Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cream cheese and blueberry cake

Cream cheese and blueberry cake / Bolo de cream cheese e mirtilo

I have been busy at the kitchen again – thank heavens! – but I haven’t found the time to sit down and write posts – so, my apologies for those of you who have stopped by lately only to stare at the red wine cake for ages. :S

And a special hug to Ellen, a lovely and dear reader who makes the recipes and always sends me the sweetest and warmest comments. <3

A couple of weeks ago I was going through beautiful recipes online and found Emiko’s mascarpone and blackberry cake – it looked so beautiful! I felt like grabbing a slice from the screen, but since that is (still) not possible I went to the kitchen and made my version of her cake, changing a few things: there was a tub of cream cheese in my fridge begging to be used and a bag of blueberries in the freezer. The result was wonderful and pleased everyone who had a chance of snacking on it.

Cream cheese and blueberry cake
slightly adapted from Emiko Davies’ gorgeous blog

Blueberry compote:
1 cup (140g) blueberries – I used frozen, unthawed
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 ½ cups (210g) all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon table salt
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
180g cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons Cointreau (optional)

Start by making the compote: place the blueberries and sugar in a small saucepan and warm until the berries soften and the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes – stir occasionally. Squash the berries with the back of a spoon as you stir. Cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 5 ½ cup-capacity loaf pan, line it with baking paper and butter the paper as well.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Add the butter and cream cheese and cream until light and fluffy – scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and the Cointreau (if using). On low speed, add the flour mixture mixing only until incorporated – do not overmix.

Pour the cake into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Top with the blueberries, keeping most of the juice (so the cake don’t get soggy). Swirl the berries through the cake with a butter knife. Smooth out the top without mixing too much.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Serves 8

Friday, April 29, 2016

Red wine chocolate cake and Vincent, again

Red wine chocolate cake / Bolo de chocolate e vinho tinto

Days ago I finished watching season 2 of Daredevil and despite all the action the Punisher brought to the show I did not like this season as much as I liked the first one – the whole Elektra thing? Oh, so boring.

I was about to give up on the show when Vincent D’Onofrio showed up: it is no secret how much I love the guy and I might be a bit biased here, but the two episodes he was in were the best in the entire season – that is what a talented actor can do to a show/movie. He added even more depth to a character played by him to perfection on the previous season and also created great dynamic with Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle – they were wonderful together.

The eternal Bob Goren added a wonderful layer to a show I was no longer very much excited about, even if for two episodes – after he appeared on the show, it became instantly more interesting. This is what the red wine does to the chocolate cake I bring you today: you cannot quite taste the flavor of it, but it adds depth to the chocolate flavor making it more intense, on top of making the texture insanely tender. Cheers!

Red wine chocolate cake
slightly adapted from the beautiful and delicious Delicious. Love to Cook

200g all purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder + a bit extra to dust the pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon table salt
200g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g dark chocolate, melted and cooled – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
½ cup (120ml) whole milk, room temperature
½ cup (120ml) red wine, room temperature

2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons whole milk, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Generously butter a 10-cup capacity Bundt pan and dust it with cocoa powder, knocking off the excess. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes until very creamy and pale. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition – scrape the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. On low speed, beat in the melted chocolate until combined. Still on low speed, beat in half of the flour mixture, then the milk and the wine, then the remaining flour mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix only until incorporated.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until risen and until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 15 minutes, then carefully unmold onto the rack and cool completely.

Glaze: place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and cook them over a medium-high heat, stirring, until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Boil for 2-3 minutes or until shiny and thick. Remove from the heat, cool for 2-3 minutes, then pour over cake.

Serves 8-10

Monday, April 25, 2016

Cranberry and peanut oatmeal cookies

Cranberry and peanut oatmeal cookies / Cookies de aveia com cranberries e amendoim

One quick look at the blog’s recipe index and one can quickly learn that I love oatmeal cookies – I have made them in many different ways, with many different add on ingredients, and they are always a crowd pleaser (not to mention are great to have on hand for a snack between meals).

There are many recipes on this blog, and today I bring you another – these are delicious, and the salty and crunchy peanuts go very well with the sweet and tender cranberries. I highly recommend you bake these if you like oatmeal cookies like I do – and the peanuts and cranberries can be swapped by other nuts and dried fruits – , but I feel the obligation to tell you that of all the oatmeal cookies on this blog the ones I made for last year’s Christmas series are my favorites. :)

From a cookbook I haven’t used much and I hope to change that – fingers crossed here for the cold weather to finally come our way.

