Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Apple and pecan sheet cake with lime icing

Apple sheet cake with lime icing / Bolo de maçã com cobertura de limão

My name is Patricia but you can call me The Apple (Crazy?) Lady. ;)

After last fall’s endless list of apple recipes, I’ve started again – and my plan is to enjoy the pears as much as the apples this year.

This cake is moist, delicious, with a nice molasses hint from the demerara sugar. The original recipe called for caramel sauce as a topping for the cake, but I thought that something less sweet would be better and made a lime icing instead - not that I need an excuse to add citrus flavors to my baked goods and desserts... ;)

Apple and pecan sheet cake with lime icing
adapted from the great The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh

2 cups (400g) demerara sugar
½ cup + 2 tablespoons (140g) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (280g) all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
scant ½ teaspoon salt
600g (about 3) Granny Smith apples, coarsely grated – don’t bother peeling them
1 cup (110g) pecans, toasted, cooled and chopped

Lime icing:
2 cups (280g) icing sugar
finely grated zest of 2 limes
2 tablespoons lime juice

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F; butter and flour a 32.5x22.5x5cm (13x9x2in) metal baking pan*.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt and beat just until combined. Stir in the apples and pecans – batter will be stiff. Transfer batter to the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
Bake until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool cake completely in the pan over a wire rack.
Make the icing: sift the sugar into a medium bowl and add the zest and juice. Mix until smooth and spreadable, adding a little water if necessary. Spread over the cooled cake and set aside until firm, 20 minutes. Cut in squares to serve.

* I made the exact recipe above using a 20x30cm (8x12in) pan

Serves 15

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Banana crumble

Banana crumble / Crumble de banana

I was watching “Law & Order” the other day and felt like eating something sweet (like that’s something unusual). :) But the episode was really interesting – no Linus, which is bad, but Benjamin, which is good – and I wanted something fast to get back to the couch as soon as possible. The result was this crumble, ridiculously simple and oh, so delicious – and that smells and tastes like banana tart without all the work.

Banana crumble
inspired by the always wonderful Modern Classics 2

½ cup (70g) all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 ½ tablespoons superfine sugar
1 ½ tablespoons demerara sugar
pinch of ground cinnamon, or to taste
¼ cup (28g) rolled oats
50g unsalted butter, cold and chopped
2 bananas

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Slice the bananas and divide them equally among two lightly buttered 1 cup (240ml) capacity ovenproof bowls. Set aside.
Place flour, salt, sugars, cinnamon and oats in a medium bowl and mix to combine. Add the butter and, using your fingertips, rub the ingredients together until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the bananas mixture and bake for 30 minutes or until golden.
Serve with heavy cream or vanilla ice cream.

Serves 2

Friday, May 27, 2011

Back to school raspberry granola bars and my (many) obsessions

Back to school raspberry granola bars / Barrinhas de granola e geléia de framboesa

I’m someone who obsesses with certain things from time to time – directors, actors, music, you name it. And food, of course. I obsessed with Ralph Fiennes so badly after “Schindler’s List” that I had to watch each and every film with him – and that led me to Kathryn Bigelow’s “Strange Days” (which is far better than “The Hurt Locker”, imho). Did I mention I was about 17 back then? Well. ;)

It might seem that I’m on a cake kick right now, but I’ve been really thinking about bars lately – and these are the ones to blame. They were so irresistible – and easy to make, despite the layers – that a search for great bars has begun, and the granola ones you see on the picture can certainly be part of the bar hall of fame: they were so good I almost did not share them. :)

Back to school raspberry granola bars / Barrinhas de granola e geléia de framboesa

Back to school raspberry granola bars
from The Craft of Baking

¾ cup (168g/1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup (110g) pecans, roughly chopped
1 ½ cups (210g) all purpose flour
1 ¼ cups (143g) old fashioned rolled oats – I made a mistake and used 1 ½ cups (172g)
1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (58g) light brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup raspberry preserves

