As I’m going to Brazil for the holidays, I didn’t bother decorating our place for Christmas this year. But this created a little issue for the blog, as I had kinda forgotten to start the edible gifts series here! 😀
To correct this error, there’s nothing easier than a quick recipe: muffins – in 40 minutes, you go from random ingredients in your pantry to a delicious treat! Patricia’s original recipe is more subtle than mine: in total, she used 1 tsp of spices. As we like bolder flavors around here, and I wanted something that screamed “Christmas!,” I tripled that amount!
For 12 muffins, you will need:
180 g (1 ½ cup) flour
1 ¼ tsp baking poder
3 tsp of your favorite spices – I used cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, allspice, and pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp baking soda
1 pinch of salt
100 g (½ cup) sugar
44 g (¼ cup) brown sugar – as usual, if you are using measuring cups, press the sugar while measuring
120 g honey
75 g (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, melted
100 ml whole milk, room temperature
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ Tbsp whisky – I got carried away and used about 3 Tbsp
confectioner’s sugar, to dust
The good thing about muffins is that they are super quick: why grease a tin if you can just line it with paper cups? Just remember to pre-heat the oven at 180C/350F.
In a small pan, melt the butter and let it cool.
In a big bowl that fits all ingredients, put the flour, baking powder, spices, baking soda, and salt, and whisk well, to make sure there are no lumps. Add the sugars and whisk a little bit more.
The original recipe mentioned making a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, but honestly, I just poured the honey, butter, milk, egg, vanilla, and whisky right over them! With a silicone spatula, mix the batter until just combined – don’t overwork it!
Now all that is left to do is to divide the batter evenly over the muffin cups and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffins comes out clean. Let them cool completely over a wire rack – well, let 11 of them cool completely while you eat that other one.
Dust the muffins with confectioner’s sugar, place them in a nice box, and go make someone’s day a lot better!
FREEZER: If one of your 2019 goals is to be a more organized person, one that plans ahead and all that, you can bake these muffins in November, cool completely, place them in a Ziploc bag, and freeze! In December, thaw them outside the fridge and dust with confectioner’s sugar. 😉
A few weeks ago, I called Grandma to chat and ask her about her famous Salazar cake, which I had never even heard of until my aunts told me that it was amazing. Reading the recipe, I thought it was a bit too intricate for me, so I called Grandma again to tease her and decided I’d bake the cake that very weekend.
The thing is: on the following day, Mom sent me a video of Dad pretending he hadn’t eaten the last slice of cake. I asked her, and she told me Grandma had made a passion fruit cake – and she sent me a picture. Of course I went insane, absolutely determined to have that cake as well. I asked Grandma for the recipe and, unlike the Salazar cake, this was ridiculously easy!
But this raised another issue: it’s almost impossible to find passion fruit in Uruguay. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me! I found unsweetened concentrated passion fruit juice at the supermarket and decided to go for it.
Naturally, I had to go the extra mile: I made a simple confectioner’s sugar frosting to go with it – it was amazing!
For a 9 x 5 loaf pan, you’ll need:
(Grandma absolutely disapproves, but I converted her wild home measurements into proper weight/measuring cups or spoons)
60 g (4 Tbsp) butter, at room temperature – Grandma’s recipe called for “3 heaping Tbsp”, but I’m sure she used the normal kitchen spoon, not a measuring spoon!
300 g (1 ½ cup) sugar
256 g (2 cups) flour
250 ml (1 cup) passion fruit juice – as all I had was concentrated juice, I used ½ cup of that with ½ cup of water
1 ½ tsp baking powder
For the frosting, which I honestly don’t think is optional, you’ll need:
(Amazing side story: Grandma later called me to ask for the frosting recipe!)
1 cup confectioner’s sugar – don’t even try to use regular sugar, Mom.
2 Tbsp passion fruit juice – again, I used 1 Tbsp concentrated juice, 1 Tbsp water.
I must confess that I was a bit concerned when I saw the amount of butter vs. the amount of sugar – maybe the recipe was wrong? I took a deep breath, thought to myself “Grandma wouldn’t have written a bad recipe in her notebook” and went for it.
As always, start by pre-heating the oven to 180 C (350 F) and greasing your baking tin.
This is a cake for the modern Grandma: it’s very quick! You know that traditional method of creaming sugar and butter, adding ingredients one by one, etc? Well, none of that is required here.
Place ALL ingredients (but the baking powder) into the bowl of your stand mixer and mix well until all ingredients are nicely incorporated. Add the baking powder, mix briefly just to incorporate it, and that’s it.
