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.