Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chocolate pavlovas and two surprises on the same TV show

Chocolate pavlova / Pavlova de chocolate

I was never aware of Jon Hamm before Mad Men (and apparently I wasn’t the only one) and despite my pet peeves with the fifth and part of sixth seasons I must be honest: there could not be another Don Draper – he’s just perfect for the part.

Being used to watching a very serious – and sometimes rude – man on the show it was a surprise to see him in a comedy, and days ago I was even more surprised with him pulling off a dark comedy show, and doing it brightly. The amount of shock doubled when I saw on that same show that Harry Potter, I mean, Daniel Radcliffe is absolutely amazing portraying someone completely different from HP – I never imagined he had such great timing for comedy.

Everything about A Young Doctor's Notebook is superb: the supporting cast, the writing, the production. It was some good two hours I spent in front of TV and I now eagerly wait for another season – while that doesn’t happen, let’s keep Mother Russia in mind with this delicious dessert created in honor of Anna Pavlova.

Chocolate pavlovas
adapted from the wonderful Bon Appetit Desserts, inspired by the beautiful Annie Bell's Baking Bible

4 large egg whites (112g)
pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon white vinegar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

To assemble:
1 cup (240ml) chilled heavy cream
1 tablespoon icing sugar, sifted
200g fresh raspberries

Meringues: preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a large baking sheet with baking paper.
Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in large bowl until frothy. Add cream of tartar. Continue to beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until whites are thick and resemble marshmallow creme, about 5 minutes. Beat in cornstarch, vinegar, vanilla and cocoa. Drop meringue onto prepared sheet in 6 mounds, spaced 5cm (2in) apart. Using back of spoon, make slight depression in center of each.
Place meringues in oven. Immediately reduce temperature to 120°C/250°F. Bake until meringues are dry outside (but centers remain soft) and pale straw color and lift easily from parchment, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool on sheet on rack. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Before assembling the pavlovas, beat cream and sugar in medium bowl until medium peaks form.
Place meringues on plates. Spoon whipped cream into the center depression. Arrange raspberries top of the cream.

Serves 6

Monday, April 28, 2014

French apple cake and the Cannes jury

French apple cake / Bolo francês de maçã

One thing that always makes me curious is the Cannes Jury, especially the president – sometimes it means nothing special, sometimes the Palme d'Or can sound a little too political, and sometimes it can be a complete surprise.

This year Jane Campion will be president of the jury, which to me is very exciting news for two reasons: a) she’s a woman, and that is only the ninth time that has happened, and b) she’s a director I really admire. Willem Dafoe and Nicolas Riding Hefn are part of the jury, too, and I find that a wonderful choice, both of them being known for things that can’t be called conservative – always a great thing on my book.

And since we’re talking about La Croisette, nothing better than a French cake to go with it: in this case, a delicious and oh, so tender cake packed with apples, both diced and sliced, with a layer of apricot jam for shine and flavor. Oh là là! :)

French apple cake
from one of my favorite books

500g eating apples – I used Gala
90g unsalted butter
1 cinnamon stick, broken
4 medium eggs*
250g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup (60ml) canola oil
280g all purpose flour
2 heaping teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons Calvados or rum – I used the latter
150g apricot jam

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 23cm (9in) round cake pan, line the bottom with a circle of baking paper and butter the paper as well.
Set 1 apple aside for the top, then peel, core and dice the remaining. Melt 30g of the butter in a large nonstick frying pan over gentle heat, add the diced apple and the cinnamon stick and fry for 5 minutes or until the apples are tender but not mushy. Cool. Melt the remaining butter and cool.
Using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar until thick, pale and doubled in volume. Beat in the vanilla. fold in the butter and oil, then sift the flour, baking powder and salt over the mixture and fold in. gently fold in the lemon zest and rum, followed by the cooked apples (discard the cinnamon stick).
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Finely slice the remaining apple and arrange in three rows on the top of the batter. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the cake is risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack.
Carefully unmold the cake, remove the paper, then transfer to a wire rack. Heat the apricot jam over medium heat until it liquefies, press it through a sieve and brush the cake with it. Let is set before serving.

