Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Going nuts with the Daring Bakers!

Hello! I'm in Barcelona right now so if you're reading this, it's because Blogger was smart enough to post it all by it self. If you're not reading this... well, never mind...

This month, our host Chris from Mele Cotte challenged us with a Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream, witch is a fancy way of saying "Hazelnut cake with hazelnut-caramel paste buttercream and covered in chocolate"! The Gateau's original recipe came from Carol Walter's Great Cakes. I decided to use tangerine as company for the hazelnuts on mine, and only did half the recipe.

This cake was a collection of little recipes, so to make it easier let's break it down. To assemble it we will need:

  • Hazelnut Genoise
  • Sugar Syrup
  • Hazelnut Praline Paste
  • Swiss Buttercream
  • Glaze
  • Ganache

Genoise gets it's name form the Italian city of Genoa and it's basicly a sponge cake without any quimical leveaning, that rises only with the air of the beatten eggs. This particular one had hazelnut meal and clarified butter added at the end.

Filbert (hazelnut) & tangerine Genoise

  • 1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
  • 2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar, divided (¼ & ¾ cups)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. grated tangerine rind
  • 5 lg. egg whites
  • ¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan. Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds. Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture. You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process. Set aside. Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated tangerine rind. Remove and set aside.Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another ½ minute. Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute. Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup or a spouted container. Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds. With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon. Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.

Tangerine Sugar Syrup
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. tangerine liqueur

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool before using on the cake.

Hazelnut Praline Paste
  • 1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
  • 2/3 cup Sugar

Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter. Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Swiss Buttercream
  • 4 lg. egg whites
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
  • 1 ½ -2 Tbsp. tangerine liqueur
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a bowl of a elevtric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows. Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. Do not overbeat. Set aside. Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. Do not overbeat or the butter will become too soft. On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute. Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy. Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.

Now that we have the praline paste and the swiss butercream let's join them to make:

Praline Buttercream

  • 1 recipe swiss buttercream
  • 1/3 cup praline paste
  • 1 ½ - 2 Tbsp. Frangelico liqueur (original asked for Rum)

Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine. Blend in liqueur.

As for the Glaze, the original recipe asked for apricot, but we were allowed to use any flavour so I went with tangerine, of course. I've used homemade Tangerine marmelade.

Ganache Glaze
  • 6 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
  • 6 oz. (¾ cup) heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. tangerine liqueur
  • ¾ tsp. vanilla

Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside. Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside. Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ - 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable.

Now that we have everything we can assemle it: Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside. Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-ich blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with the glaze, sealing the cut areas completely (I've did this with the buttercream as well). Chill while you prepare the ganache.Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings. Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center. Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance. The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.

Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.

To garnish it I've used a bit of buttercream, praline powder (before turning into paste) and caramelized hazelnuts.

To do them boil some sugar with a tiny bit of water until it gets a golden color. Remove from the heat and let to cool for a short while until it starts to thicken. Meanwhile inseart a toothpick on the bottom of toasted and skinned hazelnuts and prepare a piece of cardboard that can be suspended to hold the toothpicks and place a paper or cling film under it to catch the caramel drippings. Holding the toothpick dip the hazelnuts into the caramel, pierce on the cardboard upside down and let them set.

As I'm nuts for nuts I liked the cake, the praline was so good that I could have eaten it on it's own (I almost did actually...) and the tangerine was a nice addition I think. But best of all was to bake with all these wonderful people! So what did my fellow Daring Bakers thought about it? Go check it out here! I'll sure visit them when I'm back from my vacation!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sweetheart, turn the music on!

Today I was thinking about all the lovely people that come here and leave me nice comments and put smiles on my face! You people are such sweethearts! So in your honor I've made sweethearts! Literaly, I've made you sweet hearts made out of sugar. Aren't they... well, sweet?

These are so easy to make and make such nice gifts. It's just sugar wet with a bit of water, until it gets like wet sand. Then it's pressed onto candy molds and let to dry. I've used a silicone heart mold, but they work fine with hard molds as well. And you can also color the sugar to match holidays, your china or even your clothes.

Speaking of sweethearts, Emiline tagged me for a Music Meme.

"List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your summer (or whatever season). Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to."

Adding to this, another sweetheart, Teanna gave me the Yum-yum award! I have received that award before, but it's nice to have it again so I can spread the love to five others one more time. Thanks Teanna!

