What a hectic week! Between Xmas, the puppies and catching up with work, it´s been hard to even think about writing an entry, typing the recipe and translating it.
But it´s about time I do it, otherwise, I´m gonna forget important details about the process and you´ll all end up with a crappy "pan dulce" lol
For those of you who missed the previous entries, I made a Xmas panettone with a twist on Saturday. The typical panettone (at least around here) has all types of nuts and crystallized fruits. There are two main types: the "pan dulce milanés" (panettone from Milan) and the "pan dulce genovés"(Panettone from Genova). The first is baked in a special paper mold and ends up with a mushroom-like shape, and the second one is baked without a mold and ends up with a loaf-like shape.
I went for the "milanés" shape:
Though here you see one of the Genova variety (right) because I ran out of molds lol
The personal twist comes in the filling. I have never ever liked store-bought crystallized fruits, they all taste the same, and it´s not a good taste anyway. I do like most nuts, but the problem with panettones which just have nuts is that it ends up being way too dry.
Another personal neurosis of mine is orange flower water, which is typical of our "pan dulce". I just can´t find myself enjoying that weird aftertaste.
So, in view of all this pickyness, I decided to make my own panettone suited to my taste... if not everyone else´s haha
I used homemade orangettes, nuts and chocolate chips and I added a bit of cinammon to the dough. The end result was loooooooovely, moist and totally yummy. If you don´t trust me, check it out... or better yet, make it yourself, it´s easy, trust me.
And, as you see, you get a big one, two medium ones and two little ones, so you get a lot for your work. I´m sure they would freeze well, but if you don´t wanna freeze them and you have some left over after 3 or 4 days...
you can make a kind of French toast with it!!!! so very yummy, I just added some cinammon and vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of sugar to an egg-milk mix, soak slices of panettone in it, fry it with a bit of butter in a pan, and voilá. I poured a bit of maple syrup over it.
I can´t recommend it enough.
For visual evidence:
Ok, after typing this loooooooooooong recipe in two languages, I think I deserve tons of comments hahahaha pretty please? ;)
Panettone (adapted from a recipe by Dolly Irigoyen)
Yeast proofing: fresh yeast (40 grams), sugar (1 T), milk at room temperature (1/2 cup), all purpose flour (1/2 cup).
1. Mix and let it rise covered till it duplicates its volume.
Dough: all purpose flour (600 grams, and 1 extra cup or so to work with the dough after letting it rise), softened butter (200 grams), salt (a pinch), sugar (150 grams), grated lemon and orange rind (to taste, around 4 teaspoons), eggs (5), cinammon (2 teaspoons), vanilla extract (2 teaspoons), malt extract (1 tablespoon, if you can´t get any, use honey).
1. Mix a little and then add the yeast proofing. Mix and knead to form a homogeneous dough.
The dough should be moist, but shouldn´t stick to your hands.
2. Let rise till it doubles its volume.
3. Flatten and incorporate the fruit, nuts and chocolate chips (the total amount can´t be over 600 grams overall). I used 300 grams of chocolate chips, 200 grams of orangettes and 100 grams of nuts.
4. Form balls and place them in buttered panettone molds (it yields 1 large, 2 medium and 2 small). If you don´t have the molds, do them without them.
5. Let them rise till they duplicate their size.
6. Brush with melted butter and then with egg. Cut a cross on top with a razor or a good knife.
7. Bake at 180C (350F) for 60-70 mins for the big one, around 45 for the medium ones and 25-30 for the small ones.
8. Sprinkle with powdered sugar when it is still hot or pour glase over it (I used a lemon-powdered sugar glase).
Pan dulce (receta adaptada a partir de la dada por Dolly Irigoyen en www.elgourmet.com)
Esponja: 40 gramos de levadura fresca, 1 cda de azúcar, 1/2 taza de leche a temperatura ambiente, 1/2 taza de harina común.
Mezclar, tapar y dejar duplicar.
Masa: harina común (600 gramos), manteca pomada (200g), 1 pizca de sal, azúcar (150g), ralladura de naranja y limón, huevos (5), canela (2 cditas, también se puede usar agua de azahar si se quiere), escencia de vainilla, extracto de malta (1cda., reemplazar por miel si no se consigue).
