Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Linguine with zucchini, capers, lemon, pine nuts and herbs and a tribute to Sher

Linguine with zucchini, capers, lemon, pine nuts and herbs and a tribute to Sher

As many of you in the food blog world I was shocked with the news that our dear Sher had suddenly passed away.
A lovely woman who would brighten up everyone’s day with encouraging comments and kind words, Sher was a passionate foodie and shared many delicious recipes on her delightful blog. She was the queen of meatballs!

I only knew her virtually, but she’ll be missed and my heart goes out to her family and friends.

After reading Sara’s post, I felt like taking part in the beautiful tribute to Sher. This is the recipe I chose and it was delicious, just like everything else on her blog.

Linguine with zucchini, capers, lemon, pine nuts and herbs

1 lb. (450g) linguine
8 ounces (226g) small, firm green or golden zucchini
½ cup mixed fresh herbs: parsley, marjoram, basil, chervil, thyme, and others of your choice
1 lemon
6 tablespoons virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons pine nuts
4 shallots, roughly chopped
4 teaspoons capers, rinsed in water
2 sun dried tomatoes, cut into narrow strips - I omitted this
salt and freshly ground black pepper
grated parmesan, to serve

Slice the zucchini into pieces about the same thickness as the pasta you are using, then cut them into narrow matchsticks. Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Using as many of the herbs of your choice that you want, pull the leaves off the stems and chop the herbs roughly. Grate the zest of the lemon and set aside (you’ll use the juice as well).

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small pan and add the pine nuts. Cook them until they begin to color, then add the shallots and cook over medium heat until the shallots are limp and the pine nuts have colored even more. Do not burn the pine nuts. When done, transfer this to a large bowl, along with the lemon grated zest, capers, tomatoes and herbs.

Add salt to the boiling water, drop in the zucchini and cook for 1 minute; Scoop the zucchini out, shake the water off and put it into the bowl with the pine nuts mixture. Then boil the pasta until al dente, drain and place in the bowl. Season with salt and pepper, the remaining olive oil and lemon juice to taste. Toss until the noodles are coated with the oil and herb mixture. Serve with the grated cheese, passed separately.

Serves 2-4

Monday, July 28, 2008

Nika’s chocolate coconut hedgie cookies

Nika’s chocolate coconut hedgie cookies

I had these on my for ages – ever since Nika posted them, more than a year ago. Her cookies looked so good! Every time I took a look at my bookmarks I felt like baking these just to, seconds later, realize that the type of coconut in my pantry was not the one the recipe called for.

A quick trip to the grocery store solved that problem and I wish I hadn’t been so lazy: these cookies are fantastic.

Nika’s chocolate coconut hedgie cookies

Nika’s chocolate coconut hedgie cookies

1 ¼ cup (175g) all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup (88g) packed light brown sugar
½ cup (100g) caster sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (100g) flaked sweetened coconut
icing sugar

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt, set aside.

Cream together butter, brown and white sugars. Make certain that it is very well mixed and that you get a light fluffy texture (you have incorporated air into the mix).

Add egg, vanilla, and chocolate powder and mix well. It will be getting thick now. Add the flour by 1/3rds. The mix will be very thick, like a dough towards the end. Don’t be shy, use your hands to knead it all together, if necessary. Add the coconut flakes. You will likely need to use your hands to incorporate the coconut – I used my Kitchen Aid with the paddle attachment and it was enough.
Cover with plastic/cling film and chill in the fridge – I chilled it for 3 hours, Nika did it overnight.

Preheat oven to 165ºC/325ºF; line two large baking sheets with parchment/baking paper.

Make balls using 1 leveled tablespoon of dough, roll in icing sugar and put onto prepared sheets, placing the balls 5cm (2 in) apart.
Bake for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 32

Friday, July 25, 2008

Garlic lime shrimp

Garlic lime shrimp

It’s winter here now and you guys from the Northern Hemisphere keep tempting me with your ice creams and sorbets... Not to mention the cherry recipes, right, Susan? :)
To make things worse, the Mail Service is working again and yesterday I finally received the July issue of Bon Appétit – loads of ideas for barbecues and grilling outdoors. I’m not a fan of barbecues, but Joao loves them. And I even think he would be interested in grilling on the weekends, but we live in an apartment – no yard.:(

So, no barbie. But that doesn’t mean he can’t have something he absolutely loves: shrimp. For the hubby, the simpler, the better. And the recipe I adapted from the DH mag #37 was a huge hit.