Pour the batter into your baking tin and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the mold for a few minutes before removing it and letting it cool completely on a wire rack.
When the cake is completely cooled, make the frosting, which is the easiest thing to do: in a bowl, mix the confectioner’s sugar with the juice. That’s it. If your sugar is a bit lumpy, it’s a good idea to sift it before adding the juice, as it is less work than trying to crush those lumps later. 😀
Frost the cake and wait for about 30 minutes (it really depends on the humidity), until it’s completely dry and hardened. Meanwhile, boil some water and make yourself a fresh cup of coffee to go with that cake!
I really wanted to freeze some of the cake, to see how that frosting would take it, but I decided to call Grandma and tell her about the cake. Yes, I left the cake unguarded on the counter. When I came back to freeze, there wasn’t any cake left! 😀
I hardly ever buy bananas here in Uruguay. When you’re used to Brazilian bananas, you don’t really care for the Ecuadorian ones, which have to be harvested much earlier than ideal to arrive here fresh.
“Hardly ever” doesn’t mean “never,” so I had bought some the other day and dumbly forgot about them! I’m still not sure how that happened, but that’s ok, because overripe banana means banana bread, one of the tastiest things you can bake!
Looking for a new take on it, I found this recipe by Deb, which seemed pretty much infallible: it’s banana and chocolate! Marbled! It was so tasty that, less than a month after the first try, I bought bananas again and let them get overripe ON PURPOSE, so I could bake this again! 🙂
3 large and veeeeeeery ripe bananas – you know, the ones you considered tossing? Those.
115 g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted – well, I only buy unsalted butter, but if all you have is salted butter, don’t worry: just don’t add salt to the batter.
145 g (3/4 cup) brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
130 g (1 cup) + 35 g (1/4 cup) flour – leave those separate, they’re used at different steps!
½ tsp ground cinnamon – you know me: I used about 1 tsp allspice instead 😀
20 g (1/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
130 g (3/4 cup) chocolate chips – I used the mini chips, with 50% cocoa, but next time I’ll use a darker chocolate, chopped.
As in most cake recipes, I started by pre-heating the oven to 180 C (350 F) and greasing the pan – in this case, a 9×5 loaf pan.
In a medium-sized pan, melt the butter. In that same pan, mash the bananas very well. Add the brown sugar, egg, vanilla, baking soda, and salt, and mix thoroughly using a rubber spatula. Add 1 cup of flour, mixing until you can’t see any specks of flour.
Pour half of the batter into a bowl – I totally eyeballed it, but you can be a proper baker and weight it. To one half of the batter, add the remaining ¼ cup of flour and ground cinnamon, mixing well. To the other half, add the cocoa powder and chocolate chips.
Now it’s time to create the marble effect: place dollops of dark and white batter in the pan, as in a checkerboard. You’ll probably need to add a second layer of batter, so the top layer should be opposite the bottom: place a dollop of white batter over the dark batter, and vice-versa. Then, push a butter knife (or an offset spatula) until the bottom of the pan and drag it in a wave motion from one side of the pan to the other, just once – this way, you’ll get a marbled batter and not make it all one flavor!
Bake for approximately one hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean – be careful not to confuse melted chocolate chips for raw batter! Let it cool for about 10 minutes, then run a spatula around the pan, remove the bread from it, and let it cool over a wire rack. I like to serve it warm, but it is great at room temperature too!
FREEZER: This freezes perfectly. I usually let it cool completely before slicing it and placing in a Ziploc bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Most of our friends here in Uruguay aren’t Uruguayan – immigrants are everywhere (don’t get me started on the term “expat”). Over time, we’ve learned some pretty obvious stuff: want to please a Brazilian? Bring some brigadeiro! Want to please an American? Bring lemon bars!
Sky and I went to visit some American friends who live in Pueblo Eden – I was going to make the ones I usually made, but as I had plenty of leftover coconut from the cocadas, I decided it was time to photograph the first lemon bar recipe I had ever made. Looking at the original post, I realized I must have baked that right after Patricia posted it: the recipe is from 2011, the year I moved here!
Back then, I replaced the lime for more lemon, but this time I decided to follow the recipe (well, not really, I’m always changing something). And it was great!
For a 9 x 13 inch pan, you’ll need:
65 g (2/3 cup) sweetened coconut flakes – I can never find that ingredient here, but it’s just as well: I think they’re too sweet! I used regular shredded coconut.
