Monday, November 23, 2015

Yogurt lime cheesecake bars

Yogurt lime cheesecake bars / Barrinhas de cheesecake de limão e iogurte

Every time I discover something nice I like to share it with you, being related to food or not – and what makes me happy is that many of you feel the same, and I can ask you about something as far from the kitchen subject as a good product suggestion for frizzy hair that I get many answers – so, thank you. <3

Frizzy hair crisis almost averted – with the help of my Brazilian readers over on Facebook – now it’s my turn to share something special with you: one of my favorite food magazines, one that I use over and over again for both recipes and inspiration has now launched a beautiful website, packed with lots of delicious recipes and stunning photos – I hope you enjoy it!

Even though I rely on Delicious Australia very often, most of the times I tweak the recipes here and there, and this cheesecake slice is no exception: 200g of cookies would be swimming in 175g of butter, so I changed the recipe slightly and was very pleased with the result.

Yogurt lime cheesecake bars
slightly adapted from the wonderful Delicious Australia

200g digestive cookies
85g unsalted butter, softened

½ cup + 2 tablespoons (125g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 limes
300g thick Greek-style yogurt
300g cream cheese, room temperature
3 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 20x30cm (8x12in) baking pan, line it with foil leaving an overhang in two opposite sides and butter it as well.

Place the cookies in a bowl of a food processor and blitz until finely crushed. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles wet sand. Press firmly into base of pan. Chill for 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, rub sugar and lime zest with your fingerprints until sugar is fragrant. Add the yogurt and cream cheese and whisk to combine. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and salt, then pour over base. Bake for 20-25 minutes until set and slightly golden around edges. Cool, then chill until set. Dust with icing sugar and cut into bars to serve.

Makes 24

Monday, November 16, 2015

Melted butter banana cake for busy days

Melted butter banana cake / Bolo de banana (feito com manteiga derretida)

It is very clear that I haven’t had time to write for the blog – well, I haven’t had time to cook or bake, really (and all that makes me really sad).

For days like these, when there is barely any time to play around in the kitchen or to write a blog post (type recipes, edit photos and translate them for my other blog), I bring you this banana cake: it is delicious, the recipe is put together in no time at all and since the butter is melted you don’t even have to wait for it to soften. Very quick, very good – exactly what I need nowadays.

Melted butter banana cake
slightly adapted from Dan Lepard

175g granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 orange
200g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
250g all purpose flour
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
250g very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
3 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter an 6-cup capacity loaf pan and line it with baking paper, buttering it as well.

Place the sugar and orange zest in a large mixing bowl and rub together with your fingertips until sugar is perfumed. Stir in the butter, then beat in 100g of the flour until smooth. Add the eggs one by one, beating each one in well before adding the next, then mix in the juice, vanilla and banana. Sift in the remaining flour, baking powder and salt, and stir until smooth.

Spoon the mixture into the pan and smooth the top. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer pulls out with only a few crumbs sticking to it, it's done.

Serves 6-8

Monday, October 19, 2015

Rita's stroganoff to celebrate good things

Estrogonofe da Rita / Rita's stroganoff

I was thinking about 2015 these days and about everything that has happened so far, of how my feelings and emotions fluctuated from one side to another, back and forth all the time. I was sad in the beginning of the year because I’d lost a job I liked and could not find another – the whole country is going through a bad phase and many people are out of jobs.

Then my nephew was born and brought so much love and joy to my life, and exactly because I was unemployed I was able to be around him and help my sister in law look after him ever since his first days of life. We have such a strong bond that he smiles and throws himself at me every time he sees me.

I kept thinking that sometimes what at first might seem like a bad thing might actually turn into something good. And I think about my family, how great it is to have my brother, my sister in law and my nephew so close – it fills me with joy to look at table and see everyone together, sharing a meal, laughing, being a family. I made this stroganoff weeks ago for lunch on a Sunday and it was a hit – when I was cooking I saw this big pot of food on the top of the stove and even thought it was too much for 4 people and that there would be some left for a packed lunch on Monday, but everyone liked it so much it was all gone - we ate it all while talking, laughing and being a family. <3

Rita's stroganoff
from the lovely Rita Lobo

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
700g sirloin, cut into 5x2.5cm strips, room temperature
250g button mushrooms, cut into 3-4 slices each lengthwise
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups (360ml) heavy cream
1 ½ tablespoons tomato purée
1 ½ tablespoons ketchup
1 ½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ tablespoons cognac – I used sherry
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and add half or 1/3 of the beef – do not fill the pan or the beef will cook in their own juices instead of brown. Brown all the beef in batches, adding more oil after each batch is browned. Set aside.

