Author Archive: Ana Olson

Panettone Muffins

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Muffins de Panetone

One of the things I picked up from my mom was the love for panettone – the best part of Christmas! As today is her birthday, I thought it was appropriate to post this recipe – which is much easier than the traditional panettone!

The first time I made these muffins was last Christmas. Everybody loved them, so I decided to bake them again – as they freeze wonderfully, you can bake them now, when the holiday madness is not fully on, and share them on Christmas Day!

Don’t let the ingredient list intimidate you – it’s quite long, but this is not a difficult recipe! Instead of Amaretto and Cointreau, I used almond and orange extracts. You can also replace the dried fruit for candied fruit if you prefer!

For 12 muffins, you’ll need:

1/3 cup sultanas
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped apricots – chop, then measure
1/3 cup dried cranberries
¼ cup (60 mL) orange juice
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup chopped candied cherries – the original recipe called for candied orange peel, but I couldn’t find it! 😀
½ cup (100g) sugar
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Cointreau – I used orange extract
1 tsp Amaretto – I used almond extract
2 ¼ cups (315g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup (160mL) whole milk
1 ½ Tbsp brown or turbinado sugar, to sprinkle over the muffins

Muffins de Panetone

Place the apricots, raisins, sultanas, cranberries, and orange juice in a small saucepan. Mix well and cook over high heat until the juice starts to boil. Turn off the heat and let it cool. Add the candied cherries and set aside.

Pre-heat the oven on medium. Place paper liners in a common muffin tin and set aside.

Place the sugar and the orange and lemon zest in the bowl of the stand mixer. Using your fingertips, rub the zests in the sugar, so you can extract more aroma from them – this is an optional step, but it’s so fun! Add the butter and the oil, and mix until it’s light-colored. You will need to scrape the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula every now and then.

Add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. I always do that, but I must say I have no idea what happens if you add all the eggs at once! Hahahahahah!

Add the vanilla, the Cointreau (or orange extract), and the Amaretto (or almond extract). Mix well.

Muffins de Panetone

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add 1/4 of the flour mix to the batter, mix well, add 1/3 of the milk, and mix well. Repeat until you finish both – the flour mix will be the last thing you’ll add.

Add the reserved fruit, together with whatever orange juice is left in the pan. Mix into the batter with the silicone spatula.

Split the batter among the tins. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the muffins, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until they pass the clean toothpick test.

Let them cool on a wire rack. When they are completely cooled, place them in a pretty box/bag and give them away! 🙂

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Spiced Chocolate Shortbread

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Shortbread de Chocolate e Especiarias

Here at Culinary Tertulias, December is a synonym for edible gifts!

To start this series, I wanted to make something with chocolate and spices, Christmas-y but not overly so. I also wanted a quick and easy cookie, because I had to take SOMETHING to a meeting with friends. I found this recipe at King Arthur’s Flour and I immediately knew it was the one to make – I love shortbreads and I had all the ingredients!

I used two things that may be a bit tricky to find outside the US: allspice and pumpkin pie spice. To make this recipe, you will need one teaspoon of spices – you can use a mix of ground ginger, ground cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

You will need:

1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp salt
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1/3 cup (28 g) Dutch cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp mixed spices – I used ½ tsp allspice and ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice, but you can also use a mix of ground ginger, ground cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 and 3/4 cup (200 g) all-purpose flour

 
Shortbread de Chocolate e Especiarias
 

Start by lining 2 8-inch square pans with aluminum foil, leaving some excess to help you remove the shortbreads, and grease them well. Pre-heat your oven.

This is a recipe that is stirred by hand, which sounds hard – it’s actually pretty quick and easy, if the butter is properly softened!

With a spatula, mix the butter, salt, and sugar. Add the cocoa powder, vanilla, spices, and baking powder. Mix well. Add the flour and mix just until you can’t see any more white specks.

Divide the dough into both pans – use the spatula to smooth the surface and prick it all over with a fork. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes. Use the excess aluminum foil as handles to remove the shortbread from the pans and immediately cut the shortbreads into squares. Cool them on a wire rack.

