ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH CHICKPEAS AND QUINOA

This goes to the OMG FILES – if I had one, that is… Great recipe brought to my attention by my friend Eha. You can find the original jumping here. I modified it quite a bit, turning it from salad into warm side dish, as at the present time we endure temperatures that have the potential to make Brazilians weep.


ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH CHICKPEAS AND QUINOA
(slightly modified from Cook Republic)

for the roasted component:
1 medium-sized head of cauliflower, cut in florets
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
2 – 3 tbsps olive oil
½ tsp salt
black pepper, freshly ground
1 can of chickpeas, drained and well-rinsed

for the dressing:
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp mustard
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsps olive oil

to assemble the dish:
1 cup cooked quinoa, still warm
handful of raisins
handful of sliced almonds
fresh parsley, chopped, amount to taste

Heat oven to 400F. . Line a large, rimmed baking tray with non-stick aluminum foil or parchment paper.

Mix cauliflower florets, smoked paprika, ground cumin, olive oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Spread cauliflower on the prepared tray and roast in the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes until golden and tender. Add the drained chickpeas, a little more olive oil and roast everything together for 5 to 10 additional minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Prepare the dressing by mixing balsamic vinegar, grain mustard, lemon juice and zest and olive oil in a small bowl. Mix well.
To assemble the salad, add warm quinoa quinoa to a large bowl. Add spring onion, raisins, toasted almond flakes and roasted cauliflower. Top with parsley and salad dressing. Mix well to ensure the dressing coats everything evenly. Serve with your main dish of choice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Amazing combination of flavors and textures, I do think it is much better warm than it would be cold, but as I always say, your kitchen, your rules. Make it as a salad if you prefer, or if perhaps you are living the height of the summer right now. The balsamic vinegar is quite prominent so I advise you to choose a brand you love. The original recipe called for grainy mustard, which I did not have, so I went with regular, smooth mustard. Everything worked great, from the raisins to the almonds, and leftovers were delicious two days later. This one is a keeper all the way, and we will be enjoying it regularly. Thank you, Eha!

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BRAZILIAN-STYLE BANANA CAKE

This is quite likely one of the easiest cakes to make, and I just know you will fall in love with it at first bite. One very unusual ingredient goes into the batter: bread crumbs instead of any type of flour. Don’t twist your nose, and please don’t run away! This is a deliciously moist, not too sweet cake, with intense banana flavor. I slightly modified the recipe my friend Alberto sent me. It is a winner!

BRAZILIAN-STYLE BANANA CAKE
(slightly modified from our friend Alberto’s recipe)

5 very ripe bananas
4 eggs
80g oil (grape seed or canola)
100g granulated sugar
100g brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups breadcrumbs (unseasoned, about
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

cinnamon + sugar to dust the top after baking

Spray a 9 x 13 pan with baking spray and cover with parchment paper coming up the sides. Reserve. Heat the oven to 350F.

Place in a blender all the ingredients up to cinnamon. Blend at full speed until the batter is smooth.

Place the bread crumbs, baking powder and salt in a large bowl, whisking to combine. Pour the blended mixture on top, and mix gently with a spatula. Pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the sides look dry and golden. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar lightly on top while the cake is still hot.

Let it cool completely before cutting in slices.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Phil fell in love with this cake, and he is a serious banana cake critic! The version we had in Brazil baked by our friend had a more intense banana flavor, but then again, it is hard to beat the flavor of a Brazilian banana in the height of the Summer… The texture of the cake is very unique, and it stays moist and tender for days. I highly recommend you give this recipe a try…

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VALENTINE’S SOURDOUGH, THREE WAYS

You can use any formula for your sourdough bread, it is all about the scoring, or scoring & painting, if you are so inclined. I offer a simple recipe, that you can flavor with different spices or leave plain.

BE MY VALENTINE SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

475g bread flour
25g spelt flour
365g water
70g sourdough starter at 100% hydration
10g salt
1 tsp spice flavoring (Garam masala, Ras-El-Hanout, Za’atar)

Make the levain mixture about 6 hours before you plan to mix the dough. It should be very bubbly and active.

