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A visit to Turntable Kitchen!!

February 20th, 2012

I’m stepping here to let you know I’m guest posting in Turntable Kitchen today. The site is run by Kasey and Mattew, a couple aiming to introduce food lovers to music and vice-versa.

Well, I don’t even know what to say, I guess the facts talk for themselves. Turntable Kitchen has been featured in The New York TimesSaveurThe Los Angeles Times, just to mention a few. They even got a nomination for an MTV O Music Award for the ‘Best Independent Music Blog.’ Want more? Take a look by yourself.

I just have to add Kasey has been an angel encouraging me all the time. I could not be more flattered by this invitation. Thank you Kasey and Mathew and happy Mardi Gras everyone!!

This week I asked a friend to send me a recipe for Valentines. And I am super glad I did! My kitchen still smells a mix of brown sugar, honey, cinnamon and cloves since Tuesday. Those are just the base ingredients for honey bread or pão de mel. Now add to it a creamy dulce de leche filling and cover everything with a rich and airy chocolate ganache. Sincerely, I can’t think of a sexier Valentine.

The person behind this recipe is Ariana Pazzini, so thank her, not me. I couldn’t remember the last time I made or ate honey bread, so I wish I could give her a big hug for giving me the idea and bringing this treat back to my life.

Acording to Ariana, it was the first cake she made to her husband and is still his favorite. And they know what they are talking about. Shortly after they got married, both decided to follow a common dream and go to a culinary school.  That’s when things changed; they started a blog to share their experiences and got their first foot into the virtual world.

But before following her talents for business, Ariana did an internship at Sal Gastronomia with chef Henrique Fogaça, and spent four months at Mocotó learning quite a bit with Rodrigo Oliveira.

Today she runs an online business, A Casa Encantada, selling her goodies all over the country. And I would say she has a good touch for marketing too. I can’t tell you how many times I got myself tempted by all sorts of goodies she keeps posting on Facebook.

After a year of success they took a break and are promising to come back until the end of February with a reformulated menu. People in Brazil, stay tuned!!

Honey bread, very common in Brazil, is a kind of a little cake with European roots, super aromatic and flavorful. It is usually dipped in chocolate and looks a lot like an Argentinean alfajor. But it requires special molds and some work. When she said I could adapt and make it as a cupcake, I had no doubt. Makes our life much easier.

The cake starts with sugar syrup that can be made in advance. Place sugar and water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil for about 15 minutes. Syrup must stay liquid when hot and become as thick as maple syrup when cold. Pour in a big bowl and let it chill completely.

Meanwhile, line up 30 muffin cups with paper and preheat oven to 350˚ F.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, set aside.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon and ground cloves in a medium bowl and set aside.

Mix together sugar syrup, egg yolks, honey and baking powder dissolved in milk. Add cocoa powder and flour and mix well. Add beaten egg whites, gently.

Fill prepared muffin cups with about 2/3 cup batter. Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes.

Let cupcakes cool in tins, about 5 minutes, then turn them out onto wire racks. Let cool completely.

Place dulce the leche in a pastry bag with a plain round tip attached.

Insert the tip into the cupcake and pipe in a small amount of filling.

I found this ganache super practical and quick, a good option for a last minute frosting. Ariana said the secret is the use of cold whipped cream that accelerates the process.

Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and melt it in a microwave, in medium power, stirring each 30 seconds (or just check instructions on the pack, it can vary depending on the brand of chocolate you are using).

Add heavy cream and mix until everything is well incorporated. Place the bowl inside of a cold water bath (just cold, there’s no need to use ice cubes here) and, with a hand mixer, beat ganache for a few minutes or until it starts to thick and get lighter in color. Be careful to not overmix.

Spread each cupcake with a thick layer of frosting ganache.

To decorate, cut of a heart shape hole in a small piece of parchment paper to be used as a stencil. No artistic abilities required, I swear!

Place stencil on top of cup cake without pressing. Dust the top of the cupcake with cocoa powder using a small strainer or sifter.

Voila, you are ready to show off your love!

And in case of leftovers, keep them in a covered plastic container at room temperature for up to two days.

Deep Fried Salt Cod Raviolis!

