sábado, 24 de diciembre de 2011

The killer Paella

Time flies! You don't realize and suddenly its another month and another one...
This city is already all dressed up for the holidays. Xmas has come this year very soon, I started seen Christmas cards in the shops in late September, and the decorations in October. I love this city, and its ability of opening its arms to everyone, sometimes it seems that it is elastic. It holds everybody who comes here and the city population grows and grows. And counting! London is an excellent city, a megacity. It's innovating, extremely tolerant, traditional and modern at the same time. Strolling along its streets you can tell that History is another Londoner who breaths and lives. We are able to coexist with the past and at the same time, witness the birth and growth of what will be the tallest building in Europe. In my opinion, diversity is one of the best qualities of this exciting city. not only because of its wide array of nationalities but because of its gastronomy. I love that you can visit the world enjoying international food in London. Delicatessen and all kinds of shops, there are few things you can't find here in London. And as everybody, I have have my favorite places, which I love to show everyone who comes to London. and this is exactly what I've been up to lately. Christmas atmosphere everywhere you go, cold weather one day, mild one the next, a walk along the riverbank is something not to be missed and the many ice rinks cheer everybody up. Many churches host Carols concerts, like the one I attended at
Temple Church, the gorgeous and so difficult to find medieval building where you can see the graves and effigies of some templars. A must see.

Borough Market is another place not to be missed, and these days it's busy and very lively. It's a wonderful market which unfortunately has become a tourist attraction, and a massive food court, not everybody buys food there, most of the visitors are there just to look and take photos, and grab a bite, which can be a bit annoying for the people like me, who loves going there and buy my ingredients. I try to go early on a Saturday, or very late. There is one stall where they serve what I call "The killer paella", a mix of rice (if it's like the one in Greenwich the rice and veg are frozen) and they keep on stirring and stirring (you DON'T stir paella one the rice is cooking) and the only thing I can do is write about it here. This "paella" is surrounded with what it seems to be cooked prawns. another no-no, but the people who buys this as a quick lunch, the don't seem to care. It may be nice, I don't know, and I will never know because I will never have the courage to try it.

I've seen more "culinary offenses" like this one, regarding to what is one of my favorite dishes. E.g, skinless and boneless chicken is added to the paella, and balsamic vinegar and white wine! (Gordon Ramsay, yes, the man himself) and of course lots of chorizo..Someone asked for ketchup when I cooked Paella at work. And I saw John Torode, one of Masterchef judges, his vertion of Paella, he added precooked rice to the pan. Rick Stein, in and episode of his newest television series about Spanish cuisine he of course, gave his personal touch, emptying a can of peppers. Another incredible new product I saw in the well known Marks&Spencer food hall, Paella soup....I had to look twice. And rude and ill-mannered Jeremy CLarkson made a joke of the dish emptying the leftovers from the tin in the paella pan. Finally, I was told about a couple who at the Spanish shop in Borough Market, a couple asked about what was the cheese you use in the paella!

One has to see and hear many, many culinary sins, and is even more outrageous when is something close to your heart, like Paella. I think, that the correct thing after all this is to keep on honoring our Gastronomy and cooking as always, and hoping that one day, someone stops putting balsamic vinegar and cheese to the pan ...
Today's entry, and coinciding with the holidays, is a delicious and elegant starter, very easy to make and very impressive. Perfect for serving it before a meal with a toast. The recipe is an adaptation from mighty Martha Stewart's. I'd like to take this opportunity to wish each and everyone a very Merry Christmas and let's hope that next year is not as bad as many predict.

Crown of Camembert


One Camembert cheese
A ripe pear, peeled and diced
A handful of chopped walnuts
fresh thyme
Two cloves of garlic
Two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
One tablespoon of honey
Olive oil
One tablespoon of butter
Toast or bread sticks


Cut the cheese in half crosswise and set aside. Melt the butter in a pan and slightly fry the pear for about three minutes, add the thyme and remove from heat. Put some cheese on the serving plate, cover the surface with half of the pear mixture.

In a small saucepan mix the honey and balsamic vinegar and heat until it forms a syrup. Cool for five minutes. Cover the cheese with half the syrup and cover with another layer of cheese, put more syrup on top and cover with the remaining pear mixture. Decorate with chopped nuts and more fresh thyme.

