29 October 2012


"La Castanyada" is a traditional celebration in Catalonia during the night of October 31th and All Saints Day day we eat roasted chestnuts and the appreciated sweets called "panellets".

This celebration makes me remember when I was a child. At school we used to celebrate that day with a big party: singing songs, with painted faces, and eating chestnuts and panellets at the playground of the school. The panellets were made by the children and teachers. Each child had to bring some ingredients and chestnuts, and panellets were done by each class a few days before. And the big day each one recived a bag of panallets and some roasted chestnuts. So you can imagine what a big mess we did in the class making these sweets.

I really enjoy that celebration, making panallets with my family and the smell of roasted chestnuts on the street, I really love that smell!

The pine nuts panallets are the most known and the most appreciated, also by me. I think they are the best. Cocoa and coffee powder can also be added to the mixture to change the taste. Pine nuts can be substituted for chopped almonds or coconut. You can find a large variety of ingredients, but this time I've made pine nuts, chocolate and coffee.

250 g almond powder
250 g white sugar (you can add less sugar, on your taste)
100 g potato
lemon zest
vanilla sugar

130 g pine nuts
cacao powder
instant coffee powder
1 yolk egg (to stick the pine nuts)
1 egg (to brush the pine nuts ones)
icing sugar (to roll the cacao and coffee ones)

Wash and bring to boil the potato with the skin until is soft, about 20-30 minutes. Peel and mash the potato. Add the sugar and the almond and mix it until well combined. Divide the mixture into 2 pieces and add the vanilla sugar on one and the lemon zest in the other one.  Continue mixing well, first use a fork or a spatula and latter on use your hands until it becomes a very thick paste. Wrap the mixture with plastic film and store it in the fridge at least 6 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 200º.
Put in a little bowl an egg yolk and pour it the pine nuts and mix it.
Put in an other bowl the whole beatten egg.
Make little balls of mixture with your hands and cover them with pine nuts. Egg yolk will make easier to stick them on. Place the panallets on a baking tray and brush them with the whole egg.

Bake them in the middle on the preheated oven for 8-10 mintues, until they get golden. Make sure you control them at any time due to  the fact they get done very fast. To make them even brown I place them the last minute in the higher position of the oven.
Remove them gently and cool on a plate.

For the cacao and coffee just add the powder into the mixture and mix it well until combined. Roll the mixture into 3-4 cm ball. Bake them 8-10 minutes: Remove them gently and let it cool them for a while before you roll them into icing sugar.

With these ingredients I did 14 pine nuts, 10 coffee and 10 chocolate.

Cover them or store in a box in room temperature, they taste much better after 2 days.

Enjoy your panallets with roasted chestnuts and a nice glass of Moscatell  

24 October 2012

Pumpkin Cupcakes

I really love cakes with any vegetable such as carrot, zucchini or pumpkin. And for these dates what better than a pumpkin cake? This time I did cupcakes with it. I like the smell, the taste and it is extremply soft. I used the pumpkin jam I did to fill some of them, and they are even more softer and tasty. 

I topped them with cream cheese. Even I love the cream cheese frosting I have to say I rather eat them without the frosting, just after they cool down a little bit, that is when I enjoy the most this cake. It would be great to make them some scary but in my country we do not celebrate Halloween. But as a lot of other costums this Celtic tradition is also taking place in Spain and in the Netherlands, and you can see it in a lot of stores where you can buy all kind of Halloween stuff. I did not know so much about this celebration until I lived for some months in Ireland, so there I celebrated my only one Halloween party, it was great.

190 g all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
100 g butter, cubed and at room temperature
120 g light brown caster sugar
2 large eggs
200 g pumpkin purée
60 ml buttermilk
pumpkin jam for filling (optional)

For the pumpking purée: you will need about 280/300 g of pumpkin to get 200 g of purée. Put the peeled and cubed pumpkin in a medium saucepan covered with unsalted water until the pumpkin is slightly soft. Remove water and make the purée using a blender. Let it cool down while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 160º.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, bicarbonate and salt in a bowl, and set aside.

Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream with and electric hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs on at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the sifted dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined. Finally add the pumpkin purée and the buttermilk.

