Blood Orange and Ricotta Pancakes with Minted Strawberries

Blood Orange and Ricotta Pancakes

 

On the weekends, my tummy and daughter begs me to make pancakes.  It’s something I have done for, let’s see, 15 years.  That is a lot of pancakes my friends.  Needless to say, I need to vary the ingredients because regular pancakes, as good as they are, get a little boring.  Now, I’ve seen multiple recipes for Lemon Ricotta pancakes, but I have a stash of blood oranges, and decided to switch it up and see what came out.

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I didn’t use this many for the recipe, the juice from one was enough.  The rest were just juiced to go with our breakfast.  I was pleasantly surprised, the times I have made the lemon ricotta, I really didn’t taste that much lemon.  The blood orange juice gave it a sweeter, and slightly tart flavor.  Adding ricotta made them super creamy and just a little bit denser.  We all loved them, and as soon as blood orange season rolls around again, I know that I’ll be making this on Saturday morning!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

Juice from one Blood Orange

1/2 cup ricotta

1 cup sliced strawberries

1 tbsp mint, in chiffonade

1 tsp sugar

Butter

Maple Syrup

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Set aside.  In another bowl, mix the egg, milk, orange juice and ricotta until combined.  Add to the flour mixture, and whisk just until combined.  Do not overmix, it’s ok if there are still some lumps.

In a small bowl, mix the strawberries, mint and sugar well.  Let them sit until you are ready to serve.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Add a tsp of oil or butter, and wipe the pan with a paper towel so there is just a film of the oil or butter.

Using a 1/4 cup measurement, or a small ladle, place the batter and cook until it bubbles, then flip over.  Repeat with remaining batter.  You should be able to make 6-7 pancakes.

Top the pancakes with the strawberries, butter and syrup.  Serve immediately.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Asparagus and Red Pepper Quiche

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Spring has definitely sprung, and as the days grow warmer in Madrid, it’s time to eat lighter and take advantage of nature’s bounty.  Asparagus is something that I look forward to every year, especially since my daughter absolutely loves them.  Yet I find that I seem to prepare them in the same ways, lightly sautéed either with eggs, parmesan or just a simple vinaigrette.

This year, I was going through a book that I have not opened in a long time.  My copy of Michel Roux’s “Pastry; Sweet and Savoury” has been sitting on my shelf for years.  I always leaf through it, and promise myself that I will try some of the recipes, yet I think I have only made one before.

I remember I bought the tart pan for this recipe specifically a couple of years ago, because the picture in the book struck me for its beauty.  I was a bit wary though, because the many times I had read the recipe, it seemed quite complicated.  I wasn’t wrong.  But what I didn’t realize, was how wonderful and delicious it is.  So yes, it is time-consuming, but I think if you tackle it bit by bit then it will become infinitely easier.  It isn’t hard, just laborious.

The result is a Quiche so elegant, so refined and bursting with spring flavors.  I hope you will try it too.  Oh, and the pastry is to die for.  ‘Nuff said.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from Michel Roux’s  Pastry; Sweet and Savoury

1 recipe short crust dough (follows)

40-45 medium asparagus stalks

salt and freshly ground pepper

5 red peppers, semi-confit (recipe follows) 600g total weight before confit

1 egg

1 egg yolk

200ml whipping cream

pinch of nutmeg

6 dill sprigs

Roll out the dough to 3mm and cover the elongated tart pan.  Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 190C, poke the dough in the tart pan and cover it with parchment and pie weights (or dried beans if you don’t have pie weights).  Bake for 20 minutes.   Lower the heat to 170C, remove pie weights and parchment and bake for another 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and proceed with the filling.

Trim asparagus to 10cm to fit the tart pan ( do use a ruler).  Reserve bottom stalks for soups or frittata.  Steam until just tender, about 3 minutes.  Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside.

Chop the already confit peppers, and set on a paper towel to drain off all the oil.  Place evenly on the baked tart pan.

In a medium bowl, mix the egg and the yolk with the cream, season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Pour 3/4 of the cream mix onto the peppers.  Carefully place the asparagus, 2 by 2 horizontally facing opposite sides in your tart pan.  Spoon the rest of the cream mixture on top.  Bake in oven for 30 minutes.  Take out of the oven and place over a rack to cool for 20 minutes before unmolding.

