.: Carrot Cake :.

I’ve been doing lots of cooking recently. From home-made pizza, Brownies (with 90% dark chocolate, so yum!) and today decided to try a carrot cake. I’ve followed the Hummingbird’s recipe for this one. As usual I didn’t follow the sugar quantities. For instance in the brownies I’ve used half of the sugar, this time rather than the 300g I’ve used only 200g

Ingredients

For the cake

300g soft light brown sugar (In my version I’ve used 200g)
3 eggs
300ml sunflower oil
300g plain flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp baking powder
1tsp ground cinnamon (plus extra to decorate) (I’ve added a bit more)
1/2tsp ground ginger (forgot to buy ginger, so used nutmeg instead)
1/2tsp salt
1/4tsp vanilla extract
300g carrots, grated
100g shelled walnuts, chopped (plus extra chopped and whole to decorate)

For the frosting (this is the official version)
600g icing sugar, sifted
100g unsalted butter (at room temp)
250g cream cheese, cold

What I’ve used instead (pretty much replacing the butter or the cream with greek yogurt)

1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp cream cheese (I’ve rounded to 80g)
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt – (I’ve rounded to 80g too)
4-5 tbsp powdered sugar
scant 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

As you can see, it’s a much smaller quantity of frosting which only allows to cover the top of the cake. If you want to have a bigger quantity, just follow the official recipe and replace the butter with greek yogurt + vanilla extract

And here’s the result

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Since it was my first time doing this cake, I’m really happy with the result. It’s really moist, it tastes really nice and it doesn’t feel too sugary. I’ll have to do it again!

Do you like Carrot Cake? What’s your favourite version?

.: In the Kitchen – Brownies :.

So they say, couples that cook together stay together

Photo from google

And I don’t mean one being in the kitchen to make each other’s company, I mean really doing some proper team work. We actually enjoy doing quite a lot. We just don’t do it more often because we’re both lazy, so we end up doing something in the lines of: if one cooks the other is responsible for cleaning the kitchen afterwards.

Yesterday, we were talking about childhood memories and one of his sweetest memories (literally) was to cook brownies with his best mate. He said that they had done the recipe so many times they knew the page by heart, plus the mess was so big that the page was full of chocolate! Once we’ve started living together we’ve ended up buying the book just so we could do the brownies recipe.

This is the book: the joy of cooking (available on amazon here) and you can read it all about it here.

Unlike today’s books it’s doesn’t contain pictures of how the dishes look like and the instructions follow a more classical approach. I have to admit that apart from the brownies I haven’t tried anything else yet. But have flagged a few to try in a near future.

Here’s the recipe

Preheat oven to 350 F / 180C

1/2 cup butter (around 115g of butter)
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (we’ve used 125g)
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar (400g)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted (around 136g)
1 cup pecan meats

Melt the butter and chocolate in a double-broiler (or a pot over another pot of boiling water). Let this mixture cool, or the brownies will be heavy and dry. Beat the eggs and salt until light in color and foamy in texture. Add the sugar and vanilla gradually and continue beating until well creamed.

With a few swift strokes, combine the cooled chocolate mixture and the eggs and sugar. Do this by hand instead of using a hand mixer. Before it’s well mixed, fold in the flour. Add the nuts if desired. Stir gently until mixed. Try not to beat the mixture too heavily. Bake in a greased 9 X 13 inch pan for about 25 minutes at 350 F. Cover the pan with a towel and leave it to sit between 30 and 45 minutes. Don’t cut until the brownies are cool as the interiors are still moist when fresh from the oven.

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We’ve managed to get the 3 C’s (Crunchy, chewy and creamy inside), although it could have cooked a few minutes more than the instructions said.

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I had mine with a bit of my home-made banana / nutella ice cream

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My own notes:

  • Next time I’ll actually use half of the sugar and use brown sugar instead. Although the flavour was amazing, it felt like too much sugar
  • I’ve added a small espresso into the mixture because same as the salt, it enhances the flavour of the chocolate. I could really feel it in the end result.
  • I didn’t use pecan meats but I’ve used some mixed nuts

To think that we hadn’t done brownies for almost 6 years! Last time I had replaced the nuts with pears (chopped thinly) and it was so good and so moist!

Have you done brownies before? What is your favourite recipe?

.: How to find motivation to cook just for one :.

