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Sunday, May 6, 2018

Duck Breast

The best duck breast I've made so far 
Taste: 4 out of 5
Difficulty: 2 out of 5
Source: Dorie Greenspan

• 2 duck breasts, at room temperature
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
• 1 tbsp honey
• juice of 1 lime

1. Preheat the oven to 250F.
2. Using the point of a sharp knife, score the duck skin in a crosshatch pattern. Cut the fat layer, but try not to touch the meat. Season both sides salt and pepper.
3. Preheat a deep cooking pan or a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Using a deep pan is better because the fat will splatter. When the pan is hot, place the breasts skin side down. Cook for 8 minutes, until the skin is brown and crisp. Turn the pieces skin side up and cook for 3 minutes more.
4. Transfer the breasts to aluminum foil, wrap loosely and place on a baking sheet, Bake for 5 minutes.
5. In the meantime, pour off almost all the fat from the pot, leaving about 1-2 teaspoons in the pot. (Preserve the fat for baking potato wedges.) (you should have just a teaspoon or 2 left in the pot). Stir in the vinegar, honey and lime juice and cook for about 1 minute on medium heat.
6. When the breasts are out of the oven, add the juices from the aluminum foil to the pot, mix. Add the breasts and cook for about 30 seconds on each side.
7. Remove the breasts from the heat, slice into 1/2 inch diagonal slices, drizzle with the sauce and serve.

• It’s better to cook in a non-stick pot, otherwise the duck skin sticks to the pan and the fat splatters even more.
• When adding the honey / syrup to duck fat for the sauce, watch the pot, otherwise the sauce burns very quickly.

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Monday, April 30, 2018

Chilean Corn Beef Pie - Pastel de Choclo

Definition of Comfort Food
Source: Adopted from En Mi Cocina Hoy
Taste: 4 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 4 (out of 5)

For the beef:
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 kg / 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 cup water or beef broth
- 3 onions, diced
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp flour
For the corn mixture:
- 2 tbsp butter
- 10 cups or 1 3/4 kg frozen corn
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup cold milk or water
- 10 basil leaves or 1 tbsp basil paste
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1/4 tbsp black pepper
- 1/2 tbsp parprika
- 4 hard boiled eggs, peeled, cut into quarters
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, pulled with fork
- 10 olives halved
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
Serves: 8-10 people

For the beef (to be prepared at least one day before serving):
1. Preheat the oil in a large frying pan and saute the onions until golden brown, stirring from time to time. About 10 minutes. Remove the onions from the pan, and leave to cool.
2. In the same pan saute the beef for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spices, the salt ant the pepper and stir for another 2 minutes.
3. Add the water and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring. After the first 10 minutes add the onions. If someone in your household does not like the cooked onion texture, grind the cooled onions before adding them to the beef).
4. Remove from the heat, adjust the seasoning as needed, stir in the flour and leave to cool.
5. Cover and refrigerate or freeze if you don't plan to use it within the next day or two.

For the corn:
6. In a large pot with a thick bottom, melt the butter over medium-high heat, add the frozen corn, cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Add milk, basil, salt, pepper, and paprika and continue to cook for 10 more minutes, stirring.
8. With a hand blender, blend the corn trying to not to go uniform, leave some chunky parts. Add the dissolved cornstarch and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It will thicken slightly.

To assemble the pie:
9. Greeze a 13x9 inch baking dish
10. Spread the beef on the bottom of the dish. On top of the beef add chicken. Above the chicken layer add the eggs and the olives. You can also add raisins.
11. Pour the corn mixture on the very top. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and bake at 400F in a preheated oven for 45-60 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

- This is a traditional Chilean dish. In Chile it is usually baked in clay pots, but if you don't have a large enough clay pot, a pyrex will do.
- This pie is really hearty and flavorful. It's perfect for a dinner on a colder night, but in Chile they eat it for lunch in the middle of the hot summer day, so I suppose it works for any time of day and year. Traditionally served with a salad of lettuce, onions and tomatoes.
- You can prepare all the dish in one go, it will probably take you about 1 hour, just the prep, plus one more hour to bake. But you can also prepare the different parts in advance, for example, you can prepare the meat mixture and freeze until the day of serving.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

Cranberry Crunch Cookies

Gooey and crunchy cookies. Perfect with milk, coffee, or as an ice cream sandwich.
Source: slightly modified from Better Homes and Gardens
Difficulty: 2 (out of 5)
Taste: 5 (out of 5)

- 1/2 cup of margerine
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1 cup of all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp of baking powder
- 200 g of Post Cranberry Cornflakes (or similar cereal)
Total: about 30 cookies