I cooked the shrimp using a frying pan, but also posted how to make them on the grill, if anyone wants to give it a try.

Garlic lime shrimp

Garlic lime shrimp
from Donna Hay magazine

1kg large raw shrimp, peeled, tails intact
1/3 cup (80ml) lime juice
4 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped flat leaf parsley, to taste
lime wedges, to serve
aioli or mayonnaise, to serve

Place the shrimp, lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss to combine. Cover with plastic/cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator and strain any juices – remove the garlic slices, also. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the shrimp and toss to combine. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, turning to avoid burning. Cook until the shrimp turn pink, about 2 minutes each side – don’t overcook, or they will become rubbery.
Remove from heat, sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.

If you want to make them on the barbie: thread three shrimp onto a skewer (if they are wooden skewers, soak them in cold water for 30 minutes before using, to avoid burning). Repeat with the remaining shrimp. Heat a barbecue over high heat. Barbecue the shrimp for 2 minutes each side or until cooked through.

Serves 4

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Passion fruit, almond and poppy seed cake

Passion fruit, almond and poppy seed cake

Besides the music I listen to, there’s something else on repeat mode around here - yes, another recipe with almonds. :)

It would take 1 ½ hours for the coffee cake to double in volume and there was nothing good on TV - that happens quite often. I like things most people consider weird and they are not aired very frequently.

“I’ll bake cookies. No, I’ll need the oven soon - I’ll bake a cake”

The almonds on the counter worked as a sort of inspiration. And I must admit that combining passion fruit, almonds and poppy seeds in a cake made me really curious.

I hope you get curious, too, because this is a cake worth trying.

Passion fruit, almond and poppy seed cake

Passion fruit, almond and poppy seed cake

4 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
¼ cup (60ml) milk
180g unsalted butter, room temperature
180g caster sugar
3 eggs
240g all purpose flour
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup (120ml) passion fruit juice - mix ¼ cup (60ml) concentrated juice + ¼ cup water
1 tablespoon baking powder

45g caster sugar
1/3 cup (80ml) concentrated passion fruit juice
2 ½ tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF; grease and flour a 22cm (9in) ring pan - the one I used was a teeny tiny larger than 20cm (8in).

In a small bowl, place the poppy seeds and milk and set aside for 20 minutes.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, almonds, passion fruit juice and the milk poppy seed mixture. Turn off the mixer and, using a wooden spoon, mix in the baking powder.

Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven, set aside for 5 minutes and carefully invert the cake onto a plate.

Make the syrup: place all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well to dissolve the sugar. Drizzle the syrup over the cake while still hot.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Slightly adapted from a Brazilian cookbook.

Serves 12

Monday, July 21, 2008

Honey-almond coffee cake

Honey-almond coffee cake

Almonds are delicious – my favorite kind of nut. I also love honey – when I was little, my mom used to mix honey and lime juice and feed me by spoonfuls when I had colds and coughs.
Put almonds and honey together and you’ll have a super delicious combo.

It’s like De Niro and Scorsese. They are both wonderful, but when they are together... Magic is made.

Hey, Marty, enough with the DiCaprio obsession, ok? Start calling Bobby to work with you again.


Honey-almond coffee cake

Honey-almond coffee cake
from Coffee Cakes: Simple, Sweet, and Savory

1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
¼ cup (60ml) warm water (105º to 115ºF/40º to 46ºC)
pinch of granulated sugar + 1/3 cup (67g)
½ cup (120ml) milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick/113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ teaspoon salt
2 ½ to 2 ¾ cups (350 to 385g) unbleached all purpose or bread flour – I used 400g all purposed flour
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon almond extract

Almond topping:
1/3 cup (58g) firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream
¾ cup sliced almonds

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water, sprinkle with the pinch of sugar and stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter over low heat until the butter melts. Combine the 1/3 cup sugar and the salt in a large bowl and pour the milk mixture over; let cool to warm, 105º to 115ºF/40º to 46ºC. Stir in the yeast mixture. Using a wooden spoon or a heavy-duty electric mixer, add 1 cup of the flour and beat until smooth. Add the eggs and beat until blended. Beat in the lemon zest and almond extract. Gradually add enough of the remaining 1 ½ to 1 ¾ cups flour to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes – the dough was too soft for kneading and to avoid adding more flour I did the whole process using my Kitchen Aid with the hook attachment.

