Friday, February 29, 2008



I had a few oregano sprigs left from this dish and did not want them to go to waste. Add to that the fact that I love baking bread and hadn’t baked any in ages. So there you have it: my first focaccia!

This dough is great to work with and I really liked the result – the focaccia smelled wonderful while in the oven and waiting for it to cool down a little was pure torture… 5 minutes (yes, I could not wait for longer) that seemed like 50. :)

I was browsing my favorite food blogs while translating the recipe to Portuguese and saw that Eva and Xiao Zhu had made beautiful focaccias, too. I love these delicious blogging coincidences!


adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection: Bread

- metric and imperial measurements found in the book

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ½ cups (12fl oz/375ml) warm water (40 to 45ºC/105 to 115ºF)
½ cup (4fl oz/125ml) olive oil, plus more for greasing
1 ½ teaspoons table salt
4 to 4 ¼ cups (20-21 ½ oz/625-670g) flour plus more if needed – I used 630g total
3-4 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of the sugar over ½ cup (4fl oz/125ml) of the water and stir to dissolve. Let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Add the remaining 1 cup (8fl oz/250ml) water and the remaining sugar, ¼ cup (2fl oz/60ml) of the olive oil, the table salt and 1 cup (5oz/155g) of the flour. Beat on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup (5oz/155g) of the flour, reduce the speed to medium-low and beat for 2 minutes.

Switch to the dough hook. On low speed, beat in the remaining flour, ½ cup (2 ½ oz/75g) at a time, until a soft, shaggy dough forms that starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Knead on low speed, adding flour 1 tablespoon at a time if the dough sticks, until moist, soft and slightly sticky, about 6 minutes. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.

Line a heavy rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and brush the paper lightly with olive oil. Turn the dough out onto the prepared sheet. With oiled fingers, press and flatten the dough into an oval 2.5cm/1 inch thick. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. It will be at least 2 inches thick.

With your fingertips, make deep indentations 2.5cm/1 inch apart all over the surface of the dough, almost to the bottom of the pan. Drizzle with the remaining ¼ cup (2fl oz/60ml) olive oil*. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Place a baking stone on the bottom rack of an oven and preheat to 220ºC/425ºF – I don’t have a baking stone, so I used the loosen bottom of a very large square cake pan (40cm/15in); that’s how I bake my Saturday night pizzas.

Sprinkle the bread with the oregano leaves, pepper and parmesan. Place the pan on the stone and bake until the bread is lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Check the bottom and, if the bread is pale, bake for a few minutes more. Slide the bread onto a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into squares or wedges.

* I used only half this amount

Makes 1 large oval focaccia.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dorie’s best chocolate chip cookies

Dorie’s best chocolate chip cookies

I hope this doesn’t sound like an Oscar acceptance speech or something, but I would like to thank you all for being so supportive! Thank you for the emails and comments – you are really fantastic!

My dear friend Lydia sent an email to King Arthur informing them about my situation and they found out that the person who shipped my box didn’t add my postal code to the address – the mail service returned the package to them. Now I think things will be OK – I promise to let you know as soon as the products arrive! I can’t wait to start baking with those.

In the meantime, I present you some of the best cookies I have ever tried: these are so delicious! I had already made choc chip cookies, but this was the first time I added nuts to the dough. I never knew pecans would go so well with chocolate.

The recipe yielded a lot and I shared these with many people – they all told me the cookies were wonderful. I'm sure Bri agrees with them. :)

Dorie’s best chocolate chip cookies

Dorie’s best chocolate chip cookies
from Baking: From My Home to Yours

2 cups (280g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks (226g/8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) sugar
2/3 cup (115g) packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
12 ounces (335g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or 2 cups (340g) store-bought chocolate chips or chunks
1 cup (100g) finely chopped pecans

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes or so, until well blended. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 portions, mixing only until each addition is incorporated. On low speed, or by hand with a rubber spatula, mix in the chocolate and nuts. The dough can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen. If you’d like, you can freeze rounded tablespoonfuls of dough, ready for baking. Freeze the mounds on a lined baking sheet, then bag them when they’re solid. There’s no need to defrost the dough before baking – just add another minute or two the baking time.
Spoon the dough by slightly rounded tablespoonfuls* onto the baking sheets, leaving about 5cm (2in) between spoonfuls.
Bake the cookies – one sheet at a time and rotating the sheets at the midway point – for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are brown at the edges and golden in the center; they may be still a little soft in the middle, and that’s just fine. Pull the sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for 1 minute, then carefully using a wide metal spatula, transfer them to racks to cool to room temperature.
Repeat with the remainder of the dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

Makes 45

* I used leveled tablespoonfuls of dough and got 60 cookies

Dorie’s best chocolate chip cookies

Monday, February 25, 2008

Arugula with baked saffron ricotta and your opinion about something

Arugula with baked saffron ricotta

Before I start with the salad, I’d like to ask you guys something... Have you ever purchased something on King Arthur If you have, how was it? Any problems?