So here it goes, meme and awards 2 in 1:

Dedicated to Emiline because she tagged me and because I know she has big dreams!

For Teanna because she was so nice giving me the award!

And now the awards go to...

To Katrina, because she's a meravigliosa creaura (wonderful creature) herself, having 4 litlle boys and baking yummy things as well as healthy stuff.

To Lisa because she's cool and everything she does looks good!

To Madeleine because she's such a dedicate blogger and allways has nice tips.

To Lina because I love to learn about japanese food with her and chasing her on her travelings. She gives great food reports of where she goes.

To Suzana, my fellow portuguese, because she cooks like a superstar!

If you're bored and like music consider yourself tagged for this music meme.

And it's a good thing I'm leaving you all this music, I won't be arround for a few days, so you'll have something to entertain yourself.

I'm off to Barcelona for a short vacation, I hope to go to all the trendy patisseries and chocolate shops they have there. I'll tell you about it when I came back! Have a nice week!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Strawberry Cappuccino

The strawberries are almost gone here! It's a shame they are available for such a short time, but it makes them special, don't you think? I just bought what I think will be the last ones of this year.

Every summer I freeze strawberry's puree, so I can enjoy milkshakes and ice-creams when they're not in season anymore. Yesterday I was doing that and after filling little plastic bags with 1/2 cup of puree, I was left with about 1/4 cup of it just perfect for creating something for this month's Sugar High Friday!

Susan of Food Blogga is hosting and the theme couldn't be better: Berries! SHF was created by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess and it's such a fun event!

I looked at the pure in search for inspiration. What could I do with it, that would be fast, cold, bikini friendly and original? That's when I noticed right there next to it, my little milk frother for making cappuccinos and... the rest is history!

A cappuccino is part espresso coffee and part milk foam, usually dusted with cocoa powder or cinnamon. I love cappuccinos and was spoiled with the best ones in Italy. But I'm sure even the most purist Italians would love my strawberry version of their classic.

First thing, for the espresso part, I made strawberry milk with most of the puree, milk, sugar and a drop of red food coloring (just for for the drama). With the rest of the puree I made the strawberry milk foam.

CHILLED STRAWBERRY CAPPUCCINO

  • 1/4 cup strawberry puree divided (strained)
  • 1 1/2 cups very cold milk divided (low fat is better, it's easier to froth)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (or splenda)
  • 1 drop red food coloring (opcional)
  • cocoa powder to dust

Reserve the 1/4 cup of milk and 1 tsp of the strawberry puree for froth. Make the strawberry milk by blending the rest of the puree, the rest of the milk, sugar and food coloring (if using) and divide into 2 big mugs.

You'll need a milk frother to do the milk foam, but if you don't have one you can use an imersion blender as well. Make the foam and add the rest of the puree to it mix just until blended. Carefully top the strawberry milk with it and dust with cocoa powder.

Here you have it, a cappuccino for the strawberry lovers, coffee haters, cafeeine avoiders and pink junkies !

Got strawberry milk?

UPDATE: Susan did a berrylicious roundup. Check it here!

Monday, July 21, 2008

My thoughts about perfection, chocolate and chili pepper

I hope you're not tired of cookies yet, because today I've got more for you. As you have probably read allready, last week the NY Times published an article by David Leite, about the perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie. The 3 main differences between their recipe and most recipes are a) a resting period of at least 36 hours in the fridge before baking, b) good quality chocolate disks instead of chips and c) a sprinkling of sea salt. A lot of people have been experimenting the "perfect cookie" and of course I didn't want to miss out. So now it's the time I tell you that I did this solely for the cientific reasons, because it's my duty as a pastry chef to be updated with all the new stuff. It's also the time you pretend to believe all that. Deep down we all now I did the cookies because I wanted to eat them, right?

The recipe can be found here.

I've followed it exactly except for the chocolate. I couldn't find the disks asked for, so I got a good thin chocolate bar and cut it into squares about the size of the disks. Because I wanted to check how different the dough would be after resting in the fridge I baked one right away.

I didn't bake the others at 36 hours because I'm crazy but not crazy enough to wake up at 4 am to bake cookies.

The cookies were great, very good really. The fact that the chocolate was very good of course it influences the overall flavour. My thoughts about the all 36 hours resting rule, well I did notice a slighty flavour difference but only in the raw dough. The main difference was the texture, as you can probably see in the picture, the second cookie spreaded less than the first resulting in a chewier interior. Very very good cookie!

