Friday, November 30, 2007

Crispy goat’s cheese, tomato and basil salad

Crispy goat’s cheese, tomato and basil salad

Another recipe by Donna Hay – from her magazine, issue #35, to be more specific.

I’m a huge fan of hers and those of you who have been around my blog for a while already know that – Joey and I go hand in hand in our love for Donna’s recipes! :)

I tried goat’s cheese for the first time while on vacation last September and can’t imagine how I had lived without it till then. I tried it on salads, quiche, sandwiches, pasta… And love everything. “Gotta start using it in my cooking”, I thought.

Joao brought it from the grocery store one day – I didn’t even know they had started selling it there – and I knew exactly where to look for a good recipe: Donna’s books and magazines.

What a delicious salad! I know that doesn’t sound much modest, but this is one of the best dishes I have ever cooked. The cheese was so good after the shallow-frying process: crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. The tomato + basil combination is always a winner and the dressing worked perfectly with all the ingredients – I was amazed by how great everything was together.

I don’t like to repeat recipes – there are so many new things to be tried, right? – but this is a salad I can see myself eating again, and again, and again…

aaWeekendHerbBlogging

This is my entry for the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Simona, from Briciole.

Crispy goat’s cheese, tomato and basil salad

Crispy goat’s cheese, tomato and basil salad
from Donna Hay magazine

all-purpose flour for dusting
1 cup (110g/3 ¾oz) store-bought breadcrumbs
240g (8 ½oz) goat’s cheese, sliced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced
1 cup basil leaves
1 bunch (100g/3 ½oz) rocket (arugula), trimmed

Balsamic dressing:
¼ cup (2fl oz) olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon caster sugar

To make the balsamic dressing, place the olive oil, vinegar and sugar in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.

Place the flour and breadcrumbs on separate plates. Press the goat’s cheese slices into the flour, dip in the egg and press into the breadcrumbs. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Cook the cheese for 1-2 minutes each side or until golden and crispy. Divide the cheese, tomatoes, basil and rocket between plates and drizzle over the balsamic dressing.

Serves 4

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chocolate pots de crème

Chocolate pots de crème

Peabody has recently moved to a beautiful new house and to celebrate that she’s throwing a Housewarming Party, pot luck style.
She’s such a lovely person, so talented and generous, and one of my all-time favorite cooks/bakers - I had to take part in her event!

I thought of many dishes to “bring” to her party and decided that dessert would be a good choice - we rarely have dessert at home. Also, I had been meaning to make something with the fantastic Green & Black’s bars Valentina gave me when she came to Brazil. So, there you have it: a silky, smooth and delicious dessert (recipe taken from this book). Excellent for when you have people over – it can be made in advance.

I decorated the pots of crème with some whipped cream and lemon rind, but feel free to use your imagination - my first thought was to use raspberries, but couldn’t find any that day. I did find some beautiful and shiny blackberries, but they were so tart I had tears in my eyes after tasting one.

Pea, I hope you like my contribution to your party. May you have wonderful moments and lots of love in your new home!

Chocolate pots de crème

Chocolate pots de crème
from The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Dessert

1 1/3 cups (11fl oz/340ml) heavy cream
1 1/3 cups (11fl oz/340ml) whole milk
185g (6oz) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped – I used 72% cocoa solids
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee powder – I used the latter
6 large egg yolks
¼ cup (1 ¾ oz/50g) sugar

Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF. Have ready 6 size ¾-cup (6fl oz/180ml) ramekins and a shallow roasting pan.

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the cream, milk, chopped chocolate and espresso powder and cook, whisking frequently, until the chocolate is melted and the liquid is hot – do not allow to boil. Remove from heat.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until well blended. While whisking constantly, gradually pour the hot chocolate mixture into the yolk mixture. Pour the custard through a sieve place over a 4-cup (32fl oz/1l) glass measuring pitcher. Using a large spoon, skim off any foam and bubbles from the top*.

