Friday, January 23, 2015

Lentil patties

Lentil patties / Bolinhos de lentilha

If you read my last post you already know that when I really like something I tend to cook or bake it quite often, and that doesn’t happen with sweets, only: I have my savory favorites as well, certain dishes I go back to again and again.

Lentil salad is one of those dishes, especially on hot days because it tastes so great straight from the fridge and the flavor develops beautifully after a night spent in it. After a couple of days, however, I did not want to made another salad with the cooked lentils I had in the fridge – I felt like making something completely different with them. Martha came to my rescue, and the lentils were transformed into these delicious patties.

I loved these, for I love lentils in just about anything, but the surprise of the day was my husband’s comment about the patties: he was never a fan of lentils and he told me that these could perfectly replace the beef patties in a burger. I was shocked – and really happy. :)

Lentil patties
slightly adapted from Martha

280g cooked lentils, drained and cooled
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
½ onion, finely diced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs or Panko
handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil, for frying

Combine lentils, cumin, olive oil and vinegar in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add the onion, eggs, breadcrumbs, and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Transfer half of mixture to a food processor; pulse until smooth. Fold into remaining lentil mixture until well combined. Shape into patties, using 3 tablespoons of the mixture per patty - I used this cookie scoop to portion the mixture.

Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and swirl to coat bottom. Add patties in a single layer, working in batches if necessary. Cook, turning once, until crisp and brown, about 4 minutes each side.
Serve with a salad.

Makes about 10

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Almond cake (with homemade marzipan)

Almond cake (with homemade marzipan) / Bolo de amêndoa (com marzipã caseiro)

As I flipped through a few cookbooks and magazines searching for inspiration, I thought of how I am attracted to similar recipes, over and over again – I can’t resist a brownie, I make oatmeal cookies quite often, and every time I see a citrus cake recipe I immediately bookmark it.

It might be a matter of taste, or it is because I seem to have the same ingredients at home time and time again, but I sometimes even tell myself that I will bake something different, only to end up making one of the favorites above.

Another recipe I cannot resist? Almond cakes – I’d probably make almond cakes every week if could. This recipe came in very handy for I’d made marzipan for a cookie recipe for my Christmas series (from this book), but the recipe failed miserably and I had to use up the marzipan left quickly.

This cake is easy to make, moist and absolutely delicious – if you’re nuts for almond cakes like me you should give it a go.

Almond cake (with homemade marzipan)
slightly adapted from the delicious and beautiful A La Grecque: Our Greek table

½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 orange
finely grated zest of 1 lime
250g unsalted butter, room temperature
200g marzipan, chopped – I used homemade
4 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup (45g) all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
½ cup (60g) flaked almonds

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Butter a 20x7cm (8x3in) round cake pan with a removable bottom, line the bottom with a circle of baking paper and butter it as well.

Place sugar, orange and lime zest in the bowl of an electric mixer and rub together until sugar is fragrant. Add butter and beat until pale and fluffy. Add the marzipan, beating well until it is completely incorporated.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and fold into the cake mixture. Spoon into the cake pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with flaked almonds. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden and cooked (a skewer inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean).
Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Carefully unmold and serve.

Serves 8-10

Monday, January 19, 2015

Meatballs alla Norma

Meatballs alla Norma / Almôndegas alla Norma

As someone who loves anything related to food, I love reading about it, making and eating it (obviously), but I also find it amazing to talk about it with different people and learn what they like, what they don’t like and how their tastes change with time.

I have those conversations with my husband all the time, and he tells me about the food he ate as a kid, things he loved and things he couldn’t stand, how it took him so long to appreciate all sorts of vegetables, and that his mother would be really glad to see him finally eating like an adult (she passed away in 2011).

Every time Joao and I talk about those things I feel more inspired to cook, and when he asked me to make meatballs – one of his all time favorite dishes – I remembered Jamie Oliver’s meatballs alla Norma and thought that a bit of eggplant in the meatballs wouldn’t hurt.

I love eggplant. :)

The eggplant sauce tasted divine with the meatballs; Jamie served his over polenta, but since it was too hot here I went with spaghetti instead and some bread to mop up the sauce – a simple yet delicious meal that I get to replicate anytime I want with the meatballs I stashed in my freezer.