Serve with toast, toast or bread sticks.

miércoles, 28 de septiembre de 2011

Ferran Adriá and Me

Trying to describe another person´s philosophy can be a bit tricky, but if the person is willing to share with you his/her feelings, experiences and thoughts, then you are more than happy, and if this person is one of the Best Cooks in the World, then you are in for a treat. I had the honour to be part of the audience of what was called "An evening with Ferran Adriá, which took place at Vinopolis last Monday, where I spent a wonderful time looking at the Master, listening to his thoughts, his ideas and inspirational projects. I was seating there, waiting for him to show up on the stage, and I was feeling like a little girl who is about to meet Father Christmas. And he showed up, and the whole room was quiet. Everybody knew how important was to be there, to be given a lesson from a genius. A New Nouvelle Cuisine lesson. He stood there on the stage, humble as always, and this makes you admire him even more. He started teaching us gastronomy concepts, ideas and showed us some videos. The translator wasn't always fast enough and couldn't keep up, the Man was excited and nothing was going to stop him. He talked about cuisine evolution, about Alicia, the foundation you could tell how proud he is, and about evolution of El Bulli, the restaurant he is redeveloping into a something very big. It's now closed, but everybody can have a glimpse of what was it, at Tickets, his new place in Barcelona. I've been lucky enough to go there twice and there is so much to say, but that is another story and another post...

He talked about EL Bulli not as something that was, but as something that will be. He showed us all the projects around it, all the Experiences pavilions (olive, seaweed, magma, nest), the tunnel of knowledge, a brainstorming room and cinema, and energy and marine scenery (there will be an El Bulli spiral, which will be inspired in the Maya Cenotes, I love this). All these will be up in Cala Montjoi, a sustainable and Zero emissions area. When you are listening to all these plans, you have to feel infected by his excitement and vitality, and I had to congratulate myself for being in this Foodies world, because it's the one I've chosen and it's the one I like. Same as him...

Ferran Adriá came to London to present his new book, The family Meal, 280 pages of knowledge and everyday recipes. It has a very interesting introduction, where he leads you to his pantry and opens his chef´s heart to you. The way of presenting the ingredients is also noticeable, you can cook for either 2, 6, 20 or 75 people, which is the number os people they cookf for the staff at El Bulli. The recipes are simple and delicious, from a Caesar salad, to a Thai beef curry, not forgetting the desserts, like the light and fluffy Tarta de Santiago, chocolate cakes or caramel pudding. Buying the book was optional, but how could I say no if at the end of the conference you had the chance to chat a bit with him and have the book signed. The conference was two and a half hours long, but time flew. The room was heated up with applause, lots of them. But the most energetic? Mine!

Some of Ferran Adriá´s quotes:

"You eat well if you think well."

"You need a lot of humility to talk about food."

"Salad is a concept."

"You can consider yourself a great cook when you create, elaborate, make concepts and uses technic."

"You need to cook with the minimum risk."

"A whole grapefruit is more exciting than a thousand kilos of potatoes."

And my favorite:

"You feed your soul by eating well.

To sum up, at El Bulli Foundation, him and his colleagues will be doing the same thing they have been doing in the past years:

To create.

And as promised, this post is dedicated to you, Ferran, and architect of flavours, a creator of illusions, a Master...

This is a velvety chocolate cake, with a final extraordinary splash of extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkled with salt flakes, a wonderful combination. This recipe comes from The Family Meal, Ferran Adriá´s new book. To be honest, I have put two recipes together, his chocolate cake, and his bread and chocolate, so the cake has the final touch of the latter. The combination is really a pleasant surprise, and it will shock you. Please be adventurous and try it with the olive oil and the salt, at least just a corner, then let me know....

Chocolate cake with olive oil and salt

For six people


175g dark chocolate 60% solids

90g softened butter

4 egg whites

2 tablespoons sugar

15g egg yolks (1 egg and 1/2)

A splash of extra virgin olive oil

Fleur de sal or Maldon


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Grease and flour a 22cm round cake tin or a 24cm square tin. You can also bake them in muffin whole tins.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or on top of saucepan with boiling water. Dice the butter and mix into the chocolate, mix with a wooden spoon.

Mix the egg whites and the sugar and whip it up with an electric mixer until you get a soft meringue.

In another bowl, beat the yolks and add to the meringue mix. Then, add this mix to the chocolate and mix again very carefully. If you are using the Muffin tins, fill a pipping bag with the mixture and pipe it into the wholes, otherwise pour the mixture into the cake tin.

