Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Spiced honey and raspberry cake

Spiced honey and raspberry cake / Bolo de mel, especiarias e framboesa

I was sitting on my couch one Saturday morning, surrounded by cookbooks, trying to decide what to bake for the weekend (I told you I usually plan ahead, but that sometimes that doesn’t work), when Nigel Slater showed up on my TV screen preparing a beautiful, luscious cake, made with plums – I instantly knew what to bake that day. :)

I did not have any plums around (or anything fresh, for that matter), therefore I decided to use raspberries instead. I wasn’t too happy with the copious amount of golden syrup used in the cake – here in Brazil I can’t find the ingredient and have always replaced it with corn syrup, but since I’ve been trying to ban that ingredient from my pantry I went with honey, instead – 200g of it.

The cake turned out moist and delicious, similar to gingerbread in both texture and flavor and with the sour hit of the berries making everything more interesting – thank you, Nigel, for making my Saturday so much more flavorsome and perfumed.

Spiced honey and raspberry cake
slightly adapted from the stunning Tender, Volume 2: A Cook's Guide to the Fruit Garden

200g honey
125g unsalted butter
125g brown sugar
250g all purpose flour
1 lightly heaped teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 lightly heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 lightly heaped teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
240ml whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g frozen raspberries, unthawed

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 23cm (9in) cake pan, line the bottom with a circle of baking paper and butter the paper as well.
Warm honey and butter very gently in a pan until the butter melts. Stir in the brown sugar. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt into a bowl. Add the honey mixture and stir to combine. Add the eggs, milk and vanilla and whisk until you get a smooth batter. Pour into the prepared pan, then sprinkle with the berries. Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden and risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Carefully unmold, peel off the paper and transfer to a serving plate.

Serves 8-10

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fig, ginger and almond bars

Fig, ginger and almond bars / Barrinhas de geleia de figo, gengibre e amêndoa

I usually plan ahead the recipes I want to cook on the weekend so I have time to do the shopping beforehand – I get disappointed when I choose a recipe from a book only to discover, minutes later, that I don’t have all the ingredients at hand.

I made the honey raspberry cake I mentioned the other day because the only fruit I had at home were frozen berries – empty refrigerator is a classic side effect of vacation time. I baked the cake, then decided to watch some TV, flip through my cookbooks and forget about the shortage of fresh food for a while – I wasn’t really in the mood for grocery shopping, and my husband was too tired, poor thing, I really couldn't ask him to go out just because I wanted to bake.

Two or three flipped cookbooks later, I saw a recipe for marmalade and ginger bars topped with almonds, and they looked delicious. As I read the list of ingredients, I realized I had everything in my pantry and fridge – how rare is that? – except the marmalade – ooops –, but I did have some fig preserves left from making the buckwheat thumbprints.

I felt that the fig + ginger combo would be as good as orange + ginger one, so I replaced the marmalade with the fig preserves and added a bit of amaranth flour for nutritional purposes. Fig and ginger are, indeed, delish together, and the bars were a hit: they tasted great and the baking urge was gone in no time.

Fig, ginger and almond bars
slightly adapted from the beautiful and delicious The Baking Collection (The Australian Women's Weekly)

90g unsalted butter, softened
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
100g all purpose flour
50g amaranth flour
generous ¼ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

1 cup fig preserves
¼ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

1 egg, beaten lightly with a fork
120g flaked almonds
60g ground almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 20x30cm (8x12in) rectangular pan, line it with foil leaving an overhang in two opposite sides and butter the foil as well.
Base: using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in vanilla. Add the egg and beat to combine. Stir in flours, baking powder and salt*. Spread dough into pan.
Filling: combine fig preserves and ginger in small bowl; spread over base.
Topping: combine egg, vanilla, 80g of the flaked almonds and ground almonds in a medium bowl. Spread almond mix over marmalade; sprinkle with remaining almonds.
Bake for about 40 minutes. Cool slice in pan. Cut into slices or squares.

