Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chickpea and artichoke paella - and Pinterest, again

Chickpea and artichoke paella / Paella de grão-de-bico e alcachofra

Thank you for all your comments about the Pinterest issue!
Jeanette left me a comment with this link and after following Tresa’s instructions I believe the problem is now solved – would you please tell me if the pinning is working?

I like seafood but can’t eat if very often (let’s say my body and seafood don’t see eye to eye) therefore I had never made a paella in my entire life; the minute I saw Donna Hay’s chickpea and artichoke paella I knew I had to try it – no seafood involved and I had all the ingredients in my pantry/fridge, including some really good homemade tomato sauce. The paella tasted great and was really easy and quick to put together – now I’m ready to try other vegetarian versions of this dish, and I know exactly where to go for the recipes.

Chickpea and artichoke paella
slightly adapted from the always beautiful and delicious Donna Hay Magazine

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
300g arborio rice
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¼ cup (60ml) white wine
1 1/3 cups tomato sauce
2 ½ cups (600ml) chicken or vegetable stock
300g store bought marinated artichoke hearts, drained and halved
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
handful of basil leaves

Heat the oil in a 4-liter capacity frying pan over high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the rice and chickpeas and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until absorbed. Stir through the tomato sauce and the stock, season with black pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes without stirring. Remove the paella from the heat, top with the artichoke, cover with foil and set aside to rest for 15-18 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Top with the lemon zest and basil and serve.

Serves 4

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lemon crumble tart - and Pinterest

Lemon crumb tart / Torta crumble de limão siciliano

I’d like to start this post by telling you that I adore Pinterest: it’s a great way to keep track of interesting things and I usually find my morning humor dose there. Some of you have written to me asking me not to block my photos from being posted on Pinterest, and I tell you: I haven’t done that, and wouldn’t do it. I see no problem in my recipes getting pinned by you, much to the contrary. Therefore, I do not know what happened and why you’re no longer able to pin the photos – if anyone knows how to fix the problem I’m all ears. :)


This lemon tart is a variation of the easiest tart ever and despite not being equally easy – there’s a lemon curd to be made here – it’s just as delicious.

Lemon crumble tart
from the great The Grand Central Baking Book

2 ½ cups (350g) all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (226g/2sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lemon curd:
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 3 lemons, divided use
4 egg yolks
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 25cm (10in) springform pan*.
Dough: whisk the flour and salt together. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until creamy and light in color. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low, add the dry ingredients and stop mixing when the ingredients are fully incorporated but the dough is still crumbly – this happens quickly; don’t overmix, otherwise you’ll end up with a ball of dough. Set aside 1 cup of the dough and refrigerate. Sprinkle the remaining dough onto the prepared pan, distributing it evenly. Bring the dough slightly up the sides of the pan (to hold the lemon curd), then press it onto the pan to hold it in place. Prick the dough all over with a fork, then bake for 25 minutes or until golden.

While the crust bakes, make the lemon curd: combine the sugar, half the lemon zest and yolks in a heatproof bowl and whisk together immediately; if you delay, the mixture will coagulate. Put the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water whisk continuously until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon juice and, still whisking continuously, cook for about 5 minutes. Add the butter and salt, then use a spatula to stir constantly until the mixture has thickened, 6-7 minutes (is should be the consistency of sour cream).
Strain the curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and stir in the remaining zest. Spoon the curd into the crust and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of dough over the curd.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The topping should be slightly brown, and the curd will begin to caramelize on top.
Cool slightly before unmolding.

* I made the exact recipe above using a shallow 24cm tart pan with a removable bottom; I used 1 ½ cups of dough for the topping.

Serves 8

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dark chocolate, pear and pistachio cake

Dark chocolate, pear and pistachio cake / Bolo de pistache, chocolate e pêra

A long time ago I told you that I was addicted to IMDb’s movie trivia – I still am, therefore it was a joy for me to find Gabrielle Wee’s gorgeous Tumblr: just be careful because you’ll probably lose track of time reading it (I speak of personal experience). :D

On that same post I also told you how much I loved browsing Gourmet Traveller’s recipes – I still do, and this delicious cake comes exactly from that magazine: I was so intrigued by the combination of pear, chocolate and pistachio in cake form that I had to try it – it was amazing.

