciting the process is, I seem to never have enough -- creamy soups, crunchy salads or comfy stews, vegetarian or with a little bacon but always paired with the most perfect bouquet of aromatic herbs: garlic leaves, leek tops, mint and coriander flowers. Oh the joy!

Get a bowl and a spoon, I'm serving soup.


Creamy Broad Bean Soup with a Poached Egg

Serves 4-6

1,2Kg fresh broad beans (in the pod)
1 medium leek (or 2 small)
1 medium onion
2 tbsp olive oil
950ml vegetable stock
small bunch coriander (flowered, if you can get them)
few mint sprigs (optional)

4 fresh large eggs, organic
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper

Shell broad beans and remove the skin (yes, it's time consuming but necessary to get the velvety texture and bright green colour). Reserve. Make a bouquet with the leek top, coriander and mint. Tie the bunch together with kitchen twine. Coarsely chop the onion and leek's white part. Put olive oil in a large pot, add onion and leek and cook for 3 minutes, until soft. Add prepared broad beans and the bouquet. Pour the stock and cook, covered, for 10-12 minutes. Remove the herb bouquet. Using a hand blender, blend until creamy. Check seasoning. Add a little salt if necessary.

Bring a small pan of water to the boil. When the water boils, add the vinegar. Lower the water to a slow simmer. Crack the egg into a small bowl. Carefully pour the egg into the boiling water. Cook for about 3 minutes. Remove with a a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper kitchen towel. Repeat with the remaining eggs.

Toast 4 slices of bread. Pour the soup into 4 large bowls. Put one poached egg and a toast in each one. Ground some black pepper on the egg. Add a dash of olive oil and serve.

Daring Bakers - Age of steam!



In my opinion British Cuisine is sometimes underrated. I love the simple approach to food, both savoury and sweet. Perhaps because I tend to think of some British traditional puddings when I'm craving something sweet as comfort food: a warm crumble, a splash of custard or a spoonful of sponge pudding. And Britons know their way around puddings, that's for sure! The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet. I've decided for a butter based version of steamed pudding with a fruit base.


Apple Cinnamon Steamed Pudding
Adapted from BBC Good Food

350g apples, sliced
200g caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
125g unsalted butter
few drops natural vanilla extract
2 medium eggs, beaten
175g self-raising flour

Cook the sliced apples with 75g of the sugar and the spices over a gentle heat for 2-3 minutes until just starting to soften. Remove from heat.
Grease a 900ml pudding basin. Put butter and remaining sugar in a bowl and cream together. Stir in vanilla extract, then beat in eggs, a little at a time. Sift in flour and carefully fold into the mixture.
Spoon fruit into the bottom of the basin, then spoon the sponge mixture on top and level off surface.
Butter a piece of greaseproof paper slightly bigger than the top of the pudding basin. Make a pleat in the centre and secure over the top of basin. Repeat with a piece of foil, then secure the whole thing with string. Place in a pan half filled with simmering water. Cover and cook for 1½ hrs, checking regularly that the pan does not boil dry. Remove cover, invert the pudding onto a plate, then carefully lift off the pudding basin. Serve with crème fraîche or single cream.

My thoughts on the challenge:
- Suet is not my thing so I've decided to go with butter instead;
- This recipe is a charm to make, and very versatile if you use a different fruit/spice combination like I did;
- The cooking technique is quite easy if you follow instructions. Also called Bain Marie, it requires only a pot of simmering water and a bit of attention;
- I've served mine with plain greek yoghurt.

Have a look at all the wonderful puddings at Daring Kitchen!

Food for uncertain weather



Spring is not the best of seasons.
Cold and flu are two good reasons;
wind and rain and other sorrow,
warm today and cold tomorrow.

Its author unknown, its style almost puerile - these verses are anything but an ode to Spring! I love shinny bright springy days and green and white trees with the promises of summer fruit as much as I love the beautiful white-ish flowers of my thyme. But that doesn't stop me from being unsure with the weather and crave comforting oven dishes: food for uncertain weather! I also pack a sweater and an umbrella every time I leave the house, just in case... Nothing like enjoy the moment and be ready for whatever the weather brings!