Place the dough in a lightly buttered bowl, turn to coat and cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel - I did not turn it, since it was very soft- I just lightly sprinkled the top with flour to avoid sticking. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.

Butter a 12 inch (30cm) round cake pan, preferably with a removable bottom.

Punch down the dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead lightly until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Place the dough on the prepare pan and press it with your fingers until it occupies the whole pan. Cover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF. Bake the bread for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the almond topping: in a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, honey, butter and cream. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the almonds. Remove the bread from the oven and carefully spread the topping over it. Bake for 10-15 minutes longer, or until nicely browned – since the topping made the bread brown already, I inserted a knife into it to check for doneness.
Let cool for 5 minutes, then unmold right side up on a wire rack and let cool completely.
Cut into wedges to serve.

Makes one 12-inch cake, serves 10-12

Honey-almond coffee cake

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lemon tart

Lemon tart

I love listening to music while I’m cooking/baking. And I sing along, too – oh, my poor neighbors... :)

Certain recipes remind me of certain songs, probably because I was listening to them on repeat mode – another bad habit of mine – while preparing the food. The Darkest Chocolate Crepe Cake, for example, instantly brings Steve Winwood’s “Valerie” to my mind, and vice versa. Crash Hot Potatoes = Clapton’s “It’s in the way that you used it”. The list goes on and on.

The radio was off when I made this tart, but something tells me that this song would go with it very well. :)

Lemon tart

Lemon tart
from Donna Hay magazine

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

1 1/3 cups (200g/7oz) all purpose flour
100g (3 ½oz) cold unsalted butter, chopped
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Lemon filling:
1 cup (8 fl oz) single or pouring cream
2 eggs
3 egg yolks
½ cup (110g/3 ¾oz) caster sugar
½ cup (4 fl oz) lemon juice

Place the flour, butter and sugar in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and vanilla and process in short bursts until the pastry just comes together. Turn out and bring together to form a ball. Flatten the pastry, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until 3mm (1/8 in) thick. Line a deep 22cm (9in) round pastry ring* with the pastry, trim and prick the base with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/360ºF. Line the pastry with non-stick baking paper, fill with baking weights or dried beans and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the weights/beans and paper and bake for a further 2-3 minutes or until golden. Set aside.
Reduce the oven to 140ºC/285ºF. To make the lemon filling, place the cream, eggs, egg yolks, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl and whisk to combine. Pour the mixture into the tart shell and use the back of a metal spoon to skim the surface to remove any bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes or until just set. Allow to cool and refrigerate until completely set.

* I used a shallow pan and there was some dough left; I froze it and to avoid wasting lemon filling I halved the recipe.

Serves 8

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Apricot honey soufflé

Apricot honey soufflé

Going through my pile of Bon Appétit magazines – I haven’t received the new issue because of the strike on our Mail Service – I found an article on soufflés by Molly, a.k.a. Orangette. After the “How come I did not read this when the magazine arrived?” moment, I felt inspired - I was going to make a soufflé, too. It was sort of like when I wanted to learn how to roller skate because of Olivia Newton-John. Being 9 and scared of getting my skinny legs and arms bruised I quickly dropped the idea. But a soufflé? That I can make. And I went for a sweet one.

The only problem here was NOT eating all the apricot purée before making the dessert. :)

Apricot honey soufflé

Apricot honey soufflé
from Sweet Food

1 cup dried apricots, chopped
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
2 egg yolks
1 ½ tablespoons honey, warmed
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
4 egg whites
confectioners’ sugar, to dust

Place the apricots in a saucepan with ½ cup cold water, or enough to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the apricots are soft and pulpy. Drain (mine did not have any water left) and process in a food processor to a purée.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF. Lightly grease a 6 cup soufflé dish* (using vertical strokes) and sprinkle the bottom and sides with 1 tablespoon of the sugar.
Put the egg yolks, honey, lemon zest and apricot purée and beat until smooth.

