Foodbuzz Tea Party Takeover for a Cause

The Foodbuzz Top 9 is a great opportunity that encourages all the food bloggers to get better with the experiences and knowledge shared everyday. The Top 9 on March 25th will be for a noble cause. Foodbuzz and Electrolux are partnering to host Top 9 Tea Party Takeover with 9 tea party recipe posts. For every tea party recipe created by a Featured Publisher, Foodbuzz will donate $50 to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.
The Ovarian Cancer Research is to fund research to find a method of early detection and ultimately cure for Ovarian Cancer. Cancer of the ovaries is an insidious disease that can often strike without warning. Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect, as the symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and subtle, similar to those in other non cancer conditions affecting women. There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer but tests exist that can identify women who are at higher risk for the disease. Visiting the Kelly Confidential site you will be able to donate to Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. 
Unfortunately, I already had the experience of losing some women in my family to cancer, and it’s very painful. So when I saw this takeover I didn't hesitate to support this great cause sharing traditional family recipes. In Minas Gerais we have the habit of join people around the table to take tea and coffee accompanied by a lot of divine treats like cream biscuit, cheese bread, corn cake, Minas Cheese, broa de fubá (cornmeal puff) and sequilho (tapioca biscuit). 

My grandma has a lot of passion for making these treats and then get together friends and family at her home. It was a great pleasure for her baking and rejoices people, and we also could see that. The treat that most represents this passion are the sequilhos. Besides its wonderful flavor, it is gluten free and perfect for all kind of Tea Parties. These little sweet circles are made with sour tapioca flour, sugar, butter and eggs. The biggest surprise about this story is that my grandma, helped by my mother and aunts, also used to prepare the tapioca flour itself in the farm. Nothing was purchased in the market, making all the process extremely laborious. 

Tapioca flour is made with cassava roots, which are widely used in Brazilian cuisine. Nowadays, it is very common to find sour tapioca flour in Asian and Brazilian markets, but in the past, each family had to prepare  its own tapioca flour. My mother explained me how they used to make it. To obtain tapioca starch, they peeled and grinded the roots. The dough obtained was rinsed several times for the total extraction of the starch. With the process of decanting, the tapioca starch was separated from the water mixture. To get the sour type, the starch was maintained for a fermentation period and then dried in the sun. The sour type is considered a starch modified by oxidation, whose main characteristic is its expansion property without the use of leavening agents (baking powder or yeast).

Sequilhos are not difficult to make (if you have the sour tapioca starch in hands). You just have to mix all the ingredients together. This was the first time that I made sequilhos and I tried to make them with the same passion as my grandma.  She used to flavor them with lemon zest but I made it different. For the first I used coconut. The results were light and soft biscuits. To accompany these adorable sequilhos, I prepare a tea with fresh lemon balm, followed by corn cake, cream biscuits, and cornmeal puffs with fennel seeds.

Coconut Sequilhos

2 cups sour tapioca flour
1 ½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
3 eggs
1cup coconut

Preheat the oven to 360°F
Sift the sugar with the tapioca flour.
Add remaining ingredients and work the dough with your hands until it forms a ball. Make the biscuits, as desired, and bake in moderate oven in a greased sheet pan
about 10 minutes or until golden.

Cornmeal Puffs With Fennel Seeds

1,1 lb yellow cornmeal
1,1 lb all purpose flour
3 eggs
½ cup butter
3 cups milk
Fennel seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
In a pan, place milk, sugar and butter to boil. Sift the cornmeal and flour on the pan, stirring until to form a polenta. Place the eggs, one at a time, stirring constantly, and  then the fennel seeds.  With an ice cream scoop make the buns and then dust with cornmeal. Place them in a greased pan and baking until golden brown.

Salty Fresh Corn Cake
10 ears of corn, kernels removed
2 cups milk
1 cup cheese (Mozzarella or Minas Cheese)
1 tablespoon salt

Pulse the corn kernels with the milk in a food processor. Pour pulsed corn into a large mixing bowl.
Add the cheese and salt. Mix well with a spoon. Pour into a cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Cream Biscuit



Banana Bread With Dried Cranberries And Golden Raisins

My dear friend Hugo sent me a very interesting banana bread recipe, which has no granulated sugar and is sweetened  by raisins and, of course, bananas. This combination is so amazing that I had to share with you!

