Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chocolate Nut Fudge


Chocolate Fudge

Fudge is one of those lovely delicacies that gets forgotten when a block of chocolate is about!!  But I love nothing more than a delicious a creamy fudge.  I have two favourite fudge recipes.  This one actually incorporates chocolate as well!

Chocolate Fudge
















Ingredients

  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup of cream
  • 60g of butter
  • 155g dark chocolate, melted
  • Splash of vanilla essence
  • Chopped pecans or walnuts


Butter a 20cm square cake tin or glass dish and then set aside.

In a 2.5 litre (10 cup), heavy- based saucepan, mix together the sugar, milk, cream, and butter until combined.

Stir mixture constantly over moderate heat until it reaches 114 degrees celsius on a sugar thermometer, or until a teaspoon dropped into icy water can be shaped into a soft ball with your fingers.

Remove from the heat.  Stir in chocolate and add the vanilla.  Cool to lukewarm if you prefer a smooth creamy fudge.  For a more grainy texture, start beating while the fudge mixture is still hot.

Beat steadily with wooden spoon until mixture thickens and begins to lose its gloss.  Pour at once into tin.  Cut some  pecans or walnuts and press some on the surface of the fudge.

Cut the fudge into squares with a  sharp knife before it firms completely.

Cocinar, comer y ser feliz!
Leticia

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Drizzled Nut Clusters


Drizzled Nut Clusters

I often struggle with being inventive when guests are coming over and I want to serve little sweet bites before or after a meal that people can just pick at.  I always turn to the standard breads and, dips and bowl full of nuts.  I found a quick little recipe which elevates the humble nut bowl.

Drizzled Nut Clusters














Ingredients

200g dark compound cooking chocolate, chopped
90g of roasted hazelnuts
60g walnut peices
60g red glace cherries, quartered

Melt 155g of chocolate in basin over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.

Coarsely chop nuts, stir into chocolate with cherries until well coated.  Working quickly, drop heaped teaspoonful of mixture onto foil or greaseproof paper-lined tray.  Stand until set.

Melt remaining chocolate, pipe through piping bag in a zig zag pattern over each cluster.  Stand again until set.  Store airtight in a cool place.

Cocinar, comer y ser feliz!
Leticia



Sunday, January 19, 2014

How to make the perfect Argentine Asado (BBQ)


How to make the perfect Argentine Asado (BBQ)

I receive a lot of emails asking what's the secret to the perfect Asado (Argentine BBQ).

The main thing is the quality of the meat, and unfortunately in many countries good meat is super expensive or it's not traditional to use higher quality meats for bbq's.  So first thing I implore you all to do is get a wonderful cut of meat and chorizos!

What makes the meat so good?  The quality is from grass fed cattle.  The majority of Argentine cows are in pastures eating grass from the pampas rather than the standard practice of eating grains from feedlots consuming antibiotics and growth hormone.  This is the principal factor in my humble opinion.  The meat is so delicious it is usually just served natural with some salt.  

This is how I have learnt to make asado over the years from my family, in particular my Uncle Carlos and Aunty Mariana who are farmers and often have fresh meat from the farm, and home made chorizos from the local farmers, not to mention the delicious pumpkins we pick from the ground...I'm so spoilt!

Step 1
The perfect fire.  Get those coals nice and hot!



















Step 2
Let the fire die down...don't rush this process - the perfectly heated coals are a key to the right amount of heat needed for the bbq!



















Step 3
Get the meat ready! Use different cuts and always choose good quality grass fed meat.  The usual cuts used in an Asado is Short Ribs, Roast Prime Rib, chuck ribs, Rib Eye Roast, Strip Steak, T-Bone, Rib Roast, Tripe to name a few...



















Step 4
Don't forget the Chorizo and Morcilla!  Chorizo, made of beef and pork, is a very important part of any BBQ as it's often the first course off the grill when a series of different meats are served. There are many different types of Chorizo around the world, but if you can get the Argentine style it is a very different taste to the Spanish or Mexican for example.  I have the good fortune to have home made chorizo from the farm when I visit home. Morcilla is a blood sausage.  One of those things if you think about it - you may not be able to eat it, but if you eat it - it's delicious!!  



















Step 5
Get the vegetables ready.  Collect old milk or juice tetra packs, clean thoroughly and place pumpkin, carrots and potatoes inside until full and seal the top.  This is a little trick I learnt from my Aunty Mariana for bbq'ing the vegetables!  The tetra packs don't burn on the bbq and they create a little oven where the vegetables cook to perfection!
























Step 6
Chorizo and veggies on the BBQ.  



















Step 7
Then the rest of the meat once the chorizo has taken a little color.



















Step 8
BBQ the meat turning occasionally.  Don't forget the turn the tetra packs as well.  You can see here that the front of the BBQ itself they've placed some bricks so the heat doesn't come out as the BBQ keeps cooking.



















Step 9
First off the BBQ is the veggies.  Open the packs carefully as they will let out a bit of steam.  



















Step 10
Usually the Chorizo and Morcilla is served up first.




















Step 11
Leave the meat on the BBQ as you wait to serve it.  Different meats may need a little longer.  Then usually place pieces of meat that are cut into small pieces in a tray so people can grab as they pass the tray around the table.  Keep adding to the tray as different pieces of meat finish cooking up on the BBQ.





















And as you wait for the BBQ to cook, and you prepare the salads and antipasto plates you must have some empanadas on the table for a little snack!!





















And there you have the perfect Argentine asado.

Cocinar, comer y ser feliz!
Leticia

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Three Textured Brownies

Another lovely brownie recipe to take your standard brownie into a little piece of dessert heaven is this triple chocolate delight!

Three Textured Brownies

Ingredients

















Base
60g cooking chocolate
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup plain flour, sifted
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

Filling
90g cooking chocolate
2/3 cup of plain flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
125g butter
3 eggs
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla essence
2/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Extra walnuts for decoration

Chocolate Glaze
155g cooking chocolate cut up
3 teaspoons butter
3 tablespoons boiling water

Melt 60g chocolate and 5 tablespoons butter in basin over smearing water; mix well. In small bowl, combine 1/2 cup flour, oats, brown sugar and soda.  Add chocolate mixture, mix well.  Press evenly into foil-lined and greased 20cm square baking tin.  Bake in moderate oven for 15 minutes.  Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

Melt 90g chocolate and cool.  Combine 2/3 cup flour, salt and baking powder, set aside.  Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Stir in vanilla and cooled chocolate.  Fold in flour mixture and walnuts.  Spread evenly over partially cooled base.

For the Glaze blend chocolate, butter and water in basin over barely simmering water until smooth, mix well.  Remove from heat; cool to spreading consistency.

Spread glaze over the base and add walnuts to decorate.

Cocinar, comer y ser feliz
Leticia
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