Whisk the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form, then beat in the remaining sugar. Fold 1 tablespoon egg whites into the apricot mixture and mix well. Lightly fold in the remaining egg white, being careful to keep the mixture light and aerated. Spoon into the soufflé dish and level the surface. Run your thumb around the inside rim to create a gap between the mixture and the wall of the dish (this will encourage even rising).

Bake on the upper shelf in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until risen and just set. Cover loosely with foil if the surface starts to overbrown (I’m not sure how this would work with a soufflé the way it does with a cake, but the info comes from the book).
Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve at once.

* I halved the recipe, used two 1-cup capacity soufflé dishes and baked them for 15 minutes.

Serves 4

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dulce de leche cake for my dad's birthday

Dulce de leche cake

My father has a weakness for dulce de leche; well, pretty much everyone I know does. :) So it was easy to choose his birthday cake.

His birthday is today, but we celebrated it last Saturday – a small group of great people, good food... I’m glad Dad liked it.

I laughed my heart out when he arrived and looked at the cake – there were two big candles with the numbers “6” and “0”.
“Not anyone needs to know I’m turning 60...” he said.
“Apparently, my sister thinks they do – she’s the one who bought the candles and, not only are they huge, but they’re also covered in glitter!” :)

Happy birthday, Dad!!

Dulce de leche cake

Dulce de leche cake
adapted from The Whimsical Bakehouse and from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes

8 eggs
1 1/3 cups (233g) packed light brown sugar
1 2/3 cups (233g) cake flour*
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm

¼ cup (50g) vanilla scented caster sugar
½ cup (120ml) water
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Dulce de leche cream:
2 cups (480ml) heavy cream
1 cup dulce de leche

Make the cake: preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF. Line the bottoms of three 20cm (8-inch) round cake pans with rounds of parchment or waxed paper, but do not grease the pans.
In a large heatproof bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Gradually whisk in the brown sugar. Set over a pot of barely simmering water and whisk constantly until the brown sugar dissolves and the mixture warms to body temperature. Remove from the heat and, with an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until the mixture holds slowly dissolving ribbons when the beaters are lifted.
Put the flour and cinnamon in a sifter and sift about 1/3 over the top of the eggs. Gently fold in with a large metal spoon. Repeat 2 more times with the remaining flour, folding only until mixed, with no trace of flour.
Drizzle the melted butter over the batter and fold in, now with a rubber spatula, taking care not to deflate the batter or to leave pockets of butter not folded in. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared cake pans.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean – mine took 25 minutes. Let cool completely in the pans. Run a blunt knife around the edge of each cake to release it from the pan. Turn out onto a wire rack and carefully peel off the paper.

Now, the syrup: boil the sugar and water over medium heat until the mixture reduces to ½ cup. Remove from heat, add the vanilla extract and allow to cool before using.

Prepare the dulce de leche cream: Place the cream in the freezer for 4 minutes.
In a large chilled mixer bowl with chilled beaters, combine the cream with the dulce de leche. Beat on low speed to combine and dissolve the dulce de leche. Raise the mixer to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks form.

Assemble the cake: place one cake layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Brush it with the rum syrup to moisten evenly. Cover the layer with about 2/3 cup of the dulce de leche cream, spreading it evenly to the edges. Repeat with the next layer, moistening it with the syrup as well.
Top with the third layer. Moisten it with the syrup. Frost the top and sides of the cake completely with the remaining dulce de leche cream (there was about ¼ cup left in the end). Then, using a cake comb or the cutting edge of a serrated knife, run it around the side of the cake to make a grooved pattern all around – I melted 100g dark chocolate (60% cocoa solids) and drizzled it over the cake, Jackson Pollock style (idea from here).

* there’s no cake flour here in Brazil, so I used the following: 1 cup cake flour = 7/8 cup (123g) all purpose flour + 2 tablespoons corn starch

Serves 12-16

Dulce de leche cake

Friday, July 11, 2008

Lemon curd

Lemon curd

Reading food blogs and cookbooks is wonderful. But it can also be devastating for a curious person like me. I won’t rest until I make/try something new... And lemon curd was absolutely new to me.