It is very easy and quick to make. Its texture was smooth and moist. For this recipe, I added almonds, golden raisins and dried cranberries to improve the flavor. Feel free to add yours favorite nuts and dried fruits too. I decorated it dusting a little bit of powdered sugar, but you can top it with chocolate ganache, as suggested by Hugo. This was the best banana bread I have ever eaten. I love it!

 Banana Bread With Dried Cranberries and Golden Raisins

4 very ripe bananas 

3 eggs
1 cup black raisins
2 cup oats
1 / 2 cup oil
1 tablespoon baking powder
200g almonds
100g dried cranberries
100g golden raisins
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Combine the oil, eggs and raisins in a blender and blend until smooth. Then, add the bananas and blend again. Add the almonds and oats and blend all these together until smooth.

In a bowl, mix with a spoon the blended mixture with baking powder, dried cranberries and raisins.

Bake the banana bread in the loaf pan greased with cooking spray for 45 - 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the bread is clean when removed. Any wet mixture that sticks to the toothpick indicates that the bread needs more time in the oven.


Ciabatta Bread

Cooking, photographing and writing has been a challenge for me and every day I become passionate and interested in learning more. In my journey to conquer these arts, I discovered that making bread is so much fun. After my success making French bread I tried ciabatta bread this time, and again it was a delight.

Ciabatta is an Italian word that means slipper. This rustic-style bread is made from very wet dough. It also needs a slow-rise and long-fermentation process to create the big holes in the webbing and the shiny crumb.

As said in the book Crust and Crumb by Peter Reinhart “As a general rule, long, slow fermatantion draws forth the fullest flavors and the best result for the dough… The best way to increase the fermentation time without over fermenting is to build the bread in stage…”. That’s the secret of ciabatta bread. The yeast is not mixed directly on the dough. First you have to prepare a sponge, which consists of a combination of yeast with a small amount of flour plus a large amount of water. After at least one day of fermentation, you can use the sponge to prepare the dough.

You need to plan several days ahead before start it: the first day for making the sponge, the second day for mixing the bread dough, the third day for shaping, and the fourth day for baking. If you prefer, the loaf can even be held over for baking on fifty day.

Poolish-Style (Sponge) Pre-Ferment
(From Crust and Crumb, Peter Reinhart)

4 cups unbleached bread flour
4 cups cool water (65 to 70F)
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast, or 1/3 teaspoon active dry, or 3/4 teaspoon fresh, crumbled yeast

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl large enough to hold the batter after it has doubled in volume.
Best or whisk for about 1 minute, until the batter is well mixed and quite smooth. (Any remaining small lumps will dissolve when the final dough is mixed, if not before.)
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature for 3 to 5 hours, or till foamy and bubbly.
Refrigerate the poolish, well covered, overnight.

Ciabatta Bread
(From Crust and Crumb, Peter Reinhart)

6 cups unbleached bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons malt powder or brown sugar
3 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 cups cool water (65 -75F)
2 1/4 cups poolish-style sponge 
vegetable oil cooking spray

Combine the flour, malt, salt, yeast, water, and poolish in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment.

Mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 5 minutes. The dough will be sticky. Some will be pressed against the bowl and some bunched around  the paddle. Dip a rubber spatula in water and scrape all the dough down into the bowl. Switch to the dough hook for another 7 minutes on medium speed. The dough will be very wet and stretchy. if not, add a few drops of water, as needed.

With a wet spatula, scrape down all the dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise for 3 hours at room temperature. It will rise slowly, almost imperceptibly. Refrigerate it, covered tightly, overnight.

When you are ready to prepare the loaves the next day (or up to 2 days later), set out 3 sheet pans, parchment paper, cooking spray a pastry cutter or knife, a bowl of cold water, a damp tower for wiping your hands, and semolina or bread flour for dusting. 

Invert the pans, cover the bottoms with parchment (cut it to fit if necessary), and mist the parchment with cooking spray. Liberally sprinkle the parchment with semolina and your work surface with flour.

Dip your hands into the water and transfer the dough to the work surface. Liberally sprinkle more flour over its surface. Dip a pastry cutter or knife into the water and cut the dough into 3 equal pieces, pulling them to almost the width of a sheet pan. When you lay them down they may shrink in a little but should retain an oblong shape.

With either floured oe wet hands, transfer 1 piece to the first cheet pan, gently pulling it to the desireed length. Repeat with the other pieces, placing them on separate sheet pans. Lightly dimple each piece all over with moistened fingers, pressing gently to break up any air pockets.