For a muffin tin, bake for 12 minutes. And for a cake tin, bake for 20-25 minutes.

Rest in the tins for five minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Serve with the olive oil and the salt aside. The gold dust is optional.

martes, 9 de agosto de 2011

Colourful Bruschette in between riots

This is quite a summer. After spending some weeks in my beloved Barcelona, going to the beach, of course, and returning tanned and happy (because I cannot go to the beach here, that's for sure) I find myself ready to take what the rest of the summer gives. It's not really really bad, weather wise, although there was only four or five days when I didn't need a jacket. Many things had happened since my last post. Not only in my life, but in the world in general. Lots of new, most of them bad, very bad news. We witness a pacific country mourning the loss of innocent people, killed by a demon. A country where normally nothing happens (nothing bad, that is) but it attracted all the attention because everything happened in one day. How many hells must a man go through to become such a beast? I think that nobody is safe from criminals like that one, there are so many of those. And we don't know if destiny is setting up a meeting with one, around the corner, so the best, in my opinion, is get the most of our lived, and enjoy every day, every hour, every minute.

Another bad news, the death of Amy Winehouse. Something that got many of us sad, but not surprised. In a way, it was the news we knew was going to happen sooner or later. It's a shame to lose such a talented woman. Her career and powerful voice could have taken her so far in music history. She and Francis must be performing a wonderful duet, wherever they are now...

And apart from these, bad news keep on coming. Riots in London (pretty scary, it looks like we are at war), unhappy youngsters in Spain, demonstrating everywhere, world poverty and hunger always in the headlines, the credit crunch that came to stay, and in the middle of all of these, us, mere mortals trying to keep on with our lives, wondering if there will ever be a little bit of quiet and safer times. Must we learn to live with these bad news? Is this the world our children are getting from us? Since I don't have the answers to these questions, I better do what I enjoy doing, cooking that is! Let's get the most of our lives, and eat and try new recipes. Some are good, some are better. So far, and since we are still in summer, though the temperature is currently 17 degrees, (which is not that bad) my post today is a colorful starter, fresh and full of flavour. It's a vegetarian one as well, and I am glad to say that THIS one I DID share it with my other half (the Vegetarian).

Bruschetta: A slice of bread, usually toasted on the grill, rubbed with garlic and topped with different toppings, i.e. parma ham, pecorino, pesto and olives, avocado and tomato, mushroom ragu, grilled vegetables, etc. One of the fillings came out from the wonderful site "The Kitchn", and the other one is a tomato and Parmesan one. The bread is gorgeous when you grilled or broil it. It retains much more flavour. Then the topping and that's it, a wonderful starter!

Two Bruschette

Ingredients for the Broad beans one:

1 pound fresh broad beans, shelled

2-3 medium radishes, julienned (about 1/2 cup)

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds or dill


Freshly ground black pepper

8 (1/2-inch-thick, 3-to-4-inch-long) focaccia slices

1/4 cup olive oil

1 garlic clove, peeled

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook broad beans for 2 minutes. Drain and transfer beans to a large bowl of ice water. Let cool and then drain. Slip the outer skin off each bean and discard the skin. Place the beans in a large bowl and coarsely mash with a fork leaving some beans whole or in chunks.

Combine the beans, radishes, lemon zest, lemon juice, mint leaves, and fennel fronds . Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Brush olive oil over both sides of the focaccia slices and grill or broil. Rub toasts with garlic and then spoon the broad bean mixture on top. Sprinkle a little extra salt on top and serve.

Tomato and Parmesan Bruschetta


1 focaccia cut into slices

1 garlic clove

8 or 9 cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup Parmesan shavings

Fresh basil

Olive oil

Salt and pepper


Cut the tomatoes very thinly, season. Rub the bread with the garlic and brush both sides with the olive oil. Grill or broil and top with the tomato and the Parmesan, decorate with basil. Serve at once.

domingo, 26 de junio de 2011

Cupcakes for a bachata man

So, I went to this concert...

Ever since I heard his music, I was more than hooked. His name is
Juan Luis Guerra and he is a remarkable singer. His music is more than just music, it's a way of life. He comes from Dominican Republic, and the joy of life is happily represented in his lyrics. He is also a philosopher, and thinker...And listening to his music I just can't help but wonder why life is not always like his songs. Anyway, when I read about his concert in London, I quickly got my tickets. It was magical, getting goosebumps with every song, singing along with him, burning calories as well, because there is no way you can remain seated. The audience was so pleased, and so was I...

