Saturday, December 30, 2006

Baked carbonara

I’m a walking contradiction. Although I don’t eat red meat and can’t stand pork, I love bacon... :D
I’d been meaning to prepare this recipe for quite some time but João (my husband) doesn’t like cream so I always decided to prepare pasta with other types of sauce.
That day I decided to give it a try. After cooking the pasta, I prepared some for him with different ingredients and made the recipe with the remaining pasta. I loved it!
A simple, delicious and quick to put together dish that I’ll be certainly making again.

Baked carbonara

400g ziti or fettuccine – I used Barilla's Maccheronci
4 rashers of bacon, chopped
4 eggs
500ml cream
375ml milk - I used low fat

50g grated parmesan cheese
Cook the pasta until al dente; drain.
Cook the bacon until crisp – I always use the microwave oven for this ‘cause the bacon gets crispier this way.
Whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, parmesan and salt.

Place the pasta in a 2 liter capacity ovenproof dish and top with the bacon and the egg mixture.
Bake in a pre-heated oven (180ºC) for 30 minutes or until set – my pasta needed 35 minutes in a 200ºC oven.
Serves 4.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Cherry chocolate truffles

There’s only one word good enough to describe these truffles: perfect!!!
The amounts of cream and chocolate are exact and you’ll get a firm mixture, great to be molded.

Haalo, from Cook (almost) anything at least once – stop whatever you’re doing and go check her blog now – made these truffles using poached cherries. She even teaches us how to poach cherries.
Unfortunately, I wouldn’t have time to do that so I used glacé cherries instead and even though the result was very good I’m still curious and I’ll make them with poached cherries too.
I couldn’t find the beautiful edible glitters she used to dust her truffles, so I had to improvise: I added edible golden powder (which is thinner than glitter) to cocoa powder and used it to coat my truffles – I thought they would look very Christmassy.

I liked these truffles so much that I already have other delicious filling ideas in mind, yum…

Haalo, thanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe with us!

Cherry chocolate truffles

12 poached cherries, drained – I used glacé cherries

White chocolate ganache:
40g white chocolate, chopped
15ml cream

Dark chocolate ganache:
150g dark chocolate, chopped - I used semisweet Callebaut that is made in Brazil with Belgian cocoa mass
60ml cream

edible red glitter and gold glitter, for dusting

Place the chocolate and cream into a small pan and over a low heat, keep stirring until chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and silky. Pour into a small bowl and allow to cool before storing in the fridge to harden.
For the dark ganache, proceed the same way as above.

Take small amounts of white ganache and roll into small cylinder shapes. Place this inside the cherries where you'd normally find their stones. Store in the fridge until ready to proceed to the next stage.
Take tablespoons of the dark chocolate ganache and roll between your palms to soften slightly, then flatten it out to form a circle. Encase the cherries inside this ganache circle - roll it around your palms to form an invisible seal. You may want/need to use gloves for this stage as the chocolate is quite sensitive to heat.
Place this on lined tray while you continue with the remaining cherries. Store them in the fridge to harden slightly.

Take two bowls and sprinkle some edible red glitter and edible gold glitter into each. Coat each truffle in the red before giving it a brief coating in the gold. When finished, place in the fridge until ready to serve (mine didn’t stay in the fridge).

Truffles ready to be delivered:

Makes 12 truffles

Thursday, December 21, 2006



I sent these snickerdoodles with the chocottones, as part of the same gift. You'll think I'm shallow but when I saw these cookies' name I knew I had to bake them!
Reading the recipe I found out that the dough had to be rolled in sugar and cinnamon before going to the oven - perfect for me, a cinnamon lover.

Full of flavor and quick to prepare - you just make balls of dough, roll them in the cinnamon mixture and bake them. People who are used to making "brigadeiros" (a very traditional type of candy here in Brazil) will make these cookies with their eyes closed.



2 3/4 cups (385g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
1 cup (226g) butter, softened
2 eggs
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cinnamon mixture:
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 205ºC (400°F). Combine all dough ingredients in large bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.
Stir together 3 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.
Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into 2.5cm (1-inch) balls; roll in sugar mixture.
Place 5cm (2 inches) apart from each other - the cookies spread a lot - onto lined cookie sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned (the center will be a little soft)
Leave them in the sheets until they're cold.

Makes 55-60 cookies

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Vanilla sable biscuit

I wanted a good cookie recipe to make for Christmas gifts. I read so many recipes, searched so many websites... I even sent Valentina and Cinara e-mails asking for help. I needed cookies that would stay crunchy longer - and that would also look cute.
I found this recipe - in case you don't know this blog, you should go there now. It's full of good recipes and beautiful photographs.
Jenjen filled her cookies with ganache, but I skipped this part to get fresh cookies for more days. I will certainly try it, though.

I was very happy with the result: they were buttery and delicious, without being overpowering. The recipe didn't call for it, but I used real vanilla extract - a lovely gift from a lovely friend - and the wonderful perfume was all over my kitchen.

