Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Cherry Eton Mess

Cherry Eton Mess / Merengue de cereja

The traditional Eton Mess, made with strawberries, is my husband’s favorite dessert (and I like it very much too). :) I took advantage of the amazing cherries we have here in Sao Paulo by the end of the year to give the dessert a new twist.

The recipe is easy, especially because I use store bought meringues – turning the oven on in December and January here in Brazil is a terrible idea. The hard part of making this dessert is refraining from eating all the cherries before even gathering the other ingredients. :D

Cherry Eton Mess
own recipe

Cherry compote:
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
1 star anise
3 tablespoons cold water
500g fresh cherries, pitted and halved

To assemble the dessert:
1 cup (240ml) heavy cream, cold
½ tablespoon icing sugar
2 ½ cups mini meringues – if they are large ones, break them into smaller pieces
100g fresh cherries, pitted and halved

Start by making the compote: place the sugar, water and star anise in a large, heavy saucepan over médium-high heat. Cook until caramelized, without stirring – just swirl the pan occasionally. Stir in the cherries and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a heatproof bowl and discard the star anise. Cool completely.

To assemble the dessert: beat the cream with the icing sugar until soft peaks form. Set aside 4 large glasses (the ones on the photo are 400-ml capacity glasses). In each glass alternate layers of meringues, cherry compote and whipped cream, placing a few fresh cherries in between the layers as well. Serve cold.

Serves 4

Monday, December 4, 2017

Apple and coconut upside down cake

Upside down coconut and apple cake / Bolo invertido de maçã e coco

Apple cakes are truly favorites or mine – there are several recipes on the blog, including a version made with olive oil that I will repeat next weekend – and the upside down version is even more beautiful. The apple slices turn into a flavorsome layer and the coconut gives a nice tropical touch to the batter – it is a very tender and delicious cake.

The recipe is easy to put together – despite the look of the cake – and I find arranging the apple slices on the bottom of the pan therapeutic. Just be careful not to use a springform pan or one with a removable bottom: the sugar of the topping will melt in the oven and it might leek.

Upside down coconut and apple cake / Bolo invertido de maçã e coco

Apple and coconut upside down cake
own recipe

Apple layer:
1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 small Granny Smith apples, cored and thinly sliced

1 ½ cups (210g) all purpose flour
1/3 cup (35g) desiccated unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of table salt
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1/3 cup (80ml) buttermilk*
1/3 cup (80ml) coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a round 20x7cm (8x2.5in) cake pan, line the bottom with a circle of baking paper and butter the paper as well – do not use a pan with a removable bottom because the sugar will melt in the oven and might leek. If your 20cm (8in) pan is not deep enough use a 23cm (9in) pan. In a small bowl, mix well sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the buttered paper. Arrange the apple slices on top. Set aside.

Cake: in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, coconut, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy – scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally throughout the making of the recipe. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. On low speed, mix in the dry ingredients in three additions followed by the buttermilk, then the coconut milk. Mix only until incorporate – do not overmix. Spread the batter over the apple slices and smooth the top. Bake for about 50 minutes or until golden and risen and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 1 hour, then carefully unmold onto a plate and peel off the paper. Serve on its own or with whipped cream.

* 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

Serves 8-10

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Gingerbread granola

Gingerbread granola / Granola de gingerbread

My favorite time of the year has arrived and my Christmas tree is already up – I have been thinking of the Christmas Eve menu already, planning the food and the drinks. However, unlike previous years, I don’t think I will be able to have my oh, so beloved Christmas series here on the blog – too much work, other priorities at the moment.

Having said that, I felt I had to bring you at least one recipe with a holiday touch and it is my gingerbread granola: filled with spices it will make your house smell like Christmas immediately.

Even if I am not able to bring you other holiday recipes aside from this granola, there is plenty of inspiration from previous years: it is just a matter of clicking on the Christmas tag here on the blog.

