give me flour


September 23rd, 2011

If you are on your 30’s big chances are when you think Seattle you think music.  Alice In Chains, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam are all familiar names, right? And if you are with me you probably know tomorrow is Nevermind’s birthday, twenty years of Nirvana’s biggest album.

Yeas, I had a really bad grunge phase in my life. And it can be translated in red hair, checkered flannel shirts – even living in the Brazilian climate – and a kind of I-don’t-care-about-my-appearance attitude. It didn’t last long tough. I mean, I still appreciate the music and I’m pretty good at being indifferent about what I’m wearing, but the tinted red hair is gone.

So, when we were planning our trip to the West, the music lead us to Seattle. We wanted to get closer, and among tons of music historic facts we ended discovering Seattle has a big foot on the world of food and the oldest continuously operating market in the country: Pike Place.

The market is vibrant!! We were lucky and got a pretty good weather in the rainy city but I doubt it was the cause for all the excitement. People, including myself, were just happy to be there, surrounded by organic ingredients, the freshest seafood, Pacific breeze and magnificent mountains on the horizon.

A unique destination, for sure; a place where you can choose to sample a handmade cheese or different types of covered cherries, smell a thousand essences coming from Marketspice, taste pipping hot mini-doughnuts and get to know the original and very first Starbucks’store. Or maybe, just get a seat at Lowells, eat an ordinary fish and chips while enjoying a not ordinary view of the Olimpics and Canadian Mountains.

Fresh tomatoes!

September 9th, 2011

I’m back and Give me flour too… Actually, I’m home since August 26th, trying to process my mind, to return, not physically, but mentally, to my daily activities. Travelling for 47 days we’ve seen so many things, crossed a lot of borders, heard different accents, felt different airs, smelled different aromas, eaten new flavors, taken a lot, I mean, a lot of pictures.

Head is really full and organizing everything is not easy. And the questions about life are endless!! Just to give you an example, I got so used to cook in a camping stove, using just two pots and a few utensils that I keep asking myself all the time: why do I need all this stuff in my kitchen?

It’s a weird feeling to be back, I have to say. Fortunately a trip like that makes you feel like life is starting again, even though you are coming back to the same old routine. So, after bears on the trail, rattlesnakes on the campsite, bisons and wolves on the road it is sort of good to be home again, to restart.

For now that’s just a “hi”, just to say things are ok. Actually, things are more than ok. First, I got a bunch of fresh tomatoes from a friend last week and they gave me the most amazing roasted tomato sauce ever, a pure delight to a person who’d been eaten freeze-dried food for quite a while. Second, I felt so honored this week to see the Brigadeiro Tutorial featured in a blog I really admire, Kitchen Corners. Damaris, the blogger, writes a miscellaneous of things since 2007 about her family’s life, sharing recipes and doing a, as she says, anything-I-can-think-of-blog on the way. Did I mention she has really good taste/eyes for design and new ideas she shares in her design blog? Oh, did I mention she has the most amazing underwater photos? Click on the picture to see more!!!

And it didn’t stop here. Tiffany, from the blog A Clove of Garlic, A Pinch of Salt, in her sweet words encouraged me so much to keep going with the blog and my English. I guess I just got a new friend.

If I didn’t say it directly, here it goes: THANKS GIRLS!

And I promise to all I’ll be back soon to share the best food moments of our adventures!

Oh, and I did miss my oven!!! How I missed my oven!!!

Vacation time people! Give Me Flour is taking a break! You probably had noticed I’m a bit slow these days. I truly believed I would be able to handle everything, kids at home, hosting my sister, getting ready for a 45 days road trip, pictures and recipes for the blog, but I failed badly.

I did take a bunch of pics though. I did build a stock of ideas to keep the blog working and visually it is ok. But I’m not as good with words as I’m with images and tastes, especially considering I have to write in two languages, English I’m still learning and Portuguese I’m already loosing. I was too optimist but right now I’m just giving up. I really wanna refresh my mind and hopefully come with new ideas for September.

Yeas, I didn’t misspell, September. We are leaving tomorrow, Sunday, July 1oth for what probably is going to be our biggest vacation ever.  It’s a mix of emotions, excitement, fear and joy. We had a road trip last year, a shorter one and it was just superb. Let’s see what the road is reserving for us this time.

I intend to keep in touch through our Facebook page. If you didn’t have chance to check, go there and take a look on the exclusive pics I post every week.

For now, I leave you guys with this cupcake with a reason to be. Just the perfect size that handles the perfect amount of caramel with the perfect amount of salt. A big and normal size cake can’t do better.

