Before I forget, again, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
With the rush of everyone getting back to their school and work routine I forgot about this special occasion on the previous blog post, which was the first of 2018! I hope everyone had a great Holiday season and that a lot of baking has been done! We had a great time, just the four of us - we headed to New Orleans to spend the Christmas week and we had the most amazing time ever. The kids loved it, specially because there was a Christmas Fest, involving rides and fun activities! We loved getting to know someplace different from where we live (New Jersey).
Everyone was so nice and we had a great time tasting all we could from the Creoule and southern cuisine. Well seasoned food and great quality seafood! We had to get a po'boy (of course!) and the gumbo, which are the typical dishes around NOLA. You can find them everywhere and we had them on the French Market, where we could also experience the true flavors of the South!
This BBQ po'boy was the best! The spicy seasoning, the shrimps, the bread, everything was amazing! We had these two dishes at "Liuzza's by the track" which is THE place to go for a delicious and mouthwatering meal if you are ever by the city park, in NOLA.
This gumbo was so tasty that we had to ask for another bowl my 9 year old son! Being that kids tend to be picky with "non-familiar" foods I was so glad that he liked it and that he wanted a bowl of his own...yes, because I wanted mine for myself, too! Spicy alligator sausage, shrimp, tomatoes and gold old seasonings...hoe can we not love that??
Now, back to the cake!
I was feeling like baking a cake on a cold day. Baking is such a great satisfying hobby when you have cold weather outside and everything's covered in a white blanket of snow. It just makes sense! I always liked simple cakes, like teacakes and I usually try to sneak in some fruit for a moist texture and fruity flavor.
This time I decided to use pear, both inside the cake and on the top of the cake, for extra natural sweetness. I naturally crave for sugary foods on cold weather, so I rather have my sugar cravings satisfied with fruit and honey than with something not as natural, as artificial sweeteners. I also used the Savannah Bee Company whipped cinnamon honey and it was the perfect addition to the cake: the final result was a super moist pear cake with a touch of honey and cinnamon that were the perfect flavor combo to pair with some chopped walnuts that I decided to add at the last minute!
1 - Start by getting your ingredients measured and prepared.
2 - Preheat the oven at 375 F.
3 - On a standing mixer beat the softened butter with the sugar until you get a fluffy mixture. Add the eggs, the milk and the honey and continue beating until everything is well incorporated.
4 - Add the sifted flour and the baking powder and mix the batter up just to get these ingredients well incorporated.
5 - Peel and dice one of the pears and add it to the cake batter. Add the chopped walnuts, reserving some for decoration.
6 - Spray your cake pan with nonstick spray or use butter to coat it. Drop the cake batter on the pan and use the other peeled pear and the remaining walnuts to decorate the top of the cake, as seen in the picture.
7 - Bake the cake in the oven for about 45 minutes, until the batter is cooked through and with a golden color. Time may vary according to the oven so, please, check it from 30 minutes on, so you can keep the baking level of your choice.
8 - Turn the oven off and let the cake cool down on a cooling rack, still on the pan. When the cake has cooled down a bit turn the pan upside down, onto a plate and turn the cake over again onto a serving plate.
Doesn't that cake look delicious? I think I'm going to have to bake another one soon! I bought some delicious apples and they would be perfect for this cake, too! Also, I used the cinnamon honey to whip up a honey cream topping - I heated 1 Tbsp of cinnamon honey and 1/2 cup of cream in a saucepan and let it warm up until it was bubbly and thick.
It was perfect to drizzle on the cake and it gave it an extra quick of sweetness and sticky yumminess!
I'll be baking some delicious cake again, to face off this cold winter days that we've been having.
here's nothing like a warm cup of tea with a still warm slice of cake by the fireplace to warm up the soul!
Christmas is a special family time and, as usual, it involves food and old traditions that get passed on from different generations. Back in Portugal we have a very rich culinary traditional, not only on the holidays but all year round. Our cook books go back hundreds of years and are filled with wonderful and tasty recipes of meat, fish and sweet treats. The baking art has been around for so long that it has evolved and followed the modern trends - you can find the most different breads, from the traditional (Mafra bread, Saloio bread, Portuguese rolls) to the most up to date versions of bread, with seeds, chia or whatever new trendy ingredient you can find.
The pastry and baking heritage is particularly strong when it comes to Christmas specific items. It's unimaginable a Christmas without Filhós or Coscoroes (depending on the region of Portugal you're in), Broas de mel, Sonhos (fried dough with a sugar and cinnamon coating) or Bolo-rei. There is also a different version of this cake, the Queen-cake, that doesn't have the sugary fruits, just the raisins and nuts. I do prefer that version but I wanted to represent the most traditional version which is the one I baked.
I used a recipe from a Portuguese blog, by Leonor de Sousa Bastos. It's an amazing blog dedicated to pastry and it really makes you hungry just by looking at the pictures! those are taken by photographer Miguel Coelho. I'd be more than happy if you would visit and take a look around the delicacies that Leonor shares with her readers. You can access the blog here. I adjusted some thing from the original recipe but kept the main recipe in the core ingredients.
1 - Get all your ingredients measured and lined up so you can get the recipe going smoothly.
2 - Dissolve the yeast in the slightly warm milk and add the flour. These are the first three ingredients on the list. Mix well to get the yeast dissolved and cover with some plastic wrap. Let it rest for about 15-20 minutes so the mix will double its size and creates some bubbles on the surface.
3 - In the meantime, mix the raisins with the Port wine to get the flavor developing.
4 - Use the mixer to beat the sugar with the butter, the orange, the lemon zest and the vanilla extract until the mixture get bubbly and whitish. Add the egg ad beat a bit more.
5 - Attach the dough hook to the mixer and add the first mix with the yeast, in the batter that you just prepared. Mix everything at a medium speed and add the remaining flour, bit by bit. Add the raisins with the wine and continue to mix the dough for about 25 minutes. Add some more flour if the dough seems to sticky.
6 - Add the nuts and the sugary fruits and mix just to get them evenly distributed throughout the dough. That the dough out of the mixer bowl and turn it into a ball. Place it on a bowl, dust it with flour and let the dough rise fr about an hour, an hour and a half. The time necessary for it to double in size.
I did add extra nuts regarding the original recipe but I do LOVE nuts and the more the merrier! Be sure to reserve some of the fruits and nuts to decorate the cake before baking it in the oven. The amount will depend on the size of the cake after rising but a good amount is best! Don't save them, use all you can!
7 - Take the dough out of the bowl, press it and wok it a bit and turn it into a round shape with a whole in the middle. If necessary place a heat resistant cup, upside down in the middle of the dough so the whole won't close while the cake is baking.
8 - Place the dough on a baking sheet and wait for another hour, hour and a half so it doubles in size again.
9 - Brush the top of the cake with the egg yolk and sprinkle some more sugary fruit and nuts on top of the cake, pressing them onto the dough, in order for them to stick well. Bake the cake in a 360 F oven until its golden and fragrant.
The cake didn't rise as I was expecting it to, probably due to the different conditions here. Altitude has a lot of influence on baking and rising dough but I'm not sure if that was the reason. Either way the taste was perfect and the cake was really soft.
I froze the cake, well wrapped in parchment paper and aluminum foil and had it it the oven right the next day to serve to my family, warm, right of the oven. It turned out great and it's also really tasty just warmed up a bit on the microwave.
It's usually served up for Christmas so I served it on a Christmas serving plate.
It's always a pleasure to share traditional Portuguese recipes, here on the blog, and I'd love to know if someone has tried this before. Let me know how it turned out!
This cake turned out to be quite an adventure! Do you know when you're trying to get a quick cake baked for a relaxed Saturday afternoon, just staying home and cozy up with the family? Well, that was the goal but it ended up being an "adventure" cake!
I got this recipe a while ago when I was browsing for cake recipes without eggs. This Saturday I ran out of eggs so I immediately referred to the said recipe. It's a quick method and pretty simple one too: get all the ingredients on the blender, give them a blitz and bake the batter in the oven!
I went to get my Nutribullet, which is what I use as a blender, and the poor thing just didn't work! Apparently one of the pieces is broken so I'll have to figure out if I can replace it or not. I was so sad! I use it almost everyday, to make my smoothies, tomato sauce, soups and smoothie bows.
Well, with all the stress of it not working I ended up using my immersion blender to mix the cake batter up...I even forgot about using the Kitchen Aid to do it - talk about loosing your marbles! Anyway, the adventure didn't stop here. Now that I'm writing it down it seems pretty funny, not so much on Saturday afternoon!
I turned the oven on at 200 F and had the cake baking at that temperature for about half an hour until I realized it wasn't rising properly...then, I remembered! I was thinking about Celsius (which we use in Europe) and should have turned it on 400 F! Oh, my! It was such a stressful cake to bake! After getting the oven at the right temperature it sure turned out great and it'll have me checking for the oven temperature twice, from now on!
Now, for the recipe! I used the yogurt cups as the measurement unit for all the ingredients. It makes it even more easy and quick to get this cake going. It's a super simple and delicious cake, topped with date chocolate spread that will have you craving an extra slice at the end of your first one.
Even without the chocolate drizzle it's a perfect tea cake. Simple and moist. However, your sweet tooth will love the delicious spread coating and will be asking for seconds, for sure!
It looks and tastes amazingly and I had almost no effort at all cooking it! It made up for the adventures I stumbled upon to getting it ready!
I've been meaning to try these sweet potato bowls for a while and now that I had all the ingredients I needed, I finally decided to give them a try. I also used a sauce from a brand that I got to know recently, the Winking Food! Girl skillet sauces. You can find out about the brand on the website, here, and browse all their products.
I used the Classic Taco Skillet Sauce - onion, garlic and mild ancho chili come together to create a classic taco seasoning the whole family can enjoy. If you want some more spiciness just add some more chili flakes, for example.
Turning up the flavor volume of your daily meals becomes easy and fast and you can choose from 4 different skillet sauces, depending on what you're craving at the moment! The other flavors available are:
Besides buying the products directly from the brand's website you can also buy the products on Amazon. In fact, when you subscribe the Winking Girl! Foods newsletter you get a discount code to use on Amazon! That's a pretty good deal!
Find the Taco skillet sauce here, on Amazon:
I always like to try original recipes and different ways to incorporate regular basic ingredients so I decided to make my taco out of a sweet potato bowl and add some fresh accents, with cilantro and avocado. Turns out it's a perfect combo and I'll be doing these again very soon, judging by the husband's exciting approval of the final outcome!
1 - Preheat the oven at 400 F.
2 - Wash the sweet potatoes and scrub them to remove any remaining dirt removed. Pat them dry with a paper towel and put them on a baking sheet. Roast them for about 1 hour (one of my potatoes was pretty big so it needed some extra time!).
3 - While the potatoes are in the oven start getting the filling ready. Brown the ground meat on a hot skillet, with the avocado oil.
4 - When the meat is cooked through and getting golden around the edges add the taco skillet sauce and get everything well mixed and combined.
5 - Add the jalapenos slices and let it cook for another 10 minutes. Turn the heat off.
6 - When the potatoes are cooked, take them off the oven and open them up by cutting them through the mid section and pressing on the edges so that the potatoes open up like a bowl. Just like you would do with a regular baked potato.
7 - Fill the sweet potatoes with the meat mixture and cover each one with 3 slices of Colby Jack cheese. Cook the potatoes to the oven to melt the cheese, for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and serve each sweet potato with freshly chopped cilantro and avocado bits on top.
I love spicy food so, as usual, I drizzled some sriracha sauce and fresh lime juice on top of my sweet potato to spice it up. It became this delicious exotic tasting sweet potato, perfect for a light but flavorful lunch! This is a pretty versatile dish and you can use whatever protein you have at hand to personalize it and make it your own.
Try these out and enjoy!