Monday, March 31, 2008

Parmesan wafer salad

Parmesan wafer salad

Donna Hay again. Bear with me, please. :)

This salad was published on her magazine #29, in 2006, and it was part of an article in which she showed the readers some of the recipes from a book she was releasing back then. Such a teaser! I chose this salad because I love each and every ingredient in it, but I must admit that seeing it on the cover of the book made me think of how special it would be.

If you want a light, different and tasty meal, look no further.


This is my entry for the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by the lovely Kalyn, the mind behind that wonderful event.

Parmesan wafer salad

Parmesan wafer salad
from Donna Hay magazine

1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 red apples, thinly sliced
80g (3oz) arugula leaves
1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
150g (5oz) goat’s cheese

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/355ºF. Arrange 8 x 1 ½ tablespoons of parmesan in circles on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper* and bake for 10 minutes or until crispy. Set aside to cool.
Place balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.
Arrange the arugula on serving plates, top with apple slices and goat’s cheese and drizzle with the dressing.
Finish it off with the parmesan wafer.

* I used regular baking paper coated with cooking spray. The cheese got stuck. So I tried it again, using foil coated with cooking spray and it worked out perfectly.

Serves 4

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

White chocolate chunk macadamia nut cookies

White chocolate chunk macadamia nut cookies

Move over, pecans: I have a new nut love. And it’s called macadamias.

Macadamias on ice cream? So good. Paired with white chocolate in a cookie? Heavenly.

I got the recipe from Lynn’s blog – don’t forget to check her cookies and while you’re at it read how funny her baking session was that day.

My baking session was pretty good, too – I got loads of cookies, which I sent to Joao’s coworkers.

White chocolate chunk macadamia nut cookies

2 ¼ cups (315g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (175g) packed light brown sugar
½ cup (120g) granulated sugar
1 ½ sticks (170g) unsalted butter, softened + extra pinch of salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
112g (4oz) macadamia nuts, lightly toasted and chopped (about 1 cup)
224g (8oz) good white chocolate bar, coarsely chopped (about 1 ½ cups)

Preheat oven to 150ºC/300ºF; line two baking sheets with baking paper.

Into a medium bowl sift together the flour, soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat together butter and sugars. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as it forms a grainy paste. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add the flour mixture, macadamia nuts, and white chocolate, and blend at low speed until just combined. Do not overmix.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches (5cm) between dough mounds. Bake for 20 to 22 minute - take out when the cookie edges just begin to turn golden brown. Use a wide metal spatula to transfer cookies immediately to a cool, flat surface (like a clean countertop); this keeps the cookies moist on the underside - I slid the baking paper to the countertop and left it there till the cookies were cool.

Makes about 3 dozen

Cheese pinwheel scones

Cheese pinwheel scones

Don’t let these fool you: despite their pale look, they are pretty addictive. Don’t believe me? Joao had several. And he never eats my baked goods. Ever.

I usually don’t go for savory baking, but who can say no to bread filled with 3 types of cheese?

Even though the scones were delicious, there are two things I’d do differently: add more salt to the dough and use an egg wash to get them nicely golden.

Cheese pinwheel scones

Cheese pinwheel scones
recipe from this box

250g all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper – I used freshly ground black pepper
30g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
185ml milk

40g goat’s cheese, crumbled
40g grated parmesan cheese
40g grated mature cheddar cheese – I used the yellow mozzarella we have here, made with cow’s milk
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF. Grease or line a baking tray with non stick baking paper.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper into a large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the milk and, using a flat-bladed knife, mix to form a soft dough. Add a little extra flour if the dough is too sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and roll out to form a 20x25cm (8x10in) rectangle. Sprinkle the goat’s cheese over the surface, then sprinkle over the parmesan, cheddar and parsley. Starting from the long side, roll the dough into a cylinder. Cut the cylinder into 10 equal 2cm (3/4 in) thick slices. Transfer the slices to a baking tray, spacing them 2cm (3/4 in) apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes (mine took 28 minutes in the oven) or until golden and cooked through. Cool on a wire rack.
Serve warm.

