quinta-feira, 24 de dezembro de 2009

Daring Baker's Challenge - December 2009

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

Anna's Notes: If you don't have an awful lot of time, the doughs can easily be frozen and then thawed when you are ready to roll it. The baked pieces can also be tightly wrapped in plastic and frozen for assembly later.

The house could be as big or as small as you'd like, but it MUST meet these requirements:

1. Everything needs to be edible - no glue or inner non-food supports allowed.

2. You must bake the gingerbread yourself, whichever recipe you choose. No graham cracker houses please!

3. You must use some sort of template. If you don't use ours, take a picture or link to what you do use in your final post. It doesn't have to be super technical - Anna didn't even measure hers, she just cut out shapes from parchment and made sure the edges matched up.

Have you ever heard that kid's story which 3 little pigs must bild a house to protect themselves from the wolf? Well, I'm definetly not the third pig. My little house has colapsed at the first blow...

Thanks Anna and Y for the chance of doing something I have never done before and for all the laughimg.

But seriously, I must say I didn't like this challenge very much. I mean, I can't see the point of all that hard work for something ...ham... tasteless. I don't mind having hard word at kitchen. Difficult recipes really challenges me and I feel great whenever I face and manage to make it. Like that: I DID IT!

But I strongly belive the food must be delicious. Beautiful and delicious. I chose the Scandinavian Gingerbread recipe and it is not like that. Even my kids refused to eat them...

Anyway, here is my results:

And it's gone with the wind...

Y's Recipe:
Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga) from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas

1 cup butter, room temperature [226g]
1 cup brown sugar, well packed [220g]
2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ cup boiling water
5 cups all-purpose flour [875g]

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until blended. Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Mix the baking soda with the boiling water and add to the dough along with the flour. Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Chill 2 hours or overnight.
Cut patterns for the house, making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls, chimney and door out of cardboard.
Roll the dough out on a large, ungreased baking sheet and place the patterns on the dough. Mark off the various pieces with a knife, but leave the pieces in place. [I rolled out the dough on a floured bench, roughly 1/8 inch thick (which allows for fact that the dough puffs a little when baked), cut required shapes and transferred these to the baking sheet. Any scraps I saved and rerolled at the end.]
Preheat the oven to 375'F (190'C). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookie dough feels firm. After baking, again place the pattern on top of the gingerbread and trim the shapes, cutting the edges with a straight-edged knife. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.

Royal Icing:

1 large egg white
3 cups (330g) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon almond extract

Beat all ingredients until smooth, adding the powdered sugar gradually to get the desired consistency. Pipe on pieces and allow to dry before assembling. If you aren't using it all at once you can keep it in a small bowl, loosely covered with a damp towel for a few hours until ready to use. You may have to beat it slightly to get it an even consistency if the top sets up a bit. Piped on the house, this will set up hard over time.

Simple Syrup:

2 cups (400g) sugar
2 cup water
Place in a small saucepan and heat until just boiling and the sugar dissolves. Dredge or brush the edges of the pieces to glue them together. If the syrup crystallizes, remake it.

Some links to good extra information:(Thanks to Anna, Y and Audax for this)


Gingerbread: Things to Make and Bake by Teresa Layman http://www.amazon.com/Gingerbread-Things-Make-Teresa-Layman/dp/081093367...

How to Build a Gingerbread House: A Step-by-Step Guide to Sweet Results by Christina Banner http://www.amazon.com/Build-Gingerbread-House-Step-Step/dp/0981580610/re...

Gingerbread Houses by Christa Currie http://www.amazon.com/Gingerbread-Houses-Christa-Currie/dp/0385472676/re...

The Gingerbread Architect: Recipes and Blueprints for Twelve Classic American Homes by Susan Matheson and Lauren Chattman http://www.amazon.com/Gingerbread-Architect-Recipes-Blueprints-American/...

Gingerbread Houses: Baking and Building Memories by Nonnie Cargas http://www.amazon.com/Gingerbread-Houses-Baking-Building-Memories/dp/087...

Here are some links to free patterns and information about gingerbread houses


Merry Christmas to you all, and a very Happy New Year.

segunda-feira, 14 de dezembro de 2009

Daring Cooks' Challenge - December 2009

Hey, Today is the December DC's Challenge reveal day! And what was that?

The 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good Food Online.