Divide the custard evenly among the ramekins. Place the ramekins in the roasting pan and pour very hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Cover the pan with foil.

Bake the custards until they are set but the centers still jiggle slightly when a cup is gently shaken, 55-60 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and leave the ramekins in the water until cool enough to handle. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Serve chilled.

* I completely forgot the sieving/skimming thing. :S

Makes 6 servings

Chocolate pots de crème

Monday, November 26, 2007

Butternut squash compote – doce de abóbora

Butternut squash compote – doce de abóbora

One more recipe I cooked especially for Joao - one of his crazy out of the blue requests. :)

I had never made butternut squash compote before – we call it doce de abóbora and it’s such a traditional dessert here (not to mention easy to find) I guess I just took it for granted.
Luckily Google was there for me. I found many, many different recipes online but the minute I saw one of my dear friend Clarice’s post among the other links I knew my search was over.
After reading it, I found out she had gotten the recipe from another talented blogger friend of ours, Silvia – one more reason for me to try it. What a wonderful surprise it was: the compote was absolutely delicious!

While I was in the kitchen cooking the butternut squash, Joao kept telling me from the living room “wow, it already smells like doce de abóbora!”.
I hadn’t eaten this sweet in many, many years and honestly I can’t remember eating one as good as the one I made – I just hope my grandmother doesn’t read this! :)

aaWeekendHerbBlogging

This is my entry for the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by its own creator, the adorable Kalyn, from Kalyn’s Kitchen.

Butternut squash compote – doce de abóbora

Butternut squash compote – doce de abóbora

500g butternut squash – peel it and remove the seeds before measuring – cut in 2cm cubes
250g sugar
5-6 cloves
½ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut

Place the butternut squash, sugar and cloves in heavy-bottom saucepan and mix well; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the squash is soft.
After it is cooked and tender, mash it with a potato masher until you get an even looking paste – there will be a bit of liquid still.
Keep cooking until the liquid is gone – make sure you stir occasionally so the compote won’t stick to the pan. It takes a while for this to happen, but it is worth it, I promise. :)
Remove from heat, mix in the coconut and set aside to cool. Keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Serve it on its own – it also goes really well with soft flavored cheeses.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Nic’s Lime Sugar Cookies

Nic's lime cookies

Isn’t it curious how much our taste for things changes over the years?

I was thinking about it the other day, while watching “Friends”. I used to love that sitcom, wouldn’t miss it for the world. Now, I don’t find it funny anymore. I watched two episodes, one right after the other – not a single laugh.

As a kid, my favorite flavor was chocolate. I loved chocolate cake, chocolate cookies, chocolate ice cream… A while later, back in my teenage years, I started my love affair with citrus flavors. And that love has grown stronger and stronger.

These cookies were on my "to try" list forever and I’m glad I finally made them – they’re irresistible! Believe me, you won’t be able to have only one, no matter how hard you try.

I borrowed Nicole’s recipe and used lime instead of lemon - the result was really good. I want to make them again, next time using lemons like she did.

Nic, thank you for such a wonderful recipe, sweetie!

Nic's lime cookies

Nic’s Lime Sugar Cookies

2 cups (400g) sugar, divided
grated zest of 2 large limes
1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 ¾ cups (385g) flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Prepare lemon sugar: In a mini food processor, blend ½ cup (100g) sugar with 1 teaspoon lime zest. Pulse several times until the zest is incorporated into the sugar. Put sugar mixture in a shallow bowl and stir lightly with a fork to break up any clumps. Set aside.

Prepare cookie dough: In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and remaining 1 ½ cups (300g) sugar. Blend in eggs, one at a time then add vanilla, lime juice, and remaining lime zest. Add flour mixture, one cup at a time, blending well after each addition, until all flour is incorporated.

Refrigerate dough for one hour.