Vanilla sable biscuit

450g plain all purpose flour
50g cornflour or cornstarch
400g butter, diced and at room temperature
200g confectioner’s (icing) sugar
4 egg yolks
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract - optional

Before baking the cookies, preheat oven to 160°C. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Sift the flour and cornflour into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the butter and sugar.
Work together with your fingertips until no hard lumps remain.
Add the egg yolks, (the vanilla, if using) and salt, drawing in the flour. Work until the dough resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Do not over work the dough.
Roll the pastry into a log and refrigerate for two hours.
Remove from fridge and carefully roll the dough out to a thickness of about 6mm. Cut out desired shapes using a cookie cutter.
Place on lined baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until just golden on the edges.

Makes 85-90 cookies (my cookie cutter is 5cm)

Monday, December 18, 2006


I wanted to make a gift for a friend who has 3 children. So I decided to bake a big chocottone and 3 mini-chocottones, all of them decorated with rolled fondant.

Chocottone is a panettone that has chocolate chips instead of glacéed fruits. I love it. But my dear friend Valentina says that "chocottone" is a word that makes her laugh... :D

I used cellophane bags, because the minicake boxes I had at home weren't the right size... If you decide to do it, too, wrap and deliver them right away - the heat inside the bags will make the fondant melt and your pretty decoration won't last...

I took a class about chocolate once (sponsored by a big chocolate company) and got the recipe there. If you want more recipes with chocolate, visit this site.


60g fresh yeast, crumbled
3 tablespoons sugar
200ml lukewarm milk
2 eggs
240g all purpose flour

150g butter, softened
80g sugar
4 egg yolks
1 egg
3 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon spices (cinnamon + nutmeg)
2 tablespoons rum - I used 1 tablespoon brandy
500g all purpose flour
300g semisweet chocolate chips

Make the sponge: in a large bowl, mixture yeast and sugar, then add milk, eggs and flour. Cover with plastic and let it rise for 30 minutes.

Beat butter, sugar, egg yolks, egg, honey, oil, spices and rum until you get a dense cream. Add this mixture to the sponge and gradually add the flour. Knead until dough becomes uniform - mine was very sticky, so I added 50g flour.
Cover with plastic and let it rise again for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough on a floured surface and sprinkle the chocolate chips. Roll it, divide it into 3 equal parts, form balls and place each one of them in paper panettone molds. Let it rise for 10 minutes - mine rose for 30, since I was making cookie dough and couldn't take my hands off it. :D

Bake in a pre-heated oven (180ºC) for 40 minutes or until golden brown.
When the chocottones are cool, wrap well in plastic wrap, then in parchment or tissue paper.
Store at room temperature.

Makes 3 500g chocottones - I got 2 550g chocottones + 6 110g mini-chocottones

Friday, December 15, 2006

Berry ice cream pudding

Berry ice cream pudding

I tried to bake a cake using artificial sweetener instead of sugar - a total DISASTER! It was the ugliest cake I'd ever seen in my entire life...
It would be impossible to prepare another sugarfree dessert in time - I had made Eton mess - and I started panicking; some of my readers know I'm a bit of a drama queen sometimes. :D
I suddenly remembered a Donna Hay magazine I received as a gift and it was my salvation: I saw this beautiful dessert, inspired by the traditional Christmas pudding, that called for vanilla ice cream and frozen berries - everything I had in my freezer!

I served it with a passion fruit syrup I had made for the cake.

The recipe below was taken from Donna Hay Magazine - issue 24. I didn't measure the ingredients precisely because of the amount of ice cream I had (less than 1 liter).

Berry ice cream pudding

Berry ice cream pudding
from Donna Hay magazine

2 liters store-bought vanilla ice cream, softened – I used diet, since one of my guests can’t have any sugar
185g frozen raspberries
185g frozen blueberries

Place the ice cream and the berries in a large bowl and mixture well to evenly distribute the berries.
Cover a loaf pan - or any other pan you prefer - with plastic and spoon the ice cream over it. Make it as even as possible.
Cover with plastic and place in the freezer for 3 hours.
Unmold, take the plastic off and serve with the syrup of your liking.

Serves 6

Berry ice cream pudding

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Gremolata crusted lamb racks

My dear readers, believe me: although not very nice looking, the lamb was very good - I don't eat red meat but tasted it out of curiosity. It was tender and juicy.
I was very disappointed with my butcher - and told him that - because the piece of meat he sent me wasn't what I was expecting. I had to bone it in order to serve it - I couldn't separate the cutlets

It was easier to get over the faux pas after the guests' compliments. :D
I served the lamb with a parmesan and black olive risotto, but there wasn't any left to take a picture...

This recipe was taken from this book - but I bet you saw that coming!

UPDATE - I made this dish again, with a really good piece of lamb. It was delicious!

