Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Raspberry jam and pecan bars + a discussion about age

Raspberry jam and pecan bars / Barrinhas de pecã e geleia de framboesa

Some of my colleagues on Facebook were discussing actresses that actually look their age – the examples given were Charlotte Rampling and Fernanda Montenegro, then someone mentioned Judi Dench. I always say that when I think of myself in my seventies both Fernanda and Dame Dench come to my mind: talented, beautiful women who aren’t ashamed of all the years stamped on their faces, and I find that admirable – I would love to look that good when I’m older and yet, at the same time, to have so much more than just looks to be proud of.

The conversation went on and Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock were mentioned as opposite examples: their faces have been changed so much by “cosmetic” procedures that it’s even hard to read their expressions – Nicole’s performance in “Rabbit Role” (an excellent movie, btw) could have been epic, magnificent, but unfortunately the big, weird lips and frozen forehead did nothing for the character, especially in very emotional scenes.

The desperate fixation on eternal youth has made male victims, too: while getting my daily dose of gossip this morning I saw John Rzeznik’s wedding photo and for a moment I thought he was Joan Rivers. So sad. :(

People shouldn’t have to worry about silly things like looking 30 when they’re actually 60. Life should be simpler. Simple like jam bars (in this case, with an extra kick of flavor from the pecans).

Raspberry jam and pecan bars
slightly adapted from the always delicious Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe

1 cup (90g) rolled oats
1 ¼ cups (175g) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (130g) light brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
¾ cup (82g) pecans, not too finely chopped
¾ cup (1½ sticks/170g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 cup raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 32.5x22.5cm (13x9in) baking pan, line it with foil leaving an overhang on all sides and butter the foil as well.
Combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter and mix until it forms crumbs. Stir in the pecans. Reserve 1 ¼ cups of this mix. Press the remaining mix into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and slightly firm to touch. Remove from the oven, spread the jam evenly over the crust, then top with the reserved crumbs. Return to the oven and bake until the top is golden and filling is bubbly, 20-25 minutes. Cool completely before removing from pan and cutting.

Makes 18 – I made the exact recipe above using a 20x30cm (8x12in) pan

Monday, July 29, 2013

Chocolate marmalade slump cake

Chocolate marmalade slump cake / Bolo cremoso de chocolate e geleia de laranja

An open jar of marmalade in the fridge – left from making brioche – had to be used and since it was such a delicious product I had to make something just as good. Lucas Hollweg’s cake was the perfect choice: moist, full of chocolate flavor and gluten free (for those of you who follow that kind of diet).

That was a good use for an excellent ingredient (not exactly like Robert Zemeckis using the crew members of “Cast Away” to film “What Lies Beneath”). :D

Chocolate marmalade slump cake
from the beautiful and delicious beyond words Good Things to Eat (I bought mine here)

150g unsalted butter
150g good dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids), chopped – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
100g chunky orange marmalade
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
125g granulated sugar
4 eggs, separated
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
½ cup (45g) cocoa powder
icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Lightly butter a 20cm (8in) round cake pan with a removable bottom, line the bottom with a circle of baking paper and butter the paper as well.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and let stand for 1-2 minutes. Stir until melted and smooth. Put the marmalade and zest in a food processor and blitz to a slush. Add the sugar and whizz in. Stir into the chocolate mixture.
Beat the egg yolks vigorously into the chocolate mixture, then beat in the vanilla. Sift the cocoa powder over the top and beat that in as well. Put the egg whites in a clean bowl with the salt and using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip until they form soft peaks. Beat a third of the whisked egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen it a little, then carefully fold in the rest.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, smooth the top and bake for 30 minutes, or until the centre is set. Cool for 30 minutes over a wire rack, then carefully remove it from the pan. Dust with icing sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Serves 6-8

Friday, July 26, 2013

Pistachio doughnuts with rose water glaze

Pistachio doughnuts with rose water icing / Doughnuts de pistache com glacê de água de rosas

I adore fried food, but living in an apartment I rarely feel like frying things – I try to avoid having the whole house smelling like the dinner we’d just had. Up until a couple of months ago fries had been the exception because both the hubby and I love them, but after trying Annabel’s recipe for oven fries the problem was solved – Joao told me they were even tastier than the original fried version.

