Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sparkling wine sangria, a refreshing drink for hot summer days

On these hot summer days, one of the things I like to do is to drink refreshing cool drinks. I decided to prepare a sangria-like beverage in order to make use of an opened bottle of sparkling wine that was in the fridge.

2.5 dl of sparkling wine
3.3 dl apple cider
3 dl of soda pop
1 peach
30 g of blueberries
5 basil leaves

1. Cut the peach with the skin into a pitcher. Add the blueberries and the basil leaves after being torn.

2. Add the sparkling wine, the cider and the soda pop.

3. Add ice and serve.

Do not add any sugar. The apple cider and soda pop are sweet enough. Drink it ice-cold. It will be a refreshing delight!

[ Originally published in Portuguese as Sangria de espumante bem fresca para beber nestes dias quentes ]

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fresh watermelon and rasperry water

The heat has finally arrived with a bang. At such times, what helps us to endure the hot weather are fresh clothes, slippers and lots of refreshments. Yesterday in the afternoon, when I got home, I decided to have a cold watermelon and raspberry fresh water to cool myself.

600g peeled and seeded watermelon
10 raspberries
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons yellow sugar
1L cold water
mint leaves

1. Crush the watermelon with the raspberries, lemon juice and sugar.

2. Pour this liquid into a jar and add the water. Stir well.

3. Add the mint leaves and the ice and it is ready to serve.

It really refreshes oneself when it is served very cold on a hot summer day!

[ Originally published in Portuguese as Água fresca de melancia e framboesas ]

Monday, June 11, 2012

Moist chocolate sponge cake

This moist chocolate sponge cake exerts strong powers over me, specially after the first slice. It is so damn good! Let the hidden powers of the Gods do not stop me from repeating. Thankfully, I don't eat this cake alone.

8 eggs
180g brown sugar
10 egg yolks
85g self-raising flour
15g powdered cocoa
30g powdered chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 230ºC.

2. Mix the eggs with the sugar and whisk for five minutes.

3. Whisk the egg yolks and add them to the previous mix. Use an electric mixer to keep whisking for more two to three minutes.

4. Mix the flour with the cocoa and the chocolate. Wrap the mixture above with this chocolate dough carefully.

5. Pour in a round shape, with 26 cm, lined with parchment paper and bake it in the oven for 11 minutes.

The moist chocolate sponge cake feels like it has chocolate mousse inside. Once you cut the first slice, the "mousse" flows from the inside like a river of thick yummy chocolate that leaves us with only one option: grab a spoon and use it to eat and stop only when there is no more. I dare you to try it!

Have a pleasent week!

[ Originally published in Portuguese as Pão-de-ló húmido de chocolate ]

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ice-cold green tea with lemon and cinnamon

Once it gets hotter, I start thinking about cold drinks. Fruit juices and smoothies are an excellent option as the ice-cold infusion and tea based drinks are. Here at home, we have been experimenting the latter.

1L water
3 green tea bags
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon honey (optional)
1 small lemon cut into slices

1. Boil the water.

2. Put the water in a jar, add the tea bags and let it steep for no more than five minutes.

3. After removing the tea, add the cinnamon stick, honey and stir. Allow to cool.

4. When cool, add the lemon slices and put in the refrigerator.

5. Add ice cubes when serving.

A cup of ice-cold green tea with lemon is a refreshing delight in a hot day. It is like cooling one's feet in a fresh water stream after a long walk or like taking a nap in the shade of some pine trees with the sea as the background in a scalding hot day.

Have a nice week!

[ Originally published in Portuguese as Chá verde gelado com limão e canela ]

Friday, June 1, 2012

Grapefruit, strawberry and rasperry juice

As soon as the first hot days start appearing, nothing better than a full glass of fruit juice to refresh ourselves. Yesterday, when I arrived at home, in the middle of the afternoon, it was very torrid. I decided that it was time to consider opened the fruit juices season around here.

400ml grapefruit juice
150g strawberry
50g raspberry
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and liquefy them.

2. Add some ice cubes.

The bitter taste of the grapefruit rules. For those who don't like it, one can replace the grapefruit juice with orange juice, preferably made from oranges from Algarve, which are very sweet and tasty.

Enjoy your juice!

[ Originally published in Portuguese as Sumo de toranja com morangos e framboesas ]

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Traditional Portuguese moist sponge cake

The first sponge cake with a kind of egg yolk based filling that I ate was from Rio Maior, where I spent part of my teenage years and where I still have many good friends. One could find it in almost every coffee and cake shop and gastronomically speaking it was - still is - an ex-libris of this small town.

One of these weekends, coming from the West region and going to Santarém, I passed through Rio Maior, a land of salt but without sea, and I immediately remembered its delicious traditional sponge cake. Although I didn't find the original recipe, here it is my version.

8 eggs
10 egg yolk
180g brown sugar
100g plain flour

1. Preheat oven to 230ºC.

2. Mix the eggs with the sugar in a mixer for 5 minutes.

3. Beat the egg yolks. Add them to the mixture prepared earlier and beat for more 3 minutes.

4. Sift the flour into the mixture and stir with a spoon or wire rod.

5. Put the mixture in a round shape cake tin with approx. 26 cm covered with parchment paper.

6. Bake for 10 minutes.

This sponge cake is delicious. The core is completely wet. Its appearance sometimes is not very photogenic, but it is so yummy that one cannot stop eating it until the last slice.

I wish you all a good day!

[ Originally published in Portuguese as Pão-de-ló húmido ]

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tomato jam and the sweet memories of Summer afternoons

Making jam is a time consuming task. Firstly you have to take some time for cleaning and preparing the fruit and then you have to heat the sugar and fruit mixture and wait for the sugar reaching its setting point. But the end result is really worth it.

If someone asks me which jam I like the most, I will have some difficulty in identifying just one. But I am sure that I will pick tomato jam as being amongst my top preferences. Today's jam recipe is very simple to make and is one of my favorites. Perhaps because when I think of this recipe I associate it with some good memories of both my mother and myself making jam on Summer afternoons. On those times, many years ago, we made enough jam for all year round. I loved to help my mother peeling and seeding the tomatoes. I remember how our home would be filled with the sweet and warm aromas from the cinnamon. It was a delightful fragrance. When the jam was ready to eat, I was summoned to taste it. What a lovely sensation! Such pleasant and memorable recollections, all due to tomato jam!

2kg peeled and seeded tomatoes
1kg light brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 pinch of salt
A drizzle of olive oil

1. Place the tomatoes in a saucepan. Let it boil for 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Whiz the tomatoes with a stick blender and add the sugar, cinnamon, salt and olive oil. Let it boil until the sugar reaches the correct setting point. Spoon a little jam onto a cold saucer. After a couple of minutes gently push your finger through the jam and if the surface wrinkles it is ready. If not, let the sugar and tomato mixture boil for a couple of minutes more. Don't forget to stir occasionally.

3. Put the jam in glass flasks while it is still very hot and close them almost immediately.

To peel the tomatoes, you just have to make two cuts at the base of the tomato (like a X). Then parboil them for a few minutes. The skin will come off easily.

The zest of one lemon can also be added to this jam recipe. If you prefer, you can avoid blending the tomatoes.

This jam has a beautiful strong reddish color due to the tomato and light brown sugar mixture. Its flavor is simple delicious. Here at home, we easily eat it in a piece of bread or bagel generously spread with spoon after spoon of jam! A treat from which, one cannot run away!

[ Originally published in Portuguese as Doce de tomate e as memórias das tardes de Verão ]