Meatballs alla Norma
slightly adapted from the always delicious Save with Jamie: Shop Smart, Cook Clever, Waste Less

Meatballs – recipe here

Sauce:
1 large eggplant
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 400g (14oz) can diced tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
handful fresh basil leaves

Dice the eggplant into 1.5 cm cubes, then season well with salt and leave for 15 min in a colander.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking sheet with a double layer of foil and brush it with olive oil. Place the meatballs onto the prepared sheet and bake until firm and cooked through (about 30 minutes) – bake as many as you want, the recipe yields about 25 meatballs. You can freeze uncooked meatballs for up to 2 months and bake them directly from frozen.

While the meatballs are in the oven, make the sauce: take handfuls of the eggplant and squeeze out the excess salty liquid, then put into a saucepan on a medium heat with a lug of oil to cook for 10 min, or until golden, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in the sweet chili sauce and balsamic, add the tomatoes and 3 tablespoons water. Season with salt and black pepper, then simmer for 10-15 min, or until thickened. Stir in the basil and remove from the heat.

Add the meatballs to the sauce and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Friday, January 16, 2015

St. Clement’s posset

St. Clement's posset / Potinhos de São Clemente

I try to eat in a healthy way most of my days, with a brownie or a cookie here and there, and even though it doesn’t look like it I don’t eat dessert every day, and when I do I try not to go overboard with it.

I adore possets for I’m a big fan of citrus flavors, but I don’t make them frequently because well, they’re not exactly lean: the dessert is purely heavy cream flavored with something (I’m aware of that, people). ;) There are, however, occasions that call for something special and easy to put together, and those are the days when a posset is most welcome.

Today’s recipe is something I saw on a Jamie Oliver magazine and it was the dessert I served for New Year’s Eve dinner – I made the posset in a matter of moments! The glasses sat beautifully in the fridge while I focused on the savory side of my dinner.

I love both oranges and lemons, they’re delicious together – in cake form as well – and the posset was a very refreshing finish to a delicious and celebratory meal in a very hot night.

St. Clement’s posset
from the always delicious Jamie Oliver magazine

400ml heavy cream
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (80g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
finely grated zest of 1 orange
¼ cup (60ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Put the cream, sugar and lemon and orange zests in a saucepan over a medium-high heat. Bring to the boil and cook for 3 minutes. Add all the juices, bring back to the boil and continue to cook for another 3 minutes.

Pass the mixture through a fine sieve and let it cool slightly (to avoid cracking the glasses in which you’ll serve the posset). Pour it straight into 4 small wine glasses. Allow it to set for at least 3 hours in the fridge, or overnight.

Serves 4

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lime, ginger and coconut drizzle cake + the Golden Globes

Lime, ginger and coconut drizzle cake / Bolo de coco, limão e gengibre

I was up till 2 am this morning watching the Golden Globe Awards but it was worth it: some of my favorites won (The Affair, Ruth Wilson, Kevin Spacey), some of my favorites did not win (Steve Carell, Rosamund Pike), but overall I though the winners really deserved the awards (unlike previous years).

I did not understand, though, Fargo and Billy Bob taking the Globe home for I strongly believed that True Detective and Matthew were impossible to beat (I haven’t seen Fargo for I really don’t like the movie).

When it comes to award shows surprises can be a good thing, but when I’m in the kitchen I prefer to stick to what I trust – in this case, the Good Food magazine. Everything I’ve made from it turned out great, and this cake is no exception: the limes and the ginger add a refreshing touch to the good old lemon drizzle cake, and it turned out so tender it was hard to slice.

And to make things even better, there’s coconut in the batter as well – yum!

Lime, ginger and coconut drizzle cake
slightly adapted from Good Food magazine

Cake:
175g granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 3 limes
200g unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
200g all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 rounded teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of salt
50g desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
2 tablespoons milk
juice of 1 ½ limes

Drizzle:
juice of 1 ½ limes
1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 20x10cm (8x4in) loaf pan, line it with baking paper and butter the paper as well.

Place sugar and lime zest in the bowl of an electric mixer and rub them together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Add butter and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, mixing well between each addition.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, ground ginger and salt in a medium bowl. Using a spatula, fold into the cake mixture with the coconut and chopped ginger. Add the milk and lime juice and mix until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.

Bake for 60-70 minutes or until risen and golden brown – a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes.
Use a wooden skewer to make holes all over the cake. Mix the drizzle ingredients and slowly spoon the sugary mixture over the top of the warm cake and leave in the pan until completely cold.

Serves 8

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