I’m sure we’ve all been there at least one. It’s just one of us at home and it’s meal time. Feels like eat a sandwich or some cereals and not bother to cook at all. It’s a lot easier, mentally, to cook at least for 2. Since I struggle with motivation to cook for the 2 of us on a daily basis, when I’m home alone, I’ll typically do something really quick, such as just cereals or maybe pasta with tuna or similar.

My inspiration in this field has to be my sister. Most of the time she does cook just for herself. The way she does it though, is to cook as if it was for 2 and then next day she doesn’t need to buy or cook an additional lunch. Sometimes she will store the leftovers and mix up with something else so she doesn’t get bored of the food.

She says if she wasn’t going to cook, then she would be eating just cereals and rubbish and that’s not healthy. Plus she really likes to eat, and she eats quite well. She’s also really skinny, mostly due to the amount of exercise she does. Although she eats a lot, she actually eats healthy, avoiding fried stuff or too much sugars on a weekly basis.

Here’s some of the things she cooks:

Here’s one of my favourites, this is actually cod, with corn bread and shrimps on the top.

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Corn bread with melted cheese and oregano for the starter

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Stuffed mushrooms

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Peas with chorizo & poached eggs (this is quite a classic in the portuguese menu)

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Not sure what this one was

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And this was her lemon merengue pie, which was absolutely delicious!

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Do you struggle to find motivation to cook just for one? Any main dish you rely on?

.: On a mission to eat healthy :.

Yap, this year I’ve been on a mission to eat healthy. First of all, because that’s what we all should do by default, then, because it’s no longer just about me! Then as I’ve lost a lot of wait for the last few months, trying to recover with lots of healthy food. And as I know, eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring, can be really tasty it just gives a bit more work.

Little steps I was already doing:

  • No Soda drinks – This is something I was already avoiding anyway. Even juices I tend to avoid. I rather have water with lemon and ice, it’s much more refreshing and healthier too
  • Don’t drink your fruit – eat it – As per point above, I’ve been avoiding juices. But once in a while will do a smoothy, like banana & honey and a bit of milk. So good!
  • Avoid fried stuff & avoid ready made meals
  • I don’t use salt in the food. I’m not the type that seasons everything with salt. I use herbs instead, pepper, paprika, coriander, parsley, whatever I have available. I do use the knorr once in a while for the pasta (which on it’s own has a lot of salt)
  • As I love pasta and bread, I replace white pasta / bread by wholemeal versions of it. I love wholemeal pasta, really tasty!

This year I’ve started to prepare my own soups

  • I’ve done tomato soup
  • Juliana de legumes (pretty much a portuguese soup based out of potato, and cabbage)
  • Carrot cream
  • Ramen (well this is a kind of a soup – I use Nigella’s recipe)

I had no idea how I was craving for soups until I left Portugal! Nothing is better than a good soup, seriously. It really makes you feel warm within.

I’ve started to eat a lot more fish, mostly cod & salmon. If I go out for dinner, I tend to scan the fish options and go for it. Unfortunately within UK it tends to be the classic fish & chips (so fried…) But I find that more places offer fish options these days.

A few other ideas I have tried:

  • Banana ice cream – Frozen banana is all you need to prepare a creamy banana ice cream. It’s really easy! I’ve done my version with honey and cinnamon

Photo from thekitchn.com

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  • Tuna & bean salad – This is a dish that reminds me of my childhood. We would call it “russian salad” known as Olivier salad. We would have boiled potatoes, boiled egg, tuna, olives and sometimes green beans and mix it all up with mayo. As I don’t really eat mayo anymore (something I really avoid at all cost), I did my version with boiled potatoes, boiled egg, tuna & chopped tomato topped up with portuguese olive oil. It looks similar to this italian version from Tesco’s website.

For dinner today I had water with ice, strawberries and lemon

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And prepared cous-cous with grilled chicken in parsley & honey sauce, chopped plum tomatoes & nuts in parsley, olive oil, lemon & honey. It ended up being a quite tasty and flavourful meal. For dessert fresh strawberries!

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Another ideas, pesto pasta with grilled salmon and cherry tomato.13321812_10207505053359259_4373151561322365991_n

Any good recipes that you rely on?

.: Life Lately :.

Hard to believe my last post was almost 2 months ago! But I have to admit since then my life has been a bit upside down and a lot is changing, so I didn’t had the chance nor the mood to keep the blog up to date.