* at this stage, my dough was too soft (maybe from replacing part of the all purpose flour for amaranth flour), so I added 2 tablespoons (20g) all purpose flour to it

Makes 24

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Beef kofta curry with fluffy rice and peas and going crazy over cookbooks

Beef kofta curry with fluffy rice and peas / Curry de kofta bovino com arroz e ervilha

September is a lovely month: spring comes our way, bringing flowers to make the city prettier and, in Sao Paulo’s case, it also brings the much needed rain. But it is also the time of the year when a bunch of cookbooks are released, which makes me tense for as much as I keep telling myself that “I have too many cookbooks” or “I don’t need new cookbooks” I know I don’t sound very convincing. :)

I’ve had my eye on several new releases for a long time and I was already in trouble because I couldn’t make up my mind about which ones to buy, and now to make things worse for me Jamie Oliver has a new cookbook, too. Oh, crap. :S

While I decide whether or not to buy Comfort Food, I’ll use the Jamie’s cookbooks I already own, because they’re really good. This beef kofta comes from the delicious Jamie's 15-Minute Meals, a book I should definitely use more often for it’s packed with tasty recipes.

I adapted the recipe ever so slightly to use curry powder for I did not have any curry paste at hand and also to use brown lentils instead of the super expensive (at least here) puy lentils called for in the original recipe. These “adaptations” saved me some money, I used ingredients I already had at home, and at the end the food turned out delicious – and I even got the husband to eat lentils, which was the real victory here. :D

Beef kofta curry with fluffy rice and peas
slightly adapted from the wonderful Jamie's 15-Minute Meals

100g cooked lentils
300g quality lean beef mince
1 fat garlic clove, minced
1 heaped teaspoon garam masala
generous ½ teaspoon table salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
2 ripe tomatoes
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 spring onions, white part only
½ fresh red chilli
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon runny honey
2 teaspoons curry powder
100ml coconut milk
handful parsley

For the rice:
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ onion, finely diced
1 mug basmati rice
2 cardamom pods
150g frozen peas

In a bowl, combine the lentils, mince, garlic, garam masala, salt and pepper then mix and scrunch together with clean hands. Divide the mixture in half, then with wet hands quickly squeeze and mold each half into 8 fat fingers. Put them into a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat, drizzle with ½ tablespoon of oil, and cook, turning occasionally until golden all around.

Squash the tomatoes into the liquidizer, add the peeled ginger, spring onions, chilli, turmeric, honey, curry and coconut milk, then blitz until combined. Pour into the kofta pan, bring to the boil, then simmer and season to taste.

Rice: heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the rice and stir to combine. Add the salt and the cardamom, followed by 2 mugs of boiling water. Cover, lower the heat and cook until rice is cooked and fluffy. Take the lid off the rice, add the peas, mix it all up with a fork, cover and give it just 2-3 more minutes so the peas are cooked. Remove from the heat.

Sprinkle the koftas with the parsley and serve with the rice.

Serves 4

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Lemon and polenta cake (gluten free) + movies, movies, movies

Lemon and polenta cake (gluten free) / Bolo de milho e limão siciliano (sem glúten)

Being away for two weeks left me out of the loop of new releases and movies to long for, not to mention I had no idea what was on theaters here – time to catch up.

On the weekend, I went to the movies with my sister – we hadn’t done that since Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, too long! – and we watched Lucy: I liked the movie a lot, and it is always wonderful to see movies with leading ladies kick ass in the box office, shutting up idiots who think that women don’t make money when it comes to movies (let’s all remember Cate Blanchett’s Oscar speech months ago, shall we?). :)

Some more good news: I was glad to find out that Gone Girl will be hitting Brazilian theaters one day before the American release, which was a relief since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo premiered here in Brazil a month after its American release. Yay! \0/

As for what to long for, I saw the trailer for Low Down and can’t wait to know when the movie will be released, not only because it is a great trailer but also because of the amazing cast: I fell in love with John Hawkes after he blew me away three times in a row, being outstanding in Winter’s Bone, Martha Marcy May Marlene and The Sessions (and being robbed of an Oscar nomination for the latter). Anyone who watched Super 8 knows how talented Elle Fanning is, and what to say about Glenn Close? <3 <3 <3

After getting up to speed with movies, I did the same with my kitchen: I hadn’t baked in quite a while and was desperate for freshly baked cake. I made a honey cake that turned out delicious, but since I haven’t been able to work on the photos yet I bring you an equally tasty cake, something I baked before my trip; I bumped into this recipe while searching for yet another lemon cake recipe and I wasn’t disappointed: moist, tangy and delicious, I am sure it will please those of you who like lemon cakes as much as I do.

Lemon and polenta cake (gluten free)
slightly adapted from the delicious Breakfast, Lunch, Tea: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery

150g granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
165g unsalted butter, softened
juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
185g almond meal (finely ground almonds)
75g instant polenta
35g corn starch
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 20x10cm (6-cup capacity) loaf pan, line it with baking paper and butter the paper as well.
Place sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer and rub them together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Add butter and beat until very light and creamy. Add the lemon juice and the vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition – batter might look curdled.
Mix together the ground almonds, polenta, corn flour, baking powder and salt and fold into the mixture.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Carefully unmold and remove the paper. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

Serves 6-8

Monday, September 22, 2014

Granola muffins

Granola muffins / Muffins de granola

And since we were talking about food waste the other day, let me tell you that the granola saga did not end with the cookies I posted the other day: even after a large batch of cookies I still had two handfuls of granola left and no intention of eating it with milk or yogurt. :(

I was saved by the wonderful Nigella Lawson and her granola muffins recipe: it was easy and quick, and in her recipes I trust completely. When I weighed my granola, I had exactly 252g of it – I turned the oven on immediately. :D

The muffins turned out tender and tasted delicious – it was a great way to use up the unwanted granola. I think that a bit of cinnamon would have done wonders for them – just a hint to any of you who might have a jar of granola begging to be used, too.

Granola muffins
from the always delicious Feast: Food That Celebrates Life

1 ½ cups (210g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (240ml) buttermilk*
1 large egg
¾ cup (130g) light brown sugar, packed
⅓ cup (80ml) canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g granola

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl whisk together the buttermilk, egg, sugar, oil and vanilla. Pour liquid mixture into dry mixture and stir just until combined; do not overmix. Add granola and stir just until blended.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake until risen and golden brown, about 25 minutes. Carefully remove muffins from pan and place on a rack until cool enough to handle. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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

Makes 12

Friday, September 19, 2014

Rye and stout bread and food waste

Rye and stout bread / Pão de centeio e cerveja stout

I was watching Save with Jamie the other day and besides the delicious recipes (I drooled over his beautiful panzanella and have been dreaming about the beef rendang with homemade chapatis, yum! ) I find it really great that he shows (with numbers) the insane amount of food that goes to waste for absolutely no reason – the show takes place in England, but I know that here in Brazil things are not any different.

I had to take responsibility for my home at a very early age and since I did all the shopping and cooking I had to be smart: there were four of us and nothing could go to waste. Luckily for me my brother was the only picky eater among us: my father and sister ate pretty much anything I cooked, and because they were fearless eaters I could experiment and try new things whenever I wanted to.

Leftover rice and pasta were quickly transformed into fritters, leftover tomato salad was placed in the fridge to be added to tomato sauce some other time, leftover greens were folded into beaten eggs for a delicious omelet – that’s how I managed the kitchen back then, and that made me learn a lot about food, long before blogs, cookbooks and TV shows. That is why I love how Jamie shows people how to transform ingredients into something else entirely – his tips are great.

When I made Nigella’s stout cake a while ago there was some leftover beer and since I wasn’t going to drink it I had to do something useful with it, and this bread was the result: I avoided wasting expensive beer and we had delicious open sandwiches for lunch, made with freshly baked bread – if that’s not a wonderful thing I don’t know what is. :)

Rye and stout bread
slightly adapted from the always gorgeous Gourmet Traveller

150g rye flour
1 teaspoon dried yeast
100ml stout beer
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon table salt, divided use
1 cup (240ml) lukewarm water
350g all purpose flour

Combine rye flour, yeast, beer, molasses, ½ teaspoon of the salt and water in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Set aside in a warm place until foaming (5-8 minutes), add all purpose flour and remaining salt and knead until smooth (5 minutes). Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size (1 ½ - 2 hours).