Variations allowed: Mandatory for this challenge is to cook with pastry.!If you do not like fish or are allergic to salmon, you can substitute the salmon for the Beef version, which is Beef Wellington. Recipe below. Salmon can be substituted for another type of fish, although I am not sure which fish would do well in pastry. Vegetarian versions are also allowed. For a vegetarian version check out this recipe on my blog and leave out the chicken.

The original DC's recipe and then my comments

Salmon en Croute

Mascarpone or creamcheese 5.2 ounces/150 gr
Watercress, rocket (arugula) and spinach - 0.6 cup/4.2 ounces/120 gr
Shortcrust pastry - 17.6 ounces, 500 gr. or... make your own!
Salmon fillet (skinless)- 17.6 ounce/500 gr
egg - 1 medium size

Heat the oven to 200°C/390 F. Put the mascarpone or cream cheese in a food processor with the watercress, spinach and rocket and whizz the lot until you have a creamy green puree. Season well.
Roll the pastry out so you can wrap the salmon in it completely (approx. 2-3 mm thick) and lay it on a buttered or oiled baking sheet (it will hang over the edges). Put the salmon in the middle. If it has a thinner tail end, tuck it under. Spoon half of the watercress mixture onto the salmon. Now fold the pastry over into a neat parcel (the join will be at the top, so trim the edge neatly), making sure you don’t have any thick lumps of pastry as these won’t cook through properly. Trim off any excess as you need to. Make 3 neat cuts in the pastry to allow steam to escape and make some decorations with the off-cuts to disguise the join if you like. Brush with the egg glaze.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and browned. To test wether the salmon is cooked, push a sharp knife through one of the cuts into the flesh, wait for 3 seconds then test it against the inside of your wrist; if it is hot, the salmon is cooked. Serve with the rest of the watercress puree as a sauce.

Shortcrust Pastry

While this is not mandatory to do, I highly recommend making your own shortcrust pastry as it is very simple to do! As mentioned in the notes; please make sure to not add too much water as that is the key to having a successful shortcrust pastry. Watch this video to check the correct consistency of the dough Making shortcrust pastry

450 gr (15.8 ounces or 3.2 cups ) of plain all purpose flour
200 gr ( 7 ounce) cold butter
pinch of salt

Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. If you have a food processor you can use that as shown in the above video.
Stir in the salt, then add 2-3 tbsp of water and mix to a firm dough. Knead the dough briefly and gently on a floured surface. Wrap in cling film and chill while preparing the filling.
For best results make sure the butter is very cold.

Ok, now it's me again: I chose the cream-cheese, but instead of watercrest, rocket  and spinach i decided to mix the cream-cheese with wasabi powder

I spread some orange zests over the wasabi cream, then topped with the salmon.

I sprinkled Himalaian pink salt over it

The dough: first I have tried the recipe as it is proposed. It didn't work. I must say I have never seem a shortcrust pastry like that. I mean, these are all the shortcrust pastries I know:

_Basic: wheat flour, salt, sugar,egg, butter and water.
_Sablé: wheat flour, salt optional, egg yolks, butter.
_Sucré: wheat flour, salt optional, sugar, egg yolks, butter.
_Lintzer: wheat flour, salt, sugar, egg, butter, baking powder, almonds, spices.
_Frola: wheat flour, salt optional, sugar, egg yolks, butter, baking powder.

 As you see, no one dough with just wheat flour, salt, butter and water. So I added 1 egg yolk to my first dough and everything got fixed.


Anyway, it was really delicious. Thanks to Simone for this amazing chance to learn and to taste this different way to prepare a salmon.

I'm Back

I’m back. This has been a crazy month. I spent 20 days in Europe and since I arrived, 15 days ago, I have already gone to São Paulo and to Belo Horizonte. Oh, and I went to a prom too!

What a busy life, isn’t it?

So…This last month I couldn’t manage to cook or bake for the Daring Kitchen’s challenges. And I’m terribly sorry for that as DC’s was sushi, which I love, and DB’s was canolli. Lots to learn…

Anyway, I’ll give some pictures of my vacations. It was really amazing!


Although it was autumn, we could find some tulips!

A beautiful bird in Volendam

Petrusse Valley


The gorgeous Galerie du Roi

Grand Place

You know Belgium is the homeland of waffles, don't you ?

Witamer's macaroons


Blue Mosque

A foogy day in Istanbul

Asian side: The Beylerbeyi Palace

The Bosphorus and the view of european side