I was more than glad when I found out they would deliver their products here in Brazil – I won’t even mention things I desperately want but the stores won’t send them over – so I purchased a couple of things (butterscotch chips, vanilla paste, cookie scoops in different sizes). That was on late December and I haven’t received the products yet. Even though I know that sometimes things coming from other countries may take forever to arrive here (and vice versa), I sent King Arthur an email asking about my stuff. I have sent them 3 emails, and I know they’ve read those (I have the “read message” receipts) but no answer so far. I’m truly disappointed – not to mention I have paid for the products already - and that is why I’m asking for your opinions. I appreciate your replies and apologize for bringing this subject to the blog.

Now, the salad: another recipe from this book – one of my absolute favorites. I chose it because it involved a lot of “firsts”: first time eating fennel bulbs, first time cooking with saffron.

I think I didn’t season the ricotta enough – the flavor was too mild, not what I expected. Even though I would not make this again, it was great to start using saffron in my kitchen and I also loved the fennel – that’s why I’m sharing this recipe with you.

Arugula with baked saffron ricotta

Arugula with baked saffron ricotta
from Kitchen: The Best of the Best

500g (1lb 2oz/2 cups) ricotta cheese
pinch of saffron threads
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon walnut oil*
2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
300g (10½ oz/2 bunches) arugula, stalks removed

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Put the ricotta cheese in an ovenproof dish lined with lightly oiled baking paper. Sprinkle with saffron, drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Combine the vinegar and walnut oil in a bowl, add salt and pepper, then add the fennel and arugula leaves. Toss together and serve with the baked ricotta.

* at 80 reais (45 dollars) a tiny bottle, I used extra virgin olive oil instead.

Serves 4

Friday, February 22, 2008

Almond madeleines

Almond madeleines

My name is Patricia and I’ve become a madeleine addict. :)

Come to think of it, who can resist these little beauties? They look cute and taste delicious – isn’t it a great combo in food?

Two things I love using in baking are yogurt and almond meal – the baked goods get incredibly moist. I used a recipe from Mary’s wonderful blog and it calls for almond meal; the result was light and tender madeleines. I’m a sucker for almonds, so maybe I’d increase just a bit the amount of almond extract and decrease the vanilla. Other than that, these are absolutely perfect.

This is my third time making madeleines and there are many other recipes on my “to try” list. Wait and see!

Almond madeleines

Almond madeleines

2 large eggs
1/3 cup (67g) superfine or baker's sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1⁄3 cup (47g) all-purpose flour, sifted twice after measuring
3 tablespoons almond meal (or finely ground almonds)
4 tablespoons (½ stick/57g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 190ºC/375ºF. Generously butter and flour 12 molds in a madeleine pan.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine eggs, sugar and salt. Beat on medium speed until pale, thick and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Mix in vanilla and almond extracts.
On low speed, mix in the sifted flour and almond meal until just incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the melted butter until blended.

Fill each mold almost completely full. Bake the madeleines until the tops spring back when lightly touched, 10 to 12 minutes.
Cool in pan for 2 minutes. Remove madeleines from pan and allow them cool completely on cooling rack.

Makes 12 – I got 15 small and 5 large ones

Almond madeleines

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Two side dishes worth trying: Jamie's potato salad and Martha's roasted asparagus

Jamie’s potato salad

I beg of you – make one of these recipes. Or go wild and make both. You won’t be sorry, I promise.

Fresh asparagus are something quite new to me – I don’t ever recall seeing them in supermarkets when I was younger. But ever since I spotted them for the first time there was no turning back – I became a huge fan. In my humble opinion, fresh asparagus will taste great no matter how you make them – I especially love them in risottos – but pair them with olive oil, black pepper and parmesan and you’ve got yourself an addictive combination.

As for the potato salad… I’ll tell you that it’s another recipe from the show “Jamie at home” and I know you’ll be convinced of how good it is. I would never have thought that a simple potato salad could be so delicious – and it tasted even better the next day.

Jamie used lemons for the salad, but I used limes instead; since I’m making this again about 184 times, I’ll try it with lemons too.


This is my entry for the Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Lia from Swirling Notions.

Martha’s roasted asparagus with parmesan

Martha’s roasted asparagus with parmesan
from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast

2 bunches (680g/1 ½ pounds) asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 230ºC/450ºF. Trim the tough ends from the asparagus.
On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the asparagus with the olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer. Sprinkle with the cheese.
Roast until the asparagus is tender and the cheese is melted, 10-15 minutes.
Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Jamie’s potato salad

Jamie’s potato salad
from Jamie at Home

500g new potatoes, peeled
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
grated zest and juice of 1 large lime
3 tablespoons capers, drained
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 handful chopped parsley*

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water until they’re tender but not too soft; drain.
Place the olive oil, lime zest and juice in a large bowl and mix well. Add the potatoes while they’re still hot, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Add the capers.
Add the parsley after the potatoes are cool. Mix well and serve.