February 3rd, 2012


For those who were not here last week, I finally got to open my box of salt cod and felt like throwing a party!! The box was set in my fridge since December and if I tell you it is my favorite ingredient on the planet you would think I have lost my mind.

Well, I am not insane, that’s just how crazy things were this past month. But I won’t talk about it again……ops, I just did, didn’t I?

Forget it, let’s focus, the matter now is bacalhau (the Portuguese word for salt cod). I can smile just by pronouncing the word: BA-CA-LHAU. It’s, really, my favorite flavor and when well prepared bacalhau transcends everything.

But it is not like I ate it every day, in a regular basis. No, salt cod is not a current item in Brazilians grocery baskets. Almost everything is imported from Norway or Portugal so, it can be crazy expensive, the kind of food you eat on special occasions.  But little did I know, after all those years complaining about the astronomic prices of bacalhau, that my biggest problem here would be finding it instead of paying for.

I bought a “salt cod style” fish once at some Latin grocery store but it was such a poor quality product that I just gave up. Furthermore, I visited Brazil a couple times and got to feed my addiction.  The one I used here was found at Whole Foods, a product of Canada, reasonably good. Hope they keep selling it!!

And before you say anything I have to tell, it’s not the prettiest food, I agree. And probably it’s one of the least fragrant ingredients you can work with. But please, give it a chance. Do you remember all those times your mom asked you to eat eggplant?? Did you fight with all your forces and now you regret with all your soul?? So, salt cod will be just like that.

Besides, preparing salt cod is easier than you think. Since it’s kind of cured in a lot of salt, salt cod has to be soaked in water before anything. A good advice is to rinse it a few times before soaking, getting rid of all visible salt. It took me less than 24 hours to desalt three 1-inch thick pieces of fish. Simply rinse, place fish in a bowl of cold water and set on the fridge for 24 hours, changing the water a couple times.

It can be cooked in a lot of different ways too. For this recipe, a deep fried ravioli or “pastel de bacalhau” (one of the sensations of the Municipal Market), we are baking the fish in olive oil, kind of a confit style. It just drives me nuts when I see recipes asking you to soak the poor fish into hot water and let it boil for a few minutes. Usually, after boiling most of the flavor is gone. Don’t do that ok? Unless you are going to use the water on the recipe.

Take desalted cod out of the water and let it rest in a strainer for about 5 minutes.

Place fish in a small skillet making a single layer. Add a pinch of freshly ground black pepper, bay leave and a sprig of parsley. Add olive oil and cover slightly with foil. Bake for about 25 minutes at 350˚F.

Drain fish, discard parsley, bay leave and shred the meat when it is still hot. Set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium skillet. Sauté onions and garlic for about 2 minutes.

Add shred cod, chopped green onions and chopped parsley. Turn of the heat, add cream cheese and mix well until everything is incorporated. Check salt and pepper and set it aside to chill (use when it’s completely cold).

Make raviolis:

Heat enough oil in a medium saucepan. Prepare a small bowl of water for brushing and sealing the raviolis and place it on your work space.

Put about 2 tsp of cod filling in the middle of a wonton wrapper, making sure to leave plenty of room around the edges. Brush the edges of the wrapper with water and immediately place another wrapper on top and press down on all sides, squeezing out any excess air. Pinch the edges closed with the tines of a fork. Repeat until you run out of filling.

Deep fry the raviolis until golden and crispy flipping over to get the back nice and golden also. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Serve hot with tapenade sauce.

It can sound funny or wrong but I called it a tapenade sauce anyway. Tapenade is more like a paste, something that can be spread on a toast. Mine is much more liquid and mild, with just a few nuances of olive; enough to bring the cod flavor to the next level though.

It can be made by hand, using a pestle or a food processor. Just cut, press or process the first 5 ingredients together adding olive oil time by time. Make sure to leave some little chunks of olives, you don’t want an olive puree. Check salt, usually olives have enough and you don’t need to add it.

You can also adjust the amount of olive oil and make it even more liquid. You can also keep it in the fridge and use on top of steaks or grilled/roasted chicken.

I wish you could smell it!!

January 27th, 2012

Remember last week I gave you the impression things were all right?? Well, I lied. I’m still running to get things back to normal and my photography class is consuming tons of my time. I swear, I swear to you I tried to get a recipe for this post but I just couldn’t; which is really sad because I am sooo ready for bacalhau or salt cod, as you prefer!!

In the end of December I found a small box of salt cod at Whole Foods, which is really rare. And since then I’ve dreaming to share it with you along with some pics I took last year of the Mercado Municipal, the major public fresh market located on the city of São Paulo and a place that sells some of the best salt cods available out there.

Well, the recipe will have to wait but the market is here…..and its best products to fill your eyes with desire! I wish you could smell it!

Oh, it’s my way also to honor a city just turned 458 years old. Happy anniversary Sao Paulo!



Thanks for your patience! I can say I’m totally back now; I just needed some time to put things on their right place.

It’s always good to go to Brazil and to see family again but all the talk about hospitals and health care just made me want my home back very badly. But among not so pleasant stuff I did eat things I love and visited a few new (to me) restaurants that gave me a lot of ideas for future posts and pics.

Thanks to Bar da Dona Onça, churros are one of them. When those hot and crispy little churros with a bowl of dulce de leche came to our table I immediately knew I was about to start my 2012 off on my right foot.

You won’t believe what a batch of churros can do for you!! It can even bright a cloudy and cold winter day! So, this recipe was carefully created to help you get over your problems and put a smile in your face.

I used these Argentinian churros here as a start point – and the hot chocolate as well – but had to test a few different water/flour ratios to achieve the consistency I wanted for my batter.

My recipe ended up completely different, more water, less flour, a bit of butter to soften and an egg yolk to give some color. Much softer than the original, it is great to be piped using a pastry bag and a cake decoration tip or a cookie press.

Choose for that a closed star tip that is a quarter to a half inch thick in diameter. Different sizes can compromise the results.

All I have to say these churros did resist two hours of shooting and stayed really crispy until being totally devoured by my daughters.

Pour water in a medium saucepan, add salt, sugar, butter and bring it to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in flour all at once until it forms a ball and all the lumps are gone.

Place the dough in a bowl and let it cool well covered for about 15 minutes. Add egg yolk beating well with a wooden spoon. Scrape the dough into a pastry bag or cookie press fitted with a star tip.

Heat oil to approximately 375˚F.

Meanwhile, pipe 6 inch strips of dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.

Put strips into the oil, no more than 5 at a time, and fry until golden and crispy, turning occasionally.   Drain on paper towels and repeat with the remaining dough.

Put some sugar in a paper bag or in a wide container and while churros are still hot, drop a few at a time into it, shaking unitl well coated. Serve with nutella hot chocolate.

If you noticed, I didn’t ask for cinnamon here. I just thought it could be a bit strong and overpower the nutella flavor. But here are some suggestions and pairings for you:

Churros coated with sugar and cinnamon: mix ½ tsp in ½ cup of sugar before coating the churros and serve it with dulce de leche.

Churros with vanilla: add 1 tsp vanilla extract to the churros dough. Coat it with vanilla sugar and serve with regular hot chocolate.

Churros with citrus sugar: before stating, mix well 1 tbsp of orange zest, lemon zest or a combination of both into ½ cup of sugar. Use this sugar to coat the churros and serve them with a cup of tea.

Alert! It’s not the hot chocolate you are used to. It’s thick, really thick. Think in it as a rich cousin of chocolate pudding, with enough consistency to be hold by crispy churros, fluid enough to be drunk when it’s hot and creamy, super creamy – thanks Nutella for that!!

And can actually adjust the consistency according to your taste by varying the amount of corn starch between one or two tablespoons.

In a bowl, mix sugar, cocoa and corn starch.

Bring milk to a boil. Slowly, add a cup of boiled milk into the dry ingredients stirring constantly until everything is dissolved.

Pour this mixture back into the pan, combining with the remaining milk.

Bring everything to a boil again stirring constantly for extra 2 minutes.

Turn off the heat and add nutella. Stir until it melts. Pour into mugs and serve.

This recipe can be made in advance but for better results and to avoid an unpleasant skin on top of your hot chocolate, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture. Keep in the fridge up to three days. Heat it on the stove or in a microwave before serve.

*Just to let you know my English corrector/reviser (aka husband) is not able to help me at this moment, so, excuse my mistakes and feel free to correct them. Thanks a bunch!

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