Line a large baking sheet with foil. Knock back dough and knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth, dusting with flour if necessary. Divide in half, then roll each half into a smooth ball. Dust top with a bit of flour, transfer to the prepared sheet, cover with a tea towel and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size (1 hour).
In the meantime, preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Bake until loaves are deep golden and sound hollow when tapped (30-40 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack, cool slightly, then serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 2 small loaves

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lemon cheesecake tartlets - recipe with a video

Lemon cheesecake tartlets / Tortinhas de cheesecake de limão siciliano

Months ago, my sister told me she had to do a project for school: she and her colleagues would have to create a recipe video and she asked for my help. :)

The kids – they’re twenty years old, I call them kids – came to my house on a Saturday and we had an amazing afternoon together. We recorded the video – actually, they recorded me making tartlets – and it was a lot of fun (and a lot of work, too).

By the end of the session, I served cake and cookies to my guests and they told my sister that from that moment on they wanted to do all the future projects at my house. :D

So here it is: the video and the recipe right after it. I hope you enjoy watching my freckled hands in action! :)

Lemon cheesecake tartlets
slightly adapted from the always beautiful Donna Hay magazine

100g digestive cookies
30g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 cup cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup sour cream*
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 egg
100g raspberries

Butter six 8cm-tartlet pans (with removable bottoms). Place the cookies in a food processor and blitz until ground. Add the butter and process to combine. With your fingertips, press the mixture into the pans and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, salt, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk in the egg, then pour it over the base. Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly firm. Cool completely then refrigerate for 1 hour.
Dust with icing sugar, pop with the raspberries and serve.

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

Makes 6

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Back from vacation with apricot jam cake

Apricot jam cake / Bolo de geleia de damasco

Hello, everyone!

I am back after spending wonderful vacation days in Spain: beautiful places, delicious food and massive amounts of Cava. :D

I returned home very happy, but also a couple of pounds heavier, even though I walked around a lot while I was there – one can’t eat all that jamón and pan con tomate and get away with it, right? :) I intend to eat lots of vegetables and fruit in the weeks to come (there’s a huge pot of vegetable soup already in my fridge), but I know I can’t survive without a slice of cake on the weekend.

Moderation is my mantra. ;)

If you’re like me, may I suggest this jam cake? It tastes delicious and it is very tender – don’t worry if the center sinks a bit, it’s totally OK because of the weight of the jam added to the batter. I haven’t tried it with other jam flavors, but I believe it would work with something sharp, not too sweet.

Apricot jam cake
from one of my favorite cookbooks

1 ½ cups (210g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, softened
150g light brown sugar
1 cup apricot jam
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons sour cream

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 20cm (8in) square cake pan, line the bottom with baking paper, butter the paper as well and flour everything, removing the excess.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the jam until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally.
Add the sour cream and mix until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until golden, risen and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool completely in the pan. Carefully unmold, remove the paper and invert onto a serving plate.

* 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

Monday, September 1, 2014

Monte Carlos - beautiful and delicious

Monte Carlos

Since I'm all for food that looks beautiful, it won't come as a surprise for you that the minute I saw these cookies I had to make them: delicate and pretty, they looked like miniature versions of a Victoria sandwich, with the cream and jam layers.

When I tried one cookie, I noticed that they weren't just pretty: they were delicious as well. The beautiful and flavorsome combo reminded me of The Great British Bake Off and how annoying Paul Hollywood was on the fourth season, telling one contestant over and over again that she was a case of "style over substance" - needless to say, by the end of that season I couldn't stand the show anymore.

These cookies, my friends, are definitely not a case of style over substance - they are cute and taste great. Give these a go and let me know if you agree with me.

Monte Carlos
slightly adapted from the beautiful and delicious The Baking Collection (The Australian Women's Weekly)

200g all purpose flour
100g whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
40g desiccated unsweetened coconut
185g unsalted butter, softened
110g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

60g unsalted butter, softened
120g icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons whole milk, room temperature
about 50g blackberry jam

Preheat the oven to 180°/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, salt and coconut. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and creamy. Beat in the egg. On low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.
For each cookie, roll 1 leveled tablespoon of dough , place 2,5cm (1in) apart onto prepared sheets and flatten with a fork. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden on the edges. Cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then slide the paper with the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.

Cream filling: using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla and light and fluffy. Beat in milk.

Spread jam in half the cookies and cream in the remaining half, then sandwich them together.

Makes 22 sandwich cookies

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