Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Blueberry, coconut and white chocolate muffins

Muffins de coco, mirtilo e chocolate branco


From a very early age my mother taught me how wonderful fruits are: apples, oranges, watermelon, strawberries, pears… We were a modest family, but there were always different fruits over the counter or in the fridge – my favorites as a kid were strawberries.

Some fruits are kind of recent in my life, such as raspberries and blueberries – these have become popular and easier to find in Brazil over the past years. I love raspberries – went picking them once with a dear friend in Surrey, England, back in 2007 – but blueberries I believe benefit from heat: after being cooked or baked, for example, they become more flavorsome: it is like they turn into little pockets of jam.

Blueberries and white chocolate are beautiful together, the flavors complement each other in a perfect way. I wanted to give these muffins a bit of a tropical flair, therefore the double addition of coconut, both desiccated and in milk form. The muffins turned out delicious, moist and tender, and I found out that coconut and blueberries can be truly great friends too.

 

Blueberry, coconut and white chocolate muffins

own recipe

 

2 cups (280g) all purpose flour

¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar

¼ cup (25g) desiccated unsweetened coconut

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon table salt

½ cup (120ml) whole milk, room temperature

½ cup (120ml) coconut milk

½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup (140g) blueberries, fresh or frozen (unthawed)

2/3 cup (110g) white chocolate chips or small chunks

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a 12-cavity muffin pan with paper cups.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, coconut, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, coconut milk, butter, egg and vanilla. Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients and mix with a fork until ingredients are incorporated – do not overmix, or your muffins will turn out tough; muffin batter is lumpy, and not smooth like cake batter. Fork in the blueberries and the chocolate.

Divide the batter evenly among the paper cups (they will be rather full) and bake for about 20 minutes or until muffins are risen and golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully unmold onto the rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Granola jam bars

Barrinhas de geleia e granola

 

Once I started making my own granola I never looked back: store bought just doesn’t do it for me anymore. I am the only granola eater at my house, so one batch lasts quite a long time – I usually eat it in the afternoon with some yogurt and fruit, a nice snack between lunch and dinner, and that also gives me energy to exercise. 

There were times, however, before quarantine, that I was not able to finish off the granola before it lost its crunch. For times like those, these granola and jam bars are absolutely perfect: you can vary the flavors of both the granola and the jam to make several different combinations.

The only jam I usually avoid for these bars is strawberry, for I think it is a tad too sweet.


Granola jam bars

own recipe

Base:

¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar

¾ cup (105g) all purpose flour

1/3 cup (45g) whole wheat flour

pinch of salt

100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 egg yolk (save the white for making the topping)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Filling and topping:

½ cup (170g) your favorite jam – my favorite flavors for this recipe are raspberry, blackberry and apricot

1 ¾ cups (210g) granola

1 egg white

 

Start making the base: preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 20x20cm (8x8in) square baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang in two opposite sides, to make unmolding the bars easier. Butter the foil.

In a large bowl, whisk the flours, sugar and salt. Add the butter, egg yolk and vanilla and mix until a dough starts to form – it might be crumbly, no problem, do not overmix to avoid getting a tough base. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and pat onto the bottom of the pan – you can use the bottom of a glass or measuring cup to help. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and very carefully not to get burned, spread the jam over the base.

In another bowl, mix well the granola and egg white and then spread evenly over the jam layer.

Bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool completely in the pan over a wire rack.

Remove the bars from the pan using the paper as guide and cut into squares to serve.

 

Makes 16

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Broccolini, feta and pine nut gozleme and being inspired by TV shows

Gozleme de brócolis, feta e pinoli

One of the things I love the most about watching TV food shows is to learn about different foods and ingredients from places far from Brazil – when I traveled in the past I always wanted to try as many new things as I could while abroad. I remember when I visited my friend Valentina in London in 2009 and I begged her to buy me some rhubarb - I had never seen it in Brazil until then. :)

The same way Ottolenghi introduced me to pide, or Turkish pizza, Ainsley Harriott ate gozleme in his show and I immediately wanted to make it a home!

I used broccolini, feta and pine nuts in these gozleme, but you can pretty much use whatever you want for the filling – the sky is the limit! I am a sucker for all things feta – I like it so much that my dear friend Ellen who lives in California told me she will take me to a Greek restaurant when I come visit (cannot wait, Ellen!). 

I want to make this recipe again and use other vegetables for the filling, such as zucchini or eggplant, and other types of cheese as well.

 

Broccolini, feta and pine nut gozleme

own recipe, inspired by many I have seen online

 

Dough:

1 teaspoon dried yeast

½ teaspoon sugar

¾ cup (180ml) lukewarm water

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

2 cups (280g) all purpose flour

1 tablespoon plain yogurt

1 teaspoon table salt

 

Filling:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

200g broccolini florets

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon Marsala wine – it gives a lovely smoky flavor to this recipe, but replace with white wine if Marsala is not available

100g feta cheese, finely chopped or crumbled

1 ½ tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the yeast, sugar and water. Stir with a fork and set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the olive oil, flour, yogurt and salt and knead on medium speed for 6-8 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic – if kneading by hand, it should take 10-12 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to a large oiled bowl. Cover and set aside to proof for 60-80 minutes, depending on how warm the day is, or until doubled in size.

