SPICE CAKE WITH BLACKERRY PUREE & THE GLOBAL PASTRY TABLE REVIEW

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL MY AMERICAN READERS! 

After five and a half years blogging, a few things about me should be quite obvious for those who have been around this site for a while.  For instance, my obsession with exercise and fitness is almost as intense as my fear of baking cakes. However, even though I am terrified of baking them, cakes fascinate me so much that I often visit blogs of talented bakers, to live vicariously through them. You know, those amazing people who are not afraid of Italian meringue, of piping gorgeous flowers with buttercream icing, or slicing a cake horizontally in perfect flat layers. One such blog is Pastry Studio. If you don’t know this site yet, you are in for a very sweet treat…  Gayle Gonzales has been blogging since 2007, so there is a lot to drool over in her virtual spot.  One of the reasons Pastry Studio captivated me is the way she adds “Bench Notes” to her recipes.  Just to give you a couple of examples,  check out her Roasted Pineapple with Pink Peppercorns., or her Brownie Brittle. The recipes would be great by themselves, but the bench notes add that extra stuff that makes a person like me consider the recipe doable.  Little tips that an experienced baker can offer, but not always does. Many cookbooks and food blogs assume those to be superfluous, since it should all go well.  Clearly, they have not been in my kitchen.  ;-)

When I learned that she published her first e-cookbook, I ordered it right away. The Global Pastry Table has 95 recipes, of which 70 are not in her site, so even if you followed her blog from the get-go, the book will give you a lot of new recipes to choose from.  I had a bit of trouble to decide which delicious concoction to bake first. I wanted it to be a cake, and my love for spices pointed me to her Spice Cake with Blackberries. I am thrilled to inform that it was a smooth baking session: the dogs slept through the whole thing, undisturbed by eggs dropping on the floor, exploding bags of flour, or flying spatulas. So there! I might be getting better at this cake baking thing… Ok, I know what you’re thinking: it’s all thanks to her bench notes.  I’m afraid you might be right.

SpiceCakeBlackberry

SPICE CAKE WITH BLACKBERRIES
(reprinted with permission from Gayle Gonzales)

for the cake:
1 + 1/4 cups cake flour (5 oz)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
1/2 cup (4 oz) buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 oz (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (3 + 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1+3/4 oz) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature

for the filling:
6 oz fresh blackberries
2-3 teaspoons granulated sugar (to taste)
powdered sugar, for dusting

Heat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease an 8” x 2 1/2” cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Measure out the buttermilk and add the vanilla.

Beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as you go. Add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with half the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour. When the batter looks fairly well combined, use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pa and spread evenly. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes. Run a thin bladed knife around the edges and invert the cake. Gently peel off the parchment and invert again. Cool completely.

Place the blackberries in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar, to taste. Set aside to macerate for about 10 minutes and then mash them with a fork.

Using a long serrated knife, cut the cake in half horizontally and set the top aside. Place the bottom on a platter and spread a thin layer of blackberries. Replace the top half of he cake and dust with powdered sugar.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite2

This was a great cake, from start to finish, no problems. Of course there is room for improvement, because I did not have the exact size cake pan she recommends. I used a 9-inch pan instead of 8-inch. So my slices were a little thinner, and I should have used less filling.  But, I don’t really care, those are details that don’t bother me. I had NO trouble slicing the cake in half, and that in itself is a monumental feat.  The cake was a huge success with the members of our department, I received emails and visits to the lab. Felt like a Royal Baker.

And now, let me take you through Gayle’s book, The Global Pastry Table

GPTcoverFINALmarketingColor

First of all, did you know that even if you don’t have a reader like Kindle or iPad you can get ebooks and read them in your computer or other devices? All you need is to download a free software and you are all set. Stop by amazon and click away.

Gayle introduces her book with this paragraph: “The Global Pastry Table is a collection of pastries and desserts with a reverence for international style. It’s your invitation to the flavors and aromas of a world connected.”  Indeed, all her recipes start with a little paragraph explaining its origin, and you will see she assembled a collection of goodies rooted in many geographic regions of the world. The book is divided in 6 sections: Cakes, Custards & Creams, Tarts & Galettes, Cookies, Ice Cream, and a final section on More Pastries and Desserts. The first adjective that came to my mind as I browsed the recipes was “refined”. Even recipes that seem pretty simple have an aura of refinement and rustic elegance. Apart from being a great baker, Gayle is a fantastic photographer, and took all the photos of the book.