* I always buy large eggs, so I chose the smallest I could find in the package to use in this recipe

Serves 10-12

Friday, April 25, 2014

Cinnamon and chocolate rolls for a mind unable to forget

Cinnamon and chocolate rolls / Cinnamon rolls com chocolate

For days in a row I had cinnamon rolls in mind and I wasn’t really sure why – maybe because I’d seen some at Starbucks when I stopped by with a friend? That makes sense. But then again I’d seen blueberry muffins there, too, and they did not cross my mind at all. My mind works in mysterious ways, I guess. :)

Because it was Easter I felt like baking with chocolate, so why not add a handful of the ingredient to some already delicious cinnamon rolls? I did, inspired by Eric Lanlard, and to make the buns more interesting I switched a bit of the all purpose flour for whole wheat flour – not only was the flavor great paired with the chocolate and the cinnamon but it also added a beautiful golden hue to the rolls (and it lightened a bit the guilty factor). :D

I chose not to glaze the rolls for two reasons: I thought it would be overkill and without the glaze they can be reheated in the oven for a couple of minutes before serving – the melted chocolate combined with the cinnamon permeating the soft roll is something I can’t recommend highly enough.

Cinnamon and chocolate rolls
adapted from two wonderful sources: Chocolat and The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook: 100 Delicious Heritage Recipes from the Farm and Garden

2 ½ teaspoons dry yeast
¼ cup (50g) + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
¼ cup (60ml) warm water
6 tablespoons (85g/¾ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 large egg yolks
¾ cup (180ml) buttermilk*
½ teaspoon table salt
80g whole wheat flour
3 to 4 cups (420g to 560g) all-purpose flour

100g light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
pinch of table salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
100g dark chocolate, grated – I used one with 53% cocoa solids and blitzed it in the food processor

icing sugar, for dusting

Dough: in a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar in the warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy.
Meanwhile, in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter and ¼ cup granulated sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg yolks, buttermilk, and salt until well combined (mixture might look curdled). Beat in the yeast mixture. Add the whole wheat flour and 3 cups of the all purpose flour and mix until combined. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, adding more flour if necessary – I switched the paddle attachment for the dough hook and kneaded the dough using mixer; in total, I used 470g all purpose flour.
Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Filling: in a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll to a 30x45cm (12x18in) rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough, then sprinkle with the cinnamon mixture followed by the chocolate. Starting at the longest end, roll tightly into a cylinder. Cut crosswise into 16 equal pieces.
Line a large baking sheet with foil and brush it lightly with butter. Place the slices side by side, 2.5cm (1in) apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until light and puffed, about 45 minutes – in the meantime, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the buns are golden brown and well risen. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with icing sugar.

* homemade buttermilk: to make 1 cup buttermilk place 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a 240ml-capacity measuring cup and complete with whole milk (room temperature). Wait 10 minutes for it to thicken slightly, then use the whole mixture in your recipe

Makes 16

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Marmalade cake and new things

Marmalade cake / Bolo de geleia de laranja

Jam is something I always have around, but I have a special kind of love for marmalade, so much it has become a staple at my house: its tangy bitterness is great on toast and/or whole wheat bread and it goes well in baking, too – delicious in cake, bar or tart form.

I used to think marmalade was way too bitter, but learned to appreciate it with time – just as I did with beer. Now, it’s really hard for me not to gobble up a spoonful of marmalade while separating ingredients for a baking session. :D

This very easy to make and very tasty cake comes from here – I had never heard of Rosemary Shrager before and the cookbook was a very nice surprise: everything looks wonderful and I have bookmarked several recipes to try. I’d also never heard of David Michôd or Michaël R. Roskam before the excellent Animal Kingdom and Bullhead and now I cannot wait for The Rover and The Drop – new things can be good, people. :)

Marmalade cake
slightly adapted from the delicious Rosemary Shrager's Bakes, Cakes & Puddings

250g all purpose flour
1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
130g unsalted butter, softened
130g granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 orange
3 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
50ml whole milk, room temperature
150g marmalade

¾ cup (105g) confectioners’ sugar
1-2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Cake: preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 20cm (8in) square cake pan, line the bottom with baking paper and butter the paper as well.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Using an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and orange zest until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in the vanilla and the milk.
Fold in the marmalade (mixture might look curdled), followed by the sifted ingredients. Mix until combined. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack, then carefully unmold, remove the paper and place onto the rack.

Glaze: sift the confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl and gradually add the juice, mixing until you get a drizzable consistency. Pour the glaze over the cake and let it set for 20 minutes.

Makes 16 squares

Monday, April 21, 2014

Macadamia and white chocolate chip cookies (with a touch of iron)

Macadamia and white chocolate chip cookies / Cookies de chocolate branco e macadâmia

I'm not one who repeats sweet recipes often - aside from household favorites such as Alice Medrich's cocoa brownies and Nigel Slater's lemon and thyme cake, for instance, I get thrilled to try new things, or at least pimped up versions of baked goods and desserts I once tried and loved.

I hadn't baked white chocolate macadamia cookies in ages, and was pretty happy with my go-to recipe, but when I read Alice Medrich's version with pulverized rolled oats in the dough I had to give it a try: after I found out I was anaemic I tried to increase the amounts of iron rich foods on my daily routine, and oats were a big part of it - in this case it was a win/win situation, since the cookies turned out delicious, too. :)

Macadamia and white chocolate chip cookies
from the delicious Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich

75g rolled oats
100g all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick/113g) unsalted butter, melted and still warm
70g granulated sugar
70g light brown sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
135g roasted salted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
170g white chocolate chips or chunks

Pulverize the oats in a food processor or blender until fine. Add the flour, baking soda and salt. Pulse to combine and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the melted butter with the sugars and vanilla. Whisk in the egg. Stir in the flour mixture just until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes if it is still warm. Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 165°C/325°F – you will bake the sheets in the center of the oven, one at a time.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator to soften. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
Scoop 1 rounded tablespoon of dough per cookie and place 5cm (2in) apart onto prepared sheets. Bake until cookies are deep golden brown, 13-15 minutes. Cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then slide the paper onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Makes about 35 cookies

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

White chocolate, lemon and lime mousse and the trailer for "Gone Girl"

White chocolate, lemon and lime mousse / Mousse de chocolate branco, limão siciliano e limão taiti

The trailer for Gone Girl has finally been released and boy, does it look good: the scenes, the colors, the music (the poster!), everything seems tailor-made to turn the already great book into a very interesting movie.

Fincher is one of my favorite directors and he’s perfect for dark, somber stories, not to mention that I love the fact the he doesn’t give a rat’s ass for the Oscars and makes the movies he wants to make the way he wants to make them – I have nothing but admiration for someone who couldn’t care less for the stupid people who still haven’t given Gary Oldman and Leonardo DiCaprio an award. :D

I read the book months ago but it’s still very fresh in my mind – let’s hope it stays this way till October. I wasn’t very fond of Fincher’s idea of changing the book ending, but after a colleague told me that Gillian Flynn herself had written the new ending I relaxed a little – let’s see what she comes up with for the big screen.

I love white chocolate but I know that it can be a tad too sweet sometimes – that is why I think that pairing it with citrus or sour flavors is always a good idea. In this mousse, the ingredient is combined with both lime and lemon and there are still the sour raspberries to balance things out – it was a match made in heaven, just like combining David Fincher with dark, somber stories. :D

White chocolate, lemon and lime mousse
slightly adapted from Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Home Cooking (I bought mine here)

100g white chocolate, finely chopped
300ml double cream
finely grated zest of 1 lime
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
3 large egg whites
50g granulated sugar
150g raspberries + a few extra, to garnish

Place half the cream (150ml) in a small saucepan and heat until it begins to bowl. Remove from the heat and immediately add the chocolate. Stir gently the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Cool.