1. Mezclar un poco y después agregar la esponja.
2. Mezclar o amasar hasta formar una masa homogénea y húmeda, pero que no se pegue a las manos.
3. Dejar levar hasta que duplique su volumen.
4. Desgasificar e incorporar frutas (esta cantidad de masa aguanta un máximo de 600 gramos de relleno). Yo usé naranjitas confitadas (200 g), chips de chocolate (300 g) y nueces (100g).
5. Armar bollitos y ponerlos en moldes de pan dulce enmantecados (rinde 1 grande, 2 medianos y 2 chicos).
6. Dejar levar hasta duplicar.
7. Pincelar con manteca derretida y después con huevo. Hacer corte en cruz con gillete o cuchillo bien filoso.
8. Hornear a 180C (350F) (alrededor de 60-70 minutos el grande, 45 minutos los medianos y 25-30 minutos los chicos).
9. Espolvorear con azúcar impalpable en caliente o bañar con glasé (yo usé glasé de jugo de limón y azúcar impalpable) o fondant.
Friday, December 29, 2006
What a hectic week! Between Xmas, the puppies and catching up with work, it´s been hard to even think about writing an entry, typing the recipe and translating it.
Monday, December 25, 2006
There are things that are just right... some come easy, some take a loooot of effort and patience. Puppie delivery 101 at the our household was of the latter variety.
In the last 3 days, I have slept a total of 12 hours and worried for about mmm 72 hahaha
As we had thought, we spent Christmas eve in the middle of Maia´s labor... which finished today at 10 a.m after a total 22 hours since the first symptoms started... my poor girl.
The good news is that after all the troubles, Maia gave birth to two beautiful female puppies. YES, 2 AND female. Just perfect given the possibilities. They are all chubby... I guess they got to eat like 8 puppies all by themselves, those are my girls!!! hahahaha
I don´t have any pictures to share with you yet because it has just been 10 hours and Maia is still feeling quite protective of the little babies, so I´m guessing she wouldn´t be too keen on the idea of picture taking lol
But as soon as I have some, I´m gonna "torture" you all with all their mighty cuteness. I mean, I love all things food... but puppies are above and beyond anything :)
And I know I still owe you all the details of the panettone experience, but that will wait a few days till I sleep all I have been missing and get some work done.
UPDATE: here are the first pics of the new babies :)
Saturday, December 23, 2006
I finally got around to making the panettone today. I´ll post all of the details probably tomorrow during the day, but I wanted to leave you with pictures of the magic process it entailed.
Lovely stuff, if I had known it was pretty easy to make it, I would have given it a try way sooner!!!
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
At long last, I´ve surrendered to the Xmas frenzy hahaha and all I have to say is, oh my, I´m soooooo tired.
Trying to plan ahead, I decided to make orangettes for the panettone I´ll be making on Saturday, which hopefully will turn out as scrumptious as I dream it will.
They looked simple enough... don´t most recipes? but then again, many of them end up requiring quite a bit of toiling.
BUT, and this is a big but, their taste and texture completely make up for it. They are sweet, a bit crunchy, and the flavor is nearly orgasmic, both with or without chocolate (though I think the chocolate just takes it to the next level).
I adapted the recipe to suit my needs, since I just wanted to do just a few of them covered in chocolate and I didn´t like to roll them in cocoa afterwards. For the ones without chocolate, I decided to roll them in sugar while they were still hot (be careful with your hands... don´t ask why I feel the need to make this warning hahaha).
If you often find orange too bitter, don´t worry because the bitterness disappears after boiling them twice. And the concentrated flavor achieved in the end is absolutely delicious.
If you don´t feel in heaven eating these babies with a nice mocaccino or a quality tea, then I don´t know what kind of person you are and I don´t wanna know you at all. Do you have a soul??? hahahahaa
In case I don´t post earlier, I wish you all a very Merry Xmas and I hope you have a wonderful time with your loved ones, without any quarrels or anything like that :)
Without further ado, here they are in all their yumminess.
