Beautiful Bones

Quinoa Muffins

My mom-in-law has osteoporosis. Nothing new here: she's a woman in her late fifties, and she has been lactose intolerant for years. I've got used to cook considering her needs, adding new calcium-rich ingredients as much as possible, and avoiding those she can't have. Only recently have I discovered quinoa to be one of those miraculous foods - providing very needed calcium in a light way. I love quinoa for its versatility. How cool is a grain that works for both sweet and savoury dishes? Susan of Food Blogga, is hosting a food blogging event to alert women to the potential risks of osteoporosis and encourage them to take steps to protect their bones at every age. Today, I'm posting a savoury quinoa recipe to enter the amazing food event Beautiful Bones, and join the movement to prevent Osteoporosis.

Tuna Quinoa Muffins
Adapted from Chucrute com Salsicha

Makes 6

1 can tuna in olive oil (best quality), drained
1 1/2 cup (cooked) quinoa
1/2 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
2 eggs
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup chives, chopped
Salt and ground pepper

Preheat oven to 360ºF/180ºC. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, whisking together flour and baking powder with the lemon zest. In another bowl, mix the tuna, olive oil and fresh herbs. Beat in the eggs with a pinch of salt. Add the milk, and the cooked quinoa. Season to taste. Mix in the flour mixture. Do not over work. Place the batter in a silicone muffin pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through. Serve immediately, with a green salad or together with broccoli soup.

Quinoa Muffins


DB#19 or L´Opéra in Saffron & Almond tones

Safron & Almond Opera Cake

It's Daring Bakers' time again! Being a combination of music and theatrical art, any opera is full of emotions, social conflicts, complex plots, twisted characters and drama. Lot's of drama. There's no Opera without drama, that's for sure. So I expected an Opera cake - full of layers, buttercream, mousse, glaze, syrup - to be dramatic. Well, it wasn't. It was easy like a Sunday morning! My Saffron & Almond Opera Cake was not only gorgeous but also delicious with the Lemon Curd mousse. Beautiful saffron filaments and in season black cherries did the rest. :)

This month's challenge is dedicated to Barbara of WinosandFoodies, hosted by the Daring Bakers awesome founders Lisa from La Mia Cucina and Ivonne from Cream Puffs in Venice and co-hosted by Fran of Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie and Shea of Whiskful. Check all the opera areas at the Daring Bakers Blogroll!


A Taste of Light - Opera Cake
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and
Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate Passion

For the joconde
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups (225 grams) ground blanched almonds
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
6 large eggs
½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. (1½ ounces; 45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1.Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.

2.Preheat the oven to 425◦F. (220◦C).

3.Line two 12½ x 15½- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.

4.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.

5.If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.

6.Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here).

7.Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.

8.Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven.

9.Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold.

10.Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.

For the syrup
½ cup (125 grams) water
⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. of the flavouring of your choice (i.e., vanilla extract, almond extract, cognac, limoncello, coconut cream, honey etc.)

1.Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil.

2.Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

For the buttercream
1 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 grams) water
seeds of one vanilla bean (split a vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the seeds) or 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1¾ sticks (7 ounces; 200 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
flavouring of your choice (a tablespoon of an extract, a few tablespoons of melted white chocolate, citrus zest, etc.)

1.Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.

2.Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225◦F (107◦C) [*Note: Original recipe indicates a temperature of 255◦F (124◦C), however, when testing the recipe I found that this was too high so we heated to 225◦F and it worked fine] on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.

3.While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.

4.When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don’t worry about this and don’t try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!

5.Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).

6.While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.

7.With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.

8.At this point add in your flavouring and beat for an additional minute or so.

9.Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it’s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).

For the mousse/ganache
7 ounces white chocolate
1 cup plus 3 tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream)
1 tbsp. liquer of your choice (Bailey’s, Amaretto, etc.)

1.Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tbsp. of heavy cream in a small saucepan.
2.Stir to ensure that it’s smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Add the tablespoon of liqueur to the chocolate and stir. Set aside to cool completely.
3.In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form.
4.Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.
5.If it’s too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it’s spreadable.
6.If you’re not going to use it right away, refrigerate until you’re ready to use.