Add ½ tablespoon of the oil, then the onion and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally to avoid burning – scrape the bottom of the saucepan to remove all the browned bits. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the tomato purée and ketchup and stir to combine. Return the beef to the saucepan, add the Worcestershire sauce and the cognac and stir to combine. Gently stir in the mushrooms.

Drizzle with the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately with rice or pasta.

Serves 4

Monday, September 28, 2015

Almond, coconut and lime cake

Almond, coconut and lime cake / Bolo de amêndoa, coco e limão

Hello, is there anyone here? :)

It has been a while since I last published a recipe on this blog, and it has been a while since cooked anything new or interesting – I no longer know what baking is, but I’ve told you that already.

Nothing has changed in nearly a month: I’m still working like crazy (and on top of that I have resumed my Spanish classes), I rarely feel like cooking or baking and I don’t think I ever longed for weekends so much in my life before. I hope things get calmer with time and I also hope to be able to go back to cooking, baking and posting here more regularly, for it is something that makes me really happy.

While that doesn’t happen, I hope that after all this time there is still someone reading me for this cake deserves to be shared: it is absolutely delicious, tender and perfumed, and I am sure that I would feel a lot better now if there was still a slice of it around. :)

Almond, coconut and lime cake
slightly adapted from the über beautiful Summer Berries & Autumn Fruits: 120 Sensational Sweet & Savoury Recipes

1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 limes
1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
1 ¾ cups (175g) almond meal
½ cup (50g) unsweetened desiccated coconut
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (125g) all purpose fl our
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
4 medium eggs – I used 3 very large eggs, 70g each
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 rounded tablespoons sour cream*

freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes
100ml water
2 ½ tablespoons honey
1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar

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

Place the sugar and lime zest in the bowl of an electric mixer and rub with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Remove from the heat, stir in the olive oil and leave to cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond meal, coconut, flour, baking powder and salt.
Using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed until they are very thick and pale, tripled in volume and leave a ribbon trail when the whisk is lifted from the bowl. Beat in the vanilla. Gently fold the almond mixture, then fold in the butter mixture and sour cream. Pour into the pan, smooth the top and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 40-50 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Syrup: in a small saucepan, bring the lime juice, water, honey and sugar to the boil. Continue to bubble steadily until reduced by half and syrupy.
Leave the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for five minutes. Using a wooden skewer, make holes all over the top of the cake, then slowly pour over the syrup, gradually, waiting for each portion to be absorbed by the cake before pouring more. Let cool completely in the pan.

*homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

Serve 8-10

Monday, September 7, 2015

Cinnamon Cointreau brownies

Cinnamon Cointreau brownies / Brownies com canela e Cointreau

My days have been very busy – a lot busier than I would like them to be, honestly – and I haven’t baked anything in weeks – I don’t even remember when I last turned on the oven for something sweet. Many weekends have gone by without cakes cooling down on racks around here. :(

I’m glad that I made a few baked goods before going back to work and I can share them with you here, like these absolutely wonderful brownies – the original recipe called for ancho chile powder, but I guess I am a bit conservative when it comes to chocolate desserts and don’t like the idea of adding chili to my brownies (sorry, Matt and Renato).

I omitted the chile powder, amped up the cinnamon and switched the fresh ginger for a healthy dose of Cointreau and the brownies turned out delicious – not only in flavor, but also in texture, very moist and fudgy (that is how I like brownies). You can use your imagination and use different spices or go for whisky or Marsala instead of Cointreau, for example, or if you have kids around use just the vanilla – I guarantee the brownies will be equally great.

Cinnamon Cointreau brownies
slightly adapted from the delicious Baked: New Frontiers in Baking and Baked Elements: The Importance of Being Baked in 10 Favorite Ingredients

¾ cup (105g) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Dutch cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
140g (5oz) dark chocolate, chopped – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (44g) packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons Cointreau

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

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cocoa powder and cinnamon. Set aside.
Place chocolate and butter in a large bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water) and stir until melted. Turn off heat, but keep bowl over water and add both sugars. Whisk until completely combined and remove bowl from pan. Let stand until room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, to chocolate-butter mixture and whisk until just combined. Add vanilla and Cointreau and whisk to combine. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or the brownies will be cakey.
Sprinkle flour-cocoa mixture over chocolate mixture. Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet until there is just a trace amount of the flour-cocoa mix visible.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake brownies for 20-25 minutes; brownies are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool brownies completely before cutting and serving.

Makes 16

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