Lemon curd is not part of our food habits here in Brazil and I had not known about it until I started blogging. Being the citrus freak that I am, it immediately caught my attention. No lemon curd in grocery stores around here?? No problem – off to the kitchen to make some.

I had some egg yolks left from the Zuger Kirschtorte and, with Rose Levy’s book on one hand and some beautiful lemons on the other, I was determined to taste what my fellow foodies loved so much.

It was... Sublime. I would never have thought that something so delicious would come up from mixing only eggs, butter and lemons. I want to use it as a cake filling, too.

It says on the recipe that the curd can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks, but I think that after the first week the flavor was a little off, kind of eggy.

Lemon curd

Lemon curd
from The Cake Bible

4 large egg yolks
½ cup + 2 tablespoons (125g) sugar
3 fl oz (93ml or about 2 ½ large lemons) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
4 tablespoons (56g) unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

In a heavy noncorrodible saucepan beat the yolks and sugar until well blended. Stir in the remaining ingredients except the lemon zest. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and resembling a thin hollandaise sauce, which thickly coats a wooden spoon but is still liquid enough to pour. The mixture will change from translucent to opaque and being to take on a yellow color on the back of wooden spoon. It must not be allowed to boil or it will curdle. Whenever steam appears, remove briefly from heat, stirring constantly to keep from boiling. When the curd has thickened, pour at once into a strainer. Press with the back of a spoon until only coarse residue remains; discard the residue. Stir in the lemon zest and cool – more sugar can be added to taste while the curd is still warm, but I did not think it was necessary.
Pour into an airtight container. The curd will continue to thicken while resting and chilling.

Makes 1 full cup

Lemon curd

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cheese Stuffed Crusty Rolls

Cheese stuffed crusty rolls

Choosing something doesn’t always have to be a difficult task – and that coming from the one who can take forever to decide which recipe to prepare is quite an improvement. Sometimes, we just know where to find it.

If you have a twisted, weird, crazy-looking role, you get Gary Oldman. Very simple. And if you want beautiful, delicious, out of this world desserts, you just go to Helen’s blog. But she can bake some seriously good savory recipes as well – yeah, I know, there’s nothing to be surprised here. :)

The cheese stuffed crusty rolls she posted in May were fantastic and the idea of using herbes de Provence in their filling sounded brilliant.

I have a challenge for you: make these and DO NOT eat them all the minute they are out of the oven. :)

Cheese stuffed crusty rolls

Cheese Stuffed Crusty Rolls

1 ¼ cups (175g) bread flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon instant yeast
½ cup (120ml) cool water

all of the starter
1 cup (240ml) + 2 tablespoons to 1 ¼ cups (300ml) lukewarm water – I used 300ml
½ teaspoon salt
3 ½ cups (490g) all purpose flour
½ teaspoon instant yeast

1 ½ cups (280g/10oz) grated Monterey Jack cheese – I used the yellow mozzarella we have here, that seems to be really similar to Monterey Jack
1 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons herbes de Provence

Cheese stuffed crusty rolls

To make the starter: mix the 1 ¼ cups flour, salt, yeast, and ½ cup water in a medium-sized bowl. Mix till well combined. Cover with plastic and let rest overnight at room temperature.

Make the filling: mix well all the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

To make the dough: combine the risen starter with the water, salt, flour, and yeast. Knead by hand or with a stand mixer for a few minutes (I went with 5 minutes by hand, like Helen did). Place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until it’s nearly doubled in size. Gently deflate the dough, and pat and stretch it into a ¾ inch-thick rectangle, about 9x12in (23x30cm). Spritz with water, and sprinkle with the grated cheese and the herbs. Starting with a long side, roll it into a log, pinching the seam to seal. Place the log, seam-side down, on a lightly floured or lightly oiled surface. Cover it and let it rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours, till it’s puffy though not doubled in size. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF. Gently cut the log into four crosswise slices, for mini-breads; or simply cut the dough in half, for two normal-sized loaves. Place them on one (for two loaves) or two (for four mini-loaves) lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, cut side up. Spread them open a bit, if necessary, to more fully expose the cheese and close the other end. Spritz with warm water, and immediately place them in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes (for the mini-loaves), or 35 minutes (for the full-sized loaves), or until the cheese is melted and the loaves are a very deep golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack.

