Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Chunky apple and orange cake

Chunky apple and orange cake / Bolo de maçã e laranja

I haven’t baked or cooked much lately, but I do go grocery shopping and the price of food has been freaking me out: everything gets more and more expensive on a daily basis. It is really sad and I feel privileged for not having to make any drastic changes, but I do admit that I think twice before buying certain things. Granny Smith apples, for instance, that I love so much – it was the only apple I would eat when I was little, my mom thought it was funny that a kid would like such a tart apple – are insanely expensive, and have been for quite a while, now. Still, my husband bought a handful of them for me and after devouring a couple of them I knew I had to make the remaining apples proud – I could not waste something so precious.

I went on and used the apples on a cake, a delicious cake perfumed with orange zest – the original recipe paired apples and cinnamon, which is a very classic combo of flavors, but I though the citrus touch would be a nice idea and indeed, it was. I am sure this cake would be fabulous with lemon or lime zest as well.

Chunky apple and orange cake
slightly adapted from this book

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 tablespoon all purpose flour, for dusting the apples
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
grated zest of 1 large orange
1 ½ cups (210g) all purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
2 large eggs, beaten with a fork
75g unsalted butter, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon whole milk, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 20cm (8in) round cake pan, line the bottom with a circle of baking paper and butter it as well.

In a medium bowl, dust the apples with the 1 tablespoon flour and set aside.

In a large bowl, place sugar and orange zest and rub together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into the sugar and mix to combine. Add the eggs, butter and vanilla to the mix and using an electric hand whisk, combine them for about 1 minute until you have a smooth creamy consistency. Fold in the apples and the milk. Transfer batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden and risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then carefully unmold onto a wire rack, peel off the paper and cool completely before serving.

Serves 8-10

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Cherry tomato pasta and no time at all

Cherry tomato pasta / Macarrão com molho de tomate cereja

I guess it goes without saying that the frequency I post around here is a good thermometer of the amount of work I have: if I disappear you can imagine that I got swallowed by my job… :(

There are some things I wanted to write about like a couple of movies and TV shows I have watched, the Oscar that Leo will finally win this year, but I unfortunately have no time for that now – this will be a quick post and the recipe is even quicker: a very simple pasta dish and the sauce is made with cherry tomatoes. It is super fast, but absolutely delicious – it has become the perfect weeknight dish for me and I am sure many of you will feel the same way about it.

Cherry tomato pasta
slightly adapted from the always fantastic Gourmet Traveller magazine

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
700g small cherry or grape tomatoes, whole
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
handful of fresh marjoram leaves
300ml heavy cream
salt and freshl y ground black pepper
400g fettuccine
finely grated pecorino or parmesan, to serve

Heat oil in a large frying pan, add the tomatoes and cook over high heat until blistered and golden, stirring occasionally (3-5 minutes). Reduce heat to medium, add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, stirring occasionally (3-5 minutes). Reduce heat to low, stir in marjoram and simmer until slightly thickened (2-3 minutes). Add cream, stir to combine, then season to taste and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In the meantime, cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and add to tomato sauce. Toss to combine and serve immediately with pecorino or parmesan.

Serves 4

Friday, February 5, 2016

Mocha slice cookies, for someone that now loves coffee

Mocha slice cookies / Biscoitos mocha

These delicious cookies, another great recipe from Martha, are called mocha slice cookies, but they could easily be called “in search of lost time cookies” – after years of not drinking coffee (36, to be more precise) and avoiding each and every coffee flavored sweet I bumped into, I got a new job with completely different dynamics from the previous one (a job I had for ten years) and the new routine made me reach for a cup of joe on a regular basis, for I worked so many hours a day it was either having some coffee or sleeping over the keyboard.

I discovered that I love coffee. :)

Because of that, I have been going through my books and bookmarks, searching for the coffee desserts and baked goods I ignored over the past years, and these cookies were one of them – the mixture of coffee and chocolate is one of the most celebrated ones, and not for nothing.

I forgot to roll the cookie logs in sugar before slicing and baking them, but after trying the cookies I thought they were sweet enough without the extra sugar coating.

Mocha slice cookies
from Martha

1 ½ cups (210g) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
¾ cup (68g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
pinch of table salt
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder – I used 1 Nespresso capsule (Volutto), about 1 tablespoon
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ sticks (170g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup (60g) cocoa nibs

Sift together flour, cocoa, salt, espresso powder, and cinnamon into a large bowl; set aside. Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle; mix on medium until pale and fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in cocoa nibs.

Divide the dough into two equal parts. Place each on a piece of parchment paper; shape dough into logs. Fold parchment over dough; using a ruler, roll and press into a 3.5 cm (1.4in) log – like Martha does here. Wrap in parchment. Chill in the fridge until very firm, about 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F; line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
Unwrap one log at a time (keep the other in the fridge). Cut into 6mm (¼in) thick rounds; space 2.5cm (1in) apart onto prepared sheets. Bake until centers are set, 10-12 minutes. Cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then carefully slide the paper with the cookies onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Makes about 55

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Lime gateau for a predictable person

Lime gateau / Gateau de limão

Last week I had a craving: I wanted to eat cake. I wanted a cake cooling down on my kitchen counter. I flipped over some books and magazines, browsed a couple of websites, only to end up making a lemon cake – actually, a lime one, since I did not have any lemons at home.

I am a very predictable human being. :)

This recipe is from a cookbook I’ve had my eye on for a while now, and I have not purchased it yet because of a resolution of not buying any new cookbooks for the first six months of the year (let’s see how this goes, since it is only February). I found the recipe on Martha’s website, changed one or two little things and ended up with a fragrant and flavorsome cake, drenched in lime syrup – absolutely delicious and perfect for the summer.

Lime gateau
slightly adapted from this beautiful book, recipe found on Martha’s website

2/3 cup (150g) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest and juice of 3 limes
2 eggs
¾ (105g) cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2/3 cup (93g) confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter and flour a 20cm (8in) round cake pan with a removable bottom.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, rub sugar and zest of 2 limes with your fingertips until fragrant. Add butter and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Slowly pour in 2 tablespoons of the lime juice, followed by the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat until well combined – batter might look curdled, but it’s fine. Add flour, baking powder and salt and continue to beat until a thick, smooth batter forms. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake cake until a thin wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and prick top of cake all over with skewer. In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar and remaining lime zest and juice (about 70ml) . Pour glaze gradually over cake and allow it to be absorbed. Cool completely in the pan before serving – this is a very delicate cake, difficult to unmold from the pan because it is very tender and moist, therefore a pan with a removable bottom is required.

Serves 6-8

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