As I must have said already along my blog posts I LOVE bread! It's one of my soft spots and I love having it toasted in the morning, with some good quality butter and a hit cup of coffee. Also grilled toasts are a hit around here and with so many possible ingredient combinations you can never get bored!
I decided to give bread pudding a try because, oddly enough, I have never cooked it before. Now I'm already thinking about this sweet, soft, cozy bread pudding on a snow day, like the one we're having today. here in Scotch Plains, on the day that I'm writing this blog post! We're having a snow storm today so the schools are closed and the kids are eager to bake something...I'm hping for chocolate chip cookies!
Well, after trying this out I must say thta we all loved the end reuslta and it will be something that I will be baking again, for sure! It's like dessert and breakfast in one spoonfull! I'm sue there are a lot of different recipes but I just went with what I like and add it to the mix!
As for the bread I chose Challah because I love the slightly sweet flavor and the soft, fluffy texture. It worked perfectly and I'll use it again for other desserts that include bread.
1 - Measure you ingredients and get them all on the counter to simplify the assembly process.
2 - Preheat the oven to 425 F.
3 - Slice the Challah bread and cut them in medium size cubes. Drop them on a baking dish.
4 - Get the wet ingredients mixed up: on a big cup or bowl add the milk. the cream and the eggs. Mix everything together until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Add the ground cinnamon and stir the mix again.
5 - On top of the bread lay all the other ingredients: the brown sugar, the sultanas/raisins, the cranberries and the pecan nuts, reserving some to add after pouring the liquid ingredients over the bread.
6 - Bake the bread pudding in the oven for about 35-40 minutes, making sure to check by the end to prevent burning. By this point the wet ingredients should have cooked and not be runny at all, but the pudding will still be moist enough.
7 - I covered it with some simple icing, just powder sugar mixed with a bit of water and lemon juice and it was the perfect final touch. Just a drizzle, not to be over powerful.
This turned out to be a delicious dessert and even my youngest, Miss B, which is usually not a sweet treat fan, loved it! Success accomplished! I''m already thinking about different breads I can use and different toppings to give this recipe a twist!
What about you, do you like bread pudding? What are your favorite add-ons?
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!
I was trying to go through the holidays without overdoing with desserts and I think we did it! Usually, back in Portugal, Christmas is the season to gather around the table with family and friends and share the love and joy through food. This usually means a huge and delicious meal followed by an assorted variety of desserts like bolo-rei, arroz-doce, filhos, sonhos, broas de mel (traditional honey cakes). There's a lot of sugar, eggs and frying involved in all of these and that usually shows on the scale at the end of December!
As we've moved to the US I've tried to downsize on the desserts and it has been fairly easy because it's just the four of us and it becomes manageable. Last year my mother-in-law was here and we baked some more treats but not this year!
This year I remembered about this particularity dessert that my mother used to cook around the holidays. All of us loved it and whenever my mother would decide to make a bowl of it, it would sure be over by the end of the day! It's fluffy, sweet and amazingly simple to cook. I used the recipe that I got from a Portuguese recipe book for children. I love cooking and teaching my kids how to do it - I had this book ordered and my mother-in-law was kind enough to offer it to my son! He's also in the cooking spirit so he was happy to help me out preparing this delicious dessert.
The funny thing is that this book, called "A minha primeira cozinha traditional Portuguesa" (something like "My first traditional Portuguese cuisine book") was written by one of the most famous Portuguese female cooks alongside with her granddaughter which is really proof that traditions get carried on if we make it happen and teach our kids what we have also been thought by our mothers and grandmothers.
I do apologize but I'm writing down the measurements in the original units but feel free to convert them to the usual ones!
1 - Get all the ingredients measured. Separate the egg whites and reserve the yolks in a bowl.
2 - On the mixer, beat the egg whites until they form soft peeks. Add 50 g of sugar and continue beating the egg whites until they form stiff and dry peeks.
3 - Heat the milk on a pan with the remaining sugar and the lemon rind. When it starts to boil reduce the heat to maintain a soft boil.
4 - With a serving spoon insert portions of the fluffy egg whites in the milk, to boil them. Cook them for 1 minute and turn them over.
5 - Remove the cooked egg whites with a ladle and put them on a mesh strainer to collect the milk that runs through the egg whites. After straining them collect all the cooked egg whites on a deep serving bowl.
6 - Gather all the milk that as been strained and return it to the pan. Turn off the heat and let the milk cool for a while. Dissolve the corn starch on a bit of milk with the egg yolks and the, whenn the milk has cooled down, add it to the pan and give it a stir.
7 - Turn the heat back on and cook the custard until it has become creamy and luscious. Keep mixing the custard at all times. Taste it to figure out if you need to add more sugar.
8 - Pour the hot custard over the fluffy egg whites and let it cool down for a while. Pour some ground cinnamon over the custard - in our family the kids don't like it so much, so I decided to sprinkle cinnamon in just one half of the dessert.
The custard is so creamy and delicious that I had to try a spoon just by itself! It really reminded me of the flavors of my childhood and, once again, proved to me the power of cooking, traditions and family.
I'm writing this post after the dessert is all finished and, I must say, it didn't last that long! My husband made sure of that! I guess I'll have to cook another batch in a couple of weeks.
I'd love to have someone try the recipe and tell me all about it.
Will you try it out?!
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!
These cold days have been lurking and I've been thinking of sweet and warm desserts. I have a pretty amount of sweet teeth around the house so they're always hoping for dessert, whether it is summer or winter time! I'm not immune to sweets, of course I like them too, but I prefer the ones where I can sneak in some fruit and make it a bit more balanced in terms of sweetness.