185 g (1 1/3 cups) flour
90 g (1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
127 g (½ cup + 1 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cold, and cut into cubes – You can see why a kitchen scale is a worthy investment. It’s just so much easier to measure 127 g of butter than ½ cup + 1 Tbsp!
436 g (2 cups + 3 Tbsp) sugar – I used 350 g, but next time I’ll try with even less.
50 g (1/3 cup + ½ Tbsp) flour
zests of 2 lemons – I used the zests of 3 lemons.
zests of 1 lime – I used the zests of 3 limes, I was on a roll with that Microplane! 😀
120 ml (½ cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice
120 ml (½ cup) freshly squeezed lime juice
As most bar recipes, start by preparing the pan: butter a 9 x 13 inch pan and cover it with aluminum foil, leaving a “handle” to help remove the bars from the pan. Butter the aluminum foil WELL, being careful not to tear it. This is also the perfect time to start pre-heating your oven.
Prepare the base: if you’re using coconut flakes, place them in the food processor and pulse to grind them some. Add all dry ingredients, pulse, add the butter and vanilla, and process until a dough forms. You can also do this by hand: whisk the dry ingredients, add the cold butter cubes and the vanilla, and use your fingertips to “crush” the butter into the dough.
Press the dough on the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until it turns slightly golden on the sides.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling: zest the lemons and limes, being careful not to cut into the white (and bitter) part. Juice them – I needed 5 limes to get 120 ml of juice, but that always varies!
In a bowl, whisk the eggs and yolk to combine. Add the remaining ingredients, whisk well, and set aside.
When the base is slightly golden on the sides, remove it from the oven, pour in the filling, and carefully place it back in the oven. Bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is set.
Remove from the oven and let it cool completely before placing them in the fridge for at least 2 hours. As I was running late, I placed them in the freezer for 1 hour and it totally worked! 😛
So they look a bit prettier, dust them with confectioner’s sugar. Try your best not to eat them all at once, as Sky tried to! 😀
In our group of friends, we are creating a new tradition of themed parties – we had a Russian night and, the Saturday before the last, it was our turn to host a Mexican night. We decided to serve guacamole and chips for starters and a burrito bar for the main course, but I was not sure what to do for dessert. I didn’t want to bake anything too heavy, such as a tres leches cake, nor anything too boring, such as a flan. I decided on lemon bars.
While the bars were baking, I kept researching Mexican dessert recipes and came across a clip from a daytime Mexican TV show (so you can imagine it was a bit… trashy?). But they were teaching how to make this coconut treat that was very different from the Brazilian version I am used to, so I decided to give it a go!
I used a minimuffin tin because I wanted bite-sized treats. I tried one as soon as they came out of the oven and immediately decided to make a second batch, as it was delicious! This was a great idea: the cocadas vanished from the dessert table!
For 24 mini cocadas (in the video, they used a normal 12-cup muffin tin), you’ll need:
1 can (395 g) sweetened condensed milk
100 ml whole milk
1 Tbsp cinnamon – yeah, I know it sounds like a lot!
3 cups (300 g) desiccated shredded coconut (unsweetened)
This recipe is extremely easy. The hardest part is greasing the minimuffin tin! Mine claims to be non-stick, but I greased it anyway. This is also the right time to pre-heat your oven to 180 C/350 F.
In a small pan, boil the sweetened condensed milk with the whole milk and the cinnamon. Place the coconut into a big bowl. Pour the boiling milk mix over the coconut and mix well with a silicone spatula.
Divide the mixture evenly among the cups – if you are using a minimuffin tin, you can fill them up! Press the mix into the wells, just to flatten the surface a little bit, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the edges are golden-brown.
Let them cool in the tin for about 5 minutes, then use a spatula to remove them and let them cool over a wire rack. Or eat them right away, life is too short for cooling times anyway! 😀
A few months ago, I was at the supermarket browsing the spice section when I noticed a new jar: “semillas de amapola”. I had to suppress a shriek: after seven years, I had finally found poppy seeds here! I bought it and came back home thinking about all the recipes I’d make with it, in that excitement of those who really like to cook.
Unsurprisingly, I arrived home, put away the jar and FORGOT about it. I completely forgot I had bought it, forgot about all the recipes I had pinned in the ten-minute drive from the store to my apartment… I simply forgot. Until last week, when I realized I was hungry for something sweet.
I opened the pantry, looking for some chocolate, and I saw the poppy seeds. I took that as a sign of the universe to procrastinate, I mean, to bake Martha’s muffins! 😀
For 12 muffins, you’ll need:
113 g butter
2 ½ cups flour
1 ¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs – I used 3 small ones, as that’s what I had
zests of four lemons
¼ cup lemon juice – I added 2 Tbsp, because why not?