1. Beat the margarine in a mixer on high speed for about 1 minute to soften. Add the sugar and the vanilla extract and beat for 2 more minutes. Add the egg and beat until incorporated.
2. Mix in the flour and the baking powder just until incorporated (no more than 30 seconds, you don't want to overmix the flour).
3. Crush the cereal either with the fingers or in a food processor (5-10 pulses). It should not be powder, just smaller chunks. Add the flakes to the batter and mix.
4. Line a large baking sheet (or 2 baking sheets, if not so large) with parchment paper. Using a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop out the dough onto the baking sheet. The cookies will significantly spread (to about double the area), so space them generously. Bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 10-15 minutes until the cookies start getting firm. They will remain rather pale, so no need to wait for the golden color.
5. Let the cookies cool on the sheet before eating. They can be stored in an airtight container for about a week (but you will probably finish them sooner).

The batter is a bit gooey and the cereal is crunchy, so overall you get a little bit of every texture. And the yummy taste of Cranberry Crunch. 

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Hot Milk Cake

Soft moist rich custardy cake, pretty fun to make
Source: slightly modified from Taste of Home
Difficulty: 2 (out of 5)
Taste: 5 (out of 5)

- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups of sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
- 2 1/4 tsp of baking powder
- 1 1/4 cups of milk
- 140 g of butter or margarine, cubed
Total: 16 servings (9x13 inch pan)

1. Beat the eggs on high-speed for 5-6 minutes, add the sugar and the vanilla extract and continue beating for another 2-3 minutes on high.
2. Mix the flour and baking powder, and gradually add to the eggs with the mixer on low speed, until just incorporated.
3. Heat the milk and the butter on medium heat until the butter melts. Gradually add to the eggs and flour continuing mixing on medium speed.
4. Grease a 9 by 13 inch baking pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 35 to 50 minutes or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
5. Let the cake cool before serving. Nice to serve with whipped or custard cream and fruit.

This is a very soft, moist cake. The original recipe had 2 cups of sugar, and I think that turned out a bit too sweet, so I will try 1.5 cups next time, as listed here.

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Banana Bread Muffins

Really simple recipe, moist and fluffy muffins, great way to use those old black bananas
Source: family recipe
Difficulty: 1 (out of 5)
Taste: 5 (out of 5)

- 50 g margarine, melted
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda (pour 1 tsp lemon extract or vinegar over the soda and mix until all bubbles up, to prevent soda taste)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp milk
- 2 bananas, smashed with a fork
Total: 6 muffins

1. Mix eggs, sugar, salt, margarine, milk, flour, baking powder, and bananas (in that order). You can do all the mixing with the same fork you used to smash the bananas. No need for a mixer here.
2. Pour into 6 muffin tins (I used silicon, this way there is no need to line them or oil them). Bake for 30 minutes in an over preheated to 350F (or 380 for my oven - it wants to feel special).
3. Let the muffins cool before removing from the muffin tins.

- These are very moist, light and not overly sweet. Great for breakfast or snack or picnic.
- The prep is less than 10 minutes. The longest part is pouring the batter into the muffin tins.
- They also freeze really well.
- If you double the recipe, you can use a 9x13 inches baking pan.

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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Savory Zucchini Sandwich Cake

Light and fluffy savory zucchini cake that doubles as a sandwich
Source: My mom

Taste: 4 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 2 (out of 5)

For the batter
- 200 g mayonnaise
- 200 g sour cream
- 3 eggs
- 160 g all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
For the filling:
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 medium onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 medium zucchinis
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 egg
Total: 9x9 inch square cake, 8 servings, 390 cal / serving

For the filling:
1. Peel the onion and the garlic and finely chop in a food processor.
2. Preheat oil on medium heat in a frying pan and saute the chopped onion and garlic for 5-7 minutes, stirring.
3. In the meantime, finely chop the zucchini in the food processor. Add to the onion, season with salt and pepper and saute for another 5-7 minutes, stirring.
4. Let cool to room temperature, add the raw egg and mix well.
For the batter:
5. Preheat oven to 350F (375F in my oven) and grease a 9x9 inch square baking pan.
6. Mix all the batter ingredient using a mixer, you should it should be the consistency of sour cream.
7. Pour half of the batter into the pan and bake for 10-12 minutes.
8. Remove from the oven, spread the filling evenly over the baked part, and pour the remaining batter over the filling.
9. Return to the oven, bake for 20 minutes at 350F, then reduce to 250F (275F in my oven), cover with aluminum foil (to prevent the top from burning) and bake for another 20 minutes.
10. Serve slightly warm or cold.


