Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Chocolate chip-stuffed cookies

Chocolate chip-stuffed cookies

I have been meaning to post a new recipe since yesterday but could not decide between sweet and savory… I finally made up my mind about it after I read Mrs. Presley’s post about chocolate chip cookies – btw, if you don’t know her blog yet, take a look; the recipes are really good, I have some on my "to try" list already.

She’s wants to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe and I’m here to make her search even more difficult. :)

These cookies are really good – you just need time and a little extra patience to put them together. I baked them on an absurdly hot day (what was I thinking??) and the dough was not as firm as the recipe claimed it to be – not to mention the cookies spread like crazy. Iago, my nephew, was such a brave sous chef: he stood in the kitchen with me, with all that heat, and helped me through all the mixing/shaping/stuffing/baking. Once we placed the first baking sheet in the oven, he said “can I have the first cookie?” - he did have the first cookie, and then 2 more. :)

Chocolate chip-stuffed cookies

Chocolate chip-stuffed cookies
from Big Fat Cookies

2 cups (280g) unbleached all purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened for about 30 minutes
1 ½ cups (240g) packed light brown sugar
2 large cold eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups (505g/18 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until smoothly blended, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until blended, about 1 minute. The mixture may look slightly curdled. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Mix in 2 cups (336g) of the chocolate chips.

Roll 2 tablespoons of dough between the palms of your hands into a ball, flatten it slightly to make a 2-inch (5cm) disk and place on one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat to make a total of 16 disks, placing 8 on each baking sheet and spacing them 4 inches (10cm) apart. Leaving a ¼-inch (6mm) plain edge, lightly press 1 tablespoon* of the remaining chocolate chips onto each disk. Using the remaining dough, make 16 more disks, placing one on top of each chocolate-chip-topped disk. Press the dough disks gently to cover any of the chocolate chip filling that shows around the edges.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the edges are lightly browned but the centers are still pale golden, about 15 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm (the filling will be soft and melted) or at room temperature.

The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

* I ended up using less than 1 tablespoon of chips – it was difficult placing all that amount of chocolate inside each disk of cookie dough.

Makes: 16 large cookies – Iago and I got 18

Chocolate chip-stuffed cookies

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Spaghetti with garlic and spinach and how I love You Tube

Spaghetti with garlic and spinach

Love it. Just love it.

There are loads of interesting things there - music videos (something our stupid MTV hardly ever plays), interviews (I saw a really old one with Duran Duran the other day, so much fun) and food TV shows. I can watch the ones I missed before upgrading my cable TV and also the ones that are not aired here in Brazil. Like bill’s food.

Even though my heart belongs to Gordon Ramsay, there is nothing like watching Bill in the kitchen. The way he cooks – the fact that he smiles all the time is a plus, of course – the music… Not to mention the beautiful kitchen itself, something I totally envy – actually, I envy his house as a whole. And then he goes and serves the food to his wife and daughters… So lovely!

This is the second time I make one of his recipes: the first was the delicious choc banana bread. There are many, many other recipes printed and on the top of my “to try” list. This pasta dish was taken from the delicious. magazine, November 2006 issue.


This is my entry for the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Anna, from the blog Anna’s Cool Finds.

Spaghetti with garlic and spinach

400g spaghetti
1/3 cup (80ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced bacon
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
sliced red chilli, to taste – I halved the recipe and used only 1, deseeded
1/3 cup (80ml) white wine
90g spinach – measure without the stems or use baby spinach
salt and freshly ground black pepper
small handful finely chopped parsley
finely grated parmesan cheese, to serve

Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente.
Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until almost crispy. Add the garlic and chili and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until the garlic is golden. Add the white wine and cook, stirring, for about 20 seconds.
Drain the pasta, add to the frying pan with the spinach. Toss to coat in the sauce until the spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the parsley.
Serve with lots of parmesan.

Serves: 4

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lemon truffles

Lemon truffles

Besides loving citrus flavors – something you already know – I also love white chocolate. I know it’s not considered real chocolate and all that, but I don’t care: I’m a huge fan. And the best thing is that it goes extremely well with my other favorites: yes, the citrus.