Orangettes (adapted from here)
4 large oranges
8 ounces water
8 ounces sugar
16 ounces dark chocolate
1. Slice the ends off of the oranges, score the peel from one end to the other, and remove the peels off the oranges.
2. Slice the peels into thin strips and trim the edges.
3. Using a medium size pot, place the peels in boiling water and blanch them for a few minutes. Rinse the peels, and repeat this process a second time. This is done to remove the bitterness of the peels.
4. Prepare the simple syrup by combining the water and sugar in a sauce pot. Bring the syrup to a simmer, place the peels in the pot, and simmer for 1 hour. Once the peels have cooked, remove them from the pot, and place on a rack to cool and drain.
For the chocolate orangettes:
Melt the dark chocolate over a double boiler. Dip the candied orange peels in the chocolate, remove them quickly, and place them on a rack to cool and drain.
For the regular orangettes:
After removing the peels from the pot, roll them in granulated sugar while they are still warm and let them drain.
6. Store the orange peels in an airtight container.
NOTE: I´ve just realized I had used the very same title Deb had used for her post on orangettes. I guess the title got inside my head while I was using her instructions to make them and then I thought "candy girl, that could work, like that old Acqua song called "barbie girl". Anyone remember one-hit-wonder Acqua? hahahaha anyway, I digress, I just wanted to clarify the whole title plagiarism haha
Monday, December 18, 2006
Christmas is rapidly approaching and, as most people, I was caught pretty off-guard... though, as usual, I won´t be held responsible, it´s definitely the universe conspiring against me, not me for lack of planning, oh no, no, sir.
My mind is pretty caught up with work (since lately I am either working too much or not getting any work at all) and, of course, with the whole puppy-saga with Maia, which, luckily, seems better now. Sidenote, today I felt the puppy kicking and it was one of those Kodak moments... everything made absolute sense for a moment or two and it was just priceless :)
But going back to Christmas, I don´t what my whole role in the dinner and lunch will be, if I should be doing the dessert or what. I do have a personal variation of panettone planned, but I´ll tell you all about it once I make it... and that will be for what we call "mesa navideña" (Xmas table), which is full of turrones, garrapiñadas, chocolate-covered almonds and the like, and the typical "pan dulce" (panettone-like bread literally translated as "sweet bread"). But all that comes at midnight, after both dinner and dessert have been "brought to justice." It happens at midnight because that is the time to exchange presents and make a toast, and the time when all the fireworks start.
I just hope that each and everyone of us has a delightful Xmas (including the preparations, this is a time to enjoy! so just relax a little, everything´s going to turn out fine, even with a cookie or two less in the Xmas table ;)
Anyway, that´s the summary of my Xmas "preparations" or lack thereof. I´ll leave you with photos of tonight´s dinner at my parents´house. Drop me a line if you want any of the recipes and I´ll get my mom to share and then post them.
French onion soup
Swiss chard stalks lasagna (yu-mmy!)
Friday, December 15, 2006
Well, in a calmer mood, I´m willing to fulfill my promise and tell you all about this apple cake I mentioned before.
As you all know, apples and cinammon are one of those matches made in heaven, they simply bring out the best in one another.
There´s something utterly comforting in a good slice of apple pie, along with a good tea or a nice cup of capuccino. And if said cake is easy to make, everything tastes so much better because you aren´t tired from all the toiling in the kitchen.
This cake is definitely on the easy side. I´m not sure who invented it because it has been in my recipe notebook for years now. I´ve made it quite a few times and it has never failed me... in fact, I don´t think it CAN fail anyone.
So I know it´s not a cookie or anything too Christmas oriented, but I recommend anyway, either for Xmas or afterwards when you want to make something great without much slaving yourself in the kitchen.
Here is the original recipe in Spanish, followed by the translated recipe:
Butter 7 oz
Regular granulated sugar 7 oz (if you have a sweet tooth, add around 1/4 of a cup more)
Vanilla extract 1 teaspoon
Self rising flour 10 and 1/2 oz
Cinnamon, to taste
Green apples 3
Flour, 1 tablespoon
1. Cream the softened butter with the sugar. Add the vanilla extract.
2. Add the eggs one by one.
3. Add the flour and the cinnamon.
4. Chop the apples in little cubes and mix them with the tablespoon of flour to achieve an even distribution and mix them in with the batter.