For the glaze
14 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream (35% cream)

1.Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream. Whisk the mixture gently until smooth.
2.Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the chilled cake. Using a long metal cake spatula, smooth out into an even layer.
3.Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.

Assembling the Opéra Cake
(Note: The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day).

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Working with one sheet of cake at a time, cut and trim each sheet so that you have two pieces (from each cake so you’ll have four pieces in total): one 10-inch (25-cm) square and one 10 x 5-inch (25 x 12½-cm) rectangle.

Step A (if using buttercream only and not making the ganache/mousse):

Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.

Spread about one-third of the buttercream over this layer.

Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.

Spread another third of the buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde. Spread the remaining buttercream on top of the final layer of joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).

Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.

Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.

Step B (if making the ganache/mousse):

Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.

Spread about three-quarters of the buttercream over this layer.

Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.

Spread the remaining buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).

Prepare the ganache/mousse (if you haven’t already) and then spread it on the top of the last layer of the joconde. Refrigerate for at least two to three hours to give the ganache/mousse the opportunity to firm up.

Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.

Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.

Safron & Almond Opera Cake

My thoughts on the challenge:

- Yellow. I wanted it to have some yellowish colour to celebrate Barbara's LiveSTRONG supporting blog event. I used lemon curd instead of a mousse or ganache.
- Because I was going to take the cake for a family lunch, I didn't want to add fruit in the cake. I would have gone for mango if I had chosen a fruity version. In the end, I just added some black cherries on top of the cakes and served the slices along with some more of them.
- Flavours were almond (I wanted it to be nutty and strong) and delicate saffron filaments. I used almond extract for the syrup, vanilla for the buttercream with saffron filaments(1 tsp for half recipe) and a lemon curd mousse. The combination was great, the flavours matched in a nice way, both tangy and nutty but very delicate. I was really happy with the result.
- I've halved the recipe (buttercream included) and didn't have any problem with that. Everything worked like a charm!
- I loved this challenge! The recipe is truly versatile - I'll definitely be trying this using several other flavours.


Hay, hay it's choux again!

Strawberry Choux with Roquefort Mousse

Mes choux,

Hay, hay it's Donna Day #20 is now on! I'm the happy host of this month Choux edition, and don't forget I'm waiting for your entries. Yes, you, I'm looking at you! ;) Check all the details in my original post, and feel free to use the lovely banner Bron has created for the event (see here).

Choux. Like in 'mes choux' or 'mon petit chou'. As bad as my French can be, I'm aware the word just sounds the same but it's not the same. Still. Let's face it, a pastry with such a sweet name just has to be good. You usually serve sweet choux as a dessert or its savoury version has an appetizer, before a meal or as amuse-bouche.

I've decided to use some (very) large choux I baked before as a starter, with a combination of sweet and sour, fruitty and spicy, all at the same time. For the filling I used some Roquefort Mousse with strawberries, sprinkled with peppercorns. Because I wanted it to have a very sweet tone too, I've topped the choux with Quince Jelly. To assemble, place the choux on a plate over a handful of rocket and some raspberries.

Strawberry Choux with Roquefort Mousse

Strawberry Choux with Roquefort Mousse
Serves 2

2-4 large choux (recipe here)
2 portions of rocket
a handful of raspberries to garnish
olive oil, to drizzle
Raspberry Vinegar, to season
2 Tbsp Quince jelly, to top

Roquefort Mousse
1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream, whipped
lemon juice, to taste
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
2 Tbsp Roquefort cheese (or more to taste), room temperature
4 medium strawberries, sliced
2-3 peppercorns, bashed

For the Mousse, mix together the butter with the cheese and the whipped cream. Open the choux. Place 3-4 strawberry slices on the bottom half of each, sprinkle with peppercorns, to taste. Use a pipping bag to arrange the mousse on the strawberries. Cover with the top half. Spoon the Quince Jelly on top. Place the choux on each plate, over the rocket. Garnish with some raspberries. Season with a dash of olive oil and Raspberry Vinegar.

Strawberry Choux with Roquefort Mousse


Sugar High...