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 20cm (8in) square baking pan, line it with foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides and butter the foil as well.
Place the pecans on a baking sheet and bake until lightly golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Cool the sheet completely on a wire rack.
In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking soda and the cooled pecans. Pour in the melted butter and mix until well combined. Transfer about 2/3 of the mixture to the prepared pan. Press the dough evenly into the pan, forming a firmly packed layer. Using a spatula spread the preserves over the base. Evenly sprinkle the remaining dough over the preserves. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until the top is golden brown and fragrant, about 40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool completely. With the aid of the foil handles, carefully remove from the pan and cut into squares.
The bars can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Makes 16

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Swedish visiting cake + music lyrics

Swedish visiting cake / Bolo sueco

One of my favorite things about learning English was being able to understand music lyrics – I think some of you agree with me on that. :)

That said, there are times I want to listen to complex lyrics and there are others when almost no lyrics is the way to go. I feel the same about the cakes I bake: there are times for complex, layered beauties, and times when only simple will do. ;)

Swedish visiting cake
from Dorie’s baking bible

1 cup (200g) superfine sugar + a little more for sprinkling
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise, seeds scraped with the back of a knife – or use ½ teaspoon almond extract, as per the original recipe
1 cup (140g) all purpose flour
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
about ¼ cup sliced almonds (blanched or not)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a seasoned 23cm (9in) cast iron skillet or other heavy ovenproof skillet, a 23cm (9in) round cake pan or pie pan.
Combine the sugar and the lemon zest in a large bowl and rub them together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Whisk in the salt and the extracts/vanilla seeds. Using a silicone spatula, stir in the flour, and then fold in the butter.
Transfer batter to the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Sprinkle with the almonds and extra sugar (if you’re using a cake or pie pan, place it on a baking sheet).
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and a little crisp at the edges – the inside of the cake will remain moist. Remove from the oven, let the cake cool 5 minutes in the pan, over a wire rack, then run a thin knife around the sides and bottom of the cake to loosen it*. Serve the cake warm or cool.

* I used a fluted tart pan and it was impossible to do that; I cooled the cake in the pan completely then carefully unmolded it, first loosing some of the edges with the handle of a teaspoon, then loosing the bottom of the cake with a large metal spatula

Serves 8-10

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lemon cranberry madeleines and being repetitive

Lemon cranberry madeleines / Madeleines de limão siciliano e cranberries

I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but I have to bring this subject up again: not only is “Love Lost” an amazing song but its video is equally wonderful – click here and then tell me if you agree with me. Or not (just so you know it, I’m a complete sucker for music videos). ;)

And speaking of being repetitive, I’m bringing lemon madeleines back – with dried cranberries, this time.

Lemon cranberry madeleines
adapted from Dorie’s traditional madeleines

2/3 cup (94g) all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
½ cup (100g) caster (superfine) sugar
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
2 large eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (84g/¾ stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup (110g) dried cranberries, mixed in a bowl with 1 teaspoon flour

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Place the sugar and lemon zest in the large bowl of an electric mixer and rub them together using your fingertips until the sugar is fragrant with lemon. Add the eggs to the bowl and, with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the sugar and eggs together on medium-high speed until pale, thick and light, 2 to 3 minutes. With a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter and dried cranberries. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, or for up to 2 days. This long chill period will help the batter form the hump that is characteristic of madeleines.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Butter 12 full-size madeleine molds, or up to 36 mini madeleine molds, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess.
Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each one almost to the top. Don't worry about spreading the batter evenly, the oven's heat will take care of that. Bake large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes, and minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden and the tops spring back when touched. Remove the pan(s) from the oven and release the madeleines from the molds. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.

If you are making minis and have more batter, bake the next batch(es), making certain that you cool, then properly prepare the pan(s) before baking.