Cheese pinwheel scones

Makes 10

Cheese pinwheel scones

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ice-cream scoop pecan and cinnamon cookies

Ice-cream scoop pecan and cinnamon cookies

An old love and a new love, that’s what I have here: cinnamon and pecans. Even though pecans were no stranger to me, I had never baked with them until I made these cookies. After trying them I was really glad I had another package of pecans in my fridge.

I don’t need to tell you about my love for Donna Hay’s recipes anymore, do I? Her food is oh, so good. These cookies were published on her magazine, issue #33, and I slightly adapted the recipe using granulated sugar instead of superfine.

Just so you know it, the cinnamon flavor on these cookies is subtle; they were so delicious they might even convert those who don’t like the spice. :)

Ice-cream scoop pecan and cinnamon cookies

Ice-cream scoop pecan and cinnamon cookies
from Donna Hay magazine

- metric and imperial measurements found in the magazine; I used my scale

125g (4 ½oz) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup (110g/4oz) granulated sugar
¼ cup (44g/1 ½oz) light brown sugar
1 egg
1 ¼ cups (188g/6 ½oz) all purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
150g (5 ¼oz) pecan nuts, toasted and roughly chopped*

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/355ºF; line two large baking sheets with non-stick baking paper. Place the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Add the egg and beat well. Fold through the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and pecans – dough will be very stiff. Scoop the mixture, using an ice-cream scoop, onto prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches (5cm) apart – cookies won’t spread much.
Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes then transfer cookies to wire racks.

* I ended up using a total amount of 230g pecans for 2 recipes

The magazine published that the recipes yielded 6 cookies - I doubled the recipe, used a ¼ cup capacity ice cream scoop and got 26 cookies (!!!)

Ice-cream scoop pecan and cinnamon cookies

Monday, March 17, 2008

Caipirinha truffles

Caipirinha truffles

The sweet and lovely Emiline is hosting her first food event: St. Paddy's Day Pub Crawl!!
I’m not Irish like her, but I do have my share of Italian/German/Portuguese blood and I like some alcohol sometimes. :)


It took me a while to decide what to prepare for the event (today is the deadline to take part in it) because I wanted something with a Brazilian feel. Finally, I went for these caipirinha truffles (the ones I had previously in mind when I made these).

I think the truffles are OK, but not as good as I expected. The cachaça flavor was strong and I think some lime juice would have worked well to replace part of the liquor.

Emiline, I hope you like my Brazilian booze recipe!

Caipirinha truffles

Caipirinha truffles
loosely adapted from here

400g white chocolate, finely chopped
grated zest of 1 lime
¼ heaping cup (70ml) cream*
3 tablespoons cachaça
cocoa powder, enough to cover the truffles

Combine chocolate, zest and cream in a heatproof bowl; place it over a saucepan of gently simmering water.

Stir until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat, add the cachaça and mix vigorously until mixture is silky and smooth. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until firm enough to form balls.

Scoop out rounded teaspoons 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.

* Once again, 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 wasting an almost full jar of heavy cream.

Makes 35 truffles

Caipirinha truffles

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sage and ricotta ravioli

Sage and ricotta ravioli

Some things are worth repeating; there are movies I have seen more than five times and I’ll gladly catch any TV reruns.

So here I am, more than a year later, making raviolis with Deb’s pasta recipe again. It’s so divine I don’t know what took me so long.

I still haven’t bought a pasta machine but made it anyway, so put a little faith in your arms, grab a good rolling pin and you are good to go.

I used a sage and ricotta filling this time - an idea from Donna Hay Magazine #32. The small article suggests mixing ricotta, sage and parmesan and making raviolis using wonton wrappers. I used this recipe and added a bit of color with basil.

Since there are no measurements in the magazine, I’m posting what I used and it was enough for me and Joao to share.