Gremolata crusted lamb racks
from Modern Classics 1

30g chopped flat-leaf parsley
25g chopped mint - I omitted because my husband wouldn't eat it
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons salted capers, rinsed and chopped - I used capers in brine
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
80ml olive oil
2 x 375g trimmed racks of lamb*

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Mix the parsley, mint, lemon rind, capers, salt, pepper and oil until well combined. Press the mixture onto both sides of the lamb racks and place on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper.
Cook for 25-30 minutes or until the lamb is cooked to your liking.
Serve with crispy roast vegetables or a simple salad.

Serves 4.

*Ask your butcher to French trim the lamb racks, which involves removing all the fat from the bones.
I bought frozen racks, so I had to trim them myself. :S

Monday, December 11, 2006

Filled tomatoes

I love having people over for dinner/lunch. There's nothing better than preparing a special meal and then seeing empty plates and smiling faces - not to mention receiving compliments!

Our friends Thiago and Ludmila visited us again, this time to have lunch with us. It was a wonderful Sunday!

I chose this salad not only because of its flavor combinations, but also because of its looks. The recipe was taken from this fantastic book - not a surprise being Donna Hay's.
Btw, I used more Donna Hay's recipes for that meal - a huge success!!

Adding rocket was my idea.

Filled tomatoes
from Entertaining

4 tomatoes
4 bocconcini, sliced
33g shaved parmesan cheese – I omitted, since I was going to serve a parmesan and black olive risotto
basil leaves
a small bunch of rocket - optional
120ml balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons brown sugar – I omitted, since one of my guests can’t have any sugar
Sea salt and cracked black pepper

Cut slits almost completely through the tomatoes, leaving the bases intact. Fill with the bocconcini, parmesan and basil. Combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper and pour over the tomatoes. Allow to stand for as least 20 minutes – I skipped this part, because of the rocket (it would get wilted). Instead, I put the dressing in a sauce boat.

Serves 4 (or 2 very hungry people)

Friday, December 8, 2006

Pane alla cioccolata

I'd had an eye on this recipe for quite a while - every time I searched my, I thought of making this bread.

My food processor is really tiny, so I prepared the dough by hand.
It turned out to be an adventurous task! The dough was kind of liquid, like cake batter - therefore, impossible to be kneaded by hand.

Against my will, I added more flour and then kneaded the dough. I was so mad I cursed the recipe a thousand times. :D
It's one of the softest breads I've ever made. So tender. I ate one slice fresh from the oven and then took some to work.

Though it's not very clear on the photo, it's a braided bread (for the record: I liked it better without the chocolate topping).
Next time I bake this bread, I'll melt the chocolate and use a paper cone to decorate it - it will look a lot more like the bread on the website.

Pane alla cioccolata

350g bread flour – I used 100g more, aprox.
67g sugar
45g Dutch-processed cocoa + 2 tablespoons
2 1/4 teaspoons instant active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
320ml spring water, warmed to 100ºF
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
15g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
125g coarsely chopped high-quality semisweet chocolate

In a large bowl or food processor fitted with metal blade, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, yeast, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the water and egg yolk. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and stir or process to form a soft dough. By hand, on a lightly floured surface, knead butter into the dough and continue to knead until dough is smooth and supple - about 10 minutes - or in food processor, mix for 45 more seconds.
Proof the dough: Coat a large bowl with vegetable oil and add dough ball, turning to coat all sides of dough. Cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size - about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Turn out on a lightly floured surface, knead by hand a few moments, and divide dough into three equal pieces. Form each piece of dough into a tight 8-inch ball. Cover with the damp towel and let rest for 15 minutes. Roll each of the three balls into a 12-inch-long rope. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place the three ropes and form into a braid. Cover with the damp towel and let rise until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Dust the braided loaf with remaining cocoa. Bake in the center of the oven to a deep mahogany color -- about 40 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle chopped chocolate over the hot loaf, and place on a rack to cool.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Store in an airtight container.

Makes a 1kg loaf.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Bread boats

I've made this recipe over and over again for almost two years now (since I got married, actually). It's a delicious and quick to prepare snack - something good for weekends or those days when we don't feel like cooking "real food".
I got a recipe from a Brazilian cook, who is specialized in light food and food for diabetics, and changed it a little bit. She uses leeks instead of hearts of palm and then covers the snacks with whipped egg whites + cream cheese before taking them to the oven. I use pizza cheese and no eggs.

I haven't tried it yet, but I think this recipe can be transformed into bruschettas just by changing the type of bread.

Bread boats

2 small baguettes, or 1 big one, cut in half
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 hearts of palm, sliced
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
4 tablespoons water
100g pizza cheese, thinly sliced or grated
olive oil (extra)

Pre-heat the oven (220ºC).
In a small pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it's golden brown. Add the hearts of palm, season it and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the water, cover the pan and cook (low heat) until the hearts of palm are softer and the water is absorbed. If necessary, add more water.
Remove from heat and add the parsley.
Cut the baguettes in half, horizontally - this is when you get the "boats". Spread the hearts of palm mixture on each piece of bread and cover with cheese. Sprinkle with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is light golden.

Serves 2
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