Makes 12 large or 36 mini cookies – I got 20 regular madeleines (like the ones on the photos, 1 tablespoon-capacity pans) + 9 using a scallop-shaped pan (2 tablespoon-capacity pans)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saffron scented chicken pilaf

Saffron scented chicken pilaf / Arroz com frango e açafrão

Like a good Brazilian, I love rice – not only the good old plain rice that is usually paired with beans here, but all sorts of dishes with this ingredient. And, of course, rice pudding. ;)
That is why I could not take my mind off this recipe after watching Nigella make it: my beloved rice combined with chicken and nuts in a one-pot-wonder. Delicious, easy to make and economical as far as dish washing is concerned: win/win recipe. :D

Saffron scented chicken pilaf
from Nigella Fresh

500g chicken breast, cut into 2cm pieces
¾ cup (195g) plain yogurt
juice of ½ lemon
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon saffron thread
4 cups (960ml) vegetable stock
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2-3 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
500g basmati rice
juice and zest of 1 lemon
50g cashew nuts
50g flaked almonds
25g pine nuts
small bunch fresh parsley, chopped

Marinate the chicken pieces in the yogurt, lemon, cinnamon, salt and pepper for about an hour. Soak the saffron threads in the vegetable stock.
Over medium heat, in a large pan with a lid, melt the butter along with 1 tablespoon of the oil and add the rice, stirring it to coat until glossy. Pour in the saffron and stock (still hot), add the lemon juice and zest and bring the pan to the boil, then cover and turn the heat down to very low. Cook like this for about 10-15 minutes, by which time the rice should have absorbed the liquid and be cooked through.
While the rice is cooking, shake the excess yoghurt marinade off the chicken using a sieve the fry the meat in a hot pan with the remaining spoonful or so of oil, and do this in batches so that the chicken colors rather than stews.
When the rice is cooked, take it off the heat and fork through the golden and cooked chicken pieces. Toast all the nuts in dry frying-pan over a medium heat until they are lightly golden and fragrant, and then add them to the pilaf along with the chopped parsley. Check the salt and serve immediately.

Serves 6

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Coconut orange tea cake and things that make me wanna scream

Coconut orange tea cake / Bolo de coco e laranja

I’m going to share something with you, even though you might think I’m crazy: there are times when certain things are so, so good I feel like screaming (for the record, I don’t actually scream). ;)

Off the top of my head I remember feeling like that after watching “Stay” and "Inception", listening to The Temper Trap’s “Love Lost” (especially from 1min50seg on), and more recently, this cake. An absolutely simple cake – no icings or fillings – put together in a heartbeat, but so delicious and tender I felt like screaming – and like devouring the whole thing myself, too. Not pretty, I know. But so true. :D

Coconut orange tea cake
from Dorie’s amazing and delicious book

2 cups (280g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup (240ml) canned unsweetened coconut milk*
¼ cup (56g/½ stick) unsalted butter, in cubes
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups (400g) caster (superfine) sugar
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons dark rum
¾ cup (75g) unsweetened shredded coconut
freshly squeezed juice of ½ orange

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 22-25cm/9-10in (10-12 cup) bundt pan or use an unbuttered silicone pan. Do not place the pan on a baking sheet – you want the oven’s heat to circulate through the tube**.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
Place coconut milk and butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until milk is hot and butter is melted. Remove from the heat but keep warm.
Place the sugar and orange zest in the large bowl of an electric mixer and rub them together until sugar is fragrant. Add the eggs to the bowl and, using the whisk attachment, beat the ingredients until pale and thick, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and the rum. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients, beating just until flour is incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Keeping the mixer on low, add the coconut, mixing only until blended. Add the coconut milk and butter and the orange juice. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 60-65 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan over a wire rack for 15 minutes, then carefully unmold onto the rack and cool completely (if using a silicone pan, follow the manufacturer’s instructions). Dust with icing sugar to serve.

* coconut milk comes in 200ml bottles here in Brazil; to avoid opening another bottle to use only a couple of tablespoons of the coconut milk, I used one coconut milk bottle + 40ml whole milk

** I used a silicone pan and it wouldn’t hold still on the oven rack; I placed it on a baking sheet and it worked fine

Serves 10-12

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chocolate orange ganache tart and all's well that ends well

Chocolate orange ganache tart / Torta de chocolate e laranja

I started writing this post with EBTG’s “When all’s well” playing in my mind; I explain: this tart is a result of some stressful moments, but it all worked out fine in the end.

The initial idea was baking this tart to finish up the marmalade jar I’d bought for Nigel Slater’s cake. I’d already thawed some really good pastry I had in the freezer and lined the tart pan with it; after that, I made the pastry strips, arranged each and every one of them very neatly on a baking sheet and proudly place it in the fridge only to watch it fall to the floor; with the pastry strips scattered over my kitchen tiles I had to think of another use for the pastry lined tart pan. And this ganache tart was a good solution: it was simple to make and tasted great. Some grated orange zest into the ganache to make it extra special and my Saturday morning was saved from an enormous amount of bad mood. :D

Chocolate orange ganache tart
adapted from Donna Hay magazine and the amazing Sunday Suppers at Lucques

1 x quantity basic sweet shortcrust pastry*
200g dark chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup (160ml) heavy cream
finely grated zest of ½ orange
cocoa powder, for dusting

After refrigerating the pastry for at least 1 hour, roll dough between two sheets of lightly floured baking paper – if dough gets too soft, refrigerate for 5 minutes. Line a lightly buttered 30x10cm (12x4in) loose-bottomed tart pan with the pastry. Trim edges with a knife and prick the base with a fork. Freeze for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line the pastry with a piece of buttered foil and fill with baking weights/dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, carefully remove the weights/beans and the foil, then bake for another 10-15minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp. Set aside to cool completely.
Make the filling: place the chocolate, heavy cream and orange zest in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and allow mixture to stand for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Pour the ganache over the pastry shell and smooth the surface. Refrigerate until ganache is set, 1-2 hours. Dust with cocoa to serve.

* Donna’s recipe is here; I had this pastry in the freezer and used half of it for this tart

Serves 6-8

Sunday, May 15, 2011

White chocolate lime crème caramel + perfect combinations

White chocolate lime crème caramel / Pudim de chocolate branco e limão

One of the flavor combos I love the most is white chocolate paired with sour flavors like lemon, lime, orange, passion fruit – it's almost like the sweetness of the white chocolate backs up to let those flavors shine, adding a new dimension to the chocolate. Yum. :)

That reminds me of Christian Bale’s speech at the Golden Globes this year (by the way, if you haven’t seen “The Fighter” I highly recommend it) but I must admit that his speech at the Oscars – with the “F” bomb thing – is my favorite. :D

White chocolate lime crème caramel
from The Art and Soul of Baking

2 cups (480ml) whole milk
3 tablespoons caster sugar
finely grated zest of 3 limes
3 large eggs
170g (6oz) white chocolate, finely chopped

½ cup (120ml) water
1 cup (200g) caster (superfine) sugar

Heat the milk, sugar and lime zest in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat, cover and let infuse for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the caramel to coat the ramekins: have ready six ¾ cup (180ml) ovenproof ramekins and a large pot of boiling water.
Pour the ½ cup water into a small saucepan and add the sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Increase to high heat and do not stir – just swirl the pan occasionally. Cook until caramel turns a deep golden color. Remove from the heat and immediately divide the caramel among the ramekins, swirling them so the caramel coats the sides as well as the bottom. Work fast before caramel hardens, but be careful to avoid burning yourself.
Preheat the oven to 165°C/325°F. Reheat the lime infused milk over medium heat until it just starts to simmer. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl. Remove from the heat and gradually pour it over the eggs, whisking constantly. Add the chocolate and whisk until it melts completely. Strain the liquid into a jug then divide it evenly among the prepared ramekins. Place them into a baking pan and place it in the oven. Add hot water into the pan until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until just set – do not overbake.
Carefully remove from the oven, then from the water bath and set on a wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours before serving.
Unmold the crème-caramels into plates to serve.

Makes 6

Friday, May 13, 2011

Nibby nut and raisin cookies

Nibby nut and raisin cookies / Cookies de semente de cacau e passas

I’ll be really honest with you and tell you right up front that I only made these cookies because I needed to finish up a bag of cocoa nibs (there are still some nibs left; I guess they’re kind of Gremlins, too). But the comments about these at the office were so amazing I beg you to make them, too, even if you have go out and buy a bag of nibs; I know I might sound like a shopping maniac – my apologies for that – but it could be worse: it could be shoes (and then I’d be a complete cliché). :D

Nibby nut and raisin cookies
slightly adapted from the amazing chocolate bible Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate

2 ¼ cups (315g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (226g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and still warm
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
¾ cup (132g) light brown sugar, packed
scant ½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup cocoa nibs
1 ½ cups (232g) golden raisins

Mix the flour and baking soda in a bowl together. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and salt. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture just until the dry ingredients are moistened, then stir in the nibs and raisins. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours (or overnight).
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375CF; line two large baking sheets with baking paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator to soften.
Scoop 1 leveled tablespoon of dough per cookie and place 5cm (2in) apart onto prepared sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies are golden brown at the edges and no longer look wet on top.
Transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.

Makes about 60 cookies – I halved the recipe above and got 38

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Banana sheet cake with fudgy chocolate frosting and a forgotten book

Banana sheet cake with fudgy chocolate frosting / Bolo de banana com cobertura de chocolate

When I was a kid all my friends were tall and strong, unlike me – I had a sort of development delay, so to speak (due to my mom’s death) and I was very tiny. Can you imagine how much I loved P.E. classes? #not
I was always picked last for everything and I don’t blame my colleagues: I could barely hold a basketball, let alone play with it.
I’ve had this book for years and had only baked from it once. I thought of me, always picked last, and felt that I was doing the same with the book. I felt guilty. So I baked from it. I made this banana cake and brought it to the office. All I’ll say is that my coworkers loved it even more than the Texas sheet cake – and I thought that chocolate was unbeatable... :)

Banana sheet cake with fudgy chocolate frosting / Bolo de banana com cobertura de chocolate

Banana sheet cake with fudgy chocolate frosting
cake from The All-American Dessert Book, frosting from Modern Classics Book 2

2 1/3 cups (326g) cake flour*
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
scant ½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup (150g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 ½ cups (300g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
½ cup (130g) plain yogurt
1 ¼ cups well mashed overripe bananas (about 4 medium bananas)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

185g dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter and flour a 22x32cm (9x13in)** baking pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and stir well. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the yogurt and beat for 1 more minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl again.
Reduce the mixer to low, and then beat in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Beat in the banana and vanilla, then the remaining dry ingredients. Beat just until incorporated.
Transfer batter to the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack.
Make the frosting: combine the chocolate, heavy cream and butter in a small heatproof bowl. Set it over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until completely melted and smooth. Cool completely then refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. Using an electric mixer, beat until thick and fluffy. Spread over the cooled cake.

* homemade cake flour: 1 cup (140g) all purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons corn starch

** I made the exact recipe above and used a 20x30cm (8x12in) pan

Serves 15

Monday, May 9, 2011

Apple cranberry muffins and good/bad decisions

Apple cranberry muffins / Muffins de maçã e cranberries

There are moments in life when we make certain decisions because they seem so right, but in the end they are incredibly wrong – I’ve watched “Water for Elephants” and I’m sure Christoph Waltz is feeling oh, so miserable right now. I don’t mean to be rude, but he should have known better: one does not choose Francis Lawrence over David Cronenberg – the horror, the horror – especially if they’re going to work with Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. :S

Unlike Mr. Waltz, I am feeling oh, so smart: I decided to add dried cranberries to my apple muffins and that was a very clever thing to do. ;)

Apple cranberry muffins / Muffins de maçã e cranberries

Apple cranberry muffins
adapted from the beautiful Nigella Kitchen

2 cups (280g) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
2/3 cup (116g) light brown sugar, packed
½ cup honey
¼ cup (65g) plain yogurt
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup (110g) dried cranberries
demerara sugar, for sprinkling
about ½ cup whole almonds, toasted

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a 12-hole muffin pan – 1/3 cup (80ml) capacity each – with paper cases.
Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl. In another medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, honey, yogurt, butter and eggs. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and lightly whisk with a fork – do not overmix or your muffins will become tough. Add the apples and cranberries and mix slightly. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and sprinkle each muffin with some demerara sugar (about 1 teaspoon per muffin). Place 3-4 almonds on top of each muffin and bake for 20 minutes or until risen and golden and skewer inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pans, over a wire rack, for 5 minutes. Carefully transfer the muffins to the wire rack and cool completely – or serve warm.

Makes 12

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Spinach and three-cheese pie and conquering fears

Spinach and three-cheese pie / Torta de três queijos e espinafre

I once watched an interview with Carrie Ann Moss, back when she was promoting "Red Planet", in which she said that wearing a space helmet for the film had been a very difficult thing since she was claustrophobic. She joked and said something like “one fear down, many more to go”.

Carrie Ann, my friend, I know the feeling: now that I’ve made a filo pie without tearing the bejeesus out of the pastry I’m ready to conquer another fear. Heights, maybe? ;)

Spinach and three-cheese pie
adapted from Modern Classics 1

5 sheets ready prepared filo pastry
3 ½ tablespoons (50g) unsalted butter, melted
1 bunch spinach, trimmed and blanched*
½ cup (100g) ricotta, crumbled
¼ cup (50g) feta, crumbled
¼ cup (20g) finely grated parmesan
3 eggs
½ cup (120ml) heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped chives
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 20x10cm (8x4in) shallow ovenproof baking dish**.
Layer one sheet of the filo pastry on a clean, dry surface (keep the other sheets covered with a clean, damp kitchen towel to keep them from drying out), forming a 30x20cm (12x8in) rectangle, brush with melted butter and cover with another sheet. Repeat the process until you used all the sheets. Line the prepared baking dish with the filo sheets. In a bowl, mix together the spinach, ricotta, feta and parmesan. Top the pastry with the cheese mixture. In the same bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, chives, salt and pepper and pour over the spinach mixture. Brush edges of pastry with remaining butter. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until egg is set and pastry is golden.

* place the spinach leaves in a pan of boiling water for 5 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon and immediately soak in a bowl of ice water. Remove from the water and squeeze excess liquid.

** I used a 20x15cm (8x6in) baking dish

Serves 2

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Orange lime jelly

Orange lime jelly / Gelatina de laranja e limão

We all have our favorites: the little black dress for special occasions, the CD that is always on the glove compartment, or the movie we watch over and over again and never tire of. Lately I’ve been feeling the same way about jellies – they’re the first thing that pops in my mind when I want to make (and eat) spoon desserts. I guess that once the days get colder here I might change my mind, but for now I’m kind of obsessed. :)

Not only are these delicious, they're also very easy to make, but I should warn you: once you have a taste of jellies made with real fruit you’ll never go back to artificial jellies again. You have my word on that.

Orange lime jelly
adapted from the great Modern Classics 2

1/3 cup (80ml) water
5 teaspoons powdered gelatin
2 ¾ cups (660ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
2/3 cup (160ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
5 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar, or to taste
sweetened whipped cream, to serve

Place the water in a small bowl and sprinkle over the gelatin. Allow to stand for 5 minutes.
Combine the orange and lime juices and the sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to low, add the gelatin and whisk until dissolved. Remove from heat, strain mixture into a jug, then divide evenly among eight ½ cup (120ml) capacity glasses or cups. Let cool to room temperature then refrigerate for 4-5 hours or until firm.
Top jellies with whipped cream and serve.

Serves 8

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Gooey chocolate cake with raspberries and something positive about getting old

Gooey chocolate cake with raspberries / Bolo cremoso de chocolate e framboesa

Getting older is not a walk in the park – gray hair, anyone? – but there is definitely a positive side to it. I’ve become a more patient person, and let me tell you, patience was never one of my virtues.

After baking and unmolding this delicious cake – oh, it was really delicious and I’m no chocoholic – the result almost made me cry: the poor thing looked ugly as hell on the plate. A glance at the book and frustration started building in. In the past I would have gone mad about it, but I took a deep breath and decided to watch TV instead. As the cake cooled down, the ganache topping got firmer and I could smooth it down with a palette knife, making it shiny and beautiful.

I guess that in my case calm came with age – and a couple of hours with Detective Goren *sigh* can’t hurt, either. ;)

Gooey chocolate cake with raspberries
from the beautiful Feed Me Now

100g dark chocolate
150g raspberry jam
½ cup (120ml) heavy cream

¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (125g) all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup (30g) good quality cocoa powder
½ cup (120ml) boiling water
¼ cup (60ml) whole milk
½ teaspoon natural vanilla extract
90g raspberry jam
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup (66g) caster (superfine) sugar
2 large eggs
80g raspberries, plus extra to serve – I used frozen, unthawed

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Generously grease a 22cm (9in) round cake pan*.
For the topping, put the chocolate, jam and cream into a small pan over a medium heat. Stir until melted and smooth, then pour into the prepared pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix the cocoa powder with the water, stirring until smooth, then add the milk, vanilla and jam, whisking to combine.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Using a large spoon, fold the sifted ingredients and the cocoa mix into the creamed mixture, alternating the two, then gently fold the raspberries through.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, ensuring you spread it right to the edge and cover the topping completely. Bake for 30–35 minutes or until firm. Leave the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes (if not serving straight away you can refrigerate the cake in the pan, but you will need to warm it in the oven before turning it out).
Turn the cake out onto a plate. You may need to scrape some sauce out of the pan and spread it over the top of the cake – my cake looked rather ugly when I unmolded it; I waited for it to cool down a little and the topping became firmer; then I was able to spread it evenly with a palette knife and the cake looked a lot prettier. :)
Serve warm or cold, with fresh raspberries.

* I made the exact recipe above and used a 20cm (8in) round cake pan with a removable bottom – I placed it on a baking sheet to catch any drippings

Serves 8

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Beetroot, chickpea and arugula salad and memories of mom

Beetroot, chickpea and arugula salad / Salada de rúcula, grão-de-bico e beterraba

I’m not someone who repeats recipes, but this salad has been made and served at Maison Scarpin three times already: it goes well with both fish and chicken, and I’ve eaten it without anything else, too – a big bowl of it was the perfect light lunch.

I remember eating tons of beetroot as a kid – mom was very concerned about healthy meals, years before it became a trend – and looking at the picture of this salad makes me think of my pink fingertips and mom by the sink, doing the dishes. Such great memories.

Beetroot, chickpea and arugula salad
adapted from Donna Hay magazine

¼ cup whole-egg mayonnaise
finely grated zest of ½ lemon
2 teaspoons lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ tablespoon olive oil
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained
400g beetroots, cooked, peeled and quartered
100g arugula leaves

Place the mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix until well combined. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the chickpeas and cook for 5 minutes or until warmed through. To serve, layer the arugula with the beetroot, chickpeas and mayonnaise mixture.

Serves 4 as a side dish

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