Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rolled flank steak

Rolled flank steak

Discovering new food blogs is always an interesting thing. I love going through their archives, checking texts, recipes and photos, getting to know a little about that foodie – who will probably become a blogger friend.

One of my latest “findings” is packed with beautiful photos and delicious recipes, and the girl behind it is a huge Martha fan, like me. I’m talking about Mimi.

She is hosting an event called “Martha Mondays” and I really liked her idea. One of the rules was to cook a recipe from this gallery and, to please my dear husband – who has been eating tons of chicken and fish lately because of me – I chose a beef dish.

If I keep making dishes like this, Joao will end up joining the Martha fan club as well. :)

Rolled flank steak

Rolled flank steak

680g (1½ lb) flank steak - I used a different cut
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup (57g/2oz) shredded mozzarella cheese – I used the yellow mozzarella we have here, made from cow’s milk
4 scallions, sliced
¼ cup (57g/2oz) roasted red peppers, cut into thin strips
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 230ºC/450ºF with rack in center. Between two sheets of plastic wrap, pound steak to 1.25cm (½-inch) thickness with a meat mallet or heavy skillet. Using a sharp knife, score the steak on one side in a cross-hatched pattern. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, and garlic. Place the steak inside and marinate at least 20 minutes or up to overnight.

Remove steak from marinade. Lay steak on cutting board, scored side down, with a short end facing edge of work surface. Cover steak with cheese, scallions, and peppers, leaving 1.25cm (½-inch) border on the long sides and 5cm (2-inch) border at the far short end. Season with salt and pepper. Starting from closest side, roll up tightly. Using kitchen twine, tie steak crosswise.
Season with salt and pepper.

Place, seam side down in a lightly oiled baking dish or on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast until juices run clear, 35 to 40 minutes for medium rare. Let rest 10 minutes, and remove string before slicing.

Serves 4 – I used a 400g steak and my husband ate 80% of it. :)

Rolled flank steak

Wednesday, May 28, 2008



Now you’ll see the shallow side of yours truly. :)

How can one NOT bake something called streuselkuchen?? I mean, isn’t it fun to say? So it must be fun to eat – that’s my theory. The same one I apply to snickerdoodles.

Only half of the German yeast dough is used in the recipe, so you can either cut it in half or use it again on the next day (see note). I made blackberry jam pull aparts with it and they tasted amazing – the only “but” was that a bit of the filling leaked out while the bread was in the oven. By the taste and consistency of this wonderful dough, I don’t think you’ll have a problem coming up with something to make with it.


Streuselkuchen (German crumb cake)
from A Baker's Odyssey

½ recipe German yeast dough (recipe follows), risen, deflated, shaped into a ball and allowed to rest for 10 minutes

¾ cup (105g) unbleached all purpose flour
6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick/84g) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
vanilla confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling – I used regular confectioners’ sugar

Butter a 9-inch square baking pan* (do not use cooking spray – the dough must adhere to the pan). Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to the size of the pan. It will be about ¼ inch thick. Transfer the dough to the pan and pat it onto the bottom and into the corners. Do not make a rim; the dough should be flat. Cover with a kitchen towel.

To make the streusel, put the flour, confectioners’ sugar and butter into the work bowl of a food processor (I used my Kitchen Aid mixer with the paddle attachment) fitted with the metal blade. Pulse 5 or 6 times, then let the machine run just until the ingredients begin to form small crumbly masses, about 30 seconds. Do not process beyond the crumb stage.

Uncover the dough. Press the crumbs to form clumps the size of large peas, and sprinkle on the top of the dough. Continue making larger lumps of streusel and sprinkling them evenly all over the dough. There will be a generous layer of streusel covering the dough. Cover the streuselkuchen with a kitchen towel and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF.

Uncover the kuchen and place the pan in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the kuchen has risen almost to the top of the pan and is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into its center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately sprinkle the top with a generous layer of vanilla confectioners’ sugar. Cool completely on a wire rack. This is at his best when very fresh. Cut into portions with a sharp knife.