5. Pour in a cake pan, previously buttered and floured (or sprayed with PAM).
6. Sprinkle heavily with sugar.
7. Bake in 350F oven for 40-45 minutes.
You can freeze it perfectly well (I freeze individual slices).
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Sorry, but I´m having a craptacular day, so I can´t sit down to write about food today. I have two recipes to discuss (apple cake and falafel), but they´ll have to wait a few days. No one seems to be reading this stuff anyway.
The thing is I woke up early today after sleeping for just 5 hours to take my dog Maia to the vet to get x-rays and see how the puppies were doing. Remember I told you there were at least 4 puppies in the ultrasound? Well, they don´t know what happened but now there is just 1 puppy, or 2 at most if for some reason the other puppy was placed exactly opossite, thus blocking the view. Yes, your eyes didn´t deceive you, just one freaking puppy! Now, how that is possible is pretty much beyond my imagination (the vet says she probably had a natural miscarriage and the body just reabsorbed the tissue, because there wasn´t any bleeding or anything.)
What I do know is that this is devastating news for me at this point. I mean, I am thoroughly aware that this is not the end of the world. But now I am left hoping that everything turns out fine with that one puppy and for Maia to be fine. And I´m 50-50 on my chances of taking a puppy home with me because I can´t have a male dog. So maybe we went through all this trouble for nothing.
Besides, I had this image in my head of playful puppies running in my parents´ backyard all clumsily, it was all going to be so much fun. But oh well, I have to get used to the idea and pray for the puppy to be healthy... and female.
Again, sorry for being such a downer, I´m just not in the mood for anything else at the moment and I wanted to update you.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
In case you haven´t heard about it, there´s a second part to Mark Bittman´s no-knead bread article with different options to tweak the recipe a little bit, different flavors that can be added and when, and responses to questions he received.
Some of the things that I found most interesting are the possibility to add different flours in small porcentages to give it something extra (I had originally used rye and semolina for the crust and it worked great).
"Up to 30 percent whole-grain flour works consistently and well, and 50 percent whole-wheat is also excellent. At least one reader used 100 percent whole-wheat and reported “great crust but somewhat inferior crumb,” which sounds promising. I’ve kept rye, which is delicious but notoriously impossible to get to rise, to about 20 percent. There is room to experiment."
One of the things that needed improvement in my loaf was flavor (though my main complaint was lack of humidity.) He mentions the fact that the amount of salt can be increased and he also gives some ideas for different flavorings.
"FLAVORINGS The best time to add caraway seeds, chopped olives, onions, cheese, walnuts, raisins or whatever other traditional bread flavorings you like is after you’ve mixed the dough. But it’s not the only time; you can fold in ingredients before the second rising. "
I would personally add some chopped confit tomatoes and chopped basil, but the possibilities are pretty much endless.
Another thing worth noticing is the fact that the 70F temperature is not something mandatory... you just need to adjust the rising time accordingly if it is hotter or colder.
I´m gonna try this again soon with some changes in the hot summer weather and see how it turns out. If you haven´t tried this bread, please do, it is easy and the results are really good. If it at least helps erase some fears about bread baking, then I think it is a true success.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
I know food trends can get pretty annoying. And one would think the whole quinoa craze would be no different. But I can personally attest that it tastes great and it has like every protein ever discovered or something like that.
Being on the healthy food wagon, I´ve tried different things with quinoa, and so far, I´ve loved it both toasted and boiled in a sort of salad.
I´ll be giving you both choices, though I recommend eliminating the toasting step if you are using strong condiments because it would be overpowering.
My favorite quinoa dish so far is one I sort of invented (in all modesty, of course): it has boiled quinoa (always previously rinsed), a lime-chile vinaigrette from another recipe, feta cheese, tomatoes and ciboulette. The lime-chile vinaigrette is just so rich and intense, yet fresh at the same time. It is originally used with acorn squash, but I had some leftovers and it worked wonders with the quinoa and the rest of the ingredients, so please, try it, either with this dish or with pretty much anything else.