Lemon Curd Frozen Yogurt

Friday! Oh sorry, no. It's Sugar High Friday Citrus, to be more correct. And do I love citrus! I had my ramblings about the subject before but it's never too much: I really love citrus. Any citrus. Tangerines, oranges, grapefruit, clementines, and limes, lemons, Meyer lemons... You name it. But if I could only have one of those for the rest of my life, my decision would be done without further thinking. Give me lemons all the way!! I'm a lemon girl 'cause just remember, the sweet is never as sweet without the sour. ;)

Since my kitchen has been a Choux Factory for the last ten days, and my shelves became a huge mess 'cause I dragged all my Donna Hay books and (sole 2) magazines out, the options that popped up immediately were - not surprisingly - Donna's recipes. This is a (low!) sugar high dessert, tangy and refreshing - just perfect for the spring that never comes! :( Rain, rain go way, just come back another day...

Lemon Curd Frozen Yoghurt
Adapted from Donna Hay's Magazine, Issue 35

(Donna's recipe makes 8. I've used 1/4 recipe that made for a couple of delicious pots.)

1 cup (8 fl oz) milk (240 ml)
1 cup (220 grs / 7 ¾ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
1/4 cup (25 grs / ¾ oz) cornflour (cornstarch)
1/2 cup (4 fl oz) milk, extra (120 ml)
160 grs (5 2/3 oz) unsalted butter, chopped
2/3 cup (5 1/4 fl oz) lemon juice (160 ml)
2 Tbsp lemon zest
6 egg yolks (I used 2 small)
1 kg (2 1/4 lb) vanilla yoghurt
1/3 cup (50 grs / 1 ¾ oz) icing (confectioner's) sugar, sifted

Place the milk and caster sugar in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Place the cornflour and extra milk in a small bowl and stir to combine. Add to the milk mixture and stir for 2 minutes or until well combined and thickened. Add the butter and stir until melted and combined. Add the lemon juice, zest and egg yolks and cook, stiring, for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Set aside to cool.

Place the yoghurt and icing sugar in a bowl and stir to combine. Place 2 tablespoons of the yoghurt mixture in the bottom of a 1/2-cup capacity cup or glass. Top with 2 tablespoons of lemon curd and 2 tablespoons of yoghurt mixture. Repeat with the remaining mixture. Freeze for 3-4 hours or until set. Makes 8.

My lemon curd was a bit too thick. I'd suggest a runny one to allow spreading over the yoghurt instead of 'floating' like mine did. It was, nevertheless, yummy.

Lemon Curd Frozen Yogurt

I'm submitting my Lemon Curd Frozen Yogurt to Sugar High Friday, the monthly event created by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess and hosted this month by talented Helen, aka Tartelette. :)

In the meanwhile, don't forget about Hay, hay, it's Donna Day #20, it's Chouxtime!


HHDD#20 - Choux!

Passionfruit Cream Profiteroles

Who hasn't dreamed of profiteroles and melted hot chocolate running through fluffy little balls filled with soft cream? Mmmm, you haven't... How comes?? Oh wait, you're an eclair girl/boy! Or perhaps, beignets are your thing... Not really? Gougères then. (Un)fortunately for me, I love all those, sweet or savoury, versions made from choux pastry.

Choux pastry is a double-cooked dough made of butter, eggs, flour and water (or milk), and used to make profiteroles, croquembouches, eclairs, French crullers, beignets, and gougères.

Choux has always been on my " to do" list. It didn't happen until now when choosing HHDD#20 theme. It's not like I've been intimidated, and neither should you. Choux pastry is the easiest of the French patisserie line up, and the most versatile! Those are the reasons why I chose this theme, both challenging and doable, providing enough field for interpretations and personal takes. I hope that's good enough to convince you joining me! :)

Passionfruit Cream Profiteroles
Adapted from Donna Hay's magazine, Issue 35

1 cup (8 fl oz) water (240 ml)
100 grs (3 ½ oz) unsalted butter
¾ cup (112 ½ grs / 4 oz) plain all-purpose flour
5 eggs

1/3 cup (2 2/3 fl oz) lemon juice (80 ml)
2 cups (450 grs / 15 ¾ oz) icing (confectioner's) sugar

passionfruit cream
2 cups (16 fl oz) (single or pouring) cream, whipped (480 ml)
2/3 cup (5 fl oz) fresh passion fruit pulp (150 ml)
1/3 cup (50 grs / 1 ¾ oz) icing (confectioner's) sugar

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (360ºF). Place the water and butter in a saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Add the flour and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Cook, stirring over low heat until the mixture leaves the side of the pan. Remove from the heat. Place in an electric mixer and beat on high, gradually adding the eggs until well combined. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with 12mm (½ in) plain nozzle and pipe 2 cm (¾ in) rounds onto baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until puffed and golden. Cool on wired racks.