* I used a 20cm (8-in) square pan and it worked fine.

Serves 8


German yeast dough

½ cup (120ml) whole milk
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry or rapid–rise yeast
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
2 ¼ cups (315g) unbleached all purpose flour, plus more as needed
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick/57g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 tablespoon-sized pieces
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Scald the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat – you will see steam rising from the surface of the milk and small bubbles forming around the edges. Remove the pan from heat and let stand until the milk feels warm to your fingertip, about 10 minutes; an instant-read thermometer should register 43-48ºC (110-120ºF).

Sprinkle the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar into the milk and stir well. Let stand for about 10 minutes, until the yeast is bubbly and foamy.

To make the dough using a stand mixer (which is what I did): combine 2 ¼ cups of the flour with the remaining sugar in the bowl of the mixer and add the butter and lemon zest. Attach the flat beater and mix on low speed for about 3 minutes, until the flour looks mealy. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand, add the yeast and eggs, and stir with a rubber spatula to make a moist, thick dough. Switch to the dough hook and beat on low speed for 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes, or until the dough becomes sticky and elastic and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Scrape the bowl and the dough hook.

To make the dough by hand: stir 2 ¼ cups of flour with the remaining sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and cut it in with a pastry blender or two knives until the flour looks mealy. Add the lemon zest, then add the yeast and eggs and stir with a wooden spoon to make a moist, thick dough. Beat vigorously for 5-8 minutes until the dough becomes smooth, sticky and elastic. When you pick some of the dough with the spoon, it will be very stretchy. Scrape the bowl and spoon.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon flour over the dough and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, 1 hour or more depending in the warmth of your kitchen.

Lightly flour your work surface. Dislodge the dough from the bowl with a pastry scraper, scrape it out onto the work surface and turn to coat all surfaces lightly with flour. Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a ball, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes. The dough is now ready to use.

note: if you are using only half the dough, place the second ball of dough into an airtight container and refrigerate it. The next day, shape and bake it into another streuselkuchen.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Outrageous chocolate cookies

Outrageous chocolate cookies

Kindness. Something we see a lot around food blogs, but we hardly find elsewhere.

I needed to install the wireless connection at home and since I know nothing about computers I called my brother for help. He stopped by with Paulo, a techie friend of his. In minutes I was using my new laptop. Great.

What could I make as a thank you gift? Something sweet, of course. Cookies, then. Scandalously full of chocolate.

My brother was in charge of taking the box to Paulo – knowing him as the back of my hand, I sent extra cookies to make sure the gift got delivered. :)

The dough is more like a batter, fluid and difficult to be dropped onto the baking sheets, so I refrigerated it for a couple of minutes. The cookies were delicious and I heard they were gone in no time.

Outrageous chocolate cookies

Outrageous chocolate cookies
from here

224g (8oz) semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons (56g) unsalted butter
2/3 cup (94g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
¾ cup (132g) packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
336g (1 package/12oz) semisweet chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 175ºC/350ºF; line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or baking paper.

Heat chopped chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 20-second increments, stirring in between, until almost melted; do not overheat – I used a double-boiler for that.
In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks.
Refrigerate dough for 5-10 minutes or until firm enough to be scooped and place on baking sheets.
Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 5-7cm (2-3in) apart onto baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centers, 12 to 15 minutes.
Cool on sheets 10 minutes; with a thin metal spatula, transfer to racks to cool completely.

Store them in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Makes 2 dozen – I got 20

Outrageous chocolate cookies

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chocolate discs with orange cream and marinated oranges

Chocolate discs with orange cream and marinated oranges

Before I tell you about this luscious dessert, I want to thank you all for your support regarding my last post. I don’t even know how you are able to walk around with your hearts, since they are the size of a house.

I haven’t taken part in Sugar High Friday for quite a while now – which is a total shame, since I love participating in food events. Just need to get organized and watch the deadlines closely; will try hard to do that.

