Old World Rye - November R2R

For November's challenge there was a poll in the forum, and winner was bread. Challenge was hosted by Temperama, one of the founders of the group.

Here's what she told about the challenge:

After much deliberation I decided I wanted a dark robust bread, something to go with stew and cheese or just to gobble down on its own. The kind you get at steak houses.

I looked at alot of different recipes before deciding to share my love of older cookbooks (I would say old but 1966 isn't that long ago). A World of Breads by Dolores Casella is one of those treasures you find on occasion, every recipe comes with a little story and the recipes themselves are pretty comprehensive. There are 8 rye bread recipes for example. I choose this one because of the addition of chocolate and molasses, though I will admit her story influenced me too.

Old World Rye
A World of Breads by Dolores Casella, 1966

2 cups rye flour
1/4 cup cocoa
2 T yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup molasses
2 tsp salt
2 T caraway seed
2 T butter
2 1/2 cups white flour or whole wheat flour

Combine the rye flour and cocoa. do not sift.
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water.
Mix molasses, 1 cup warm water, salt, and caraway seed in large mixing bowl.
Add the rye/cocoa mix, the proofed yeast, the butter and 1 cup white flour or whole wheat flour.
Beat until the dough is smooth.
Spread the remaining flour on a breadboard and kneed it into the dough
Add more flour if necessary to make a firm dough that is smooth and elastic.
Place in buttered bowl and cover. Allow to rise until double (about 2 hours).
Punch dough down, shape into a round loaf and place on a buttered cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal.
Let rise about 50 minutes.
Bake at 375 for 35 to 40 minutes.

You can add 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 cup each of raisins and walnuts.
Don't limit yourself to round loaves, have fun.

And to prove that man CAN live by bread alone: Back in the 1930's, a Cornell University professor named Clive McCay developed a bread recipe named Cornell Bread. It makes a complete protein that rats can live on exclusively. (The only reason that humans can't live on it exclusively is that it lacks vitamin C, which rats don't need.)

The Cornell formula to enrich bread consists of 1 tablespoon each soy flour and nonfat milk powder plus 1 teaspoon wheat germ for each cup of flour used in a bread recipe. These enrichments are placed in the bottom of the measuring cup before the flour is spooned in.

My result: I tried to bake the bread twice, but even though the I tried two different types of yeast none of them worked out... I also had problems with the temperature and time in the oven... it seems I'm not a bread baker... :(

So here're my results:

First try:

Second try:

Daring Cooks November 09 Sushi

Did I ever mentioned I love sushi? And did I ever said I love making sushi? Did anyone said sushi? Well, I mean all kind of Japanese food... and yes sushi is included.

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.

Please visit their websites for full recipe.


PS: Late, late, late... sorry, sorry, sorry... This should have been posted the 14th Nov...

French Onion Soup R2R October

This month's challenge was hosted by Sara from Imafoodblog.com. She chosed a delicious onion soup from Thomas Keller's Bouchon cookbook

Onion Soup - Soupe A L'Oignon
Thomas Keller - Bouchon
makes 6 servings

2 bay leaves
12 black peppercorns
6 large sprigs of thyme

  • 8 pounds (about 8 large) yellow onions
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 quarts Beef Stock (recipe below)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Sherry wine vinegar
  • 1 baguette (about 2 1/2 inches in diameter)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Kosher salt

  • 6 to 12 slices (1/8 inch thick) aged Comte or Emmentaler cheese (at least 4 inches square)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated aged Comte or Emmentaler cheeses, or a combination

The more basic the soup, the more critical the details:
  1. Slice the onions uniformly and brown them very slowly and evenly;
  2. slice the bread a half inch thick and dry it completely in the oven;
  3. and serve the soup in appropriately sized bowls so that the melted cheese extends over the rim.
When you hit it right, there's nothing more satisfying to cook or to eat than this soup.