When they are completely cool, place in a cute box or bag and spread the cheer! 🙂

Chocolate Pudding

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Potinhos de Chocolate

One of these days, Sky said he was craving chocolate pudding. Naturally, I went looking for a recipe. Smitten Kitchen’s sounded pretty easy, and I had all ingredients there, so it was a no-brainer.

The recipe was indeed easy – six ingredients! One pot!

I made it quickly, and decided to place it nice serving bowls. While I was dividing, I had a taste – it was DELICIOUS! Comfort food at its best!

For six servings, you’ll need:

1/4 cup (30 g) cornstarch
1/3 cup (75 g) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt – or, you know, a generous pinch
3 cups (710 ml) whole milk
6 ounces (170 g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped – I used 70%
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Potinhos de Chocolate

Have I mentioned how easy this recipe is? This recipe is really easy! 😀

In a medium-sized pan, whisk the cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Add the milk slowly, mixing well to avoid lumps. Place the pan over low heat. Stir occasionally with a spatula, scraping the bottom and sides. If you feel lumps are forming, use a whisk – I didn’t have to.

After about 10 minutes, the mix will start to thicken – it will be hot, but not really boiling. Continue to stir until the mixture can coat the back of a spoon – I think the picture shows what I mean!

Potinhos de Chocolate

Still over low heat, add the chocolate and stir until it melts and the pudding thickens – this will take another 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add the vanilla and mix well.

Now you can be fancy and avoid all lumps by passing the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. I (obviously) didn’t bother.

Another thing you can do is to divide the mixture into individual serving bowls, but that is option. What is not optional is covering the pudding with a plastic wrap directly on it, to avoid the formation of the skin. In all fairness, even that is optional, some people like the skin! :-S

Refrigerate for about 3 hours. The original recipe says the pudding will last for three days in the fridge, but I was never able to test that! 🙂

Stuffed Pepper Rings

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Anéis de Pimentão Recheados

Food nostalgia. It’s not often, but every now and then I miss some recipes I ate as a child and nobody (aka Mom/Grandma) has ever cooked them again.

This time, the feeling was quite odd: I was longing for a recipe that Mom must have cooked only once in her life AND I DIDN’T EVEN LIKE IT AT THE TIME! Ok, I know this might be a sign of madness. But there I was, thinking about stuffed peppers, so I decided to do something about it.

The idea for this recipe came, as usual, while I was procrastinating on Pinterest. I thought I’d follow this recipe to a T, but I ended up doing something different 😀

For two hungry people, you’ll need:

2 large bell peppers – choose your favorite color/the one that’s on sale 😀
400 g ground beef
1 egg
¼ cup parmesan, thinly shredded – I used my microplane for that
1 onion, chopped into small cubes
Garlic, to taste – and my taste is a bunch!
½ bunch of chopped parsley
Salt, pepper, hot paprika, red pepper flakes, and powdered mustard
400 mL tomato sauce –
About 300 g of mozzarella

Anéis de Pimentão Recheados

Start by cutting the bell peppers into thick slices, about 2 fingers-tall. I got three slices per pepper, give it or take. Set aside. Chop the leftover peppers into small cubes.

In a bowl, mix together the ground beef with the egg and the parmesan. Add the onions, chopped peppers, garlic, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper – as usual, I added paprika and other spices (this time, red pepper flakes and powdered mustard). Set aside.

Stuff the pepper rings with the ground beef mix. Do so gently, to avoid breaking the rings.

On a hot (cast-iron if you have it) pan, seal the stuffed rings for 3 minutes on each side.
Cover a baking sheet with the tomato sauce and place the sealed rings on it. Cover the rings with the mozzarella – I used slices, because that’s what I had, but I think it would melt better if I had used the shredded version.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes and serve!

FREEZER: Freeze them before baking: cover a freezer/oven safe baking dish (I used a disposable one) with the tomato sauce, place the sealed rings, cover and freeze. When it’s time to use it, thaw, cover with cheese and bake as usual.

Zucchini Ceviche

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Ceviche de Abobrinha

Mom, who was here for a short visit, opened the fridge, saw a few zucchinis there and told me that she had had zucchini ceviche at a restaurant somewhere, and that it was delicious. A ceviche without fish? Of course I had to try it!