SHF was created by Jennifer and this time is being hosted by the lovely Helen, a.k.a. Tartelette. I was in heaven when she announced that the theme would be citrus. You all know I am a complete sucker for lemons, limes and oranges. And after the super talented host nominated me “Queen of Madeleines”, the stakes were high – I would have to choose wisely to take part in the event!

Chocolate discs with orange cream and marinated oranges

Even though this recipe needed a couple of adjustments, I was glad with my choice. Orange and chocolate are wonderful together and the looks of this dessert is worth all the four letter words I said in my kitchen while making it. :)


I’m posting my version of the dessert – click here to see the original recipe.

Chocolate discs with orange cream and marinated oranges

Chocolate discs with orange cream and marinated oranges

200g (7oz) bittersweet chocolate – I used 50% cocoa solids

Orange cream:
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
¼ cup (60ml) orange juice
2 large eggs, well beaten
1 ½ cups (360ml) whipping cream

Marinated oranges:
2 navel oranges, peeled and pith removed
¼ cup (60ml) orange juice
1 tablespoon caster sugar – I used vanilla caster sugar
icing sugar, for dusting
zest strips, for decorating

Melt chocolate over low heat in a double-boiler, stirring occasionally. Draw 8cm (3in) circles on baking paper; flip paper over, so you’ll use the side without pencil/ink marks. Spoon one teaspoon of chocolate onto centre of circle and spread quickly with a spatula – I got better results with the back of a spoon. If the discs are not quite perfect, don't worry. Refrigerate until chocolate discs are cold and, using a spatula, remove from paper. Refrigerate until needed.

Make the cream: mix sugar, butter, orange zest, orange juice and eggs in a heavy pot. Stir gently over low heat until mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon, about 10 to 15 minutes. Do not let the mixture boil or it will curdle. Pour mixture into a glass bowl and immediately place plastic wrap over mixture to prevent a skin forming. Set aside to cool completely before using. Whip cream until it holds its shape (very firm peaks) and fold gently into orange cream. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Now, the marinated oranges: place juice and sugar in a small saucepan and heat over low heat until juice is reduced; place the orange pieces inside this syrup and leave to marinate overnight, or at least 2 hours, in the refrigerator.

Assembling the dessert: using a spatula, place one chocolate disc on serving plate. Top with 1 generous tablespoon of orange cream. Place another disc on top and another tablespoon of cream. Top with a third disc. Place the orange wedges and some of the syrup alongside the chocolate discs. Dust with icing sugar and decorate with orange strips; serve at once.

Serves 6

Chocolate discs with orange cream and marinated oranges

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fluffy candy

Fluffy candy

A Brazilian blogger published a text about what’s worth posting and what’s not. A friend of mine, who also has a blog, read it and wrote about it, too.

My turn: I’ll tell you something about my family and some may think it’s blogging material and some may think it’s not. I lost a very dear uncle in a car crash in 2006. He was very close – also my brother’s godfather – and for a couple of days I kept wondering if that had really happened; it was really hard for me to deal with the fact that I would no longer see him.

His girlfriend was pregnant and this week we celebrated my cousin’s first birthday. The party was held at my grandmother’s house and I was in charge of making the candy. I prepared beijinho, brigadeiro and bicho-de-pé – things the sweet Linda is an expert in making – and also this chocolate powdered milk candy.
I tried filling each ball with a piece of glacé cherries, but the moisture in them ruined the candy texture; I had to drop the idea.

It was pure joy to know my baby cousin and also to notice that she looks just like my uncle – the resemblance is amazing. One cycle is over but another has begun; life goes on and that fills me with hope.

Fluffy candy

Fluffy candy
from Nestlé’s Brazilian website

200g instant chocolate powder*
400g whole powdered milk
1 can (395g) sweetened condensed milk
½ cup (120ml) whole milk, room temperature
granulated sugar, for dusting**

In a very large bowl, place the chocolate powder, powdered milk, sweetened condensed milk and milk and mix well – you’ll need some elbow grease, since it’s a very thick and firm mixture.