The initial idea was making caipirinha truffles – a recipe I got from a chocolate class I took ages ago; the truffles were served in the end of class and they were oh, so good. But the truffles I was making had a destination already – the girls who work at the beauty salon I go to – and I did not want to take risks adding cachaça. It would be pretty possible that some of the girls might not take alcohol and then the gift would make no sense at all.

That is why I adapted a basic truffle recipe from this book and added a sour zing with lemon.

I was wondering about the flavor being much too sour, but now, more than 2 weeks after the “delivery”, I’m sure it wasn’t: the girls keep talking about the truffles and two of them have asked me for the recipe.

Lemon truffles

Lemon truffles
adapted from The Art of Chocolate

500g white chocolate, finely chopped
grated zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup (60ml) lemon juice
1/3 heaping cup cream*
cocoa powder

Combine cream and lemon zest a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the cream starts to bubble – don’t let it boil.

Remove from heat and add the chocolate at once, whisking vigorously until the chocolate is melted and you get a thick, smooth and silky mixture. Add the juice, mix well, transfer the mixture to a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap/cling film. Refrigerate until firm enough to form balls - I let it sit in the fridge overnight.

Scoop out rounded mounds of the mixture (while it’s still cold and firm) and form balls – you don’t want your truffles to be perfectly rounded. Roll the truffles in cocoa powder and place in small fluted paper cases or on a plate. Keep refrigerated.

* I used a type of cream we have here that is packaged in small Tetra Pak boxes; it contains 25% fat. I did it to avoid having almost 400g heavy cream in the fridge for nothing – it would end up in the garbage can and I don’t like wasting food.

Makes about 60 truffles (10g each)

Lemon truffles

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sweetened condensed milk braided bread with poppy seeds

Sweetened condensed milk braided bread with poppy seeds

Before I tell you all about this bread, I would like to introduce Catherine, from the food blog Munchie Musings – she’s my new blog buddy and we were introduced to each other by the lovely Kristen and her Adopt a Blogger campaign.
I invite you all to visit Catherine’s blog and I would also like to thank Kristen for such a nice initiative!

adopt a blogger

I made this braided bread months ago but was not sure if I should post it or not – the bread was huge and I couldn’t get good photos of it. Besides that, the bread was very tender and tasted great, but the flavor of sweetened condensed milk was nowhere near it.
When I read at Nora’s blog that the lovely Eva was hosting Baking Day #06, I changed my mind: I love the shape of this bread and also the effect the poppy seeds give to it.

I got the recipe from Carlota’s website – Carla Pernambuco’s restaurant. I had dinner there on my birthday last year and absolutely loved it. I’m a great fan of her work and this is the second time I make one of her recipes – the first was the wonderful guava soufflé with catupiry sauce.

I prepared the bread a bit differently than it was on the website because I thought the instructions weren’t clear enough; there are eggs on the ingredient list but no mention of them on the making. I used my Kitchen Aid to make the dough but it’s not mandatory: you can blend the liquid ingredients+butter+salt and then add the flour using a wooden spoon (like the original recipe suggests).

Sweetened condensed milk braided bread with poppy seeds

Sweetened condensed milk braided bread with poppy seeds

1 can (395g) sweetened condensed milk
1 can warm water (use the condensed milk can to measure it)
100g unsalted butter, softened
5 eggs
50g fresh yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1kg all purpose flour
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten, to brush the bread
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Place the yeast and the water in the bowl of a stand mixer; mix well to dissolve the yeast.
Add the sweetened condensed milk, salt and butter and, using the paddle attachment, beat well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Switch to the hook attachment and, beating in slow speed, add the flour, gradually. Once you added all the flour, beat until you get a smooth dough. Cover with cling film or plastic wrap and set aside - let the dough rise until almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured surface. Knead a few time and form a ball; divide dough in 4 equal parts and make 40cm (15in) ropes with each part. Place the ropes on a very large greased baking sheet (mine was 40x26cm) and braid them. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 160ºC/320ºF; beat the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water and brush the bread with it. Sprinkle the poppy seeds over the bread and bake for 30-40 minutes or until beautifully golden and cooked through – if it starts browning too fast, cover it loosely with foil.

Serves 10-12

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Roasted squash salad with tahini

Roasted squash salad with tahini

My husband thinks I’m funny. He tells me that all the time – maybe I am. I find it a good thing, actually.
One of the things that make him laugh is when I almost scream “God I gotta eat that” while going through my cookbooks. Depending on the “reading”, I say that quite a lot.

I saw this salad on a book Monday night and more than quickly wrote down the ingredients I needed to buy, in order to make it for dinner last night. I made 2 changes: used lime instead of lemon and nigella seeds instead of black sesame seeds.

I bet Joao can’t tell you how many times I said “this is delicious” while eating the salad. Really – I stopped counting at the tenth.


This is my entry for the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Rinku, from the blog Cooking in Westchester.

Roasted squash salad with tahini

Roasted squash salad with tahini
from Marie Claire Easy

1 small butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
3 tablespoons tahini
½ cup plain yogurt – I used non-fat
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 ½ cups arugula (rocket)
1 large handful flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tablespoon nigella seeds

Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF. Peel the butternut squash and cut it into large chunks. Toss it in the oil, season with salt and pepper and then put the chunks on a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, or until the butternut squash is tender, then allow it to cool.

To make the dressing, mix the tahini, yogurt, cumin, garlic and lime juice to a smooth paste; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the arugula and parsley leaves together and pile them onto a serving plate. Top with the roasted squash, add a spoonful of the dressing, and garnish with a sprinkling of nigella seeds.

Serves 4

Monday, January 14, 2008

Double-chocolate peanut butter cookies

Double-chocolate peanut butter cookies

Chocolate is great paired with so many things: cherries, strawberries, raspberries, bananas, caramel… Not to mention the fantastic flavor one gets by combining white chocolate and citrus flavors. But I had never tried one of the most talked about pairings: chocolate and peanut butter.

I used to eat peanut butter spread on thick slices of bread as a kid but hadn’t tried it again in 20 years. Eating a spoonful of it took me back in time… It was a funny/good feeling.
I’d been meaning to try my hand at baking with peanut butter for a while (that’s why I did not eat the entire jar) and these cookies seemed the perfect way to start.

So, it’s true that chocolate and peanut butter belong together – like Aragorn and Arwen.

This recipe is a courtesy of the lovely and talented Lynn – I was out of milk chocolate chips and used white chocolate instead; even though I really liked the cookies, I think they would have been even better with milk chocolate, like Lynn’s.

Double-chocolate peanut butter cookies

Double-chocolate peanut butter cookies

168g (6oz) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped – I used 60% cocoa
2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (120g) packed dark brown sugar
¾ cup (165g) granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks/226g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (240g) creamy peanut butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (335g/12oz) white chocolate chips

Arrange racks in oven to divide it into thirds. Preheat oven to 150ºC/300ºF. In a double boiler, melt the semisweet chocolate over hot, not simmering, water. Set aside to cool to about room temperature.

In a small bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a mixing bowl cream the butter and the peanut butter*. Add the sugars and beat until creamy and smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat until just combined. Add the flour mixture and the milk chocolate chips, and beat until no streaks of flour are visible.

Pour the melted chocolate over the dough and drag a wooden spoon through. You want to just marbleize, not combine. Leave streaks of chocolate.

Drop the dough in 1 ½-tablespoon mounds 2 inches (5cm) apart onto ungreased baking sheets (I didn’t read this and lined my baking sheets with baking paper). Bake for 23 minutes, or until just set but still soft. Rotate the baking sheets, top to bottom, halfway through cooking. Cool on the baking sheet for 30 seconds then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

* this info was missing on the post so I added the peanut butter in the end, after the flour mixture and the chips. It worked fine.

Makes about 55 cookies – Lynn’s cookies were bigger, made with 3 tablespoons of dough

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Autumn spicy rice

Autumn spicy rice

I know, I know, it’s not autumn anymore – and the hot days here in Sao Paulo keep me pretty aware of that… but being a rice lover it was impossible for me to resist this recipe.