In the meantime, make the filling: heat the olive oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute only – do not let it burn or it might turn bitter. Stir in the broccolini, cooking for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper (be careful with the salt, since feta can sometime be quite salty), add the Marsala and cook for another minute so the wine evaporates. Remove from the heat, let it cool, then stir in the feta and pine nuts.

Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. In a lightly floured surface, roll each portion of dough until you get a roughly 22-25cm (9-10in) circle. Place ¼ of the filling onto one half of the circle, then fold the other half over the filling, sealing the edges well.

Heat a nonstick frying pan over high heat. Brush one of the sides of the gozleme with olive oil and place brushed side down onto the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until golden. Brush the other side with olive oil and flip it, to cook the other side, for another 2-3 minutes or until golden. Repeat the process with the remaining gozleme. Serve immediately.

Makes 4

Monday, March 22, 2021

100% whole wheat bread for delicious breakfasts - or sandwiches

Pão 100% integral

For quite a long time now I have been baking this wonderful bread every week and it makes my breakfasts tastier and healthier: I found this recipe almost two years ago and it instantly became one of my all-time favorites – and many of my Brazilian readers love it too.

I usually bake this bread on the weekends, cut into slices and freeze them – I take the slices from the freezer as I need them, and even when I forget to do that in advance I can pop the slices straight onto a frying pan over medium heat and in no time I have fresh bread to go with my latte – so good.

Even though this bread is made entirely with whole wheat flour it turns out so tender it is even hard to slice it sometimes. It is delicious and I feel fueled until lunch time every day. My six-year-old nephew is a fan of this bread, too – he was very surprised when I told him a long time ago that I’d made the bread myself. :)

I have also already made this bread replacing 50g of the flour with quinoa flakes and with teff flour and it worked like a charm – when using teff the flavor gets a bit nuttier.

This is a recipe I adapted from the wonderful King Arthur Flour website – if you like baking like I do, their website is perfect for you.

Pão 100% integral


100% whole wheat bread

slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour's wonderful website

 

1 cup (240ml) lukewarm water

2 ½ teaspoons dried yeast

2 tablespoons honey – you can also use agave or maple syrup

¼ cup (60ml) vegetable oil – I use canola

400g whole wheat flour

1 ¼ teaspoons table salt

1 tablespoon rolled or jumbo oats

Place water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of the honey in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. When mixture foams (about 5 minutes) add the remaining honey, the oil, flour and salt and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon. Mix in medium speed for about 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl – you can knead by hand for about 15 minutes too.

Cover with plastic wrap and let it proof for 70-90 minutes or until doubled in size.

Lightly brush with oil a 6-cup capacity loaf pan.

Gently deflate the dough to remove the excess air, then roll it onto a lightly floured surface until you get a rectangle of roughly 30x20cm (12x8in), then shape it into a log. Transfer to prepared pan and cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel. Let the bread rise for about 40-60 minutes, or longer if the day is too cold. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.

Brush the top of the bread lightly with water and sprinkle with the oats, pressing ever so slightly for them to stick. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown - bread should sound hollow when tapped with your fingers. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully unmold onto the rack to cool. Cool completely.

Makes 12-14 slices

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Curried cauliflower soup and memories from trips

Sopa de couve-flor com curry


Something that always brings me good memories from my travels is the food: I miss certain dishes and wines from places I have been. This longing is now even bigger, since no one knows when travelling will go back to what it used to be. It pains me to imagine how many restaurants have closed their doors due to the pandemic, so many people unemployed because of that. It is really sad. 

I visited Buenos Aires in 2016 and had a lovely curried cauliflower soup in a restaurant called Restó: delicious, the soup was served in a small cup and came with a crayfish floating on it - it was a dinner with several different courses and the portions were small. When I came back from Argentina, I still had thoughts of writing a cookbook and wanted to include this soup in it.

My version is creamier than the one I had in Buenos Aires and vegetarian – no crayfish here, and you can even turn it vegan by replacing the butter with more olive oil. I just find butter and leeks are a match made in heaven, so I usually add a bit of butter when cooking leeks.

I must confess Restó’s soup was tastier than mine, but my version still brings me nice memories from such a wonderful trip.

 

Curried cauliflower soup

own recipe

 

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 large leek, light part only, thinly sliced

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

1 large potato, peeled and diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 cauliflower, about 500g, cut into small florets (to cook faster)

500ml vegetable stock, hot

300ml boiling water

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon curry powder

½ teaspoon ground cumin

salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan, melt butter in medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Add the leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute only – do not let the garlic burn or it will turn bitter. Add the potato, carrot and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring now and then.