I found a recipe that looked really interesting, but they left the zucchini strips whole. When making my own, I decided to cut these strips into smaller pieces, for better texture. Easy and tasty!
You’ll need:

3 medium-sized zucchinis
½ medium-sized onion, cut into thin rings – I forgot to add the onions to the ingredients picture! 😮
¼ red bell pepper, chopped into small cubes
½ Anaheim pepper or 2 ajíes dulces (optional)
½ bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
Juice of two lemons
Salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper, to taste.

Ceviche de Abobrinha

Cut the onion into veeeeery thin slices. Place them in a bowl, add the juice of one lemon, and set aside. This step helps to reduce the spicyness of the raw onion – I don’t usually do it, but the one I used was VERY spicy! 😀

Slice the zucchini veeeery thinly. If you have a mandolin, it’s time to use it! I didn’t use the core, as it’s all seeds anyway. After slicing the zucchinis, chop them into smaller pieces. Chop the bell pepper, the Anaheim pepper, and the cilantro.

In the serving bowl, mix the zucchini with the peppers, cilantro, and reserved onion. Add the juice of the remaining lemon, and season with salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Set aside for 15-20 minutes, to marinate, and serve as an appetizer or a side dish! 😀

Broccoli Melts

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Broccoli Melts

Yeah, I know. “Broccoli sandwich” doesn’t sound very appetizing. I was mildly intrigued when I read the recipe last year on Smitten Kitchen, but then I thought “hmm… no. This is a broccoli sandwich.” I left it at that.

Until last week. Sky bought I-don’t-know-how-many heads of broccoli, because they were on sale. I was sick of eating them steamed, with a dab of butter. Then I thought of this recipe. I read it again, decided it wasn’t that weird after all, and made it. I thought the eight slices would be too much, we’d have leftovers for sure. How naive of me! Sky tried one and said: you didn’t make enough. I tried it and had to agree with him – we almost had to fight for the last slice! 😀

This recipe immediately made the weekly menu, as the broccoli + lemon zest + cheese combo is really good!

To put your skepticism aside and make these, you’ll need:

500 g broccoli
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced – I used garlic flakes because I ran out of garlic #thehorror
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon – I zested the whole lemon
Salt and black pepper
1/2 cup parmesan, finely grated – I used a microplane
8 slices of bread
butter, if you want
8 thin slices of cheese

Broccoli Melts

Start by preparing the broccoli: chop the florets into medium-sized pieces (about 5 cm) and the stems, which are harder, into small-sized chunks (about 2 cm). In a small pan, boil about an inch of water. When the water boils, place the chopped broccoli, cover the pan, and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain well – the original recipe calls for patting the broccoli dry with paper towels, but I forgot and didn’t do it – and transfer to a cutting board.

Chop the broccoli once again, so that everything is in small chunks. Dry the pan you used to cook the broccoli and heat the olive oil for a minute, over medium heat. Add the red pepper flakes and the garlic and heat for another minute. Add the broccoli and stir well to coat the broccoli with the olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and cook for two minutes. Set aside.

Place the bread slices on your baking sheet – I used my toaster oven, because my regular oven doesn’t grill. Lightly toast the slices on both sides. I buttered both sides, just because.

When the bread is slightly toasted, get that pan with the broccoli and add the parmesan and the lemon zest and juice. Taste for salt.

Pile the broccoli mixture over each slice of bread. Place one slice of cheese over each, and bake until the cheese is melted. Eat without any semblance of guilt, because broccoli = healthy 😀

Chocolate Coconut Nut Bar

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It has been a bit quiet over here, hasn’t it? August was a tough month, but it ended brilliantly, and now we’re back!

