Monday, June 29, 2009

Roasted strawberry meringues

Roasted strawberry meringues / Suspiros com morangos assados

Strawberries are in season here now and I have a loooong list of recipes to make with them – it’s been my favorite fruit even since I was a kid. My mom used to make a wonderful strawberry tart and I loved it so much she would make it all winter long.

I can’t wait to try making my mom’s tart, but these meringues looked so pretty on the magazine I had to start my strawberry frenzy with them.

Roasted strawberry meringues / Suspiros com morangos assados

Roasted strawberry meringues
from Donna Hay magazine

150ml (about 4) egg whites
1 cup (200g) caster sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 cup (240ml) whipping cream, to serve
1 tablespoon icing sugar

Roasted strawberries:
16 strawberries, hulled and halved
1/3 cup (67g) caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF. To make the roasted strawberries, place them in a small baking dish (do not use a shallow dish because the juices will bubble away in the oven) and sprinkle with the sugar. Mix well and roast for 10-15 minutes or until the strawberries are soft and syrupy. Remove and set aside.

Reduce the oven temperature to 120ºC/250ºF. Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and vinegar and beat until the mixture is thick and glossy - rub a little of the mixture between your fingertips; when you no longer feel the sugar granules, the mixture is ready.
Place spoonfuls of the meringue onto two large baking sheets lined with non-stick baking paper - I used regular baking paper. Using the back of a teaspoon, make a dent in the center to create a nest and bake for 25 minutes* or until the meringues are crisp on the outside. Turn the oven off and allow the meringues to cool in the oven for 30 minutes.
Place the cream and icing sugar in a bowl and beat until firm peaks form.
To serve, spoon the roasted strawberries into the center of each meringue and top with the cream.

* I halved the recipe, made 6-7cm meringue rounds and ended up with 8 meringues, that were baked for 55 minutes

Makes 30-35

Roasted strawberry meringues / Suspiros com morangos assados

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Almond praliné madeleines

Almond praliné madeleines / Madeleines com praliné de amêndoas

You’ve probably heard that “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, right? Well, I haven’t made anything with lemons this time – which is pretty unusual for this blog – but the saying fits perfectly here.

I wanted to bake a special gift for a special young lady (more about that later on this week) and thought that dulce de leche macarons would make her happy. The problem is that my macarons ended up in the garbage can and I got stuck with a batch of praliné. A look at my bookshelf and inspiration hit me: I’d use one of Dorie’s madeleine recipes and add the crushed praliné to the batter. Worked like a charm. :D

Almond praliné madeleines / Madeleines com praliné de amêndoas

Almond praliné madeleines
adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

5 tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter
¾ cup (105g) all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup (67g) sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 recipe crushed praliné (recipe follows)

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl and set aside.
Working with a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar until pale and thick, 2-3 minutes. Add the honey and vanilla and beat well. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients and the praliné. When they are incorporated, fold in the butter. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the batter and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or for up to 2 days (it will firm up quite a bit).

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF. Butter 12-full size madeleines molds, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Spoon the batter into the molds ¾ full – don’t worry about leavening the batter, the oven’s heat will take care of that.
Bake for 12-14 minutes or until madeleines are golden and the tops spring back when touched. Remove the pan form the oven and release the madeleines from the mold.
Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature.

Makes 12 – I got 12 traditional-shaped madeleines + 9 scallop-shaped ones

Almond praliné:

3 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup (38g) unblanched almonds

Line a baking sheet with foil and brush it lightly with oil. Set aside.
Combine the sugar and almonds in a heavy saucepan. Place over medium heat to begin melting the sugar. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon so the sugar melts and caramelizes evenly. Cook to a light amber color.
Scrape the praliné from the saucepan and spread it about 6mm (¼-inch) thick onto prepared foil. Let cool to room temperature for about 10 minutes. Break the hard praliné into about 3.5cm (1 ½-in) pieces, place them in a bowl of a food processor and quickly pulse until finely ground.

Almond praliné madeleines / Madeleines com praliné de amêndoas

Monday, June 22, 2009

Vanilla cream cupcakes... and a bit of soccer

Vanilla cream cupcakes / Cupcakes com geléia e creme

When the Brazilian soccer team lost the World Cup to France in 1998 I was so shocked I made a promise: I would never cheer for the team again (because the whole thing looked like a huge set up involving $$$). I’m a soccer freak – love the sport – and even though it was a bit hard I was able to keep my promise. At least until yesterday – I could not resist watching Brazil x Italy, the greatest soccer classic ever. I felt that old flame back again: the team played beautifully and scored 3 goals – it was an amazing game.

