Thursday, October 20, 2016

Linguine with creamy tomato, thyme, caper and bacon sauce

Linguine with creamy tomato, caper, thyme and bacon sauce / Linguine com molho cremoso de tomate, alcaparra, tomilho e bacon

I believe that many of you reading me right now reach for a pasta package whenever there is the need of having food on the table in little to no time – I am guilty of that and I am not ashamed of it. :)

I make pasta often not only because of how fast it is: Joao and I love it and it is so versatile I can combine it with several different flavors and types of sauce. I saw this version of a tomato sauce on Olive magazine and it was so simple I had to try it: the sauce is delicious, the acidity of the tomatoes is softened by the addition of cream and the capers add a briny, salty touch to the sauce. Thyme is my favorite herb and one I love pairing with tomato.

Linguine with creamy tomato, thyme, caper and bacon sauce
slightly adapted from the always great Olive magazine

4 slices of bacon, cut into ½ cm pieces
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons capers – soak them in cold water for 15 minutes before using, then drain
3 tablespoons heavy cream
200g linguine

In a medium saucepan, over high heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Remove from the pan and set over paper towels. Remove the excess fat from the saucepan, leaving 1 tablespoon. On that fat, cook the garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the thyme and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, crush them with a potato masher, then fill the can by half with water and add to the tomatoes. Add the sugar, season with salt and pepper and cook partially covered, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until thickened.

In the meantime, cook the linguine in salted boiling water until al dente.

Stir in capers and cream and then cook for 3 minutes. Drain the linguine and toss with the sauce. Serve at once sprinkled with the bacon bits.

Serves 2

Friday, October 14, 2016

Spiced apple cake

Spiced apple cake / Bolo de maçã com especiarias

I was telling you the other day about how the food magazines I subscribe to fulfill my need for new recipes and inspiration – they indeed to. I subscribe to a handful of magazines – the digital versions made it easy and cheaper and no more issues lost in the way (I got addicted). I had sworn that I would not subscribe to other magazines, but then I got an offer from Zinio to get 12 issues of Martha’s magazine for 5 dollars… I just did not resist it. ;)

The latest issue celebrates the fall and Thanksgiving, so among all the beautiful pies there I found this spiced apple cake, which was perfect for my Saturday baking: I had apples and heavy cream begging to be used. I tweaked the recipe just a little bit and ended up with a moist, tender and delicious cake – it perfumed my whole apartment for hours after it was baked.

I never tire of apple cakes and this one is definitely a keeper.

Spiced apple cake
slightly adapted from Martha’s magazine

2 Granny Smith apples (about 200g each)
juice of 1 large lime or 1 large lemon
2 cups (280g) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
½ cup (120ml) canola oil
½ cup sour cream*
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 ¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons demerara sugar, for sprinkling over the apples

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 20x30cm (12x8in) baking pan and line it with foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Butter the foil as well.
Peel and core the apples, then cut them in half and cut each half lengthwise in thin slices. Place them in a medium bowl and toss them in the lemon juice.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the butter, oil and sour cream.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk eggs until light and thick. Gradually mix in the granulated sugar by the sides of the bowl, to avoid losing the air incorporated in the eggs – you do not want to disinflate the mixture. Whisk in the vanilla, then continue whisking until mixture is thick and glossy.
On slow speed, mix in the dry ingredients in two additions, alternating with the butter/oil/sour cream mixture. Mix only until combined – do not overmix.
Spread batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Arrange the apple slices on top of the batter and push them into the batter slightly. Sprinkle with the demerara sugar. Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden and risen and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack before 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 18

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Marjoram orange roast chicken

Marjoram orange roast chicken / Frango assado com manjerona e laranja

I was thinking the other day about how drastically I have decreased my cookbook purchase addiction – maybe because of how much bigger my workload is compared to years ago, maybe because the food magazines I subscribe fill that need for inspiration and new recipes, maybe because some books were such disappointments (I am speaking to you, Ms. Lawson)…

My last purchase, as far as I recall, was on Oct 20 last year – this is definitely a new world record or something. :)
However, when I saw that Diana Henry had a new book coming out, I could not wait until I had it in my hands, for I am a huge fan of her beautiful work, plus she is a total dear and have spoken to me on Twitter a few times, even saying “obrigada” in Portuguese once. <3

The book is stunning and the recipes look delicious – and are simple, like the name of the book says. I love that. I decided to start with a chicken recipe and used Diana’s as inspiration, however I made it even simpler than hers. It was indeed delicious and the chicken meat was falling off the bones after a night spent in the fridge swimming in the flavorsome marinade.

Maybe I am cured from my cookbook addiction? I don’t know. What I know is that next time Diana publishes a new cookbook I will have it on my Ipad on the very same day. ;)

Marjoram orange roast chicken
adapted from the beautiful Simple

handful of fresh marjoram leaves, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed then finely chopped
2 oranges
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs

In a bowl, mix the marjoram leaves, the garlic, finely grated zest and juice of 1 of the oranges, the olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (overnight is great).