I did, however, had another exception days ago when I made Gourmet Traveller’s pistachio doughnuts – I’d been meaning to make them forever. The doughnuts turned out really good and being cake doughnuts (no yeast involved) it didn’t take me too long to make them from start to finish. The problem was the rose water glaze: disappointing and too sweet, it tasted of nothing but icing sugar even after I squeezed half a lemon in it. The raspberry syrup, prior to the addition of the icing sugar, was really delicious, so I suggest you make it up to that point and dunk your doughnuts in it. Another suggestion: after photographing and eating the first doughnuts, I fried the remaining batter like small churros (instead of piping it into rings) and liked them even more: they were easier to move around in the frying pan and turned out crispier on the outside.

Pistachio doughnuts with rosewater icing / Doughnuts de pistache com glacê de água de rosas

Pistachio doughnuts with rose water glaze
slightly adapted from the always gorgeous Australian Gourmet Traveller

75g pistachio kernels
2 ¼ cups (315g) all purpose flour
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 cup (240ml) whole milk
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, lightly beaten
vegetable oil, for deep frying

Rose water glaze:
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
10 raspberries, fresh or frozen (unthawed)
1 ½ cups (210g) icing sugar, sifted
3 teaspoons rose water, or to taste

Process pistachios in a food processor until finely ground, transfer to a large bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder, orange zest, vanilla extract and salt. Stir to combine, make a well in the centre, then add milk, butter and egg. Mix until smooth, transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 2cm-fluted nozzle, refrigerate to rest for 1 hour.
For rosewater glaze, combine sugar and 50ml water in a small saucepan, stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, add raspberries, crush them with the back of a wooden spoon, then simmer until syrupy (2-3 minutes). Strain into a heatproof bowl (discard pulp), add icing sugar, whisk until smooth, then whisk in rose water and set aside (thin with a little water to drizzling consistency if necessary.)
Preheat oil in a deep-fryer or deep-sided saucepan to 180°C/350°F. Pipe 8cm-diameter rings onto squares of lightly oiled baking paper. Slide rings, in batches, into oil and cook, turning occasionally, until puffed, golden and cooked through (3-4 minutes; be careful as hot oil may spit). Drain on absorbent paper, then, while still warm, drizzle with rose water glaze and place on a cooling rack until glaze sets. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 18-20

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

White chocolate and lemon madeleines and Blogger being stupid

White chocolate and lemon madeleines / Madeleines de limão siciliano e chocolate branco

I got a surprise a couple of days ago and it wasn’t a nice one: Blogger decided that the list with the books I own was a spam blog and deleted it – just like that, no questions asked and no proper explanations given. O_O
I have tried to restore the blog, but now have to wait until they feel like analyzing the whole thing and well, let’s just say they don’t work very fast. :(

While that happens, let me tell you about my latest purchase, Eric Lanlard’s cookbook on chocolate: the recipes look delicious and the photos are really beautiful – and that coming from someone who’ll pick a number of other flavors over chocolate any day says a lot. :)
These madeleines were the first treat I tried from the book and they were tasty but still not lemony enough for me, even though I added more lemon zest than the amount called for in the recipe – next time, finely grated zest of two lemons, for sure. :)

White chocolate and lemon madeleines
slightly adapted from the beautiful Chocolat (I bought mine here)

60g white chocolate, finely chopped
60g unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs
½ cup + 1 tablespoon (112g) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (150g) all purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Place the chocolate and butter in a small heatproof bowl and place it over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth, remove from the heat and cool slightly.
Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat eggs and sugar until thick and glossy. Fold in the chocolate mixture, then the vanilla and the lemon zest. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt over the mixture and fold in. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to overnight.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Butter and flour a madeleine mold. Fill each cavity ¾ full with the batter and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and immediately unmold onto a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 16 – I got 16 using 1-tablespoon capacity molds and 40 using 1/2-tablespoon capacity molds

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pineapple and toasted coconut cake + a very tedious movie

Pineapple and toasted coconut cake / Bolo de coco tostado e abacaxi

Spielberg will probably never be one of my favorite directors, but because I’m still in awe with the fantastic “Munich” I decided to give “Lincoln” a chance. One hour into the film and I was bored to death, one hour and 10 minutes into the film and I was sound asleep. O_O
All I could think was that the Academy Award Daniel Day Lewis took home should be on a shelf at Joaquin Phoenix’s house (or maybe in the bathroom or inside the refrigerator, Joaquin being Joaquin). :)

My husband watched “Lincoln” and actually liked it, so maybe I’ll give the film another go one of these days. I’m in no rush, though, because there are many other great movies to be seen. I will, however, rush you to make this absolutely fantastic cake that combine flavors that work really well together – toasting the coconut makes it even more flavorsome and it pairs beautifully with the pineapple chunks. Another winner recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks.

