Chocolate Lava Cakes

IMG_2944I love chocolate cake, especially when it is soft and gooey inside. For my early Christmas dinner I decided to bake some Chocolate Lava Cakes! They were delicious!

These cakes will cook really quickly and will grow like a soufflé but, after removing from the oven, it will reduce a little (like the last soufflé I did…).

 

Chocolate Lava Cakes (serves 4)

  • 100 g of butter
  • 150 g of semi-sweet chocolate
  • 3 small or medium eggs
  • 60 g of sugar
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  1. Pre-heat the oven at 200ºC.
  2. Butter four ramekins (200 ml capacity each) and dust them with white granulated sugar.
  3. Cut the butter and the chocolate into pieces and place it in a small pan or a heatproof bowl. Place this pan/bowl into a large pan with simmering water and melt the chocolate and butter. Stir to help it melt.IMG_2813
  4. In a large bowl mix the egg yolks with the 60g of sugar. Beat well until you get a light yellow mixture.
  5. Add the melted chocolate and butter to the egg yolks and mix well.
  6. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until they get thick. Add a tbsp of sugar and whisk again until you get a stiff peaks.IMG_2821
  7. Gently incorporate the egg whites into the chocolate mixture with a spatula, being careful not to whisk or stir this dough much.IMG_2822
  8. Pour the mixture into the ramekins and cook in the oven for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. The cakes will grow and will have a nice cooked layer on top.
  9. Remove from the oven carefully, since the ramekins will be quite hot, and serve sprinkled with some icing sugar and red berries.
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Pheasant with Mulled Wine on Cavolo Nero with Chestnuts and Bacon

IMG_2915Yes, I’m still alive and cooking…

These last months were a bit crazy! In November we had a non stop of visits from family and friends and in December we were planning our moving to London. Quite exciting and stressful!

To restart my blog writing, I decided to post the recipe I used for my early Christmas dinner with my husband. Since we spend Christmas apart with each of our families, we always have an early Christmas of our own!

This year I cooked pheasant breasts rapped in bacon with a mulled wine reduction, laid on some cavolo nero (kale), served with chestnuts and bacon. Yummmm! The chestnuts are a nightmare to peel… but really worth the hassle!

Pheasant with Mulled Wine on Cavolo Nero with Chestnuts and Bacon (serves 4)

Pheasant with Mulled Wine on Cavolo Nero:

  • 4 pheasant breasts
  • 4 strips of smoked bacon
  • 1 chopped garlic clove
  • salt and dried thyme
  • 250 ml of mulled wine (or port wine)
  • 8 leaves of cavolo nero

Chestnuts and Bacon:

  • 32 chestnuts
  • 2 strips of smoked bacon
  • 1 garlic clove
  • nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper and salt
  1. Wash the chestnuts well and, with a sharp knife, make a small cut in each chestnut. Put the chestnuts in a pan and cover with boiling water seasoned with salt, cinnamon and grounded nutmeg. Boil for approximately 20 minutes. Let it rest for an additional 10 minutes.IMG_2747
  2. Peel the chestnuts being careful in order to keep them as whole as possible. Save them to cook later.
  3. Pre-heat the oven at 200ºC.
  4. Clean the pheasant breasts of any fat. Wrap each breast in a strip of bacon. Place in an oven tray and season with salt, chopped garlic and thyme.IMG_2796
  5. Cook the pheasant in the oven for approximately 20 minutes.
  6. After this period, pour the mulled wine on top of the pheasant, reduce the oven heat to 180ºC, and let it cook for an additional 15 minutes.IMG_2833
  7. Meanwhile, cut the remaining two strips of bacon into small pieces and slice the additional garlic clove. Cook in a non-stick frying pan, in low fire, until the bacon is cooked and becomes crispy. Add the chestnuts and let it cook. The chestnuts will absorb part of the bacon fat. Season with pepper and salt (if needed). IMG_2859
  8. Wash the cavolo nero leaves well and cook in boiled salted water for 15 minutes. Check if it is as tender as you want it to be.IMG_2836
  9. Meanwhile, remove the pheasant from the oven. Pour the existing sauce in a non-stick frying pan and let it cook until the sauce starts to thicken a bit. IMG_2860
  10. Serve in four dishes by placing two leaves of cavolo nero on one side of each dish. Cut each pheasant breast into thick slices (3 to 4) and place the slices in line, on top of the cavolo nero, as if you are reconstructing each breast. Pour some sauce on top of the pheasant. Complete with the chestnuts and bacon on the side. IMG_2903

Bacon and Broccoli Quiche

IMG_1727In Portugal we don’t usually carve pumpkins for Halloween. So, this was one of the things I really wanted to do here in the UK! This year Ricky and I carved our first one!!!

After Halloween, I was planning to use the pumpkin to bake a cake but it looked so lovely that we couldn’t destroy our master piece! I was left with a lot of eggs and no pumpkin… So, decided to cook a quiche.

Bacon and Broccoli Quiche (serves 5)

Dough:

  • 175 g of flour
  • 75 g of salted butter
  • 3 tbsp of water

Filling:

  • 5 slices of smoked bacon
  • 1/3 of a broccoli (approximately 100 g)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 5 eggs
  • 150 ml of double cream
  • 50 g of grated cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper
  1. Pre-heat the oven at 180ºC.
  2. Melt the butter. In a bowl mix the butter with the flour until you get a sandy mixture. Add the water, if needed, to give some cohesion to the dough. Form a ball with it and cool it in the fridge for approximately 30 minutes.
  3. Grease a tart or a sandwich pan. With your fingers spread the dough making sure that the sides of the pan are covered with a slightly thicker layer of dough, while the bottom is covered with a thinner layer of dough. IMG_1679
  4. Pierce the dough sparingly with a fork. Cover the dough with some baking parchment and fill it with baking beans. Bake in the oven for approximately 15-20 minutes. Remove the baking beans and the parchment and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a non-stick frying pan or a griller. After it is cooked, cut it into medium sized pieces (approximately 2.5 x 2.5 cm / 1” x 1”).
  6. Wash the tomatoes and slice them into small cubes.IMG_1687
  7. Wash the broccoli and use only the flower heads part, cutting it into chunks.
  8. In a bowl, mix the bacon, the tomatoes and the broccoli. Fill the cooked tart with this mixture.IMG_1697
  9. In a bowl, mix well the eggs, the cream and the grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Pour this mixture into the tart.
  10. Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the cream is toasted.IMG_1721
  11. Take out of the pan and serve hot or cooled down.

Smoked Salmon and Mango Salad

IMG_1614This week has been a bit sad to me. The last of my closest friends in Bristol just left to her home country… To cheer me up, decided to have something I love… roasted chestnuts with mulled wine.

For dinner itself, I did a light smoked salmon and mango salad. It was really good!!! I used cooking rings to give it a nicer look but you can simply mold it with two spoons.

 

Smoked Salmon and Mango Salad (serves 2)

  • 50 g of smoked salmon
  • 5 thin (2 to 3 mm) slices of mango
  • 5 dill steams
  • 2 tea spoons of mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • freshly ground pepper
  1. Place the larger slices of mango on a cutting board. Using a cooking ring (6 x 4cm H), slice a circle of mango that will stay in the base of the ring. This will make it easier to move around the cooking ring and to serve the salad.IMG_1579
  2. Chop the rest of the mango and the salmon into small cubes. Save a bit of salmon to decorate.IMG_1584
  3. Chop the dill thinly, removing the thick part of the steam. Save a bit of dill to decorate.
  4. In a bowl, mix the mango, the salmon and the dill. Season with mayonnaise, lemon juice and pepper. Mix well.
  5. Using a spoon fill the cooking ring with this mixture. Press with the pusher.IMG_1594
  6. Decorate with salmon and dill and season with pepper.Keep in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.IMG_1602
  7. Remove the cooking rings gently, place the salad on individual plates and serve immediately.

Strawberry Tartelettes

IMG_1561

After a couple of days away from the kitchen today I decided to bake some strawberry tartelettes. Condensed milk and strawberries… You can’t go wrong with it!

They looked amazing and tasted really good but SO sweet… diabetes alert!!!

 

Strawberry Tartelettes (9 doses)

Dough:

  • 150 g of flour
  • 75 g of butter
  • 50 g of sugar
  • 2 egg yolks

Filling:

  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 200 g of strawberries
  • 100 g of sugar
  1. Pre-heat the oven at 180ºC.
  2. Pour the flour in a bowl. Open a cavity in the centre and put the sugar and melted butter in it. Mix well until you get a sandy mixture.IMG_1485
  3. Add the egg yolks to the dough. Mix well, using your hands if needed. Divide the dough into nine pieces.
  4. Grease nine 7 cm tartelette tins. Cover each tin with one part of the dough, pressing well against the bottom and sides of the tin. Make sure the dough on the side of the tin is regular and thick enough not to break after cooking.
  5. Cook in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the dough is golden and cooked.
  6. In a pan mix the condensed milk with the lemon juice and cook in low fire for approximately 15 minutes, stirring constantly.
  7. After the tartelettes are cooked, remove them from the oven and fill them with the condensed milk mixture.IMG_1509
  8. Put in the oven again and let it cook for approximately 15 minutes, until the condensed milk is cooked and golden.IMG_1521
  9. Meanwhile, wash 150 g of strawberries, remove the hulls, and slice them. In a pan, cook the sliced strawberries with the sugar for approximately 15 – 20 minutes. The strawberries will get soft and turn into jam. Let it boil in low fire, stirring, in order to get some consistency.IMG_1527
  10. Pour the jam on top of the tartelettes and let it cool.IMG_1538
  11. Decorate with the remaining fresh strawberries.IMG_1540

Spinach & Cheese Crêpes

IMG_1013My sister is a bit of a fussy eater and, as years went by, she developed a taste for more healthy food. This is something very odd in my family… Being Portuguese we typically love our meat and rich sauces.

Surprisingly, my mom adjusted a bit to these tastes and started cooking a vast range of vegetarian food. This dish is inspired on one of my mom’s dishes.

 

Spinach and Cheese Crêpes (serves 4)

  • 100 g of flour
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1 egg
  • butter
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tbsp of olive oil
  • 500 g of spinach baby leaves
  • 300 g of cottage cheese (in Portugal use requeijão)
  • 100 g of walnuts
  • salt and pepper
  1. In a bowl mix the flour with the milk, the melted butter and the egg. Make sure the dough is smooth by using the food processor, if needed.
  2. Grease a 20 cm non-stick frying pan with a small portion of butter. Heat the frying pan in medium fire and, after approximately 30 seconds, pour one ladle of dough on the frying pan. Make sure the dough covers the bottom of the frying pan by gently swirling the frying pan. The dough will immediately start to cook covering the base of the pan.IMG_0938
  3.  Let it cook until the crêpe separates from the frying pan when you swirl it gently. The base of the crêpe will look cooked with some golden bits. Flip the crêpe around and let it cook until the two sides of the crêpe are completely cooked.IMG_0944
  4. Repeat until you are out of dough. Place each crêpe in its serving plate.
  5. Peel and slice the garlic clove. In a frying pan cook the garlic with the olive oil in low fire. IMG_0964
  6. When the garlic becomes golden, add the washed spinach baby leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Stir gently making sure the spinach cooks evenly. They will become darker and tender.IMG_0972
  7. Place the cooked spinach in a bowl. Discard any excess grease left on the frying pan.
  8. Add the cottage cheese and the slightly broken walnuts to the spinach. Season and mix well. Save some walnuts and cottage cheese to decorate.IMG_0994
  9. Fill the center part of the crêpes with the spinach and cheese mixture. Close the crêpes by folding first one side in and then the other. Decorate with some cottage cheese and walnuts.

Colourful Meringues

IMG_1314I’ve been feeling like baking one of those colourful cakes for days, but we still have some lemon cake left… So, decided to play a bit with my food colouring and made some nice meringue cakes.

It was my first go with meringue cakes so tried a couple of sizes. The smaller ones were a bit harder and crunchy, while the larger ones were softer and a bit more chewy inside. Loved both of them!

 

Colourful Meringues (serves 16)

  • 4 egg whites
  • 115 g of caster sugar
  • 75 g of icing sugar
  • 1/2 tea spoon of lemon juice
  • Food colouring
  1. Pre-heat the oven at 110ºC.
  2. Pour the egg whites on a glass or metal large bowl. Add the lemon juice. Whisk well until you get a thick and fluffy mixture that stands up stiff when you remove the whisker. I would advise you to use an electric whisk on medium velocity to do this.IMG_1190
  3. Add the caster sugar slowly, one spoon at a time, whisking well between each addition. In this step you should use the electric whisk on maximum velocity. You will get a thick and glossy mixture.IMG_1202
  4. Sift the icing sugar and add it to the mixture progressively, in three or four parts. Mix gently, being careful not to whisk it again. The objective is to fold the icing sugar into the mixture.
  5. Separate the mixture into as many bowls as the colours you are planing to use.
  6. Add a small quantity of food colouring to each bowl. I used paste food colouring which is quite concentrated, so I only had to dip a small skewer inside the paste and then on the mixture. Fold in gently to mix the food colouring.IMG_1273
  7. Grease a tray with butter. You can make the meringues with the help of two spoons or with a piping bag.
  8. If using a piping bag, choose a large star nozzle and fill the bag with one of the colour mixtures. Pipe the meringue into small swirls onto the tray, leaving around 1 cm apart between them.IMG_1264
  9. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and a half. To check if the meringues are cooked, tap gently the bottom of the tray and see if the meringues immediately release from the tray.
  10. Let the meringues cool on a cooling rack. You can save them in a dry place for a couple of weeks if you wish.IMG_1322