viernes, 28 de agosto de 2009

Madeleines, and how good it's to have an assistant

This tiny finger food sponges, are perfect for any moment of the day. Dust them with icing sugar, and they are a wonderful pleisure for the palate. This recipe comes from here, a paradise for us who like to bake. I want to thank my little and adorable assistant (my nephew) for his invaluable help in the making of this photo shoot. I had to pay him with madeleines!


1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup (133 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Icing sugar to dust


In a small bowl place the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk until well blended. In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar at medium-high speed until the mixture has tripled in volume. Add the vanilla extract and beat to combine. Sift a small amount of flour over the egg mixture and, using a large rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the beaten eggs to lighten it. Sift the rest of the flour over the egg mixture and fold in being sure not to overmix or the batter will deflate. Whisk a small amount of the egg mixture into the melted butter to lighten it. Then fold in the cooled melted butter in three additions. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or several hours, until slightly firm.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Generously butter two 12-mold madeleine pans. Dust the molds with flour and tap out the excess. Drop a generous tablespoonful of the batter into the center of each prepared mold, leaving the batter mounded in the center. (This will result in the classic "humped" appearance of the madeleines.) Bake the madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the centers spring back when lightly touched. Do not overbake these cookies or they will be dry.Remove the pans from the oven and rap each pan sharply against a countertop to release the madeleines. Transfer the madeleines, smooth sides down, to wire racks to cool. The madeleines are best served the same day but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 to 3 days or frozen, well wrapped, for up to 1 month. Dust with icing sugar.

Makes about 24 - 3 inch (8 cm) madeleines. You can freeze them.


Divide the dough in two, add the zest of a lemon and an orange to each one of them for a citrus and delicious flavour.

lunes, 24 de agosto de 2009

Pastel de Choclo, a Southamerican delight

This recipe is dedicated to my chilean friends, to their beautiful country and their gastronomy. This dish is the national pride, no wonder...It´s succulent, full of flavours, delicious, and on top of that, the well known, omnipresent, and beloved corn, with so many varieties in all Central and Southamerica, specially in Mexico (I particularly loved the black corn) and the main ingredient throughout the culinary history of this wonderful continent. Here´s to them, to the other side of the ocean people, Viva Chile!


4 pieces corn on the cob or one bag of frozen sweetcorn

2 cups of milk

500g mince beef

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 onion finely chopped

1 small bunch basil

2 hard boiled eggs sliced

handful of olives

handful of sultanas

salt and peper

3 or 4 sprigs of saffron or 1 teaspoon of turmeric


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Grate the corn kernels and blend with the milk and the basil, salt and peper and pour this mixture on to a pan, heat until it thickens. Cook for 5 minutes. Reserve.Fry the onion in oil, until it changes colour, add the mince beef, and brown, until is cooked, season with salt and pepper, add the cumin and saffron or turmeric. Add the olives and sultanas, and arrange this mixture over an earthenware dish in one thick layer, top with the egg slices, cover everything with the corn mixture,spread the surface with sugar and cook in the oven for 20 minutes, or until its golden brown.

This dish is best served with a chilean salad, which is a mix of tomato slices, very thin slices of onion, chopped coriander lemon juice and olive oil.

viernes, 21 de agosto de 2009

Danish pastries for everybody

I love puff pastry, it has endless possibilities. Either sweet or savoury, stuffed, glazed...well, ask the danish, they are THE masters. These mini danish pastries are so cute you won't be able to resist, and they are two bite size. Some of them are stuffed with a delicious almond paste, very easy to make, and I am going to use it many times for a lot of sweets. Other are filled with a cinnamon butter, or vanilla buttercream. I love making them this size, they look more cute, in my opinion. They are very easy to make, and if you wonder how to fold them and fill them more graphically, all the answers are here, it's a website where you will learn wonderful things about the pastry, so, there you go, there's no excuse now.

Ingredients for all the pastries:

Two packets of ready made puff pastry

Apricot jam for brushing once they're baked

Cinnamon wheels

For the cinnamon butter:
100 g softened butter

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Mix and reserve.

1 cup icing sugar

splash of water

Roll a rectangle with the puff pastry, put down a thin layer of the cinnamon butter and roll the top edge, cut thin slices of this sausage and bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 12 minutes.Once dried glaze with the tip of a spoon.

Bear paws


Sliced almonds

For the almond paste:

1 cup ground almond

1/2 cup icing sugar

1 egg white

splash of almond extract (I used a splash of amaretto)

Mix everything and reserve.

Make a square with the puff pastry, make a small roll of the almond paste and place it close to the edge.Roll and close, seal with water. cut small cuts and shape. Place one laminated almond in each "toe"and scatter more almonds over the top. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool in racks and brush with the warm jam.

Jam Pinwheels

Shape the pinwheels according to Joe, place a teaspoon of jam in the center and bake for 12 minutes. Brush with the jam.

Vanilla Wheels

A handful of crushed almonds.

For the buttercream

1 cup softened butter

splash of vanilla extract

1/2 cup icing sugar

Mix the above ingredients and spread a thin layer on a rectangle of puff pastry, carefully fold it down and cut into thin strips, roll them and shape like a small wheel. Sprinkle some crushed almonds and bakefor 12 minutes. Cool in racks and brush with jam.

domingo, 16 de agosto de 2009

Asparagus and red peppers flan

I bought Michel Roux's new book, Pastry, this is one of the recipes in it. I enjoyed making the pastry,pate brise, in this case, is easy, and rewarding.It's a perfect vegetarian maind dish. The peppers in the recipe must be roasted and then cooked in what it's called a "confit", bt if you feel lazy, I guess you can avoid this by opening a jar of roasted peppers. And if you are feeling even more lazy, you can just buy a packet of ready made shortcrust pastry...

For the Pate brise (shortcrust pastry)

250g plain flour
150g softened butter
1tsp salt
pinch of caster sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp cold milk

Mix all the ingredients except the milk, when everything is combined, add the milk and mix, wrap in cling film, and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour.

Semi-confit peppersFirst, you have to roast the peppers, to do so, jut pop them in the oven, at 180 degees for half hour, or until they feelsoft, put them in a pastic bag, close tightly and leave to rest for 1/2 hour. Peel them off, and get rid of the seeds, and pat them dry with kitchen paper, now place them in a medium saucepan, cover them with olive oil, add 2 thyme sprigs, 1 bay leaf, 1 rosemary sprig, one garlic clove, and a handful of crushed peppercorns. Cook gently for 30 minutes.

Ingredients for the flan:

340g pate brise
2 packets asparagus
salt and pepper
5 semi-confit peppers
1 egg
2 egg yolks
200ml double cream
pinch of nutmeg
8 dill sprigs for decoration

Roll out the pastry and cover an oblong tart tin, or you can use a round one as well, chill for 20 minutes. Preheat ovento 190 degrees. Prick the base of the pastry, cover with parchment paper and fill with baking beans, or any beans, or rice,this will stop the pastry from rising and bake for 20 minutes, remove the beans and bake for a further 10 minutes. Set aside hile you prepare the filling.

Cook the asparagus in boiling salted water, until they are cooked, about 4 to 5 minutes.Drain and dry. Trim the asparagus to the width of the tin. Dice the peppers, pat them dry again, and scater them in an even layer in the pastry case.

Mix the whole egg, yolks, and cream together and season with salt, pepper and the nutmeg. Pour three quarters of the mixtureover the peppers, lay the asparagus over the peppers, andcarefully spoon the remaining egg mixture over the asparagus. Bakefor 30 minutes. Leave to rest for 2o minutes before unmoulding. Garnish with the dill and serve warm.

viernes, 14 de agosto de 2009

Fruity Fruit Cake

This is a wonderful recipe, once baked you have to get this cake "drunk" by piercing all over the cake with a cocktail stick and pouring over some whisky or brandy, do this every four days, keep it wrapped in tin foil and in a metal or airtight container and your cake will keep drunk, moist and delicious for up to two months. The good thing about this recipe is that you can eat it warm straight from the oven, and you don't have to be so precise with the quantities, you can put more or less fruit, add pineapple, etc, as long as the skewer comes away clean after its baked, you will end up with a delicious fruit and easy to make fruit cake that is not heavy. And you can use it as a Christmas cake. For this and once is completely drunk you will have to cover it in marzipan and icing.

You will need a 18cm square or 20cm round cake tin.

120g butter
340g dried fruit (whatever you fancy)
170 brown sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
225ml water
half teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
120 g plain flour
120g raising flour
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line and grease the cake tin. Put the butter, sugar, fruit, water, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and mixed spice in a saucepan over a moderate heat. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes. Transfer to a bog bowl and let it cool down. Add the eggs, flour and salt, mix and pour into the prepared tin. Bake for and hour and a quarter, if you see the top is browning, while baking it, cover it wth foil. THe cake is ready when a skewer comes out clean, leave to cool on a wire rack.

I assure you than after some days, this cake will taste even etter, and it will be moist, well-matured, succulent and delicious.

miércoles, 12 de agosto de 2009

Guacamole, a splash of colours

I love guacamole. It's so simple and yet so full of nutrients and colours. Thanks to the lovely avocado, this dish is full of vitamins and minerals, it's antioxidant, good for the diabetics, and it helps reduce cholesterol. The combination of flavours will please your taste buds and leave you asking for more. You can make it as hot as you want, it depends on whether you want chilli in it or not.


1 ripe avocado, reserve the pit

1 ripe tomato

1/2 onion

1 chilli

1/2 bunch fresh coriander

the juice of 1/2 lime


olive oil

mexican tortillas to serve


Chop all the ingredients very finely, add the salt, lime juice and olive oil and mix. Place the avocado pit in the centre of the guacamole and leave until you are ready to serve, this helps prevent the avocado from getting black.

