Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Far from penance - Chocolate olive oil cake

 it's like a fudgy brownie

In one of my recent blog posts I told you in no uncertain terms that I no longer give up chocolate for Lent.Forty days and forty nights without chocolate,chance would be a fine thing. In another recent post, I enthused about olive oil cakes and looked forward to experimenting with a Chocolate olive oil cake.Well here it is, and how far from penitence could it be? Lent is all but over but this is still sheer indulgence, as if chocolate never was? It's like a fudgy brownie, and talking of chocolate,surprise surprise this is a Nigella recipe. I seems it has been chopped and changed and messed around in order to accomodate  coeliacs and gluten free diets alike,but at the end of the day you´re going to be well pushed to find a better and more adaptable recipe.Knees up right proper moshing,here is the be-all and end-all chocolate olive oil cake recipe.The gluten free version is slightly heavier with the almonds - though not in a bad way - so if you want a lighter crumb, rather than a boom squish interior, and are not making the cake for the gluten-intolerant, then replace the 150g ground almonds / 1½ cups almond meal with 125g plain flour / ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour.To make it more of an occasion, serve it still warm from the oven with some fresh strawberries or raspberries and an indulgent dollop of cardamom requeijao cream.Alternatively serve it with a scoop of home made mascarpone ice cream.

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
    2/3 cup regular olive oil, plus more for greasing cake pan
    6 tablespoons good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/2 cup boiling water
    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    1 1/2 cups almond meal or 3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    Pinch of salt
    1 cup superfine sugar
    3 large eggs

      Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease a 9-inch springform cake pan with a little oil and line base of pan with parchment paper.
      Sift cocoa powder into a bowl and whisk in boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolaty, still runny (but only just) paste. Whisk in vanilla extract and set aside to let cool.
      In a small bowl, combine almond meal (or flour) with baking soda and a pinch of salt.
      Put sugar, olive oil and eggs into bowl of a freestanding mixer with a paddle attachment (or use other bowl and whisk). Beat vigorously until mixture is pale-primrose, aerated, thickened and creamy, about 3 minutes.
      Turn down mixer speed a little and beat in cocoa mixture. Slowly add almond-meal mixture.
      Turn off mixer. Scrape down sides of bowl and stir a little with a spatula. Pour batter into prepared cake pan. Bake until sides of cake are set and very center, on top, still looks slightly damp, 40 to 45 minutes. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.
      Let cake cool in its pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Ease sides of cake with a small metal spatula and spring cake out of pan. Leave to cool completely or serve warm with ice cream.

      Thursday, 12 March 2015

      Lemon olive oil cake with cardamom requeijao cream

      What is the secret ingredient for a tender moist cake?- an olive oil batter is the answer.A high quality olive oil keeps a cake moist and adds another dimension of fruitiness.Olive oil cakes are a very Mediterranean thing.Portugal, Spain Italy and Greece, are all countries where olive oil reigns supreme, even in desserts, all those lovely moist orange and lemon polenta cakes.You must be thinking, don’t these cakes taste like olive oil? No, they don’t, nor would you want them to, that is not the point.I use extra-virgin oil - and there is never an olivey taste to the cake, although I could easily detect it in the sticky residue that was left in the pan. Ever since David Leite´s "The new Portuguese Table" came out in 2009 I have been serving our breakfast guests a Portuguese Orange olive oil cake.This has become a much requested staple,and is even cited in Alastair Sawdays special places to stay. 5 years on and I have now discovered George Mendes Lemon olive oil cake which is a lot simpler to make and equally tasty. Orange or lemon, who´s going to be served up on the casa rosada breakfast table? Two Portuguese boys who have grown up and brought their culinary heritage to the United States. Let the battle begin.I have come to olive oil cakes by default.They are great for guests who genuinely can not eat wheat or dairy( a majority of cakes include butter in the ingredients). Olive oil doesn’t help with leavening, but it does supply moistness. In cakes using butter and shortening, the fat is usually creamed with sugar to aerate the batter. But oil doesn’t hold air bubbles the way a solid fat will, so olive oil cakes get almost all their leavening from other sources like baking soda, or whipped egg whites. Obviously I have to replace the flour in any recipe with ground almonds or polenta, and I now make these cakes all the time as a preference for ourselves, even though our life and diet are not so unfairly constrained by these inflicting dietary requirements.I can not wait to try out a chocolate olive oil cake.I can hear the thespian salivating in the wings as I write this.What really makes this recipe is the cardamom requeijao cream,It´s well Dench.