It's worth reiterating the importance of cooking the onions slowly so that the natural sugars caramelize rather than brown through high heating sautéing. The onions cook for about five hours and need to be stirred often, but they can be made up to two days ahead. The soup is best if refrigerated for a day or two so that the flavors of the onion and beef broth can deepen.

Comte is traditionally the cheese of choice, but Emmentaler works as well. Gruyère is a bit strong. Use an aged cheese; a younger cheese would just melt and wouldn't form a crust.

  1. Cut a piece of cheesecloth about 7 inches square.
  2. Place the bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme in the center, bring up the edges. 
  3. Tie with kitchen twine to form a sachet.

  1. Cut off the tops and bottoms of the onions, then cut the onions lengthwise in half.
  2. Remove the peels and tough outer layers.
  3. Cut a V wedge in each one to remove the core and pull out any solid, flat pieces of onion running up from the core.
  4. Lay an onion half cut side down on a cutting board with the root end toward you.Note that there are lines on the outside of the onion. Cutting on the lines (with the grain) rather than against them will help the onions soften.
  5. Holding the knife on an angle, almost parallel to the board, cut the onion lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices.
  6. Once you've cut past the center of the onion, the knife angle will become awkward.
  7. Flip the onion onto its side, toward the knife, and finish slicing it, again along the grain.
  8. Separate the slices of onion, trimming away any root sections that are still attached and holding the slices together.
  9. Repeat with the remaining onions. (You should have about 7 quarts of onions)
  10. Melt the butter in a large heavy stockpot over medium heat.
  11. Add the onions and 1 tablespoon salt, reduce the heat to low.
  12. Cook, stirring every 15 minutes and regulating the heat to keep the mixture bubbling gently, for about 1 hour, or until the onions have wilted and released a lot of liquid.
  13. At this point, you can turn up the heat slightly to reduce the liquid, but it is important to continue to cook the onions slowly to develop maximum flavor and keep them from scorching.
  14. Continue to stir the onions every 15 minutes, being sure to scrape the bottom and get in the corners of the pot, for about 4 hours more, or until the onions are caramelized throughout and a rich deep brown. (my note - like a super deep brown, like way browner than you think they need to be. Think poop. Yes I said it.)
  15. Keep a closer eye on the onions toward the end of the cooking when the liquid has evaporated.
  16. Remove from the heat.
  17. (You will need 1 1/2 cups of onions for the soup; reserve any extra for another use. The onions can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated.)
  18. Transfer the caramelized onions to a 5 quart pot (if they've been refrigerated, reheat until hot.)
  19. Sift in the flour and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes.
  20. Add the beef stock and sachet, bring to a simmer, and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the liquid is reduced to 2 1/2 quarts.
  21. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and a few drops of vinegar.
  22. Remove from the heat.

  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Cut twelve 3/8 inch thick slices from the baguette (reserve the remainder for another use) and place on a baking sheet.
  3. Brush the bread lightly on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt.
  4. Place under the broiler and toast the first side until golden brown, then turn and brown the second side.
  5. Set aside and leave the broiler on.

  1. Return the soup to a simmer.
  2. Place six flameproof soup tureens, with about 1 1/2 cups capacity on a baking sheet to catch any spills (the soup will bubble up and over the tureens).
  3. Add the hot soup to the tureens, filling them within 1/2 inch of the tops.
  4. Top each serving with 2 croutons.
  5. Lay them on the surface - do not push them into the soup.
  6. Lay the slices of cheese over the croutons so that the cheese overlaps the edges of the tureens by about 1/2 inch.
  7. Scatter the grated cheese over the sliced cheese, filling in any areas where the sliced cheese is thiner, or it may melt into the soup rather than forming a crust.
  8. Place the tureens under the broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese bubbles, browns, and forms a thick crust.
  9. Eat carefully, the soup and tureens will be very hot.

