Sunday, August 30, 2015

Pasta with crispy sardine and oregano breadcrumbs

Pasta with crispy sardine and oregano breadcrumbs / Espaguete com farofinha crocante de sardinha e orégano

When I was a kid, my mom was always making something with canned sardines: they were cheap and a good staple for a family with a limited budget. One of the things she made the most was a sardine salad to be eaten in a sandwich – the same thing as a tuna salad, but made with sardines instead, it was delicious! I loved it.

Because of that, it is impossible not to think of mom whenever I see canned sardines, and when I saw this gorgeous can while food shopping in my last trip I knew I would not come home without it. A couple of weeks ago a new issue of the beautiful Donna Hay magazine arrived and there I found a recipe of pasta served with crispy breadcrumbs dotted with pieces of canned sardines – it was the perfect way of using my treasure.

This pasta dish is very simple and straightforward, I made it for a lazy Sunday lunch and it was ready in no time at all – my husband wasn’t too crazy about the sardine breadcrumbs, but I was more than happy to eat his share by the spoonful. :)

Pasta with crispy sardine and oregano breadcrumbs
slightly adapted from the always fantastic Donna Hay Magazine

400g spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
¼ cup fresh oregano leaves, packed
50g canned sardines, drained and chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 ripe roma tomatoes, deseeded and cut into wedges
pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente. Before draining, reserve ½ cup (120ml) of the water to use in the sauce.

In the meantime, make the sauce: heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick frying pan. Add the breadcrumbs, oregano and sardines and cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden and crispy. Season with salt and pepper, remove from the heat and keep warm.

Wipe the frying pan clean with a piece of paper towel and add the remaining olive oil. Heat over medium, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the sugar, then season with salt and pepper. Add the reserved cooking liquid and the balsamic vinegar, stir to combine and cook for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Serve topped with the sardine breadcrumbs.

Serves 4

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Orange Marsala pound cake

Orange Marsala pound cake / Bolo de laranja e Marsala

Many, many years ago, without much thought, I started baking a cake every weekend, and it has become a tradition here in my house: if I don’t see a cake cooling over a wire rack on a Saturday it just doesn’t feel like the weekend.

Sometimes I struggle with choosing which cake to make, either because I have too many ideas at once or because I don’t have any. :) Weeks ago I was cooking lunch and as I poured some Marsala over the broccolini I immediately thought of adding it to a cake. After we finished eating I found an orange in my fridge and the flavor of the cake was then decided – just like that. Inspiration coming from all sorts of places – I like that a lot.

This is a moist, delicious and fragrant cake, one that I once made with whisky and nutmeg and that it turned out even more fantastic with a touch of citrus and Marsala.

Do you like making cakes on the weekend? What is your favorite cake flavor?

Orange Marsala pound cake
slightly adapted from the delicious Pure Dessert: True Flavors, Inspiring Ingredients, and Simple Recipes

2 tablespoons whole milk, room temperature
2 tablespoons Marsala wine
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
150g granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
105g cake flour (homemade: 15g corn starch + 90g all purpose flour)
55g whole wheat flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon table salt
180g unsalted butter, softened and in chunks

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 4 to 5 cups loaf pan, line it with baking paper and butter the paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, Marsala, eggs, and vanilla to combine.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugar and orange zest and rub with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Whisk in the flours, baking powder and salt. Add the butter then pour in half of the egg mixture. Beat on low speed just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add half of the rest of the egg mixture and beat for 20 seconds. Add the rest of the egg mixture and beat for 20 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake until golden and risen and a toothpick comes out clean, 55-60 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes, unmold carefully and transfer to a wire rack. Cool completely, then peel off the paper.

Serves 8-10

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Waffles for crazy, hectic days


My days have been pretty hectic lately, too much to learn in a short period of time – I haven’t cooked much and I don’t remember the last time I actually baked something (I made chocolate mousse last weekend for Sunday’s lunch, let’s pretend that counts). :) The crazy routine is not supposed to last forever, and while it does I’ll try not to let it get in the way of my posts here, but I won’t make promises I cannot keep – I just hope that those of you who have been around for so long bear with me during these days and do not jump ship. :)

I made these waffles a couple of weeks ago to go with an episode of Hannibal (I am brave enough to eat while watching it) and they turned out so good I had to share them with you: crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside, perfumed with vanilla, they are absolutely delicious, and the good thing is the batter is put together in no time and can be refrigerated overnight if tightly covered – if you’re pressed for time like I have been lately, this recipe should be permanently on your refrigerator door.

from the beautiful Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes

2 eggs, separated
pinch of salt
1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
4 ½ tablespoons (63g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 ½ cups (210g) all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup (180ml) whole milk, room temperature

Whisk the egg whites and the salt until they’re fluffy and just holding soft peaks.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla until creamy. Whisk in the butter, then the flour and baking powder (batter will be thick). Add the milk, then fold in the egg whites.

Heat a waffle iron. Add about 1/3 cup of batter per waffle, then cook following the manufacturer's instructions, until the waffles are golden brown. Serve immediately.

Makes about 6

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Garibaldi slice

Garibaldi slice / Barrinhas Garibaldi

The first time I ever heard of Garibaldi cookies was many, many years ago, on my dear friend Valentina’s blog – I wasn’t very fond of raisins then, I thought the cookies looked good but I never considered the idea of actually making them.

Through the years I learned to like raisins, then I tried dried currants for the first time eating scones in London (with loads of clotted cream – the thought of it makes me drool already) and now I love using them in cookies (these are my favorite cookies with raisins) and even in bread.

When I saw this Garibaldi slice on one of the most beautiful cookbooks I own I could not resist: the recipe calls for dried currants, raisins and golden raisins (sultanas) and they are cooked in sherry before becoming the filling for the bars – I had to make them! The bars turned out delicious and they are a treat for those of us who like raisins.

Off topic: as I browsed Amazon to get the link for the cookbook I saw that they have cast Diego Luna to play Casanova – that is wrong in so many ways words fail me.

Garibaldi slice
from The Baking Collection (The Australian Women's Weekly)

300g all purpose flour
75g granulated sugar
pinch of salt
180g unsalted butter, cold and diced
2 egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon iced water

240g dried currants
80g sultanas
75g raisins
½ cup (120ml) water
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork, for brushing the pastry
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, for sprinkling the pastry

Pastry: place flour, sugar and salt in the food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg yolks, vanilla and water and pulse until a dough starts to form (add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, if necessary). Form dough into a ball, divide in two equal parts and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Filling: in a medium saucepan, combine currants, sultanas, raisins, water and sherry. Stir over low heat for 8-10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and fruit is soft. Transfer to the food processor and blend until creamy. Cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 20x30cm baking pan, line with foil leaving an overhang on two opposite sides and butter the foil as well.

Roll one portion of the pastry between two pieces of baking paper, flouring it a little if necessary (don’t use too much flour or the pastry will dry out) until it is large enough to line the base of the baking pan. Transfer pastry to the pan and trim to fit. Prick pastry all over with a fork, then spread with the fruit filling. Roll the other portion of pastry until large enough to cover fruit filling, place on top of it and trim to fit. Press down to enclose the filling. Wish a sharp knife, cut the top layer into 24 rectangles. Prick the pastry all over with a fork, brush it with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the extra sugar. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack, then cut into slices using the cuts previously as a guide.

Makes 24

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Olive oil buns and great news

Olive oil buns / Pãezinhos de azeite de oliva

There hasn’t been a new post around here in a good while but there is a good reason for that: my job hunt has come to an end! Days ago I started working in a new company (for those of you who don’t know, I work as an executive assistant) and it was a very busy week – it was all about meeting lots of new people, getting to know how the company works and the details of my job description. I feel really, really happy for having a job again after so many months, so this is a celebration post! \0/

I know that some of you might look away from this recipe because of the many steps, but let me tell you something: these buns are easy peasy and what you really need is a bit of time to spare and a bit of prepping in advance – you don’t have to do much with the dough besides leaving it at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap.

I chose this recipe for today’s post exactly because in life sometimes we need to be patient and wait for the Universe to do its thing – some things can’t be rushed, no matter how anxious or even sad we feel (like I did weeks ago). In this case, I can guarantee that the buns are worth all the hours called for in the recipe: they are delicious and have an amazing texture.

Olive oil buns
slightly adapted from Bread Cake Doughnut Pudding: Sweet And Savoury Recipes From Britain's Best Baker

65g all purpose flour
65g water, room temperature
1g dried yeast

200g lukewarm water
pinch of sugar
2g dried yeast
350g all purpose flour
4g table salt
90ml olive oil – I used extra-virgin

Make the ferment: combine the ingredients in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.

Bread: put the water in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk in the yeast and sugar until dissolved, then set aside until it foams, about 5 minutes. Add the ferment, flour and salt, mix on medium speed for 5 minutes or until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl. continue mixing on medium speed and gradually pour in ¼ cup (60ml) of the olive oil, then keep mixing until dough is smooth, glossy and elastic (it will be a very wet dough). Form roughly into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour (if the day is too cold, leave the oven on so the kitchen is a bit warm).

After 1 hour, using a rubber spatula, mix in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon at a time. Cover again with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour.

Lightly brush a 12-cup muffin pan with olive oil. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll each into a ball, making sure the top is smooth. Place the balls into the prepared muffin pan and let them prove for 1 hour – in the meantime, preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F. Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully unmold and place onto the rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12

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