Pineapple and toasted coconut cake
from the delicious and foolproof Cake Keeper Cakes: 100 Simple Recipes for Extraordinary Bundt Cakes, Pound Cakes, Snacking Cakes and Other Good-To-The-Last-Crumb Treats

1 ½ cups (150g) sweetened flaked coconut
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream*
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups (245g) all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon table salt
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
1 can (20oz/560g) pineapple chunks in juice, drained well and patted dry

½ cup (70g) confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Preheat the oven to 180°F/350°F. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.
Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast until just golden, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool completely. Keep the oven on.
Combine the eggs, sour cream and vanilla in a large measuring cup and lightly beat with a fork. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice if necessary.
On low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients in three additions with the sour cream in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat the batter on medium speed for 1 minute. Stir in the toasted coconut and the pineapple chunks.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Glaze: sift the confectioners’ into a small bowl, then gradually add the lime juice, stirring until desired consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the cake, then let the glaze set for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

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

Serves 8-10

Friday, July 19, 2013

Milk chocolate brownies and a change of plans

Milk chocolate brownies / Brownies de chocolate ao leite

There has been a change of plans around here: Somerset Maugham will have to wait a while, since I decided to buy "Gone Girl" after reading that turning the book into a movie is David Fincher’s next project. :)
Two friends of mine have told me that book is great and that it will probably cost me hours of sleeping – like the Millennium trilogy, years ago – and I cannot wait to start reading it. I’ll keep you posted.

And speaking of change of plans, I usually go for brownie recipes that call for cocoa – like Alice Medrich’s out of this world brownies – and/or dark chocolate, but decided to give Kathleen King’s milk chocolate brownies a chance. They turned out delicious, like everything I have made from that book - I hope Gillian Flynn surprises me in the same way. :D

Milk chocolate brownies
from the delicious Tate's Bake Shop: Baking For Friends

½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter
250g (9oz) milk chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup (105g) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder, sifted
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven at 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 20cm (8in) square baking pan and line with foil, leaving an overhand in two opposite sides. Butter the foil as well.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and let it stand for 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Cool slightly.
Whisk in the sugar, then the eggs, one at a time. Whisk in the vanilla. Stir in the flour, cocoa and salt. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake until a skewer inserted into the middle of the brownies comes out with a moist crumb, about 20 minutes.
Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Cut into squares to serve.

Makes 16

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Almond tea cake

Almond tea cake / Bolo de amêndoa recheado com curd de limão siciliano e geleia de framboesa

I had so much fun making the chocolate Victoria cake and the result was so wonderful that I couldn’t wait to bake a layer cake again – for that, I reached out for a cookbook with nothing but gorgeous layer cakes and found this delicious recipe, which would be perfect because I had some cream left in the fridge begging to be used – don’t know about you, but usually at my house it goes like this: if I don’t have cream at home, all I come across is recipes calling for cream; then, when there is a bottle of the stuff in the fridge, I can’t find anything calling for the ingredient. :S

It’s pretty much how it goes with TV, too: when I want to watch drama, there are dozens of comedies on, and vice-versa. Last Sunday the hubby and I were in the mood for something light, but ended up watching “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” – luckily it turned out to be a great movie. Oh, and the cake? It was pretty good, too. ;)

Almond tea cake
slightly adapted from the absolutely beautiful Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes

1/3 cup (33g) almond meal
210g cake flour (or 180g all purpose flour + 30g corn starch)
1 cup + 3 tablespoons (236g) granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
210ml heavy cream
150g unsalted butter, at room temperature, chopped
1 egg
3 egg yolks
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
heaping ¼ cup raspberry preserves, preferably seedless

Lemon curd:
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
½ tablespoon cornstarch
¼ cup (60ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
finely grated zest from 1 lemon
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Amaretto glaze:
1 cup (140g) confectioners’ sugar
1-2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, lightly toasted and cooled

Make the cakes: preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter two 20cm (8in) round cake pans, line the bottom of each pan with a round of baking paper and butter the paper as well.
Combine the almond meal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the mixer on low speed, blend well. Add the sour cream and butter and, still on low, blend to incorporate. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Put the whole egg and yolks in a medium bowl and whisk together, then whisk in the almond and vanilla extracts. Add the mixture to the batter in 2 or 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition and beating only until the eggs are incorporated. Divide equally among the prepared cake pans.
Bake the cake layers for 25-30 minutes or until risen and golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pans over a wire rack.