Okay now if you are feeling like a real challenge, you can make Keller's homemade beef stock as well. I have never made homemade beef stock before, and I think I may try this when I make the soup again, depending on how much time I have. If anyone has their own recipe for beef stock, use that by all means, and please share!

Beef Stock
makes 3 1/2 quarts

We use this stock for onion soup and to add in combination with veal stock to beef stews. The bones are roasted first to give the stock a roasted flavor, then simmered with caramelized vegetables for a rich brown stock.

  • About 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 5 pounds meaty beef necks or leg bones, cut into 2-3 inch sections
  • 2 small Spanish onions (about 8 ounces total), peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3 ounces (1 large) carrot, peeled and cut into 4 pieces
  • 3 ounces (1 large) leek, roots trimmed, split lengthwise, rinsed well, and cut into 2 inch pieces, or leek tops
  • 1 large sprig of thyme
  • 1 large sprig of Italian parsley
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1 head garlic, cut horizontally in half (reserve half for another use)

  1. Preheat the oven to 475F. Place a large roasting pan in the oven to preheat for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil tot he hot roasting pan and distribute the beef bones in a single layer. Roast the bones for about 45 minutes, or until richly browned, turning each piece only after it is well browned on the bottom side.
  3. Meanwhile, cut 1 onion crosswise in half. Heat a small heavy skillet over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Place 1 onion half cut side down to one side of the skillet so that it is not over direct heat and let it brown and char black, about 30 minutes. This will add color to the stock, set aside.
  4. Remove the roasting pan of bones from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 400F. Transfer bones to a large colander set over a baking sheet to drain.
  5. Drain the fat from the roasting pan and discard. Add about 1 cup water to the pan, place over medium heat, and use a metal spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan and release the pan juices. Let them simmer until reduced by half. Add the resulting fond to a large deep stockpot.
  6. Transfer the bones to the stockpot and add about 5 quarts cold water - just enough to cover the bones. Any fat present in the juices will rose to the top when the cold water is added; use a skimmer to remove and discard the fat. Add the charred onion half and the salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, skimming as impurities rise to the top of the stockpot. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, skimming often, for 5 hours. If the level of liquid falls below the bones, add additional water.
  7. Meanwhile, cut the remaining whole onion into quarters and cut the remaining onion half in half again. Place the onions, carrots, and leeks in a roasting pan that will hold them in a single layer, toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil, and place in the oven to roast for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and stir, then roast for an additional 20 minutes or until the vegetables are richly caramelized. Set aside.
  9. After the stock has simmered for 5 hours, add the caramelized vegetables, herbs, peppercorns, and garlic and simmer for 1 hour longer. Turn off the heat and allow the stock to rest for 10 minutes.
  10. Prepare an ice bath. Place a strainer over a large bowl. Removing the bones or pouring out the liquid through the bones would cloud the stock. Instead, carefully ladle the stock out of the pot and pass it through the strainer, tilting the pot as necessary to get all the stock. Strain a second time through a chinois or fine mesh strainer lines with a dampened cheese cloth.
  11. Measure the stock. If you have more than 3 1/2 quarts, pour it into a saucepan and reduce to 3 1/2 quarts. Strain the stock into a container and cool in the ice bath, stirring occasionally. (Store the stock in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze in several containers for longer storage.)

NOTE: If the stock will be refrigerated for longer than 3 days, bring it back to a boil after 3 days, cool it, and return it to the refrigerator.

Indian Dosas (Vegan Style) - Daring Cooks September

Ooops, I almost forget to post this wonderful challenge!! It's 14th September and the Daring Cooks revealing date, Indian Dosas vegan style.

This month's challenge was hosted by Debyi from The Healthy Vegan Kitchen. She's a passionate and active member of the alternative kitchen in the group.

