Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Roasted garlic pecorino focaccia

Roasted garlic pecorino focaccia / Focaccia de alho assado e pecorino

I can say that after the lovely Ina my favorite Food Network presenter is Rachael Ray – she is fun and her food always looks good – even though most of the times her portions look too generous to me. :)

She constantly says how much she loves garlic and I always relate to that: I have a heavy hand with it comes to adding garlic to my food and usually double the amount requested in recipes (maybe that is why both my husband and I rarely have colds). And don’t even get me started on roasted garlic: I just love the stuff so much I had to mix it into a focaccia dough. It turned out delicious, but if you are not a fan of bold flavors you can tone this down by adding half the amount of garlic and replacing the pecorino with parmesan.

Roasted garlic pecorino focaccia / Focaccia de alho assado e pecorino

Roasted garlic pecorino focaccia
own recipe

For the roasted garlic:
1 large head of garlic, whole
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons dried yeast
¼ teaspoon granulated sugar
300ml lukewarm water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra to drizzle over the focaccia
3 cups (455g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1/3 cup finely ground pecorino
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Place the whole head of garlic in the center of a medium piece of foil. Drizzle with the olive oil and close the ends of the paper, pressing them together so the oil does not leak. Place the foil package in a small baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes or until garlic is tender. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. When garlic is cold, remove the pulp from the skins and mash it with a fork to form a purée – save the olive oil left in the foil for later. Set the garlic aside.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, sugar and water and mix with a fork. Set aside for 5 minutes or until foamy. Add the olive oil, flour, salt and half of the pecorino and mix with the dough hook for 6-8 minutes or until an elastic and smooth dough forms – it kneading by hand, 10-12 minutes should do. Add the mashed garlic, half the thyme leaves and mix well. Transfer to a lightly oiled large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot for 1 ½ hours or until doubled in volume.

Lightly brush a large baking sheet with olive oil. Carefully transfer the dough to the prepared sheet, gently so you don’t lose the air trapped in the dough. Shape it onto a 30x20cm (12x8in) oval. With lightly floured fingertips, pierce the dough in a few spots without pressing it too deep. Measure the olive oil left from roasting the garlic and add more olive oil until you have 1 tablespoon. Drizzle over the dough, then sprinkle it with the remaining thyme leaves and pecorino. Set aside in a warm place for about 20 minutes – in the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Bake the focaccia for 25-30 or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and very carefully slide it onto a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. The focaccia can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days and tastes fresh again if reheated briefly in the oven.

Serves 8-10

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Black Forest self-saucing pudding to start 2018

Black Forest self-saucing pudding / Bolo-pudim Floresta Negra

Happy New Year, everyone! :)

I haven’t posted anything new on the blog for quite a while, even though I have several great recipes to share with you: my workload last December tripled and I was working like crazy in order to get things done before taking a few vacation days. I had also promised myself that on those vacation days I would not seat in front of a computer and I am proud to have kept the promise – I really needed the time off. Of course I am only human and used my mobile to post and check Instagram and Twitter, but that was kept to a minimum and it was a lot less than I had expected.

I got back to work and because we still have some amazing cherries around I thought I’d share this self-saucing pudding with you: it is delicious and easy to put together. Here in Brazil cherries are easier to be found in the summer, but if you are facing winter don’t worry: this recipe is also great using frozen raspberries instead of the cherries – it will no longer be a Black Forest pudding, but it will taste great all the same.

Black Forest self-saucing pudding
own recipe

¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (125g) all purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
pinch of table salt
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk, room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cognac – use kirsch if you have it at home; or omit alcohol all together
1 cup (150g) fresh cherries, pitted and halved
¼ cup (42g) dark chocolate chips or chunks – I used one with 53% cocoa solids

½ cup (88g) light brown sugar, packed
1 ½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup (120ml) boiling water
whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter four 1-cup (240ml) capacity heatproof ramekins.

Start with the batter: in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the butter, milk, egg, vanilla and cognac. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir just until a thick batter forms. Stir in the cherries and chocolate. Divide batter evenly among the ramekins.

Topping: in a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cocoa. Sprinkle over the batter. Place the ramekins in a baking sheet, then pour 2 tablespoons boiling water over each ramekin, gently pouring it over the topping. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until mixture rises and a crust forms. Serve immediately with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Serves 4

Thursday, December 14, 2017



I haven’t cooked much lately but I still like to make something nice on the weekends, and also try new recipes. And even though my husband and I are not big sandwich eaters, there are Saturdays when I make piadina for lunch: the dough is quick put together and since it is made with baking powder instead of yeast it does not take long to proof – it just rests for 30 minutes while you get on with other things in the kitchen.

Piadina is also great for it is very democratic: you can fill it with whatever you like or have in the fridge.

own recipe

3 cups (420g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking poder
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup (160ml) whole milk, room temperature
½ cup (120ml) water, room temperature

cheeses, prosciutto, ham, salad leaves, whatever you like

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt and baking powder – whisk well to evenly distribute the baking powder and salt throughout the flour. Add the olive oil, the milk and the water and mix with a wooden spoon until a dough starts to form. Start kneading – with your hands or with an electric mixer attached with the dough hook – until an elastic and smooth dough forms, about 8 minutes using the mixer and 12 by hand. Shape dough into a ball, transfer to a large bowl lightly brushed with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Turn the dough into a lightly floured surface and divide it into 6 equal pieces – each one should be about 120g (4oz). Shape each portion into a ball and cover them with a clean kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out. Heat a large nonstick frying pan on high heat.

Working on a lightly floured surface, roll out each dough ball until you get a rough 23cm (9in) circle. Transfer the circle to the frying pan and cook for 2-3 minutes each side. When the piadina is cooked, slide it into a plate and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Cook the remaining dough the same way.

To serve, fill each piadinha with whatever you prefer and fold it in half – when I fill mine with cheese I place them back in the frying pan, over medium heat for a minute, until cheese is melted.
Serve immediately.

Makes 6

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

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