It was a fun experiment but it didn't end there...

See that dark cookie? No, that's not overbaked, that's a chocolate chili pepper adaptation of the NY Times cookie!

The day I've baked the cookies I was working from home, trying new ice-cream flavours. At work they asked me for a Chocolate-chili ice-cream, so I had those ingredients laying arround in the kitchen and couldn't help adding them to a bit of the raw cookie dough.

The CCCCC (chocolate-chili chocolate chip cookies) were great as well, they spreaded less than the non-chocolate ones, so they've become densier almost like a fudgy brownie. I liked the hint of hotness from the chilli pepper, but here's a tip: Don't tell your friends you put salt and pepper in your cookies, they will look at you in a strange way (or if you're me, stranger than usual anyway).

CCCCC (for 2 huge cookies)

  • 200 gr (3.5 oz) raw cookie dough
  • 30 gr (1 oz) melted dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp chilli powder

Mix the raw dough with the rest of the ingredients and divide it in 2, shape 2 cookies, sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake as in the recipe.

Now about the chocolate-chili ice-cream, I've experimented with raw chili peppers, dried chilis and chili powder. At the end I've used a combo of powder and dried and the ice-cream turned out just as I wanted.

But as I can't give the recipe I'm not going to be mean and show you a picture of it...

Or am I?...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Shikai Maki Cookies

A while back I saw this great technic for making sushi, that was actually quite simple but created an impressive look. It's called the shitai-maki sushi. I like sushi but don't really know how do do it. On the other hand, I know how to make cookies...

I've used the same technic as showned on the pictures on how to roll the sushi, but with a butter cookie dough and some food coloring. As you can see I was very creative and name them Shikai-maki cookies! Aren't they cool?

SHIKAI-MAKI COOKIES

  • 250 gr (90z) flour
  • 100 gr (3.5 oz) butter
  • 110 gr (3.9 oz) sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Food coloring (a few drops- I've used red and green)

Cream the butter (softened) with the sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well incorporated. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the creamed mixture, mix on low speed or use a wodden spoon. Divede the dough into 3. Leave one natural and add to the other 2 parts, 2 different food colorings. Wrap in plastic and leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Roll squares or rectagules out of the colored doughs and put one over the other. Roll them as if it was a jelly roll and take to the freezer to harden (about 5-10 minutes) and so it's easier to cut.

Cut them into 4 pieces lenghwise and place 2 of them, side by side with one of the flat sides down on a piece of plastic wrap. Roll a long snail out of the white dough and place in the center. Top with the remaining 2 quarts of the "jelly roll". It should form a square shape, roll with the help of the plastic wrap. Check the pictures on the sushi post, it's really well explained there.

Take again to the freezer for about 10 minutes and then slice (about 1 cm- 0,5 inch). Bake 10-12 minutes on a 180ºC (350ºF) preheated oven.

I actually had this idea after coming across the sushi one second time when Indigo mentioned it to give an example of the kind of things she was hoping to get for the cool food event she's hosting: Whimsical Weird Wonderful (WWW). Go check it out!

I had some leftover dough from making a lot of butter cookies and so these were born.

I think it's only fair to send this to Happy Love Strawberry for the event. Only virtually, because they are all gone now (sorry Indigo), they were quite a hit with my cousins!

UPDATE: Check out the fun roundup here!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cookie Chips?????

This is actually the living proof I'm a geek...

I've seen a lot of recipes for "Inside-out chocolate chip cookies" or sometimes called "Reverse chocolate chip cookies", that refer to a chocolate dough with white chocolate chips. To me, in all my geekiness those are not really inside-out or reverse, to deserve that name a real inside-out CCC would have the dough transformed into the chips, and the chips transformed into the dough. Are you a bit confused? I don't blame you, but...

Meet the "Cookie Chips Chocolates"!

So yes, I've made cookie chips! Personally I think they're adorable and I was happy just staring at them, but was even happier when I folded them into melted chocolate. Oh yes!

I've made a chocolate chip cookie dough with the chips, put it into a pastry bag with a small round tip and then chipped away.

Here they are before baking.

And here they are allready baked and ready to dive into the melted chocolate.

Now this is what I'm talking about when I say "Inside-out"!