Even though I have cooked vegan before, and also Indian food, I had never done a vegan Indian dish before, and this was a great oportunity. I cooked this for a lunch we had with a friend, and even both my boyfriend and this friend of ours are full carnivores, they didn't noticed at all there was no meat in the dosas filling, made of chickpeas paste and tomato, covered with a delicious curry and coconut milk sauce. I left out some ingredients to adapt it to our taste, such as hot banana chili (hard to find it here anyway); and also substituted the required spelt flour for whole-grain rice flour, as I visited three specialized stores in my town and I couldn't find it.

The most important requirement of the challenge was to cook it free of animal products, and make it completely vegan, and that was quite a headache for some of the members.

For recipe details you can click here and for other members posts feel free to visit the blogroll.

And so, here's my completed challenge:

The dosa pancakes:
The curry and coconut milk sauce: 
The chickpea filling:

R2R August Challenge: Vegetarian Risotto

Wow, this is the first time I make a food challenge so late. Normally I try to make them the first week so I can forget myself until posting day. Other times I'm simply not able to make the challenge, and that bothers me quite a lot.

Ok, let's go with this month challenge, hosted by charming Debyi from The Healthy Vegan Kitchen. She chose a delicious Asparagus & Lemongrass Risotto, a recipe by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero from Veganomicon. Here's what Debyi tells about this recipe:

Risotto is a traditional Italian rice dish. It is also one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy. Its origins are in North Italy where rice paddies are abundant. While this is not a traditionally prepared risotto, it is pretty close. You really want to use Arborio rice, but you can substitute any short grain rice and get a similar dish.

The biggest challenge this month for some of you will be: Vegan & Gluten-Free
1.You must make the lemongrass broth from scratch, no meat broths allowed (including chicken, beef, fish, etc).
2.No cheese or milk of any kind is to be added to the risotto.

Why? Well, for one, it doesn't need it. I was watching an episode of No Reservations & he had some risotto that consisted of broth and rice, period. I have indicated the optional ingredients that you can add or leave out, or substitute, your choice. I have also included a side dish for you, but you can make whatever you want to go with it. I wanted to do a challenge that everyone would be able to eat. All of the soy in the recipe is easily omitted for those who are allergic.

This is the recipe as Debyi presented it, though due to some "technical problems" I had to slightly change (my modifications in italic and orange)

Asparagus and Lemongrass Risotto
Time: 1 hour 20 minutes Serves 4-6
This one does have peanuts in it, so if you are allergic, just leave them out. Personally, I liked pine nuts in it best (me too, so I used pididne nuts) Fresh lemongrass is available in most grocery stores, but if you can't find it, you can use dried. If using dried, you will want to use a cheese cloth or tea strainer. Place the dried lemongrass, ginger and garlic. I couldn't find either fresh or dried lemongrass, so I had to left it out Don't worry about the heat of the serrano pepper, it only adds a nice hint of flavor.

Lemongrass Broth:
3 cloves garlic, whole and unpeeled
1” piece fresh ginger, sliced into ¼” slices
1 small stalk lemongrass, or 1 TBSP dried, chopped lemongrass
3 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
3 TBSP tamari (or soy sauce, or more broth)

½ cup cooking sherry or white wine (D'Aquino Pinot Grigio is a good choice, any dry white wine, or just water)
1 lb asparagus
2 TBSP vegetable broth
1 cup basil leaves (Thai, if you can find it), sliced into thin strips
2 TBSP chopped fresh mint
6 large shallots, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano red chile, sliced very thinly (or ½ – 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes) 3 small Cayenne chile, they are dried so I didn't slice them
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
1 tsp sugar (optional)
2 TBSP lime juice lemon again
Chopped roasted peanuts and lime wedges, for garnish (you can use pine nuts or sliced almonds instead of the peanuts)