Preheat oven to 175ºC/350ºF and line 2 baking sheets with waxed or baking paper.

Shape the cookies: Shape one tablespoonful* of dough into a ball and roll in lime sugar. Place ball of dough on cookie sheet and press down lightly with the bottom of a glass until cookie is about 1.25cm (½ in) thick (mine were thinner) – it might help to press the glass first in the sugar then onto the dough, then it won’t stick. Repeat.

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes at 175ºC/350ºF – I baked mine for 14 minutes.

Makes: 55 large cookies

* Nicole made giant cookies and used 2 tablespoons of dough into each cookie – she got 24.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Lemon Pasta

Lemon pasta

Thank you all for your lovely comments on my last post – you sure do know how to put a smile on a girl’s face!

There were two different holidays here in Sao Paulo and I didn’t go to work for 6 days in a row – how great is that? :)

I had a wonderful time at home, friends over for dinner, my sister spent a day with me (we played Super Mario Bros. a hundred times). I took care of my herbs and cooked some new recipes.

aaWeekendHerbBlogging

I’m pretty sure this pasta sauce is known by everyone, but since it was the first time I had lemon pasta and it tasted really good (without the addition of cream, which was a plus in my opinion), I decided to post it. And it will also be my post for the Weekend Herb Blogging, this week hosted by the dear Truffle, from What’s on my Plate.

Lemon Pasta
from Kitchen: The Best of the Best

400g spaghetti
3 lemons
1 handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
10 basil leaves, torn
100g (3 ½ oz/1 cup) grated Parmesan cheese
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Finely grate the zest of the lemons into a bowl. Add the juice of 2 of the lemons to the bowl and add the juice of the other lemon to the cooking water for the pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente.
Add the parsley, basil, parmesan, olive oil, salt and pepper to the lemon zest/juice. Mix together well.
Drain the pasta and immediately toss it through the sauce. Serve at once.

Serves 4

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My blog turns 1!

Technicolor Kitchen cake

Today is this blog’s birthday and I’m glad for having had the time to prepare a cake to celebrate!

It has been a great thing in my life to be able to share my passion for food with so many others who love cooking and baking like I do – and I want to thank you all for being constant inspiration and for supporting my blog. You really mean the world to me!

Technicolor Kitchen cake

Technicolor Kitchen cake
white cake recipe from here;
chocolate glaze recipe from here


Cake:
120ml milk room temperature
3 egg whites
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
158g cake flour
175g sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
85g butter, softened

Filling:
¼ cup dulce de leche

Icing:
58g unsalted butter, softened
140g dark chocolate, chopped – I used 60% cocoa

Make the cake: preheat oven to 175ºC/350ºF.
Grease two 15cm cake pans with butter, line the bottom with parchment paper, grease the parchment paper and flour the pans.
Combine milk, eggs whites and extracts in a small bowl with a fork. Set aside.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in an electric mixer and mix at slow speed with a paddle attachment – I have done it with regular hand mixer beaters and it worked fine.
Add butter. Continue beating at slow speed until mixture looks like wet sand (If you're doing this by hand, sift the dry ingredients together and rub in butter).
Add all but 60ml (¼ cup) of milk mixture and beat at medium speed for 1 ½ minutes. Add remaining milk mixture and beat for an additional 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary. Do not overmix.
Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and gently shake to smooth batter. Bake 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes then invert onto racks to cool completely before frosting.
Unfrosted cakes can be frozen for 1-2 weeks.

Assemble the cake before making the icing: place one cake on a plate and spread the filling. Place the other cake on top. Chill the cake for a couple of hours to make icing easier.

Prepare the icing: place chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over gently simmering water and melt. Mix well to combine.
Spread it over the cake immediately because it hardens pretty fast.

Serves 8-10

Technicolor Kitchen cake

Monday, November 12, 2007

Spinach, cheese and walnut baked risotto

Spinach, cheese and walnut baked risotto

I have seen so many delicious recipes with spinach around lately that I felt like cooking with it, too.