Make balls using ½ tablespoon of the mixture and roll them into the granulated sugar; transfer the candy to small fluted paper cups.

* I believe that one could use 100g of cocoa powder instead; I haven’t tried it with this particular recipe, but I have tried that substitution in a number of other recipes with great results

**you can dip the balls in tempered semisweet chocolate, instead of rolling them in sugar; 500g chocolate would be enough

Makes 90

Friday, May 16, 2008

Crème caramel in tea cups

Crème caramel in tea cups

This is a classic dessert and most of you know it. It’s actually similar to the sweetened condensed milk custard I posted a while ago and, to be completely honest, I like my recipe better. What can I do? I’m a Brazilian and I love sweetened condensed milk in just about anything.

What makes this dessert extra special is that it marks my first time using a vanilla bean - handling it was something special already. My fingertips were permeated with its divine smell. So good. Joao even asked me if I had bought a new perfume. :)

There are many recipes for crème caramel around, but this won my heart for being served in tea cups. And for being a recipe by Donna Hay. Adapted from her magazine, issue 32.

Crème caramel in tea cups
from Donna Hay magazine

2/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup water

2/3 cup milk
¾ cup heavy cream
2 eggs
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 vanilla bean*

Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF.

Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Pour the mixture into 4 lightly greased ¾ cup (190ml/6fl oz) capacity cups and tilt them in a circular motion to make sure the caramel covers the sides of the cups – be careful not to burn your fingers. Set aside and allow the caramel to set.

Make the custard: cut the vanilla bean lengthwise in half; spread pod open. With the back of a knife, carefully scrape the seeds from the inside of the vanilla bean; place both the seeds and the pod in a small saucepan. Add milk and cream, whisk to combine, and cook over medium heat until it just comes to the boil. Remove the vanilla pod – don’t throw it away; let it dry and add it to a sugar jar to make vanilla sugar.

Place the eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Gradually add the milk mixture, whisking to combine. Carefully pour the custard into the cups. Place in a deep baking dish and pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the side of the cups. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until set (mine took 50 minutes). Remove from the baking dish and refrigerate until completely cool.

*the original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, that should me mixed in with the sugar and eggs.

Makes 4.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Crepes filled with corn and nutmeg

Crepes filled with corn and nutmeg

Don’t you love going through cookbooks/websites with lots of photos? Isn’t it wonderful to know what to expect – visually speaking – from a recipe?

After taking a look at this, I knew I would end up making it. I’m a big fan of crepes and they look so adorable served this way!

I thought these were good, but in my opinion they would have been better with some sort of sauce. I think the sage brown butter sauce I used for this spaghetti would have worked really, really well here.


This is my entry for the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Gay, from A Scientist in the Kitchen.

Crepes filled with corn and nutmeg

Crepes filled with corn and nutmeg

1 cup (240ml) milk
½ cup (120ml) water
2 eggs
1 ½ cups (210g) all purpose flour
pinch of salt
butter, oil or cooking spray, to coat the pan

1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups frozen, cooked corn kernels, thawed – I used canned corn kernels, drained
¼ cup (35g) all purpose flour
2 cups (480ml) milk
freshly ground fresh pepper
pinch of ground nutmeg
chives, to fasten the crepes – dip them quickly in hot water before using, so they will be more flexible

Start by making the crepes: Place the milk, water, eggs, salt and flour in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Heat a lightly oiled or greased with butter 22cm (9in) frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the pan, using ¼ cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly. Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Repeat with remaining batter. Set aside.

Now, the filling: in a large, deep frying pan, melt butter over medium-high. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until golden. Add the corn, cook for 2 minutes, then sprinkle with the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for another minute. Add the milk and cook, still stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, mix well. Place mounds of warm filling on the center of each crepe, closing it like a bundle/package and tie it up with one chive.