1.If using fresh lemongrass, peel away and discard any brown stems from the stalk. Slice the stalk in half lengthwise and cut into 3” to 4” lengths, then julienne. I wasn't able to find lemongrass where I live. My first idea was to try a cilantro broth, but the ones I found were too old (yellowy leaves and didn't smell at all to cilantro), so I substituted it for lemon.
2.Give the garlic and the ginger a could whack with the side of your knife, keeping them whole. Prepare your herb pouch, if using.
3.Place all of the broth ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the broth, discarding the vegetables and herbs. Pour the broth back into the pot, cover and simmer over as low a heat as possible to keep warm.
4.Slice the asparagus into ½” pieces, removing any tough parts from the bottom of the stem. Separate the tips from the stems and place each in separate bowls.
5.In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot, saute the asparagus in 1 TBSP vegetable broth over medium heat until bright and crisp tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the basil and mint, saute for 30 seconds, remove from heat and set aside.
6.Add the remaining tablespoon vegetable broth to the pan. Saute the shallots and garlic, stirring occasionally, until shallots are very soft, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the serrano and rice, saute for about 8 minutes, until the rice smells slightly toasted. Add the cooking sherry (or white wine) and stir constantly until the liquid is absorbed.
7.Now, time for relaxation and stirring. Get a glass of your favorite beverage, turn on some soothing music, or a good movie. Ladle about ½ cup of the broth at a time into the rice, stirring constantly until each addition is absorbed. Stir and cook until the rice is creamy but still somewhat firm in the center.
8.When the broth is almost gone, stir the sugar and lime juice into the remaining broth before adding it to the risotto. You may add more water or vegetable broth in ¼ cup increments if needed. This will take about 35 minutes.
9.Stir the asparagus stems into the risotto and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the asparagus has reached desired tenderness.
10.Garnish each serving with the asparagus tips, chopped roasted peanuts, and lime wedges.

Tangerine Baked Tofu
Time: 1 hour Serves 4
You can sub orange juice, oranges, tangelos, or clementines for the tangerines. Had to use lemon instead of orange fruits as the ones I could only find here weren't very good... I use only one lemon and taste was good but too acid so next time I'll try to find better oranges so it's sweeter...

1 lb extra-firm tofu, sliced width-wise into eighths.

1 tsp tangerine lemon zest
1/3 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice (2-3 tangerines)
3 TBSP lime lemon juice
2 TBSP tamari (or soy sauce)
1 TBSP dark rum (or 1 tsp rum extract) white rum

1.Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. My first attempt was using the oven, but it was a failure as tofu got burnt and I was a whole week washing the black sticked in the glass baking dish, So, I used microwave instead at 900 W
2.In a shallow 11” X 7” glass baking dish, whisk together all of the marinade ingredients. Place the sliced tofu in the marinade. Using a fork, poke a few holes into the cutlets, flip them over, and do the same on the other side.
3.Bake the tofu for 30 minutes, flipping several times, about every 15 minutes or so. The tofu is ready when the marinade is reduced. Spoon any remaining marinade over the tofu before serving. As I used microwave instead of oven I reduced quite a lot the time: 4 minutes for each side, and this time believe me it worked...

And here's the final result:

Asparagus and lemon Risotto

Thanks Debyi for this tasteful challenge. I keep the recipe for future reference, and I'll try my best to get all the ingredients...

August 2009 Daring Cooks Challenge

This month I've been the proud host of the Daring Cooks challenge. I chose a delicious Spanish recipe, Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes by José Andrés, one of the most important Spanish Chefs at the moment.

But before introducing you to the recipe and the chef, I'd like to thank Ivonne and Lisa for the chance they gave me to host the challenge. Thank you girls! You're the best.

Well, back to the recipe and the chef, José Andrés trained under well-known Ferran Adria at his three Michelin star restaurant El Bulli. José Andrés lives now in Washington DC and he owns several restaurants in Washington DC area (El Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel…).

The recipe I bring you is from his US TV show Made in Spain. I hope you enjoy it. (Please note my tips (2) and (3) at the bottom for alternative cooking)

Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes.


