Thursday, 27 October 2011


Panellets are typical from Catalonia for the 31st of October and 1st of November. Each year when I was a kid my mum and I cooked panellets for family and lots of friends; I remember that the first time I stayed up late was because I was doing hundrets of panellets with her (yes, hundrets!! more than 300).
This is a very special recipe for me and I hope you try it because I'm sure you will like it. You will need about 2-3h to do 80-100 panellets, but it's really easy and if you have kids they can help you!

Ingredients (80-100 panellets)
1kg ground almonds
750 gr sugar (icing sugar is better, but not essential)
2 medium potatoes
Grated lemon and orange peel (1 lemon and 1/2 orange)
Pine nuts
Crushed almonds
Grated coconut
Candied cherries
2 Eggs

1. Mix the ground almonds with the sugar as in picture 1.
2. Boil the potatoes, wait until they are cold peel and make a pure using a fork.
3. Mix the potatoes with the gound almonds and sugar until you have a dough like in picture 2. Don't knead more than necessary because it would become brittle.
4. Do the shapes you see in picture 3 (or in the one above) with your hands.
5. Beat the eggs. Soak the shapes with the beaten eggs and decorate with the pine nuts, crushed almonds and coconuts. (You will need to press a bit)
6. For the ones with candied cherries paint them with the beaten eggs and put one candied cherrie in the middle.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Almond cookies

Hello to all of you! Finally I can use the kitchen, and that means...I'm back!! Today...cookies again!! but this time almond cookies! I had never done this recipe before mainly because I decided the ingredients and quantities just 5 minutes before starting but the outcome is pretty good, actually... I can't stop eating! (which is not that good...).
If you have a kneading machine is going to be easier/faster, but if not don't worry! I don't have any so I used a spatula and my hands (is relaxing to knead the dough with your hands!)


1 egg (room temperature)
150gr icing sugar
150gr butter (room temperature)
370gr flour
40-50gr ground almonds
Vanilla sugar
Some chopped almonds


1. Cream together the butter and sugar. It's important to have the butter at room temperature because it will be much easier to beat.(I did this and the following step with a spatula)
2. Add the beaten egg, the ground almonds and some vanilla sugar. Mix until it gets smooth.
3. Add the flour slowly while you knead (here is when hands come into play for those without kneading maxine).
4.Put half of the dough on a baking paper and the other half on another one (if not it's too big!). Cover each half with another piece of baking paper* and expand until is half cm thick.
5. Leave for 2h in the fridge.
6. Remove one of the baking papers and cut the cookies with the shape you prefer.
7. Put some chopped almonds and some vanilla sugar on the top of each cookie. Bake 180º for 10-15 minutes (is better if you are there checking because all ovens are different).
*I read thit trick in a blog called "el rincón de Bea", and it's really useful for not messing with the dough.

For a different presentation you can use a shape like mine and put a toothpick in the cookie (as if  it was a lollipop) before baking, it looks like a flower. Bon profit!!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Where does cinnamon come from?

It’s Monday again and finally, in Spain, temperatures are the normal ones for this time of year. I have to say this is my favorite season of the year. I love seeing the different colors of the trees, the walks I used to take on cold but sunny Sundays, the smell of roasted chestnuts on the streets... Something I really feel like cooking these days is anything with cinnamon: custard, cookies, pastries, even meatballs with cinnamon!
Today I was going to make custard with cinnamon… but this morning I've discovered that I won’t be able to use the kitchen for a few days… so I've decided to do something different! I am going to explain where cinnamon comes from!

Cinnamon is tree bark (cinnamomum verum) that has gone through a manufacturing process. When the bark is removed it curls into the characteristic shape of cinnamon sticks.  Generally it comes from Asia, mainly from Sri Lanka, but nowadays it is also cultivated in other countries such as Brasil.
In the year 2500 (BC) the Chinese already knew the cinnamon which was more valued than gold and the ancient Egyptians used it for embalming and for spells. It was on the 1500 that the Portuguese brought the cinnamon to Europe.
It’s said that cinnamon use improves the assimilation of food and prevents fermentation in the digestive tract among other medical applications, so now you don’t need any other excuse to eat cinnamon cakes than is good for your health.
Although I won’t cook it today I've done it in the past so I know it works well, so I will leave here the recipe for the cinnamon custard, just in case any of you decide to try!

0.5L milk
20gr corn flour
2 egg yolks (3 if they are small)
50gr sugar
Cinnamon branch
Lemon peel
Some ground cinnamon

1. Put 400mL of milk in a pot with the cinnamon branch and the lemon peel. Heat until it boils and then put away from heating.
2. Dissolve the corn flour in the other 100mL of cold milk and mix with the sugar and egg yolks.
3. Mix this with the flavored milk and heat over low heat until you get the texture you like. It is important that you try to avoid boiling because the egg yolk is very delicate and could ruin the custard. 
4. Put it in individual bowls and sprinkle some ground cinnamon. If you prefer to eat it cold, just put in the fridge for about two hours and sprinkle the cinnamon before serving.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Halloween cookies

Halloween is coming and I thought it would be the perfect time to try a new recipe! I had never decorated cookies with royal icing before so the result is not the best ever but next time I will do it better! This recipe is easy but quite long... so you will need to be patient, the best part is the last one, at least I had a great time decorating the cookies! I've done ghosts, mummies and spider webs, but you can do any shape you want to (pumpkins, cats...)!