¼ cup milk
3 Tbsp poppy seeds – I used only 2, as it looked like way too much when I was adding it to the batter
1 Tbsp sugar, for dusting – I used demerara sugar, because I swear the package was staring at me… 😀
Except for the panettone ones, muffins are usually a fuss-free recipe, which is great. Start by pre-heating the oven and placing the paper liners on a 12-cup muffin tin.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter – I won’t judge you if you use the microwave!
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking poder. In another bowl, whisk the sugar, milk, lemon juice and zest, and the eggs. When the butter is cold, whisk that in!
Now comes the hardest part of the recipe: dig through that messy drawer and find your silicone spatula. Pour the liquids into the flour mix. Stir with the spatula just until you can’t see any white specks of flour – this will actually happen quite fast. This is not a cake, so don’t overmix it!
Add the poppy seeds and stir to combine. Divide the bater into the 12 cups and sprinkle the demerara sugar. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean – conveniently enough, 20 minutes is exactly the time you need to do the dishes and make some coffee to drink while eating the muffins!
Technically, you’re supposed to cool them over a wire rack, but we both know that is not going to happen! 😀
Freezer: When they are completely cool, place the muffins in a ziploc bag and freeze for up to three months.
Some years ago, I visited Paris, ate a delicious version of the soup, and vowed to reproduce it when I arrived back home. Unfortunately, procrastination won. I didn’t have the right bowls. I couldn’t find the right cheese. The camera was out of battery. You know how it goes.
When I finally created the courage to make it (and let go of some details), I realized it was quite easy – all it really takes is patience. I basically followed Julia Child‘s recipe (and in this wonderful video, she also teaches how to sharpen knives! <3), but then I procrastinated again, and it took me over a month to write this recipe! 😀
For six “civilized-people” portions (a.k.a., Sky and I ate well over half for dinner), you will need:
5 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
3 Tbsp butter – I totally eyeballed that.
1 Tbsp olive oil – yep, I eyeballed that one too.
1 tsp salt – this I measured! 😀
3 Tbsp flour
2 L beef stock – Deb suggests mushroom stock for a vegetarian version
1 cup white wine – in the video, she uses red wine, but most recipes I have read call for white wine, so that’s what I did.
3 Tbsp cognac – I skipped it.
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper
To serve (technically, this is optional, but it really isn’t):
6 ovenproof bowls
6 slices of bread – I used large slices of Italian bread, but next time I’ll use baguette slices, as it will be easier to eat… 😀
1-2 cups of coarsely shredded gruyère – as I don’t really like gruyère, I used an Uruguayan cheese that melts easily (colonia) and parmesan. And yes, I used plenty!
Start by slicing the onions as thinly as you can. Here, I needed about six medium-sized onions to get five cups. In a big, thick-bottomed pan, melt the butter and the olive oil. Place the onions, and toss to coat them in oil. On the lowest heat, cover the pan and let the onions cook for about 15 minutes.
Remove the lid, turn up the heat a little bit, and add the salt. The original recipe also called for a pinch of sugar, but I totally forgot about it. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring often, until all the onions are brown − don’t be lazy about it: that caramelization is what is going to make your soup tasty! Sprinkle the flour over the caramelized onions and stir for about three minutes. Add the wine and the stock slowly, stirring continuously (and don’t forget to scrape the bottom of the pan!)
Season with pepper and salt (unless you’re using salted stock). I resisted the urge to add paprika! Simmer over medium heat, cover the pan and cook for 30 to 40 minutes. If you’re using cognac, now is time to add it.
You can serve as it is and it will be great, but really, the best thing to do is broil it! Toast the bread slices and then butter them – once in hell, hug the devil! Divide the soup into six ovenproof bowls. In each of them, add one piece of toast (again, next time I’ll use a baguette; the smaller slices will be easier to handle!) and cover the bowl with a generous layer of cheese.
Bake the soups on a tray for about 20 minutes − I used the toaster oven, with heat coming from top and bottom, but you can be normal and just use your broiler to make it nice and golden. Dig in!
I love garlic. I know I say that about every recipe with this ingredient, but it’s true. And I always add more garlic than the recipe calls for, because… well, did I mention I love garlic? But there’s always a first time for everything, and I found a soup recipe by Deb that called for exactly 44 cloves of garlic – I didn’t dare to change such a specific number!