I might no longer be able to keep the soccer promise, but will honor the one I made here a couple of weeks ago: more cupcakes!

Vanilla cream cupcakes / Cupcakes com geléia e creme

Vanilla cream cupcakes
from Donna Hay magazine

125g unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup + 1 tablespoon (162g) caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup + 4 tablespoons (180g) all purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder, sifted
½ cup (120ml) milk, room temperature

Vanilla cream:
½ cup (120ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon icing sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup strawberry jam

Preheat the oven to 160ºC/320ºF. Place the butter, sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 10-12 minutes or until light and creamy. Gradually add the eggs and beat well. Add the flour, baking powder and milk and beat until just combined. Spoon into twelve ½ cup-capacity muffin pans lined with cupcake papers. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool completely on wire racks.
To make the vanilla cream, place the cream, icing sugar and vanilla in a bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Cut a small, round hole in the middle of each cupcake and remove the top; fill the holes with the jam and top with about 1 rounded teaspoon of cream. Place the lids by the side of each cream mound and serve.

Makes 12 – I halved the recipe, used 1/3-cup capacity muffin pans and got 6 cupcakes

Vanilla cream cupcakes / Cupcakes com geléia e creme

Friday, June 19, 2009

Onion tartlets

Onion tartlets / Tortinhas de cebola

Two people I hold very dear will be turning away at the blog upon seeing this recipe: my brother JP and my good friend C. - they hate onions with every fiber of their beings! :D

I’m not a fan of raw onions, but love them cooked or roasted. In these tartlets the onion slices are cooked in butter for a good while and after being mixed with the other filling ingredients and baked they became really soft, almost sweet.

The dough shrunk in the oven, resulting in smaller tart cases – because of that, there wasn’t much room for the filling, causing it to leak (I used loose-bottomed pans). The great flavor made me forget all the trouble. :D

Onion tartlets / Tortinhas de cebola

Onion tartlets
from Australian Gourmet Traveller

250g plain flour
125g cold unsalted butter, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg

Onion filling:
60g unsalted butter
600g (about 2 large) onions, cut in half then thinly sliced
3 eggs, beaten
200ml crème fraîche*
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Start with the dough: process flour, butter and salt in a food processor until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add egg, then while pulsing gradually add 2-3 tablespoons iced water until pastry forms into a ball. Transfer to a floured surface, knead for 30 seconds, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF. Roll out pastry to 5mm thick on a floured surface, cut out four 16cm-diameter rounds and use to line four 12cm-diameter tart pans, trimming excess pastry with a knife. Prick dough with a fork and place pans in freezer for 10 minutes, then bake for 12 minutes or until golden. Set aside until ready to use.
For onion filling, melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat, add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until softened but not brown. Transfer to a bowl and cool. Whisk eggs, crème fraîche and nutmeg together and season with salt and black pepper. Add to onions and combine well. Divide filling among tart pans and bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Serve warm or cold.

* I’ve never seen crème fraîche around here, so I added lime juice to heavy (whipping) cream and set aside, in room temperature, until thick

Serves 4 – I halved the recipe and got six 9cm tartlets

Onion tartlets / Tortinhas de cebola

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lemon marshmallows

Lemon marshmallows / Marshmallows de limão siciliano

My brother JP used to be a wonderful company back in my days as a single lady - he’s funny and witty and would always be ready to go to the movies with me even though to this day he doesn’t know who Martin Scorsese is. :D

One thing he didn’t like was going through the trailers prior to watching the actual movie - he didn’t understand how much fun I had watching the trailers at the theater and searching for more later on at home. “Don’t you ever get tired of that?” he once asked.

Now it’s my turn to ask my readers: are you tired of my marshmallow recipes? I just can’t get enough of them... :D

Lemon marshmallows / Marshmallows de limão siciliano

Lemon marshmallows
from Australian Gourmet Traveller

25g powdered gelatin
1 lemon, finely grated zest
¾ cup (180ml) lemon juice
500g caster sugar
1 tablespoon liquid glucose
2 egg whites
icing sugar, sifted, for dusting