* Jamie used dill

Monday, February 18, 2008

Chocolate and pistachio brownies

Chocolate and pistachio brownies

I have so many recipes on my that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to cook them all! And I’m always adding more recipes to it, so yes, it will be pretty much impossible.

Sara had a great idea – she was cooking a recipe from her once a week and I have been thinking about doing that too. Let’s see if I can keep up with it! :)

One of those million recipes was the one for these delicious brownies; the idea of using pistachios instead of the usual suspects - walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts - sounded really good to me. And these are exactly that: really good.

I accidentally underbaked the brownies but it was OK – I had trouble trying to cut them, but they were so intensely fudgy that it was worth it.

A storm made it difficult for me to photograph my brownies (no light!), so make sure you check Michelle’s – and while you are there, go ahead the check her other recipes, too. They are wonderful!

Chocolate and pistachio brownies

Chocolate and pistachio brownies

100g (4oz) pistachios
100g (4oz) unsalted butter
100g (4oz) dark chocolate (70%), broken into small chunks
2 eggs
225g (8oz) granulated sugar
50g (scant 2oz) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Line an 18×28cm (7×11in) pan with baking parchment, allowing the paper to come 2cm/1in above the pan; grease the paper or coat with cooking spray.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4. Chop the nuts roughly so they’re still quite chunky and roast them in the preheated oven for 8 minutes, timed*. Remove from heat and spread the pistachio over a clean, dry kitchen towel. Set aside. Meanwhile put the butter and chocolate in a metal/glass bowl placed over a pan half-filled with barely simmering water. Allow the chocolate to melt, then beat until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the other ingredients, including the nuts, until thoroughly mixed.
Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared tin and bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until it is slightly springy in the middle. Take the brownies out of the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes before cutting into about 15 squares. Use a palette knife to transfer to a wire cooling rack and serve when cool or still just slightly warm.

* This step is optional. Add the pistachios without roasting or use already roasted nuts (but unsalted).

Makes 15 – I got 12 larger brownies

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Roast chicken tray bake with tomatoes and potatoes

Roast chicken tray bake with tomatoes and potatoes

A couple of weeks ago I watched "Jamie at Home” for the first time – it was an episode about potatoes. I love potatoes – who doesn’t? – and all the recipes were mouthwatering. Joao must have thought so too, because he asked me to make this chicken for lunch on the following day – and he is a beef guy. BEEF.

I didn’t have a pen at the moment to take notes, and I don’t really remember him giving exact ingredient amounts, so this is my version of his roast chicken tray bake with tomatoes and potatoes.

The food was really good and I like the idea of using fresh oregano – a nice herb change to a basil addict like me.


This is my entry for the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Erin, from The Skinny Gourmet.

Roast chicken tray bake with tomatoes and potatoes

Roast chicken tray bake with tomatoes and potatoes
from Jamie at Home

8 chicken pieces – I used thighs, wings and drumsticks
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
juice of ½ lime
400g new potatoes
100g cherry tomatoes
¼ cup (60ml) olive oil
1 large handful fresh oregano leaves + 2 extra sprigs

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF.
In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat the 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil. Add the chicken, garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook until nicely browned.
Meanwhile, boil some water in a large saucepan and rapidly cook the potatoes – drain and set aside. If there are potatoes much bigger than others, cut in half.
Squeeze the lime juice over the chicken, mix well and remove from heat.
Place the handful of oregano leaves in a mortar or food processor – Jamie used his crazy shaker - and lightly smash/process. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper and smash/process again, until you get some delicious green oil.
Place the chicken, potatoes and tomatoes in a baking dish, drizzle with the green oil, add the oregano sprigs and mix.
Bake for 25-30 minutes and serve immediately.

Served very well the hungry couple on a Sunday lunch. :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Cranberry white chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

Cranberry white chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

I first tried cranberries (the dried ones) a while ago when the lovely JB – thank you, sweetie!! – sent me some by mail. I loved how tart they were. Delicious! I ate several right out of the bag and kept the rest to use in a special recipe. My thoughts were to try JB’s wonderful scones but at the same time I wanted to make something that would last longer, so I could enjoy it more. Like cookies. And these, my friends, are some very good cookies.

Sweet from the white chocolate and tart from the cranberries, with a touch of oatmeal so you won’t feel so guilty – oats are good for your, after all – these make a fantastic snack.

I got the recipe from MrsPresley’s beautiful blog; her cookies looked so good it was impossible for me to resist – I had to bake them.

