Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Banana peanut muffins

Banana peanut muffins / Muffins de banana e amendoim

As much as I try to stick to the ingredients I have at home when baking, that doesn’t always happen: I sometimes cannot resist some fruits at the grocery store or buying another bar of chocolate and/or a jar of jam (I was much worse in the past, if that is any consolation). :)

It is like buying another book when you are not even close to finish reading the ones you already have (that, luckily, I no longer do). But the ingredients… I sometimes give in. :)

Last weekend, however, I reached for a batch of homemade vegetable stock in my freezer and saw a couple of bananas there. There was another ripe banana in the counter, so I decided to bake with them. The idea started as a cake, but changed to muffins when I saw these on Olive magazine – I had each and every ingredient at home and that made me feel like a winner. :D

On top of using the bananas, I was able to go through my giant peanut butter jar a little bit more, use up the remaining peanuts from this recipe and also the peanut meal I found in a shop weeks ago (and of course I had to bring it home). :D Don’t worry if you don’t have any peanut meal at hand: the original recipe calls for almond meal, so you can use either one.

Banana peanut muffins
slightly adapted from the always great Olive magazine

1 ¾ cups (245g) all purpose flour
2 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons peanut meal (finely ground peanuts)
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (78g) demerara sugar
3 ripe bananas, being 2 mashed and 1 chopped
100g smooth peanut butter
2 eggs
½ cup (120ml) buttermilk*
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
handful of toasted peanuts (salted are fine)

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a standard 12-hole muffin pan with muffin cases.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, peanut meal and sugar. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2 mashed bananas, the peanut butter, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla until well mixed. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a fork – do not overmix or your muffins will be tough; muffin batter is supposed to be lumpy, not smooth like cake batter. Stir in the chopped banana.

Divide the mixture between the cases and sprinkle with the peanuts – press them slightly with your fingers so they adhere to the batter. Bake for about 20 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the muffins from the pan and transfer them to the rack. Serve warm or let them cool completely.

* 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, then use the whole mixture in your recipe

Makes 12

Friday, July 15, 2016

Yogurt, orange and almond cake with white chocolate and yogurt icing

Yogurt, orange and almond cake with white chocolate and yogurt icing / Bolo de amêndoa, laranja e iogurte com cobertura de iogurte e chocolate branco

I am completely drawn to beautiful food photos and I have a list of favorite people whose recipes I trust completely, so a couple of years ago, when I discovered Bill Granger’s column on The Independent I was really happy: his recipes always work and taste delicious and the photos posted on the paper website are truly gorgeous.

I found this cake recipe there and was curious to try it since I called for no butter and no oil. I twisted it around a little bit, but still ended up with a very moist and tender cake, perfumed with oranges. The icing goes a bit to the sweet side, but I am a fan of white chocolate, so no problem to me – if you are a white chocolate hater (as most of my coworkers seem to be), feel free to make a simple glaze with icing sugar and orange juice, it will make the cake shine, too.

Yogurt, orange and almond cake with white chocolate and yogurt icing
slightly adapted from the always great Bill Granger

1 cup + 1 tablespoon (150g) all purpose flour
½ cup (50g) almond meal
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
2 eggs
170g plain yogurt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons Cointreau (optional)

For the topping:
¼ cup (60g) plain yogurt, room temperature
100g white chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
2 tablespoons icing sugar
¼ cup (35g) whole almonds, toasted, cooled and then coarsely chopped

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

Cake: in a medium bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, rub sugar and orange zest together until sugar is fragrant. Add the eggs and using the mixer whisk until thick and creamy. Beat in the vanilla and the Cointreau (if using). On low speed, mix in the yogurt. Fold in the dry ingredients and pour batter in the prepared pan. Bake for around 40 minutes, until the cake is risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan onto a wire rack.

Icing: whisk in the yogurt into the chocolate until smooth. Sift in the sugar and stir to combine. Cover and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes, or until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Unmold the cake, carefully peel off the paper and place onto a serving place. Spread with the icing and top with the chopped almonds to serve.

Serves 8

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dulce de leche molten cakes - an easy peasy recipe + a fantastic movie

Dulce de leche molten cakes / Petit gateau de doce de leite

I have a terrible habit that I think some of you might share: even though there are thousands of great movies out there I sometimes ended up watching the same ones over and over again. :)

There are times, however, when watching movies more than once is necessary: my husband hadn’t watched Whiplash yet, and since this was the best movie I saw last year I was more than willing to watch it again, this time with him. He absolutely loved it – Whiplash is, to me, the kind of fantastic movie which almost impossible to describe without using four letter words. :D
I got to watch J.K. Simmons being beyond fantastic again – he pulled a Cate Blanchett and won each and every award with that role, not to mention one of the most deserved Oscars in History.

I liked J.K. Simmons before – I am a Law and Order devotee, after all – but I really did not think he could be that great. What a pleasant surprise.