Baked Sweet Potato Chips

serves 2

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
salt, ground cumin, paprika, ground ginger, to taste (about 1/3 tsp each)
1 tbsp olive oil
fleur de sel to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 200ºC (400ºF). In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, olive oil, and spice mixture. Toss until potatoes are evenly coated. Arrange potatoes in a single layer in an ovenproof shallow dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and crisp. Sprinkle with fleur de sel. Serve immediately.

City of your dreams?



To some it must have palm trees and open waters reaching for the infinite, to other it's just memories sedimented, coming and going like the sea. The city of your dreams is where you want it to be, at your doorstep or on the other side of the world - the exact spot where your brain becomes your heart, and as they say keeps passions forever.

[Pictured above is the work of John Baldessari in the exhibition Pure Beauty presented by MACBA - Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona. All Barcelona photos by Mr. Taster, aka the husband.]


It was in another century that Mr. Taster and I fell in love with Barcelona. Still living fame and fortune of having held the Olympics a couple of years before, the city was full of interest and life. We were twenty years old and an entire life to be back. In our bag we packed Frank Gehry's fish, the narrow streets of Gothic Quarter, the atrium at the Textile Museum and the sea view from the Olympic Port [all above]. We also took the hot chocolate aroma and some spoonfuls of crema catalana with the promise to taste it again and again. Fifteen years went by whilst we (re)arranged memories to make them perfect. Last week we arrived to a very different Barcelona - one we didn't quite remember. Strange, long lost memory. No city survives the expectations built over a decade and a half of wait. Our only hope was for the passion to happen once more...


And it did one morning when visiting the German National Pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition. Considered an example of Modern architecture, it was designed by Mies van der Rohe and reconstructed on its original site on Montjuïc in the 80's. It started here the story of an unknown city that won our heart. For the second time.

Wild, wild... rice!



Wild rice is not really rice. There you go. My favourite way to bring bad news is always to just say what I have to say, and then try my best to prove it's not actually that bad... Wild rice is in fact the seed of a plant, usually sold and cooked with (normal) rice. It's also my top ingredient of the moment - I *just* love it! Today's recipe is a salad. Easy to make, good with fish or meat as a side dish or on itself, eaten on the kitchen bench, with the music on and your mind elsewhere.

Wild rice Salad with Cashews
Adapted from Patricia Cornwell and Marlene Brown, Food to Die For - Secrets from Kay Scarpetta's Kitchen

Serves 4, as a side dish

½ cup wild rice (about 80g)
500 ml (2 cups) chicken or veggie broth
1½ tbsp olive oil
1 large green pepper, chopped
½ cup cashews, coarsely chopped
1 green onion, finely chopped

for the dressing:
1½ tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp toasted sesame oil
½ garlic clove, very finely minced
salt and black pepper

lettuce leaves to serve

Wash and drain the wild rice. Heat broth in a medium pot. Cook rice until soft (follow the instructions on the packet for cooking times). In a large saucepan. heat olive oil. Add pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add chopped cashews and green onion. Mix until cashews become golden. Remove from the heat. Add cooked wild rice and fold gently, just to mix everything.

To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a jar with a lid. Put the lid on and shake vigorously until blended. Pour over the salad. Serve on lettuce leaves.

Daring Bakers - Pick me up, please!