Divide the mixture between the cupcakes cases. Bake 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven, let them in the tin for 5 minutes and finally let them cool completely in a wire rack before decorating.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
140 g cream cheese (very cold)
60 g butter, cubed and at room temperature
1 tablespoon of whole milk
300 g icing sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnnamon and some more for the topping

Sift the icing sugar in the mixing bowl, add the butter and the milk and beat until until well mixed and pale and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the cream cheese and the cinnamon and beat until fluffy.

Top the cupcakes with the frosting and dust with ground cinnamon.

Very important take out the cream cheese just before using, it is necessary to be very cold.

I rather fill cupcakes with jam or brush them with syrup, since you can keep them longer. With the pumking jam mixed with the cream cheese frosting is absolutly delicious.

If you are a Halloween lover just top the cupcakes with a little fonfant or marzipan pumpkin!

Next post I will tell you what is traditionally to do in my town for the 31st october evening.
What are you gonna do for Halloween? 

22 October 2012

Apple Crumble

Here I show you a warm dessert which is one of my old favorites. I love crumble with any fruit and even a salty crumble. It is really very quick to prepare. This preparation consists of two steps, the crumbs topping and the filling of apples which gives and excelent contrast to the dish.  And if you want to enjoy it better top it with a scoop of icecream sprinkeled with cinnamon. I love these contrasting flavours.

You can use any type of apples, and you can even use a mixture of apples.

This recipe makes a large and thick crust crumble which I love, but if you prefer put less crumble on top and then the apple juices will bubble up through the surface.

INGREDIENTS makes a 32cm by 18cm tin 

For the crumble
380 g all purpose flour
200 g caster sugar
210 g butter cubed at room temperature
a pinch of salt

For the filling
4 apples (peeled, cored and medium diced)
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons sugar (I used light brown caster)
200 g crème fraîche
50 g raisins
70 g nuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 175º.

Place the flour, the sugar and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and mix well. Add the soft butter and blend with your fingertips until the mixture turns to breadcrumbs. Set aside.

Grease the tin.

Put the prepared apple in a large bowl and sprinkle over the cinnamon, raisins and nuts. Mix the mixture. Add the sugar, the honey and the crème fraîche and mix until combined.

Put the filling mixture into the greased tin, spread it evenly around. Take the crumble and top the apple mixture with it and again spread it evenly

Place tin in the oven for 30 minutes or until the crumble is brown and the apple mixture bubbles.

Served it warm and topped with a scoop of icecream it is just delicious 

18 October 2012

Spiced Pumpkin Jam

Pumpkin is often associated with halloween and closely related with this celebration. There are a large amount of recipes with pumpkin and other alternatives such as this jam. What is better than to make your own homemade jam? 

I really love anything with pumpkin, sweet or savory. Here I did my own spiced pumpkin jam which is absolutely amazing, very tasty and with a special flavour. It is not extremly sweet. You can eat it with pancakes, just spread it on a slice of bread but what I really like to use it is as a condiment with some grilled meat, and to spread on toast with foie or cheese.

As all jams it is very easy to make, you will just have to add the wished species. Here you have my recipe but you can add other species such as nutmeg, black peper or cumin. The smell during the cooking is really nice.

INGREDIENTS makes about 3 jars of 200 ml

500 g pumking (peeled and cubed)
200 g gelatin sugar (regular sugar also avaliable)
1/2 lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
2 cloves

Put all the ingredients in a big sauce pan and cook covered on a low heat, until the pumpkin gets soft, and the mixture thinkens and you have got the right consistency. Aproximately 40 minutes. Stir from time to time with a wooden spoon during the cooking process. 

If during the process it gets too thick you just must add some water in.

Liquify the mixture with a blender, if you wish do not do it competly and leave it a little bit chunky. 

Pour the hot jam into sterilised jars, close immediatlely and place the jars upside down, during 12 hours or overnight.

To sterelize the jars put them into boiling water.

I love this pumpkin color! 

15 October 2012

Chocolate and Banana Loaf

Days are getting colder and that means is good for my baking. The oven is working hard since a few weeks. Last few days I was thinking about a chocolate and banana loaf. And last week I took the advantage of having some ripe bananas in the kitchen to make it. Is really good all these kind of recipes with banana, need very riped ones. Otherwise I think I would not eat them.

Chocolate and banana combination never fails, in cakes, icecreams and anything else you do with those two, the taste is lovely, well if you like both of them of course! 

A slice of this loaf is perfect for a breakfast or an afternoon tea, and if you eat right after the baking, when is still a little bit warm the taste sensation is even better, delicious!

