Smaller is always better – Cinnamon brioche bites

Cinnamon brioche bites

Most bakers love bite-sized things. They’re just irresistible to make. There’s something about seeing a small army of pastries, all properly lined up on baking sheets waiting for their time in the oven. And when dressing, rolling, cutting or stuffing, there’s a strange pleasure to be found in doing the same thing for each one of the small baked goods, trying to get them as even as possible. (Or maybe I’m slightly obsessive and find this satisfying…). But who can deny the appeal of a basket filled with bite-sized treats? No one. And I’ll tell you why; if you had a basket of regular-sized croissants sitting on your breakfast table, the most you could grab in one sitting, without losing face in front of your breakfasting companions, is one lonely piece. And pushing it,  you could eat half of this piece with one topping and the other with a different one. But if you have a basket full of mini-croissants… the possibilities are endless! Because no one will judge you if you spread nutella on one, take another one and smear some butter and marmalade on it, take a third one and dip it in your milk, or even if you take a fourth one to accompany a little bit of ham and cheese you had left over on your plate. That’s the beauty of bite sized. Small pastries just keep telling you to eat them because they know they’re so small that what could be the harm in just one more?  And they’re absolutely right. Such is the case with these fluffy, buttery, cinnamon stuffed mini-brioches. It’s like just eating the center of a brioche-a-tete several times over. Because once you have one you will have to have a second one and quite possibly a third one. And that’s ok. No one will judge you.
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Things I’ve kept – Best ever lemon pound cake

lemonpoundcake0

So I know that almost the entire blogosphere is talking about the New Year, and their resolutions, and what they learned in 2012, etc. And I know that those who aren’t talking about it are either writing about how everyone is talking about the same thing (like me) or just plain fed up. I know. But I’m still going to go ahead and get my newyearism off my chest. But don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with deep reflexions and the importance of life and the answer to everything! Instead I’m going to give you the best ever lemon pound cake recipe. Yup, best ever. I’ve been sitting on this recipe since Christmas Eve, when I made it for my mom as her present…yes, my mom is one of those people impossible to give gifts to, the only think that makes her truly happy is pound cake. She’s absolutely crazy for it, and she’s always begging me to bake her a couple. Because one just isn’t enough. But lemon pound cake holds a particularly special place in her heart, because eons (seriously, like 20 years) ago she baked one for my birthday party and it was the best cake she had ever made. Everyone complimented her, it was gone within seconds, the texture was perfect, the flavor unsurpassable…you name it. In her mind, the cake was something only angels ate, and she had been blessed with the recipe. Which she of course proceeded to lose. Because that’s what she does. She keeps things so well, they get lost. And I think there’s a little bit of that in all of us… as humans, we tend to keep things, emotions, experiences and feelings so well we end up forgetting where we put them. Be it that spare cash for emergencies you hid god knows where in your house to the memory of that horrible recurrent nightmare you had when you were five, tucked neatly away in your unconscious, the things we keep make us who we are. Just like that lost recipe holds for my mom that part of herself where she used to bake for her kids. So here’s to long lost recipes, memories, things and emotions. Here’s to finding them, organizing them, and eventually forgetting all over again where they were. Here’s to having a year full of new things to keep, and lose. And to looking back into the year gone by, to recognize what we’re made of, even if we’re made of recipes, lost or found.
On a side note: this recipe comes from Dozen Flours, it’s Julia’s recipe for a better than starbucks poundcake, and trust me, it’s waaaaay better. Even if it’s not food from heaven. All you’ve got to do is ask my mom.

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Peace and quiet – Apple cinnamon pound cake

Apple and cinnamon pound cake

I can’t remember when I was little and I came home tired from school to find that delicious smell of apple pie in the oven and finding my mom in an apron with a tall glass of cold milk and a big smile on her face. Mainly because my mom never baked apple pie, doesn’t like milk and she was rarely around when I came home from school (she did wear aprons though, and she cooked a lot, hence the me). So whenever I have apple pie-cake/chocolate cookies/glasses of cold milk, I pretend I do have that nonexistent memory, simply because it appears to be something that everyone has in spite of rarely anyone actually having a mom who did any such things. And pretending that makes me find so much peace and comfort in those classic flavors. Because even though it’s not something I learned when I was little, there’s something undeniable warm and homey about apple baked goods. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s embedded somewhere in our unconscious, but there’s something about that smell, fresh from the oven, that makes me feel like I live right next to the orchard where those apples where lovingly hand picked and placed in an immaculate wicker basket, covered with a red and white checkered cloth and then brought inside, waiting eagerly to become a cake. It’s a pleasant image, and one not to hard to keep in mind as you munch away on your cake. This pound cake isn’t too sweet, so you can have it with your morning coffee or as mid-afternoon treat, and you won’t feel like you’re over-indulging. It’s not the kind of cake that will disappear in an instant but that will see you through three-four days, just sitting on your pantry, homey, familiar and warm. Ready to help you feel that comfort of fake memories, or if you’re lucky, real ones. Read more for the recipe. Continue reading