Gingerbread granola
own recipe

2 ½ cups (225g) rolled oats
¼ cup (40g) golden flaxseeds
¼ cup (35g) raw pumpkin seeds
½ cup (60g) flaked almonds
pinch of table salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup (80ml) agave or honey
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (75g) dried cranberries, chopped in half if too large
½ cup (90g) dried apricots, diced

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds and salt. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the spices, oil, agave/honey and vanilla. Pour over dry ingredients and stir well to coat. Spread mixture over foil and bake for 10 minutes. Stir the granola around and bake for another 10 minutes – the granola will still be soft and will get crunchy once cooled. Remove from the oven and stir in the dried fruit. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Serves 6-8

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Lime nutmeg snickerdoodles and Christmas gifts

Lime nutmeg snickerdoodles / Snickerdoodles de limão e noz-moscada

This is the time of the year when my colleagues and friends with kids tell me that they have to buy Christmas gifts for their children’s teachers, and since the kids have so many teachers these days they have to buy tons of presents. This is when I suggest them to make cookies or brownies, to wrap them up beautifully and there, gifts are ready. :)

These snickerdoodles may be a good idea for a holiday gift: starting with a traditional snickerdoodle recipe, I swapped the baking soda and cream of tartar for baking powder – since not everyone has cream of tartar around or wants to buy it – and added a touch of lime and nutmeg (instead of the most common cinnamon). The cookies turned out delicious and they smelled amazing while in the oven – you might have to bake an extra batch for your neighbors. :)

Lime nutmeg snickerdoodles
own recipe

1 ½ cups (210g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon table salt
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 limes
½ cup (1 stick/113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

To roll the cookies:
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lime
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, rub sugar and lime zest together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Add the butter and beat until creamy and light – scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally throughout the making of the recipe. Beat in the egg and the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients at once and mix on slow only until a dough forms. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes – in the meantime, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F and line two large baking sheets with baking paper.

To roll the cookies: in a small bowl, rub sugar and lime zest together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Stir in the nutmeg. Roll 2 leveled teaspoons of dough per cookie into balls and then roll the balls through the sugar. Place onto prepared sheets, 5cm (2in) apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are golden around the edges. Cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then slide the paper with the cookies onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 35

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Gorgonzola and fresh oregano grissini

Gorgonzola and fresh oregano grissini / Grissini de orégano fresco e gorgonzola

At home we like nibbling very much, especially on weekends, and that came to my mind as I set up a plate of bread, cheese and fruit last Saturday for dinner: a glass of wine and the meal was perfect.
Sometimes we have guacamole with homemade tortillas, and of course there are days I don’t even want to enter the kitchen: those are the days for pizza. :)

If you are feeling a bit more enthusiastic than me lately please have a go at these grissini: they are absolutely delicious and great for the cheese/fruit platter (and with wine, too). :)

Gorgonzola and fresh oregano grissini
own recipe

1 teaspoon dried yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
200ml lukewarm water
2 cups (280g) all purpose flour
1/3 cup (46g) whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons olive oil + a bit extra for brushing
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, packed
50g gorgonzola, coarsely grated or crumbled if too soft
3 tablespoons finely grated parmesan

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the yeast, sugar and water with a fork. Set aside for about 5 minutes or until foamy. Add the flours, olive oil and salt. Mix on medium for about 8 minutes or until mixture turns into an elastic and smooth dough – if mixing by hand, 10-12 minutes should do it. Mix in the oregano and the gorgonzola, shape the dough into a ball and transfer to a large bowl lightly brushed with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to prove for 1 ½ hours, or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line two large baking sheets with foil and brush it with olive oil.
Punch the dough to remove the excess air. Divide dough in 24 equal portions e roll each of them into a 30cm (12in) sausage shape – if dough is too stick, lightly flour your counter, but avoid too much flour or the dough will be tough and dry. Place the grissini onto the foil leaving 2cm (little less then 1in) between them. Brush them with olive oil, sprinkle with parmesan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Transfer the sheets to a wire rack and cool completely.

Makes 24

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