Note: You can also roll the log and cut 12 slices from it and set them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and proceed with the recipe as written.

Cheese stuffed crusty rolls

Monday, July 7, 2008

Orange syrup cake

Orange syrup cake

Remember Jim Profit?? He was a bad, bad guy. I think he and Patty Hewes could go hand in hand with their cruelty. Come to think of it... Who am I kidding? No one could ever match Patty Hewes. :)

I had been meaning to make this recipe for months – the magazine I got it from (DH #35) is from November/2007!

The original calls for blood oranges but since I have never seen them in Brazil, I used regular oranges instead. I remember trying blood orange juice when I was in Berlin last year, it was so refreshing and good! Too bad I can’t find it here.

I don’t know if regular oranges would match blood oranges in this cake – if someone tries it, I’d love to hear it!

Gently cook the oranges in the syrup and try not to stir them too much, so they will look nice and pretty on the cake.

Orange syrup cake

Orange syrup cake
from Donna Hay magazine

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

4 eggs
1 cup (220g/7 ¾oz) caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (150g/5 ¼oz) self-raising flour
150g (5 ¼oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup (110g/3¾ oz) almond meal
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Sticky orange topping:
1 cup (220g/7 ¾ oz) caster sugar
½ cup (125ml/4 fl oz) water
2 large oranges, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 160ºC/320ºF. To make the sticky orange topping, place the sugar and water in a large non-stick frying pan (I used a regular stainless steel pan) over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the oranges and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the oranges are soft. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk for 8-10 minutes or until thick, pale and tripled in volume. Sift the flour over the egg mixture and fold through. Add the butter, almond meal and lemon zest and fold through.
Grease and double line the base and sides of a 20cm (8in) round cake pan with non-stick baking paper – make sure you use a deep pan and leave about 1inch (2.5cm) paper hanging out of it to hold the cake batter once it starts rising. Arrange the orange slices on the base and around the sides, reserving the syrup. Pour over the cake batter and bake for 50-60 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Turn the cake onto a wire rack and spoon over some of the reserved syrup. Allow to cool before serving and serve the remaining syrup in a separate bowl.

Serves 8

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Marbled lemon-blueberry butter cake

Marbled lemon-blueberry butter cake

I’m afraid of certain things. Robert de Niro and his long nails, Dakota Fanning – they scare the bejeesus out of me. And I almost had a heart attack the night I dreamed that Amy Winehouse was my doctor.

Making jam?? That is pretty scary. I think I could mix the ingredients together and check the jam for doneness, but I couldn’t sterilize jars correctly if my life depended on it.
That’s why this recipe seemed perfect – I love lemon and love berries. I would never be able to resist combining both in a jam to become the filling for a luscious butter cake, no sterilizing involved. Of course, a picture of the cake in the book was pretty convincing as well. :)

Marbled lemon-blueberry butter cake

Don’t be put off by the different stages of this recipe – the result is worth every minute of the making. I halved the recipe and used two 15cm (6in) pans - don't do it like me and use larger pans.

Marbled lemon-blueberry butter cake

Marbled lemon-blueberry butter cake
from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes

Lemon-blueberry preserves:
3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen*
¾ cup (150g) sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

8 ounces (224g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (400g) sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 ½ teaspoons lemon extract – I used lemon juice
7 egg whites
3 cups (420g) cake flour**
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups (300ml) milk

Lemon buttercream frosting:
1 cup (200g) sugar
¼ cup (60ml) water
2 eggs
12 ounces (336g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Fresh blueberries, for decoration – I used crystallized violets

Marbled lemon-blueberry butter cake

Make the preserves first, since you’ll swirl some of it into the cake batter: purée the blueberries, with any juices they have exuded, in a blender or food processor. Pass the puré e through a coarse strainer or the medium disk of a food mill to remove the skins.