Makes 12

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Caramel-dark chocolate truffles with fleur de sel

Caramel-dark chocolate truffles with fleur de se

Cookies, cakes, bread. I do love baking. But I also love making candy and working with chocolate as well. There was an Easter, a couple of years ago, when I made almost 50 chocolate Easter eggs. Some of them had creamy and gooey fillings, like this heart shaped chocolate I posted last year. YUM!

I printed a recipe for tangerine truffles but the result was a much too soft, messy – although quite delicious – mixture; something impossible to be shaped into balls. As I was determined to make truffles that day, I started searching the net and Epicurious came to the rescue.
These looked and sounded amazing enough to make me forget the tangerine fiasco.

I hadn’t tried salted caramel till then – even though I’d seen it popping around on some food blogs – and that stuff is so good. The truffles were great and the salty touch is an unusual surprise.

Both the truffle mixture and the shaped balls must be refrigerated for quite a while, so plan ahead.

Caramel-dark chocolate truffles with fleur de sel

Caramel-dark chocolate truffles with fleur de sel

560g (20oz) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, divided – I used 51% cocoa solids
1/3 cup (67g) sugar
2 tablespoons water
2/3 cup whipping cream
¼ teaspoon fleur de sel
½ cup (45g) unsweetened cocoa powder
additional fleur de sel

Place 224g (8oz) chocolate in metal bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water); stir until chocolate is smooth. Remove chocolate from over water.

Combine sugar and 2 tablespoons water in small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, occasionally brushing sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Increase heat; boil until syrup is deep amber color, brushing down sides and swirling pan occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add cream (mixture will bubble). Stir over very low heat until caramel is smooth. Mix caramel and ¼ teaspoon fleur de sel into melted chocolate. Chill until truffle filling is firm, at least 3 hours.

Place cocoa in bowl. Using 1 tablespoon truffle filling for each truffle, roll into balls, then roll in cocoa. Arrange on baking sheet. Cover; chill overnight.

Line a 32x22x5cm (13x9x2-in) baking sheet with foil. Place remaining 336g (12oz) chocolate in medium metal or glass bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water); stir until chocolate is melted and smooth and thermometer inserted into chocolate registers 46ºC/115ºF. Remove bowl from over water. Working quickly, submerge 1 truffle in melted chocolate.
Using fork, lift out truffle and tap fork against side of bowl to allow excess coating to drip off. Transfer truffle to prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining truffles. Sprinkle truffles lightly with additional fleur de sel while coating is still wet. Let stand until coating sets, at least 1 hour. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.)*

*I decided to temper the chocolate so the coating would be firm and the truffles could be kept in room temperature. If you decide to do that too, don’t roll the truffles in cocoa powder (skip that part). Just make the balls, refrigerate for at least 4 hours and dip directly into tempered chocolate.
To learn how to properly temper chocolate, click here.

Makes about 32 – I halved the recipe and got 14 truffles

Caramel-dark chocolate truffles with fleur de sel

Monday, May 12, 2008

Pistachio and orange blossom water madeleines

Pistachio and orange blossom water madeleines

Remember when I told you guys I was a madeleine addict? Well, I’m not alone here. A dear friend of mine could be called a madeleine monster. Every time I want to bake her something, madeleines are my first option.

She was upset with me and I needed to make amends... A box of fresh madeleines was mandatory. And the recipe I found on Lorraine’s wonderful blog seemed perfect for the occasion.

I used orange blossom water instead of rosewater – the cookies tasted delicious but I think the orange blossom water flavor was a bit overpowering. My friend did not agree and told me the madeleines were fantastic.

If there’s someone you want to please or apologize to, I highly recommend these. :)

Pistachio and orange blossom water madeleines

Pistachio and orange blossom water madeleines

1 large egg
40g caster sugar
pinch of salt
25g unsalted pistachios
2 tablespoons of pure icing sugar
50g unsalted butter + 1 tablespoon for greasing pan
45g all purpose flour
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 220ºC/428ºF; melt all the butter over a low heat, then leave to cool. Set aside a scant tablespoon of the cold, melted butter for greasing the pans, then flour them. Grind pistachios with icing sugar until fine.