      Olive oil cake with cardamom requeijao cream

      1 cup(250ml) fruity olive oil
      1 cup (250ml)full fat milk
      3 large eggs
      2tbsp freshly grated lemon zest
      12/3 cups(355g) sugar
      21/2 cups (385g) all purpose flour
      11/2 tsp flor de sal
      1tsp baking powder
      1/2 tsp baking soda
      Pre-heat the oven to 150C(300F).Lightly grease a 13 x 9inch (33 x 23cm) cake pan with oil
      or cooking spray.Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and grease again.
      In a medium bowl,whisk together the oil, milk,and eggs until smooth.
      In a large bowl,rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingertips.Whisk in the flour,salt,baking powder and baking soda.Continue whisking while adding the wet ingredients in a slow steady stream.Whisk just until smooth and well combined,then pour into the prepared pan.
      Bake,rotating the pan halfway through,until the top is golden brown and springs back when gently pressed with your fingertip,about 30 minutes.
      let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.Cut into pieces to serve.Can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days.

      3/4 (180ml) heavy cream or mascarpone
      5 whole green cardamom pods,lightly crushed
      2 large egg yolks
      2tbsp sugar,plus more to taste
      3/4 cup(165g) requeijao or ricotta
      2 cups (300g) small or quartered strawberries
      toasted slithered almonds,for serving
      In a medium saucepan,combine the cream and cardamom.Bring to a simmer over a medium heat, then remove from the heat,cover,and allow to steep for 30 minutes.Pick out and discard the cardamom.Bring the cream back to a simmer over a medium heat.
      In a medium bowl,whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until well combined.Continue to whisk while adding the simmered cream in a slow steady stream.Return the mixture to the saucepan and and whisk over a low heat until thickened,with fine bubbles.You should have a thick curd like custard registering 85F / 30C on a sugar thermometer.Remove from the heat,then whisk in the cheese until smooth.Refrigerate until set.
      While cream mixture chills,prepare the strawberries with sugar to taste and a splash of water.Heat over a medium heat until just warm,about two minutes.remove from the heat and let stand until cooled to room temperature,serve the strawberries and chilled cream alongside the cake and sprinkle with the almonds.

      Saturday, 7 March 2015

      Uma sopa de amêndoa, alho e couve-flor com um charuto anchova

      The Casa Rosada tasting menu changes with the seasons and if we know in advance a little about the likes and dislikes of the particular guests, I can tune it accordingly. I have recently added two items to the menu that I thought would be well suited to the tail end of winter and the first glimmer of spring.The first is inspired by a Spanish White Almond Gazpacho. For a long time I have  wanted to experiment with a warm version of this soup without losing the traditional Spanish feel of the main ingredients.I kept the bread as this would be a good thickening agent but decided to infuse it with cauliflower.With the help of a little manchego cheese I managed to achieve a savoury, creamy and slightly sweet soup. I wanted it to feel like a thick warm almond milk but with some other Spanish flavours.
      Garlic almond and cauliflower soup
      2 1⁄2 cups water, for blending
      1 slice day-old white bread, crusts removed, torn into pieces
      2 ounces blanched almonds (should be about 1/2 cup volume)
      2 garlic cloves, fresh, skinned, roughly chopped
      1 tablespoon olive oil
      1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
      1 teaspoon salt

      Add all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend thoroughly.Taste and season, adjusting as needed (vinegar, sugar, more salt, etc.) set aside. 

      Good knob of butter
      1 small cauliflower,finely chopped, white florets only
      1 tablespoon olive oil
      250ml vegetable stock (or a good cube)
      150ml milk
      Salt and freshly ground white pepper
      50g grated manchego

      Gently heat the butter and olive oil in a pan and with the lid on gently sautée the cauliflower, for 4-5 minutes.
      Add the stock and milk. Season, bring to the boil and simmer for 12 minutes, with a lid on, or until the cauliflower is soft.Stir in the first seven ingredients that you have previously blended and set aside.
      Blend the mixture in a liquidiser with the cheese until smooth and strain through a fine-meshed sieve and season again if necessary. You can add a little more cheese for added flavour if you wish.If the mixture appears too thick,dilute gradually with extra milk until you reach the consistency of thick milk.Return to the pan and heat gently,stirring constantly,over medium low heat.Serve immediately with garlic croutons and garnished with slivers of toasted almonds.

      My second innovation to the tasting menu was an anchovy cigar. We were recently served up an amuse bouche in a restaurant and were told it was an anchovy cigar.It was a grissini with a marinated, salted anchovy wrapped around the bottom third.It was very tasty but I thought a lot more "cigar" was needed to honour it with the title of an "anchovy cigar."I cast my mind back to the allumettes aux anchois my mother used to make as little tit bits to serve up with a drink when friends popped round.She rolled anchovy in very thin brown bread and that was it.Nowadays the norm for this recipe is filo or puff pastry,but I thought I would return to the brown bread idea and then throw in some more sympathetic companions like garlic, capers, parmesan and breadcrumbs and you have a more tasty cigar than tobacco could ever fulfill.