With a spatula, lift the Quiche on to a plate.  Place the dill springs on top, and serve warm.  You can accompany it with a side salad for a perfect spring meal.

SHORT CRUST DOUGH RECIPE:

250g flour

150g cold unsalted butter, cut into small squares

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

1 tbsp cold milk

In a large bowl, add all the ingredients.  With your fingertips, start mixing all the ingredients until it resembles wet sand.  Form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to a week.  You can also freeze it for up to 3  months.

CONFIT RED PEPPERS RECIPE:

600g red peppers (if not for this recipe, you can use whatever color you want, or a mix)

600ml of olive oil

2 thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

1 rosemary sprig

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 tsp black or white peppercorns

Roast the peppers, in the broiler or on a grill.  Char the skin all over, then place in a plastic bag for 15 minutes to cool and sweat.  Remove skin and seeds.

Heat oil in a small stock pot to 70C (very very low heat).  Add all the ingredients plus the peppers and cook for 30 minutes.  Let cool, and if not using immediately, place the oil with all the ingredients in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are going to use them.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Blackberry and Cornmeal Muffins

Blackberry and Cornmeal Muffins

 

It’s been one of those weeks.  A pipe burst in our apartment, and we have had severe damage to our floors and walls.  Nothing like inept handymen sent by your landlord to further make a mess of the situation.  Apart from that, it’s been rainy, cold, and I’m kind of homesick.

That means it’s time for me to get baking, and make some feel good treats for breakfast so I can get my butt to the gym, whenever these lovely men think they’ll finish making holes in our floor!

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This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes cookbook.  I love the taste of blackberries, but don’t really enjoy eating them raw.  They are way too grainy and seedy for me, and store-bought always seem to be incredibly tart!  I always dream of walking through some field, and picking them off their bush, and taste the sweet ripeness that only the sun can provide.  Alas, the only time I have had contact with any wild blackberries is when my daughter brought back silk worms from school as a project.  I had no idea that they only ate blackberry leaves, so I had to hunt out a tree and pick the leaves so they wouldn’t die.  Even though I ABHOR any type of worm.  But, I just can’t let a living thing die, disgusting or not.

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Today we found an array of berries at the market, and I love me some blueberries for breakfast, but picked these up thinking I would make the muffins I saw in Martha’s book.  Brought them home, picked up the book, read the recipe and then realized I don’t have any cornmeal.  I only had Arepa flour.  (Arepas are Colombian cornmeal patties- delicious!)  Even though in Martha’s book it stated for cornmeal, I swapped it in, lessening the amount of sugar that the recipe originally called for.  The Arepa flour that I have has some sugar already in the mix.  I didn’t want them to be overly sweet, either, and I wanted to be able to taste the tartness I find unappealing in the raw berries.  It worked perfectly.  Nice and cornbread like, soft, fluffy, and moist, berries bursting when you take a bite.  Definite “picker upper” on a cold rainy day!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes

Makes 12-16 muffins

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup fine ground yellow cornmeal

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

7 tbsp butter, melted and cooled

1 -2 containers (6 oz each) fresh blackberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 F (190C).  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.  Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar.  In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs and melted butter, pour over flour mixture, whisking to combine.

2.  Fill each lined cup with a scant 1/4 cup batter.  Top batter with blackberries (3-4 berries per cup), then sprinkle evenly with remaining sugar.

3.  Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until evenly browned on top, 20- to 25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before removing muffins.  They are best eaten the day they are baked, but will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Roasted Butternut Squash and Orange Soup with Ancho and Chipotle Cream

Butternut Squash Soup

It’s cold here.  I mean, I know it isn’t as cold as some parts of the world, but for a Caribbean gal like me, it’s damn well near freezing.  These last weeks, I find myself drinking cupfuls of tea every day, and dreaming of really warm things like oatmeal, stews, and of course, soups.