Beat the egg, caster sugar and salt in a bowl for about 5 minutes, preferably with an electric mixer of some sort, until it’s as thick as mayonnaise or about 3 times the original volume-it will be pale and a lemony white. Then sprinkle in the flour; you can hold a sieve above the egg and sugar mixture, put the flour in it and shake it through.

Fold in the flour with a wooden spoon, fold in the butter along with the orange blossom water and the pistachio/icing sugar mixture. Mix well, but not too vigorously.

Spoon batter into tins, about 1 teaspoonful in each should do for mini madeleines or 1 tablespoon in each for regular sized madeleines. Don’t worry about covering the molded indentations; in the heat of the oven the mixture will spread before it rises. Bake for 7 minutes, or until springy to touch (though check after 5 minutes). Turn out and let cool on a rack, then arrange on a plate and dust with icing sugar.

This recipe made 12 regular madeleines for Lorraine; I doubled the recipe and got 15 regular and 12 large ones (the scallop pan I own).

Pistachio and orange blossom water madeleines

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tyler and Agdah's meatballs

Tyler and Agdah's meatballs

I’m sure that most of you have your favorite meatball recipe – perhaps even a family classic. But these were such a hit at home I had to share them with you.

My dear fellow Brazilian blogger Adgah posted these meatballs a while ago and they looked so delicious – the exact kind of food Joao is crazy for. She adapted this recipe, from Tyler Florence, and I followed her version (which is the one I’m posting here).
I had a few myself and the mix of cooked onions, parsley and basil gives the meatballs a wonderful flavor – not to mention that melting cheese is always a winner in my book.

And I was right about Joao – he loved these.

Tyler and Agdah's meatballs

Tyler and Agdah's meatballs

olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed*
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves
a handful of basil, chopped
1 cup (240ml) milk
2 very thick slices firm white bread, crusts removed – I used whole wheat bread
1kg ground beef
1 large egg
1 cup freshly grated parmesan
salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g mozzarella cheese, cut into chunks – I used the yellow mozzarella we have here, made from cow’s milk and used as pizza topping

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and parsley and cook until the vegetables are soft but still translucent, about 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and let cool.

Pour enough milk over the bread in a bowl to moisten and let it soak while the onions are cooling. Combine the meats in a large bowl. Add the egg and parmesan and season generously with salt and pepper. Use your hands to squeeze the excess milk out of the bread and add that to the bowl along with the cooled onion mixture. (Hang onto the pan - you'll need it to cook the meatballs.) Gently combine all the ingredients with your hands or with a spoon until just mixed together. Don't overwork or the meatballs will be tough. Divide into 10 equal pieces and shape them into 10 nice looking meatballs.

Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF.

Heat a bit of olive oil in the frying pan over medium heat and brown the meatballs on all sides, about 10 minutes – be careful not to tear them apart. Put them into a baking dish and bake until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

* instead of the cloves, I used a garlic infused olive oil I made a couple of weeks ago (I got the idea from one episode of "Nigella Express")

Makes 10 – I used 1 heaping tablespoon of beef mixture to format each meatball and got 40; half of them were eaten fresh and the others were frozen (while still raw).

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Brown sugar and cinnamon meringues with praline cream

Brown sugar and cinnamon meringues with praline cream

I'll admit it: I can be quite stubborn sometimes. Some people say it’s because I’m a Scorpio and others will even call it “persistence”. What I know is that if something gets stuck in my head I won’t put it to rest until it’s done.

I was looking for a recipe with cinnamon - my favorite spice – and saw this. It was a huge coincidence, since there were 4 egg whites in the fridge. Off to the kitchen I went, excited about the beautiful dessert I was about to make.

It took me 3 times to get the meringues right – you know what they say about the third time, right? – and lots of eggs and brown sugar. After failing at the second attempt, it hit me: there was too much sugar for the amount of egg whites. It would never be firm. Finally, I made only ¼ of the recipe and added sugar to the egg whites my way. It worked. I shaped the meringues smaller than the original version – I used regular spoons for that; the recipe called for serving spoons – and reduced their time in the oven. On the following day, they were chewy and tasted good.