160gr Butter
77gr Icing sugar
200gr flour and some more
1 small egg
3 teaspoon of vanilla sugar
3 teaspoon of crushed almonds
cookie cutters

Royal icing
2 egg whites
500gr Icing sugar
1 Teaspoon of lemon juice
1 Teaspoon of food glycerin (optional)

1. Put the butter in the microwave until looks like cream. Mix it with the sugar.
2. Add the egg, vanilla sugar and crushed almonds. Crushed almonds are optional...but will give a great flavor. If you want you can use more vanilla sugar and crushed almonds (I did) but 3 teaspoons should be enough.
3. Gradually add the 200gr  flour, knead for a couple of minutes and put the dough in the refrigerator for two hours.
4. After two hours the dough should be quite hard. Knead a little more and expand it on a floured surface using a pastry roll. This dough is very sticky so use al the flour you need for your hands, surface and pastry  roll.
5. Cut the shapes.
6. Bake 190ºC about 10-15 min.
Royal icing
1. Beat the egg whites mixed with the teaspoon of lemon juece to soft peaks. Add the icing sugar and mix.
2. When you have a soft mix add the glycerin. Glycerin will make the icing brighter and will take longer to harden. I didnt' use it because I couldn't find both the coloring and the glycerin.
3. Separate the icing into as many containers as different colors you want. Add the coloring (some drops) and mix. Put the different icings into different pastry bags.
4. Using different nozzels decorate the cookies. For example for the ghosts first paint all the cookie with the white icing and when it's still liquid paint the eyes and mouth. You can help yourself with toothpicks for the small details.
IMPORTANT: put the icing that you will not use immediately in closed containers to prevent drying.

As I could not find coloring I used chocolate instead of black color. The best nozzels for details are the smaller ones. If you don't have pastry bags or nozzels use a bag frozen and make a small hole in the corner as I did. For the shape if you don't have specifically halloween shapes you can cut with a knife the shape you want or you can use cutters you already have (a bear for example) and modify it to look like ghost, mummies... Bon profit!!

In this webpage you will find good ideas for different shapes and you will see how good they look with coloring, glycerin and... made by someone with more experience than me!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

White asparagus cake

This is another easy recipe that can be cooked both for a normal day or to surprise friends at a special dinner, it all depends on the presentation. I personally prefear to eat it cold, but it can be served hot too, and always accompanied by shredded lettuce, a little mayonnaise, cocktail sauce, vinaigrette.... or anything else you can think of!

Ingredients (serves 4)
3 big eggs
500 gr white asparagus (canned)
170gr crème fraîche (if you can't find it you can use greek yogurt, liquid cream or philadelphia)
Black pepper
Baking paper

1. Remove the liquid and dry the asparagus as much as possible, you can use paper towels.
2. Cut the asparagus. Reserve some tips.
3. Mix all the ingredients in a blender.
4. Pour into a mold lined with baking paper.
5. Bake for 30 min 170ºC. Then insert a toothpick or a knife into the center of the cake, if it comes out clean (maybe with a few crumbs adhering) the cake is done; if it's not just bake for a few more minutes.

If you use extra light philadelphia you will have a totally diet recipe, but, in my experience, the best results come with crème fraîche. The one in the picture I did it with a mix of light philadelphia and greek yogurt. I hope you enjoy it!!! Bon profit!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Tuna turnovers or Empanadillas!

I don't really know if turnover is the same as empanadilla... but is the best translation I've found. Empanadillas are very typical in Spain and I'm sure you will like this recipe. This ones are stuffed with tuna but you can use whatever you want: vegetables, minced beef... This time I've done a little cheating and I've used pre-cooked pastry, but I will tell you the complete recipe because if you have time is quite easy and it tastes better!

Ingredients  (about 25 turnovers)
100gr olive oil
150gr water
350gr flour
salt teaspoon
400gr canned tuna
2 boiled and eggs
Tomato sauce (best if homemade!! with onion, olive oil, red pepper...)
Green olives
Some capers

1. Put all the pastry ingredients in a bowl and knead. If it's too sticky just add a little more flour.
2. Expand it with a pastry roller until it's about 3mm thick and cut into round slices.
3. Chop the boiled eggs and the green olives, dry the tuna and mix all the stuffing ingredients.
4. Put a bit of stuffing in the middle of each wafer and close. Use a fork to seal the end of each turnover.
5. Put them into  pre-heated oven for 15 minutes 170ºC... or until you see they look as in the first picture. They will look nicer if you paint them with beaten egg before putting them into the oven...but I think it's not necessary.

Normally turnovers are fried... but this way you avoid lots of fat. If you don't feel like cooking the pastry and you don't find it done in the supermarket you can use puff pastry. If you use puff pastry you will have to do small holes with the fork before baking and turn them over after 5-6 minutes in the oven. Bon profit!

Monday, 10 October 2011

White asparagus soup

This is a very tasty soup that you can take both cold or hot, as you prefer. It's also a good recipe for the ones that are trying to loose weight, just don't add butter and you will have a light starter that everyone will like. This is the soup used as a sauce in Marc's way lasagna.

400gr skimmed milk
400gr canned asparagus + liquid
30gr butter
1 tablespoon corn flour
Black pepper and nutmeg

1. Put the butter in a pot and when it's melted add the flour. Cook for 1 minute.
2. Heat the milk, cut the asparagus and add both to the pot. Add the liquid from the canned asparagus and the spices too.
3. Boil (simmer) for 8-10 minutes.
4. Blend it all until smooth.

If you are doing the light version don't follow step 1, just add the flour with all the other ingredients. To serve you can decorate with a sprig of fresh parsley or a few asparagus tips. I hope you enjoy it! Bon profit!