Yes, I know that 44 cloves are roughly three heads of garlic. It sounded excessive, even for me! Don’t worry: as 26 of these are roasted, the recipe is actually quite mild. The “Vampire Slayer” part stays, though, as it is catchier than “44-clove garlic soup that isn’t really that scary.” 😀
For four reasonable servings (a.k.a. Sky and I ate it all and called it dinner), you’ll need:
26 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter – I totally eyeballed that
2 ¼ cups onion, thinly sliced – this was roughly 2 medium-sized onions
1 ½ tsp fresh thyme – I eyeballed that too, obviously
18 garlic cloves, peeled
3 ½ cups of beef broth – for a vegetarian version, use veggie stock!
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup parmesan cheese, finely grated – did you know that parmesan is NOT vegetarian? Yeah, it shocked me too. You can replace it for another strong hard cheese.
1 lemon, cut into four wedges
The first step is to roast those 26 garlic cloves. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C, place the unpeeled garlic cloves in a small baking dish, cover with the olive oil, and season with a generous pinch of salt and some pepper. Toss to make sure the garlic cloves are coated. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the garlic is soft. Let it cool a little bit and do something that is oddly satisfying: cut the end of each clove and squeeze them out into a small bowl.
Melt the butter in a large pot. Throw in the onions and thyme, and cook until the onions are translucent – Deb says it takes 6 minutes, which makes sense, as it took me two indie songs to do it. Add the roasted garlic and the 18 raw garlic cloves and cook for one song (or 3 minutes). Add the stock, cover the pot, and let it simmer over medium heat until the cloves are soft, which should take about 20 minutes.
Blend the soup using a conventional blender (carefully, in batches, so you don’t burn yourself like I did that one time) or an immersion blender. Transfer the soup back to the pot, add the cream, and bring it back to a simmer. Check the seasoning – Deb used just salt and pepper, I added paprika as well, just because.
Hmm, didn’t the recipe call for cheese and lemon? It does! Divide the cheese among four soup bowls. Ladle the soup over the cheese, squeeze one lemon wedge on each bowl, and serve!
Every time we go to Montevideo, we try to find new ethnic restaurants, because there isn’t much variety here in Punta. In our last trip, we read on TripAdvisor about a Japanese restaurant that wasn’t just your standard sushi spot, so it was an easy choice for lunch. We ordered ramen, which came in a huge bowl, but wasn’t that great. Ever since that day, I was absolutely certain that I was going to try to make (a better version of) it at home.
There isn’t a RECIPE for ramen. Much like Italian minestrone, ramen appears to be more of a concept than a recipe per se, and you can adapt it however you like. I think that the only crucial elements are the noodles (duh) and a bit of miso. Everything else is pretty much fair game! Is it “authentic”? Of course not! It was made in Uruguay, by a Brazilian lady! 😀 It was pretty tasty, though!
This is how I made it:
200 g ramen noodles
2 hard-boiled eggs
150 g pork, chopped into strips and cooked on the frying pan – you can use mushrooms, beef, a mix of everything, or even that suspicious leftover meat from that other day…
Salt and pepper
1.5 L beef stock – you can use veggie stock if you prefer
2 (generous) Tbsp miso paste – the one I used was artisanal, and a bit more concentrated than normal. Add it to your stock little by little, and taste as you go
Freshly ground ginger, to taste
2 Tbsp mirin – it’s not on the picture, but I decided to add it as I was cooking and it turned out great
1 bunch of spinach
2 turnips, finely cut
This is not your “dump all ingredients into the pan and let it boil” kind of soup.
Boil the eggs and set them aside.
Season the chopped meat with salt and pepper (I also used paprika, as usual). Cook it on the frying pan with a little bit of oil and set aside.
In a medium-sized pan, prepare the stock: heat up the meat (or veggie) stock and season it with salt, pepper, miso paste, grated ginger, and mirin. Let the mixture heat and taste the seasoning. When it is almost boiling, add the chopped spinach and turnips to get them nice and hot. Keep the stock on very low heat, just to keep it hot.
While the stock is finishing cooking, take another pan and prepare the ramen noodles according to the package directions – except if the directions call for a weird “flavor package,” just ignore that part. Drain and set aside.
When everything is ready, it’s time to assemble your ramen: place a bit of the noodles in the bowl, cover with the stock and then arrange the meat strips and half of a hard-boiled egg. Serve immediately.
If you have leftovers, store the components in separate containers. It is important to re-heat it separately, so the noodles don’t get a nasty texture!