Would I go through all that trouble again for a dessert? Definitely. :)

I’m posting the adapted recipe - the one that worked out for me; follow the link mentioned above if you want to take a look at the original version.

Brown sugar and cinnamon meringues with praline cream

Brown sugar and cinnamon meringues with praline cream
adapted from Delicious magazine

4 large egg whites, at room temperature
100g light brown sugar, sifted
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
icing sugar, for dusting

Praline cream:
50g blanched, slivered almonds
50g granulated sugar
300ml double cream

Preheat the oven to 140ºC/285ºF. Line 2 large baking trays with non-stick baking paper.

Put the egg whites into a large, clean, grease-free bowl and beat to stiff peaks. Mix the sugar and cinnamon, then beat, a dessertspoonful at a time, into the whites until you have a stiff, glossy meringue.
Using 2 spoons, take a spoonful of the meringue onto 1 spoon. Holding the second spoon parallel to and behind it, scoop the mixture onto the second spoon by tucking its long edge under the back edge of the mixture on the front spoon. Do this 2-3 times until you have a smooth, rugby-ball shaped meringue. Transfer to one of the paper-lined trays. Repeat to make 12 meringues (in case you use large spoons to shape them) and transfer them one by one to the trays, leaving about 3-4cm between them. Bake in the oven for 1 ½ hours (I baked mine for 1 hour), then turn off the oven and leave them to cool inside for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Meanwhile, make the praline: preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºC. Spread the almonds over a baking sheet and roast for 6-7 minutes until lightly golden. Remove and set aside. Put the sugar into a small heavy-based pan and cook over a medium heat, without stirring – just swirl the pan around - until the sugar has caramelized and turned to an amber brown syrup. Add the almonds, swirl the pan to coat in the caramel, then quickly pour the mixture onto a lightly oiled baking tray and cool. Break into pieces when cold and transfer to a food processor. Process to fine crumbs using the pulse button, but don’t let the mixture become extremely fine.

To serve, whip the cream to soft peaks, then stir in the praline. Use to sandwich the meringues together. Lightly dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.

Serves 6

Brown sugar and cinnamon meringues with praline cream

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cardamom coffee rolls and loads of gifts

Cardamom coffee rolls

These delicious and incredibly tender rolls are the result of a recipe taken from the book I won at Allen’s giveaway a couple of weeks ago. But that’s not all: Allen is such a dear that he sent me not only the book but also lots of other gifts!

Allen's gifts

Inside the huge box, there were dried cherries, lavender and 2 products from the Martha Stewart line: a gorgeous plate (the one holding the roll on the photo) and the beautiful and wonderful recipe box! The one I have been meaning to buy for months. I was going to buy it later this year, since Joao and I were planning a trip to the US. Unfortunately, it will have to be postponed to 2009.

Allen's gifts

I was so glad with my presents I started screaming and jumping around the house – Tom Cruise/Oprah’s couch style. :)

Allen, thank you very, very much for your kindness and generosity, my friend.

Cardamom coffee rolls

Cardamom coffee rolls
from A Baker's Odyssey

1 cup (240ml) whole milk
1 ½ cups (210g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons) active or dry yeast

½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (½ stick – 56g) unsalted butter, very soft
1 teaspoon ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups (175g) unbleached all purpose flour, plus more if needed

¼ cup sliced or slivered almonds, chopped into small pieces – I preferred not to chop them
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground
1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash

To make the sponge: scald the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat – you’ll see steam rising from the surface of the milk and small bubbles forming around the edges. Remove the pan from the heat and cool the milk until it is between 120 and 130ºF (48 – 54ºC).
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and yeast. Add the hot milk and whisk to make a smooth, thick batter. Bang the whisk on the rim of the bowl to remove any clinging batter, and scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise until the sponge has double in volume, about 1 hour.