Pour the remaining cream into a bowl along with the lime and lemon zest and whisk until it forms soft peaks.
Gently fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture and then set aside.

In another bowl, using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until you have soft peaks. Whisk in the sugar a tablespoon at a time, which will develop into a shiny smooth mixture. It should be firm but soft peaks.
Fold this into the chocolate. Be careful not to knock all the air out the egg whites as this will help to keep the mouse nice and light.
Divide the raspberries among six 200ml-ramekins and spoon over the mousse. Refrigerate for 4hours or preferably overnight. Garnish with the berries and serve.

Serves 6

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pear and almond muffins and the joys of fall

Pear and almond muffins / Muffins de amendoa e pera

I know that many people feel sad when they look out the window and see a cloudy, rainy day, but not me: I actually feel joy in my heart when the weather is like that, as it is today here in Sao Paulo (for the record, I do like sunny days when the weather is cold – I think it’s the best of both worlds).

It’s fall here now (but let’s keep it down or the temperatures might decide to go over 30°C again), time for soups and stews, hot cocoa, and for apples and pears, fruits I adore – and this year I intend to bake with quinces, too. These tender, delicious muffins, with a hint of lemon and almond, were worth all the trouble I had getting them out of the pan – their delicate texture paired with the moisture from the pears made it difficult for me to unmold them, but nothing that a bit of patience and some cursing couldn’t solve. ;)

Pear and almond muffins
slightly adapted from the über beautiful Love, Bake, Nourish: Healthier cakes and desserts full of fruit and flavor

Fruit topping:
2 small pears, cored and thinly sliced
20g unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon demerara sugar

125g unsalted butter, softened
65g mild honey
100g granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g all purpose flour, sifted
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
60g almond meal (finely ground almonds)
50ml whole milk, room temperature
finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Generously butter a 12-cup muffin pan or line it with paper cases (I buttered mine but it was hard to remove the cakes from it, so I suggest using paper cases, like my friend Valentina did).
Place the pear slices in a bowl, drizzle with the melted butter and sprinkle with the demerara sugar. Toss to coat, then lay the slices in the bottom of each muffin cup, pressing firmly.

Muffins: using an electric mixer, cream butter, honey and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour if the mixture looks curdled. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla. With a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining flour, baking powder, salt, almond meal, milk and lemon zest, mixing just until incorporated. Spoon the batter over the pear slices, then bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully unmold and transfer to the wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sticky chicken wings and comfort zones

Sticky chicken wings / Asinhas de frango grudentinhas e deliciosas

I admire people who step out of their comfort zone: it’s not an easy thing to do, not everyone’s ready for it, so kudos to those who do it. But at the same time I wonder that if you’re doing something really well, why not l keep doing it?

Life is about balance, I suppose.

That came to mind when I saw the poster for Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars – there he is again, working with Robert Pattinson (the guy who made it impossible for me to watch more than 30 minutes of Cosmopolis). Oh, David, enough already – it’s fine to change things every now and then, I admire you for that, but cut the crap and go back to working with Viggo, please. Go back to that talented comfort zone, I beg of you.

When I want something good for lunch and don’t have time to search around I stay in my foodie comfort zone and turn to the usual suspects: Nigella, Martha, Jamie – they rarely disappoint. Bill Granger is part of that list, too, with his always easy and delicious recipes, like these chicken wings that are dead simple to make and will have you licking your fingers as you eat them.

Sticky chicken wings
slightly adapted from the delicious Holiday

4 ½ tablespoons mirin
4 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons granulated or caster sugar
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
juice of 1 lime
freshly ground black pepper
16 chicken wings, tips removed and halved at the joints
thinly sliced spring onions, to serve

Combine mirin, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, cumin, lime juice and black pepper in a shallow, non-metallic dish. Coat the chicken pieces with the marinade, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or up to overnight).

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking sheet with a double layer of foil and brush the foil lightly with canola oil. Lift the chicken pieces from the marinade and place them onto the prepared sheet, without overlapping. Roast for 30 minutes, turning once.
Meanwhile, pour the marinade into a small saucepan and simmer until reduced by half. Pour it over the chicken and roast for 10-15 minutes longer or until chicken is sticky and deep golden brown. Sprinkle with the spring onions and serve at once.

Serves 4

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lemon Madeira cake and the power of syrup

Lemon Madeira cake / Bolo Madeira de limão siciliano

Yes, I have baked another lemon cake. Again. It’s an addiction, I can’t control myself. :D

Cakes are my favorite thing to bake, lemon is my favorite flavor, and I usually have one or two around in the fridge, so it’s a no brainer. However, when this cake cooled and I sliced it, I felt it needed something else – it was a plain cake (the kind I love), but it needed a lift: it needed to be brushed with hot lemony syrup – that turned a good cake into a wonderful one.

I guess that the people in charge of Mad Men decided to brush hot, lemony syrup all over the show halfway through the sixth season – hurray! \0/

Lemon Madeira cake
slightly adapted from the gorgeous Seasonal Baking

100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
280g all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
4 large eggs
300g granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
juice of 1 lemon
150ml heavy cream

2 tablespoons lemon juice
50g granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Generously butter and flour a 10-cup capacity Bundt pan.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and lemon zest until really light, fluffy and thickened. With a large spoon gently fold in the cream, followed by the flour mixture and lastly the melted butter and lemon juice. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, then carefully unmold into a wire rack to cool completely.
Syrup: place the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until it starts to boil. Simmer for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and brush the cake generously with the hot syrup. Cool completely before serving.

Serves 10-12

Monday, April 7, 2014

Iced berries with limoncello white chocolate sauce and "Noah"

Iced berries with limoncello white chocolate sauce / Frutas vermelhas com calda de chocolate branco e limoncello

What makes an atheist go to the movies to watch a movie based on a biblical story? In my case, Darren Aronofsky – he’s one of my favorite directors and I’ll watch anything the man does, even if it involves something I don’t believe in.

I find it incredible that Aronofsky did a movie about a character from the bible and yet he doesn’t paint it with heavy religious tones – his Noah is human, and because of that he is flawed (and played to perfection by Russell Crowe). It is interesting to see traces of Aronofsky’s previous movies in Noah, such as the visual of Noah’s dreams, the many times suffocating music and, my favorite part in the whole movie, when he tells his family about how the world was created – that was extremely beautiful and by the end of the scene I had tears in my eyes.

I don’t think Noah is Aronofsky’s best film so far and it’s definitely not my favorite – Requiem for a Dream is – but it is still much better than many films I’ve seen lately. I can trust him to make something unusual and interesting every time, even if not a favorite of mine – I know he’ll deliver something to be talked about, something to be discussed, and that’s more than I can say about many directors out there. He created something beautiful even when he had the money drastically reduced (and to think that Brad Pitt left the project to be in the insignificant Troy – how lame is that?).

The same way I can trust Aronofsky when it comes to films, I know I can trust Nigella when it comes to food – I would probably have ignored this recipe if it wasn’t for her; it might not be my all-time favorite dessert but it is certainly a good idea for unexpected, last-minute cravings (or guests).