A surprise similar to the one I had with the recipe I bring you today: with so few ingredients and put together in a matter of moments, I did not expect these cakes to be so good – well, I was wrong, very wrong: they are delicious and so easy to make I see myself repeating this recipe to exhaustion – the same way I see myself watching Whiplash at least once a year from now on. :D

Dulce de leche molten cakes / Petit gateau de doce de leite

Dulce de leche molten cakes
from the always gorgeous and delicious Donna Hay Magazine

2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (300g) dulce de leche
4 tablespoons (40g) all purpose flour
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F. Generously butter six 120ml capacity muffin pans or mini cake pans.

Place the eggs, yolks and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk for 4–5 minutes or until very thick and pale. Add the dulce de leche and whisk on low speed until just combined.
Add the flour and salt and carefully fold through the mixture. Divide the mixture between the prepared pans.

Bake for 6-8 minutes or puffed and still slightly soft in the middle. Allow to stand in the pan for 1 minute, then very carefully run a knife around the edges to release the cakes from the pan and invert them onto a plate. Serve immediately with ice-cream.

Serves 6

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Apple and rye cake and there is no accounting for taste

Apple rye cake / Bolo de maçã com farinha de centeio

To me part of growing up was understanding that there is no accounting for taste: I used to be too emphatic about the things I like – and sometimes still am – but I try not to be too pushy. Until a certain age I used to think that “OMG, the things I like are the best things” – not anymore. At least I try not to be like that (please note that I am not saying I am successful at that). :)

I think I told you ages ago how much I was enjoying Ra Ra Riot and I recently found out there was a new album by the band on Spotify (not sure when it was released, since lately I have been struggling with balancing work + personal projects, not much time left to constantly be updated on certain subjects). So I ended up googling a bit about it and read a text by a guy that hated the album and complained at how much the band sounded like a band from the 80s and also that they seemed possessed by Journey on Call Me Out – I smiled and thought: “well, that is one of the reasons I like the band and Call Me Out is my favorite song of the album”. There is no accounting for taste, indeed. :D

Maybe many of you won’t like the cake I bring today because it is dense, very moist and the rye flour gives it a nutty aftertaste – it you ask me that is exactly why I loved the cake so much. A matter of taste, or just what I felt like at the moment I ate it. If you want a light, fluffy cake, please check my recipe index for inspiration – but if you are in the mood for moist and dense, please go to the grocery store and buy a couple of apples. :)

Apple and rye cake
slightly adapted from Lucy Cufflin

1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter
¾ cup (150g) demerara sugar
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk, room temperature
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and coarsely grated
1 large egg
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup (70g) all purpose flour
½ cup (70g) rye flour
½ cup (50g) almond meal
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 ½ tablespoons rolled oats, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 5-cup loaf pan, line it with baking paper and butter the paper as well.
Put the butter, sugar and milk into a saucepan and warm until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and cool. In another bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, rye flour, almond meal, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add the ingredients from the saucepan, the grated apples, egg, vanilla and mix until smooth.

Transfer to the prepared pan and sprinkle the top of the batter with the oats.
Bake for about 40 minutes until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 25 minutes, then carefully remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Carefully peel off the paper and serve.

Serves 8

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Linguine with chorizo tomato sauce

Linguine with chorizo tomato sauce / Linguine com molho de tomate e chorizo

Even though I haven’t had the time to post here as often as I would like to, I have been cooking and baking quite regularly – family and friends thank me for that. ;)

I have been, however, a bit tired (too much work, I guess): days ago I was watching a rerun of Law & Order: Criminal Intent (you know how much I love that show!) and it took me a good while to recognize Carrie Preston in the episode: I was sure I knew her from somewhere, but she was a blonde then and without Arlene’s bold red hair my brain was very slow in processing the info. :D

And speaking of bold red hue, may I introduce you to the dish I made last weekend that got my husband asking for seconds? The idea was to make bolognese pasta, but when we arrived at the shop the meat grinder was broken. I’d already decided to make a simple tomato sauce when I opened the fridge to get the onion and garlic and spotted a piece of chorizo right there, in front of me – I chopped it in small cubes and used it to replace the beef mince. A bit of sherry to make things more Spanish, a handful of marjoram – a herb that I love pairing with pork – and lunch was served.

Linguine with chorizo tomato sauce
own creation

1 ¼ cups (175g) diced chorizo
½ large onion, finely diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons sherry
1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
1 400g (14oz) can peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
handful of fresh marjoram leaves
300g dried linguine or other long pasta shape you prefer
parmesan or pecorino, to serve

Heat a medium saucepan over medium/high heat and add the chorizo. Cook until it releases its oils and starts getting crispy. Add the onion and cook until soft, 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t catch in the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the sherry and cook until reduced, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cook for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes and crush them with a potato masher. Fill the can by half with water and add to the sauce. Stir in the sugar, season with salt and pepper – gently, since the chorizo is already salty and spicy – and add the bay leaves and the marjoram. Cook over low heat, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until slightly thickened.

In the meantime, cook the linguine in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes (check the package instructions). Drain the linguine and stir it into the sauce. Serve immediately sprinkled with freshly grated pecorino or parmesan, or for an even more Spanish touch, manchego chese.

Serves 3

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