COOKIE CHIPS CHOCOLATES OR THE ULTIMATE INSIDE-OUT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

  • 110 gr (4 oz) butter room temperature
  • 6 tbs sugar
  • 6 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 180 gr (6 1/2 oz) flour
  • 1/4+1/8 tspn salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 250 gr (9 oz) chocolate of your choice (I used milk)

Beat butter and both sugars just until they come together. Don’t over-beat. Add the egg and beat just until incorporated. Mix together the flour, salt and baking powder and add to the batter. Stir just until blended and put into a pastry bag with a small round tip*.

Drop into a cookie sheet pulling up so the dough get a thin point, characteristic of the chips. Bake into a preheated 170ºC (325ºF) oven, for 5 minutes.

Let them cool while you melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler. Poor the chips over the chocolate and mix until they're all coated, being careful not to break them. Reserve some to decorate the top of the cookies. Drop by teaspoons onto a tray lined with plastic wrap, foil, silpat or baking paper. Decorate with 3 or 4 cookie chips and take to the fridge to harden.

* If you want to do this but don't want to bother doing the chips, you can just spread the dough with a spatula or the back of a spoon in a cookie sheet, bake and then cut or break into chunks.

Now look at this amazing discovering of mine: If you like your cookies crunchy leave them in the fridge, if you prefer them chewy, take them out! See I'm a geek, but I'm a clever one, lol!

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Champion's Tortilla de Papas Step-by-step

So I didn't win the lottery, but Spain won the Soccer Eurocup!

A while ago I promised to make something in honor of the next European soccer champion, who later turned out to be my beloved Spain. I was going to do something sweet, but after two suggestions to cook a Spanish potato tortilla I decided that was exactly what I was going to do. And so I did.

I lived in Spain for 3 years and loved it! I loved the people, the way of life, and of course, the food. Before moving there I had tried to make potato tortillas a couple of times, but without great results. It's such a simple thing, with very little ingredients but it has it's tricks.

Luckly one of my Spanish housemates (who was studing to be a chef) made the best ever tortilla de papas (potatos)! She used to make it almost everyweek for us and from watching her I think I can now make a fine one as well, which is quite impressive considering I'm not Spanish!

Original tortillas have just potatos and onions (and eggs obviosly), but often chorizo or other meats or vegetables are added. Today I've kept it simple.

There isn't really a recipe since you can do them to your liking. The only secret it has is to use less eggs than you think you're going to need. I'll give you the amounts for the one I made, that will serve 1 very hungry person or 2 persons that don't eat much.

SPANISH TORTILLA

  • 1 small onion
  • 3 medium potatos
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (divided)
  • Vegetable oil for frying the potatos
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Start by heating your vegetable oil in a frying pan. Peel and cut the potatos. Tere (my housemate) used to cut them in half lengthwise and then in slices, and that's the way I do it. Deepfry them in the hot oil but don't let them get to crispy (makes a dry tortilla). As soon as they're soft take them out onto a paper towel and sprinkle lightly with salt. While the potatos are frying cut the onion the same way.

Discard the vegetable oil or save it for another time. In a small frying pan heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and add the onion. Let it soften and get a bit golden.

In a bowl put your cooked potatoes and onions. Break the eggs to a small container and wisk with a fork (don't over wisk), add salt and pepper to you taste and poor them over the potatos and onions. Mix carefully so you don't break the potatoes and don't worry if you feel there's not enough egg. In a frying pan (for taller tortillas use small ones, but if you prefer them flat use a larger pan) heat the rest of the olive oil for 1 minute or less and poor the all mix into it. Press very lightly with a spoon to make sure everything is even. Reduce the heat to low or medium low and let cook.

As the bottom and sides get cooked, if you gently shake the pan you'll see the tortilla loosing from the sides. When they start to brown it's time to turn it over. Remember you're not doing pancakes, so don't try to flip this if you don't want to make a huge mess. Just get a small plate (for easier handling) and invert the tortilla onto it. Carefull slide the tortilla back into the pan (uncooked side down) with the help of a spatula.

If you want cover with a leed to promote more heat, but you don't have to. Let cook and you can check on doneness with a cut down the center. Some people like their tortillas runny, others very well done. Me, I'm not the raw eggs kind, but dry tortillas are not my favourite either, so I take the middle path of compromise and make them cooked all the way, but still very moist.