Cooking time: 45 minutes


  • 1 Chopping Board
  • 1 knife
  • 1 medium saucepan
  • 1 Paella pan (30 cm/11” is enough for 4 people. If not available, you may use a simple pan that size)
  • 1 Saucepan

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or freezed if fresh are not available)
  • 12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello)
  • 1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 2 Cuttlefish (you can use freezed cuttlefish or squid if you don’t find it fresh)
  • “Sofregit” (see recipe below)
    300 gr (2 cups) Short grain rice (Spanish types Calasparra or Montsant are preferred, but you can choose any other short grain. This kind of rice absorbs flavor very well) – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person). Please read this for more info on suitable rices.
  • Water or Fish Stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)
  • Saffron threads (if you can’t find it or afford to buy it, you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)


  • Allioli (olive oil and garlic sauce, similar to mayonnaise sauce) - optional


  • Cut the cuttlefish in little strips.
  • Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the cuttlefish in the pan.
  • If you use fresh artichokes, clean them as shown in the video in tip #7. Cut artichokes in eights.
  • Clean the mushrooms and cut them in fourths.
  • Add a bay leaf to the cuttlefish and add also the artichokes and the mushrooms.
  • Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes.
  • Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavorful dish.
  • Add a couple or three tablespoons of sofregit and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit.
  • Add all the liquid and bring it to boil.


  • Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in heavy heat.
  • Add some saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor and color. Stir a little bit so the rice and the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only 1/4 teaspoon.
  • Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”)
  • Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes.

Sofregit (a well cooked and fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onions, and may at times different vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms)

Cooking time: aprox. 1 hour


  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup of button or Portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Salt
  • Touch of ground cumin
  • Touch of dried oregano


  • Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.
  • Taste and salt if necessary (maybe it’s not!)


Allioli is an optional part in the recipe. I highly recommend you to try traditional one. Allioli is served together with the rice and it gives a very nice taste.

Allioli (Traditional recipe)

Cooking time: 20 min aprox.


  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh lemon juice (some drops)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish preferred but not essential)


  • Place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt.
  • Using a pestle, smash the garlic cloves to a smooth paste. (The salt stops the garlic from slipping at the bottom of the mortar as you pound it down.)
  • Add the lemon juice to the garlic.
  • Drop by drop; pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle.
  • Keep turning your pestle in a slow, continuous circular motion in the mortar. The drip needs to be slow and steady. Make sure the paste soaks up the olive oil as you go.
  • Keep adding the oil, drop by drop, until you have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. If your allioli gets too dense, add water to thin it out.
  • This takes time—around 20 minutes of slow motion around the mortar—to create a dense, rich sauce.


José's tips for traditional recipe: It's hard to think that, when you start crushing the garlic, it will ever turn into something as dense and smooth as allioli. But don't give up. It's worth the extra time and effort to see the oil and garlic come together before your eyes. Just make sure you're adding the olive oil slowly, drop by drop. Keep moving the pestle around the mortar in a circular motion and keep dreaming of the thick, creamy sauce at the end of it all.

Allioli a la moderna (Modern recipe)

Cooking time: 3-4 minutes


  • 1 small egg
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (as above, Spanish oil is highly recommended)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 Tbs. Spanish Sherry vinegar or lemon juice (if Sherry vinegar is not available, use can use cider or white vinegar)
  • Salt to taste


  • Break the egg into a mixing bowl.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic cloves, along with the vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Using a hand blender, start mixing at high speed until the garlic is fully pureed into a loose paste.
  • Little by little, add what's left of the olive oil as you continue blending.
  • If the mixture appears too thick as you begin pouring the oil, add 1 teaspoon of water to loosen the sauce.
  • Continue adding the oil and blending until you have a rich, creamy allioli.
    The sauce will be a lovely yellow color.
  • Add salt to taste.

José's tips for modern recipe:(1) If you do not have access to a hand blender, you can use a hand mixer (the kind with the two beaters) or a food processor. If you use a food processor, you must double the recipe or the amount will be too little for the blades to catch and emulsify.(2) What happens if the oil and egg separate? Don't throw it out. You can do two things. One is to whisk it and use it as a side sauce for a fish or vegetable. But if you want to rescue the allioli, take 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water in another beaker and start adding to the mix little by little. Blend it again until you create the creamy sauce you wanted.