Combine gelatin, zest and lemon juice in a small bowl and stand until lemon juice is absorbed (1-2 minutes). Fill a bowl with boiling water and place bowl of gelatin mixture on top and stand until gelatin has dissolved (1-2 minutes). Keep warm.
Combine sugar, glucose and 200ml water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve sugar, then brush down sides of pan using a wet, clean pastry brush and cook over medium heat until syrup reaches 125ºC/257ºF on a sugar thermometer (5-10 minutes).
Meanwhile, whisk egg whites using an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and whisk to firm peaks. With motor running and mixer speed on medium, slowly and simultaneously add syrup and gelatin mixture in a thin stream. Whisk until mixture cools to blood temperature. Spoon into a baking paper-lined* 20cm-square cake pan, smooth top using a wet palette knife and refrigerate until firm (1-2 hours). Remove marshmallow from the pan and place it on a cutting board heavily dusted with icing sugar. Carefully remove paper. Using a sharp knife lightly brushed with vegetable oil, cut into cubes, roll in icing sugar and place in an airtight container. Marshmallows will keep refrigerated for 1 week - I usually keep mine in room temperature but they never last that long. :D

* I saw that Deb used an oiled pan dusted with icing sugar (no paper involved). I’ll try that next time

Makes 64

Lemon marshmallows / Marshmallows de limão siciliano

Monday, June 15, 2009

Passion fruit coconut caramels

Passion fruit coconut caramels / Pudim de coco e maracujá

Aside from “Damages” second season, I haven’t watched anything interesting lately. The movies I want to watch will take a while to get here, so I think the solution will be a quick trip to the video store.

Knowing my DH mag would take a while to arrive – the editions follow the seasons here on the South Hemisphere, so there will be plenty of delicious winter recipes – I reached for my plan B when it comes to wonderful food.

Passion fruit coconut caramels / Pudim de coco e maracujá

Passion fruit coconut caramels
slightly adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller

1 cup (200g) demerara sugar, divided
¾ cup + 1 tablespoon (200ml) coconut milk
1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup (80 ml) passion fruit juice*

Combine ½ cup (100g) demerara sugar and ½ cup (120ml) water in a small saucepan and stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil and cook for 4-5 minutes or until caramelized. Remove from heat and pour into six ½ cup-capacity ovenproof dariole moulds** and set aside.
Preheat oven to 150ºC/302ºF. Combine remaining ½ cup (100g) demerara sugar, coconut milk and cream in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, then bring just to the boil. Whisk eggs, yolks and passion fruit juice to combine, pour over cream mixture, whisking to combine, then strain into a jug. Pour into prepared moulds and place in a roasting pan. Fill pan halfway up sides of moulds with boiling water, cover pan with foil and bake for 25 minutes or until just set. Remove moulds from water and refrigerate until cold.
To serve, dip mould bases in boiling water, invert onto plates and unmould.

* to make passion fruit juice, blend passion fruit pulp in a food processor to crack seeds, then strain through a fine sieve.

** I used three 1-cup-capacity soufflé bowls and doubled the oven time

Serves 6

Passion fruit coconut caramels / Pudim de coco e maracujá

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cherry, cashew and white chocolate chunk cookies

Cherry, cashew and white chocolate chunk cookies / Cookies de chocolate branco, castanha de caju e cerejas secas

“I’m not sure this is gonna work, but I’ll try it anyway” – my thoughts exactly when I came across this recipe. The ingredients were very appealing to me, but would they go well mixed up in a cookie? There was only one way to find out. :D

Even though I wasn’t completely happy about the texture – the cookies turned out really thin and delicate, difficult to carry around without breaking – the flavor was spot on. Another mixture I had doubts about at first but proved me wrong later on.

Cherry, cashew and white chocolate chunk cookies / Cookies de chocolate branco, castanha de caju e cerejas secas

Cherry, cashew and white chocolate chunk cookies
from Big Fat Cookies

1 ¼ cups (175g) unbleached all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks/170g) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
½ cup (88g) packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup (4oz/112g) dried cherries, coarsely chopped
1 cup (5oz/140g) salted roasted cashew halves, coarsely chopped
4oz (112g) white chocolate, chopped into 0.6cm/1.25cm (¼-½-in) pieces

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF; line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until smoothly blended, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Mix in the egg, lemon juice and vanilla until blended, about 1 minute. The mixture may look curdled. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just until it is incorporated and the dough looks smooth. Mix in the cherries, cashews and white chocolate.