These cupcakes are dedicated to this man, Juan Luis Guerra, for making my life happier, and for introducing me to the world of Bachatas, Merengues and all kinds of Caribbean music. If you want to know what am I talking about, check this video.
Two kinds of cupcakes. Ones with raspberry buttercream, decorated with mini madeleines; the others, decorated with mandarin dust, very easy to make and deliciously dangerous. If you don't have a mini madeleine mould, you can bake mini biscuits and put them the same way as the madeleines.

Raspberry cupcakes with a madeleine little friend

175g self raising flour
100g sugar
115g softened butter
pinch of salt
3 eggs
50g ground almonds
Raspberry buttercream
175g softened butter
150g icing sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
150g fresh raspberries or raspberry jam


Preheat the oven to 190. Line a muffin tin with paper cases and brush a mini madeleine mould with a little melted butter.

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and stir in the sugar

Melt the butter and leave to cool. Lightly beat the eggs and mix them into the sugar and flour, then add the cooled butter and ground almonds. Mix well, cover and chill in the fridge for an hour. Fill the paper cases three quarters full. Bake for 20 minutes. Leave to cool then turn into a cooling rack.

Half fill the mini madeleines mould and bake for 5 or 6 minutes until golden. Cool and reserve.
For the buttercream

If using fresh raspberries, crush them with a fork. Beat the butter with the icing sugar until light and fluffy, stir in the lemon juice and the crushed raspberries or the jam.
When the cakes are cool, fill a large piping bag fitted with a star nozzle with the raspberry buttercream. Pipe a whirl over the centre of each cake and press a madeleine to one side of it.

For the mandarin cupcakes

Mandarin dust is very versatile and delicious, you cantop ice creams with it, or decorate lots of cakes and desserts.


4 or 5 mandarins
2 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 200. Line an oven tray with parchment paper. Cut the mandarins into very thin slices, with a mandolin or a very sharp knife. Place them in the tray and bake in the oven for three hours, don't let them get too brown. When cool, place them in a food processor or coffee grinder. Keep in a glass jar.

For the mandarin cupcakes

175g softened butter
175 sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon mandarin zest
4 eggs
175 plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

For the cream
2 cups quark of philladelphia
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
175g icing sugar
Mandarin dust

Preheat the oven to 180. Place the paper cases into their holes.
In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla and the zest, the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each one. Sift the flour and baking powder and add to the mix. Fill the paper cases. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and place them in the cooling rack.
To decorate, mix all the ingredients of the cream, except the mandarin dust and place into a piping bag fitted with the plain nozzle and pipe a whirl over the whole of the cake. Dust with the mandarin powder.

domingo, 5 de junio de 2011

Time to behave

Because I like summer, and the sun, and because it's good to detox every once in a while with a light starter, it's time to behave. When it comes to vegetarianism, I'm all ears. I'm interested in every aspect of the "no missing the meat subject". Portobello mushrooms are one of those "gusys" which you rely on to carry one with your vegetarianism. In my case, I just couldn't believe my eyes when I moved to London from Spain and saw them for the first time in my life. The size was not only a joke, it was a reality! and when I taste them, well, mushrooms but huge, and you can really substitute meat with them, honest! form that moment on, they have become part of my life, and my fridge too. You can literally use them in a steak sandwich, they are the steak. I am not a vegetarian, but I live with one, and sometimes is pretty hard to adapt a menu for him, but Portobello mushrooms really help.

So, let's get ready for summer and let's take advantage of this colorful starter, that will impress your guests, if you have them, otherwise you can enjoy a lovely meal in the comfort of your home. This is a very light starter, full of flavour and colour. You can use ready cooked beetroot, but I strongly recommend to use fresh ones, at least if you try this for the fist time (use some gloves when you peel them if you don´t want to end up with red hands) The difference is huge. The dressing is a fresh and aromatic one, and you can also use it in any salad.


Serves 6

5 medium beetroot
4 large tomatoes
2 medium aubergines
1 tablespoon salt
6 portobello mushrooms
60 ml olive oil
2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
300g feta cheese diced
1/2 cup basil leaves


Preheat oven to hot.

Wrap beetroot individually in foil, place in baking dish and bake in hot oven for 50 minutes or until is cooked, cool 5 minutes and peel while still warm, cut into 1 cm slices.

