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.
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!
For Easter, I decided to unleash my inner hipster and make a chocolate-FREE dessert! The strawberries at the supermarket looked inviting, so I decided to bake this cake that I had seen made by Paula from The Cookie Shop and Deb from Smitten Kitchen, all based on Martha Stewart’s recipe! 😀
This cake is everything you want from a strawberry cake. I hadn’t had such a good cake – and such a pretty one – in a long time! The best thing is that it’s not very hard; actually, it comes together reasonably quickly.
When the cake came out of the oven, Sky asked me: do we have cream? I opened the fridge and saw a small package of cream. I whipped it to serve with the cake, making our dessert even richer!
For a 10-inch cake, you’ll need:
85g (6 Tbsp) butter, softened
200g (1 and 1/2 cup) flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
200g (1 cup) sugar, plus 2 Tbsp to sprinkle over the cake – I used regular sugar in the batter, and turbinado sugar to sprinkle over the cake
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
400 g strawberries, hulled and halved
Butter a 10-inch round pie plate and pre-heat the oven to 180 C (350 F). It is such a quick process that I actually started pre-heating the oven before making the batter 😀
Start by sifting together the flour, salt, and baking powder. I must confess I never sift – I follow Chef John’s trick of whisking them thoroughly for 2 minutes. This gets rid of any lumps and saves me from having to wash the sieve! 😀
Using your stand mixer, cream the butter with the sugar. The recipes usually say something about “mix until the cream is pale,” but Uruguayan butter is pretty yellow, so that never really happens – it has never stopped me from baking anyway, though!
Add the egg and mix well. Then, add the milk and vanilla, mixing well. At this point, the mixture looked a bit curdled, which is normal for this kind of cake.
As usual, to avoid over-mixing the batter, at this stage I change to a hand whisk. Add the flour mixture little by little, mixing just until you can’t see any flour specks.
Transfer the batter to the buttered pie plate. Place the strawberry halves over the dough, cut side down. Try to place them as close together as you can!
Sprinkle 2 Tbsp of sugar (I used turbinado) over the strawberries and bake at 180 C (350 F) for 10 minutes. Then, lower the temperature to 170 C (325 F) and bake until it’s golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes clean – the recipes said this would take about an hour, but in my oven it took only 45 minutes.
Let the cake cool over a wire rack and serve with whipped cream!
I hadn’t had gelatin for a LONG time! I mean, I didn’t really miss that overly sweet dessert with those bizarre artificial flavors. But when I started to think about what to make for Summer Tertulias, the idea of gelatin kept coming back to me. I decided to find a homemade version.
I found several recipes, among them Patricia’s tangerine and prosecco gelatin. I decided to try that one, subbing orange juice for the tangerine, to make a solid version of one of my favorite drinks!:D
The first time I tried, it didn’t work. It wouldn’t set, so I placed it in the freezer and ate frozen mimosas (No complains here, it was super tasty! :D)
But I’m stubborn, so I decided to try again, increasing the amount of gelatin and changing the way I added it on the recipe. It worked! I served with a spoonful of whipped cream and it was a hit!
For four servings, you’ll need:
200 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp powdered gelatin
3 Tbsp water
100 ml sparkling wine – I used rosé, because that’s what I had in the fridge!
Optional: whipped cream, to serve (I didn’t add sugar to the cream, as orange juice is quite sweet!)
Making gelatin is pretty easy. Sure, not as easy as mixing the flavored package into warm water, but then again, the homemade version tastes much better! 😀
In a small pan, mix the orange juice and the sugar. Mix well and heat over medium heat until it simmers. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside for about 15 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix the powdered gelatin and water and let it hydrate for 10 minutes. After this, the mix will be pretty solid. Place this small bowl in a larger bowl with hot water – don’t put too much water: think “water bath,” but off the stove! Stir the gelatin mix until it turns liquid.
When the gelatin is liquid and clump-free, pour it in the pan with the orange juice. Add the sparkling wine, whisk well, and strain the mix.
Pour over four serving bowls, cover with plastic wrap, and place them in the fridge for about 3 hours, until they set. Serve with a tablespoon of whipped cream.
One of the best restaurants here in Uruguay is La Huella, in José Ignacio. We don’t go there very often, but it’s great every time. Last year, on my birthday, we shared several starters, but one was really special: it was similar to ceviche, but with some very different flavors.
I was intrigued, of course. When we asked for the check, the waiter told us they had a recipe book. I asked the obvious question: “Is this recipe in the book?”. A few minutes later, he came back and said that the recipe was not in the book, but that the chef would happily teach me how to make it! Obviously, I accepted! As you would expect, she didn’t give me exact measurements, but a good idea of the proportions.
I was sure I would cook that the next week, but I ended up not doing it. In fact, I procrastinated so much that I only cooked this now, for Summer Tertulias! 😀
For a light lunch for 4 people, you’ll need:
Approximately 800 g white fish, deboned – she used sea bass, I used brótola, so you can choose whatever white (and firm) fish. If you’re cooking for less people, reduce the amount, as this is best served immediately after it’s made.
½ red onion, very finely chopped – don’t grate it!
1 bunch of chives, very finely chopped – you can also use mint
1 heaping Tbsp Dijon mustard – next time, I’ll double the amount
2 Tbsp capers
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
Olive oil – roughly the same volume as the lemon juice
Start by chopping the fish into small cubes – mine were a little too big! 😦 It’s supposed to be smaller than your regular ceviche cubes. Season the fish with salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Place it back in the fridge, so it won’t lose its consistency.
Chop the red onion as finely as you can – do not crush or shred: the goal is to have mini cubes here! Chop the chives and the capers very finely, too – the capers will turn almost into a paste, don’t worry. In a bowl, mix the onion, the chives, the capers, the lemon zest, and the Dijon mustard. Set aside.
In another bowl, emulsify the lemon juice and olive oil. This is how I did it: I placed the lemon juice in a bowl and poured the olive oil slowly, whisking well. That required a lot of elbow grease, of course. I later looked it up and it turns out you can do that with a hand mixer! I’ll try that next time! Set the emulsion aside.
When you’re ready to serve, all you have to do is combine the fish with the onion mix and this emulsion in a big bowl. Taste (and adjust the seasoning) and serve with a nice green salad!
Of the recipes I made for this holiday series, this was the biggest hit BY FAR! As it yields 24 mini-muffins, I thought I’d have some leftovers to freeze, but they disappeared! I had to make it again, so I could take the pictures – and once again, there were no leftovers! 😀
This is a pretty easy recipe: only five ingredients, and you don’t even need a stand mixer! The hardest steps are chopping the nuts and buttering the mini muffin tins. This last step is mandatory, though – I tried making it with paper cups, and it all got stuck! 😦 #truestory
1 cup brown sugar – press well into the measuring cup!
½ cup all-purpose flour – yes, that’s all it takes!
1 cup pecans, chopped – chop first, then measure
2/3 cup (150 g) melted butter
2 large eggs
This is easy! Start by thoroughly buttering the mini-muffin tins.
In a bowl, mix the brown sugar, the flour, and the chopped pecans. In another bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and add the melted butter. Now all you have to do is combine both bowls!
Fill the well-buttered mini-muffin tins 2/3 of the way. Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into them comes out clean. With the help of a butter knife, remove the mini-muffins from the tin right away. Let them cool on a wire rack.
When they are completely cooled, place them in a nice gift box and brighten someone’s day! 🙂
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
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!
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! 🙂
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
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
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.