The recipe yields a lot so make sure you have people to share the cookies with – I’m lucky Joao’s family is big, otherwise I’d be munching on these up until now. :)

Cranberry white chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

Cranberry white chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

3 eggs, well beaten
1 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup (225g) butter, softened
1 cup (175g) light brown sugar
1 cup (200g) white sugar
2 ½ cups (350g) flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups (230g) oatmeal
1 cup (170g) white chocolate chips

Combine eggs, dried cranberries and vanilla in a bowl and let stand for 1 hour, covered with plastic wrap.

Preheat oven to 350ºF/175ºC and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift flour, salt, cinnamon and soda; set aside. Cream together butter and sugars. Add the flour mixture to sugar mixture. Mix well. Blend in egg-cranberry mixture and oatmeal. Dough will be stiff. Fold in the white chocolate chips.
Drop by leveled tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets, 2 inches (5cm) apart, or roll in small balls and flatten slightly on cookie sheet (I did the latter).
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Makes 75 cookies

Cranberry white chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Pasta with tomatoes, olives, grana padano and basil

Pasta with tomatoes, olives, grana padano and basil

Joao loves pasta but he’ll mostly have it with tomato or bolognese sauce. He tried pesto when I first made it and liked it, but still looks at other pasta possibilities very suspiciously. That’s silly and I always tell him that.

So when I choose different pasta recipes to try he goes all “I want mine with bolognese sauce, please” and I go “ok, same old pasta for you, mister”. I won’t force him - mom made me eat beef so many times as a kid and I never learned to like it.
But things seem to be slowly changing around here… Bill’s pasta smelled so great that while eating I noticed a fork “stealing” spaghetti from my plate. And it happened with this pasta dish, too: every time I looked at my plate there was less food there – the fork had attacked again! I looked at Joao with angry eyes but it didn’t work. :)


I adapted a recipe found on a Portuguese food magazine called Blue Cooking and this is my entry for the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Ulrike, from Kuchenlatein.

Pasta with tomatoes, olives, grana padano and basil

Pasta with tomatoes, olives, grana padano and basil

400g short pasta – choose the one you like the most
60g black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
500g ripe tomatoes, cut in 8 parts each (half moons)
freshly ground black pepper
rosemary leaves
½ cup (120ml) extra virgin olive oil + extra olive oil to drizzle
4 garlic cloves
200 grana padano cheese, in shavings
1 handful basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF. Lightly oil a baking dish and place the tomatoes on it; sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.
Peel and cut the garlic cloves so there is one piece of garlic for each tomato slice. Place the garlic on the tomatoes, add some rosemary leaves on top, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender and the skin starts to blister. Remove from the oven, allow to cool then tear them into pieces. Set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente.
Place the basil in a small bowl, add the ¼ cup olive oil and process using an immersion blender – I halved the recipe and made the basil oil using a mortar and a pestle; a small processor would do the job, too.
Drain the pasta, add the olives, the reserved tomatoes, the cheese and the basil oil and gently toss the ingredients together. Serve at once.

Serves 4

Friday, February 1, 2008

Bacon, butternut squash and basil baked risotto

Bacon, butternut squash and basil baked risotto

Another one of Donna Hay’s wonderful baked risottos – I think I got a little lazier after I started making risottos this way.


Some of you know that risotto is my favorite food and I don’t need an excuse to make them; but this one was made especially for this Monthly Mingle – an event hosted by the lovely and talented Meeta. This time, the theme is comfort foods and to me nothing is more comforting than risotto. Oh, and my mom’s rice pudding.

I got the recipe from Donna Hay Magazine #33 and changed some of the ingredients – you can’t blame me for being hooked on roasted butternut squash! :)

Bacon, butternut squash and basil baked risotto
adapted from Donna Hay magazine

400g (14oz) butternut squash, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 slices bacon
40g (1½oz) unsalted butter
¼ cup torn basil leaves
1 ½ cups arborio (or risotto) rice
4 ½ cups (36floz) vegetable stock
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
unsalted butter, melted, for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/355ºF. Place the butternut squash, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss to coat. Transfer it to a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until golden and tender. Set aside.
Place the bacon on a dish, between paper towel and microwave for 1 ½ minutes or until crisp. Let it cool, then break it into small pieces using your fingertips. Set aside.
Place the rice and stock in a 22x30cm (8½ x12in) 10-cup (80fl) capacity baking dish* and stir to combine. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes or until most of the stock is absorbed and the rice is al dente. Add the parmesan, salt, pepper, butternut squash, bacon and basil and stir to combine. Drizzle with butter and serve immediately.

* I used a deep bowl instead – I thought it would be easier to mix the ingredients in it than in a rectangular baking dish

Serves 4

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