My tips:

  1. In Spain, rice is not stired as often as it is when cooking Italian risotto. You must stir it once or twice maximum. This tip is valid for all Spanish rice dishes like paella, arròs negre, arròs a banda…
  2. When cooking the alternative style you can change the cuttlefish or squid for diced potato.
  3. If you can’t find cuttlefish or squid, or you’re not able to eat them because of allergies, you can try to substitute them for chicken or vegetables at your choice.
  4. Sofregit can be done in advance. You can keep it in the fridge or even freeze it.
  5. For more information on how to clean and remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this video
  6. To watch how Jose Andres cooks this dish click here.
  7. For more information on how to clean and remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this video
  8. To tone down the taste when you do it by hand in a mortar, then add an egg yolk. If you want to tone it down in the alternative way use milk or soy milk. Anyway, the best alternative way is the original oil and garlic alone.
  9. Allioli must be consumed during the preparation day and preserved in the fridge before using it.
  10. For help on conversion on metric to imperial, visit this page.


July R2R Challenge, a taste of Italy

This month's challenge at Recipes to Rival was hosted by Lauren from Fried Pickles and Ice Cream

Despite we had to make two super easy recipes, Bruschetta (antipasta / appetizer) and Limoncello (digestivo / after-dinner drink) I just was able to make one (supplying problems with Limoncello recipe :( )...

Bruschetta, having its origination in Italy, is served as an antipasta. It is one of the simplest and easiest things to make and will gratify your taste buds. In Italian, Bruschetta is pronounced ‘brusketta’, where ‘bruscare’ means ‘to roast over coals’.

The trick is to roast or grill the bread... NOT bake it as it is done in America. Once you have tried this recipe you will have a hard time ordering it at a restaurant!

(4 servings)

  • 4 slices Rustic Bread
  • 2 cups chopped Roma Tomatoes
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 4 to 8 leaves Basil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea salt

  1. Heat grill or grill pan to medium high heat
  2. Slice THICK pieces of bread
  3. Place bread on grill until each side has a nice golden color
  4. Rub garlic on top side of each bread piece
  5. Pile tomatoes on-sprinkle one big pinch of salt per piece on top of the tomatoes
  6. Generously drizzle oilve oil on top of tomatoes (about 2 to 3 tablespoons per piece)
  7. Add basil to the top

** This is a very simmilar dish as what we call pa amb tomàquet in Catalonia. Ingredients and steps are basically the same, but with one little difference: on step 5 we rub half a ripe tomato on top side of the bread pieces as we do with garlic. We eat them with some cold meat like chorizo, Serrano or Iberico ham, fuet or cheese. You may have this dish at anytime during the day...

Cookies for the July Daring Bakers Challenge

I always wanted to make cookies, so when the challenge was revealed I made it almost inmediately.

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

There were two recipes. As we could chose any of them or both, I decided to chllenge myself and try both, so I could never ever say again, I've never made cookies. I want to thank Nicole for such a wonderful and delicious challenge.

Mallows(Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Serves: about 2 dozen cookies

• 3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
• 1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
• 3 eggs, whisked together
• Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
• Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.
2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.
3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.
4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.
10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.
12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.
Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping.
Homemade marshmallows:

• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 cup light corn syrup
• 3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
• 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 2 egg whites , room temperature
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
6. Transfer to a pastry bag.
Chocolate glaze:
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil1. Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.

Out there it's more than 35ºC (95ºF) so chocolate melts easily...

Cookies were made two weeks ago, and it stored quite well. Dough was a little dry and broke when cut in half but the taste was really nice.