Cranberry and peanut oatmeal cookies
slightly adapted from this cookbook

½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
½ cup (88g) packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
pinch table salt
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 ¼ cups (112g) old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup (85g) dried cranberries
½ cup (70g) whole salted, roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until creamy and light in color, 1-2 minutes. Add the egg, mixing well, and then add the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Add them to the butter-sugar mixture along with the oats and mix on low just until combined. Add the dried cranberries and peanuts. Mix on low briefly until well distributed.

Drop 2 leveled tablespoons of dough per cookie onto the prepared pans, 5cm (2in) apart. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, or until they’re golden-brown around the edges but still soft. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then carefully slide the paper with the cookies onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Makes about 22

Monday, April 11, 2016

Crumb cake with orange marmalade and "Girls"

Crumb cake with orange marmalade / Bolo com geleia de laranja e cobertura streusel

I am here today to make a confession: after trying a couple of times to watch Girls, I finally binge watched the show on a weekend while in bed with a cold. As I watched the episodes, it became clearer to me why I’d hated it in the past: I had a hard time believing that people could be that stupid. I tried to remember things from my twenties and I kept thinking that well, thank heavens I did nothing (or almost nothing) like those girls. I finally understood the reason why watching Girls made me suffer so much: it bothered me to watch people making one mistake after the other, making one bad choice after another.

Maybe that makes a bad person. I don’t know. :S

I hope that I can make up for that by sharing baked goods with the people I love, like I did with this cake: I used orange marmalade and found it that its bitter taste went really well with the sweet of the cake batter and the topping, but if you’re not into bitter flavors swap the marmalade for any other jam you prefer.

Crumb cake with orange marmalade
slightly adapted from the always wonderful Food & Wine magazine

Streusel topping:
½ cup (88g) light brown sugar, packed
½ cup (70g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon table salt
4 tablespoons (56g) unsalted butter, cold and diced

2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon table salt
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
¾ cup (180ml) whole milk
½ cup orange marmalade

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F and butter a deep 20cm (8in) square metal baking pan.

Topping: in a medium bowl, mix the brown sugar with the flour, cinnamon and salt. Add the 4 tablespoons of diced butter and, using your fingertips, rub the dry ingredients with the butter until evenly moistened, then press the mixture into clumps. Refrigerate the streusel until chilled, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the cake: in a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until fluffy, 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the side of the bowl, then beat in the dry ingredients and milk in 3 alternating batches, starting and ending with the dry ingredients, until just incorporated. Don’t overmix.

Transfer the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it in an even layer. Dollop the orange marmalade evenly over the batter and sprinkle the streusel evenly on top. Bake for about 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. (Some of the streusel will sink into the cake.) Transfer the pan to a rack and let the cake cool completely in the pan. Cut into squares and serve.

Makes 16

Monday, March 28, 2016

Spaghetti with meat and aubergine balls

Spaghetti with meat and aubergine balls / Espaguete com almôndegas de carne e berinjela

I once told you that meatballs are a huge success at home, and I was not lying: I make them quite often, and always pop some of them (still uncooked) in the freezer – they can go to the oven directly from frozen, making my life a lot easier during weeknights (+ my husband can do that himself, which is always a plus). :)

I have posted meatballs made of beef, and meatballs made of eggplant, and today I present you a merge between those two kinds: eggplants get roasted, then their pulp is mixed with beef to create delicious, moist meatballs – they were very flavorsome and turned the spaghetti into something even more special.

Since this is a recipe by Antonio Carluccio there was no way it could go wrong.

Spaghetti with meat and aubergine balls
from the always delicious and beautiful Pasta

400g spaghetti
freshly grated parmesan or pecorino, to serve

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
100ml dry red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
680g tomato passata
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
handful fresh basil leaves

2 whole aubergines
olive oil, for drizzling the aubergines and for shallow-frying
300g minced beef
1 garlic clove, peeled and squashed to a paste
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
50g parmesan, finely grated
1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork
100g fresh breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon table salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and brush it with olive oil. Cut the aubergines in half lengthwise and place them cut side up onto the foil. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and bake for 30-40 minutes. Scoop the pulp out of the skins, transfer to a large bowl and mash the pulp. Cool. Discard the skins.

While the aubergines are roasting, make the sauce: heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, and fry the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and tomato passata. Season with salt and pepper, add the sugar, stir well and cook gently for 30–40 minutes. Stir in the basil and remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, continue with the meatballs by mixing together the beef mince, the aubergine pulp, garlic, nutmeg, parmesan, egg and breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper, mix well and shape into balls. Shallow-fry in olive oil to brown on all sides. Add the balls to the tomato sauce and keep warm.
Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain. Mix the past and the sauce carefully and serve immediately sprinkled with parmesan or pecorino.

Serves 4

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