INGREDIENTS makes a 22cm loaf tin

125 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250 g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs
250 g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (118 ml)
4 tipe bananas, mashed with a fork
175 g dark chocolate broken into small pieces or chocolate chips
75 g pecan nuts (or walnuts)

Preheat the oven to 180º and grease the loaf tin.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and bicarbonate in a bowl, set aside.

Cream the butter and the sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffly. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat again.

Add the sifted ingredients graduatlly in three addition, alternating with the banana and buttermilk and mix until just combined.

Stir in the chocolate and nuts and mix it with a spatula.

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and level it out with a spatula,

Bake in the center of the oven for 50 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out with only few moist crumbs attached. Let cool ten minutes in the tin and then let cool completely on a wire rack.

If your loaf gets darker on top before the inside is done cooking, just cover it with aluminium foil.

You can also use loaf tin paper liners or just a baking paper on the bottom to unmold it better, but with the tin perfectly greased should not be any problem.

Perfect to serve it warm, but also posible to keep in an airthight container at room temperature not more than 3 days.

This is my adaption of a recipe of Primerose Bakery, but I did quite a lot of modifications.

Enjoy your week 

11 October 2012

Parmesan and Sesam Crackers

Who can resist to eat just one cracker? me not. I love them, but I avoid to buy them otherwise I start the whole pack and I can not stop until is completly finished! so when I discovered this recipe I was so happy and I could add any ingredient I wish, also it is a good alternative since the quantity of my recipe is much less than the huge packs you can get in the supermarket, and of course is more healthy.
They are crunchy and cheesy, and delicous with the special taste of the sesam which I love.

INGREDIENTS (makes a full oven tray)

180 g bread flour
30 ml whole milk
80 ml warm water
1 teaspoon virgin oil
35 g grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoon black sesam
1 teaspoon white sesam
1/2 teaspoon of salt
a pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon instant yeast

Topping: salt, oregano, thyme...

Combine all the ingredients with your mixer in a bowl. Mix with your hands and wrap the dough with plastic, Set aside for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 200º and prepare a tray with a sheet paper.

Divide the dough into 3 parts and roll each into a thin rectangle of 3 mm. 

Cut the dough into squares with a pastry cutter or pizza cutter (mine was 3cm), it is not necessary to leave so much space since they do not grow when you bake them.

Punch the dough using a fork to avoid puffing in the oven, and press down

Sprinkle with salt and herbs.

Bake it for 7 minutes or until crackers get golden, just before the edges get darker.

Turn off the oven and leave the tray in the oven for 30 minutes. The crackers will get crunchy and dry. If you wish you can add now more salt and/or herbs.

This is my adaptation of this recipe.
You can store the crackers up to 5 days in an hermeticalysealed container or in a sealed plastic bag.


09 October 2012

West Coast Trip

I wanted to tell you a little bit about my trip to the States. I say a little bit because even this large summary I would need even more space to tell you all the amazing things I did and I saw. This is my third time to America, but the first time to the West Coast and even all good things I read and other people told me before, I got impressed about almost everyhting I saw in that awesome part of America.

I do not want to repeat the same pictures and stories you can find on many other blogs and travel guides. But instead I just want to show you some pictures, but it is not as close as being there yourself.

I visited Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Carmel, Monterey, and some other smaller cities, and the best of them all is without a doubt San Francisco, of course. I fell in love with that city, I really could live there right now. Is not a city to walk around in, because it has too much climbs and slopes, so it is quite exhausting to see it walking. But you have the lovely cable car which you should try at least once! also the tram and the bus are good solutions, and somehting I did as well is to cycle along the coast from pier 39 to the famous golden gate and cross the bridge. This is also somehting quite tired, but was amazing cycle over the bridge and to feel the wind and the sound of the many cars passing by. I recommend you as well to visit Alcatraz, watch the seals at the pier 39, there are so much things to do there!

I knew already what people says about LA, so I was not disappoined with that city. I was sleeping in a hotel at Venice Beach and that is one of the best areas to overnight. I recommend you to rent a bike and enjoy the beach, cycle to Santa Monica, walk on the pier, have a nice meal, and you can also do a lot of shopping there. But if your budget is higher then go to Rodeo Drive baby, but this was not my case.

