Friday, December 25, 2015

Pumpkin Dreams "Sonhos de Abobora"

Recipe by Paula.

I made these for my family's Christmas Eve celebration this year and everyone loved them. My Mother insists that we make these every year from now on. You can't argue with Mom. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Serves: 8

1 cup water
80 grams of pumpkin puree
4 strips of orange peel
1 cinnamon stick
80 grams unsalted butter
1/4 cup Brandy
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
180 grams all purpose flour
5 large eggs

Walnut Cinnamon Sugar:
1 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1. Start heating your vegetable oil to 350-360°F

2. Heat the water, pumpkin, orange peel, cinnamon stick, butter, brandy, sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium heat until just below the boiling point, when small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Keep an eye on it, don't let it boil. Remove the orange peel and cinnamon stick.

3. Add the flour and beat it with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a soft ball and leaves the sides of the pan clean. Reduce the temperature to low and continue stirring for 2 minutes. Don't walk away from the pan, stir constantly.

4. Take the dough and place it into a mixing bowl. Let it cool for one minute. This will let some of the moisture evaporate before you add the eggs. While the mixer is running at medium speed, add the eggs one at at time. Beat well after each egg addition, incorporating as much air as possible.

5. Fill a piping bag with the dough (you don't need a piping tip, just cut a 1/2 inch opening at the base). When your oil is ready, hold the piping bag over the oil and squeeze out a small amount (about a teaspoon) of the dough and use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut the dough into the oil. Be careful not to hold the piping bag to far above the oil or it will splash and burn you. Fry in batches until the dough is golden. They will puff up in the oil so don't crowd the pan.

6. Combine the walnuts, sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl. When the sonhos are golden remove them from the oil and immediately roll them in the sugar mixture. Serve them warm or at room temperature.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Chestnut Soup

Chestnut Soup
Recipe by Paula.

I have fond childhood memories of roasted chestnuts at family gatherings in the Fall/Winter. It was my job to peel them and I could never resist sneaking one or two. The smell of roasted chestnuts fills the entire house and if I could bottle that scent, I would. This delicious soup is another way the Portuguese enjoy roasted chestnuts. The cream is my addition to the traditional recipe but I think it compliments all the flavours. In a pinch you could use packaged chestnuts but it will pale in comparison to the taste of freshly roasted chestnuts. Enjoy!

Serves: 6

500g chestnuts, roasted (see below)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
8 cups chicken stock
3 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons Brandy
1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more to garnish
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Peel the chestnuts. Chop 6 chestnuts and set aside to garnish. 

2. In a large pan over medium high heat, add olive oil and heat for 1 minute. Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes to soften the onions.  

3. Add the whole chestnuts, stock, parsley, cloves and bay leaves. Season with a little salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45-60 minutes or until the chestnuts are tender.

4. Remove the cloves and bay leaves. Puree soup in batches in a blender (caution hot!) and return the soup to the pot. Stir in the brandy and cream. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.

5. Pour the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with reserved chestnuts and a drizzle of cream. Serve with crusty bread.

Roasted Chestnuts
Recipe by Paula. 

Fresh plump chestnuts
Kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Score the chestnuts with an X and place them in a baking sheet with the X facing up.

3. Using a water bottle, sprinkle the chestnuts with a little water. Sprinkle with salt.

4. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until they are toasted and fragrant. Peel and enjoy.