When I first read this recipe, I thought I’d make just a tiny change, using honey instead of corn syrup. I went to the grocery store to buy pecans, but I forgot that the recipe called for three cups, so I only bought a small packet! So that was another thing I had to adapt – I used only two cups of nuts (pecans and walnuts). Then, when I was sorting the ingredients for the picture, I realized I was out of chocolate chips and did not have enough coconut flakes – so I used a chocolate bar, chopped, and some shredded coconut! 😀 Even with all these adaptations, the bars turned out great! 🙂

For a 9 x 13 inch pan, you’ll need:

Base:
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter, chopped into cubes

Tasty chocolate layer
1 ½ cup chocolate chips – I chopped a 70% cacao chocolate bar

Top:
3 large eggs
¾ cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup honey
¼ cup (60 g) melted butter – yes, we’re using butter again in this recipe! 😀
1 cup of sweetened coconut flakes – I used a mix of unsweetened coconut flakes and shredded coconut
2 cups pecans – I mixed pecans and walnuts, but I think it’d be pretty tasty using hazelnuts!

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. I feel I need to stress the concept of buttering the foil WELL: I didn’t do it (I’m starting to believe August is really a messed-up month), and a big piece of the bar STUCK to the pan in a way that I had never seen! 😦

Spread the nuts evenly over another baking sheet. Toast the nuts for 10 minutes, stirring every now and then. Set aside

In a bowl, whisk the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and cocoa powder. Add the cold butter, and use your fingertips to crush it until the mix resembles coarse meal – or you can be traditional and use a pastry blender! I just don’t care much for pastry blenders 😀 Press this mixture on the bottom of the prepared baking sheet, and bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Immediately after removing the base from the oven, spread the chocolate chips evenly over the entire surface – the chocolate will melt quickly, creating a very tasty layer 😀

Let it cool over a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.

In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the brown sugar, the honey, and the melted butter. Mix well until all the ingredients are combined. Add the coconut and the nuts.

Pour this mixture over the cooled base and bake on a pre-heated oven for about 35 minutes, or until the filling has set and the edges are golden-brown. Let it cool over a wire rack for about 1 hour, and then place it in the fridge for another hour.

Use the foil “handles” to remove the bars from the baking sheet. Place them over a cutting board, cut them with a sharp knife and serve!

Lamington Bars

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Lamington Bars

You know, sometimes all we need is something that is simple, but looks complicated, complex, sophisticated. Or something that has a fancy name!

This recipe, from Technicolor Kitchen, fulfilled an old desire of mine: I always wanted to make Lamingtons, but was too lazy to make the traditional ones!

You’ll need:

125 g unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 ¼ cup flour
1 ¼ rsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup whole milk, lukewarm
1 cup of sweetened coconut flakes – I must confess I didn’t really measure! As I can’t find sweetened coconut flakes in Uruguay, I used shredded coconut.

For the icing, you’ll need:

¾ confectioner’s sugar, passed through a fine mesh sieve – can I use regular sugar? Probably NOT.
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, passed through a fine mesh sieve
1/3 cup boiling water
1 ½ Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Lamington Bars

As in brownie recipes, start by preparing the baking sheet (i used a 9 x 13 inch one): line it with aluminum foil and butter the foil – do so CAREFULLY, to prevent tears. I ran out of aluminum foil that day (the horror!), so I used parchment paper – make sure you butter it as well!
In the stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla until the mixture is light and fluffy. This will take about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition – remember to use the silicone spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl!

Turn off the mixer. With your silicone spatula, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt, until it’s all well incorporated. Mix in the milk. You’ll get a reasonably thick batter. Spread it over the baking sheet, making sure to smooth the surface with your spatula.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. This cake doesn’t raise or color much, don’t worry. Let it cool COMPLETELY in the pan over a cooling rack.

When the cake has cooled, cut it into bars – cutting before pouring the icing makes the bars look pretty on the sides! 🙂

It’s time for the ridiculously complicated icing. Ready? Mix all icing ingredients in a bowl. There. With a spoon and a little bit of patience, spread the icing over the bars. Top them with coconut and serve!