Iced berries with limoncello white chocolate sauce
from the wonderful Nigellissima: Instant Italian Inspiration

500g frozen mixed berries (unthawed)
4 tablespoons limoncello – I used homemade
1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
200g white chocolate, finely chopped

Take the berries out of the freezer and arrange them in a single layer in a dish or plate that has a small lip (so that the sauce doesn’t drip off later). Sprinkle with two tablespoons of limoncello and leave for five minutes – while that goes on, put the cream and the remaining two tablespoons of the limoncello in a small saucepan and heat it until just about to come to the boil, but not actually boiling. Take the pan off the heat and add the white chocolate, then swirl the pan about so that it is all submerged. Swirl the saucepan once again to make sure the chocolate melts.
Using a rubber spatula, gently stir the chocolate-cream mixture until smooth, then pour it over the berries and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

Friday, April 4, 2014

Roast curry chicken, something strong and something milder

Roast curry chicken / Frango assado com pasta de curry vermelha

As I started reading the news about the books bound in human flesh discovered in Harvard I immediately thought of Sam Raimi and The Evil Dead, only to discover at the end of the piece that the writer had thought of them, too. :)

Movies are a matter of taste, just as food is: this über simple roast chicken, tenderized by the buttermilk and spiced by the red curry paste, is a nice idea even for busier days, since the oven does all the work – you just need time to let the marinade do its thing while the chicken rests in the refrigerator. However, not everyone likes super spicy food, and since curry pastes vary in heat, strength and intensity of flavor taste the one you have at hand before adding it to the marinade: it might be super strong as the 1981 movie, or a lot milder like the 2013 version. ;)

Roast curry chicken
adapted from the delicious and stunning Feed Me Now!

3 tablespoons whole milk
juice of 3 large limes
3 tablespoons red-curry paste*
2 garlic cloves, pound to a paste
salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 chicken pieces – use the ones you like the most

In a large shallow bowl, combine the milk and lime juice and set aside for 10 minutes (you’ll get buttermilk). Add the curry paste, garlic, salt and pepper and mix to combine. Add the chicken pieces, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 190°/375°F. Line a large roasting pan (large enough to hold the chicken pieces without overlapping) with a triple layer of foil and brush it lightly with oil. Arrange the chicken pieces side by side on top of the foil and pour over the marinade. Bake for about 60-70 minutes or until deep golden brown (cook it to your liking).
Serve immediately.

*curry pastes vary in heat, strength and intensity of flavor, so taste it before using it and adjust the amount accordingly – I used this one

Serves 4

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Apple-pecan muffins and being brave (?)

Apple pecan muffins / Muffins de maçã e pecã

The thing I’ve heard the most in these nearly two weeks of a pixie cut is “wow, you’re so brave!”, and I still haven’t found out how to properly reply to that since I don’t think courage has anything to do with getting a haircut – I don’t feel I should be congratulated since I haven’t done anything, well, brave. :)

It’s obvious that I want my hair to look good, but I’m not attached to it in terms of length, have never been. I just don’t think that long = beautiful necessarily, but apparently most of the women I know do, my sister included. I was having my nails done the other day when I saw a young girl (early twenties, I thought) getting a pixie, and the hair stylist (a man) looked at me and said: “I’ve been cutting hair for as long as I can remember and I’m rarely asked for this kind of cut... I love it, but most women just don’t go for it. I guess that the ones that do don’t really care about other people’s opinion” – I smiled at him, nodded and remembered this text I’d read a while ago. I guess it is just my cheekbones (and my round face) against the world (and I know a thing or two about cheekbones, I’ll tell ya). ;D

Now, if you really wanna talk courage, bake these muffins and eat only one – that is what I call being brave. :D

Apple-pecan muffins
slightly adapted from the delicious The Seasonal Baker: Easy Recipes from My Home Kitchen to Make Year-Round

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1 tablespoon + ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ cup (120ml) canola oil
2 large eggs
¾ cup (180ml) whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
150g chopped pecans, lightly toasted and cooled + 12 pecan halves for garnish
demerara sugar, for sprinkling

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced apple and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar, and cook until the apples are tender but not mushy, 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar and the oil to blend. Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla and whisk to blend. Add to the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula just until the flour has been absorbed – do not overmix, batter will be lumpy. Gently fold in the cooked apple and chopped pecans.
Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Top each muffin with a pecan half and sprinkle with demerara sugar.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until muffins are golden and risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully unmold and transfer to rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12 – I halved the recipe and got 8 muffins using this pan

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