I also love trying out new products and on this recipe I used some Bob's Red Mill products, the flax seeds and the cooking rolled oats. As, I'm sure you've noticed already, I love oats and they're part of my daily diet, in the form of oatmeal. It's a perfect meal to have for breakfast and it's perfect too for a midday snack. You can find these oats here, on Amazon (affiliate link) and be sure to browse the other products from this brand. I've been using them since I got to the Unites States, a couple of years ago and, so far, I haven't found one that I didn't like.
1 - Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2 - On a baking dish or a cat iron skillet toss the apple slices with the lemon juice and add the blueberries on top. Drizzle the date syrup on top of the apples.
3 - Prepare the toppings for the crisp - in a bowl mix all the ingredients: the oats, nuts, flax seeds, coconut sugar and the melted stick of butter. Mix everything together so that you get butter all over the mixture. This will assure great crispness on your dessert!
4 - Top the fruit base with the crisp mix and press it gently. Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes and serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a dollop of extra date syrup for extra sweetness.
I love doing this kind of dessert that has fruit in it. It's quiet comforting to know that you're getting something sweet but also healthy in your daily diet! It is also delicious with fresh peaches or just red berries and strawberries if you find some really juicy and ripe ones! It keeps very well in the fridge and I always like to warm it up for a few seconds in the microwave to eat it warm, with or without the ice cream.
I also love date syrup! I'm sure I've already mentioned this on past posts but since I've tried the Date Lady date syrup I really can't stop using it. As a coffee creamer, as a topping for desserts or oatmeal, as a natural sweetener is cakes, you can use it in so many ways that it becomes a staple in your pantry once you start using it! You can find it here, on Amazon (affiliate link):
Have you tried it, yet? Let me know how you've been using it!
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 always try to make dessert a fun treat to have. Although the kids love sweet things I try to balance that with fruit and other kind of natural snacking. I found out that portion control is a must when it comes to desserts and by using single serve cups or individual single containers it becomes extremely simple and easy.
I just got the most amazing treat from Rare Bird Preserves - passion fruit curd! It's amazingly exotic, with the passion fruit flavor and a truly luscious texture. It is smooth, creamy and sweet enough for you to eat it just as is or have it paired with something more neutral, like cream cheese. I decided to try these cheesecake cups and they came out perfect. The crunchy bottom layer is great and gives this treat that crunch that makes it real special and unique.
1 - Make the cookie base for the cheesecake cups: crumble the cookies on a food processor until they resemble sand. Add the melted butter and pulse a bit more to get all mixed up. This will get you plenty for the cheesecakes and you'll be left with some excess, which is great to use as a topping for ice cream or yogurt!
2 - Divide the cookie mix by the serving cups, pressing well on the bottom in order to create a well defined base level.
3 - Whisk the cream cheese or do it with the mixer to get it a bit more firm. Add the honey and remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Gently, add 3/4 of the passion fruit curd jar. Mix it gently with the cream cheese mix.
4 - Divide the cream cheese filling by the cups and add about a dollop of the remaining curd on each cup, mixing it with a straw or the back of a spoon to create a pattern. Add some mint leaves and enjoy!
Doesn't this image take you back to those hot summer days?! Yes, that was what I was going for! Whatever is going on outside, rain or shine, you can always trust food to take you back in time or to a different place. Food is magical and that's what makes it so special! When you love food and cooking it becomes a true pleasure just being in the kitchen creating something new everyday.
This recipe is very versatile - you can use whatever fruit and preserves you like! Make it your own and use the ingredients you have at hand to get the best results. This is a very simple and quick recipe to make and it's perfect for when you've got someone coming over and need a fast treat for dinner!
I'm always looking for simple and practical solutions for a light meal that I can whip up in 5 minutes or so. Sometimes I don't feel like having a proper lunch and just go with some tapas or with a soup and salad kind of meal. I guess I just like food and usually I tend to get bored easily if I keep eating the same thing over and over again.
Nan bread or pitas allow us to have a nutritious and satisfying meal in a hurry without having to cook which is the issue most of the times: we don't have hours to cook lunch/dinner! I recently got this California Lavash Nan to try out and decided to make it two different ways over the weekend: a savory one and a sweet one.
California Lavash uses pure ingredients - their products have no artificial preservatives, chemicals, dough conditioners or gums. The company is non-GMO Project Verified and they don't use any animal byproducts. The philosophy of the brand also runs through their packaging choice: all the materials are recyclable and there is a great concern about reducing waste as much as possible.
California Lavash is also known for its connection with the community. Every day they supply bread to local organizations who feed the hungry and each week the not-quiet-perfect products are distributed by several neighboring farmers.
As for the products, I've only tried the Nan and I really loved its texture: soft enough to eat it as is or with a perfect light crunch if toasted in the oven for about 5-10 minutes. There are other products available from the same company.
This type of bread is traditionally found in the Middle East, Central Asia and in Russia and it was the very first products sold by the company. It's perfect roll-ups, crackers, pannini-style, sandwiches or pizza. There are 4 flavors available: Traditional, Whole Grain, Spinach and Garlic & Herb.
This bread is originally from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and it's perfect for dipping, pannini-style sandwiches and pizza. There are three flavors: Traditional, 100% Whole Grain and Garlic.
This is a handcrafted flatbread generously sprinkled with caraway and sesame seeds - exotic an hearty! It's traditional in Afghanistan and if you warm it up for a few minutes it will turn out delicious. Choose form the traditional or the whole grain variety.
This Iranian flatbread is rich with nutty sesame seeds and smoky. Delicious and perfect as crackers, for dipping, in sandwiches or pizza style. It's available in the whole grain variety.
To know a bit more about the brand and the California Lavash's products go to the website here and get some inspiration looking up some of the delicious recipes in the "Our Recipes" section.