The heat in the eggs will continuing to cook the tortilla, so turn off the heat a bit before achieving the perfect texture for you. In Spain usually they eat it warm as a meal, or cold as tapas. Leftover tortilla with mayo makes a wonderful sandwich. Potatos and bread, you ask. Try it, I answer!

I'm gonna send this over to Cathy @ Noble Pig for her Potato Ho-Down event! I love potatoes, so I can't wait for the round-up to check all the other spuds out. Thanks to other Cathy @ Where's my damn answer, for pointing this event out to me.

UPDATE: The roundup is up! Check the great potato recipes here!

Now get a nice glass of chilled sangria, grab a wedge of my tortilla and repeat after me: Viva la España!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Peanut Butter Cookies (the cat's way)

In this little country of mine the all mighty American peanut butter is not a popular item. I was allready grown-up (when did this happen???) when I first tasted it. I've had 1/2 a peanut butter sandwich to discovered I was ok with the taste and texture of it but not so much when paired with bread.

Short after that experience I went to live in the US for a while and was given the PB shock treatment and found out I actually loved it in baked goods. So now, back home, I usually have a jar arround, it's like having a bit of America in my fridge. Last week I saw on Cookiemadness a nice looking and simple peanut butter cookie and over the weekend I made myself a batch to use up the rest of a long time opened pb jar.

Here we don't have peanut butter chips (asked in the original recipe), but we do have a saying that says "If you don't have a dog, go hunting with a cat", so I added other stuff and came up with this version:

CAT PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups (170 gr/ 6oz) flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Cream the butter and both sugars. Beat in the peanut butter and egg. Scrape sides of bowl and beat in the salt, baking soda, cinnamon and vanilla. When well blended, add flour and stir until it is blended. Stir in the sesame seeds, chocolate chunks and almonds. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on cookie sheets about 5 cm (2 inchs) apart. Flatten balls with the bottom of a flat glass (original has them criss-crossed) and bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly browned around the edges.

This recipe couldn't be simpler and the cookies were very good both in flavour and texture. In fact I loved the raw dough so much that I could have eaten it all like that!

Do you want a bite?

Monday, July 7, 2008

This must be my lucky week!

There must be something wrong with the Universe, something really wrong I tell you... You see, I'm a very unlucky person. Oh well let me explain that, I'm the luckiest person because of the wonderful people that surround me, because I live in a great place, because I love what I do and because so many other little things. But when it comes to games, winning things or just general Murphy's Law stuff, I'm pretty much as unlucky as you can be. Until now... read on, it's almost scary!

It all started last week, when I was coming home from the beach and I bumped my toe on something in the sand. Being the clumsy creature I am bumping into things it's not new, but bumping into a cute small mp3 player, now that was a first!

But the best part was that it came packed full with great music! I couldn't believe it!

A couple of days later I went into the dentist and while I had my mouth full of those strange tubs my dentist kept talking about how he would like to now how to bake and if I wanted to exchange the cost of that treatment for some recipes. I sayed yes (well I made a sound because you can't really talk with those things in your mouth), but obviosly thought he was joking.

But no! When I went to pay, his assistent told me that it was free, but the doctor was waiting for the recipes! I looked arround trying to find the candid camera, but apparently it was true. Now you know how much does a dentist appointment costs?

Translation: Recipes for a cool smile

So I made him a personalized cookbook with the recipes he talked about and some others I though he might like. He's a cool man and phoned me right away to say that he loved it! I think it's a cool idea for a present, maybe I'll do this kind of little books next Christmas. That's the cover above, I took the picture from here.

At this point I was allready thinking that this was very strange, but today when I received a message from the Zen Chef himself telling me that I had won a cookbook from his giveaway, I knew something was really wrong! This is so not tipical of me! Of course I was beyond happy! Merci beaucoup Zen, I can't wait to start cooking!

Now a strange thing... Have you noticed the mp3 name? Zen! And who gave me the cookbook? Yep, Zen! I'm still trying to find some conection between my dentist and "zenniness". Maybe he's into yoga and likes to be called Zentist! I'll have to ask him!

Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to leave you to buy a lotery ticket!

UPDATE: Now I'm really starting to freak out! As I finished this post I headed to Suzana's blog to find out she also has something for me from a trip she recently made to Slovenia! I think I'll have to buy not 1 but 2 lotery tickets!