To make the passionfruit cream, place the cream, passionfruit and sugar in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside. Combine the lemon juice and extra sugar until smooth. Fill the profiteroles with passionfruit cream and spoon over the lemon icing. Makes 45.


The mixture was a breeze to work with but I would like to add a few thoughts:
- Sift the flour. It will be easier to be absorbed when adding it to the water. Avoid adding it all at once or it will form clumps. If some clumps remain, press them against the sides of the pan whilst cooking.
- At this stage, the dough should form a ball, looking heavy and compact. Mine was runny... I figured out that adding the eggs to such a soft dough would not do - I added a couple of tablespoons of flour to the mixture.
- Do not add all the eggs at once. Each egg should be completely combined before adding the next one. My eggs measured about 240 ml (8 fl oz).
- I strongly advise you to use an electric mixer, as the mixture asks for serious arm work. Using the paddle attachment on medium speed worked just fine.
- When ready, the pastry should look like a very thick mayonnaise.
- Do not under bake the choux or they'll deflate after being removed from the oven. Mine took a little longer than 20 minutes.
- My choux are a little bigger than Donna's. I made about 30. Baked choux can be freezed, and finished when needed.
- For the passionfruit cream just combine the whipped cream with both sugar and passionfruit pulp.

Other Donna Day's recipes:
Choux pastry (From Modern Classics 2), Profiteroles, p.46.
Fillings: crème pâtissière, p.174, chocolate mousse, p.106. (From Modern Classics 2)
Double Chocolate Eclairs (From Simple Essentials Chocolate)

Passionfruit Cream Profiteroles

All I ask is for you to use choux pastry any way you like. You can make profiteroles (aka cream puffs) or eclairs with a creamy filling of your choice, such as lemon curd, whipped cream, ice cream, custard, creme patissière, or mousse, add fruit, dip in melted chocolate, toffee, top with lemon icing or meringue and sprinkle with shredded coconut or any kind of nuts. You can also turn them into savoury bites by filling them with cheese, salmon, tuna, mayonnaise, or anything at all. But you can have a different take at it and try the beignets - deep-fried choux pastry - with fruit or vegetable filling or with savoury fillings such as crawfish or shrimp. Or simply bake gougères (aka cheese puffs). Endless possibilities, really.

But before I get to my next choux recipe (I'll be posting a savoury version soon, so stay tunned!!), here are the RULES FOR HAY HAY ITS DONNA DAY:

Hay Hay Its Donna Day is open to all food and wine bloggers.

Entries submitted for HHDD must be made specifically for this event, although photos may be submitted to Does My Blog Look Good In This.

The host will select, make and post the original Donna Hay recipe without any changes. Participants may make the same recipe as is, or put their own spin on the recipe by altering the ingredients whilst remaining with the theme or if they prefer to share a well loved recipe within the theme. Entrants must include a link to the host in their post.

Entries can be made at any time once the event has been announced but must be posted and emailed to the host by the closing date.

Deadline for all posts to be up and submitted is June 9, 2008. I will be posting the round up a week later (June 16) and voting will then begin!

Please email all your entries to gourmetsamadores[AT]gmail[DOT]com from now on till the June 9. In your email, please include the following information: your blog name, your name, your location, your recipe name, and the permalink to your entry.

Hay Hay Its Donna Day is a food event created by Barbara from WinosandFoodies and now taken care by Bron Marshall. It's brilliant, thank you, ladies!

And now, CHOUX me your entries!! ;)



Tuesday, May the 13th.
It's almost midnight. My kitchen is finally ready after dinner (bear in mind that this is a southern European country, we eat late): the washing up is done, the books that fill every room are out of the way, the breakfast table is set for the next morning and I'm holding a cup of blackcurrant, ginseng & vanilla tea on my right hand. I'm talking to myself, complaining about my schedule for the week whilst adding some items to my errants' list. Neither my cat (who is sleeping on a couch in the living room) nor my hubby (who is working in the office) pay any attention to my usual ramblings. My computer is on because I have to check my class for tomorrow and have a final look at my mailboxes before going to bed.

