Here we are. Last Monday of September, which means Summer is gone. Over. Finito. Acabado. I could sit here and whine for hours, filling your screen with paragraph after paragraph describing in detail my despair, frustration, and overall gloom. Telling you how my interactions with human beings are affected as the average daily temperature goes down. You don’t want to be around me in January, even with all that New Year upbeat aura. But, enough with the negativity.

The last Monday of the month brings many reasons to be joyful, as it is Reveal Day for The Secret Recipe Club. This month I got a fantastic blog to stalk and cook from: A Palatable Pastime, hosted by Sue, who lives in Ohio with her husband and two lovely cats. She develops her own recipes – often with a Southern US flair – and not only has won several contests, but her productions have been featured in many top-notch sites like LDS Living, Mrs. Field’s and the Christian Science Monitor’s food section. I was thrilled to stalk her site, although a bit overwhelmed by the number of possibilities bookmarked to pick, cook, and share with my readers today.

Twelve recipes made the final list, but to keep it manageable, I’ll just mention half of them: Sweet Potato Biscuits (I’ve always wanted to make them… was very close to choosing it for this assignment), Thai Salmon Curry….   Vegan Mushroom Pumpkin Chili (her description tells me it’s a winner of a recipe), Dutch-Baby Pancake (another recipe I’ve always wanted to try), Thai Larb Soft Rolls… and Sue’s Almost Famous Meatballs (great post!). There were so many tasty options to choose from, but in the end I made a batch of her Amazing Apricot Bars. No doubt 2015 is the year of the apricot in the Bewitching Kitchen…  These turned out spectacularly amazing!

Apricot Bars

(from A Palatable Pastime)

For shortbread crust:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour (8-1/2 ounces)

For topping:
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats, toasted
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup dried cranberries (craisins)
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons honey

For finishing:
1/3 cup apricot jam
3 tablespoons sweetened flaked coconut

Heat oven to 350F.

Butter the inside of a glass 8×8-inch square baking pan. Cream together the butter and sugar (thoroughly mix until sugar dissolves). Stir in the vanilla, salt and flour and mix into a dough. Press dough evenly into the bottom of the buttered baking pan, then chill in the refrigerator while you continue.

Mix the dry ingredients for the topping together in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with sugar and honey over low heat. Stir in the dry fruit topping mixture and bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes then remove from heat. Take out the baking pan, and spread the top of the dough with the simply fruit apricot spread. Top the spread with the cooked fruit mixture.

Sprinkle the topping with an extra 3 tablespoons of sweetened flaked coconut. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before slicing into squares.


to print the recipe, click here


The bars were juicy, sweet, with a slight tang from the cranberries to balance flavors. The crust., which I find the trickiest component of this type of concoction was perfect: not too hard, not too crumbly.  As usual, I brought the whole batch to our department, and by 9:30 am, not a single crumb was left on the platter.  So, I advise that if you intend to share it friends, make sure to grab a square for yourself right away…  They are seriously addictive.


Sue, I thoroughly enjoyed stalking your site, I love the way you go the extra mile to explain the technique behind your recipes, so that even a novice cook will be able to make the many tasty things you share on your blog.  I hope you also had fun with your assignment this month. My readers are invited to browse through this month’s collection by poking the cute frog at the end of this post.

Apricot Bars2
ONE YEAR AGO: Spiralizer Fun

TWO YEARS AGO: Linguine with Cauliflower Pesto

THREE YEARS AGO: Carriage House Apple-Walnut Pie

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chicken Marsala

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Home, sweet home

SIX YEARS AGO: Levain Bread with Caramelized Onions


Or, you can call it as Brazilians do: Cocada de Forno

I am very excited to share this recipe, because it’s a very traditional Brazilian delicacy, one that brought me fond memories.  Full disclosure: as a child, I wasn’t too wild about coconut, the texture and the way the shredded pieces got into my teeth distracted from its flavor.  Thankfully I grew out of that phase, and now embrace  the fruit’s unique flavor and texture with the appreciation it deserves.  Cocada is a popular street food, sold in markets and coffee joints as small  pieces wrapped in a paper napkin.  You can take a look at them here.   This version, from the book “The Brazilian Kitchen“,  will produce a softer version, to be spooned out of a baking dish, or – if baked a little longer, as I did – a sort of blondie with intense coconut flavor.  Absolutely perfect for a spring or summer day, it might very well bring a blast of sunshine to your deepest winter.

(published with permission from Chef Leticia Schwartz)

8 Tbs butter (1/2 cup), at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup sweetened, condensed milk
1 Tbs rum (optional)
1 + 1/2 cups grated coconut (unsweetened)
2 Tbs all-purpose flour, sifted

Heat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 24-oz baking dish with butter or cooking spray.

Place the butter and the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat them together at medium speed until creamy, about 5 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to mix.  Scrape the sides of the bowl after each addition.

Add the coconut milk, the condensed milk, and the rum (if using), and continue to mix until well blended (about one more minute).  Add the coconut and mix until incorporated.   Fold the flour with a rubber spatula, and spread the batter into the prepared baking dish.  You can make the batter ahead of time, keeping it in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Bake in the 350 F oven until the top looks golden brown, the edges are set, but the center is slightly jiggly, about 20 minutes (or if you prefer a firmer consistency, bake until set, 30 to 35 minutes). Remove it from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.  Serve with a scoop of lemon sorbet for a magical experience…


to print the recipe, click here

About The Brazilian Kitchen“:    As you may remember, I’ve been on a self-induced cookbook-starvation-diet lately.  I bought this book as a gift for a dear friend, and had it at my bedside table for a few days.  I knew I had to say goodbye to it, but Leticia’s writing and her recipes were so enticing that I decided to photocopy some (many) pages.  Well, I didn’t have to:  Phil  ordered  one for me!  So, that explains how a person fully resolved not to buy cookbooks still manages to increase her collection… 😉

I could not be happier with my gift!  Leticia  covers many of my favorite Brazilian recipes, some of which I’ve featured in the blog: moqueca, chicken soup, black beans, pao de queijo, and brigadeiros.  Speaking of brigadeiros, she includes three recipes for them:  the traditional chocolate, and two tasty departures from the classic, coconut and pistachio brigadeiros.  Dreamy delight…

You will also find recipes for many other Brazilian classics:  acaraje (bean fritters),  xim xim de galinha (chicken, shrimp, peanut and cashew stew), vatapa‘ (fish puree with coconut milk),  quindim (coconut custard cake).

But, what  I like the most about “The Brazilian Kitchen”  is that Leticia goes beyond the classics, and brings very creative dishes to the table, like “caipirinha risotto”, a playful take on the great Italian dish,  using the ingredients of Brazil’s signature drink: pinga and lime juice.

Want some more teasers?  Red pepper and Brazil nut pesto, sole with coconut ginger sauce, tilapia with acai’ sauce, dulce de leche molten cake,  Passion fruit cannoli… many wonderful temptations to cook and enjoy!

If you are curious about Brazilian cooking, this book is a must-have, so help the economy with a click... And, if you want to see Chef Leticia in action (she is also a great teacher!)  jump here for a demonstration on making cod fritters.

Leticia, thank you for allowing me to publish your recipe, and I look forward to your next cookbook!

ONE YEAR AGO: Two-Stage Risotto

TWO YEARS AGO: Life is a matter of taste    (and I still miss you, David Rosengarten!)

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine