Friday, February 27, 2009

Pistachio ice cream

Pistachio ice cream

Two things this week have convinced me I should trust my instincts more often.

I saw a teaser for “The Wrestler” many months ago and thought “this is my kind of film”. A director a deeply admire – Julia Roberts got all the awards that year, but they should have gone to Ellen Burstyn – working with an actor from one of Alan Parker’s finest moments (one of my all time favorites. Can’t tell you how much I love that movie).

All I can say is thank you, Mr. Aronofsky. Thank you for one of the greatest films I have ever seen. Thank you for 2 hours of drama, poetry and all sorts of emotions. And thank you for NOT letting Nicolas Cage get the part.

The other nice surprise I had was food related. When I saw Ana Elisa’s pistachio ice cream I knew I had to make it - it had my name written all over it.
I finally made her recipe early on this week and the result was an ice cream I simply cannot resist. Absurdly delicious.

Ana, thank you. Thanking you 100 times would not be enough. :D

Pistachio ice cream

Pistachio ice cream

1 ½ cups (200g) raw, shelled and unsalted pistachios
3 ¾ cups (900ml) whole milk*
4 egg yolks
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (180g) caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt

Place pistachio and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil; reduce the heat and let it simmer for 3 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon to keep the foam from overflowing. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 15 minutes.
Pour the pistachio-milk mixture into a blender. Cover with the larger lid and remove the central one. Place a folded kitchen tower over the remaining lid and blend the mixture until smooth – removing one of the lids will release excess steam from inside the blender and the towel will keep the mixture from splashing. Be careful when blending hot liquids.

Line a fine colander with fine muslin or cheesecloth and place over a large bowl. Pour the pistachio mixture over the cloth and set aside for about 10 minutes.
Gather the cloth ends and squeeze out over the colander until you get as much liquid as possible – you should get about 2 ½ cups (600ml) of pistachio milk.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Set aside.

Heat the pistachio milk once again until it almost comes to a boil. Remove from heat and pour about ¼ of the mixture over the egg yolks, whisking well until smooth. Pour the remaining liquid, whisk and then return it all to the pan.
Place it over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard is thick enough to coat back of spoon and registers 76 to 79ºC/170 to 175ºF on an instant-read thermometer (do not let boil).

Strain custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl, add vanilla and salt and mix well. Refrigerate it half-covered for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Freeze custard in ice cream maker, transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer until firm, about 4 hours.

* I had some heavy cream in the fridge begging to be used (it was about to expire), so I replaced 1 cup milk for 1 cup cream.

Makes about 1 quart (950ml)

Pistachio ice cream

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bill’s coconut bread

Bill's coconut bread

It’s 32ºC (90ºF) now here in Sao Paulo and many people wish they were at the beach. But not me – I don’t like going to the beach...


Now that you have finished throwing rotten tomatoes at me, I’ll go on. :D

I don’t like the salt, the sand, the heat... I do go to the beach, though – Joao loves it. And people do the craziest things for love, don’t they?
Luckily, I have found 2 or 3 beach haters like me in the world – like Mark – and stopped feeling like a freak. :D

Bill Granger reminds me of the beach – it seems that everything he makes has a tropical, fresh feel. Not to mention that gorgeous house by the ocean we see on the show (Joao would love to have one like that). This is one of his recipes and I liked the result very much.

Bill's coconut bread

Bill’s coconut bread

2 eggs
1 ¼ cups (300ml) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 ½ cups (350g) plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup (200g) caster sugar
150g unsweetened shredded coconut
75g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF; grease and flour a 21x10cm (8 ½x4in)* loaf pan.

Lightly whisk eggs, milk and vanilla together.
Sift flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl, add sugar and coconut, and stir to combine.
Make a well in the centre and gradually stir in the egg mixture until just combined.
Add melted butter and stir until the mixture is just smooth, being careful not to over-mix.
Pour into prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, or until bread is cooked when tested with a skewer.
Leave in the pan to cool for 5 minutes, and remove to cool further on a wire rack.
Serve in thick slices, toasted, buttered and dusted with icing sugar.

* I used a 26x10.5cm loaf pan and it was pretty full. The batter did not overflow, though.

Makes 8-10 thick slices

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sweet corn ice cream

Sweet corn ice cream

Food bloggers love sharing recipes and I am no exception – I have made tons of recipes from other blogs and it’s a huge pleasure for me when people try the recipes I post here. It’s a great exchange and I feel lucky to be part of it.

What makes me even happier is being able to show my foreign readers a bit about the food we eat here in Brazil, or at least in the region I live. I once got an email from Marta - a lady from New Zealand - asking about my butternut squash compote. And a few months ago the compote was featured on Apartment Therapy – The Kitchn. Faith prepared the recipe, adding her own twist, and liked it!

I give you now a very Brazilian ice cream flavor – it’s common to use corn in sweet recipes here (remember my corn fudge?). I slightly adapted a recipe from Nestlé’s Brazilian website – a touch of cinnamon and the ice cream reminded me of curau.

Sweet corn ice cream

Sweet corn ice cream

1 can (200g) corn kernels, drained and rinsed
1 ¼ cups (300ml) whole milk
1 can (395g) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

Place the kernels and milk in a blender and blend until smooth. Push mixture through a sieve and put it back in the blender. Add the sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, cinnamon and salt and blend.
Pour into a metal/glass bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in the freezer until firm, at least 4 hours, before serving.

Serves 8-10

Sweet corn ice cream

Friday, February 13, 2009

Chocolate ice cream with macadamia brittle

Chocolate ice cream with macadamia brittle

I’ve already told you how much I love blogging and the several reasons for that – being you, the people who read me, an amazing one.

Another favorite reason is that I’ll write what I want, about what I want... About people I find beautiful and talented, or ugly and shallow – it is MY blog, after all. You have the right to disagree with me and we can have a nice “conversation” this way - because you are a very important part of my blog.

Of course there are those people who will only comment to show how inconvenient they are - I guess they have too much time in their hands. But I don’t care – for each one of those, there are 50 like you.

Because you make my days a lot sweeter I want to share this ice cream with you – with an extra help from crunchy caramel and buttery nuts.

Chocolate ice cream with macadamia brittle

Chocolate ice cream with macadamia brittle
from here and here

Ice cream:
2 cups (480ml) heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
140g (5 oz) bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped – I used one with 70% cocoa solids
1 cup (240ml) whole milk
¾ cup (150g) sugar
pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Warm 1 cup (240ml) of cream with cocoa powder in medium saucepan, whisking to thoroughly blend the cocoa. Bring to boil then reduce heat and gently simmer for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until smooth. Stir in remaining cup of cream. Pour mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as much as possible. Set mesh strainer atop the bowl. Warm milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan. Stir mixture constantly over medium heat making sure the scrape the bottom and corners, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (I used a wooden spoon). Pour custard through strainer and stir it into the chocolate until smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Continue to stir over ice bath until cool – I just let the mixture reach room temperature then refrigerated it, covered.
Refrigerate the mixture to cool thoroughly and then freeze it in your ice cream machine per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Yields 1 quart

Chocolate ice cream with macadamia brittle

Macadamia brittle:
¾ cup (180ml) water
1 ¼ cups sugar
¾ cup unsalted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped

Butter a large baking sheet; set aside.
In a heavy saucepan, mix water and sugar with a wooden spoon. Place over medium heat and cook without stirring – you can swirl the pan around – for 12 minutes or until golden. Quickly mix in the chopped macadamias and pour the mixture over the prepared baking sheet. Set aside to cool completely then break into pieces or cut with a sharp knife.
Serve with ice cream.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I'm in a marshmallow state of mind...

Strawberry marshmallows

Quoting – I mean, sort of – Billy Joel reminds me of the day I saw him and his teeny-tiny wife on Oprah. Katie Lee Joel was showing their apartment and telling how she had gotten Nate Berkus to decorate it, after watching him on Oprah one day. When the cameras got to her room, I was in complete shock – the doors of her (huge) closet were all covered in gold. Yes, people, GOLD. Seriously – I found that so tacky I had to laugh. Out loud. Who needs gold splashed on the walls, for heaven's sake? I wonder if they would air that episode nowadays.

Well, back to something important – the marshmallows. These are great and even though there are extravagant amounts of sugar and corn syrup involved you can still taste the fruit. Make sure you check the post I got the recipe from – her marshmallows look absolutely amazing.

Strawberry marshmallows

Strawberry marshmallows

2 tablespoons (or 8 sheets) unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup strawberry purée – blend/process 5-6 strawberries and pass through a fine sieve to remove the seeds
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups (300g) sugar
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons water
½ cup + 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (140g) confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch

Line a 20cm (8in) square pan with parchment paper. Coat this with a very thin layer of vegetable oil*.

Fit a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. In the mixing bowl, combine the puree with vanilla extract. Sprinkle with the gelatin and allow to bloom (soften).

In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, salt, corn syrup and water. Bring to a boil with the lid on and without stirring. When it is at a boil, remove lid and continue to cook without stirring until it reaches the soft-ball stage – 112-115ºC/234-240ºF.

With the mixer at medium speed, pour tall of the hot syrup slowly down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Please be very careful with the hot mixture - use a splash guard if you have one. When all the syrup is added, bring the mixture up to full speed and whip until mixture is fluffy and stiff about 8-10 minutes – if you are using a Kitchen Aid mixer that will take about 5 minutes.

Pour marshmallow into the parchment lined pan and smooth with an oiled offset spatula if necessary. Drop food coloring over the marshmallow and swirl around with a toothpick to create the marbled effect. Allow to sit, uncovered at room temperature for 10-12 hours.

Mix confectioners’ sugar and corn starch and sift over the rested marshmallows. Turn slap onto a cutting board, peel off paper and dust with more of the powder mixture. Cut as desired and dredge again in the powder mixture, and shake off excess powder – using a lightly oiled knife makes this step a lot easier.

* I had a hard time removing them from the paper, but it was worth it. :D

Makes 36

Strawberry marshmallows

Monday, February 9, 2009



What should one do when feeling a desperate urge to make something sweet but has no time to wait for the butter to come to room temperature, not to mention there is something else in the oven? Candy. In my case, bright red and very, very sweet lollipops.

These might look tricky, but believe me, they are not. The lollipops were fun to make and I think they would be a great treat for birthday parties – not only for kids, of course. :D


from The Christmas Candy Book

1 cup (200g) sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup (80ml) water
1-2 drops oil of anise, cinnamon, clove, lemon or orange – I used vanilla extract
few drops of red, yellow, blue or green food coloring

Oil a marble slab or baking sheet. Have ready at least a dozen wooden sucker sticks.

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water and stir to blend. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover and boil for 2-3 minutes. Uncover and insert a candy thermometer in the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the temperature reaches 143ºC/290ºF. If sugar crystals form on the pan sides, wash the down with a pastry brush dipped in warm water.
Remove the pan from the heat and immediately dip the bottom of it into a pan of cold water to arrest cooking, removing quickly before the mixture gets too cold. Place on a dry kitchen towel. Add the flavoring and coloring of choice.
Using a large metal spoon, immediately spoon a little less than 4cm (1½ in) pools of syrup onto the prepared marble slab/sheet*. Lay one end of the lollipop stick in each pool of syrup while still soft and push gently to secure in place. Dot a little extra syrup on the embedded end of the stick. Let cool at room temperature until completely set, about 2 hours.

Wrap each lollipop in cellophane or waxed paper. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

* once the mixture got cold and difficult to mold, I returned the pan to medium heat, stirring, until it became soft again (30 seconds or so)


Makes about 12 – I got 16


Friday, February 6, 2009

Banana-oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Banana-oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

I started listening to Smiths at the age of 9 and even though I understood nothing Morrissey said those songs made a strange kind of sense to me – I ended up learning why later on in life. Music became a huge part of my days and brought me comfort in several bad moments.

Besides listening to the songs, I loved checking out the LP covers – some were absolutely fantastic. I became obsessed about one in particular – Whitesnake’s “Slide it in” – which is really funny, since I’ve always hated snakes. The 13 year-old me could not resist David Coverdale singing – to this day I think he has the most beautiful male voice ever.

Another one of my obsessions is baking cookies, but that you already know. These are from Liz’s gorgeous blog.