To make the dough by hand, scrape the sponge into a large bowl. Whisk in the sugar, egg, egg yolk, butter, cardamom and salt. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and very elastic. Stir in the flour and beat again for 5 minutes. The dough should be elastic, soft and just slightly sticky. Sprinkle your work surface with 2 tablespoons flour and place the dough on it. Knead for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is only slightly tacky. Wash and dry the bowl, lightly oil it or coat with cooking spray, and replace the dough in the bowl, turning to coat.

To make the dough with a stand mixer (which is what I did): scrape the sponge into the mixer bowl and add the sugar, egg, egg yolk, butter, cardamom and salt. Attach the flat beater and beat on low speed for 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes or until the dough becomes ropy, masses onto the beater and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Scrape the bowl and beater, and remove the paddle. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour. Attach the dough hook and knead on low speed, then increase the speed to medium to medium-high and beat for 5 minutes to make a soft, elastic, slightly sticky dough. Scrape the bowl and remove the dough hook.
Sprinkle the dough with 1 tablespoon flour. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.
Sprinkle your work surface lightly with flour, and scrape the dough onto it with a pastry scraper. Turn to coat both sides of the dough lightly with flour. Divide the dough into 15 equal portions with a pastry scraper or a sharp knife. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Butter a 13x9x2in (32x22x5cm) baking pan or coat with cooking spray. Shape each piece of dough into a ball, sealing the seam on the underside of the dough firmly. Place the balls seam side down in the pan, 3 across and 5 down, leaving a bit of space between them. Coat the tops of the rolls lightly with cooking spray and drape a sheet of plastic wrap loosely over them. Let rise until the rolls have doubled in size, about 1 hour. The rolls will be touching each other with small gaps between them.

Adjust an oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 375ºF/190ºC (I chose to bake them in the center of the oven).
To make the topping, stir together the almonds, sugar and cardamom in a small bowl.
When the rolls have risen, uncover them and brush them with the egg wash. Sprinkle with the almond mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the rolls are nicely browned, the nuts are toasted and the rolls spring back when gently pressed. Cool the rolls in their pan on a wire tack for 10 minutes, then, with a wide metal spatula, remove them from the pan and set them on the wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or in a plastic bag, the rolls can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days. They can be reheated successfully, one at a time, in a microwave oven set on defrost for about 30 seconds. The rolls can be frozen once completely cool. Place them on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer them to a heavy-duty plastic resealable plastic bag and freeze for up to 1 month. To refresh them, thaw them completely in their wrapping, then unwrap the rolls, place them on a baking sheet and pop into a preheated 325ºF/165ºC oven for about 10 minutes.

Makes 15

Friday, May 2, 2008

Chocolate lace cookies

Chocolate lace cookies

I first made these cookies in 2006, when I only blogged in Portuguese. I had just discovered Haalo’s blog and was blown away by the quality of her recipes and photos.

Those were the times when my oven temperature wasn’t so accurate – something I solved with an oven thermometer; the cookies turned out delicious, but too crisp. I even sent Haalo an email about her recipe and was surprised when she replied - I did not know then that you, my fellow foodies, are warm and kind.

As I thought of baking something for a colleague, these crossed my mind. And repeating a recipe is one thing I usually don’t do. This time they turned out crisp in the edges and soft in the middle – perfect, imho.

Chocolate lace cookies

100g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
80g butter, cubed
220g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten lightly
150g all purpose flour sifted with ¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
40g icing sugar, sifted

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter. When fully melted, pour this into a medium sized bowl.

Add the caster sugar, egg and sifted flour, baking soda and cocoa. Mix well to amalgamate. Cover and place in the fridge for about 15 minutes or until the mixture firms up enough to handle.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/340ºF.

Roll leveled tablespoons of mixture into balls then roll generously in icing sugar - the look of the final cookie will depend on how well it's covered in icing sugar. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheets, set apart to allow for spreading. Bake for about 15 minutes. Cool slightly on the tray before moving to wire racks.

Makes between 24-36 cookies – I got 30

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