Apple pie – with priceless tips from Anna Olson

Apple pie – with priceless tips from Anna Olson

After baking several apple pies over the years and not quite getting the one that my palate would scream on wows, I decided to try yet another recipe, after watching Anna Olson on TV this fall. I am not sure if this recipe features on her new book but it was very nice to watch the video with all her tips. You can watch it here . It was quite revealing to me to learn some new directions towards that “blue ribbon” quality!

Ingredients:
1 cup diced unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
3 tbs oil
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold water
2 tsp lemon j uice or white vinegar

Filling:

6 cups of sliced apples of 3 different varieties*
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown packed sugar
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
2 tbs oats
egg wash (1 egg with 2 tbs water)
sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling

* It seems the perfect Blue ribbon pie always has 3 varieties of apples: at least one for tartness, like honey crisp and one for body like granny smith.

Directions:

If you are baking this pie in the fall when apples are so fresh and juice, start by taking 1/2 of the sliced apples and cooking for 10 min to let all the excessive moisture out. If you end up with lots of liquid, cook it down a bit and then add the nice apple concentrate to the filling. Let it cool before adding to the uncooked apples.

For the dough, cut the butter in squares and let it sit on the counter for half an hour. I know, totally opposite of other instructions where you can’t barely touch the cold butter!

Start blending the flour with the oil (in a mixer for better control – a processor would also work but everything goes too fast) so the flour gets nicely coated, which will facilitate its mixing with butter. Add the butter mixing until you have a coarse dough, the butter doesn’t need to be fully incorporated at this point. Add the water and the lemon juice. The lemon juice will help the dough to stretch nicely later on. Roll up into 2 discs and put in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. It freezes very well too.

For a vegan version using coconut oil, for example, reduce the amount to 20% and add more liquid (butter has 80% fat and coconut oil has 100% fat).

For the filling, mix all ingredients together.
At this point pre heat the oven to 400F.
Take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit for a while before rolling it up, it is easier if it is not so hard.

Use a glass pie dish if you can which will distribute the heat more evenly when baking.
Sprinkle the oats on top of the dough before poring the filling, it will prevent excessive moisture when baking. You can also use crumbled cookies for this purpose.
Add the filling, top it up with the second dough, brush the egg wash and sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top. Poke a few holes to let the steam out.

Bake for 10 min at 400F and then at 375F for about 40 to 50 min until golden and bubbling.

Yes! I loved the result!

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Carrot cake with chocolate icing

Carrot cake with chocolate icing

 

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This is really the easiest cake ever!  Carrots are blended with eggs and oil, fully incorporated, which turns the batter into the beautiful orange color. Don’t worry about the amount of baking powder! Without whipped egg whites to do the lift of the batter and with the weight of the carrots, there is no other way around. It is a very popular coffee cake in Brazil, sweet and filling but yet with a twist on the healthy side with the carrots, sort of.

If you are not much of an icing person, like me, make the icing as a thin layer, which will add just a touch of chocolate on top of the soft cake, so delicious! You can also use Nutella as a topping or any of your choice of store bought icing.

I remember so well visiting family or friends on a weekend afternoon, nothing planned in advance, as it happens so often down there.  The home host would excuse herself for 10 min and come back to entertaining. In a while all you can smell in the house is this carrot cake baking for us, the unexpected guests! Half an hour later, there comes the cake, still warm served with fresh espressos! Good food always related with good memories, priceless!

Cake ingredients

3 medium carrots (7 to 8 ounces)

3 large eggs

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 cup sugar

3 tsp baking powder ( it seems a lot, but my guess that the carrots base requires a heavy lift)

1/2 tsp salt

Icing ingredients

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup cocoa powder

3 tbs butter

1/4 cup milk

Cake Directions:

Pre heat the oven to 350F.

Peel and slice the carrots. Mix the carrots, eggs and oil in the blender and give it a good mix.

Mix all the dry ingredients together, sifting the sugar and flour in a large bowl. Add the carrot mix and stir well. Grease a 8 inches cake pan and pour the batter evenly.

Bake for 40 to 45F, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Icing Directions:

Mix all the ingredients in a pan, low heat stirring until it comes to a boil. Cook for one minute and pour on top of the cake while both, cake and icing are still a bit warm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mozzarella, tomato,and prosciutto frittata

Mozzarella, tomato,and prosciutto frittata

For a bigger breakfast or brunch this is one of our favourite frittatas. I found this recipe in the Canadian Living site and have cooked it several times. You can check it out here. The original recipe calls for a walnut pesto, which I normally don’t add, I find that the tomatoes, onions, cheese and prosciutto are salty and flavourful enough.

4 large servings

Ingredients:

4 tsp vegetable oil

1 onion, sliced

12 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/4 tsp each salt and pepper

100 g fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

45 g thinly sliced prosciutto

2 or 3 cocktail tomatoes sliced

 Directions:

In 10-inch ovenproof nonstick or cast-iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion, stirring occasionally, until tender and light golden, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour over onion mixture in pan; reduce heat to mediumlow and cook until bottom and sides are set but top is still slightly runny, about 15 minutes.

Top with mozzarella and tomatoes, sprinkle some oregano. Broil until top is golden and set, 3 to 5 minutes. Arrange prosciutto over top; cut into wedges.

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Hot and sour mushroom and tofu soup

Hot and sour mushroom and tofu soup

For the cold days ahead of us, this soup fills all the requisites: light and filling, packed with protein from the tofu and egg that go along so well  with the 2 varieties of mushrooms. A rich broth made with chillies, ginger and garlic adds heat and a spicy oriental flare to the soup. The original recipe calls for bamboo shoots instead of my second type of mushroom. It is from Jamie Oliver and you can find it here .

Ingredients:

2 cloves of garlic
1 fresh red chilly
sea salt
ground white pepper
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger peeled and diced
250 g shitake mushrooms , cleaned
250 g buttom mushroom, finely sliced
vegetable oil
3 tbs low-salt soy sauce
3 to 4 tbs rice vinegar
1 tsp honey

1.5 litres hot vegetable stock
150 g firm tofu cut in 1 cm cubes
2 green onions chopped
½ bunch of chives chopped
1 large egg, beaten

Directions:

Peel the garlic and deseed the chillies, then roughly chop and place into a pestle and mortar, adding a pinch of salt. Peel, finely chop and add the ginger, combining it well.
Finely slice the buttons mushrooms and separate the threads of the shiitake mushroom.

Heat a tbs of oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium-high heat, add the mushrooms and fry for 4 minutes, or until lightly golden. Stir in the chilli paste and mushroons and fry for a little bit.
In the mean time mix together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, the honey and the white pepper. Stir the mixture into the pan and cook for a minute, then pour in the hot stock and bring gently to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, or until slightly reduced.

Add the tofu, the spring onions and chives.
Once reduced, remove the soup from the heat. Using a chopstick, stir the soup in a clockwise direction until you get a little whirlpool, then slowly add the beaten egg, stirring continuously to form thin ribbons. Stir in the tofu and return to the heat for 1 minute to warm through. Season to taste with soy and vinegar, then serve immediately with the spring onions and chives on top.

Large Cinnamon roll

Large Cinnamon roll

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Baking is magic!

And cinnamon buns are an ultimate indulgence! I had to bake something to bring for a reunion and decided it would be a good chance to make my ever favorite, my way. That means, a generous dough, lots of cinnamon but not too sweet and, very important, packed with raisins. For the icing, just a thin layer of confectioner sugar mixed with milk for a little shine and texture, again, not too sweet. It is a huge treat for me, one I don’t have too often, so I make sure to enjoy eating as much as preparing it. I love to see the dough rising, waiting for the house to be filled with the cinnamon smell and watching the beautiful golden color after is baked. Baking is truly magic!
If you like it richer and sweeter, be more generous with the brown sugar and butter before rolling it out.
I got this recipe from a cooking TV show. I just kept writing it down and baked it right after.

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Large cinnamon bun

Ingredients

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (1 pouch)
4 oz warm water
1 tbs sugar

3 1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
1/3 cup unsalted butter melted with
3/4 cup milk at room temperature
3 tbs sugar
touch of vanilla
pinch of salt

1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbs butter

For the filling
1/2 to 3/4 cup of melted butter
1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup raisins (optional)
lots of cinnamon

For the icing
For my light icing I just mix 1/2 cup of icing sugar with 2 tbs milk. But an optional way, actually more popular, is mixing: 4 oz cream cheese, 1 cup of whipping cream and 1 cup of icing sugar, blending it together with some vanilla.

Directions:

Start mixing yeast and the warm water with sugar and let it rest until a starts foaming. In the mean time gather all your ingredients.

Combine flour, eggs, melted butter, milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt mixing well. Add the yeast mixture and start kneading for at least 5 min., until the dough is nice and elastic. Let it rest in a bowl lightly greased with oil. Wait 45 min to 1 hour.

Flour a surface, take the dough out of the bowl and punch it out to get all the air out of the dough. Roll it out in an oval shape.
Brush the melted butter on the whole sheet of dough. Sprinkle brown sugar, raisins, cinnamon.

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Roll it up as tight as possible. Pinch at the end to seal it out. Now you have a long log.

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Brush more butter, more brown sugar and cinnamon on the top of the log. Roll up the log once more, tight.

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Melt the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup in a cake pan, mixing well. Place the roll in the center of this pan, cover and let it rise a second time for 45 min to 1 hour.

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At this point it can stay in the fridge until the next morning and you can bake it fresh for breakfast!

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Heat oven to 375 F. Bake for 30 min and then cover with foil and cook for more 20 to 25 min.

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Take out of the oven and spread your favorite icing on top. Enjoy!!!

Sweet spinach smoothie

Sweet spinach smoothie

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It might take you some time to get used to the appearance of a large glass of this green fluid standing in front of you before venturing in your first sip. Probably the motivation would be the constant “it’s good for you” factor that permeates our lives these days, as a statement that you’re in synch with the latest trend. It doesn’t matter the reasons, just be brave and go for it. Surprise! It does taste good and it is a meal by itself, super filling!
I had mine while I was reading the fascinating The birth house, from Canadian Amy McKay , in a rare quiet evening by myself at home and didn’t even notice I was having dinner. To balance the green overdose I had some berries for dessert and I was fed and happy.

This is my version of another smoothie’s recipe from Harley Pasternack’s book, The body reset. I added one small white guava, which was not part of the original recipe, as you can see it in the picture. Guavas (goiabas) are not so popular in North America, but very abundant in tropical countries. Seeds and flesh and lots of sugar make up for one of the most popular deserts in Brazil, called Romeo & Juliet, which is a combination of soft white cheese with the “goiabada” (made with red guavas) that actually can be a good idea for a future post.

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Sweet spinach smoothie

2 cups raw spinach
1 peach
15 grapes
6 oz Greek yogurt 0%
2 tbs avocado
1 tbs brown sugar or any sweetener of your choice
1/2 cup ice or cold water
* 1 small guava (totally optional, I couldn’t resist to add it, but it does add a tart zest)

Blend it and voilà!
Tip: start adding the liquid ingredients first to get it all blended faster.

Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

You might also like:

Raspberry, cashew and Greek yogurt smoothie

Papaya, ginger and coconut smoothie

Avocado and Maca shake for breakfast

Chocolate, honey and ginger fragrant squares (Pão de mel) and my 100th post!

Chocolate, honey and ginger fragrant squares (Pão de mel) and my 100th post!

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So happy that pretty things have come together in this almost one year of blogging and this is my 100th post! I’ve learned so much about food, blogging and myself, met wonderful people and made my family healthier and happier with my cooking. Goal achieved and enthusiasm increased!

So I chose a chocolate and honey treat for this posting, which is simple but very meaningful for me, full of nice memories about life in Brazil and my dance students in my former career: Pão de mel, a brownie kind of treat but with a lighter batter.
Actually this very recipe was given to me by one of them, my lovely and talented Lyed. When we had our reunion last January she actually baked them for me as a gift!

Hope you enjoy the moist cake batter fragrant with honey, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. The chocolate top adds the final and perfect finish with the sweet “melt in your mouth” texture. It is a treat that can be wrapped in pretty paper and given to friends and family. They made up for my Easter treats this year.

To be more diabetes friendly I substituted half of the all purpose flour with whole wheat and half of brown sugar with Splenda and had no significant differences in taste. You also can use unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate – my favorite – instead of milk chocolate.
The original recipe calls for a filling of “doce de leite”, in Portuguese, or “dolce de leite”, as we know in North America. In this batch, however I haven’t done it, I am always trying to cut on sugar because of my husband’s diabetes. Actually if you are not a big sweet tooth, skip this step, the honey batter and chocolate topping are sweet to perfection to me.

Chocolate, honey and ginger squares (Pão de mel)

2 cups all purpose flour (or 1 cup and 1 cup whole wheat flour)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup brown sugar (I used 1/4 brown sugar + 1/4 Splenda for diabetes friendly)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp grated cloves
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup milk
1/2 cup honey
2 tbs butter
1 large egg
1/2 tsp grated ginger

500 gr bittersweet or milk chocolate shredded to be melted

Doce de Leite* for the filling if you have chosen to do so.

Pre heat oven to 350F.
Get your baking pan ready, greased with butter.
In a medium bowl sift all dry ingredients together. Mix in milk and honey, butter and egg, stirring well and pour it in the tins, filling up to 2/3.

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Bake for 15 to 20 min.

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Let it cool completely. You might want to trim the tops off the squares, to get a flat surface, that will get you a prettier presentation. If you are doing the filling, at this point cut each square in half and spread out 1tbs of the “doce de leite”.

Start melting the chocolate in a bowl immersed in simmering water and in the mean time line up parchment paper on your counter top or cookies sheet.

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As you coat the squares in the chocolate, be careful to let the excess to drip off. Let it dry completely before serving.

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* “Doce de leite” is a soft milky fudge very popular in South America. My grand mother used to make it from scratch, slowly boiling this huge amount of milk and sugar until the wanted fudge consistency. The easiest way of making “doce de leite” is cooking a can of condensed milk.
If you have a pressure cooker, just put the whole unopened can, side ways, covered with water in the pan and let it cook for 30 min for soft doce de Leite or 40 for a thicker consistency. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, boil in medium heat in a pan for 1 hour.

Very important Make sure to let the can cool off completely before attempting to open it, as the content would be extremely hot and would burst out of the can, in a dangerous way. It is a good idea to let it rest over night or make it in the day before.

Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!