My grandma (who was an excellent cook and a brilliant baker) didn't care much for what she'd call "fancy spoon desserts". Grandma would bake a pudding or a tart or even a layered cake but would pay no attention to such thing as a charlotte. When I was 15 years old I've lived for a few months in England without my family - it opened my mind in many different ways (some of which I'm not about to disclose, fear not!!). The first time I set eyes on a Tiramisu it looked pretty much like a trifle to me... A trifle without fruit! Tasting it made me think again how trifle-ish it was but the beautiful addition of cheese and coffee made it into something completely different. To this day I still have trouble adding fruit to a tiramisu, although nutty flavours make a perfect pairing to mascarpone. Back home, I've decided to make a Tiramisu for a family lunch. Not taking my eyes off grandma, I've seen her having a second helping without a blink! It became a family favourite and my very own "speciality". My recipe is very different from this month challenge, it uses raw egg and no cream, so trying a new approach at an old favourite made it quite exciting. The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.TIRAMISUCarminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 Serves 6 For the zabaglione:2 large egg yolks3 tablespoons sugar/50gms1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zestHeat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.For the vanilla pastry cream:1/4 cup/55gms sugar1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract1 large egg yolk3/4 cup/175ml whole milkMix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.For the whipped cream:1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)1/4 cup/55gms sugar1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extractCombine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture[...]

A Moroccan Supper



It has been cold in Lisbon for the last month or so. I get cranky when skies are gray and temperatures get to one digit, and student papers seem to grow from my desk! Although I like wintertime, I'm not happy with rain every other day, cold feet and a running nose. There's just one way to get my mood right when that happens: hot spicy soup! For the record, I'm yet to make it to Morocco. No idea why I haven't really since it's just around the corner... The smells and flavours of ras-el-hanout couldn't be more perfect to cheer me up!

Moroccan Chickpea Soup
Adapted from Rachel's Food for Friends

Serves 4-6

3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion (125g), chopped
2 stalks celery (100g) chopped
salt and pepper
2 ½ tsp freshly ground cumin
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
a pinch of sugar (for the tomatoes)
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
600ml vegetable stock
juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp coriander leaves and stalks, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onions and celery, and season. Cook with the lid on until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the ground cumin and stir. Add the tomatoes and their juice, the pinch of sugar, the chickpeas and vegetable stock. Allow to simmer for a few minutes before adding the lemon juice and chopped fresh coriander. Season to taste.


Vegetarian brick crispy bags

4 small potatoes, cubed
200g frozen peas
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic glove, finely chopped
½ green pepper, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil + 2, to brush
1 tbsp ras-el-hanout
½ tsp sweet paprika
½ cup chopped fresh coriander
8 sheets pastry brick
lemon pieces, to serve

Boil peas and the potatoes in separate pots in salted water. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan. Add onion, garlic and green pepper. Cook for 3 minutes or until soft. Add spices and stir. Drain peas and potatoes. Add to the saucepan. Season to taste and set aside.

To make triangular pastry pockets, fold like this. Add a spoonful of the veggie mixture. Brush with olive oil, both sides. Preheat a heavy bottomed saucepan. Place the little bags on the hot saucepan, 2 minutes each side. Serve hot with the soup and a piece of lemon.

Daring Bakers - Welcome to Canada!


I have a thing for cookbooks. You too? Good. I hate to be alone with my addictions. In my kitchen there are dozens of cookbooks with thousands of recipes (mainly in Portuguese, English and French) that I'm yet to read, not to mention try. Sometimes I grab one and pass my hand on the cover as if I could feel all the vibes... The shelves on top of my sink hold my Marabout collection of small books like this Trish Deseine ode to chocolate. The book features Nanaimo Bars on the cover. I couldn't tell how many times I've grabbed it, and felt compelled to look at those bars. Thanks Lauren for the challenge!The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and Graham Wafers1 cup (138 g) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)3/4 cup (100 g) Tapioca Starch/Flour1/2 cup (65 g) Sorghum Flour1 cup (200 g) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda3/4 teaspoon (4 mL) Kosher Salt7 tablespoons (100 g) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla ExtractIn the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.Nanaimo BarsBottom Layer1/2 cup (115 g) Unsalted Butter1/4 cup (50 g) Granulated Sugar5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa1 Large Egg, Beaten1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)1/2 cup (55 g) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)1 cup (130 g) Coconut (Shre[...]

Welcome 2010!


That I love French Cuisine is no secret... Is there a better way to start the new year than to cook Coq au vin for the first meal of 2010? I thought so! We had a family meeting to celebrate and welcome a brand new year, and share our best wishes and resolutions. It was a slightly french meal -- the perfect theme to use the new Le Creuset pan I got for Christmas. For dessert, there was Pumpkin Pudding with Almonds... moist, sweet, and nutty. What else could I have asked for? Happy 2010!Coq au vinServes 41,2 Kg free-range chicken, cut into large pieces (or 8 thighs + legs)2 tbsp flour2 tbsp butter, separated1 onion, chopped1 glove garlic, chopped150 ml dry white wine*1 bay leaf½ tsp dried thyme200 gr wild mushroomsparsley, to serveWash each piece and dry with paper towels. Place flour in a plate and rub the chicken, until covered. In a heavy pan, heat 1 tbsp butter. Working in batches, sauté the chicken for 3-4 minutes, each side. Set aside. Pour a little chicken stock (or water) into the pan, and remove any brown pieces from the pan walls and bottom. Add onion and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Return the browned chicken to the pan. Season with salt and ground black pepper and dried thyme. Add half the wine, let it steam and mix. Add the remaining wine, and cook, covered for 35-40 minutes. Stir occasionally. If it's dry, add some chicken stock or water.Whilst the chicken cooks, prepare the mushrooms. Preheat a large saucepan. Add 1 tbsp butter, the garlic and half the mushrooms, sliced. Be careful the saucepan is not too crowded. Season with salt, and cook for 4-5 minutes. Set aside in a heated plate, and repeat. To serve, add the mushrooms to the pan, garnish with parsley and serve with boiled potatoes and a green salad (optional).* Coq au vin is traditionally made with red wine, mas there are all kind of versions with different wines. My choice for this recipe is a dry white wine.Pumpkin Pudding with Almonds250 gr baked pumpkin, smashed with a fork100 gr dark muscovado sugar2 large eggs150 ml cream1 tsp quatre-épices*2 tbsp raisins caramel for the mould2 tbsp slivered almonds, toastedMix pumpkin, eggs, spices and sugar. Beat until combined. Add cream and raisins. Mix well. Cover a ring mould with caramel. Pour the batter and cover with a lid. Place the mould into an ovenproof dish and fill with hot water to cover half the wall of the mould. Cook in a preheated oven 180ºC, for 30 minutes. Remove to a serving plate when completely cooled. Garnish with toasted almonds.*quatre-épices is a spice mix. You may use half cinnamon and equal parts of ground ginger, ground gloves and ground nutmeg. [...]

Daring Bakers - Building up!


House building has been on my plans since I was a little kid -- I wanted to be an architect whilst growing up! It didn't turn out that way, and although I made the arts my professional area, I've never went into the building business. Until this Christmas, that is! Thank you, Anna and Y! The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga)from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas 1 cup butter, room temperature [226g]1 cup brown sugar, well packed [220g]2 tablespoons cinnamon4 teaspoons ground ginger3 teaspoons ground cloves2 teaspoons baking soda½ cup boiling water5 cups all-purpose flour [875g]1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until blended. Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Mix the baking soda with the boiling water and add to the dough along with the flour. Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Chill 2 hours or overnight.2. Cut patterns for the house, making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls, chimney and door out of cardboard.3. Roll the dough out on a large, ungreased baking sheet and place the patterns on the dough. Mark off the various pieces with a knife, but leave the pieces in place.4. [I rolled out the dough on a floured bench, roughly 1/8 inch thick (which allows for fact that the dough puffs a little when baked), cut required shapes and transferred these to the baking sheet. Any scraps I saved and rerolled at the end.]5. Preheat the oven to 375'F (190'C). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookie dough feels firm. After baking, again place the pattern on top of the gingerbread and trim the shapes, cutting the edges with a straight-edged knife. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.Royal Icing1 large egg white3 cups (330g) powdered sugar1 teaspoon white vinegar1 teaspoon almond extractBeat all ingredients until smooth, adding the powdered sugar gradually to get the desired consistency. Pipe on pieces and allow to dry before assembling. If you aren't using it all at once you can keep it in a small bowl, loosely covered with a damp towel for a few hours until ready to use. You may have to beat it slightly to get it an even consistency if the top sets up a bit. Piped on the house, this will set up hard over time.My thoughts on the challenge:- Because I didn't want to make a huge house, I've decided to build two tiny ones to giveaway to my friends children. The rest of the dough I used in regular gingerbread cookies, and they were very yummy. - I've halved the recipe (icing included) and didn't have any problem with that. Everything worked like a charm!- I used this free pattern, but reduced it to 50%.[...]

Pretty in Pink


♬pretty in pink isn't shepretty in pinkisn't she♬♬It took me a quarter of century to finally get all the fuss about pink... Both my childhood and teenage years went by without fluffy pink dresses or girly bedrooms, to my mom's disappointment! Perhaps because red was my favourite colour, I always felt that any attempt to match the palette left a sense of betrayal. No pink. No news if I tell you this song by Psychedelic Furs "Pretty in Pink", that I've been singing since I baked these cookies, couldn't really change my mind and the movie, that one, completely missed me. Pretty in pink isn't she / pretty in pink / isn't sheCranberry Orange CookiesLightly adapted from "Australian Women's Weekly" Cookies & Biscuits Makes 30-452 cups (300 grs) plain (all-purpose) flour200 gr unsalted butter, softened3/4 cup (165 grs) golden caster sugar1 large egg1 Tbsp orange zest1/2 cup (80 gr) dried cranberries, choppedCream butter, egg and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Mix in orange zest, sifted flour and chopped dried cranberries, in two batches. Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth. Halve dough, and shape into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough between sheets of baking paper until 5 mm thick. Preheat oven to 180ºC (350°F). Line oven trays with baking paper (or use a silicone sheet). Cut cookies with different cutters (I used a flower shaped cookie cutter). Place apart from each others on trays. Bake cookies about 10 minutes. Cool on wire racks.Cookies are good on their own, sprinkled with fine sanding sugar or with fondant icing. For the fondant lightly beat 1 egg white, add 240 gr (1 1/2 cups) icing sugar, 2 tsp plain flour (sifted) and 2 tsp orange juice (or water) in two times. Add 2 drops red food colouring, and mix. Using a metal spatula, spread the icing quickly over cookies. Place half a cranberry on each flower. Set at room temperature. These Cranberry Orange Cookies are my entry for season 3 of Eat Christmas Cookies, organized for the third consecutive year by Susan of Food Blogga. You can check all the cookies entered here, and find the perfect christmas cookie recipe.[...]

Comfort Food



What makes something 'comfort food'? Perhaps finding comfort in food is not the same to everyone and may be achieved differently -- it can come from memories of foods of our childhood or our most loved flavours, the ones that warm both heart and soul. Me, I love persimmons. For nowadays, a ripe persimmon with a dash of cinnamon, eaten by the spoon, is what I call comfort food! Many of you will probably disagree, as many people seem to *really* dislike persimmons... For those, I'm sharing my Chestnut Risotto with Red Beans. Now don't say chestnuts aren't your thing... ;)


Chestnut Risotto with Red Beans

(serves 4)

1 tbsp olive oil
100 gr smoked bacon, chopped
1 tbsp thyme (leaves only) + extra to serve
200 gr chestnuts (shelled and peeled), chopped coarsely*
100 gr risotto rice
750 ml vegetable stock, warm
400 gr red beans, cooked
2 tbsp single cream + 50 ml whole milk
Parmesan (1/4 cup), freshly grated, to serve

*Bake chestnuts for 15 minutes at 200ºC with salt. Don't forget to make a shallow cut before baking. Peel whilst still warm. Freeze in ziploc bags.