For a visual tour of all recipes included in The Global Pastry Table, visit Gayle’s flickr collection.  

Chapter One: Cakes
You would be surprised to learn how many cake and dessert cookbooks I own, but for most of them I’d say less than 30% of the cakes included appeal to me.  In Gayle’s e-book, every single one of the 21 cakes sounded great. Shocking, I admit. I will not list them all, you can check the full index at amazon, but I’ll give you my top five (excluding the cake from this post). Cake with Chocolate Cardamon Glaze; Olive Oil Wine Cake, Rum Cake with Spiced Butter Rum Sauce, Hazelnut Cake, Yogurt Cake with Roasted Five-Spice Plums. Well, I must give you a sixth, because it is an amazing cake, very unique and enticing: it is called Coil Cake, an yeasted cake original from Morocco. Show-stopper.

Chapter Two: Custards & Creams
Ten delicious options, once again I would make any of them without exception. Five top choices would be: Brown Sugar Panna Cotta with Five-Spice Figs; Coconut Cream (reminds me of a Brazilian classic called : Flan de Coco); Oranges with Rosemary Sabayon (a simple, very refreshing dessert); Yogurt Mousse with Grapefruit Gelee; Maple Custard (must make this one).

Chapter Three: Tarts & Galettes
I admit that I don’t make tarts and galettes very often.  For my taste, they are too heavy as dessert after a meal, and I am not too fond of sweets mid-afternoon or at breakfast. But, I know I am part of a minority, and of the ten options Gayle has in her book, it was easy to pick my top five. Apricot Galette; Butterscotch Cream Tart; Pear Galette with Honey Cream & Blue Cheese (great combination of flavors); Balsamic Strawberry Tart.

Chapter Four: Cookies
Twenty two amazing cookies for you. Don’t expect a regular choc chip cookie here, she really shines in this collection, going from very simple Plain Jane Cookies to Chocolate Hazelnut Nutella Sandwich Cookies (excuse me as I try to regain my composure). Five top choices for me (excluding that Nutella example already mentioned): Sesame Tiles; Oatmeal Shortbread; Chocolate Olive Oil Madeleines; Chocolate Garam Masala Cookies; Spice Route Cookies…  but it’s really hard to stop here.

Chapter Five: Ice Cream
Fourteen ice frozen concoctions, that are all incredibly creative and unique. Five top choices: Pistachio Gelato; Brown Sugar Creme Fraiche Ice Cream with Balsamic Syrup; Earl Grey Ice Cream; Guinness Ice Cream with Oat Crumble; Lime Ice Cream with Ginger Crumble. I must say, though, that I would gladly try them all.

Chapter Six: More Pastries and Desserts
Eighteen additional goodies, very hard to pick only five to showcase here.  By far my number one choice would be the Vanilla Custard in Phyllo. Her description and the photo made me want to go to the kitchen and make it right away. My other favorites would probably be Three Spice Russian Braid (gorgeous shaping of a loaf); Roasted Grapes with Yogurt Honey Cream; Pear and Ginger Scones; Pumpkin Empanadas.

I want to remind my readers that I do not do reviews by request, be it cookbooks or products. I only review things I love. I hope that you will stop by Pastry Studio to get to know Gayle and her wonderful site, and that you invite her cookbook into your virtual library.  It is truly a special publication, made with a lot of passion and attention to detail.

If you love being in your kitchen… if you love having people at your table… if you love that moment of opening the oven door and seeing what has transpired… if you love the preparing, the serving, the sharing, the savoring, I know you will enjoy this collection. (Gayle Gonzales, The Global Pastry Table)

ONE YEAR AGO: Own Your Kitchen with Cappuccino Panna Cotta

TWO YEARS AGO: Chicken Parmigiana, the Thriller

THREE YEARS AGO: Wild Mushroom Risotto

FOUR YEARS AGO: Tartine Bread:  Basic Country Loaf 

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Pugliese Bread

 

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: GREEN RICE

THREE YEARS AS A MEMBER OF THE SECRET RECIPE CLUB!