Using an ice cream scoop of measuring cup with a ¼-cup capacity, scoop mounds of the dough onto the prepared sheets, spacing the cookies 3 inches apart. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the edges are light brown, but the centers are light golden, about 14 minutes. Cool the cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheets then use a wide metal spatula do transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

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

Makes 16 – I halved the recipe and started baking it using 1 round tablespoon of dough per cookie; I got 8 cookies but they turned out too large and too thin. I then went on using 1 rounded teaspoon of dough per cookie and got 23 (dough mounds 5cm apart, 11 minutes in the oven)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Lavender brigadeiro

Lavender brigadeiro

Something’s happened to me and I might be scarred for life... I can’t make brigadeiros! :(

The last couple of times I made the recipe it never firmed up enough to be rolled into balls. And this time was no different – I had this mad idea of replacing chocolate for lavender buds and it actually tasted good, but the minute I placed the candy balls into the paper cups they started to spread... Not pretty. :(

I tried saving the recipe by placing the brigadeiro dough into tiny cups, like I did for my sister’s birthday party – except that I meant to do so that day.

But I still have hope – after watching these four adorable kids making the traditional brigadeiros I’m ready to try again. :)

Lavender brigadeiro

Lavender brigadeiro
own creation

1 can (395g) sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons edible dried lavender buds
1 tablespoon unsalted butter + a bit extra for buttering the plate

Butter a large plate and set aside.
Place the lavender buds in a mortar and crush using a pestle.
Mix the condensed milk, ground lavender and 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly – when the bottom of the pan starts to show and the mixture is a bit thicker, remove from heat and immediately pour into the prepared plate. Set aside to cool completely.
To serve, place 2.5cm (1 inch) portions into individual small cups or tiny bowls, or roll into balls (lightly butter your palms to do it), roll through granulated sugar and place into fluted paper cups.

Serves 10

Lavender brigadeiro

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Creme brulée ice cream

Creme brulée ice cream / Sorvete de creme brulée

Soup one day, ice cream on the other... No, my blog is not going through a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde phase, I swear! :)
Even though it’s freezing cold here in Sao Paulo today (9ºC!!) I had to share this recipe with you – the ice cream is so good I would not be able to wait for a hot day to post it.

Creme brulée ice cream / Sorvete de creme brulée

Creme brulée ice cream
from Donna Hay magazine

1 cup (240ml) whole milk
2 cups (480ml) heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (145g) caster sugar

1 cup (200g) caster sugar

To make the custard, place the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat until it just comes to a boil. Place the yolks and sugar in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Gradually add the milk mixture, whisking to combine. Return to the saucepan and stir over low heat for 8-10 minutes or until custard is thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Strain custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl, set aside to cool then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

To make the toffee, place half the sugar in a small saucepan over low heat until it starts to caramelize; stir and add the remaining sugar, to keep the caramel from burning. When it’s completely melted and golden, pour over a piece of foil and set aside to cool. When it’s completely set, use a rolling pin to break the toffee into small bits. Set aside.
Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Scoop the ice cream into a container and stir in the toffee bits. Put in freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Serves 4

Creme brulée ice cream / Sorvete de creme brulée

Monday, June 1, 2009

Spinach soup with creamy potato mustard mash

Spinach soup with creamy mustard potato mash / Sopa de espinafre com purê de batata e mostarda

After watching “The Wrestler” I could not bring myself to stop singing “Sweet Child O’ Mine” - and now it is impossible for me to think about the song without thinking about the movie as well.
When I think of vegetables, I’m automatically reminded of Ana Elisa and her amazing salad and soup recipes, among other delicious treats.

I slightly adapted this soup from DH mag #38, but Ana was the inspiration for me to prepare it.

Spinach soup with creamy mustard potato mash / Sopa de espinafre com purê de batata e mostarda

Spinach soup with creamy potato mustard mash
from Donna Hay magazine

2kg sebago (floury) potatoes, peeled and chopped
50g butter
¾ cup (180ml) whole milk
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper

100g butter
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 x 500g bunches English spinach, trimmed, washed and chopped
¼ cup parsley leaves
5 cups (1.2l) vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Start with the mash: place the potatoes in a saucepan of cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 20-30 minutes or until tender. Drain and return to the saucepan. Add butter, milk, mustard, salt and pepper and mash until smooth. Set aside and keep warm.

Now, the soup: heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 10 minutes or until just golden, add spinach and parsley and cook for 5 minutes or until wilted. Add stock and cook for another 5 minutes. Place in a food processor/blender and process until smooth – be careful since the mixture will be very hot.
Stir through salt and pepper.
Place spoonfuls of the mash in the base of bowls, pour over the soup and serve.

Serves 4

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