Sage and ricotta ravioli

Sage and ricotta ravioli
adapted from Donna Hay magazine

210g all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 handful basil leaves
2 tablespoons water

¾ cup ricotta cheese
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil*
7-8 large sage leaves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons grated parmesan
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tomato sauce and grated parmesan, to serve

Make the pasta: place basil and water in a small food processor and process until the water turns dark green. Set aside.
Mound flour on a work surface, preferably wooden – I used granite - and make a well in center. Add eggs and salt. With a fork, gently beat eggs until combined. Gradually stir in enough flour to form a paste, pulling in flour closest to egg mixture and being careful not to make an opening in outer wall of well. Knead remaining flour into mixture with your hands to form a dough, adding the water (dough should be firm and not sticky) – I added bits of processed basil along with the water:

Knead dough until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Place it in a dish, cover with an inverted bowl and let stand 1 hour.

For the filling: place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well using a fork.

On a lightly floured surface, place amounts of pasta and roll out with a rolling pin, making a rectangle.
Drop mounds of filling in a row down center of one half of sheet. Brush egg wash around each mound – I used water - then fold other half of sheet over filling. Press down firmly around each mound, forcing out air. (Air pockets increase the chance that ravioli will break during cooking.)
Cut pasta (between mounds) with cutter into rectangles.
Line a large shallow baking pan with baking paper then arrange ravioli in 1 layer in it.

Proceed with the remaining pasta/filling the same way.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add ravioli, carefully stirring to separate, and, adjusting heat to keep water at a gentle boil, cook until pasta is just tender, about 6 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a colander.
Serve at once with your favorite sauce.

* the ricotta we have here it’s a bit dry, that’s why I added olive oil

Serves 2

Monday, March 10, 2008

Giant chocolate sugar cookies

Giant chocolate sugar cookies

Do you remember my resolution? Martha and her cookie of the day series are not being much helpful here. Seriously – how can I cut down my posts if everyday I feel like adding a new cookie recipe to it?

Don’t these look and sound amazing? Not to mention the recipe seemed easy to put together and one can find the ingredients in any baker’s pantry. Oh, Martha. After these, how can I say no to your cookie recipes?

The cookies turned out really big and tasted great. One should be enough to kill any chocolate cravings – but if you feel like it, have 2, just in case. :)

Giant chocolate sugar cookies

Giant chocolate sugar cookies

1 ½ cups (210g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (45g) good-quality unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups (300g) sugar
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 190ºC/375ºF. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in additional melted butter. Add egg and vanilla; mix until creamy. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.
Using a 2 ½-inch (6.25cm) ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 4 inches (10cm) apart. Bake until edges are firm, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 2 days.

Makes 8 – I got 16 using a ¼ cup capacity ice cream scoop

Giant chocolate sugar cookies

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Baked pesto chicken

Baked pesto chicken

Some things sound wonderful but don't turn out so fine...

Take “Arrested Development”, for instance. Such a great show – perfect writing, sharp cast. To think that the poor boy’s name is George Michael makes me laugh already; nothing against the name - to be clear about it, in case there’s a George Michael reading me right now – but for someone my age it’s impossible to read that name and NOT think of him.

So, back to the show. I love everything about it. It even gave me hope about Ron Howard – I don’t like the guy, but he’s the voice behind the episodes (though I’ll never forget he made this). It should be the #1 comedy and all that. But it got cancelled. And that makes me sad.

What also made me sad was this recipe. I got it from an ad in Bon Appetit magazine a few months ago and I knew it would be delicious. Well, it was OK. But not I-want-to-make-this-200-times delicious.

I should have learned my lesson about not marinating chicken before cooking it, but apparently I have not. The idea of chicken with pesto blinded me.

So don’t be like me and marinate the chicken before making this recipe. And please, let me know how it turned out.

The original recipe is here – I changed it a little by browning the chicken before baking it.

Baked pesto chicken

Baked pesto chicken

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 (about 680g/1 ¼ pounds total) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup pesto sauce – I used this recipe
¾ cup (3 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF. Line baking sheet with heavy-duty foil.

In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat; add garlic and cook until it starts to brown. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper and cook until nicely browned in both sides. Remove from the pan and place it in a medium bowl. Add the pesto and toss to coat. Place chicken on prepared baking sheet and drizzle any remaining pesto sauce over it.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Remove from oven; top with the mozzarella. Bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serves 4

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