Last Monday of the month. You probably expect me to whine about the cold, but guess what?  As you read this post, I should  be far, far away in Brazil, enjoying balmy temperatures, wearing shorts, t-shirts, and recharging my batteries to face the frigid months ahead.  But the last Monday means fun, because it’s Reveal Day for The Secret Recipe Club! I was paired with the blog “A Day in the Life on the Farm“, hosted by Wendy. Her story is fascinating: she and her husband were police officers in a large city (which of course meant a ton of trouble in their hands…), but when they retired they moved to a tiny little town of 4,000 people, and bought a house on 12 acres of land.  They raise meat chickens, turkeys, and pigs, and Wendy – to fight her empty nest syndrome  –  decided to host foreign students in their place.  Now she works part-time for the World Heritage, placing students into homes for a year of schooling here in the US.  Being in academia and therefore often exposed to the troubles that foreign students face (plus, I was one myself), I know how important this type of work can be.  Please, stop by her about page and read more about their life on the farm, and how on top of everything she also takes care of her Mom, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. She actually devotes a section in her blog to talk about it, under Life with Mom. Beautiful, touching, and at times funny.

We had so much going on this past month, that I needed to jump on my assignment right away.  The recipe I set my eyes on was a drool-inducing dessert, a Caramelized Almond Apple Upside Down Cake. But, I decided against it.  Why? With Thanksgiving saying hello, then the holidays, a lot of heavy food will be popping everywhere.  I did not want to start early with the excesses, so this cake shall wait. Sorry, folks, but better safe than sorry.  Then, I almost went with her cute Pretzel Dogs. Finally it was a tough decision between Zucchini Enchiladas, or Green Rice.  As you can see, I went green.  Green is good for you, and this was one of the most flavorful rice dishes I’ve made.

Green Rice

GREEN RICE
(very slightly modified from A Day in the Life on the Farm)

2 poblano chile peppers
1 green pepper (I used half a Serrano)
1 cup long grain rice
1 large bunch of cilantro
1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley
2 cups chicken stock
1/2  teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil (I used grapeseed)
1 small shallot, minced
Dry roast the peppers in a griddle pan (or on a grill), turning frequently so the skins blacken but the flesh doesn’t burn.  Place in a strong plastic bag, seal and set aside for 20 minutes
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Put the rice in a heat proof bowl, pour in boiling water to cover and let stand 20 minutes.
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Drain the rice, rinse well under cold water and drain again.  Remove the peppers from the bag and peel off the skins.  Remove any stems, then slit the peppers and scrape out seeds with a sharp knife.
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Put the peppers in a food processor, strip the leaves from the cilantro and parsley and add to peppers.  Pour in half the chicken stock and process until smooth.  Add remaining stock and puree again.
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Heat oil in a saucepan, add the rice and minced shallot and fry for 5 minutes over med heat until the rice is golden and the shallot is translucent.  Add the salt, stir in the green puree, lower heat, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed  and the rice is just tender. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
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ENJOY!
to print the recipe, click here
 
Comments:  Lately I’ve been quite smitten with poblano peppers.  Very little heat, but so much flavor! Our stove did a great job charring them, I don’t think I was ever able to get such a beautiful blackened skin with almost no effort.   Using a paper towel to remove the charred skin was also a great move, a tip I got from watching Marcela Valladolid in her show Mexican Made Easy.  I never liked the idea of rinsing the peppers because there’s quite a bit of flavor loss if you do that.  The paper towels removed just the skin and I could leave little bits here and there for an extra smoky flavor.   Aren’t they cute?

compositePeppers

Adding boiling water to the rice and waiting for 20 minutes was also something I had never done, and I liked the texture of the finished product.  If you are a cilantro-hater, this rice is not for you, its flavor is obviously very prominent.  You could substitute spinach.

GreenRiceServed
This was a delicious dinner!  Green rice, simple roasted carrots, and for our protein a few slices of center-cut pork chops, cooked sous-vide, and finished off on the grill.   Life is good!