Mist the tops of the loaves with cooking spray. Enclose each pan inside a plastic bag, and let the dough rise for about 4 hours at room temperature. The loaves should swell noticeably, as if ready to burst at the seams, nearly doubling in size. You may then bake the loaves. (If refrigerating them overnight, put them in the refrigerator after just 1 hour.)

Put an empty steam pan on the bottom rack. Preheat the oven to 500F.

Carefully slide the pans out of the bags, slowly peeling the bag off it has settled on the dough. Allow the dough to warm to room temperature while the oven is preheating (it takes at least 30 minutes for most ovens to reach 500F). Lightly dimple any noticeable air pockets (or pop them with a toothpick).

If baking on a stone, slide the dough, parchment and all, from the back of the sheet pan directly onto the stone, or carefully lift the parchment, lay the dough on a lightly floured peel, and transfer the dough to the stone. If not using a stone, simply place the sheet pan in the oven. Do not attempt to score this bread.

Spritz the bread and the oven walls with water, and pour 2 cups of hot water into the empty pan. Shut the oven door, wait 2 minutes, and spritz the oven walls again.

After 5 minutes, reduce the oven heat to 450F. Bake for about 30 more minutes, or till the crust is a deep, rich brown and feels very crisp.

Turn off the oven and open the oven door, but leave the bread in for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. The goal is to take it as long as possible without burning, so that the crust sugars deeply caramelize and the interior crumb develops a nutty flavor. The bread is done when the internal temperature of the loaves reaches 205F to 210F, and the loaf feels light and airy, almost hollow, when lifted off the paper (the read will soften as it cools).

Remove the parchment from the bottom of the bread and let it cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before eating.


Guinness-Braised Short Ribs With Colcannon To Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

When you think in St Patrick’s Day, traditional icons like leprechauns, pot of gold, rainbows and shamrock come to mind. Talking about traditions, is there a better meal for this day than colcannon? Actually, there is… Colcannon accompanied by a Guinness in your pint glass and your plate. Guinness-braised short ribs with colcannon will bring the Irish fortune and good luck to your dinner table celebration!

The colcannon is a age-old Irish dish made mainly with mashed potatoes and cabbage, or kale. The beef short ribs are slow-cooked with Guinness Extra Stout, which gives a rich deep color and bittersweet flavor. The smell and flavors are absolutely scrumptious, and the result is a fantastic tender and juicy meat.

Guinness-Braised Short Ribs
(adapted from here)

4 lb. beef short ribs
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 Tbs. canola oil
2 yellow onions, diced
some baby carrots
2 celery stalks, diced
6 garlic cloves, sliced
2 cups stout
8 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs (optional)
Season the short ribs generously on all sides with salt and pepper. In a large fry pan over mediumhigh
heat, warm the oil until almost smoking. Working in batches (do not overcrowd), brown the ribs
on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
In the same pan over medium heat, add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic and cook, stirring
occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Slow cooker method: Transfer the short ribs and vegetables to a slow cooker and add the stout.
Cover and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions until the meat is very tender, about 6
Oven method: Preheat an oven to 300°F. Transfer the short ribs and vegetables to a Dutch oven and
add the stout. Cover the pot with aluminum foil and place the lid on top. Transfer to the oven and bake
until the meat is very tender, about 4 hours.
Transfer the ribs to a large bowl and cover with aluminum foil. Skim the fat off the sauce. Using an
immersion blender, puree the sauce until smooth.
Transfer the ribs to individual bowls. Spoon the sauce on top and garnish each serving with a parsley
sprig. Serve immediately. Serves 8.

(adapted from here)

2 1/2 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup milk
4 bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 large leek, white and light green portions,
halved lengthwise, rinsed well and thinly sliced
1 bunch curly kale, about 3/4 lb., stemmed and
coarsely chopped
1 small head napa cabbage, about 1 lb., cored
and coarsely chopped
1/8 tsp. mace or freshly grated nutmeg
Put the potatoes in a large pot, add water to cover the potatoes by 2 inches and generously salt the
water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes
are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. Drain well in a colander.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, combine the butter and milk and heat until the butter
melts and the mixture is hot, 8 to 10 minutes.
Set a potato ricer over a large bowl and press the potatoes through in batches. Fold in the milk
mixture in two additions. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil and set
over a large saucepan of barely simmering water to keep warm.
Heat a heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until hot. Add the bacon and cook, stirring
occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to
a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
Pour off all but 3 Tbs. of the fat from the pot. Return the pot to medium heat, add the shallots and leek
and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the kale and toss just until wilted
but still bright green, about 3 minutes. Add the cabbage and toss until tender-crisp, about 8 minutes.
Sprinkle with the mace and the bacon, and season with salt and pepper. Stir the potatoes into the
cabbage mixture and serve warm. Serves 8.