The other part I enjoyed the most were all the national parks, I love them: Death Valley,Yosemite, Mariposa, Zion, Bryce Canyon and Antelope Canyon, I had no more time left to visit more, I would wish to visit more, but that country has too much parks, and three weeks was all my budget. There I could enjoy the nature I did a lot of hiking and I even saw a bear in Yosemite!

Eating in America is also an adventure, and as a food lover I enjoyed a lot. They really have a large variety of food everywhere, and something I love is to have a box to take the left overs home. All restaurants in Europe should do the same!

Cupcakes at the breakfast buffet of a hotel & Pancakes in a bed&breakfast (actually the best I ever had)
Brunch at IHOP (International House of Pancakes) & American breakfast

Huge hamburgers, I just love them! Nice ribs and the best steaks.

Something I discover in this trip is: The fact that I love Margaritas! I had all type of margaritas, frozen, strawberry, melon... I did not realize I would love something that contains tequila, but now I do!!

I like american supermarkets, they have everything you can imagine and much more, and a large variety of each thing, sometimes this makes me crazy. I like to walk around in them and look at all the products. I have bought some stuff there, such as chocolate and penautbutter chips and more which is less common or more expensive in Europa. The cookies did not survive till the end of the trip, I ate all of them before my departure day, like mint and strawberry oreos, and all kind of chocolate bars...

All kind of cake decorating stuff and fresh cupcakes (I did not try them)

And of course cupcake time! I've visited the two shops that Miette has in San Francisco and Magnolia Backery in LA. Lovely cupcakes and lovely backeries, Magnolia is much bigger than the one I've been to in NY.

I know, my diet was totally out of the window during my holiday... but who cares! This last part looks more like a food diary than a trip story, well my blog is about food so...

There was KitchenAid and Martha Stewart stuff everywhere! I did not buy the mixer but I bought a cute pink set of measuring cups and spoons of KitchenAid :)

I did not buy so much stuff as I did in my other two trips to the US, actually I had not so much time left for shopping, but there is always time to visit a bookshop, and here you can see my new books. Of course the Miette one, after the visit to the backery I get mine. I bought Joy the Baker and Sprinklebakes as well, since I love their blogs. I also had time to visit the lovely shop of Anthropologie, which is amazing, I could only buy a pair of bowls.

That's all, hope you enjoyed and if you have the chance just go and let me know 

04 October 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Speculoos Cream

Here you have my lastest chocolate cookies with a touch of speculoos. I love american style cookies, soft and chewy, and with the taste of speculoos and dark chocolate it makes a great taste combination.

For those who do not know what speculoos is I will tell you it is a spiced cookie, traditionaly from the Netherlands and Belgium, you can get it also as speculoos cream in a jar. I know is not easy to find it in many countries, but it is getting more easier to find it in special shops or big stores. Speculoos taste makes me remember Christmas, since it is typical for the christmas season, but nowadays you can find it the year around, and for me is always nice to enjoy a speculoos cookie or spread this lovely cream on a toast.

If you do not have speculoos cream you can use penaut butter, it taste differet but alos absolutly amazing, I asure you because I tried it as well!

INGREDIENTS makes 12-14 cookies

130 g all purpose flour
125 g light brown sugar caster (or half white half dark)
100 g unsalted butter (soft and cubed)
1 large egg
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
175 g chocolate chips (or crunched chocolate)
50 g speculoos cream

Preheat the oven to 175º and prepare the tray with the baking paper.

Sieve the flour, the salt and the baking soda. Keep aside.

Mix the softened butter and sugar, then break in the egg, add the vanilla extract and mix well with a spatula until well combined.

Add the speculoos cream to the mixture and mix it well with the spatula.

Add the sieved ingredients to the mixture in two batches, mixing gently just until all ingriedients are integrated, do not overbeat.

Mix in the chocolate chips.

Make little balls with two spoons (golf ball size) and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Make sure to space them apart from each other about 8 cm, as they will grow. If you wish you can top them now with some extra chocolate chips before placing them in the oven. Store the rest of the mixture in the fridge during the oven time.

Bake them for 15 minutes or until the cookies get golden, just before the edges get darker.

Leave them on the baking sheets for 5 minutes and after let cool them down on a wire rack.

If you like your cookies a bit soft and chewy take them out of the oven as soon as they start to turn golden.
You can keep the cookies in an hermeticaly sealed jar or box up to 5 days.