Since in South Africa I saw butternut squash EVERYWHERE, and the first shopping I did here had a big crate full, so I thought, why not?!  I did have to wait a while to make it, because I love roasting squash. (Remember I didn’t have an oven until last week?)  I love roasting it because it brings out its natural sweetness.  The kitchen also was super warm and cozy with the lovely aroma emanating from it.  I also had some oranges, so I decided to grate a little bit of the zest into the onions, and then juice the rest of it to put in the soup.  It completely changed the dish, for the better!  It tasted fresher and brighter.  But of course since I like contrasts, I needed a little zip too, so I toasted and soaked some ancho chiles and pureed them with some ground chipotle pepper into the cream.  The result?  Phenomenal.  I hope you try it too!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

1 medium-sized butternut squash, halved and roasted at 190C (375F) for about an hour, let cool

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 a large onion, chopped

1 tsp grated orange zest

Juice from 1 orange

5 cups vegetable stock

1 cup 2% milk

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large ancho chile, toasted, soaked and seeded

2 tsp (or more, heck, I like it spicy, but it’s totally up to you) ground chipotle powder

1/4 – 1/2 cup heavy cream

Parsley leaf, to decorate if you are so inclined

In a large stock pot, add the olive oil and set the heat to medium low.  Add the onion and zest.  Saute until it is translucent, about 6-7 minutes.  In the meantime, peel the squash and cube it.  Add to the onions along with some salt, pepper and cook for about 5 minutes more.  Add the juice and stock and raise the heat to high.  Let it come to a boil, and then lower the heat to medium low and let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes.

When the squash is easy to mush, add the milk and purée with an immersion blender. Simmer for another 5 minutes.  Pass it through a chinois (or not, if you want it chunkier, omit this step) and return to heat.

In a small bowl, cut the ancho chile up into strips.  Add the chipotle and the cream and with the same immersion blender, blend until it is smooth.  Add some salt and pepper to taste.  (So your cream won’t whip, heat it up a little).

Serve the soup in bowls, and drizzle with the ancho chipotle cream.  Garnish with a parsley leaf.  Serve immediately.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Buckwheat Polenta with Gorgonzola Cream and Toasted Walnuts

 

Buckwheat Polenta

 

The first time I tried Polenta I was 11 years old, my first year in Switzerland.  I remember seeing these enormous vats of polenta, being stirred constantly by a mechanical arm.  To tell you the truth, it really didn’t look very appetizing.  It looked like a big mass of yellow mush.  Then I tried it.  I’ve been hooked since.

I love the versatility of polenta.  It can be eaten soft, or left to harden then baked or fried.  It allows you to top it with an infinite nuber of possibilities, savory or sweet.  Buckwheat Polenta, or as they call it in Italy, Polenta Taragna, is quite different.  It has a saltier and denser quality, and usually it is eaten only with savory, and with a final addition of Bitto cheese.  In Lombaridia, the region where Milano is capital, there is an area called Valtellina.  This is the northern alpine area, and buckwheat is used in many recipes, two of the most famous being this polenta and a type of pasta called Pizzocheri.  They are both some of my favorites, but for my belly it needs to be quite cool to eat this since it is much more filling than normal pasta and polenta varieties.  That said, it is also a heck of a lot more nutritious too!

On my last trip to Lugano, I brought back some of this polenta, and finally the weather cooled down enough for me to make some.  I have a few friends here who are die-hard fans of polenta, so I wanted to introduce this variety to them.  I chose to top it with a creamy gorgonzola sauce, and some toasted walnuts.  If you are so lucky to find some, make sure you get the express variety, which cooks in about 5 minutes.  If not, you will have to stand over the stove and CONTINUOUSLY stir the polenta for 40-50 minutes!  (I haven’t had an arm workout like this in years.)  But, the end result is well worth the exercise, and throughout the process, I was channeling my inner nonna.

So, here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 6

500 g Polenta Taragna (or regular polenta if you can’t find it)

250 g Gorgonzola Dolce Cheese

200 ml cream

Salt, Pepper and Freshly Grated Nutmeg to taste

100g Walnuts, toasted

Cook polenta according to package directions.   In a small saucepan over medium low heat, add the cream and gorgonzola cheese, stirring until it melts.  Take off heat and add the salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Keep warm.

In a small frying pan, toast the walnuts until darkened and fragrant.  Take off heat.

On a plate, heap some polenta on it, then drizzle as much cream sauce as you want ( I like a lot) and top with the toasted walnuts.

It’s that easy and it’s even more delicious!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Panellets – Catalan Almond, Sweet Potato and Pine Nut Cookies

Panellets

This year, instead of celebrating Halloween, and making all sorts of goodies relevant to my favorite holiday, I’ve decided to celebrate my wonderful city’s tradition of Panellets.  Why, you ask?  Well, because it is the last year that I celebrate this tradition.  You see, in about a month, we are moving to Madrid.

Panellets are these incredibly moist and delicious cookies that are like little pillows of heaven.  They are typically eaten on November 1st, which is All Saints’ Day here, which is called “La Castanyada”, meaning the day of chestnuts.  You eat them for dessert with a nice glass of dessert wine and some hot roasted chestnuts.  Very yummy indeed.  Now, as all good recipes go, there is the catch, to use sweet potatoes or not?  Some people say it is a sacrilege, others say it imparts a moistness that you don’t get if you only use the almonds.  I chose to use the sweet potatoes, because they’re good for you!  And traditionally, they are coated with pine nuts, but lately they come covered in coconut and almonds too.  I did a few in coconut because I ran out of pine nuts.  The choice is up to you!

Now, this is the first time I have made them at home.  After 10 years of being here, I am ashamed of this.  But, to be totally honest, it’s like making Oreos at home.  They are so readily available at this time of year that it almost is stupid to make them.  But, I have to admit that, this is so far from the truth.  Now that I have accomplished this feat, I have to tell you, this is baking 101.  So super easy.  And, the bonus is that they taste MUCH MUCH MUCH better than the store-bought ones.

Now, who feels like a fool?

I really hope that you try to make these, not only are they tasty, they’re pretty healthy as far as cookies go.  No butter.  No gluten.  If you really want to make them über healthy, abstain from the regular sugar and go brown or with stevia.  Up to you.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

To make about 30 cookies

250g sweet potato, boiled, cooled, peeled and mashed

450g ground almonds, preferably marcona

Grated lemon peel from 1 whole lemon

400g sugar

3 eggs, separated, keeping the whites in one bowl, and TWO yolks in another, and ONE yolk in another bowl

400g pine  nuts (coconut and crushed almonds optional)

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F).  In a large bowl, mix the mashed sweet potatoes with the sugar.  Mix in the almond and lemon peel.  Add two of the egg yolks and mix well.

Make small balls about 2 inches in diameter.  Beat your egg whites slightly.  Now align your bowls with the egg whites, the pine nuts and the rest of the coatings if using.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Now dip your cookie balls in the egg white, and roll in the pine nuts (or the other coatings if using) and place on the baking sheet.  Repeat until you have finished all the cookies.  Brush them with the 1 egg yolk, and bake for about 20-25 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheet and refrigerate for about an 1.

Serve with dessert wine and some hot roasted chestnuts!

Visca Catalunya!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Surf & “Turf”

Surf and Turf

 

Normally, when we have friends over for dinner, I spend a few days carefully planning what I am going to make.  I love that process, poring through my cookbooks to get inspirations, reading my recipes over and over, thinking of who is coming and what I think they might like.

Not so yesterday.  Our friends were invited to dinner last-minute, and we went to the market after lunch, which for me means, no inspiration whatsoever.  I mean, I’m stuffed, I’m not thinking of what I want to make for dinner???

This whole dish was inspired by Paolo’s choice of wild mushrooms.  There were some beautiful chanterelles, and he asked me if I could make a dish out of one of his favorites mushrooms.  So, I started wracking my brain, and normally when I think wild mushrooms, I think game meats or beef.  But we had a large chunk of meat for lunch, so that was out of the question.  He suggested seafood, and I thought, ok, my version of surf and turf!

I am quite impressed how well this turned out, none of the flavors masked the other, rather, the briny shrimp paired perfectly with the sautéed chanterelles, over an individual “Pommes Anna” laced with a sultry porcini sauce.  Everyone said that this should be my signature dish, and I agree.

This dish is very simple to prepare.  It just takes a bit of organization.  But totally worth it!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4

1 large russet potato

Thyme

400 g fresh chanterelle mushrooms

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

20-25 large shrimp, head on

1/4 cup olive oil

4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 porcini stock cube, or pre-soaked dried porcini, reserve them for later, and use the soaking liquid about 1 1/2 cups

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp instant cornstarch

Salt and Pepper to taste

First, pre-heat the oven to 200 C.

In a bowl, add the shrimp with a couple of sprigs of thyme, the olive oil and Worcestershire sauce.  Mix well and refrigerate and marinate them for at least 30 minutes, up to two hours.

Oil a baking sheet, set aside.  Slice the potato really thinly with a mandoline (if you have one).  Soak the potatoes in salted water while you are slicing so they won’t turn brown.  Rinse and pat dry, and make individual round “cakes”, layering the potatoes in a circle on top of each other, overlapping.  Place on the oiled baking sheet and put a pat of butter, salt and pepper on each.  Lower the heat to 190 C, and place in the oven and cook until golden and crispy, about 15 minutes.

In a stockpot, place 1 1/2 cups of water and the porcini stockcube. (If you don’t have it, add the drained soaking liquid from the dry porcinis.)  Heat to high, and add the butter.  When it is boiling, reduce the heat and add the cornstarch.  Cook, stirring until it thickens.  Keep warm.

In the meantime, add half a tablespoon of oil to a large sauté pan over high heat,  Add the garlic cloves and the chanterelle mushrooms and cook for about 7-8 minutes, until the mushrooms are fully cooked.  Add a little salt and pepper, and place in a heat proof bowl and put them in the oven.

Drain the shrimp,and discard the thyme sprigs, leaving only about 1 tbsp of oil and sauce.  Add that to the same sauté pan, and over high heat.  When it is almost smoking, add the shrimp and sauté, tossing, for about 5 minutes until the shrimp start to curl and are fully cooked.

To assemble the dish, place the potato round on the plate.  Top with some of the sautéed chanterelle mushrooms, then 5 shrimp arranged over the chanterelle.  Spoon some of the porcini sauce over the shrimp, mushrooms and potatoes.

You are going to love it!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Beef and Wild Mushroom Stew with Pearled Barley

Beef and Wild Mushroom Stew with Pearled Barley

It’s wild mushroom season here, but unfortunately, it hasn’t rained much so there aren’t very many wild mushrooms.  Nevertheless, I was craving a stew, a beef stew.  There is a typical dish here called Fricando”, where you make a gorgeous stew with Moxiernon mushrooms.  I think the translation is St. George’s Mushroom.  It’s small, dark brown with a thin stem and perfect little cap.  I bought the dried variety, because for stews, I find that the umami  is more enhanced and concentrated.

I love making stews because once you have done some minimal prep work, and you start to simmer it, all you have to do is sit back and relax and let nature do its magic.  Mine was on the stove for about 3 hours, so your beef is succulent and completely melts in your mouth!  I added a whole bottle of Ribera del Duero wine, to make it even more luxurious.

Instead of potatoes or rice, I opted for barley.  I love the nutty taste of it, and also the texture beats rice or potatoes any day in my book!  Apart from that, it is a powerhouse of nutritional value.  Great source of fiber, filled with vitamins, antioxidants and phytochemicals, which we all by now are great cancer fighting properties.

So why not make this dish and luxuriate, knowing that your taste buds and your health will thank you!

Here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4

1 lb beef for stew

4 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 large celery rib, chopped

1 swede, chopped

1/2 leek, sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 carrots, sliced

1 parsnip, sliced

200 g dried wild mushrooms, rinsed and soaked in warm water for 20 minutes

1 good bottle of red wine

2 bay leaves

Salt and Pepper to taste

3 tsp bisto mixed with a 1/2 cup water

1 tsp gravy master

2 tsp white wine vinegar

In a large stock pot over high heat, brown the beef on all sides.  Remove the beef with a slotted spoon, and set aside.  Add a touch of the wine to deglaze the pot, stirring so all the brown bits are incorporated into your oil.  Once the wine has evaporated, reduce the heat to low, and add the onion, celery, swede and leek.  Cook until translucent, about 15 minutes.  Add the garlic, carrot and parsnip, and cook another 5 minutes.  Return the beef to the pot, and add the mushrooms with the water they were soaking in, the red wine, bay leaves and salt and pepper.  Raise the heat to high and let come to a boil.  When it is boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, covered.

Let simmer for about 2 and a half hours covered, stirring from time to time, and in the last half hour, add the bisto, gravy master and white wine vinegar.  Let simmer uncovered for the remaining 30 minutes.

Boil the barley according to package directions, and serve hot with the stew.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Miniature Apple Pies with Thyme

Miniature Apple Pies

Ahhh, Autumn is fast arriving here in Barcelona, and for me it is one of the most special times of year.  As the days get shorter and the heat of Summer fades away, my mind wanders to longer, warmer food.  There certainly is nothing better than the smells of apples and spices emanating from your kitchen.

I have never been a big apple lover, but for some reason, apples that are baked are truly scrumptious.  A flaky crust, moist and tender, filled to the brim with those soft and delicious apples.  Served warm with some vanilla ice cream, it’s a decadent treat that will please everyone!!

For my last dinner party, I made these miniature versions.  I don’t have a beautiful pie tin, so I opted for giving everyone a mini pie.  It’s a perfect little serving.  And so easy to bake, it bakes in a cupcake tin, and they pop right out when you’re done!

Miniature Apple PiesI had lots of fun creating different tops, so feel free to let your imagination run wild.  I created a lattice top, and then I have the lovely Williams Sonoma Leaf cut outs, which I used on another, and lastly, I used a large frosting tip to create small holes.

Miniature Apple Pies

 

So have fun with them, no matter how you decided to decorate the tops, they are guaranteed to be delicious!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 12

For the Short Crust Pastry:

250g All purpose Flour

150g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes

1 tsp salt

1 egg

1 tbsp milk

In a large bowl, measure out your flour.  Add the butter and crumble with the tips of your fingers, until your flour looks like wet sand, and all the butter has been incorporated.   Add the egg, salt and milk, with your hands, mix and knead until a firm dough forms.  Roll into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, flatten into a disc and refrigerate for at least one hour.

For the filling:

5 mixed apples, such as Golden Delicious or Gala, cut into 1 inch cubes

125g butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp salt

Black pepper to taste

1 sprig of Thyme, leaves detached

3 tbsp water

1 egg, beaten

In a large pot, add all your ingredients except for the egg, and cook, about 20 minutes, until the apples are tender and the filling has thickened.  Let cool.

To assemble the pies:

Pre-heat oven to 190C.  Cut the dough in half, on a lightly floured work surface roll out the dough until 1/4 inch thick.  If the dough gets too sticky, then just refrigerate it for another 15 minutes until it is easy to work with again.

Break out your cupcake tin, and get a biscuit cutter or glass that is slightly bigger than the circumference of the circles on your tin.  Cut out the base of the pastry and place in the cupcake tins.  Then grab a bowl or something similar (look at the picture above) that is slightly larger than what you used to cut the base, and cut out the tops.  Now, decided what shapes you want to cut out, holes, lattice, etc.

Add the filling to the base, and brush the rims with a bit of the beaten egg, and then add the top of the crust and press to seal tightly.  Brush the tops of the pies with the egg wash, and add a little sugar to the tops if you want.

Bake in the oven in the middle rack for about 30-35 minutes. Remove from the tin and let cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm with some vanilla ice cream.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

 

Warm Chickpea Panzanella Salad with Torn Basil

Chickpea Panzanella SaladAs summer begins to wind down, and it’s just that teeny little bit cooler, I feel my body asking for warmer things.  Not your fresh lemony bright food, something with more of a consistency, and warmth.  It’s funny, before I moved to Spain, there were two things that I would have never eaten.  Cold Soup and Warm Salad.  They were just weird to me.  But, as I see that living in Barcelona is coexisting with your environment perfectly, a.k.a. no air-conditioning, you find more creative ways to cool yourself off.  Hence the cold soup.  Now, with the wind just a bit chillier, and not yet time to put on the heating, the warm salad.

Panzanella is such a simple salad, it literally is the epitome of ease.   The large crusty bread chunks soak up the vinaigrette.  I wanted to add some chickpeas because 1) I LOVE EM!  2) well, they elevate this salad from side dish to main dish in my book and 3) they’re healthy!  And what is better than having a few friends over and all you have to do is fry up some bread, and toss some dressing on to the greens?  Nothing, in my book.  It just gives you more time to spend with them.

chickpea panzanella salad

 

Apart from adding some torn basil into the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and chickpeas, I also fried the bread with some basil leaves and cracked pepper.

bread cubes

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4

1 baguette, cut into cubes

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large bunch basil, 3/4 of  the leaves torn, the rest left intact

200 g cooked chickpeas

1/2 cucumber, diced

10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 head of romaine lettuce, cut

1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

Lemon juice

Garlic Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large frying pan over medium high heat, add the olive oil and warm up.  When hot, add the bread cubes, some cracked pepper and the intact basil leaves.  Fry the bread until crispy on all sides.  Keep warm.

In a large bowl, add the rest of your ingredients up to the romaine lettuce.  Drizzle with the olive oil, and the lemon juice (however much you like) and garlic salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.  Add the fried bread and toss to coat.  Serve immediately.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla