Ghee, carob and coconut Brigadeiros

“Brigadeiro” is a sort of truffle, made with condensed milk, butter and cocoa powder. It’s a highly popular sweet in Brazil, and because of Portugal’s connection with the country, we have developed a life-long love affair with the bite-sized dessert.
You can find the original version in many pastry shops, cafés and supermarkets but you can easily make this delicacy at home.

I have posted this recipe in the Portugal Resident, but am reposting it here so I can add a few more photos you can drool over.

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This is a photo I took with a macro lense – the effect of the glass table in the background, lit by the morning sunshine, is amazing. Kudos to whoever invented low aperture, it’s like my favorite photography feature ever.

If you decide that dirtying a few dishes for the sake of some homemade goodies is a delightful option, ditch leaving the house, put your apron on and turn the stove on.

Another advantage you get by making this recipe is the fact that your imagination has no limits – choose and play with the ingredients of your preference, just like I did.

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The first part of my culinary adventure was to make Ghee – Indian version of butter and what the French designate as “clarified” butter.

Basically, the process consists in slowly heating the butter in a pan and skimming the frothy foam, with a spoon, while it gathers on the surface.This might take a while (15-25 minutes), but the result is well worth it – butterscotch scented butter, without the impurities or water, a ton of flavour, a longer shelf life and a good option for lactose intolerants.

Any leftover goes amazing in, well, almost anything you decide to cook.

Ingredients
▪ 310 grams condensed milk (uncooked)
▪ 90 grams ghee
▪ 25 grams carob flour
▪ 25 grams cocoa flour
▪ Coconut shavings (for coating)

Instructions
1. Make the ghee as instructed above. Usually, 250 grams of butter will give about 140 grams of ghee (if you skim the foam carefully during the process). Each brand of butter will have a specific percentage of waste, but if you purchase a high fat content butter, you will be able to get more ghee out of the process.

2. In a pan, combine all of the ingredients and stir on medium-low heat for about 10-14 minutes (this depends on the pan and the heat). Keep in mind to stir, almost constantly, and don’t let it burn. It will stick to the pan, so make sure you take it out as soon as it’s finished. Use a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap, with a bit of oil, so the mix won’t stick to this either.

3. As soon as it has cooled down enough to handle, weigh portions of about 35 grams each, roll into balls and toss in coconut shavings for a protective (yet edible) coating.

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If you want to gift someone with this edible treat, stack about five portions so they form mini cylinders, wrap in parchment paper and tie both ends with some ribbon (just like a huge piece of candy).

I used half carob and half cocoa powder because I enjoy the aromatic mix, and both ingredients actually combine very well together, without the carob becoming overpowering.

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Fig Cake

Fig picking is coming close to an end here in Portugal, and after a few weeks of eating way too many of them, necessity plus a little out of the box thinking just makes you cook wonderful things. Like this cake.

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fig above

Figs are a big part of Portugal, the south in particular, where you can find a peculiar sweet treat called Queijo de Figo, which literally means fig cheese. It’s like dried fig paste with a mix of nuts and condiments, condensed into a cheese format and texture. Cabrita Neto has developed some tasty concoctions with outstanding ingredients, almonds and cardamom. They even have individual bars, that you can eat as a on-the-go snack. Because, come on, who doesn’t want to eat a tasty piece of fig cheese while walking to work or on a stroll by the coast?

Considering the overflow of this fruit through our lands, plus our cute habit of stopping the car by any road side to pick, we acquired a knack of showing you guys all the ways we love to eat, breath and speak fig.

fig picking

In my home town, at the top near the castle wall close to a garden, there is at least five trees. As soon as summer hits, the fruity smell wonders through the air, and people pop by a branch ever so often to see if any figs are ripe enough to eat. After a few weeks of hot summer heat, beachside adventures and tourist drenched streets, you will find the locals around the trees, with huge poles, that have a sort of tweezer-ish character about it, so they can reach the high branches and pick the out-of-reach fruit. It’s traditionally beautiful.

Not every tree is the same. My grandmother’s tree starts mid August, my backyard trees all sort of begin in September, and a few are still not ready to eat yet.

So, about this cake: it’s a great recipe to add any sort of fruit you wish, and it keeps quite a while considering how moist it is. The lack of dairy provides a sweet treat for a huge group of special dietary people. The original recipe called for only oil, but I have combined half olive oil, so the health benefits are present, without the overwhelming flavor some might not enjoy much in sweets. What sort of olive oil should you use? I prefer to save the extra virgin for salads and bread dipping, use the virgin one for baking as flavor wise it will just combine with the remaining ingredients plus, it will also be cheaper to concoct.

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Ingredients:

  • 250 grams brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 ml virgin olive oil
  • 100 ml cooking oil
  • Lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 225 grams all purpose flour (whole grain for you health nuts)
  • 7 grams baking powder
  • 7 grams baking soda
  • 2 grams sea salt
  • 300 grams figs
  • 4 tablespoons Tawny Port wine
  • Drizzle of honey
  • Powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of butter (ghee for lactose intolerants)
  • 2 tablespoons milk (water for lactose intolerants)

Instructions:

  1. Roast the figs, whole, in port wine and a drizzle of honey. No need to add too much sweet, the figs speak for themselves. Let cool and save the sticky port wine syrup. This will be the base for the glaze. sem título-1079
  2. Beat the eggs sugar, oils and lemon zest for 5 minutes on medium, until a smooth paste os formed.
  3. Sift the flour, bicarb + baking powder, and add to the previous mix.
  4. Add the salt, the roasted cooled figs (cut in quarters).
  5. Place in a cake pan with parchment paper and bake at 165ºC for at least one hour.
  6. Cool the cake, remove from the pan and gently remove the parchment paper. It is suppose to look fairly rustic.
  7. Make the glaze with the roast fig + port wine syrup, softened butter/ghee, lemon zest and milk/water.glazing cake
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  9. Eat.

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Any leftovers? Eat it for breakfast, lunch, snack, whenever. It’s just that sort of cake. Goes well with everything and everyone, if you’re wondering.

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My dog also enjoyed gazing at the cake.

Casa Vale da Lama Eco Resort – Pizza Time

In Vale da Lama there is an Eco Resort. Charm full, peaceful, plus, they have a Pizza gathering every so often Saturday through the warm summer evenings. You should call to reserve ahead of time – and make sure you don’t do it the day before, otherwise you will risk not being able to go.

Once you get there, and even if you get lost on the way (I did, at least twice), you will feel at home. Random tables, cozy benches, down to earth puffs, and several relaxed people waiting for a very delicious evening. As long as your stomach can handle as much pizza as it possibly can, you won’t ever leave this place hungry, I even had to stop eating the everlasting flow of pizza, because I just cannot leave a place without having dessert.

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So, here’s the deal: you book, you arrive, you pay the 8€ that allow you to eat as much pizza as humanely possible, you buy a drink and you are seated to whichever table was assigned to you and your company. In case of small groups, you also get to know other individuals that will be seated next to you – it’s all about sharing a space, having a few laughs, eating pizza. What else cold you possibly want to enjoy on a summer saturday evening?

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The pizzas, from what I gathered, are a mix of available ingredients: mushrooms, eggplant, onion, peppers, cucumbers, feta cheese and fresh herbs.

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Besides the comfort food, the setting, the people, the whole event is an amazing experience. Whoever is preparing the pizza’s have the best mood ever – because pizza making is fun, ain’t it? Plus, you get to make a bunch of hungry people happy. That’s awesome just by itself.

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Happy people – happy food!

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The music is also fantastic! Kudos to the DJ for sharing some good tunes. This weekend coming up you can hear some live music from Mariana Root – it starts at 9:30pm. 

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Even the Pizza People show their moves!

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Even if you are not into much socializing, and want to gaze up at the vast star printed sky, you can enjoy such an event on many of their available chairs, puffs, even hammocks. On this night, I saw a shooting star.

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The dessert: carob brownie with figs. You’re not gonna find a more traditional dessert like this one, with regional and sustainable ingredients. That’s what this place is all about – eco friendly fun and life.

Visit Vale da Lama Eco Resort event here, where you can find details for this Saturday, the 19th, and contact to make your reservation. More info on their accommodation, events, get to know them through their website here.

Honey Lemon Curd Muffins

You know that saying, ‘if life gives you lemons, make lemonade? Or throw them at someone’s head?’ Well, I’ve decided to make something sweet instead.
This recipe was my solution to use up lemons that were falling desperately off the tree.

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|| Muffin batter
Ingredients
2 eggs
105 grams salted butter
80 grams brown sugar
50 grams honey
200 grams all-purpose flour
60g soy milk (lactose intolerant option)
Zest from 1 lemon, plus 1/2 tsp of lemon juice
8 grams baking powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Procedure
Make sure butter is kept at room temperature, and beat for at least two minutes on medium speed until smooth. Keep beating while adding the honey and sugar. Add the lemon zest and vanilla paste until combined. Beat in one egg at a time, making sure you incorporate well before adding the other egg.

Sift the flour with the baking powder beforehand; add into the butter mix along with the liquids (soy milk and lemon juice).

Let the batter set for at least an hour before cooking; this helps the flour to absorb the liquid, which makes the dough become very moist.

Fill greased muffin pan or individuals up to 3/4. Preheat the oven to 165ºC and bake for 25-30 minutes.

|| Lemon curd
(Bimby’s recipe – our favorite kitchen gadjet – it’s better than a Kitchenaid – no, seriously)
Ingredients:
160 grams caster sugar
2 eggs
60 grams salted butter
2 lemons (zest and juice)

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Procedure:
Melt the sugar with the lemon juice on low heat – don’t let it boil. Stir the syrup into previously beaten eggs and continue to mix while slowly incorporating it. Cook again on low heat, always stirring. You will recognise it’s done when a dipped spoon becomes drenched with thickened curd. Off the heated stove, add the butter and let it melt slowly.

Scientifically, eggs start to coagulate around 60°C; a bit higher they will curdle and separate. The key is a low temperature, plenty of stirring, without overcooking. Plus don’t forget to stir. If a very silky smooth texture is desired, pulsing it in a blender will do the trick.

Cut out a hole in the baked muffins and fill with the curd, sprinkle with powdered sugar or dress up with fresh thyme.

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Any leftover lemon curd? Mix it with plain yoghurt and muesli. Use it as a pancake topping, a simple spread for toast or combine with salty cheese for a sweet tangy contrast.

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Plum Crumble

Seasonal fruit, seasonal desserts. When you have too many plums ready to pop off the tree, you have to do something about it. Crumble is, and always has been, my answer to this problem.

My mother taught me well, she is and has always been my kitchen guru, the one who creates delicious goodies with whatever the farm provides. I blame her for my sweet tooth and my adorable habit to eat crumble for breakfast.

Whether it’s for dessert, a snack to keep your sweet cravings happy or a quick breakfast to get a good head start of a busy day – this is ideal!

Because it is such a versatile dessert, an easy solution for the overflow of fruit, specially if you need to kick off that guilty feeling of not eating up vitamin and fiber rich goodness.

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 I´m obsessed with these cute ramekins.
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Ingredients:
Plums
155 grams brown sugar
245 grams whole grain oats
100 grams all purpose flour
105 grams macadamia nuts
190 grams butter
Vanilla
Lemon zest
Procedure: Cut the plums in quarters, discard the seeds. If you like a bittersweet dessert, be lazy about it and keep the skin on! Don’t forget, besides being healthier, you are also being kind to the environment by not wasting nutritionally valid pieces of food.
Choose the amount of fruit you think might be reasonable for your crumble. It’s all about improvising, and getting used to being the boss in the kitchen. If you do however need a reference, I usually add more fruit than actual crumble, as this tends to bake, release moisture and inevitably shrink.
Now, for the crumble, coarsely grind the macadamia nuts, mix in remaining dry ingredients plus vanilla extract and lemon zest. With the tips of your fingers, incorporate the butter till it turns flaky. Beware, do not mix it too much as it will turn into a cookie dough rather than a crumble itself.
Plate in individual ramekins or just use a big dish if you don’t feel like fafing about with washing too many dishes afterwards.
Bake at 185ºC until the crumble is golden and you can see the fruit bubbling on the side of the dish. It should look purple and yummy.
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Serve with cozy warm custard on a fresh evening or accompany with sugar free cold yoghurt for a hot summer morning.
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Street Food Festivals – Portugal 2015 (Part 1)

In Portugal, street food has become a thing. Actually, all around the world it has gone berzerk every way possible. It’s just another one of those things that goes gourmet after years of being in the dark. The same has happened to octopus here – it used to be cheap and a certain meal for whoever couldn’t afford to buy meat or better fish – and today it’s ridiculously expensive because, well, it just became popular. This is a problem with street food, it can be great, delicious, or a right disappointment if the money is not worth the while. I don’t think many are going to do the effort to have the best mouthwatering product, they might just be more interested in promoting their facebook page or getting tagged on instagram by a new client.

And yes people, I have had my coffee this morning, this opinative text is all about to make sense in the second half (which will be published later today). Bare with me.

So recently I had the opportunity to attend the World Food Tourism Summit in Estoril organized by APTECE, the National Chef’s Congress and during that week, the Street Food European Festival was also in the vicinities feeding hungry people. And waiting for me. What a bonus! Aha! I did have fun, took some cool photos, had a great glass of wine, a few snack items and enjoyed great company while talking about food. In every possible way.

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Legal Nomads – One of the cutest trucks throughout the event, aside from the cutest lemonade stand I saw on the last day, if I were to acquire a mobile food service item, this would be it. Specialty: crepes. Pretty good, or just to say, not bad. I’m a huge fan of pancakes, crepes so so, but I think I was just a bit disappointed with the filling, it didn’t blow my mind away. On the bright side, the inside kitchen of the truck is adorable – I would have it in my own house if I could!

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Waffelaria Tradicional – These guys showed up on Shark Tank PT version – I credit them for their high quality product. Liege waffles are hard to come by, actually I don’t think I have ever had the opportunity to eat a homemade, freshly pressed waffle, let alone a chewy Liege style with chunks of sugar (just like it should be, traditionally), from a tiny stand. I totally recommend, better than any crepe, any day.

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Maria Wurst – From what I have read about Maria Wurst, it is a fusion between two female geniuses – one portuguese, the other german. This is a match made in heaven, how can a sausage business not thrive with two sausage native speaking women?

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The two sausages my friend and I had. Simply delicious and oversized compared to the size of the bun (just the way it should be). Simple, with onion, sauerkraut (which was very good) and my smoked wiener was divine! I hope to see you guys more often!

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The Skinny Bagel – CUTEST VAN EVER! No, seriously, I love the stand, the color (great marketing tactic btw – orange is one of the star colors in attracting people’s attention), the menu. Unfortunetly, the day I decided to try one – no more burger bagel, which was the one I wanted to try.

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The Crabbshack – No more soft shell crab burgers when I went to their stand. British dudes, who were invited to the event, obviously they have a fish and chips sort of concept – with squid, no more crab and they had no way of finding more because it came all the way from the UK. Shame, but I did take a photo of whatever they had left to sell.

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The Copenhagen Coffee Lab – I don’t know why I came here, honestly, after living in Portugal for so many years, I kind of poo poo any coffee that isn’t PT style. Or Kope Luwak! (good stuff)

I suppose I just wanted to know what the whole fuss was about, and was feeling in need of a caffeine boost before I went to work. Not bad, but, just a simple overpriced laté. Plus, the lady was in some sort of intense co<sçdfjknversation with some random fellow, while I stood there waiting at least 5 minutes before she acknowledged my existence and asked me what I wanted. Anyway, cute heart. And cute stand!

This is the end of part one hungry people, later on I will gather the remaining photos of day two, plus a few special extras I caught on camera at the congresses.

Fifi’s Lunch Box

Either you love bacon, or you are wrong.

This post is about a bacony place, called Fifi’s Lunch Box, in Terre Haute Indiana. I hadn’t set foot in the United States since 2002, when I was only an eleven year old girl. So, when my trip was booked after a decade, one of the items on my bucket list was to find a bacon themed place to eat. But it seemed that my list was way too long, I had too much to do with so little time to spare. Finally, on my last day, I begged my nan to drive me to this place my aunt had told me about, that had everything with bacon, even bacon soda!

Off we went, through Terre Haute’s chaotic Lafayette Ave., got lost a couple of times, nearly got hit (at least once), even stopped by the police (no ticket thank goodness – people in Indiana seem to be very kind and unusualy nice, police likewise, even if you turn on a red when you’re not suppose to).

We were about to give up, when my baconstinct said “No Megan, you are too close to just go back home now – what if you only come back after another twelve years?!” and asked around at a gas station. Obviously, everybody knew about Fifi’s, this was a good sign, and back on track we went, to find The Bacon Utopia.

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There it was, shut. I panicked, but knocked, and Jaqueline was there so kindly to open the door and question my curiosity. I think I might of gotten of as some type of lunatic, Nikon around my neck, wanting to take pictures of everything, and asking “where are the Bacon Cupcakes?”. I suppose americans are used to this, so in I went, and got talking to Jaqueline, who was just getting prepared for an event of 300 people the next day (so.much.bacon.arrghh). Their food truck was off elsewhere catering to other customer’s bacon needs in some nearby event. I questioned about their products, complimented on the bacon donut burguer (yes, they do it!) and got lost in all the bacon merchandise stacked up neatly on the shelves.

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I had to say that I was desperate into trying something, as I was from Portugal, where nowhere you can find much bacon enthused people nor places (alghtough I think if anybody would open up that type of business oversees, it would be me), and was eager to write about the shop on the blog. In the end, I took three cupcakes home and a box of bacon candy. Tempted into also buying a bacon lipbalm, and a pound of their homemade bacon (but highly doubted that customs would let me go through with that in my suitcase) I curbed my enthusiasm by sticking to my main plan – to take a few pictures of the yummy bacon sweet goodies, because bacon goes good with everything. Jaqueline was so kind into offering a sample of gooey bacon butter cake, which really tasted like bacon. It was delicious.

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My next mission was to get home with three intact cupcakes, so I could try each one of them, take notes, shoot some mouthwatering pictures and show the rest of my bacon crazed family (who lives in Terre Haute) that bacon sweet tooth works very well.

Jaqueline informed me that they are about to open a new shop, in a new location. North Terre Haute ends up being a bit out of reach, and it is a small place to cater to their upcoming fans. I hope I can check it out next time I go back, and actually enjoy having a meal there.

 So what you should know about Fifi’s is:

– They make their own bacon, applewood smoked, also have a great pork purveyor who caters to big orders, with top notch quality suine;

– The menu is amazing;

– It is a humble enviorment with a friendly vibe;

– “Bacon makes everything better” and “Keep Calm and Eat Bacon” are signs posted on the wall;

– Home of the Bacon Latte (omg);

– Bacon, Bacon and, well, Bacon.

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I hope you guys become international and think about visiting Portugal in the near future, I would definitely become a regular customer, and drag all my bacon friends there.

 About the cupcakes I tried:

Beer batter dough, cheddar cheese and bacon buttercream frosting: wow! Loved the frosting and the density of the cupcake, which was more like a muffin.

bacon cupcake with cheddar cheese

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The Elvis Presley, banana bread base, peanut butter frosting, chocolate chips and a bacon piece on top: anything peanut butter, thumbs up, with bacon? Even better.

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Dark chocolate and buttercream frosting with a cute decorative salty piece of bacon on top: lovely fluffy texture, great color contast between the black, white and the rosie piece of bacon.

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Beyond recognition, all cupcakes were a success. My favorite was the Elvis Presley, the peanut butter goes so well with the banana and the bacon gives it that extra flavor experience, as salty savory just becomes the “cherry” on top of the “cupcake”.

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Before I go, I have to tell you about this awesome bacon magazine I found in Rural King (the only place in the states where you can take your pet – even a snake, as long as it has a leash on it. Oh! And free popcorn!). Only in ‘murrikuh! Everything bacon related is in it, from how to make it on the comfort of your own home, amazing recipes and plenty of delicious bacon photos.

Don’t forget to check out Fifi’s website, facebook page and if ever in the vicinities of Terre Haute, or thinking about going to a nearby festival, check out if you are close to tasting a bit of bacon heaven. With homemade bacon, what else?

 Thank you Fifi, for making my overdue trip to the states worth while, and putting up with my everlasting curiosity about meeting your shop. I approve this vittle, as a luso-american foodie! Keep up the good work!

 Bacon is life!