Place tomato halves in an oven tray, drizzle with olive oil and bake in hot oven for about 40 minutes or until browned.

Cut aubergine into 1 cm slices, place in colander, sprinkle with salt and stand for 30 minutes. rinse with water and drain on kitchen paper.

Cook aubergine and mushrooms in batches on a hot grill or barbecue until brown on both sides.

Blend tomato with the oil, vinegar and salt until pureed. Push the tomato vinaigrette through a sieve, discard pulp.

To serve, divide the vinaigrette among serving plates, place a mushroom, top with an aubergine slice, then a beetroot slice, the feta and decorate with the basil.

lunes, 2 de mayo de 2011

Pears and a Royal wedding

Yes, I went to Hyde Park, and yes I witnessed live the Royal wedding. I wanted to see the atmosphere for myself, since this was such an important event in the history of this country. People responded massively. Thousands gathered in the streets, I have never seen so many Union Jacks in my life. The idea was to go to the Mall and see THEM passing by, but apparently everybody had the same idea, and we had to to go Hyde Park if we didn't want to miss a thing, and so we did. Giant screens let us follow every step of the day, the hats, the protocol, the punctuality, everything was as planned. Then everybody sang "God save the queen" and I felt glad that I was among so many people sharing that moment, it was nice...After that, a general toast for the newly weds, the kids playing around, people lying on the grass eating and drinking, and everybody had a smile on their faces.

And speaking f eating, can someone fall in love with a fruit? I think I can say that it is possible. Sounds a bit weird but to be honest, since I have (re) discover the pears, my opinion about them has changed dramatically. Sweet and delicate and so versatile. You can use them for all kinds of dishes, sweet and savoury. Wonderful in salads, even more in desserts. Pears Belle Helene, wine poached pears, pear tatin, pear compote, pear tart, pear cake...A complete delicacy. And when I say (re) discover is because before that, only ate pears the traditional way, on its own, then I started adding it in my salads and experimenting here and there and I fell in love...
In this occasion, here's a wonderful pear cake with vanilla and almonds, sweetened with pieces of dark chocolate, an ideal combination of flavours for the most demanding palates. Perfect for a wedding reception...

"The more I know you the more I love you" pear cake

7 pears
2 1/2 cups water
1 strip lemon rind
385 g sugar
1 vanilla bean
125 g softened butter
3 eggs
160g sour cream
100g plain flour
100g self raising flour
40 g blanched almonds, toasted, chopped coarsely
40g dark chocolate chopped coarsely
60g ground almonds


Peel pears, leaving stems intact. Combine the water, rind and one cup of the sugar in medium saucepan. Split vanilla bean in half length ways, scrape seeds into saucepan then place pears in saucepan. Stir over heat without boiling, until sugar dissolves. Add pears, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer, covered, about 30 minutes or until pears are just tender. Transfer pears to medium bowl, bring syrup to a boil, uncovered, until syrup reduces to a half. Cool completely.

Preheat oven to moderately slow. Grease a 23cm round tin.

Beat butter and remaining sugar in medium bowl, with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined between additions. Add sour cream, beat until just combined. Mixture may curdle and this stage but it will come together later. Stir in 2 tablespoon of the syrup, then flours, nuts, chocolate and ground almonds.
Spread cake mixture into prepared tin. place pears upright around edge of tin, gently pushing to the bottom. Bake uncovered in moderately slow oven, about 1 hour 35 minutes. Stan 10 minutes, remove from tin.
Serve cake warm, brushed with remaining syrup.

miércoles, 6 de abril de 2011

For duck´s sake!

Of all the oriental cuisines, Japanese food is my favorite. I love oriental food, I just keep telling myself how healthy and good for me is, and the truth is that some dishes are more fattening that one of "those" burgers. Chinese take away ranks second here in the UK, Indian food being the first.