- The batter is very fluffy and light, almost like an omelette.
- This cake can be served as a main dish or as a side instead of bread.
- You can try many other variations of the filling: cabbage, tuna, cheese.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Cream of Roasted Tomato soup

Creamy tomato soup - great cold or hot 
Source: Adapted from Ina Garten's Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

Taste: 5 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 2 (out of 5)

- 6-7 large tomatoes, unpeeled
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 2 chopped onions
- 2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped or minced
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp frozen or 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil leaves
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 cup milk
Total: 6 servings

1. Roast tomatoes under broiler on High for 15 minutes. Let cool a little and peel off the skin. It should come off easily.
2. Heat the pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
3. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.
4. Add the milk to the soup and process it in a food processor until smooth and creamy.

Delicious soup. No further comments.

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Cake Louise

Crumbly base, raspberry jam and coconut meringue
Source: Adapted from Chelsea Sugar

Taste: 5 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 2 (out of 5) - very long process

For the base:
- 125g butter, softened
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
For the topping:
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup long thread coconut
- 1/2 cup raspberry jam
Total: 12 servings, 2760 calories, 230 cal / serving

1. Grease a 9x13 inches baking pan, and preheat oven to 340F.
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Beat in one egg yolk at a time.
4. Add the flour and the baking powder.
5. Mix until the batter has a texture of breadcrumbs. Pour into the baking pan, distribute evenly and press slightly. and bake for 10 minutes.
6. Remove from the over and the let the base cool at room temperature for 5 minutes.
7. Increase the over temperature to 350F.
8. While the base cools down, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Gradually add the sugar, add vanilla at the end. The mixture should be glossy.
9. Gently fold in the coconut.
10. Spread the raspberry jam over the base, then spread the egg whites on top.
11. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the meringue starts turning golden.
12. Cool to room temperature before cutting.

- This is a wonderful cake, good for breakfast and dessert. I've made it lots and lots of times. As dessert can be even better if served with ice cream.
- The original recipe was way to sweet for me and had too much coconut which made the meringue too heavy and soggy.
- If you store this cake in the fridge, the base becomes soggy. If you store it outside in an air tight container the base will remain crumbly. For me storage is not the problem, restricting the consumption is.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Blackberry coconut cake

Nice breakfast cake
Source: improvised

Difficulty: 1 (out of 5)
Taste: 4 (out of 5)

- 1/2 cup unsalted margarine at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1 cup frozen blackberries
Total: 1 7x11 inch cake, about 16 servings

1. Beat the margarine and the sugar until uniform and light (3-5 minutes in a stand mixer on medium speed).
2. Continue beating and add the eggs, one at a time, then the coconut milk and the vanilla.
3. Mix the flour with the baking powder and the salt. Add the coconut and mix.
4. Add the flour mix to the egg mix and gently stir in manually. Add the berries.
5. Grease a 7x11 inch cake pan and bake in an oven preheated to 350F for about 45-50 minutes until the loaf is lightly golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. The ovens may vary. In my oven I bake at 375F for 50 minutes.
6. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes before eating. If you want to store the cake, slice it, lay out individual slices on a baking sheet and freeze (if you freeze them together, they will stick to each other and will be hard to separate). Take out the slices as needed and defrost at room temperature for 15-30 minutes or in the refrigerator for about 1 hour or overnight. Freezing only adds moisture to the cake.

- Recently I had several really nice and moist berry coconut cakes (at parties and coffee shops) and am trying to recreate that experience. This is pretty good, but not there yet. If you have better recipes, I'd appreciate them!

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Canele muffin

Custard muffin would be more accurate 
Source: Bruno Albouze

Taste: 4 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 3 (out of 5)

- 1 cup milk
- 23 g butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 egg yolks
- 112 g white sugar
- 60 g all-purpose flour
- 15 g corn starch
- 10 ml rum
- 10 ml Grand Marnier
Total: 6 caneles / canele muffins

1. In a small pot combine milk, vanilla and butter and bring to 180F.
2. In the meantime, in a stand mixer, beat together the egg yolks with the sugar.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and the corn starch.
4. Pour the warm milk into the egg yolks while beating to temper the egg yolks.
5. Add the flour and continue whisking / beating, until combined.
6. Add the rum / Grand Marnier.
7. You will get about 1 1/2 cups of batter. In my case it was pretty liquid. Not sure if that was the intention. Let it rest in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
8. I used a silicon mould for 6 muffins (about 1/2 cup each). Preheat the oven to 425F (or 450F in my hypo-energetic oven).
9. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into each mould (no need to grease when suing silicon.)
10. Bake at 425F for 25 minutes and then at 380F (400F for me) for another 30 minutes.
11. Remove from the oven and let the muffins cool in the moulds. When cool, they will come out very easily.

- I made these twice last week. They taste good, but come out custardy. Caneles should be drier and have a more cake-like texture. I am not sure if this is the fault of the recipe, my oven or the lack of an appropriate mould.
- This blog is called trial and error. I would put this in the error category, unless you want a custard muffin.

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