This time, I got the recipe from Donna Hay Magazine #33 but I changed it quite a bit. It was my second baked risotto and what an easy dish to put together! Not to mention that while it’s in the oven you can sit on the couch and watch TV – like I did, watching my newest addiction.

aaWeekendHerbBlogging

This is my entry for this Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Vanessa, from What Geeks Eat.

Spinach, cheese and walnut baked risotto

Spinach, cheese and walnut baked risotto
adapted from Donna Hay magazine

1 ½ cups Arborio (or risotto) rice
4 ½ cups (36fl oz) vegetable stock
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
40g (1 ½ oz) unsalted butter
salt
freshly ground black pepper
50g (1 ¾ oz) spinach leaves – remove the stems before measuring or use baby spinach leaves
100g (3 ½ oz) yellow mozzarella*, roughly grated
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, slightly toasted

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/355ºF. Place the rice and stock in a 22x30cm (8 ½x12in) 10-cup (80fl oz)** capacity baking dish and stir to combine. Cover tightly with foil and cook for 40 minutes or until most of the stock is absorbed and the rice is al dente.
Add the parmesan, butter, salt, pepper, spinach, mozzarella and walnuts and stir until the butter is melted. Serve immediately.

* a type of salty mozzarella we have here in Brazil, made with cow's milk - very much used as pizza topping. You can replace with regular mozzarella or use fetta (as in the original recipe)

** I used a deep bowl – I thought it would be easier to mix the ingredients in it than in a rectangular baking dish

Serves 4

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fabulous five-minute fudge

Fabulous Five-Minute Fudge

One of my Brazilian blogger friends – a very witty and smart one, by the way – wrote a post a couple of months ago about how much her mother likes to prepare homemade gifts – food, to be more specific. There’s a kind of pie she makes for her friends and coworkers that is so famous I wish I lived nearby so she could bake one for me, too. :D

Fabulous Five-Minute Fudge

I like to made food gifts for my friends, and I’m sure many of you do, too. I’m always thinking of baking cookies for one, making candy for another…

I wanted to send a gift to a friend and the lovely Lynn helped me choose what to send. She suggested brownies or fudge – they would be easier to pack and sturdy enough to be mailed. I used this recipe – and what a wonderful website that is. So many great recipes and beautiful photos that it is almost impossible to choose one…

Ju, dear, it was wonderful to know you liked the gift!

Fabulous Five-Minute Fudge

Fabulous five-minute fudge

2 cups (12oz/336g) semisweet chocolate pieces
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (196g/one-half of a 14-ounce can)
1 tablespoon water
¾ cup (90g) chopped walnuts, toasted if desired
1 teaspoon vanilla

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper; set aside. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate pieces, sweetened condensed milk, and water.

Microwave, uncovered, on 100% power (high) for 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 1 minute more, or until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Pour mixture onto prepared cookie sheet and spread it into a 22x15cm* (9x6-inch) rectangle, or drop mixture by rounded teaspoons onto prepared cookie sheet.

Chill fudge about 30 minutes or until firm. Cut into 3.5cm (approx. 1-1/2-inch) squares

Makes 24 pieces

* I used a 27x15 cm baking sheet and spread the fudge completely inside it – I got 28 squares.

Fabulous Five-Minute Fudge

Pasta al pesto (and another gift)

Pasta al pesto

Yep, I’m a lucky blogger. You guys have spoiled me so much!
I have received many gifts from different parts of the world and that is so amazing.
The beautiful place mat you see on the photo is a present from a very dear Brazilian friend, Luna – thank you for making my table more beautiful, sweetie!

Some people are so versatile. Take Mark Ruffalo, (one of my favorites) for instance: he can be cute, adorable, and super sexy.

Some things are as versatile as Mark – and I have found out that pesto is one of them. I have seen it as pasta sauce, canapé topping, and even spread on pizza.

