Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sweetened condensed milk cocada

Sweetened condensed milk cocada

Going through one of my cookbooks in search of a salad recipe, I “accidentally” opened it in the sweet chapter. :)

In one of his twice a year sudden urges for sweets, João saw a photo of cocada (a very traditional candy made of coconut) and asked me to make it.
As I would not be able to find freshly grated coconut to make that specific recipe, I remembered something I had seen on a dear friend’s blog – a fantastic cocada recipe that called for sweetened condensed milk.

The cocadas were simply wonderful! I had only 1 – the horror, the horror – but João ate several.
While mixing the ingredients in the pan, I thought the dough was a bit dry and decided to add a little milk. On the following day, I wrote to my friend and she told me that after you start cooking the mixture it comes together correctly.

Anyway, the recipe worked perfectly and has already become one of this blog’s favorites.

Sweetened condensed milk cocada

Sweetened condensed milk cocada

1 can sweetened condensed milk (395g)
2 cans granulated sugar – use the empty condensed milk can to measure it
200g unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, room temperature
6 tablespoons milk – I used 1% fat, the one I had at home

Grease a 30x20 cm baking pan with butter. Set aside.
Mix the condensed milk, sugar, coconut, butter and milk in a heavy-bottom saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly – when the bottom of the pan starts to show and the mixture is a bit thicker (20-25 minutes), remove from heat and immediately pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
Set aside to cool and then cut into squares.

Makes 38 pieces

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tomato, Minas cheese and eggplant salad

Tomato, Minas cheese and eggplant salad

Isn’t it wonderful when a recipe exceeds our expectations?? I love it when that happens. This salad is one of those recipes.
When I saw the photo on the book, I thought it would be good. But it turned out to be really, really good.

The dressing plays an amazing part here – and the garlic is the one to blame. I have a friend who loves to cook with garlic and I’m sure he would like this dressing very much.

The only problem for me is that I find garlic a bit hard to digest – so the dressing and I had long conversations throughout the afternoon. We even saw a movie together. :S
I know that roasting garlic is one way of getting rid of this problem but I’m not sure how much it would change the flavor of the dressing.

I adapted the recipe of a Brazilian book and used queijo Minas frescal (Minas cheese) instead of bocconcini – a cookie cutter came in handy for making round slices of cheese.


This is my post for this Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Pille, of the beautiful Nami-Nami.

Tomato, Minas cheese and eggplant salad

Tomato, Minas cheese and eggplant salad

2 eggplants
olive oil
150-200g queijo Minas frescal (or bocconcini)
4 tomatoes

3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Start with the dressing: chop the garlic cloves and place them in a small bowl. Add the oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.
Wash the eggplants and cut them into 0.5cm slices. Do the same thing with the cheese and the tomatoes.
Heat a grilling pan over medium heat. Brush both sides of each eggplant slice with olive oil and grill (both sides). Set aside.
In a large plate, place the tomato slices, cover with the cheese and finish with the eggplant.
Drizzle with the dressing and serve.

Serves 4

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Moist chocolate cake

Moist chocolate cake

Before the cake, some info: many of you have been asking me about my vacation – thanks, guys!
I went to Paris, Berlin, Rome and London and it was fantastic. Although Rome was incredibly beautiful, the city I liked the most was Berlin. The people are warm, the food was delicious. I would certainly come back one day!

If you are interested in taking a look at my “adventures in Europe”, some of the photos are now on my Flickr.

This is another recipe I prepared before my trip – and this time I had a very special sous chef.

I’m not an animated film fan, but so many of my favorite foodies were talking about Ratatouille with such enthusiasm that I decided to give it a go. And that special “mission” called for special company – so I took Jessica with me.

She loved the movie and I have to admit I loved it too! Remy is so adorable and cute I kept forgetting he was a mouse… :)

After the movie, my sister came home with me and we decided to bake something. She was in charge of choosing the recipe – and of course she didn’t disappoint me. This cake is so delicious!

You can see some of the almond meal through the cake – I told Jessica to carefully mix the ingredients and she did follow the instructions! :)

Moist chocolate cake

Moist chocolate cake
from Modern Classics 2

- metric measures found in the book

300g (10oz) dark chocolate, chopped
250g (8oz) butter, room temperature
5 eggs
½ cup (115g) sugar
1 ¼ cups (170g) all purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup (85g) almond meal

2 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF. Line the base of a 23cm* (9in) round cake pan with non-stick baking paper – I used waxed paper sprayed with cooking spray.
Place the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth. Set aside.
Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes, or until pale and thick. Sift the flour and baking powder over the egg mixture and gently fold through with the almond meal and chocolate mixture.
Line the base of a 23cm* (9in) round cake pan with non-stick baking paper. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
Cool in the pan.
Prepare the icing: mix all the ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until it boils.
Remove from heat and pour it over the cake while still hot; spread with a palette knife or the back of a spoon if necessary.

* I used a 25cm round cake pan.

Serves 10

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I'm back! With really nice brownies

Classic brownies

I’m back from my trip and all I can say is that I’ve had the time of my life. Something that I had wanted to do forever, a dream come true.

I want to thank you all for your best wishes and your words - it's fantastic to know I have so many great friends!

Now I’m back home and back at work too, but haven’t cooked anything different. I haven’t baked either. Luckily, I made these brownies a few days before my trip, as a gift for my dentist and his assistants (the same people I baked these cookies for) and by the look on their face when they received the boxes (especially the girls, I have a feeling that maybe my dentist thinks I'm trying to ruin their teeth with all those sweets) I am almost sure they liked it. :)

These brownies are really, really good. Simple, quick to put together, but the result will surprise you in a wonderful way. I used a recipe from this book (hey, Bri!!) and adapted a little the types of chocolate used.

It’s good to be back and I can’t wait to see what you all have been cooking and baking – looking forward to visiting your blogs and catching up!

Classic brownies

Classic Brownies
from Baking: From My Home to Yours

5 tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces
112g (4 ounces) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
56g (2 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
¾ cup (150g) sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional, I used it)
¼ - ½ teaspoon salt (according to taste, I used ¼)
1/3 cup (47g) all purpose flour
1 cup (115g) chopped walnuts

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 160ºC/325ºF. Line a 20cm (8-inch)* square baking pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet.
Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Put the butter in the bowl, top with the chocolates and stir occasionally until the ingredients are just melted - you don’t want them to get to shot that the butter separates. Remove the bowl from the pan of water.
With a whisk, stir in the sugar. Don’t be concerned when your smooth mixture turns grainy. One by one, whisk in the eggs. Add the vanilla and give the ingredients a vigorous whisking before gently stirring tin the espresso, if you’re using it, salt and flour; stir only until incorporated. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the chopped walnuts.
Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the spatula.
Bake the brownies for 30 to 33 minutes or until the top is dull and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the brownies for room temperature.
When the brownies are completely cool, turn out onto a rack, peel away the foil and invert onto a cutting board – if you do this, the cracked top might be ruined. I preferred to use longer foil pieces, forming “handles” in the baking pan – then I just lifted the whole thing, placed onto a cutting board and cut the brownies, removing them carefully from the foil.
Cut into 16 squares.

* I used a 25cm square pan so my brownies were a bit flat.

Makes 16

Classic brownies

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