Another great thing about these bars is that they freeze PERFECTLY! Wrap individual portions in plastic wrap. When you really need something sweet, just remove from the freezer and let it thaw a little bit – they’re pretty tasty cold! 🙂

Borscht

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Borscht

Last month, my aunt told me about a beet soup my grandma had made a long time ago, but had lost the recipe. Of course I went and asked grandma about it, but all she could remember was that the recipe was “from Russia or something like that”. It had to be borscht! I found several recipes, and I decided to combine Ana’s and Chef John’s recipes to make my own! 🙂

Those who know me know that I have very strong opinions regarding vinegar (AKA: it’s not food, it’s a cleaning product!). This recipe has made me change my mind, at least temporarily! I try the soup with and without vinegar – it was much better with it! 😮

You will need:

3 cups beets, diced
2 medium-size carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
½ white cabbage, sliced – I used ½ cabbage, because mine was a big one. If yours is small, use it all!
2 L meat stock – or vegetable stock, if you want a vegetarian/vegan recipe
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 bay leaf
Salt, pepper, paprika

Optional, but advisable:
Sour cream
Dill, chopped thinly – for the photo, I used parsley, because I had run out of dill!

Borscht

This is a very easy recipe: start by chopping the beets, carrots, onion, celery, and cabbage. I julienned the beets, just because I thought it would look good – no fancy scientific explantation here! 😀

In the pan that you will use to cook the soup, place the onion, celery, and carrots with a little bit of butter (use olive oil to make it vegan!). Season with salt, pepper, and paprika and cook for about 5 minutes. When the onion has turned translucent, add the stock, the beets, and the cabbage.

Cover the pan. Cook over high heat just until it comes to a boil – then, cook over low heat for approximately 50 minutes, or until the beets are soft. Check the seasoning, add the vinegar and… THAT’S IT.

Serve with a generous Tbsp of sour cream (your vegan friend doesn’t get any, though!) and garnish with a little bit of chopped dill!

Split Pea Soup

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Sopa de Ervilha

As it is almost tradition, the cold July weather calls for Soup Tertulias!

I love peas. LOVE. The ones that come in a can! (Pause for the “ewww!” faces). I’ll eat fresh peas, but I never find them to be as good as the canned ones… #freakalert But I had never tried split peas. Coming to think of it, I don’t think I had even seen split peas at the supermarket, but that is probably because Sky is the one who does the shopping, I only write the list! 😀

When I saw this recipe by Rita Lobo, which also called for bacon, I was sold! If you’re vegan/vegetarian, there’s no need to stop reading: follow Chef John’s tip and use shiitake mushrooms instead! If you’re omnivore, stop making that face, it’s a legitimate suggestion! 😀

The most entertaining part of the recipe was the side – instead of croutons or dinner rolls, popcorn! I was a bit skeptical, but it was pretty tasty!

For a relatively small soup, you’ll need:

250 g bacon, in cubes – the recipe called for only 100 g, hahahaha! As I said before, to veganize this recipe, you can use shiitake mushrooms!
1 medium-size onion, chopped
500 g split peas, soaked for 4 hours
1 bay leaf
2 L meat stock or vegetable stock, preferably homemade!
salt, pepper, and paprika
POPCORN!

Sopa de Ervilha

There is a very basic rule in cooking, which is to read the entire recipe before starting to cook. Everyone knows that. BASIC thing. Of course I didn’t do that and that sucked, because the peas had to soak! I was going to make the soup for lunch, but it had to be left for dinner… 😦

Rinse the peas, place them in a bowl and cover with 1.5 liters of water. Let it soak for at least 4 hours.

After the peas are soaked, drain the water and set aside. In the pan that you’ll cook the soup, cook the bacon, making sure the fat is nice and rendered. If you are using shiitake mushrooms instead, sear them with some olive oil! When the bacon/shiitake is cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside.

In the bacon great/olive oil, cook the onion on low heat. When the onion has turned gold and transparent, add the peas and cook them for one minute, just to coat them with the onions. Add the stock, season with one tsp of salt, as well as with some pepper and paprika. Cover the pan and let the stock boil. Cook on low heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring every now and then until the peas are soft.

Meanwhile, make the popcorn. Try not to eat it all before the soup is ready (it’s harder than it looks #truestory)

Transfer the soup into the blender. Rita Lobo advices holding the lid of the blender with a dishcloth, to prevent the vapor from opening the lid. Blend well. Another option is to do what I did, and use the immersion blender directly in the pan! 😀

Place the soup back in the pan (if you’re using an immersion blender, just smile and do nothing). Add the bacon/shiitake mushrooms and heat the soup back to boiling point – make sure you taste for salt!

To serve, place the soup in the bowls and only then add the popcorn!