Milan Cookies
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Serves: about 3 dozen cookies

• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar
• 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons lemon extract
• 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
• Cookie filling, recipe follows
Cookie filling:
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 orange, zested

1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.
7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.
8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.
10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

My impression: Milan Cookies were much tastier and easier to make in my opinion. Mashmallow cookies were nice, but not impressive, they took much more time to make than milan cookies and as I had to store them in the fridge due to the heat mashmallow turned very hard.

Apple and Cinnamon Strudel

Another month, another Daring Bakers Challenge. After a month of forced break (I missed April challenge, though I'll try to make it in the near weeks), I'm back to the group with this delicious dessert.

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

Here you have the recipe used by Linda and Courtney (my little changes in red):

Preparation time
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes – 3 hours 30 minutes
15-20 min to make dough
30-90 min to let dough rest/to prepare the filling
20-30 min to roll out and stretch dough
10 min to fill and roll dough
30 min to bake
30 min to cool

Apple strudel
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers
(I halved all the ingredients)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum
3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs
strudel dough (recipe below)
1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts (I didn't use walnuts - the ones I had were stale, so I had to throw them out, and as I baked this on a Saturday night I couldn't go to buy new ones)
2 pounds (900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)

1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely. (I missed out this point; instead I put the apple together with the raisin, the cinnamon , the sugar and the rum to cook for about ten minutes, and made an apple compote)
3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Spread the walnuts about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts. (I spread the compote instead directly to the dough)
4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter (I just brushed the top with the syrup from the compote, instead of using the butter).
5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

Strudel dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers
(ingredients were halved)
1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.
2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).
3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.
4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it's about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

I have to say this was a very funny challenge, though I had to repeat twice the process of stretching, as dough was breaking all the time. I 'm not sure if halving the ingredients had something to do with that, but obviously I did something wrong.

To prove that, this independent bit of dough, yummy though.

These are the only two pictures I have. I was so immersed in preparing everything I completly forgot to take pictures of the whole process. No pictures of the cuts neither. On Sunday I went to a diner at my parent's place and remembered to take the strudel, but forgot my camera.

Thanks Courtney and Linda for this challenge. I'll repeat it soon.

Back with a new challenge: Daring Cooker's Gnocchi

I'm back from non-blogging life, I missed this sooo much. Some expected changes did come sloooooowly and others simple didn't.

And I happy my first recipe here is from the brand new Daring Cooks challenge, though I'm a bit late I know...

As some of you already know, and if not I tell you, the great group The Daring Bakers released a brand new web a couple of months ago (The Daring Kitchen). And in a kitchen you bake, but you do cook also, so this month a new group is born: The Daring Cooks.

Lis from La Mia Cucina and Ivone from Cream Puffs from Venice the founders are the proud hosts of the very first Daring Cooks challenge: Ricotta Gnocchi...

This time though I've chosen the alternative challenge, so I cooked vegan Gnocchi di Patate. I did this recipe for a lunch I had last week with some vegetarian friends, one of them has soy allergy. My first idea was to use tofu instead of ricotta, but then remembered my friend's allergy so I opted for traditional gnocchi.

I want to thank Shelly from Musings From The Fishbowl for her piece of advice.

Here's my gnocchi recipe (I used a recipe from Italian web Vegan 3000)

What (serves 4 or 5):
- 1 kg potatoes
- 300 gr wheat flour
- salt

  • Peel the potatoes (cut them in pieces if they're big potatoes)
  • Boil potato pieces in salted water.
  • Drain and cool them, and mash with a potato masher.
  • Add flour slowly and hand mix until you get a compact dough. Take care not to add to much flour, as dough will be very difficult to work with.
  • Slice the dough and roll every slice until you get a long and thin roll.
  • Cut every roll in small dices.
  • Bring the water back to the boil and drop the gnocchi into the water one by one.
  • Once they float to the top, cook them for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon.

I served my gnocchi with an almond spicy sauce (crush some almonds, and mix with some olive oil and some drops of spicy oil)

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