The recipe comes one more time from a Martha Stewart’s cookbook. Actually, it’s a combination of two recipes I put together, the brown sugar cupcake and the salted caramel filling used here as a glaze.   I made this recipe for my sister on the last day she was here and I wanna give her the recipe before we leave. She loved and I’m sure you’ll too!

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line standard muffin tins with paper lines. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

With an electric mixer on medium high speed, cream butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beaching until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two addictions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each batch.

Divide batter evenly among line cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in center out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer thins to wire hacks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be storage up to 3 days at room temperature or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

To finish, dip top of each cupcake in caramel, then turn over quickly and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Cupcakes are best eating the day they are glazed; keep at room temperature until ready to serve.

Heat sugar with the water and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over high, stirring occasionally, until syrup is clear; clip a candy thermometer to side of the pan. Stop stirring, and cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed. Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is caramelized and just reaches 360˚F. Remove from heat; slowly pour in cream (mixture will spatter) and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt. Use immediately; if any time caramel begins to harden, reheat gently until pourable.

Strawberry Festival!

June 30th, 2011

It has been like that around here, on the first sign of sun everybody goes out no matter what.

That’s ‘cause summer had never being so fallish! Awful temperatures for this time of the year. Just closed the window to keep a chili breeze away from my concentration, and it’s not even close to the sunset yet!!!

Yeah! I know, I’ve been complaining a lot but I’m full of reasons. My sister came from Brazil to spend three weeks with us and became kind of a slave of the weather. Seriously, we had to cancel a few plans because of rains. She even experienced a tornado warning and an evacuation. Crazy!!

Well, at least strawberries are safe and the Strawberry Festival did happen this last weekend on Long Grove. And I had to be there, of course. First because the sun came out and the heat was on! Second, I had to feed my hunger for festivals, noise, people, crowds and street food!!!

Long Grove is a historical village about 40 minutes to an hour north from Chicago and promotes this kind of festivals all year around. But you don’t have to wait for the next feast to be there. The village is a conglomerate of charming historical buildings hosting cozy restaurants, art galleries, chocolate stores, not to talk about the legendary Apple Haus and its superb bake-in-a-bag apple pie.

But if you still wanna go in a festival be aware the major ingredient in season is just an excuse to promote the feasts cause, to be honest, we didn’t find a variety of strawberries or strawberry dishes.   It’s still good anyway!

I know, I know, it’s not Feb 14th. And I’m not crazy either. I told you before: I’m a lucky girl, I celebrate Valentines twice.  That’s because June 12th is the love day for us Brazilians.

I’m not sure why we are different since our foundations are so European. Some people say it’s based on economical reasons, to shake consumption a bit since we don’t have any other big holiday in this time of the year. But I’m pretty sure I found the right reason, we do celebrate Valentine’s now because it’s strawberry season!!!!

I just can’t think of a better excuse than that. Think, strawberry is the fruit of love, red, heart shape, sexy, luxurious…..

You are not a Brazilian and don’t wanna celebrate an of season Valentines? Ok, just make this white chocolate and nutella mousse, pair it with some vanilla-mint marinated strawberries and give yourself some pleasure! Who said you have to share it?

I learned this recipe in a restaurant I used to work. It’s way easier than any mousse recipe I’ve saw before, no eggs, no cream, no sugar, two ingredients and a few minutes, plus the fridge time and you are gonna end with an amazing, rich and flavorful chocolate mousse. Probably you are gonna spend more time chopping the strawberries than preparing it. Check it out!

Prepare the mousse:

Plan in advance, it’s better if it’s made one day before.

Chop chocolate in small pieces and put it in a blender. Bring milk to boil and pour over chocolate. Blend mixture ‘til the chocolate is completely melted and the mix is aerated.

The blend time can vary according to your blender power. Just keep blending ‘til you get a nice and smooth mixture, otherwise it’s gonna turn into a ganache, not a mousse.  Add more milk if it’s necessary, but just a bit at a time.

Pour half of the mixture into a bowl, add a few tablespoons of nutella (without mixing), cover with the rest of the mousse, add more tablespoons of nutella and mix kindly, just to obtain a marble effect on top. Refrigerate overnight.

Next day cut the strawberries into quarters. Chop the mint and mix with strawberries. Add vanilla, mix well and set on the fridge for up to 2 hours.

Just before serving, place about half cup of marinated strawberries into individual serving bowls. Shape a portion of chocolate mousse into a quenelle (just to be more elegant) and place it on top of strawberries!


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