In a heavy based pan heat the olive oil. Add bacon and thyme and cook for 2 minutes. Add chestnuts and rice and keep stirring until the rice looks slightly translucent. Add a ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt, if necessary. Keep stirring. It should take around 15 minutes until you run out of stock and the rice is cooked. Add red beans, cream and milk. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. Serve with grated parmesan and thyme leaves.

Daring Bakers - Go Italian!


I'm probably not the only one singing Alabama 3 today. I'm a lousy singer. For once I'm happy there's no way you can listen to me singing I woke up this morning / Got myself a gun, Mama always said I'd be / The Chosen One. Over and over. It's The Sopranos theme song, of course. My favourite version is actually sang by Leonard Cohen. The perfect soundtrack for this month DB challenge!The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.Lidisano’s CannoliMakes 22-24 cannoliCANNOLI SHELLS2 cups (250 grams/8.82 ounces) all-purpose flour2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegarApproximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnishConfectioners’ sugarNote – If you want a chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour (about 25%) with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process) and a little more wine until you have a workable dough (Thanks to Audax).CANNOLI FILLING2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice2 tablespoons (12 grams/0.42 ounces) of finely chopped, candied orange peel, or the grated zest of one small to medium orange3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachiosNote – If you want chocolate ricotta filling, add a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder to the above recipe, and thin it out with a few drops of warm water if too thick to pipe.DIRECTIONS FOR SHELLS:1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch[...]

Mini quiches for a friend's blogiversary



In their typical way of getting to the subject, Danish say the road to a friend's house is never long. Specially when the invitation to cook comes in such a nice way and the occasion calls for celebration. I don't fancy flowers or candies when I'm invited to a friend's place but today is an exception and I bring flowers to Moira. They're edible and I couldn't stop myself: in the way here I've had a couple... Luckily my home is just around the corner or there would be no flowers left for the party. Happy blogiversary to Tertúlia de Sabores!


Mini Crab-Lime quiches
Lightly adapted from O livro essencial dos aperitivos, KÖNEMANN.

12 mini quiches (or a large one)

2 small eggs (or a large one)
150 ml coconut milk
1 tsp lime jiuce
casca de 1 lima, finamente ralada (pode usar-se limão)
120 grs canned crabmeat, drained
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
12 square sheets shortcrust pastry*
a dash of colorau or sweet paprika (optional), to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 200°C. Butter muffin pan and line with the pastry squares. Beat eggs lightly. Combine the remaining ingredients and mix. Season with salt and pepper freshly ground. Fill each shell with the batter to 2/3 of its capacity. Sprinkle with colorau. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. Serve warm.

* Shortcrust pastry is a breeze to make with a food processor. Combine 150 grs plain flour, 75 grs chopped cold butter, 1 tsp sugar, a dash of salt in the food processor bowl and pulse to mix all ingredients. Add 30 ml chilled water and pulse whilst doing that until a ball forms. Remove the pastry from the food processor bowl to a floured surface. Knead lightly to form a circle. Cover with film and chill for 30 minutes. Roll out and cut circles (about 8 cm wide each). Wrapped in cling film, uncooked shortcrust pastry dough will keep for up to two days in the refrigerator or can be freezed uncooked.