Wendy, I hope you had a great time this month with your assignment!  It was wonderful to browse through your site, I read all your posts about your Mom, and am still in awe of your ability to do so much Everyday in your Life on the Farm… 

For my readers: if you want to see what my fellow Secret Friends cooked up this month, give a little click on the blue frog at the end of this post.   Normally Groups C and D would take a break in the month of December, but apparently me and Dorothy from Shockingly Delicious whined so much about withdrawal syndrome, that The Secret Recipe Club will have a little surprise reserved for both groups.  It will be awesome, so stay tuned!

ONE YEAR AGO: Potato-Crusted Italian Mini-Quiches

TWO YEARS AGO: Beetroot Sourdough for the Holidays

THREE YEARS AGO: Cod Filet with Mustard Tarragon Crust

FOUR YEARS AGO: Soba Noodles: Light and Healthy

FIVE YEARS AGO: Potato-Rosemary Bread

GOING SKINNY AND LOVING IT!

No, my weight has not dropped that much.  What is going skinny is my Eggplant Parmigiana, since I radically changed my recipe after stumbling on this post by Mike at The Iron You. Mike’s blog line is “Eat Well – Exercise More – Become a Healthier You”.  I can definitely sign below that. He knows how to match nutrition with a challenging exercise routine, and his posts are always super-fun to read.  Anyway, he started that particular article with a mild rant about the way most people approach this classic dish.  Reading it, I was forced to admit to being guilty of some of the crimes. Granted, I’ve never went to the extent of frying my eggplant slices, but I definitely used a heavy hand with the cheese and sauce. My version of eggplant parm made me leave the table feeling heavy and sluggish, a feeling I don’t care for at all. Mike proves that there’s no reason for it. Just a few tweaks and you will have a fantastic dish, still able to carry the label of comfort food, but considerably lighter than 99% of the recipes in restaurants, cookbooks, and the blogosphere.  I hope you will give this version a try, it will knock your socks off.  And, apparently in English that is a very good thing.

SkinnyEggplantParmigiana

SKINNY EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA
(very slightly modified from The Iron You)

3 medium eggplants
2 garlic cloves, peeled (I omitted due to our vampire genes)
1 29 oz / 820 gr can diced tomato
1 cup / 1.8 oz / 50 gr Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons almond milk (my adaptation)
1 medium shallot, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt, divided
black ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C) and place a rack in the middle. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly grease with some olive oil. Set aside.

Cut each eggplant lengthwise in 1/4 inch slices, liberally sprinkle with salt on one side, and add the slices back together, tightly assembling the eggplant and wrapping with plastic wrap.  Leave them over the counter for about 20 minutes. You will notice a darkish liquid forming inside the package. Open the package over the sink, and briefly rinse the slices, drying them with paper towels.

Arrange the eggplant slices on a single layer on the baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the slices begin to turn deep brown on top.  Remove the slices to a platter and allow them to cool slightly before proceeding.

In the meantime make the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add shallots and garlic and saute’ for 5 minutes, until onion begins to golden. Add diced tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of salt, basil, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and set aside.

Lightly grease with 1 tablespoon of olive oil the bottom and sides of an 8 by 12-inch baking pan. (a brownie pan works perfectly). Beat two eggs with the almond milk and reserve. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with some tomato sauce and arrange eggplant slices on top to form a uniform layer. Cover the eggplant with some tomato sauce, some Parmigiano cheese and top with 2 tablespoons of beaten eggs . Repeat to make 3 layers, making sure to end with a uniform layer of tomato sauce and top with the remaining cheese.
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Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes until hot and beginning to brown. Let rest at for 10 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

And now it’s time for me to brag a little… Many years ago, I sent a cooking tip to Fine Cooking magazine, and my tip won the best of the issue!  I got several cool gifts, including a salad spinner I still own, and love.  It was a nice surprise to win.  The cooking tip I submitted was what I just shared here with you, the way I draw the bitter juices out of eggplant. Most instructions involve salting the slices and weighing them down, or submerging them in salted water.  I find my method very convenient, and quite efficient.  It is explained in detail in the recipe, in case you missed it. The secret is to tighten the package of plastic well around the eggplant.

SkinnyEggplanComposite

I cut the eggplant lengthwise, and when assembling the dish,  each layer goes in one orientation, so that they criss-cross. That makes slicing the casserole a lot easier later.  Also, since the beaten eggs are a little hard to spread over the layers, I added a touch of almond milk to thin it, a la egg wash.  You can omit it, or use milk or even water if you prefer, but don’t add too much, just enough to make it easier to spread.

It was so much fun to make this dish, that I feel like sharing a couple of shots of the process…

firstlayerHere is the first layer ready, just a little cheese and a little beaten egg on top of the eggplant…

LayersReadyAnd the dish, ready to go into the oven… make sure to bake it over a larger baking sheet to avoid messing up your oven.

It is very important to let the dish rest for at least 10  minutes, but longer will be better. Next day, leftovers were perfect warmed up for a few minutes in the microwave.  In fact it tasted even better than the first day, so if you have a dinner party to host, this could be a nice option to make in advance.  It is also gluten-free, in case you have friends with gluten issues.

Leftovers

We loved this preparation so much,  there is no way I’m going back to my former recipe!  I also think that if you cut the eggplant parmigiana in small squares they could work well as appetizers for a dinner party.  Substantial for an appetizer course, but so very delicious!  You would definitely have to cut it the following day, because  when it comes out of the oven it will be too tricky to do it.

Mike, thanks again for the wonderful take on one of our favorite eggplant preparations!

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Supernova Meets Wok

TWO YEARS AGO500 Posts and The Best Thing I ever made

THREE YEARS AGO: Back in Los Angeles

FOUR YEARS AGO: White House Macaroni and Cheese

FIVE YEARS AGO: Korean-Style Pork with Asian Slaw

 

LEAVING ON TWO JET PLANES!

jetplane
Once again we embark on a big adventure…  Today we fly to Chicago – against my will, I must add – to attend a scientific meeting.  The idea of being in that city at the same time as the entity called Polar Vortex terrifies me, to put it  mildly. But the meeting was scheduled months ago, when they thought Chicago would still be a safe place for humans at this time of the year.

Straight from Chicago – assuming I survive it – we fly to Brazil, where we’ll spend most of Thanksgiving week. We will have a chance to see our colleagues and give a talk at the University of São Paulo, but what is even better, we’ll get to visit my family, especially my Mom!

SAMSUNG DIGIMAX A503

 Parque Ibirapuera, very close to my niece’s home, where we will be staying this time…

 

As usual, the Bewitching Kitchen will go on, I have posts scheduled to go live during our trip.  However, my ability to answer comments and visit other food blogs will be limited until our return on November 28th.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving celebrations, and save some turkey for me!

(comments are shutdown for this post)

PAN-CHARRED VEGGIES FROM COOKING LIGHT

Cooking Light magazine, in their April 2014 issue published a nice article about pan-charring veggies for a boost in flavor. More than simply offering a recipe, they shared a general method to deal with veggies like asparagus and green beans. Veggies that can take the heat, so to speak. All you need to do is choose three basic components: the fat to coat the veggies after the initial charring, the acidic ingredient to brighten things up and the herbs added right before serving.  No matter which veggies you are dealing with, they will be ready in no time.  I know I sound like a broken record, but when I get home from work and it’s my turn to cook, the last thing I want is a side-dish that takes 45 minutes to prepare.  Give me something fast and flavorful, and I am game!

So here is my take number one on this method: charred asparagus flavored with lemon juice and fresh dill at the end… Before you accuse me of the capital culinary sin of non-seasonal cooking, let me say that this dish was made last May, not too long after I got the magazine. As usual, it takes me a while to go from table to blog. But, since last week I used this method to cook delicious green beans, I am taking the opportunity to talk about both dishes. Clearly, it’s all about the char…

AsparagusDill

PAN-CHARRED ASPARAGUS
(adapted from Cooking Light, April 2014)

Cooking spray
8 ounces asparagus, cut in pieces
1 + 1/2 teaspoons walnut oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon salt
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Heat a medium, heavy skillet (not nonstick) over high heat for 2 minutes.