Serve with triangles of fried mexican tortillas, or totopos (please don't use Doritos) To do this, simply cut your tortillas in triangles and deep fry in oil, dry on kitchen paper. You can serve this as a light lunch, or as delicious starter. You won't be dissapointed. Viva Mexico!

domingo, 9 de agosto de 2009

Rainy day, biscuits time!

I like the rain...when I'm indoors, that is, and I fancy baking biscuits whenever it rains, and living in London you could say that I could be baking and baking and baking...It doesn't rain that much lately...just as well. The recipe for these lovely biscuits are from The Australian Women's Weekly cookbooks, I love those books, and I have loads of them (books, not biscuits)

Frangipane jam drops

125g softened butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup ground almonds
1 egg
2/3 cup plain flour (100g)
Jam (any flavour)

Method:Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line a baking tray. Beat butter, vanilla, sugar and almond with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, add egg, mix, add sifted flour. Drop level teaspoon of mixture on trays 5cm apart. Use handle of wooden spoon to make small holes in top of each biscuit. Fill each hole with jam, very carefully. Bake for 15 minutes and cool.

Viennese orange kisses

220g softened butter
2 tablespoons grated orange rind
1/2 icing sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup self raising flour

Orange cream
60g butter
1 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice

Beat butter, rind and sifted icing sugar in bowl with an electric mixer, stir in sifted flours. Mix. Spoon mixture into pipping bag and pipe 3cm stars onto a greasedoven tray, and bake in the oven at 180degrees for 12 minutes. Place in cooling racks. Sandwich the kisses with the orange cream, and dust with extra icing sugar.

Maple syrup butter biscuits

125g softened butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup maple syrup or golden syrup
110g plain flour
35g cornflour

Preheat oven to 180degrees. Grease and line a baking tray. In a bowl, mix the butter, vanilla and syrup, until light and fluffy, add the sifted flours. Spoon this mixture into a pipping bag and pipe stars 3cms apart onto tray. Bake for 15 minutes and cool in racks.

Chocolate viennese

For the chocolate ones, I just followed the viennesse orange kisses recipe without the orange, once baked, and cool, dunk them in melted chocolate and leave to set in the fridge.

Once they're done, you can keep them in an airtight glass or tin container for some days. Here's a useful tip: put them in a tray and back in the oven at 180 degrees just for 3 or 4 minutes, and they will taste like freshly made (don't do this with the chocolate ones, of course)

miércoles, 5 de agosto de 2009

Pavlova- The magnificent

Back in the 1920's the great russian dancer Anna Pavlova was touring Australia and New Zealand. This dessert was created to honour her stay there, and little did she know that she was going to be remembered as the inspiration for this lovely dessert as well as for her career.

4 egg whites
16 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 teaspoon cornflour
few drops of vanilla
whipping cream
extra sugar for the cream
fresh fruit (you can use raspberries, kiwi, strawberry, or passion fruit)


Wipe around the inside of your bowl. Whisk the eg whites with an electric mixer for 2 minutes until you get smooth peaks. Add sugar 4 tablespoon per egg whites add vinegar and cornflour this keeps the meringue chewie and mellow, add a few drops of vanilla and mix very careful. pile onto a tin, in a thick round shape, smooth the sides and bake in the oven at 150 degrees for an hour and a half, invert the pavlova onto the serving dish, so the bottom is the top, whip some cream with sugar and vanilla, pile it on top, and decorate with fruit.

If you use passion fruit it's really delicious, but you can use any other fruit you fancy. I have tried it in Australia just with strawberries, and it was very nice as well.

domingo, 2 de agosto de 2009

The catalan platter

I've just come back from Barcelona, and I loved this little thing that my parents had hanging in their kitchen. It's a string of red, juicy tomatoes, special for the bread, for squeezing them on the bread that is! The label said that these tomatoes are planted by the sea and water with sea water. I found this a lovely way to keep our culinary traditions.

So here is the proper way for the "Pa amb tomaquet" or Bread and tomato. the catalan way:

Crusty bread
Good quality ipe tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
One garlic clove (optional)

You first provide yourself with a good quality white crusty bread, then get a thick slice and toast it (in the oven is better) after that and depending on your taste you can grab a clove of garlic and rub it hard onto the slice. Now, time for the tomato, grad a ripe, juicy one, and cut it in half, then squeeze it and rub on top of the bread. If the tomato is a good one you will only have the skin at the end of the process. After this, you just need the final touch....but the most important, the Liquid Gold. Yes. you guessed it, olive oil. Don't be tight fisted and invest in a very good quality olive oil, extra virgin will do, I only use Spanish one (of course) but any will do, the greek one is really good as well as the italian. If you have guests this is a funny way of interacting with the food. Then you just have to arrange a nice platter with whatever you have in the fridge, cured meats, olives, chesses, etc...

This slice of bread is heavenly as it is, on its own, but if you cover it with some cheese, or serrano ham, or chorizo your palate will be pleased...

You won't be dissapointed and your guests will love this explosion of colour and taste at your table. Enjoy the squeezing!