Dark chocolate, pear and pistachio cake
slightly adapted from the always beautiful and delicious Australian Gourmet Traveller

1 cup + 1 tablespoon (150g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
½ cup (65g) unsalted pistachios
2/3 cup (150g) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Packham pear, cored and coarsely chopped

Chocolate ganache:
1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream
100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
handful of pistachios, for decorating

Cake: preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 22cm (9in) springform cake pan*, line the bottom with baking paper and butter the paper as well.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Process chocolate and pistachios in a food processor until coarse crumbs form, set aside. Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating until well combined, then beat in the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture, followed by the pistachio and chocolate mixture and the pear. Pour into prepared pan and bake until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 30-40 minutes. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 20 minutes then carefully unmold onto the rack. Cool completely.

Chocolate ganache: Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat to just below boiling, add chocolate, stand until chocolate melts (3-5 minutes), then stir until smooth. Set aside until slightly thickened (5-10 minutes). Pour ganache over the cake, scatter with pistachios, set aside to set (20-30 minutes), then serve. Cake will keep, stored in an airtight container, for 3 days.

* I made the exact same recipe using a 20cm (8in) cake pan (with a removable bottom)

Serves 10

Friday, May 25, 2012

Roast sweet potato and goat’s cheese salad

Roast sweet potato and goat's cheese salad / Salada de batata-doce assada e queijo de cabra

I was a kid who loved salads and I have my mom to thank for that – I was never the kid who pushed the arugula leaves to the side of the plate, much to the contrary: I was the kid who would eat a tomato as someone would eat an apple between meals. But a whole new world opened up to me when I started collecting cookbooks: it was then that I learned that the salads I already loved could become even more interesting and delicious, that I could add fruit and cheese and nuts to my salads and they would be not only more flavorful but also more nutritious.

This beautiful salad, absolutely yummy and filling, was slightly adapted from Lucas Hollweg’s stunning cookbook – a book I plan on using to exhaustion.

Try placing a tiny bit of each element of the salad into the same forkful and you will create the perfect bite - Rose Morgan's style. :)

Roast sweet potato and goat’s cheese salad
slightly adapted from the glorious Good Things to Eat (mine was bought here)

1 cup whole blanched almonds
750g sweet potatoes
2 onions, peeled and cut into eight
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
finely grated zest of 1 orange
juice of ½ the orange
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
4 cups arugula leaves, packed
200g soft white rindless goat’s cheese

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Place the almonds in a small baking sheet and toast until fragrant and golden, stirring once or twice, 6-8 minutes. Set aside to cool completely (leave the oven on).
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 2cm chunks. Place in a roasting pan, add the onions, cumin, garlic and orange zest. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Roast for 35-40 minutes, turning them over halfway through, or until sweet potatoes and onions are tender. Set aside to cool completely.

Remove the garlic and remove the pulp out of the skins. Transfer pulp to a small bowl and mash with a fork. Add the orange juice, lemon juice, salt, freshly ground black pepper and mix well. Mix in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
Arrange the arugula leaves in the plates and scatter with the sweet potato mixture. Sprinkle with the almonds and scatter around the goat cheese pieces. Drizzle with the dressing and serve at once.

Serves 4

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dulce de leche financiers - a genius idea

Dulce de leche financiers / Financiers de doce de leite

One of the things I love the most about financiers is how moist and tender they are – their texture is really amazing. Besides that, financiers are a great way to use up frozen egg whites and they’re perfect for a baking urge as well – you don’t have to wait for the butter to soften to make these little beauties.

With a jar of dulce de leche in my pantry – apparently the ddl frenzy hasn’t ended yet – I decided to play around with my favorite financier recipe, tweaking some details to use dulce de leche instead of peanut butter, and what a genius idea that turned out to be (modesty is for the weak). ;)

Dulce de leche financiers
adapted from Rose’s peanut butter financiers

1 ¼ cups (125g) almond meal
½ cup + 1 ½ tablespoons (85g) all purpose flour
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (156g) icing sugar
6 large egg whites
pinch of salt
200g unsalted butter, melted and still warm
6 tablespoons dulce de leche
about 3 tablespoons dulce de leche, extra

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°C; butter eight ¾ cup (180ml) capacity financier or muffin molds (I used this pan).
In a large bowl, sift together the almond meal, all purpose flour and icing sugar. Set aside.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites and salt until foamy. Add the almond flour mixture, beat well, then gradually drizzle the butter over the mixture, whisking well. Add the 6 tablespoons dulce de leche and whisk until evenly incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared molds, filling each about ¾ full. Place about 1 teaspoon of the extra dulce de leche in the center of each financier then, using a toothpick, marble the dulce de leche with the batter. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the financiers are golden and a skewer inserted in the financiers comes out clean.
Let the financiers cool in the molds for 8-10 minutes, then carefully unmold onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.
Financiers can be kept in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 3 days, or 5 days in the fridge.

Makes 8

Monday, May 21, 2012

Almond biscotti

Almond biscotti / Biscotti de amêndoa

This morning I watched the teaser trailer for “Skyfall” and I really liked what I saw: not only the movie has a kick-ass director – I love Sam Mendes! – but Ralph Fiennes is in the movie, too. I mean, Ralph Fiennes and Daniel Craig together, with Judy Dench to boot. As if “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Hobbit” weren’t making me anxious enough. :)

And since my latest and very expected cookbook purchase hasn’t arrived yet I had to bake from another one of Ms. Medrich’s fabulous books – these biscotti turned out so good, so delicious, that it was hard photographing them before eating the whole batch.

Almond biscotti
from the amazing Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich

2 cups (280g) all purpose flour
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (212g) granulated sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons Amaretto
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g whole almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and line a large baking sheet with baking paper.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and mix together thoroughly with a whisk or fork. Set aside.
Whisk the eggs, amaretto and vanilla in a large bowl until well blended. Stir in the flour mixture and then the almonds. The dough will be thick and sticky. Scrape the dough into a long log shape lengthwise on the cookie sheet. Wet your hands and shape the dough into a long flat loaf about 30x10cm (12x4in).
Bake until firm and dry, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Line the cooled cookie sheet with baking paper again.
Carefully remove the baking paper from the loaf and transfer it carefully to a cutting board. Using a long serrated knife, cut the loaf on the diagonal into slices 1.25 to 2cm (½ to ¾in) wide. Lay the slices, cut side down, on the cookie sheet. Toast the biscotti for 40-50 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown. Place the cookie sheet on a rack to cool. Cool the cookies completely before stacking or storing. May be stored, airtight, for several weeks.

Makes 2 dozen biscotti

Friday, May 18, 2012

Rugelach - the cookie nightmare of perfectionists


I guess that this recipe tried to teach me a lesson: nothing worse for a perfectionist/control freak like me to realize that no, I won’t be able to shape all the cookies the same way and yes, some will be tiny and others will be huge. At least I waited for a cold day to make these (after the other rugelach fiasco) and despite the problems with the rolling and shaping of the cookies they turned out delicious – the cocoa and pecans work beautifully with the raspberry jam and the dough is so tender and flaky it resembles puff pastry.


from the delicious Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours

1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
226g (8oz) cream cheese, softened, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 ¼ cups (315g) unbleached all-purpose flour
approximately ½ cup raspberry or apricot preserves

¼ cup (28g) pecans, finely chopped
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon cocoa powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until evenly combined, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice. Beat in the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Reduce the speed to low. Add 1¼ cups of the flour and mix just until incorporated, then repeat with the remaining 1 cup of flour. Do not overmix.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Flour your hands well and gently knead to be sure that the ingredients are evenly distributed, about 10 seconds. Divide the dough into thirds. Shape each portion into a 2.5cm (1in) thick disk and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled and firm, about 2 hours.

Filling: combine the pecans, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside.
Preheat to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with foil.
Working with one disk of dough at a time (keep the others refrigerated), unwrap and place on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour, and roll out into a 32cm (13in) diameter circle. Using a small offset metal spatula, spread with about 2 tablespoons of the preserves, leaving a 2.5cm (1in) border around the edge. Sprinkle the jam with about 2 tablespoons of the filling mixture. Using a sharp pizza wheel or large knife, cut the dough into quarters, then cut each quarter into 3 wedges, to give a total of 12 wedges. One at a time, starting at the wide end, fold the corners in about 6mm (¼in) and then roll up. Do not roll the rugelach too tightly or the jam and filling will ooze out. Keep the outside of each cookie free of the jam and filling, or they’ll tend to burn. Wipe your fingers clean after making each rugelach, or you will transfer the sticky interior of the last cookie to the exterior of the next one. Place each rugelach on the pans about 2.5cm (1in) apart, with the point of each facing down. Curve the ends of the rugelach slightly toward the point to make a crescent. Repeat this process with the other two disks of dough.
Bake until lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely on the pans.

Makes 3 dozen cookies


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Little lemon syrup soaked coconut cakes

Little lemon syrup soaked coconut cakes / Bolinhos de limão siciliano e coco

I’ve probably written about this already here but there it goes: I usually fear (a little) watching again now the movies I loved as my much younger self – there’s always the risk of deception, the “what the heck was I thinking?” feeling. Luckily this hasn’t happened often and the movies I’ve seen lately have permanently cemented their place in my heart. One example is “The Crying Game”: I adore Neil Jordan’s work and that film is a masterpiece.

* spoilers *

To this day very few movies have deserved the Oscar for Best Writing, Original Screenplay as much as “The Crying Game” – the “twist” in the plot is a very creative one and I love the way Jordan unfolds it in the movie. Knowing that Stanley Kubrick and Jordan exchanged ideas about the movie made me love it even more – Kubrick believed that the role of Dil was uncastable; if the film production were to start today I would suggest the name of Andrej Pejic to both gentlemen – I wonder what they would think of my idea. :)


These little cakes, as simple as they look, are packed with a lot of flavor – lemon and coconut are really delicious combination.

Little lemon syrup soaked coconut cakes
slightly adapted from In the Sweet Kitchen

2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 ¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar
1 cup (100g) sweetened desiccated coconut
2 large eggs
1 cup (240ml) coconut milk
1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
freshly grated zest of 2 large lemons
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup + 2 tablespoons (124g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (80ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup (60ml) water

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter eight ¾ cup (180ml) capacity muffin cups or individual cake molds*.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and coconut. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then add the coconut milk and cooled melted butter. Stir with a whisk to blend the mixture into a thick, smooth liquid. Stir in the lemon zest and vanilla extract. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients all at once and stir with a wooden spoon just until incorporated.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until risen and golden around the edges and a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Towards the end of the oven time, make the syrup: in a small saucepan, combine the sugar, juice and water and place over low heat, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for 6 to 8 minutes, until the syrup has thickened slightly. Remove from heat and set aside (the syrup is supposed to be pour over the cakes while both the syrup and the cakes are still warm).

Transfer the pans to a wire rack set over a baking sheet and cool for 10-12 minutes. Carefully remove the cakes from the pan, then return them to the pan (this is to ensure the cakes won’t get stuck in the pans). Use a small toothpick to make holes in the tops of each cake. Spoon the syrup over each cake and leave them to cool completely.

* this is the pan I used

Makes 8

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Roasted tomatoes stuffed with goat cheese

Roasted tomatoes stuffed with goat cheese / Tomates assados recheados com queijo de cabra

Weekends are when I have more time to cook and bake: that is wonderful and one of the many reasons why I love Saturdays and Sundays so much, but even I want quick meals sometimes, and these stuffed tomatoes are the perfect answer for that: the assembling is super quick and they don’t need much time in the oven. If you can’t find goat cheese easily I believe that these would be equally delicious with ricotta – homemade, please. :D

I know nothing about wines but I found these tomatoes really good with sparkling white wine – my weekends are not complete without a bit of booze, you know. ;)

Roasted tomatoes stuffed with goat cheese
slightly adapted from the gorgeous The Country Cooking of France

4 tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g goat cheese
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F and line a small baking dish with foil.
Slice off the top of each tomato and scoop out the cores and seeds. Cut a very thin sliver off of the bottom of each tomato to help them stand up straight and sprinkle the insides with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, crumble the goat cheese. Set aside.
In another small bowl, combine the garlic, parsley, chives, thyme, lemon zest and breadcrumbs. Season with salt. Fill the tomatoes with half this mixture, then crumble over the goat cheese, without packing it. Cover the cheese with the remaining herb mixture, arrange the tomatoes onto the prepared dish and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is very hot and the tomato skins start to split.

Serves 2

Friday, May 11, 2012

Banana blondies

Banana blondies / Blondies de banana

I don’t bake blondies very often, but so far the recipes I’ve made turned out delicious – Martha’s gingerbread blondies I made back in 2010 were just irresistible. When I saw Dan Lepard’s banana blondies I had to make them: not only because a blondie made of banana made me curious but also because I’d be able to use up some of my banana overload; oh, and before I forget to mention, there’s chopped praliné mixed in the batter. Praliné. In the batter. With banana and white chocolate.

Do you still need be convinced about this recipe? ;)

Banana blondies
slightly adapted from the absolutely glorious Short and Sweet (mine was bought here)

Pecan praliné:
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (78g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
¾ cup (83g) pecans

1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
100g unsalted butter
200g white chocolate
1 egg
2 bananas, chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups (175g) all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Make the pecan praliné: lightly oil a small baking sheet. Put the sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan. Over medium heat, bring to the boil and let it bubble away, without stirring, until the sugar turns to golden caramel. Stir in the pecans and immediately spread onto prepared sheet. Cool completely, then finely chop.

Blondies: preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line the base and sides of a 20cm (8in) square pan with foil, leaving an overhang in two opposite sides; butter the foil.
Combine the butter and white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and mix in the sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the bananas. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt over mixture, then fold through with the chopped praliné. Spoon into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes or until wobbly-set and golden on top. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Cut into squares.

Makes 16

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cherry preserves and lemon bars

Cherry preserves and lemon bars / Barrinhas de limão siciliano e geléia de cereja

Being addicted to baking it is always a joy for me to see butter and eggs in my fridge and flour and sugar in my pantry; if there are lemons, too, then I’m in heaven. :)

I had some gorgeous lemons hanging around and after making risotto and cake with them I wanted something a bit different; that was when Alice Medrich’s lemon bars crossed my mind: they are the best lemon bars I have ever tasted (also dead easy to make) and on her wonderful book devoted to cookies I found (through EYB) a recipe for lemon bars with apricot preserves... That sounded too divine not to try. Since after making Jamie’s jam frangipane tartlets there was still half a jar of cherry preserves left in my fridge, cherry and lemon bars they became – and they were insanely good.

Cherry preserves and lemon bars
slightly adapted from the wonderful Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies

1 cup + 1 ½ tablespoons (155g) all purpose flour
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (150g) cherry preserves (or any other flavor you like)
1/3 cup (80ml) fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a 20cm (8in) square baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang in two opposite sides. Butter the foil.
Crust: place the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine. Add the butter and vanilla and mix until smooth. Press dough evenly on the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until fully baked and golden brown in the center.
Towards the end of the cooking time of the crust, make the topping: in a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and flour. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the preserves, breaking up any large pieces, then stir in the lemon juice. When the crust is ready, turn the oven down to 150°C/300°F. Pour the filling over the crust. Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the topping no longer jiggles with the pan is tapped. Cool completely over a wire rack.
Lift up the bars using the foil and cut into bars.
Bars can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Makes 16

Monday, May 7, 2012

Almond and passion fruit drizzle cake

Almond and passion fruit drizzle cake / Bolo de amêndoa e maracujá

One of my (many) favorite things about Donna Hay Magazine is that every now and then it carries passion fruit recipes; I love the fruit and its juice is one of my favorite beverages – back in my college days I used to drink it by the bucket, especially during exam weeks (passion fruit juice is supposed to calm people down). :)

My love for passion fruit and my current obsession for almond cakes were the reason why I chose this cake as the first recipe to try from Tamasin Day Lewis’ absolutely lovely cookbook, and I urge you to bake it, too: it’s so moist, delicious and moreish that I would have polished off the entire cake myself if left to my own devices. :D

Almond and passion fruit drizzle cake
slightly adapted from the oh, so beautiful Food You Can't Say No To (mine was bought here)

¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened
85g demerara sugar
85g granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
85g all purpose flour
85g almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons whole milk, room temperature

Passion fruit drizzle:
½ cup (120ml) passion fruit pulp
3 teaspoons granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 20x10cm (8x4in) loaf pan and line it with baking paper. Butter the paper as well.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in the vanilla.
Sift the all purpose flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt over the butter mixture and fold together gently using a spatula. Fold in the milk.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven until golden and well risen and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the drizzle: set 1 tablespoon of the passion fruit pulp aside. Place the remaining pulp in a food processor or blender and blitz to extract as much juice as possible. Pass through a fine sieve into a small saucepan. Add the sugar and heat over medium heat stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Carefully unmold the cake and remove the baking paper. Place the cake right side up on the rack and prick it all over with a long skewer or dried spaghetti. Immediately pour the passion fruit syrup evenly over the cake. Scatter with the reserved passion fruit seeds and cool completely before serving.

Serves 8-10

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dulce de leche cheesecake squares + some great villains

Dulce de leche cheesecake squares / Quadradinhos de cheesecake de doce de leite

I’ve already told you how much I adore Christian Bale and I think he’s a perfect Batman but after watching the trailers for “The Dark Knight Rises” – cannot wait for July to come! – I have the feeling that he’ll be eclipsed by Tom Hardy on the movie just as he was eclipsed by Cillian Murphy and Heath Ledger on “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight”, respectively. I love it when great actors are cast for great characters – that’s how it should always be – and Christopher Nolan has been doing a wonderful job in his movies, with just a few exceptions (Carrie Ann Moss, Al Pacino), but I feel sorry for Bale, poor thing. :)

The original recipe for these super delicious cheesecake squares called for a chocolate glaze but I did not want it to eclipse the dulce de leche flavor; after having one square I felt that omitting the glaze had been the right decision: the cheesecake tasted wonderful and very rich, it did not need any embellishments.

Dulce de leche cheesecake squares / Quadradinhos de cheesecake de doce de leite

Dulce de leche cheesecake squares
slightly adapted from the wonderful Gourmet Today: More than 1000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen

100g (3½oz) digestive biscuits
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
¼ cup (60ml) whole milk
225g (8oz) cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (350g/12½oz) dulce de leche

Crust: put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 160°C/325°F. Lightly butter a 20cm (8in) square baking pan then line the bottom and sides with 2 pieces of foil, leaving a 5cm (2in) overhang on two opposite sides. Butter the foil as well.
Finely grind cookies with sugar and salt in a food processor. With motor running, add butter, blending until combined. Press mixture evenly onto bottom of baking pan. Bake 10 minutes, then cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes.
Filling: sprinkle gelatin over milk in a small bowl and let stand 2 minutes to soften. In an electric mixer, with the wire attachment, beat together cream cheese, eggs, salt, gelatin mixture and vanilla until well combined, about 2 minutes, then stir in dulce de leche gently but thoroughly. Pour filling over crust, smoothing top, then bake in a hot water bath in oven until center is just set, about 45 minutes. Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 2 hours. Chill, covered, at least 6 hours.

Carefully lift cheesecake from pan using foil overhang and cut into 16 squares.

Makes 16

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ricotta and feta tart

Ricotta and feta tart / Torta de ricota e feta

Because Jamie Oliver’s delicious escarole and salami tart was a great dish for lunch both at my house and at the office I felt like baking another savory tart – this time I had no smoked ham in my fridge (as the original recipe called for) but a tart made entirely of cheese (there’s parmesan in the pastry!) did not sound like a bad thing. And, indeed, it was not; I just regretted not adding a handful of chopped parsley to the filling before spreading it on the pastry.

Ricotta and feta tart
slightly adapted from the always delicious and beautiful Donna Hay Magazine

1 ¼ cups + 1 tablespoon (185g) all purpose flour
pinch of salt
½ cup + ½ tablespoon (120g) unsalted butter, cold and diced
½ cup (50g) finely grated parmesan
2 tablespoons sour cream*
2 egg yolks

230g ricotta – I used homemade
50g feta, crumbled
1 egg
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make the pastry: place the flour, salt, butter and parmesan in a food processor and process for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the sour cream and yolks and process for 1-2 minutes or until a dough forms. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Lightly butter a 24cm round pie dish or tart pan. Roll the pastry between two pieces of lightly floured baking paper until you get a 30cm round. Line the prepared dish with the pastry leaving a 5cm border overhanging the sides of the dish. Set aside
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the ricotta, feta, egg, garlic, mustard, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well to combine. Spread the filling over the pastry and fold the border to form the outer crust of the tart**. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden.

* homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

** I had trouble making the pastry border, so I removed the excess pastry and cut flower shapes with it using a cookie cutter, then I placed them on top of the filling before baking the tart

Serves 4

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