Coat pan with cooking spray. Immediately add asparagus pieces to pan, shaking them into a single layer; cook, without stirring, 2 minutes or until asparagus is very lightly charred. Cook asparagus 5 more minutes or until crisp-tender and evenly charred, tossing occasionally.

Remove pan from heat. Let asparagus rest 1 minute. Add walnut oil; toss to coat asparagus pieces. Add lemon juice; toss. Turn on heat if necessary to evaporate most of liquid. Sprinkle asparagus with dill and salt; toss. Serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

And here is my take number two: the exact same method, using olive oil to coat green beans, a touch of apple cider vinegar as the acidic component, and fresh tarragon added at the end. Tarragon straight from the garden of our friend Cindy, who recently visited us with her husband. Remember, I am the lucky woman with the super generous friends…

GreenBeansTarragon2
Now, as I mentioned, this is all about the char… Look at these dark spots, aren’t they making you crave some green beans?

GreenBeansTarragon

Back in 2010 I  wrote a blog post about “Blasted Broccoli“, stove-top version. We loved that recipe so much that I went through a long phase of cooking it weekly. I can see that this method could be adapted for broccoli too. Or sugar snap peas.  Avocado oil, coconut oil, use your imagination (and your pantry) and play with this method.  You won’t be disappointed…

ONE YEAR AGO: Pomegranate Chicken Thighs and Carrot Mash

TWO YEARS AGO: The Many Faces of Kale

THREE YEARS AGO:  Short and Sweet

FOUR YEARS AGO: Ciabatta, a Classic Italian Bread

FIVE YEARS AGO: Magical Lamb Stew

 

FETA-STUFFED TURKEY MEATLOAF

Let me set the record straight right now. This recipe is not going to win a beauty contest.  It is definitely not the best looking dish in the world, but sometimes beauty is in the eye of the fork-holder. Once again – in fact two posts in a row – I am joining spinach and feta to bring a humble ingredient (first cauliflower, now ground turkey) into the spotlight.  This meatloaf turned out moist, and quite flavorful with the salty bite of feta cheese in the middle.  I think this recipe could work very nicely made in muffin tins, with feta cheese in the center. Individual servings are always a lot of fun.  Note to self: try that next time.

TurkeySpinachMeatloaf

FETA-STUFFED TURKEY MEATLOAF
(adapted from All Day I Dream about Food)

1 large shallot, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 lbs ground turkey
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
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Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and heat your oven to 325 F.
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Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in shallots, salt and pepper and saute until shallots are translucent but do not allow them to brown.  Add in spinach and stir until heated through. Allow it to cool before proceeding with the recipe.
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In a large mixing bowl, combine sautéed shallots, ground turkey, coconut flour, chicken stock, egg and Worcestershire sauce. Mix until very well combined.  Place half of the turkey mixture on prepared baking sheet and shape into a flat rectangle, about 1 inch thick. Cover with feta cheese, pressing on feta to adhere to meatloaf. Place remaining turkey mixture over top of feta and shape the whole thing into a rough loaf.
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Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until
internal temperature reaches 160 F on an instant read thermometer.

Cut into slices and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

thatsauce(image from Google database)

Did you know that there are some words in English that I am a bit afraid of?  Worcestershire is one of them.  I refer to it as “that sauce”, so that my dignity is preserved. In Brazil we call it “molho inglês” (English sauce), a clever move if you ask me.  Speaking of tricky words, I also avoid saying “beach” and “sheet” because apparently I tend to lead both words into the wrong direction.  But, I digress. That sauce is very important in this recipe, it adds the umami component so fashionable right now. Or maybe it was so fashionable a couple of years ago, and I’m slow to catch up.  Still, add it. If you can pronounce it correctly, even better!  ;-)

This topic of tricky words for foreigners made me think of the name of a city in the state where I was born, São Paulo.  Please try to say it before you listen to the correct pronunciation in the file below it. Ready?

The name of the city is… ITAQUAQUECETUBA

and now see how you did, by listening to yours truly…


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In closing, a little language trivia for you: the name Itaquaquecetuba comes from tupi-guarani, meaning “a place of abundant bamboo sharp as knives”.  