      An Anchovy cigar
      serves 4
      1 loaf thinly sliced brown bread, crusts removed
      2 tins of anchovy fillets
      salt and pepper
      extra virgin olive oil
      plentiful lemon juice
      100g toasted breadcrumbs
      50g parmesan, grated
      50g chopped capers
      chopped parsley
      2 garlic cloves chopped

      Mix together in a bowl the toasted breadcrumbs, anchovies,grated parmesan,chopped capers,parsley and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
      With a rolling pin,roll the bread slices out until they become thin and malleable sheets.
      spoon a line of the anchovy breadcrumb mix breadcrumb along the back third of each slice.Carefully roll the bread slices up rolling away from you until you have a tight cylinder.Sprinkle a little water just along the edge and press together well to seal the cigar.Tuck each end in and if necessary trim with a knife.Set aside.When ready to serve, lay the cigars,sealed edge downwards, on a baking tray lined with parchment.Brush a light coating of extra virgin olive oil on the cigars.Bake in a medium oven180C for about twenty minutes or until the bread becomes crisp.The timing here will depend on the freshness of the bread.Try and use the freshest bread possible. serve with a dipping sauce of your choice.

      Monday, 2 March 2015

      Arroz de pato,unexpected ratings( avaliaçãos inesperados)

      Croquetas arroz de pato, 2015

      "Sex and the kitchen- Beef encounter"
        The funny thing about writing a blog is that one never knows how popular a recipes will be. Often I think I have a real winner, but resulting statistics show no one really seems to appreciate it on the same level as I do. Then I post something rather simple and everyone goes nuts about it. Strange? You can imagine then, that when I posted Arroz de pato com imprevisto (a diferença) - Duck rice with a twist I was shocked by the response it got,and continues to get. Although I was pretty confident that I had a winning recipe, I never expected the recognition it got. After checking up on it today, the post has had over 6,000 hits.It has been top of the ratings for over two years now, and is 4,500 hits ahead of its closest competitor. How naive I was not to realise that putting the word sex in a blog title would dramatically affect the search engines results. "Sex and the kitchen- Beef encounter" comes in at all time number two.What is it that grabs the reader or puts them off? Is it in the title? Is the picture aspirational? In the case of "Sugar and spice and belly pork is nice" I think the picture probably contributed to its poor rating of only 34 views in the past year.It is extremely difficult to make cooked meat look appetising in a photograph,but I thought this was an innovative blog post and I am going to give it a re-run with a new picture and see what  reaction it gets second time round.
       Imagine the joy I got last October when my
      Gin and tonic jelly post got 354 hits on our facebook page in just one day and the reader who took their own initiative with the list of ingredients.I tagged lemon and lime wedges onto the bottom of the ingredients listing but omitted to tell the reader what to do with them as regards the recipe.She served the jelly up on the wedges.Not what I had originally intended but what a brilliant idea.That is the sort of feedback that makes it all worthwhile.Its three years now since I posted Arroz de pato com imprevisto (a diferença) - Duck rice with a twist. It is not a recipe I make very often to be honest, mainly because it is difficult to make in a small quantity.Anyway last weekend I decided to make it again for old times sake.As usual I was left with serious leftovers.I decided therefore to honour its third anniversary by giving you a recipe for using its leftovers.Croquetas, arroz de pato.I hope you like it? Serve these as starter portions or as part of a tapas.I served them with my own sweet and sour sauce. I haven´t included a recipe for this as some prefer more sweet than sour and others more sour than sweet.Here are some pointers..Seville oranges,mandarins, soya sauce, sweet sherry, sherry vinegar, honey,tomato sauce or ketchup,chilli flakes and don´t forget the corn starch.

      Croquetas, arroz de pato
      1 quantity of left over risotto
      plain flour for dusting
      2 eggs beaten
      breadcrumbs for coating
      sunflower oil for deep frying

      Take a little of the duck rice and form it into a ball, roughly the same size as a golf ball.You will find it easier if you wet your hands with cold water. Dust with a little flour,then coat with beaten egg and finally coat in the breadcrumbs.Repeat the process for each ball.
      Heat some oil in a large deep saucepan or in a deep fat fryer.Add the duck rice balls balls a few at a time and fry for 2-3 minutes until golden brown.Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot or cold.