I don’t eat meat and you know it – and even when I did, back in the day, I would never eat pork. It’s nothing religious or anything, I just don’t like it.

I always have chorizo sausages in the fridge since Joao loves them – there’s a kind called calabresa that is used in barbecues and also as a pizza topping. I decided to put my prejudices aside for a moment and try this recipe with the calabresa sausage. And I’m glad I did – the rice was packed with flavor and most of it due to that ingredient.

There’s no rosemary in this recipe – I just thought it would make the dish look prettier. :)


This is my entry for the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Vani, from the blog Batasari.

One last thing: the results for this DMBLGIT (in which one of the judges was yours truly) are up - congratulations to all the winners!

Autumn spicy rice
from Donna Hay magazine

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
3 chorizo sausages, sliced
200g (7oz) butternut squash, peeled and chopped
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
2 cups long-grain rice
3 cups (24fl oz) chicken stock
2 zucchinis (courgettes), thinly sliced

Heat a deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, chorizo, squash and chilli and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the onions are soft. Add the rice and cook, stirring for 1 minute.
Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 15 minutes or until the stock is absorbed and the rice is cooked. Stir through the zucchini and allow to stand for 2 minutes.

Serves 4

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Three tier chocolate cake

Three tier chocolate cake

Wow, I haven’t been here for a while - Happy New Year, everyone!

I haven’t visited your blogs either – I had a few days off from work and took a short break from the computer; I organized many things at home and also did a sort of “summer cleaning”. And because of that – and also the 33-35ºC (92-95ºF) days were were having here in Sao Paulo – I didn’t cook much. But I did bake a birthday cake for Joao on Dec, 27.

I got the recipe from the Woman&Home Christmas Food Valentina sent me – the cake was on the cover of the magazine and it looked so beautiful… I really wanted to try it. His birthday was the perfect excuse – everyone in this family ate the cake, so I spread the calories around. :)

I decided to use a different filling and went for a refreshing passion fruit truffle filling, made with white chocolate. You can use the original filling if you want.

We were in a hurry and the photos don’t do this cake justice – it is absolutely wonderful. I highly recommend it!

Three tier chocolate cake

Three tier chocolate cake

6 large eggs
175g (6oz) caster sugar
185g (6.5oz) plain flour
15g (0.5oz) cocoa powder

500g white chocolate, finely chopped
400g whipping cream
¼ cup (60ml) concentrated bottled passion fruit juice

To brush the cake:
½ tablespoon concentrated bottled passion fruit juice diluted in 4 tablespoons water

175g (6oz) dark chocolate, 55% solids
130ml (4.5oz) double cream - I used a thick kind of cream we have here in Brazil, so my ganache was not so spreadable

chocolate curls, cherries or whatever strikes you fancy

Start by making the filling: place the cream in a saucepan and heat until it is nearly boiling. Remove from heat and add the chocolate all at once. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is silky and smooth. Add the juice, mix well; refrigerate it, well covered, for 4-6 hours or until set.

Make the cake: preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF. Oil a 25cm (10in) springform cake pan and line the bottom with baking paper.
Put the eggs and sugar into a large heatproof bowl and, using an electric hand whisk, beat until tripled in volume, pale and thick (I used my Kitchen Aid, with the whisk attachment). The whisk should leave a trail in the mix. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and fold in with the whisk. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake on the centre shelf for around 20 minutes, until risen and springy to the touch. Let the cake cool in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack.

When the cake is cool, split into three horizontally. Separate them carefully. The top of the original cake in the tin will be the top of the finished cake. Brush the bottom cake very lightly with the juice then spread over half the filling. Add the next layer and do the same with the juice and filling. Add the top.

Finish with the ganache: put the broken-up chocolate into a saucepan with the cream and heat gently. Stir well until the chocolate has melted. Spoon on to the centre of the cake a big spoonful at a time then spread with a palette knife, letting it drip down the sides. Do this at a reasonable speed as it will set in around 15 minutes.
Decorate as you like.

Serves 12-14

Three tier chocolate cake

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