Banana-oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Banana-oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

1 ¾ cup (200g) quick-cooking rolled oats – I used thin rolled oats
1 ½ cups (210g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (175g) firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (170g/6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels
1 medium-sized ripe but firm banana, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 cup coarsely chopped whole almonds

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF; Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars at medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until blended. At low speed, add the flour mixture one-third at a time, mixing just until blended. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the semisweet morsels, banana, and almonds (it’s all right if the banana pieces get a little mashed) – I incorporated everything in the mixer in the lowest speed.

Drop the dough by rounded tablespoonsfuls* onto the prepared sheets, spacing the cookies 5cm (2 inches) apart. Moisten your palm to prevent sticking and flatten the mounds of dough slightly. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 11 to 13 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown on the bottom – mine needed 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.

Makes about 52 cookies

* I used 1 ½ heaping tablespoons of dough per cookie and got 34.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cherry ice cream with white chocolate

Cherry ice cream with white chocolate

I know some of you will roll your eyes in despair because I replaced the dark chocolate in this recipe with white chocolate, but let me at least say that it worked really well! The ice cream itself is not overly sweet, so don’t worry about going into a sugar coma.

Think of this as a nice change – unlike replacing one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll singers of all time with this guy.

Cherry ice cream with white chocolate

Cherry ice cream with white chocolate
from here

1 ½ cups pitted ripe sweet cherries (from about ¾lb/340g cherries)
¾ cup (180ml) milk
1 ¾ cups (420ml) heavy cream
½ cup (100g) sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons crème de cassis, kirsch, cherry liqueur, or rum (optional) – I used rum
112g (4 ounces) white chocolate, melted

Put cherries, milk, 1 cup (240ml) of the cream, sugar, and salt into a medium saucepan. Heat on medium heat until the mixture is steamy, then lower the heat to warm and just let sit for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour mixture into a blender, or use an immersion blender, and carefully purée (Be careful because you are dealing with a hot liquid. Make sure you hold the cap down on the top of the blender while puréeing).

Put mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the remaining ¾ cup (180ml) of cream. Chill for several hours in the refrigerator until completely cold (Can also place bowl over an ice bath, to speed up the cooling process).

Before putting the mixture into your ice cream maker, stir in the lemon juice and the crème de cassis or other liqueur (or rum) if you are using. Note that you can skip the alcohol if you want, but the addition of it will help the ice cream from getting too icy, and the flavored liqueurs such as kirsch or crème de cassis can add a nice flavor boost to the ice cream. Churn the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. When ice cream has finished churning, carefully pour chocolate in a slow stream directly onto ice cream as it churns and continue to churn 30 seconds (chocolate will harden in streaks).
Put in an airtight container and place in the freezer for at least an hour, preferably several hours.

Makes about one quart (950ml)

Cherry ice cream with white chocolate

Monday, February 2, 2009

Lime yogurt cake and the power of positive thinking

Lime yogurt cake

I usually think of myself as a realistic person, but also believe that good things come to those who think positively. Seating on the couch without actually doing anything will get you nowhere, but keeping a positive attitude towards life and being grateful for what you already have may help you succeed.

The Pollyanna side of me worked hard last Saturday – at least for the entire time this cake was in the oven. Even though I used a larger pan than the one called for in the recipe it still got very full. After reluctantly placing the cake in the oven all I could do was hope for the best. Using the correct pan - which I firmly believe not to be the one in the recipe - would have delivered a much prettier and fluffier cake, I’m sure. But in the end the batter did not overflow and the cake turned out very moist - due to the yogurt - and tasted good. St. Lawrence would be proud. :D

Lime yogurt cake

Lime yogurt cake
from here

220g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
330g caster sugar
2 eggs
250g Greek style yogurt
¼ cup (60ml) lime juice
1 ½ tablespoons lime zest
2 cups (280g) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ cups (210g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 ½ tablespoons lime juice
1 ½ tablespoons water
lime zest, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 160ºC/320ºF. Grease a 10x20cm* loaf pan and line the bottom with baking paper.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat to incorporate. Beat in the yogurt, lime juice and zest. Sift the flour and baking powder over the batter and beat to incorporate.

Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan.

Make the icing: place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add a few drops of water if necessary.
Turn the cake onto a serving plate, drizzle with the icing and sprinkle with the zest.

* I used a 10.5x26cm loaf pan and the batter almost overflew :(

Serves 8-10

Lime yogurt cake

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