You have to picture this calm home scene to understand that me laughing hysterically the next minute does not fit the portrait!! When I laugh the entire world knows. It's this 'witch's laugh' - like my husband describes it - that leaves no living thing untouched. I won HHDD!! I won! My Bacon & Fig Clafoutis was chosen from an astonishing bunch of yummy sweet and savoury clafoutis hosted by the talented Bron!

I'm so honored to have won this great food event created by Barbara from WinosandFoodies. (Go check out her AWESOME LiveSTRONG With A Taste Of Yellow Round Up) Thanks Barbara, you do a great job everyday! Thanks also to Bron, who is holding the event from now on, and HHDD couldn't have a better holder! Even though Donna's books or even her magazine are not easy to find in Portugal, I love Donna Hay with all my heart for a few years now. Special made Simple changed my food. Living literally a world away from these 3 amazing women, I can only thank for having had the pleasure to cross paths with you - you make the world a better place. :)

And of course, thank you to everyone who voted for my clafoutis! If you're around sunny Lisbon, I'm more than happy to bake it for you - Hay, Hay...you've made my day!! :)

Me and Bron will be working on the next Hay, Hay, it's Donna Day. Stay in touch, you'll hear from us shortly!


Stuffed stuff

"What's that? That's lunch, honey... Oh c'mon, I meant what's in that? Give it a try, if you guess, I'll give you a present. You're such a pain! Yeap, that's me. Do we have a deal? Yeah sure, as if I'd ever get all you've putted into this melted mess..."

My lovely husband (aka The Official Taster) is the perfect partner when it comes to food. He barely dislikes anything and he's happy with simple dishes. Plus he's a daring food lover who's ready to try new recipes without a blink. But some days eating my food asks for extra guts, specially when my creative spirit goes overboard!! It was not the case, however. Not this time! Stuffing is an old favourite of mine. I like to stuff all kind of veggies. I like sweet and sour together when stuffing. I like mushrooms and I love stuffed mushrooms. Any type of mushrooms, any stuffing.

Stuffed mushrooms can't never go wrong, the combination with grilled polenta and roasted cherry tomatoes made for a perfect weekday's lunch. Yes, sometimes we're lucky enough to be able to have lunch together at home. It takes the planets to align, trams to be on time and a fair amount of running but damn, it tastes great!

Roquefort and Dried Plums Stuffed Mushrooms with Grilled Thyme Polenta and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Serves 2

For the polenta
1/3 cup (about 80 grs) quick polenta
1 and 1/2 cup (about 325ml) boiling water
1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
1 tsp butter
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, leaves only
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp olive oil

Sprinkle the polenta into the boiling water with a pinch of salt in a non-stick saucepan. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat, stir in the Parmesan, the butter and the thyme. Pour the polenta into a rectangular baking pan and let stand for cooling (about 10 minutes). Cut the polenta into triangles or squares. Pan-fry the polenta for 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Serve hot, topped with the stuffed mushrooms.

For the stuffed mushrooms
6-8 large fresh mushrooms (or 2 Portobello)
6-8 dried plums, stones removed
2-3 Tbsp Roquefort cheese
6-8 tsp Mozzarella cheese, grated
Salt and black ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 175ºC (350ºF). Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Carefully break off stems and discard (keep for further use in stews or soups). Arrange the mushroom caps on a baking sheet. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Place one dried plum into each cap. Using a little spoon, fill each mushroom cap with a piece of Roquefort. Top each cap with grated Mozzarella, pressing down gently to hold all stuffing together. Bake for 10-15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the mushrooms are cooked and the cheeses melt.

For the roasted tomatoes

8-12 Cherry tomatoes
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp olive oil

Place the tomatoes into a heatproof plate. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until soft and juicy. (Prepare tomatoes first so that you can put them together into the oven with the mushrooms)

Assemble by topping the grilled polenta with the stuffed mushrooms. Place the roasted tomatoes on the side. Serve with a green salad. Use the tomatoes juice as a warm dressing for the salad. Serve warm.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Other recipes:
Fresh Herb Muffins with Turkey Stuffing


Go Bananas!