It took me forever to try pesto – Karin told me I was gonna love it – and my decision was to try it in Rome. I did – it was OK, but when I looked at my plate I was kind of disappointed. I wanted my sauce green, not sort of green.

Determined to change that weird first impression, I made my own pesto. And all I can say is that after the pasta was gone I rushed to grab a piece of bread – there was not a single drop of sauce left on my plate.

aaWeekendHerbBlogging

This is my post for this Weekend Herb Blogging, created by the lovely Kalyn and hosted by The Expatriate Chef, from The Expatriate's Kitchen.

Pasta al pesto

Pasta al pesto
adapted from a Brazilian book

400g fettuccine – or use the pasta shape you prefer

Sauce:
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts*
¾ cup (180ml) extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1 ½ cups basil leaves (packed)
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until al dente.
In the meantime, prepare the sauce: place the ingredients in a bowl of a food processor** and process until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
When pasta is ready, drain and reserve ¼ cup (60ml) cooking water; add the reserved water to the sauce and mix well.
Transfer pasta to a large bowl, add the sauce and mix.
Serve immediately.

* use pine nuts for a more traditional take on pesto
** I used a blender and it worked wonderfully.

Serves 4

Friday, November 2, 2007

Chocolate coated cookies. And a gift

Chocolate coated cookies

I have met so many wonderful people through blogging that if I start listing them it will take me days!

One of these friends I’ve made is a talented and gifted young lady, who happens to be not only a great cook but also an artist – Hannah, of the beautiful BitterSweet.

We always write to each other and I’m really glad we’ve met.

The lovely duckling is a gift she sent me by mail – isn’t it just adorable? I have been meaning to show it here forever, but I wanted to photograph it with some nice food.

These cookies are delicious and the only bad thing about this recipe is that the chocolate coating never set. The cookies were a bit messy to eat, but nobody complained about that! :)

You’ll get 2-3 tablespoons of coating left – it is fantastic over ice cream or brownies.

Hannah, my dear friend, thank you for the gift! I loved it!

Chocolate coated cookies

Chocolate coated cookies
from Big Fat Cookies

Cookies:
2 cups (280g) unbleached all purpose flour
½ cup (45g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks/226g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dark chocolate coating:
6 ½ ounces (182g) dark chocolate, chopped – I used 60% cocoa solids*
1 ½ tablespoons canola or corn oil

Make the cookies: Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, beat the butter and sugar until blended and lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until blended, about 1 minute. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just until it is incorporated and the batter looks smooth. Cover and refrigerate the dough for about 20 minutes to firm it slightly.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 165ºC/325ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll heaping tablespoons** of dough between the palms of your hands into smooth balls, and place them in 5cm (2 inches) apart in the prepared baking sheets.
Using the palm of your hand, flatten the cookies to 2 ½-to 3-inch rounds.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm and look dull rather than shiny, about 15 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to cook completely.

Make the chocolate coating: Put the chocolate and the oil in a heatproof container or the top of a double boiler, and place it over, but not touching, a saucepan of barely simmering water (or the bottom of the double boiler). Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the water and let the chocolate coating cool and thicken slightly, about 20 minutes.

Spoon the chocolate coating over the top of the cookies and use the back of the spoon t to spread the chocolate evenly and coat them completely. If some chocolate drizzles over the cookies edges, that is fine.
Let the cookies sit at room temperature until the chocolate if firm. Or to speed the firming of the chocolate, refrigerate the cookies for about 20 minutes, then remove them from the refrigerator.

Makes 52 cookies

* you can use the following mixture, according to the book: 6 ounces (168g) semisweet chocolate + ½ ounce (14g) unsweetened chocolate
** if you prefer to make giant cookies, roll 3 leveled tablespoons of dough for each cookie – you should get 18-20 cookies.

Chocolate coated cookies

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