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Artichoke-Saffron Souffle

TWO YEARS AGO: Cinnamon-Wreath
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THREE YEARS AGO:
  Yeastspotting 11.11.11
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FOUR YEARS AGO:
 Oven-baked Risotto
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FIVE YEARS AGO:
  Potato-Roquefort Cakes with Ripe Pears

HELEN FLETCHER’S OATMEAL COOKIES

A few months ago I started following the blog hosted by Helen Fletcher, a fantastic baker who has this to say about her site:

  With 25 years experience owning and operating a wholesale specialty bakery servicing hotels, restaurants and caterers, I am going to share a wealth of information I’ve gained over those years with you.

That would definitely be enough to capture my attention, but once I started browsing her site one more thing became clear: Helen not only has tremendous experience in baking, but she is also a natural teacher. You know how some people have a special talent to explain things clearly, to emphasize what really matters? That is exactly what she does.  She is also the author of three cookbooks: The New Pastry Cookbook, European Tarts, and  Baking as a Business (available in PDF format).

Just to give you a glimpse of the recipes (actually they are more like tutorials) available on her site, here are some of the ones that tempt me:  27 Layer Tuille Torte, Chocolate Strawberry Mousse Torte, A Trio of Angel Food Cakes, Orange Almond Madeleines, and even the show-stopping Hungarian Dobos Torte calls my name, as her instructions are so detailed. Now, don’t hold your breath, I am not attempting that one… yet.  Taking baby steps, I started with harmless cookies.

cooling

OATMEAL COOKIES
(recipe reprinted with permission from Helen S. Fletcher – Pastries like a Pro)

3 cups old-fashioned Quaker Oats (do not use the quick cooking type!) 
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour (160 grams or 5 2/3 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar (225 grams or 8 ounces)
1 cup sugar (200 grams or 7 ounces)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (114 grams, 4 ounces or 1 stick)
1/2 cup shortening (114 grams or 4 ounces)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound total chocolate chips, raisins, dried fruit or nuts in any combination (454 grams)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together the oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.  Set aside.

Cream the sugars, butter and shortening until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined.  Add the vanilla.  If the mixture curdles, don’t worry about it.

Add the flour mixture half at a time, beating on low until completely combined.  Lastly, add the nuts, chips or whatever you are adding in.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Drop the cookies using a #40 disher or 2 tablespoons spacing them apart.  Double pan and bake for 9 minutes, turn and bake 8 to 9 more.  They should still be puffy when you pull them out.  They will drop and finish baking on the baking sheet as they cool.  Cool for about 8 to 10 minutes and remove to a cooling rack with a spatula.  Cool completely.

Yield:  Approximately 50 – 3 inch cookies.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  What made me want to make this recipe right away was this statement by Helen: “I wish I had a nickel for every time someone told me how much they loved this oatmeal cookie.  It is not your usual oatmeal cookie… This is a chocolate chip version that is not shy on spices.”   Oatmeal, chocolate, and spices.  Cannot go wrong with those. As the recipe says, you can add any combination of nuts, dried fruits, and the type of chocolate you like, as long as you keep the high proportion of add-ons. That is important to give the cookies their unique texture.  I used white and dark chocolate chips, walnuts, and dried cranberries. Finally, how could I skip a recipe that includes this line in the instructions?

If the mixture curdles, don’t worry about it…
;-)

If only cake baking could work smoothly like that!  I would be making genoises as if they were going out of style…  I exchanged a few emails with Helen, to get her opinion on halving the recipe: 50 cookies seemed like too  many.  She was very nice, and gently tried to convince me to make the full batch.  I am a bit embarrassed to admit that she was right, and I should have followed her advice.  My batch made 20 cookies, as I tend to follow Phil’s preferences, and make cookies a little larger than average. The cookies vanished too fast, a full batch would have been better.  Oh, well. When a pro speaks, you should listen.  That’s what I keep trying to convey to our graduate students, but sometimes my shockingly wise words fall into deaf ears. Which explains 57% of my gray hair.

If a pro speaks, pay attention. If the mixture curdles, don’t worry about it.
(free advice given to you by your bewitching hostess)

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