Lime-chile vinaigrette (adapted from Epicurious)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 or 2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh hot red chile, including seeds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (I used cilantro seeds, since I didn´t have fresh cilantro and then added chopped fresh parsley)
Mince garlic and mash to a paste with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Transfer paste to a small bowl and whisk in lime juice, chile (to taste), cilantro, and remaining 1/4 cup oil until combined.
Toasted quinoa (serves 4) (for regular boiled quinoa, skip step 2)
4 cups of quinoa
8 cups of water
1 teaspoon of salt
1. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in order to get rid of a natural bitter cover it has. It just takes a few minutes. When the water is clean, you are good to go. Strain it.
2. Toast the quinoa in a pan at medium heat, stirring often for 5 minutes or so.
3. Put the quinoa and the water in a pan and bring to a boild. Reduce heat and let simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is quite puffy, which happens about 15 minutes after the water starts boiling.
4. Mix with the vinaigrette and the rest of the ingredients (a bit of feta cheese, tomato and ciboulette in this case.)
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Even though I find many recipes interesting, it is hard for me to be surprised at a recipe, either the technique or the combination of flavors. The recipe I´m about to comment surprised me with both. First of all, it´s a syrup made with carrot juice and no extra sugar. And then it has smoked chipotles... now maybe it´s just me, but carrots and chiles is not the first ingredient combination that comes to mind.
I saw this recipe on tv, while watching a show called Simply Ming (apparently it airs on a public network in the US.) Anyway, the show starts with a master recipe, which Ming later uses in 3 or 4 recipes... which makes total sense to me as a cook, because that´s the right frame of mind to cook, you just take something you know and start coming up with ways to do different things with it.
So this recipe had my name written all over it. But there was a tiny problem: it called for carrot juice and I don´t have a juicer (or a place to store it if I were to buy it) and they don´t sell carrot juice at grocery stores here. Yet, I was not to be denied, so I thought I had the perfect solution for my little problem: I would process the carrot with some water, then strain it, and voilá, carrot juice. While it seemed to work at first, physics kicked my butt and separated the tiny carrot fragments and the water as it got heated. How wonderful!!! So I put the carrot pulp back in, cooked it for 40 minutes or so, and then processed it with the chipotle and the oil.
And even though my outcome is far from the original one. It tastes wonderful, so I began using it with vegetables and in different concoctions.
Here it is with pasta, cream cheese and some ciboullete (a good trick is to boil the pasta and strain it when there are just 2 minutes or so left of the total cooking time, and pour it in the pan with the sauce and cook it there for the remainding 2 minutes. That way, the sauce and the pasta merge flavors way better.)
I recommend trying this one out, it is really special.
Now all I have to do is find someone with a freaking juicer I can borrow!
Carrot-chipotle syrup (from Ming Tsai, http://simplyming.org/recipes/118_Carrot-Chipotle_Sy.html)
Ming says: When you reduce fruit and vegetable juices, they become more intensely themselves. Treated that way, they're perfect flavoring bases; witness this syrup made from reduced carrot juice and smoky-hot chipotle in adobo. I fell in love with that seasoning when I cooked in Santa Fe; here, it complements the reduction's sweetness beautifully, making the syrup a very tasty, as well as useful, ingredient.
Makes 1 cup
2 quarts fresh carrot juice
1 teaspoon chopped chipotle in adobo
3/4 cup grapeseed oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. In a large non-reactive saucepan, bring the carrot juice to a gentle simmer over low heat. Reduce the juice until all the liquid is evaporated, leaving a wet residue, about 45 minutes.
2. With a heat-resistant rubber spatula, scrape the residue from the pan and transfer it to a blender. Add the chipotle in adobo, and blend at high speed.
3. With the machine running, drizzle in the oil very slowly at first until the mixture is emulsified, then add the oil more quickly to prevent the sauce from breaking. Season with salt and pepper. Use or store.
Lasts 2 weeks, refrigerated.
TRY IT This makes a great sauce for most seafood, particularly for cod, bass, scallops, and lobster.Drizzle the syrup over vegetable medleys; it adds a hint of sweetness and "marries" all the flavors.For extra flavor, use the syrup to encircle servings of seafood risotto.