I’m still enjoying working in London, which means for the first time ever having the chance to sleep in my bed at night, but the commuting is killing me. It’s 1h20 each way in good days. Which means I leave the house before 07h to get the 07h10 train, I’m in the office around 08h15, then I return back home at 19h, which means being home at 20h30.

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On the other hand, because pretty much all I can do over the weekend is lay in the couch and watch all the food & house programs on telly, I have a lot of cooking ideas on my mind. Haven’t done any, except for the stuffed mushrooms yesterday:

I love Laura’s videos, and this recipe was no exception. I’ve used feta cheese as well. Because I had a lot of bedcrumbs leftovers, I’ve sparkled a few over the salmon, and it turns it it’s pretty good!

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It was a very good meal, even if the photo is rubbish, it was pretty tasty. We were so starving I didn’t had the chance to take a decent photo of the food.

Today for lunch doing something I really miss, Portuguese Tuna & Egg salad

You can see the recipe here.

Have a lovely weekend and hopefully I’ll be posting a bit more regularly now

.: In the kitchen – Chili con Carne :.

It’s winter time and now winter is really coming as temperatures are dropping. One of the best winter foods I know is a good Chili con Carne. I had tried to do this before, but as I had to cook for 12 people it was quite a challenge to ensure it was not too spicy but spicy enough. Also, I’ve ended up using minced meat because it would be easier to cook and feed more people.

So imagine this, lazy Sunday morning, how about preparing a proper chili con carne? That’s precisely what we’ve decided to do. My favourite recipe for Chili con Carne was Jamie Oliver’s

We didn’t cook it for 7h, but rather 3h, but still the final result was really good. He was in charge of the spices so let’s just say it was the max I can normally handle. I felt crying from all over the place if you know what I mean, but really tasty.

Here’s the final result

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Really yummy! Now I feel like having a siesta!

Have a lovely week ahead

.: Richmond walk & waffles :.

I have to admit that all I’ve been keen on doing over the weekend is to stay at home. Maybe because I’m always away in hotels @ work, or simply because I enjoy the light of my new flat so much.

After lunch we’ve decided to go for a walk in my favourite London place, Richmond:

Note: All the photos below are taken with my mobile phone

Richmond Green

And then a stop by The Farmery. I love stopping by the Farmery because they have waffles & frozen yoghurt, and I would say this is a brilliant combination for all seasons!

Yummy isn’t it?

Enjoy your weekend

.: Lazy Monday :.

Ahhh nothing better than a bank holiday to extend the weekend πŸ˜€

We’ve just returned last night from a weekend away in Cornwall, so now have loads of photos to check. The advantage of being at home is that you can cook and enjoy your kitchen a bit more, which is what I’ve been doing:

Lunch – Salmon with lemon sauce and mash potato & boiled eggs

And need to add fresh coriander from our mini garden πŸ˜€

We was trying to make a smile in my mash hahahahahah Drink: Bulldog’s Gin Tonic. Love this gin, so easy to drink

Then a few photos later, I started fancying some pancakes, so just stopped everything and went to prepare some:

Nigella recipe available here. (He says he prefers the Jamie Oliver version here)

I can’t recommend La Chambre Aux enough! I bought this on my trip to Lille, and have been saving them. This one is the strawberry & mint jam, so good and perfect! We had nutella on the table as well, and we didn’t even touched it, so yes, that good!

Superb!

Wish you all a great week ahead!

.: Sunday Brunch :.

After watching this video, we’ve decided to change the way we cook our scrambled eggs:

I actually love the chopped tomatoes with the eggs (following the indian recipe), so we did a fusion of Gordon’s recipe and our one (almost no butter and no cream).Β This was the result:

Really creamy!!!

How do you like your eggs? What’s your favourite Sunday Brunch?

Enjoy your sunday!

.: Relaxing :.

Happy new year πŸ™‚
Have you started any new year resolution so far?

As today it was such a miserable cloudy and rainy day we’ve decided to stay indoors and I can tell you, there was lots of food πŸ˜€

Brunch

Oven-baked pasta with ham, Chorizo & Mozarella

And while I was cleaning the kitchen he baked bread πŸ˜€

Yummy!

And now I’m feeling grumpy as my holidays are gone and Monday I’m back to work 😦 Anyone else feeling the same?