Portugal has a close relation with Africa, not only because of its proximity with the black continent but specially thanks to the former Portuguese Colonies overseas. Not surprisingly, Portuguese food has some roots on African cuisine, sharing the love for spices and fruit on both sweet and savoury dishes. Banana breads are not traditional around here or at least not the American way and certainly not very popular across the country. It's not current to find banana bread in coffee shops or at people's places. Except when you have ripped bananas in your kitchen that cry for use, like often happens with me... then banana breads become overly popular. And what a success it usually is! I like banana bread a lot with a ball of vanilla ice cream. It always takes me to the seaside where my parents little apartment's porch makes the perfect place to eat a slice of it, facing the garden with jacarandas and hibiscus trees. For me, nothing could be more fitting to complete a summer day at the beach! This recipe has been pieced together from various other recipes over the years, adding and/or omitting some ingredients. It makes a huge cake in a large square pan or a couple of cakes using bread pans (like I used below).

Banana Bread, my way
makes 1 large or 2 medium cakes (halving the recipe works fine too)

6 medium eggs
2/3 cup cream (150 ml)
2/3 cup unslated butter, melted and cooled (about 100 grs)
1/4 cup olive oil (50 ml)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark muscavado sugar (loosely packed)
1 and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinamonn
pinch of nutmeg
1 large or 2 medium banana(s), chopped + 2 medium bananas, sliced
3 Tbsp liquid caramel

Preheat oven to 180ºC. In a large bowl beat the eggs with the muscavado and granulated sugar on medium speed until sugar has dissolved completely, about 2 minutes. Add butter, cream and olive oil, whisking all together. Slowly, mix in sifted flour with spices and baking powder. Add chopped banana(s).

Get the pan(s) ready by spreading the caramel (use a brush, if you like), covering the bottom and sides throughly. Place banana's slices. Pour in the batter, carefully not to disturb the banana. Bake for 35-40 minutes ou until cooked through. Remove from oven. Allow the cake to cool slightly in the pan before removing it to the serving plate.

NQN is holding a Banana Bread Bake off event - this is my entry for the banana bread bake off, hosted by Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella. Get ready for zillions of banana bread recipes!

The roundup is now up! Go check out those beauties here and vote for your favourite!


Is it Spring already?

The weather is such an easy subject when talk is needed between strangers. Who hasn't done it before? Every now and then, when I end up talking of how Winter never ends or why Spring seems to avoid my surroundings, I always feel like I'm doing cheap talking... But I do feel affected by it! Even if my kitchen doesn't live on sun or rain, my resolution of buying what's in season leads to "weather connected" food. And lately I've had cravings for fish skewers with a hint of ocean, I'm dying for fresh figs and I would kill for tomato jam. Now you know! But in the meanwhile and whilst August doesn't arrive, an avocado and shrimp salad will have to do, now that Spring seems to have come to my part of the world.

Avocato and Shrimp Salad with Apple and Radicchio

Serves 2

1 medium avocado, riped, halved, stone removed
1/2 apple Granny Smith, chopped
2 Tbsp red onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
6 quail eggs, boiled
1/2 cup Radicchio, chopped
Lettuce baby leaves, for two
8 large shrimps, boiled, shells removed (keep stock for further use)

In a bowl, mix together the apple, the radicchio and the onion. Chop 2 of the shrimps and mix in. Add halved eggs to the previous mixture. Mix carefully not to break the eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Assemble the plates: put half an avocado in the middle of lettuce baby leaves. Sprinkle the avocado center with lemon juice. Fill with the apple mixture. Place a spoonful of hollandaise sauce and 3 shrimps on top. Divide the remaining mixtura over the lettuce, around the avocado. Add more sauce, to taste or take separately. Serve straight away.

Hollandaise Sauce

1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
50 grs unsalted butter

In a food processor, beat egg york, lemon juice and salt, until thick. Brown the butter (do not allow to burn). Add the butter to the egg mixture and blend. Keep the dressing in the refrigerator before using it.