Add the cauliflower, the stock, water, bay leaf and spices. Season with salt and black pepper, mix well and as soon as it starts to boil turn the heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Remove the bay leaf from the soup, blitz with a handheld mixer until smooth and serve.

Serves 4 – or 2 very generous servings

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Anthill yogurt, lime and almond cake on an atypical day

Bolo formigueiro de iogurte, amêndoa e limão / Anthill yogurt, lime and almond cake

After months without baking cakes, I felt the urge to make a new recipe, a tasty one, to brighten up the rainy Friday. 

In a very atypical day, I woke up with such a disposition as I hadn’t in quite a long time: got up very early, turned on the oven, prepared the cake batter and while it baked and perfumed my home I sat down and wrote down a newsletter for my Portuguese speaking readers. It was a few minutes after 06:00 and the light coming through the balcony gave me energy.

While I picked the recipes for the newsletter and wrote the text, I started feeling so good, it was like a ray of sunshine coming from within: I did not even remember when I had last felt that way, especially about food, recipes. It was such a good feeling I would have kept it in a jar if I could.

When I removed the cake from the oven, it was so beautiful and golden, I wished really hard for it to turn out delicious, not only for our coffee break in that afternoon, but also so I could share the recipes with you here on the blog. I unmolded the cake and left it cooling on the kitchen counter – hours later, I cut myself a slice and tasted it: it was really good! My mind, so tired lately, immediately started thinking about the photo, how I would photograph the cake, which colors would work well with it. I opened my cupboard and, looking at the china and silverware, pictured in my head what would please my eyes the most. I prepped everything, grabbed the camera, took the photos, and again started feeling really good. If I could, I would turn that feeling into a scented candle.

With my hear at peace, with a nice cake to go with my cup of tea and a very productive day, for a moment I felt like my old self again. I hope the Patricia from the past shows up again sometimes, I missed her so much.


Anthill yogurt, lime and almond cake

adapted from the Epicurious recipe, once again

 

180g all-purpose flour

45g almond meal/finely ground almonds

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon table salt

3 tablespoons chocolate sprinkles

finely grated zest of 2 large limes

1 cup (200g) granulated sugar

¾ cup (180g) plain yogurt – I used sheep’s milk yogurt

½ cup (120ml) vegetable oil – I used canola

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 tablespoon Amaretto (optional)

1 tablespoon lime juice

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180C/350°F. Lightly brush a 6-cup capacity loaf pan with oil, line it with baking paper and then brush the paper as well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt. Whisk in the chocolate sprinkles. Set aside.

In a large bowl, rub lime zest and sugar together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Whisk in yogurt, oil, eggs, Amaretto (if using), lime juice and vanilla until smooth. Fold in reserved dry ingredients – if batter is too lumpy, whisk for a few seconds – do not overmix or the cake will become tough.

Pour the batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a skewer or toothpick inserted into center of the cake comes out clean.

Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Carefully and using the paper as a guide, remove cake from pan and transfer to the rack to cool completely.

The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Serves 8

Friday, February 26, 2021

Oatmeal porridge - comfort food for troubled times

Mingau de aveia


I have a small notebook in which I write down food ideas I want to test and also the recipes I make at home, so I can then post them here on the blog. The poor notebook has been so forgotten lately it is almost getting dusty, for I haven’t made anything new, but I keep it on the coffee table, with my iPad and my cell phone charger, hoping that maybe, sometime, I’ll look at it and feel like testing new recipes again.

This is how things are going here, some days seem slower and/or longer than others, sometimes I feel a little bit more energy, while other times I have less disposition, but everyday seems like the previous one, very “Groundhog Day” indeed. At least workwise things are truly great, working with a new boss since September 2020, a wonderful woman who is beautiful both on the inside and out, and that makes me eager to face this never-ending quarantine.

I want vaccines, but there aren’t hardly any, I want a better government for my country, which is not possible right now. I want to get up in the morning without feeling I am in an episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale” – not possible now either.

As far as food goes, things are a bit boring around here: very basic recipes, preferably quick dishes that do not result in a sink full of dishes to do. Lots of pasta and salads

Sometimes at night I don’t feel like eating, even when I exercise, which generally makes me hungry. To avoid going to bed on an empty stomach, I make myself some porridge: quick, easy and so comforting – it is like being hugged on the inside. I top it with chia seeds, coconut chips or cashew nuts and serve it with some fruit on the side. It is not a traditional dinner, but it comforts me and makes me feel fed and happy.

 

Oatmeal porridge

own recipe

 

¼ cup (25g) rolled oats

½ cup (120ml) milk or plant-based milk – I like to use cashew nut milk, it is so creamy!

¼ cup (60ml) cold water

pinch of salt

sugar, to taste – you can replace it with honey or agave

pinch of ground cinnamon, or 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder


Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring a few times to dissolve the sugar. When it starts to boil, reduce the heat and stir constantly until mixture thickens. Cook for 2-3 minutes, depending on how thick you want the porridge.

Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Serves 1

 

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