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a medium roasting tray with a double layer of foil and coat the foil with olive oil. Slice the remaining orange and arrange the slices on top of the foil. Arrange the chicken over the orange slices and pour over the marinade. Roast for about 60-80 minutes or until golden and cooked through – time might vary depending on how golden you like your chicken.

Serves 2

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Peanut butter and raspberry mini cakes and the fantastic "The Night Of"

Peanut butter and raspberry mini cakes / Mini bolinhos de manteiga de amendoim e framboesa

Weeks ago I told you I had dropped River because it made me feel miserable – I wanted something to cheer me up, not to bring me down.
Cut to a couple of days later and I started watching The Night Of – yes, I know, I don’t even understand myself, I don’t expect you to. :)

What an amazing TV show. What a fantastic cast – John Turturro was born to play John Stone, and I found him even more perfect for the part after reading that the first choice to play the lawyer had been James Gandolfini, and after Gandolfini died Robert DeNiro got cast. The movie gods were really watching this show, since that failed too. In my head those two actors would never be able to do John Stone justice – they lack the frailty that is so important in the character. I can’t imagine Galdonfini, so big, tall and with that characteristic loud and strong voice playing John Stone.

I can’t imagine Gandolfini doing what Philip Seymour Hoffman did with his Truman Capote.

I loved the show as a whole – writing, directing, cast, everything was beautifully put together, so perfectly as I hadn’t seen in quite a while (Breaking Bad comes to my mind, as you can imagine). Yes, the show was depressingly sad and dark and each night I would go to sleep with it engraved in my mind, but it was so great I could not drop it as I had done with River. Having some chocolate around for after each episode of The Night Of is the tip I give you – these mini cakes are a good idea, too (and the raspberries can be replaced by pieces of dark chocolate for a nice variation of the recipe).

Peanut butter and raspberry mini cakes
slightly adapted from this cookbook

3 eggs
200g smooth peanut butter
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
100ml whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons (30g) all purpose flour
about ½ cup fresh or frozen (unthawed) raspberries – I used 4 in each mini cake

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Generously butter and then flour a 12-hole muffin pan.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and the peanut butter until smooth. Whisk in the sugar, oil, baking soda, baking powder, salt, milk and vanilla until smooth. Fold in the flour. Divide the mixture between the holes of the muffin pan. Top the batter with the raspberries, dividing them among the cakes, gently prodding them into their middles.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until they are golden and puffed and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the cakes from the pan and transfer to the rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream if you want.

Makes 12

Monday, September 12, 2016

Nigel Slater’s brownies

Nigel Slater's brownies / Brownies do Nigel Slater

Remember that I told you that some recipes get stuck in my head forever? One of them was this brownie recipe by Nigel Slater – I saw it on many, many blogs, people seemed to go crazy over them. However, I kept postponing making the recipe since it required creaming butter and sugar together, something I just do not associate with making brownies (the fact that it called for 250g of butter and 300g of sugar for a 23cm pan made me cringe, too).

The day came when I finally made them, and accordingly to my husband, who doesn’t like sweets but tastes all the brownies I make, these are the best brownies I made in quite a while. I must confess I did not go crazy for them (sorry, Nigel): too much work for this result. I like brownies recipes that are practical and fast and require no thinking ahead – melting the butter is always a plus when you forgot to take it out of the fridge.

These brownies are good, but nothing I would make again – but since my husband praised them so much I decided to share the recipe with you. I have cut down the sugar slightly (for I did not have 70% chocolate around), doubled the amount of chopped chocolate folded in the batter and also used a 20x30cm pan – when I looked at the amount of batter in the bowl I was sure it would never fit a 23cm square pan.

Nigel Slater’s brownies
Slightly adapted rom the one and only Nigel Slater, recipe found here

200g dark chocolate, finely chopped – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
60g all purpose flour
60g unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
250g unsalted butter, softened
250g granulated sugar
100g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
3 large eggs + 1 egg yolk, all lightly whisked with a fork
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 20x30cm (8x12in) metal baking pan, line it with foil leaving an overhang in two opposite sides and butter the foil as well.

Place the 200g finely chopped chocolate in a bowl and melt over a pan of simmering water, without letting the bowl touch the water. Remove from the heat and cool. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and creamy. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in the eggs gradually, and scrape the sides of the bowl between additions. Beat in the vanilla. On slow speed, mix in the melted chocolate. Fold in the dry ingredients and the coarsely chopped chocolate – mixture will be thick. Spread it evenly into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top will have risen slightly but the middle is still soft – a toothpick inserted in the center should come out sticky, but not with raw mixture. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Cut into squares to serve.

Serves 24

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