Monday, April 16, 2018

Brownies with white chocolate and raspberries

Brownies with white chocolate and raspberries / Brownies com framboesa e chocolate branco

I think that whenever inspiration fails me when I want to bake something I bake brownies: I can’t think of any other baked good that is a hit with pretty much everyone I know. Not to mention that I absolutely love brownie batter: when I could still eat dairy I would always leave some batter left in the bowl for my own moment of happiness while the brownies were in the oven. :)

The brownies I bring you today combine the tart flavor of raspberries with the sweetness of white chocolate: nothing like sour or citrus kick to make white chocolate even more special. However, raspberries go well with all kinds of chocolates, so I have made this exact same recipe using both milk and dark chocolate chips to replace the white chocolate and it worked like a charm.

Brownies with white chocolate and raspberries
own recipe

¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, chopped
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
½ cup (88g) light brown sugar, packed
1 cup (90g) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup (46g) all purpose flour
pinch of salt
¾ cup (75g) frozen raspberries, unthawed
100g white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 20cm (8in) square pan, line it with foil leaving an overhang on two opposite sides, and butter the foil as well.

In a large saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugars, cocoa and vanilla, followed by the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Fold in the flour and salt. Fold in raspberries and white chocolate.

Spread batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies comes out with moist crumbs. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Cut into squares to serve.

Makes 16

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Peanut butter and chocolate chip bars

Peanut butter and chocolate chip bars / Barrinhas de manteiga de amendoim e chocolate

Lately I have been using peanut butter as a way of increasing my protein intake: I buy the natural type made with roasted peanuts only and add a spoonful to smoothies and such.

That reminded me of these bars I made ages ago, when I bought natural peanut butter for the first time. The jar seemed to last too long and I wanted to make something delicious with it. These bars are easy to put together and peanut and chocolate are a match made in heaven.

Peanut butter and chocolate chip bars
own recipe, inspired by several others

1 cup (300g) natural peanut butter
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups (175g) icing sugar, sifted
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup (125g) dark chocolate chips
½ cup (70g) toasted peanuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a 20x30cm (8x12in) baking pan with foil and lightly butter it.

In a food processor, process the peanut butter, sugars, butter, baking soda, salt, egg and vanilla until creamy. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the chocolate chips and peanuts. Press dough into the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges (the center will still be soft).

Cool completely over a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Makes 24

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Beef and ricotta meatballs

Almôndegas de carne e ricota / Beef and ricotta meatballs

Meatballs are a big hit at my house and you will find some in my freezer whenever. They constantly become a quick weeknight dinner paired with salad – I do that quite often.

My go-to meatball recipe is this, but after seeing the wonderful Nigel Slater making burgers with the addition of ricotta I thought I would give it a go with meatballs: they tasted delicious and were incredibly light in texture.

Unfortunately I am no longer able to eat ricotta, but this is such a great recipe I had to share it with you.

Beef and ricotta meatballs
adapted from here, with Nigel’s idea

½ large onion
2 large garlic cloves
300g beef mince
175g ricotta – I used homemade
1 large egg
3 tablespoons finely grated pecorino or parmesan
1 teaspoon table salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/3 cup breadcrumbs

Place onion and garlic in a food processor and process until finely chopped*. Transfer to a large bowl and add all the remaining ingredients, mixing well with your hands. With wet hands, shape the mixture into balls using 1 ½ tablespoons of mixture per meatball.

You can either cook the meatballs at the stovetop or bake them in a preheated 200°C/400°F oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

* I’ve tried this recipe with chopped, processed and grated onions and to me the best way of using them is processed – chopped with a knife the onion pieces are too large (which makes rolling the meatballs more difficult) and grated the onion becomes too wet

Makes about 22

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Lentil soup with crispy salami - waiting for fall to come

Lentil soup with spicy salami / Sopa de lentilha com salame crocante

Summer here is over, however someone forgot to tell Mother Nature about it: the weather continues to be hot leading to uncomfortable nights for those who like me do not own an air conditioner at home.

While I look forward to cooler days and nights, I felt like sharing with you one of my favorite soups, sort of like Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams: maybe if I post soups on the blog, fall will actually come. :)

This lentil soup is comforting, delicious and freezes well if you keep the fresh oregano out. If you want to keep it vegan it is just a matter of omitting the salami – I love it because it adds a crunchy, salty touch to the soup.

Lentil soup with crispy salami
own recipe

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, sliced in half lenghtwise for easier washing, then sliced in half moons
½ onion, finely diced
1 small carrot, finely diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup (200g/7oz) dried green lentils, soaked in cold water for 20 minutes before cooking, then drained and rinsed
3 cups (720ml) vegetable stock, hot
2 cups (480ml) boiling water
2 bay leaves
handful of fresh oregano leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g (3½ oz) salami slices – if they are too large, cut them in half

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the leeks, onion and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute only. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the lentils, cook for 1 minute, then add the stock, water, bay leaves and oregano. When it starts to boil, cover partially, turn the heat down and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes or until lentils are soft, but not mushy. Season with salt and pepper, remove the bay leaves and remove from the heat.
Now the salami: heat a nonstick flying pan over high heat and grill the salami slices for a couple of minutes or until golden on both sides. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to remove excess fat. Cool completely.

Pour the soup into bowls and top with the salami slices. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-5

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Cornmeal, coconut and marmalade cake

Cornmeal, coconut and marmalade cake / Bolo de fubá, coco e geleia de laranja

I bought Ottolenghi’s beautiful book ages ago and if I am not mistaken the first recipe I made from it was the semolina, coconut and marmalade cake – it is delicious and the recipe yields two cakes: you can enjoy one while making other people’s day better sharing the second loaf.

One day I wanted to make this cake again, however I did not have any semolina at home. I decided then to use corn flour instead and it worked beautifully. Feel free to use one or the other.

Cornmeal, coconut and marmalade cake
slightly adapted from the wonderful Jerusalem

¾ cup (180ml) sunflower oil
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 cup (240ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
160g orange marmalade
3 large eggs
70g granulated sugar
70g unsweetened desiccated coconut
90g all purpose flour
180g fine corn flour
2 tablespoons almond meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt

Soaking syrup:
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
140ml water
1 tablespoon orange blossom water

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Whisk together the oil, orange zest and juice, marmalade, and eggs until the marmalade dissolves. In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients and add to the wet ingredients. Mix until well combined. The mixture should be runny.
Butter or brush with oil, line two 1-lb loaf pans (8½x4½ in/22x11cm) with baking paper and butter the paper as well. Divide the filling evenly between them. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until a skewer inserted in a cake comes out clean and the tops turn an orangey brown.

Near the end of the baking time, place the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, start brushing them with the hot syrup using a pastry brush; you’ll need to do this in a few goes, allowing the syrup to soak in for a minute or two before you carry on brushing with more syrup. Make sure you use up all the syrup and it is all absorbed into the cakes.
Cool completely on the pans over a wire rack.

Makes 2 cakes

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