In a heavy medium nonreactive saucepan, combine the blueberry purée with the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and ginger. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Continue cooking, stirring often, for 20 minutes, until the preserves have thickened and are reduced to 1 cup. To check for proper thickness, place 1 to 2 teaspoons on a small china or glass plate and put it in the freezer until cold. Drag your finger through the thickened purée: a clear path should remain. If it's not ready, cook 5 minutes longer and repeat the test. Let the preserves cool, then cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Prepare the cake: preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Butter the bottom and sides of three 8-inch (20cm) round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

In a mixer bowl, cream the butter, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon extract until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg whites, 2 or 3 at a time, beating well between additions and stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; whisk gently to blend. In 2 or 3 alternating additions, beat the dry ingredients and milk into the butter mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times. Beat on medium-high speed for about 1 minute to smooth out any lumps and aerate the batter.

Scoop 1 cup of the batter into a small bowl. Divide the remainder equally among the 3 prepared cake pans, smoothing the tops with a rubber spatula. This gives you a "clean canvas" to work with. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of the Lemon-Blueberry Preserves to the reserved batter and blend well. Drizzle heaping teaspoons of this blueberry mixture over the batter in the pans. Using a skewer or paring knife, swirl the blueberry mixture in short strokes to drag it down through the lemon batter without mixing it in.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let the layers cool in their pans for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely, at least 1 hour.

Make the frosting: in a small nonreactive saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue to boil without stirring, occasionally washing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, 238ºF (114ºC) on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove from the heat.

In a large mixer bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs briefly. Slowly add the hot syrup in a thin stream, pouring it down the sides of the bowl; be careful to avoid hitting the beaters, or the syrup may splatter. When all the syrup has been added, raise the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is very fluffy and cooled to body temperature. This can take 15 to 20 minutes.

Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and gradually add the softened butter, 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, beating well between additions. As you're adding the last few tablespoons of butter, the frosting will appear to break, then suddenly come together like whipped butter. Beat in the lemon juice, and the frosting is ready for use.

To assemble the cake: place a cake layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread half of the Lemon-Blueberry Preserves over the top. Place a second layer on top of the first and spread the remaining preserves over it. Finally, place the third layer on top of the second and frost the sides and top of the cake with the lemon buttercream Frosting. Decorate with fresh blueberries.

* if using frozen berries, measure them while frozen, then thaw completely in a bowl, saving any juices, before proceeding with the recipe.

** there’s no cake flour here in Brazil, so I used a substitute I found on the web: 1 cup cake flour = 7/8 cup (123g) all purpose flour + 2 tablespoons corn starch

Serves 16-20

Marbled lemon-blueberry butter cake

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Jam sandwich cookies

Jam sandwich cookies

Baking cookies is not something common here in Brazil, so the ones I had growing up were of the store-bought variety. As a kid, I was never a fan of sandwich cookies. My friends and cousins loved them, and they would even open up the cookie and eat the entire filling first. The cookies I liked were the simple, plain ones. Like digestive cookies and such. When I was 6-7 there were cookies shaped like the characters from “The Flintstones” – those were my absolute favorites.

But things change and now I like many types of cookies – pretty much all, I could say. The lovely Steph is holding a special event and she wants to know her readers’ favorite cookies. Mine are lemon cookies (surprise, surprise). :)
Go there and take part, too – there’s a prize involved!

Even though there’s no lemon in these, they are delicious, too – I made them for a friend who had a hard time a couple of weeks ago.

My only advice here is to avoid much too sweet jams – in my opinion, a tart filling would go better with these cookies.

Jam sandwich cookies

Jam sandwich cookies
from here

Baking Mix:
3 cups (420g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 ½ cups (300g) sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ tablespoon salt

4 cups Baking Mix, spooned and leveled
1 cup (2 sticks/226g) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ cup (120ml) whole milk
1 cup seedless jam or jelly – I used blackberry jam, seeds and all

Start by making the mix: in a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 months. Whisk before using.
Makes about 4 ¼ cups – you’ll need 4 for the recipe

Now, the cookies: preheat oven to 175ºC/350ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a food processor, pulse baking mix and butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add milk; pulse until a dough forms – I used the Kitchen Aid with the paddle attachment.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoons* onto sheets, 3 inches (7.5cm) apart - you will fit about 9 cookies to a sheet; bake in two batches to make a total of 36 cookies. Bake until cookies begin to turn golden but center is still pale, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Spread flat side of half the cookies with 2 teaspoons jam each; sandwich with remaining cookies.

Makes 18
* I did not want very large cookies, so I used leveled tablespoons of dough and got 25 sandwich cookies

Jam sandwich cookies

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