A cake for a special occasion


I'm not good with special days like birthdays or any sort of anniversaries. They make me want to raise my arm and ask silly questions like 'why today' and not tomorrow or why not yesterday. I used to do the same when I was a kid going to schools with a strong religious inspiration, and asking the most profane questions. Lucky for me, my teachers were always kind with a 7 year old with a sharp tongue. I haven't changed over the years. I forget my friends' birthdays or I'm simply late, I mix up the days or the months... So why celebrate today and not tomorrow? It's not everyday you realize you've been blogging for 2 years. I don't quite remember the first year passing by, I admit. It was that good. I'm grateful for the wonderful people I met, I'm grateful for all that I've learnt and all the great experiences and happy days I had because of food blogging. So grab your fork, the cake is served! ;)Cotton CakeAdapted from Tachos de Ensaio250 grs plain flour200 grs caster sugar70 grs vanilla sugar150 grs unsalted butter, room temperature400 ml milk ½ tsp salt1 Tbsp baking powder5 egg whites (about 150 grs)Preheat the oven to 180ºC. You'll need one large and two medium bowls. In a medium, sift flour and baking powder. Set aside. Using a second medium bowl beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.In a large bowl, cream butter and both sugars until fluffy. Add one third of the dries. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dries, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dries. Beat just until the batter is smooth. Gently fold the meringue without beating. Pour the batter into a greased, lined with parchment paper cake tin. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before halving it.Syrup:1 cup sugar 250 ml water¼ cup cherry liqueur (I used ginjinha)Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add cherry liqueur. Cool completely before using.Filling:200 ml single cream 200 ml milk150 grs sugar2 yolks2 large eggs1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scrapedCombine milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, yolks and sugar until fluffy. Remove the bean from the milk mixture and fold in the egg mixture. Cook until thickened, stirring with a whisk. Sieve if needed before using.Berry compote:1 cup mixture of berries such as blackberries, raspberries, red currants fresh (or frozen)2 Tbsp caster sugar1 Tbsp lemon juiceCombine all ingredients in a saucepan. Boil for 2 minutes. Reserve until completely cool.Assemble the cake:Half the cake with a sharp knife. Pour the syrup over the bottom part. Spread the filling with a spatula, allowing about 1 cm all around. Place the compote on top (do not use any utensil to do it, just pour as evenly as possible). Cover with the other half. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with fresh red currants.This cake is better eaten the day or the day after it's done. Keep in the fridge.[...]

Daring Bakers - All french kisses!


Lately I've been craving Paris. The symptoms are the usual: I miss walking the Seine and Boulevard Saint Michel, entering the bookshops and buying cookbooks eventually. I badly miss my favourite bistrots and the street vendors. I even miss the parisians! I daydream of crispy croissants, pain au raisins et café au lait, hot chocolate and... macarons. The perfect way to get me to Paris without leaving home is to bring Paris to me, all packed and arranged in a colourful and full flavoured macaron!Macarons were on my list for quite a while. For some reason, I felt a bit scared every time I'd come across Helen's recipes - bookmarked since always from Tartelette - so I never got to try them. The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe. What a wonderful choice! Because I feared disaster (and after reading other fellow Daring Bakers experiences), I've decided to go with Helen's recipe with a few adjustments of my own as I wanted to use hazelnuts and toffee filling. Hazelnut Macaron with Toffee fillingLightly adapted from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern and Helen's Pecan Pie Macarons 180 grs confectioners’ (icing) sugar60 grs almond flour55 grs hazelnut flour35 grs granulated sugar3 egg whites (about 90 grs), at room temperatureIt's important to use aged egg whites. The day before making the macarons, separate the eggs. Leave the whites on the counter (if planning to use only in 48h or longer, keep in the fridge).Combine the confectioners’ sugar, hazelnut and almond flour in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are reduced to fine powder. Beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Add a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. Mix in the remaining almond flour. Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients. [Helen's advice: Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down.The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.]Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip or use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. Pipe small rounds of batter (2.5 cm) onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).Preheat the oven to 150ºC (300ºF). Let the piped shells rest half an hour to an hour before baking. Bake the macaroon for 15-20 minutes (depending on size). Remove the pan from the oven and let cool slightly before gently remove the shelld. Cool completely on a rack before filling.For the filling: 50g salted butter125 grs light brown sugar125 grs golden syrup125 ml double cream1/2 tsp vanilla extractIn a saucepan, mix all the ingredients. Boil until thickened (5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Let cool before filling the macarons.Notes: I aged my egg whites for 3 days in the fridge. I should have sifted my hazelnut and almond flour. Unfortunately I haven't and that made the batter look a bit uneven but it didn't really matter in the final result. I let the piped shells rest half an hour to an hour before baking. I think that made all the difference as the second (and final) bat[...]