MING'S TIPS Juicing fresh carrots with a juicer is best, but the store-bought juice works well, too.To ensure the syrup doesn't separate, add the oil to the blender very slowly at first. As soon as thickening occurs, add the oil more quickly. (The initial slow addition allows the mixture to combine; the faster addition prevents the mixture from getting too hot, which can cause it to separate.)
Monday, December 04, 2006
Today I was looking through some old family photos searching for little snapshots of times gone by. Sunday afternoons have always been a time of introspection and nostalgia (sometimes a bit of depression as well depending on the coming week, but that´s another story.) Either way, as I´ve always known, food was a common theme throughout the pictures: there was me smiling in front of my birthday cake, me eating dessert with a huge grin on my face, big family reunions around a steaming bowl of pasta...
Being of Italian and Spanish descent (a bit of Dutch too, but I wouldn´t know what the Dutch attitude towards food is), that is not very surprising. Food was always something with which you comunicated your love and made people rejoice. I will never be able to understand people who have an I-eat-just-because-I-have-to attitude towards food, what is that all about?
For me, food is about enjoyment, not just a cold science which achieves perfection through a simple equation. There are just so many variables: ingredients, combination, texture, temperature, context, company, mood... Anthony Bourdain got me thinking about perfect food experiences the other day. I´ll let him do the talking for a while because he can express it way better than me:
"... I knew already that the best meal in the world, the perfect meal, is very rarely the most sophisticated or expensive one. (...) Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one´s life. I mean, let´s face it: when you are eating simple barbecue under a palm tree, and you feel sand between your toes, samba music is playing softly in the background, waves are lapping at the shore a few yards off, a gentle breeze is cooling the sweat on the back of your neck at the hairline, and looking across the table (...) at the dreamy expression on your companion´s face, you realize that in half an hour you are probably going to be having sex on clean white hotel sheets, that grilled chicken suddenly tastes a whole of a lot better."
(...) "Think about the last time food transported you. You were a kid, had been feeling under the weather all week, and when you were finally getting your appetite back, after a long, wet walk from school in the rain, mom had a big steaming bowl of homemade minestrone waiting for you. Maybe it was just a bowl of Cambell´s cream of tomato with Oysterettes, and a grilled cheese sandwich. You know what I mean".
I do know what he means. For me, a perfect meal is usually of the simple variety -though it does need good ingredients and careful preparation- and, for some reason, it generally has to be shared with someone I care about (or someone I´d like to care about in the future, if you know what I mean lol). That is not to say I don´t enjoy the meals I prepare for myself, in fact, I usually love them (there is something inherently enjoyable in preparing a meal respecting just your own taste and cravings), but oftentimes I feel like something´s missing if I don´t have someone around to enjoy that meal with.
Come to think of it, maybe that´s why I started this blog to begin with... kind of as a way to share some meals and experiences with other freaks, ahem, I mean, foodies, like myself.
Friday, December 01, 2006
WARNING: I´m seriously pissed off, so I´m about to vent with you, my lovely, yet silent audience.
I went shopping for some clothes today. I was all excited. I had a 20% discount in most shops in my neighbourhood, so I wanted to do some real damage, get cool clothes and feel all pretty. Well, it didn´t happen. See, I live in a country where all women are supposed to have a model shape, and if they don´t, well, that´s just too bad for them.
And yes, we do have a lower obesity rate than most countries, but you don´t even have to be obese to have a problem finding nice things to wear. I mean, I´m like 20 pounds over my ideal weight and my choice of clothes is quite limited to what I can find that I like and suits me decently.
I was sooooooooooo happy when I was in the US, I had thousands of choices, and if something didn´t fit me, I could just get a larger size. In fact, I usually got "small" stuff, sometimes "medium", never "large". Next time I´m there, I´m gonna go with a half-empty suitcase and have a blast creating a wardrobe as I please, not according to some anorexic idea of beauty.
See why I can´t indulge in my beloved cookies and cakes very often? If I did, I´d have to walk around in my birthday suit!!!! hahahaa
Ok, I feel better for now, rant over. Sorry about that, I just had to get it off my chest.