When you are ready to make the final dough, place the water in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer and dissolve the starter in it, mixing with a spatula briefly, then add the two types of flour, and salt. Turn the mixer on with the hook attachment and knead the dough for 4 minutes at low-speed all the time. You will notice the dough will gain quite a bit of structure even with just 4 minutes in the mixer. Remove from the machine, and transfer to a container lightly coated with oil, cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 4 hours, folding every 45 minutes or so. Because the dough is already a bit developed from the initial time in the mixer, you should get very good structure after 3 and a half hours, or even sooner than that.

After four hours bulk fermentation, shape the dough as a ball, and place, seam side up, in a lightly floured banetton. Leave at room temperature one hour, and then place in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F.

Place three strings over the dough nicely spaced, and touch the strings to glue them lightly to the bottom of the bread. Place a parchment paper on top, a flat baking sheet, and invert the dough, flipping it out of the banneton. Flour the surface of the dough, and tie the strings on top as shown in the composite picture. Score as desired, forming a heart pattern. You can paint with an air-brush, if desired.

Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam. I cut the strings quickly after 30 minutes when I open the pan, and moved them gently out of the bread. Don’t worry if some parts of the string stay glued to the bread, you can remove later. Cool completely over a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

The first bread is a flash-back from a couple of years ago, and you can read all the details here.

If you like to add some color to this basic scoring, here’s how to do it…

Simply tie the bread as explained in the recipe, score the heart shapes, and carefully air-brush the design with red. This particular loaf was smaller (400g total flour instead of 500g), so I did not have much space to work on additional details with the razor blade. But I still like the end result…

And the third design, might be the simplest, as you won’t need to tie strings around the shaped dough before baking.

I floured the top of the bread, placed a cookie cutter on top, air-brushed the inside with red dye, removed the cookie cutter and cut the heart with a razor blade first, then used the scissors to clip all around it. A little spiral scoring all around, and that was all!

Comments: I am not sure which design is my favorite, maybe the last one, although the bread had such strong oven spring that the spiral scoring ended up a bit removed from the heart design on top. If you don’t have an air-brush, you can paint with a regular brush, diluting the food dye with a little vodka or water, depending on how fast you want the paint to dry (vodka or any other alcohol will dry faster than water). You can also just score the heart and leave it plain.

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ALMOND-RASPBERRY SANDWICH COOKIES

THIS IS MY 1,600th POST!

These are fun to make and even more fun to share, as they will bring a smile to those on the receiving end. Sprinkles are optional, but how could I think of skipping them?

ALMOND-RASPBERRY SANDWICH COOKIES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for cookies:
240 grams all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks (226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
75 grams sugar
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
raspberry jam to fill the cookie sandwiches

for chocolate coating:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoons unrefined coconut oil
Sprinkles, for decorating

Heat oven to 350F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Reserve. Cream the butter with the sugar in a KitchenAid type mixer with the paddle attachment in low-speed. Add the agave nectar and incorporate. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts and beat until light and smooth. Add the flour mixture. Beat until just combined.

Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip. Pipe the dough onto the prepared baking sheets in 2-inch lines, spaced 1-inch apart. If the dough is too stiff to pipe comfortably, protect the metal tip with a paper towel and microwave the whole bag in increments of 10 seconds, until it is soft enough to pipe, but be very careful and do not allow any of the dough to melt. It might be safer to use the microwave at 50% power. Bake until the cookies are set on top and golden around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool completely, match cookies of similar size and fill with a small amount of jam.

Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave in 15 second increments. Dip the lower part of the cookies in the chocolate letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Sprinkle with the sprinkles. Lay back on a parchment lined baking sheet and place the cookies in the refrigerator to let the chocolate fully set, which will happen quite quickly.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: Let me just reinforce what is the most important thing to consider in the recipe: if you try to squeeze the bag and it is too hard, STOP. Cover the metal tip with a paper towel and place the whole thing in the microwave, 50% power, for 10 seconds. Massage the bag, test to see if it is easier to pipe, if it isn’t do it again. Do not give yourself grievance and a sore hand. Just make sure you don’t warm the dough too much, and all will be fine. It must be easy to pipe, but still form the ridges of the open star tip.

These cookies are a little bit of work, but not too bad, and the pay-off is huge! The delicate almond flavor pairs well with the raspberry jam, and of course…. chocolate! Make it on a weekend when you are in that great Zen mode, and you will thank me later…

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