While the cakes bake and cool, make the lemon curd: put the sugar and cornstarch in a small nonreactive saucepan and whisk to blend. Add the lemon juice and eggs yolks and whisk until smooth. Bring to a full boil over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. Allow to boil for a full minute, still whisking.
Pour through a mesh strainer into a glass dish. Whisk in the butter, lemon zest, vanilla and salt until blended. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it down onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Cool slightly, then refrigerate until very cold and set, about 2 hours. Stir well before using.

Assembling the cake: turn out the first cake onto a serving plate and gently peel off the paper. Spread the preserves over the cake, then spread the lemon curd over the jam, right to the edge. Top off with the other cake layer, and remove the paper.

Make the Amaretto glaze by sifting the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. Add the amaretto and mix. Add about 1 tablespoon water a bit at a time–all may not be needed–to make a thick pasty glaze. Pour the Amaretto Glaze onto the center of the top layer and gently spread it to the edge, allowing it to slowly drizzle down the sides of the cake decoratively. Sprinkle with the toasted sliced almonds over the top and set aside until the icing is set.

Serves 8-10

Monday, July 15, 2013

Marmalade and raisin brioche - much better than a certain pie

Marmalade and raisin brioche / Brioche com geléia de laranja e passas

Even though I wasn’t happy with the winner of “The Great British Bake Off” I did have lots of fun watching the show – therefore, after Tania and Ana told me about the American version of the show I watched the first episode (which was focused on pies) and now I don’t feel like watching it anymore. :S

Mary Berry is not in the show, the host is annoying and the contestants aren’t interesting at all. And after a pie made with peanut butter, chocolate and BACON ranked so well among the other pies I thought I should quit the show - if not wanting bacon mixed with chocolate makes me a conservative person so be it. I found that pie really disgusting, but Paul Hollywood adored it – I prefer something more normal and, to me, far tastier: his wonderful brioche, the one I have made several times already, this time filled with marmalade and raisins.

Marmalade and raisin brioche
slightly adapted from the excellent How to Bake (I bought mine here)

500g strong white bread flour + extra for dusting (I used all purpose flour)
½ teaspoon table salt
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
10g dried yeast
140ml whole milk, warm
5 large eggs
250g unsalted butter, very soft

200g marmalade
½ cup golden raisins

Put the flour into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the milk and eggs and mix on a slow speed for 2 minutes, then on a medium speed for a further 6–8 minutes, until you have a soft, glossy, elastic dough. Add the softened butter and continue to mix for a further 4–5 minutes, scraping down the bowl periodically to ensure that the butter is thoroughly incorporated. The dough should be very soft. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least 7 hours, until it is firm and you are able to shape it.
Butter a 20x30cm (8x12in) baking pan.
Take your brioche dough from the fridge and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead 3-4 four times, then roll it out onto a 35x20cm (14x8in) rectangle. Spread the marmalade evenly on top of the dough and sprinkle the raisins on top. Roll it like a cylinder, beginning with the longer side. Cut into 9 slices then arrange them about 2.5cm (1in) apart onto the prepared pan. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave to prove for about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F.
When the brioche is proved, bake for 20-25 minutes or until brioche is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 9

Friday, July 12, 2013

Coconut lime oatmeal cookies + the lovely Sarah Carey

Coconut lime oatmeal cookies / Biscoitos de aveia, coco e limão

I have several favorite TV cooks – Nigella, Nigel Slater, Jamie Oliver, among others – but there is one lady I adore and she’s not on TV, she’s on Martha’s website: the lovely Sarah Carey. It’s wonderful to watch her around the kitchen, not only because her recipes are delicious but also because she’s too much fun! :) I find her videos very useful, too, for beginners in the cooking department since she’s very thorough with her instructions, showing all the steps of the recipe and giving precious tips. Yes, I’m a fan. :)

These oatmeal cookies are tasty and easy to make, and the combination of lime and coconut is always a winner. The recipe is below but I urge you to watch Sarah bake these – I know you’ll become a fan, too.