White cloudy goodness – Cauliflower Leek Soup

Cauliflower and leek soup

It’s a little hard to believe, but when I was little, I was the pickiest most annoying eater you can imagine. I disliked almost anything that wasn’t meat or cookies. And I ate around the same amount a country sparrow does. And I hated crumbs around my plate with a passion. My mom tells me I used to obsessively pick them up one by one and put them back in the plate. I loathed when people tried to feed me more than three spoonfuls per meal. So much so that I once threw a chicken leg at my father. (I know). And don’t even get me started on vegetables. I don’t think there was one I liked. (except for mushrooms but they don’t count as vegetables. they are too delicious) None of them seemed sugary, crumbly or meaty enough for me. And among those was cauliflower, which had a big place on the house table. As I grew older, I started to venture out a bit more, and I came to like a few of those green critters. But cauliflower always remained in my eyes as a glorified broccoli with no flavor, even if it’s cloudy shape was as endearing as a baby sheep to an 8 year old. And then somewhere after I went from eating nothing to eating everything with a shameful passion, I re-discovered cauliflower. And I came to the conclusion that it was not a glorified broccoli, but that it was it’s whiter, fluffier, softer, more subtle tasting cousin. And we became best friends after I realized that cream and cheese and an oven could transform it into puffy clouds of greatness. But not only that; when turned into a creamy soup…all I can say is that for sure no broccoli soup I’ve ever tried can match it. So I bring you today a light version of this puffy friend; a creamy cauliflower leek soup minus the cream. That way you can enjoy three platefuls of it and not feel like you might explode afterwards. But don’t think it’s any less rich because it hasn’t got cream in it. The golden leeks and nutty flavor give it a warm fulling kick that won’t make you miss it. Read more for the recipe.

Cauliflower head

Chopping the leek

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Bake-a-lot-‘of-em – Banana and chia muffins

Banana and chia muffins

You know when you’re craving something sweet, but hearty, and fluffy, and full of flavor and wholesome and filling and incredibly delicious? And possibly also cute? ok, maybe you don’t crave cute. But these muffins certainly fall into all of those categories. They’re so good that when you start sharing them you’re going to regret not having made more. That’s why I’m telling you from the beginning; bake a whole lot of ’em because people are going to be asking for more. Or you are. Bring them to work, to school, to your friends at the gym and tell them they lie don’t have butter lie so they’ll too have some. And then you’ll be loved by everyone and be declared queen or king of the world. Ok, I also lied about that last part. But some of your friends might consider it, since on top of being so good by themselves, they’re covered with an incredibly good cream-vanilla glaze, courtesy of  Jessica at How Sweet It Is. Read more for the recipe.

Banana, eggs, chia, flour

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Love in a bowl – Serrano Parmesano Risotto

Serrano - Parmesano Risotto with avocado

Remember that time when you ate risotto for lunch and dinner and next day lunch? No? You’ve never done such a piggy-like thing before? Hmm. Weird. Maybe that’s because you haven’t made risotto with a nice and old, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, jamon serrano, tons of butter, and avocado. This kind is the second best risotto I’ve ever tried (it was here), the first one being a Black risotto with calamari, which you can enjoy right here in Mexico City, but which I’m not adventurous enough to try and make myself yet. (How do you go about using squid ink? Where do you even buy it?) For this recipe though, I did feel bold enough to try it with a recipe I made up myself, using good ingredients as the secret for good results. I chose jamon serrano, which one could say is the spanish version of prosciutto, but which tastes quite different. And then I did something (if you’re squeamish/vegan/a health nut , I would suggest you stop reading) quite naughty; I toasted the rice in those white slices of fat. I know. I’m terrible. But you can really justify it to other people once you present them with a hot bowl and a spoon. They won’t be complaining once they the get tiny bits of golden, delicious, cheese covered goodness. Read more for the recipe!

Grated parmesan cheese Continue reading

Baking frenzy Part 1 – Cinnamon pull-apart bread

Last week I had a baking frenzy – not out of sheer boredom, of course (because I’m never bored…..yeah right) but because we were throwing a bachelorette weekend party for a friend who for certain health reasons, can’t drink, and consequently couldn’t spend her weekend time jumping around like a monkey on steroids as drunken 20-something girls do on bachelorette parties. Hence, with the options of drinking, jumping around, or any other form of physical exertion out the window, we were left with only one activity left; eating. Not that any of us were complaining. You try sticking 12 girls, most of them single, in a house with sun, a pool, and great food for a whole weekend and you’ll see for yourself that no one will be missing the booze. (You might, though, need a pair of earmuffs. Girls are LOUD. Specially when stuck together in large groups without boys.) Anyway, since I’m the cook-baker of the group, it was my task to provide all the pastries for the brunch, dinner and teatime. I baked everything on friday, because I wanted it as fresh as possible for saturday, and that is the reason of my baking frenzy; I spent the whole day in the kitchen. Tiring, but happy! Part 1, is Joy the baker’s recipe for cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread, which I must confess, is every bit as good as described in her post. Mine turned out to be rather uncooked in the middle (because my oven does seem to be permanently on steroids) but that turned out to be a good thing; everyone wanted more of the “sneaky cinnamon dough”.  Part 2 and 3, which will be coming soon, are banana nutella muffins and blueberry scones. Pictures here, and you can find the recipe at Joy’s really cool site.

Cinnamon dough rolled out

Cinnamon bread squares

A truly delicious bread. I only added a bit more cinnamon, and next time I’ll be cooking it in a slightly less hot oven, but you absolutely can’t stop eating it.