But definitely, if there's something you can't blame to Chinese is their ability to get involved in the market. They try everything! For instance, in Barcelona, some years ago, when you wanted to get Japanese food you used to go to a Japanese restaurant, you wanted Chinese, Chinese restaurant. Now, there's a new thing going on..the Wok restaurant. It sounds good, it can look OK, but wait. You get inside and you are surrounded by Chinese staff, and then you start getting confused. Wait a minute, there's a sign outside that said: "Japanese restaurant". From the little Japanese I know I can tell these people are shouting in mandarin! The drawings on the walls depict mount Fuji and Japanese motifs. You sit on the table and you get grilled seafood and the belt keeps on bringing sushi and oriental salads and appetizers, even fresh oysters and on top of all that, a Chinese bread. And all of these for just 10 euros. As I already said, I love Japanese food, but these places make me feel like I am in the wrong place. Yes I leave with a full stomach but my gastro-brain says something is not right. But to be honest, I know that if these places exist is because people are happy to eat there. It's like that question without an answer: Why do the tourist shops in Las Ramblas (Barcelona) sell Mexican hats?
So, with this post I want to celebrate the incredible success (???) of the Wok restaurants. I give you a Chinese but a modern post, an oriental recipe but with a European touch, an Asian dish but from an Australian book...Enough! I'm getting more confused!

Peking duck crepes are one of the most popular in the Chinese restaurants, but today, this is a special recipe where the crepes are made with egg. The post has three steps, the crepes, the filling and the rolling. They are very pretty, not very rich and much more easier that it looks to make. If you cannot bother roasting the duck, you can buy a ready made one.


For the crepes:
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg lightly beaten
2 cups milk
200 g chives

Combine flour and salt in medium bowl; gradually whisk in combined egg and milk until mixture is smooth. Strain mixture into large jug.Finely chop enough chives to make 1/4 cup chopped chives. Reserve remaining chives.Stir chopped chives into batter. Cover and refrigerate one hour.

Remove from the fridge and heat a non stick frying pan with a little bit of oil. Pour 1/4 of he mixture into heated oil, and cook crepe until browned on both sides. Repeat with remaining bater. Using an 8 cm cutter, cut three rounds from each crepe. Cover with cling film and reserve.

For the duck:
1 duck
5 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons Chinese five spice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
20g grated fresh ginger


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Place the duck in an oven tray and mix the rest of the ingredients. Spread all the mixture in the cavity and outside the duck. Bake for two hours basting the bird with the fat from the tray every 15 minutes, this will make the skin crispy.

The filling of the crepes:

1 cucumber thinly sliced
5 spring onions thinly sliced
Hoi sin sauce
Plum sauce

Spread each small crepe with an equal amount of combined sauces. Top with duck, cucumber and spring onion. Remove bones from the duck and slice meat and skin very thinly.Place remaining chives into a heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water. Stand until chives are wilted and drain. Fold in edge of crepes, roll to enclose filling. Tie a chive around each crepe to secure, trim ends. Serve with the sauce on the side.

domingo, 27 de febrero de 2011

My cassata is your cassata

Time flies. And it seems that from post to post many things happens, and a lot of time passes by, but the time is always the same, we are the ones who change. And in between, from post to post, there have been more trips to BCN (I'm back in some days), another visit to gorgeous Lisbon (I will have a whole post on this matter later on) and more time to spend with family and friends, which is always welcome.

And to carrying on with the blog, it's time now to publish a sweet post, and this is, a very flavloursome one. A sicilian cassata cake.

It's a sponge cake with a wonderful filling, a ricotta cream, softened with a little liquor and mixed with candied fruit and dark chocolate pieces. And because it's an italian dessert, I guess you can be sure it will be very tasty. The filling is quite similar to the delicious "cannoli". The term "Cassata" is refered also to another type of sweets and ice cream, but in this case I'll stick to the sponge version.


For the sponge

240gms plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
180gms softened butter
3extra spoonfulls melted butter
180gms sugar
4 or 5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
splash of vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. In a big bowl or food processor mix the butter with the sugar until it becomes a pale mixture, add the eggs, one at a time, the lemon juice and the vanilla. Sieve the flour and baking powder and add to the egg mixture. Pour the mixture in a greased cake tin (24cms). Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour or until a skewer comes away clean.

350 g of fresh ricotta
100 g icing sugar
vanilla powdered flavour (not essence)
50 g of dark chocolate chips
80 g of candied citrus peel
200 g of sponge cake
sweet liqueur, I used Grand Marnier, my favorite
For the icing:
150g icing sugar
2 or 3 tablespoons water

To prepare the filling: mix ricotta with icing sugar until it turns into a smooth cream. Add a drop of any white sweet liqueur (optional). Add chocolate chips and candied citrus peel. When the sponge is cold cut it in half and fill it with the ricotta mix, and top with the other layer of sponge cake to seal.

Ice the cake by mixing the ingredients and decorate with thin slices of the candied fruit. Refrigerate for at least an hour.