Coconut lime oatmeal cookies
from the lovely and fun Sarah Carey

2 ¼ cups (315g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine salt
1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
¾ cup (131g) packed light-brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
2 large eggs
2 cups (180g) rolled oats
1 cup (100g) sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted and cooled

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, using a mixer, beat butter and sugars until pale and creamy, 4 minutes. Beat in vanilla and zest, then the eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. On low speed, add flour mixture and beat until just combined. Mix in oats and coconut.
Drop dough in 2-tablespoon-size balls onto prepared sheets, 5cm (2in) apart. Bake until cookies are golden around the edges but still soft in the center, 12-14 minutes. Let cool on sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.

Makes 35

Monday, July 8, 2013

Orange and poppy seed drizzle sheet cake + a favorite I cannot choose

Orange and poppy seed drizzle sheet cake / Bolo de laranja e sementes de papoula

Cover songs are a tricky thing: they can go really well or they can go terribly wrong, as I once wrote. Some versions are better than the original – purists, look away – while others are just OK, nothing special. There is one case, however, in which I can’t choose a favorite: “Don’t Dream It’s Over” – the original is absolutely wonderful, a song I would eagerly wait for the radios to play when I was a kid back in the day, and Sixpence None the Richer’s version is equally beautiful. Love both, can’t choose. And that is what happened with this cake: I once made the exact recipe given by Annie Bell, which is a lemon drizzle cake, and it tasted amazing. Then I adapted it a little, with orange and poppy seeds, and the result was oh, so delicious. I believe you can see how tender it turned out by the photo.

Love both, can’t choose. I’ll leave it up to you, guys. :)

Orange and poppy seed drizzle sheet cake
slightly adapted from the über beautiful Annie Bell's Baking Bible (I bought mine here)

225g all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon table salt
4 tablespoons poppy seeds
225g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (225g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
4 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk
1/3 cup (80ml) freshly squeezed orange juice

juice of 1 orange
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter and flour a 20x30cm (12x8in) baking pan.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk in the poppy seeds.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and zest together until very light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and scrape the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. On low speed, beat in half the dry ingredients, then the milk and orange juice, then the remaining dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl again.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden and risen and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes – while that happens, make the drizzle: in a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice and sugar. Prick the cake all over with a toothpick and gradually spoon the drizzle over it, waiting until the cake absorbs it all. Cool completely in the pan, then cut into squares.

Serves 15

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Sticky chicken with lemon and honey

Sticky chicken with lemon and honey / Frango assado com limão siciliano e mel

Those of you with picky eaters at home will probably agree with me: it’s not easy and sometimes not pleasant at all to cook for them. :/ For that reason, when my husband requests something in particular for lunch or dinner I feel relieved – I know I won’t need to spend hours (and brain cells) thinking of the menu.

While watching Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers a couple of weeks ago we saw Nigel making golden and caramelized chicken pieces when Joao said: “how about that for lunch?” – I immediately agreed since we’re both crazy for roasted chicken. Nigel’s chicken is dead easy to make – the refrigerator and the oven do all the work – and turned out delicious, crunchy and sticky on the outside and absolutely tender and juicy on the inside, falling off the bone. It was so good that my husband placed it on the #1 spot with Donna Hay’s chicken baked with chorizo, which up to that day had been his favorite way of eating chicken.

Sticky chicken with lemon and honey
slightly adapted from the always wonderful Nigel Slater

4 large chicken pieces, bone in and skin on – use your favorite cuts
juice of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon runny honey
½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 garlic cloves, crushed into a paste
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
soft butter, for preparing the baking dish

Place the chicken in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together with a fork the lemon juice, honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour over the chicken, mix to coat all the pieces and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or at least for 4 hours.
Preheat the oven at 200°C/400°F. Line a baking dish with a double layer of foil and brush the foil with the butter.
Transfer the chicken to the prepared dish and pour over any left marinade. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until cooked to your liking – we like our chicken very golden brown, as you can see on the photo, so I baked it for 1 ½ hours.
Serve immediately.