Domino Cake - Bolo Dominó

For the last 15 years, my mother-in-law had made the same cake every year for my husband’s birthday: Domino Cake. Last weekend, this special data has arrived and I felt the obligation to continue this tradition. After finish it and tasted it, I could understand his desire for the same cake all these years. The combination of the chocolatey and creamy layers, resulted from the chocolate mousse, brigadeiro and chantilly, is magnificent. Besides I liked very much its colors. The contrast between the black and white layers is beautiful. 

Domino Cake consists of 9 layers: chocolate sponge cake, chocolate brigadeiro, chocolate mousse, chocolate brigadeiro, chocolate sponge cake, chocolate Chantilly, white sponge cake, white brigadeiro, white Chantilly and white sponge cake. Everything covered with a lot rich chocolate brigadeiro.

You will need 2 days to prepare everything. On the first day, make the cakes discs and the chocolate mousse. Make the mousse on the same pan that you made the cakes to get the same shape. I make 4 discs because I’m crazy about tall cakes, but you can use just two discs if you want a shorter cake. On the second day, make the filling, the brigadeiros, the Chantilly and finally the decoration of the cake.

It was a lot a work, but every minute spend on this cake was worth, especially when I saw his happy face in each bite. After all, baking is all about making people happy.

Domino Cake

Sponge Cake
(makes 1 disc)

4 large eggs
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoon cake flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whip, beat the eggs and the sugar on medium-high speed in a large mixing bowl until the mixture is pale yellow, thick, and tripled in volume, about 8 minutes.  Sift the flour into a small mixing bowl. Add half the flour mixture to the egg mixture and blend thoroughly until smooth. Repeat with the other half. Pour the cake batter into the pan, spreading it evenly. Bake until the cake springs back when touched, about 15 minutes. Cool for about 2 minutes, and then gently flip it out onto a large sheet of parchment paper. Let cool completely. To make the chocolate sponge cake add 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder to the sponge cake recipe.

Chantilly Cream

1 cup heavy cream, cold
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Chill a mixing bowl and wire whisk in the freezer for 10 minutes before beginning. Beat heavy cream in the chilled bowl until it begins to foam and thicken up. Add the powdered sugar and continue to beat until the cream barely mounds. Do not overwhip. To make the chocolate Chantilly add one tablespoon of cocoa powder to a half of the Chantilly recipe.

Chocolate Mousse

200g chocolate (I used Callebaut Belgian Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Semi - Sweet, 54.5% Cocoa)
3 eggs
12g unflavored gelatin + 1/4 cup hot water to soak
1 can table cream or 7,6 Oz heavy cream
½ cup powdered sugar, sifted

Melt the chocolate in a water bath; add the powdered sugar.  In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the hot water, stir and let soften until opaque, about 3 minutes. Add to chocolate mixture.
With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whip, beat the eggs yolks on medium-high speed in a large mixing bowl until the mixture is pale yellow, thick, and double in volume.

In a saucepan over medium heat, stirring the chocolate mixture and egg yolks until boiling. Pour the mixture in a bowl and leave aside to cool. When the mixture is at room temperature, add table cream and mix until combine. Place in the same cake pan that you prepared the sponge cakes. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or up to overnight. 

Chocolate Brigadeiro

2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
100g chocolate (I used Callebaut Belgian Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Semi - Sweet, 54.5% Cocoa)
2 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 can table cream 

Pour the condensed milk into a medium saucepan and place over low heat.
Add the chocolates and butter. Stir the mixture until it starts to show the bottom of the pan while you scrape it with a spoon. The mixture should be thick enough to show the bottom of the pan for a few seconds before the mixture back again. Transfer to a greased bowl. When the Brigadeiro mixture is at room temperature, add the table cream and mix until combine. Place it in the fridge until the decoration. 

White Brigadeiro

1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1 can table cream 

Pour the condensed milk into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat
Add the egg yolks and keep stirring the mixture until it starts to show the bottom of the pan when you scrape it with a spoon. The mixture should be thick enough to show the bottom the pan for a couple of seconds before the mixture back again.
Pour the mixture in a greased bowl and leave aside to cool. When the Brigadeiro mixture is at room temperature, add the table cream and mix until combine. Place it in the fridge until decoration.


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