Serves 2

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Double chocolate peanut butter cookies and being short

Double chocolate peanut butter cookies / Cookies de manteiga de amendoim, chocolate branco e meio-amargo

Back in my school days, I hated being short – I had all sorts of nicknames, and not many were cute as Smurfette (I believe that was the only one I liked). At 34 I no longer care and funnily enough I have developed a taste for mini food – humans are strange beings, I know. :D

A jar of peanut butter in the cupboard and a Donna Hay magazine with several pb recipes (which had already produced these lovely cupcakes) were the reason behind these cookies. I decided to make them fairly small using only 1 tablespoon of dough per cookie, and since they did not spread while in the oven – partially because I added more flour to my dough and partially because I did not flatten them before baking – the result was a tiny, delicate cookie that reminded of petit fours served with tea - the difference is that these are much better served with a glass of cold milk.

Double chocolate peanut butter cookies
slightly adapted from the always amazing Donna Hay Magazine

185g all purpose flour – my dough was much too soft, I ended using 200g flour total
¼ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
100g unsalted butter, softened
½ cup (130g) crunchy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
175g light brown sugar*
1 egg
75g dark chocolate chips
75g white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with baking paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, peanut butter, sugar and vanilla on medium speed until creamy and well combined. Beat in the egg until evenly incorporated. On low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Using 1 leveled tablespoon of dough per cookie, roll into balls and place 5cm (2in) apart onto prepared sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown, especially around the edges. Cool on the sheets over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to rack and cool completely.

* I used less sugar than the amount called for in the recipe, but still thought the cookies were a tad too sweet – if I were to make these again I would use 150g sugar

Makes 45

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Lemon cornmeal cake with lemon glaze and the book I'll read next

Lemon cornmeal cake with lemon glaze / Bolo de milho e limão siciliano com glacê de limão siciliano

Thank you for your comments on my issue with “The Great Gatsby” – I feel much better now. :)
I already have something else to read, Somerset Maugham’s "Of Human Bondage", a book suggested by my good friend Cristina – I’ll try to balance it with my cookbooks since I don’t plan on stop cooking and baking.

I started cooking when I was very young and my grandmother and my great-aunt would give me instructions over the phone, which I would carefully and in a very detailed way write down to follow in the kitchen afterwards. If anything, anything at all turned out differently from the ladies’ information I would call them immediately so they could help me solve the problem. I can’t tell you how many days were spent that way – those women are somehow responsible for all the treats you guys see here on this blog. They were the ones that kept me going, even after small disasters in the kitchen. And now, after many, many years, I continue to prepared food, and that gives me tons of pleasure. The more I cook and bake the more I feel confident enough to make changes, to adapt recipes – I guess that maybe you feel the same way. This cake, for instance, called for mascarpone to be mixed into the batter, but I decided to use heavy cream instead, since the Italian cheese is made with cream. It worked really well: the cake turned out fantastic, tender and full of lemon flavor, thanks to the syrup poured over it while still hot from the oven. And to make this recipe even more perfect, the butter is melted, so there is no need to wait for it to soften (which can take forever in the cold days we’ve been having here).

I guess both grandma and aunt Angelica would be proud. :)

Lemon cornmeal cake with lemon glaze
slightly adapted from the delicious The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle

220g all-purpose flour
115g medium-ground yellow cornmeal – I used polenta
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup (160ml) heavy cream
4 large eggs
265g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

Lemon syrup:
½ cup (120ml) fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar

Lemon glaze:
175g confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 23cm (9in) round cake pan, line it with a circle of baking paper and butter the paper as well.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, zest, baking powder, and salt.
Place the cream in a large bowl. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then the sugar and vanilla. Fold in the dry ingredients in two batches. Stir in the butter. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until risen and golden and a skewer comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
Towards the end of the baking time, make the lemon syrup: combine the lemon juice and the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat.
Cool the cake for 5 minutes in the pan over a wire rack. With a toothpick, poke a few dozen holes all over the top of the cake, then brush the cake with the lemon syrup until all the syrup is absorbed.
Cool completely in the pan.
Carefully unmold the cake, peel off the paper and invert it back onto a plate.
Make the glaze: sift the confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl. Add the cream and the lemon juice, stirring until you get a drizzable consistency. Pour over the cake and allow to set, about 30 minutes.

Serves 8-10

Related Posts with Thumbnails