bread

French bread

Baked, Basics

Spanish version

One of the most relaxing things for me is making bread, that almost magical power of turning dust into a bread loaf, beso des, The bread Is so esas to do and so versatile that is worth trying at least once.

Bread making has it’s tricks to have soft crumbs or thick crusts, and we’ll be experiencing on different recipes

This french bread recipe originally uses fresh yeast, which is the one used at the bakery, however, the san francisco baking institute recommends the substitution with instant yeast using 40% of the weight of the fresh one on the recipe. I’m providing you with both in case you use one or the other.

This French bread recipe is basic and easy to do, once you are used to handling the dough you can begin experimenting with herbs, spices or different kind of flours

INGREDIENTS

7 cups all propose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons salt
7 tablespoons slated butter
1 oz fresh yeast or 2 tablespoons of instant yeast
3 tablespoons powder milk
2 cups lukewarm water

PREPARATION

In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients including yeast

Add the butter and mix

Add water and mix the ingredients until incorporate

Pour over a slightly floured surface and knead until having a soft and elastic dough

Grease the bowl with butter or spray with cooking spray, bring the dogh back to the bowl and cover with a damp cloth for approximately 90 to 120 minutes until it double the size

Pressing with your fist deflate the dough and separate in 2, 4 or 6 portions, depending on the size of the loaf you want.

Extend the dough with a pin over the surface for a little less that half inch thick, fold I to a cylinder without pressing too much for baguette type loafs or fold the corners to the inside and turn it over for a rounded loaf.

Grease a baking sheet and put the loafs separated enough, cover them with the damp cloth until triple the size (approximately 2 hours)

Preheat the oven to 400 °F

Using water spray, spray some water over the loafs, with a very sharp knife cut lines over the loafs and bake them for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

To obtain thicker crusts spray 3 or 4 times with water while on the oven (win 4 minutes intervals)

Remove from the oven and let them cool for at least 90 minutes before cutting.

Nutella cookies

Nutella Cookies

Desserts, Easy to make

Spanish Version

Nutella is a delicious chocolate-hazelnut spread, however, it has a high sugar and fat content, that’s why it has to be eaten carefully.

The ingredients list for April 2014 are:

Sugar, being the first ingredient it can be estimated to higher than 55%

Vegetable oil, The vegetable oil is palm oil, a semi-solid fat that’s needed to give Nutella its spreadable texture. Ferrero says at their website that they were using a hydrogenated oil until a couple of years ago but switched to palm oil to cut back on the trans fat in 2006. Palm oil is free of trans fat but is still high in saturated fat so it’s not good for you.

Hazelnuts (13%) being one of the product promises, the European community forces to producers to specify the quantity on the product. The hazelnuts offer that delicious nutty taste.

Cocoa powder (7,4%), for the same reason of the hazelnuts we know the actual content on the formula, cocoa is rich on antioxidants which bring color and a the chocolate taste.

Nonfat milk solids (8,7%), it’s added to increase the protein levels and keep on with the promess of the product that contains milk.

Emulsifier, it uses soy lecithin, a common emulsifier that keeps the sugar, oil, nuts and cocoa nicely blended and stops them separating out during the months on the shelves.

Flavour, it’s used vanillin, which is an artificial flavor and aroma mix that imitates vanilla, but is less expensive to use.

Resuming Nutella is a 30% oil and 55 % sugar mix with some nuts! and chocolate.

Justly because that oil and sugar mix it s a great base to make cookies, Nutella substitutes fat and sugar, so with all this said:

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 cup flour
1 egg

PREPARATION

Preheat the oven at 360 °F
In a bowl mix all the ingredients until make an uniform dough.
Separate the dough into small discs depending on the size you want the cookie, and place the on a cookie sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes
Remove from oven, let them cool and enjoy.

Protein Corn Pancakes

Maseca® and Protein Corn Pancakes

Easy to make, Healthy

Spanish Version

I waked up this morning willing to try a different thing for breakfast, so I made this protein pancakes to kickstart my metabolism, it just took me 5 minutes so it’s really easy to do.

Yield: 2 pancakes (for 1 portion)

INGREDIENTS

3 egg whites, from large eggs

1/3 cup Maseca® Nixtamalized corn flour

1/8 teaspoon (a pinch) of sea salt 

1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

1 Tablespoon Corn oil for the griddle

PREPARATION

On a bowl whisk the egg until liquid and very foamy white color

add the corn flour, baking powder and salt and whisk until have al well mixed.

It’s a very thick batter, not so liquid

On a Medium-High temperature griddle spray some oil and spread half of the batter with a spoon.

Cook each pancake first on a side, until having small bubbles, then flip it and cook the other side for a few seconds.

Serve warm with some Honey, or sugarless marmalade, and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts (aprox)
Calories 375
Carbs 30 g
Protein 21 g
Fat 15 g
Sodium 387 mg
Sugar 1 g

Ají dulce venezolano

Ají dulce

Ingredients, Venezuelan Food

Spanish Version

The “ají dulce” represents one of the main flavors in the Venezuelan cuisine, it’s a pepper variety that is mostly found in the Caribbean and part of South America. In Venezuela it’s cultivated in different regions obtaining different varieties.

This aji dulce belong to the Capsicum family, and existing different species on this genre, C. annuum, C. frutescens and C. chinense, which have adapted to the regional conditions; originally cultivated at the east of the country and traveling from there to the mid west.

So the varieties are mostly known from their regional origins:

Eastern Aji dulce (aji dulce oriental) a variety of the Capsicum chinense

From the east you can find the “Aji pepón”, which is a variety with close to none heat, balloon shaped with green colors at early stages and red, purple or yellow when ripe.

You may also find the “ají Rosa”, belonging from the surroundings of Maturín city, it’s the most popular one, with longer shape thicker, rugged skin and red when ripe, from the apex grow the edges resembling a rose flower.

From Cumaná city you may find the “Jobito”, named for its resemble to the “yellow mombin” fruit which is named in Spanish jobo. It’s smaller, rounded and with thicker and smooth skin that turns yellow when ripe.

From the Mid west flat lands you will find the “Ají dulce llanero” or “llanerón”, a variety of the Capsicum annuum. Which is grown at the Venezuelan Flat lands, presenting longer fruits with orange or red colors when ripe, it’s taste is intense and fragrant and it may contain some heat, however when the plant has too much heat must be discarded.
 

The heat on the sweet peppers.

The sweet peppers, aswell most of the capsicum family, has a substance that produces heat called Capsaicin which is the defense mechanism that the plant uses agains the plages, on all the peppers there is always some level of this component, but as it content increase will present fruits with more heat, turning the sweet peppers into chili peppers.

Normally the capsaicin it’s presented at the placenta, which is the place that contains the seeds and removing that part of the fruit you can extract most of the capsaicin, I normally cut the top, the seeds and the endocarp (the opaque internal membrane) leavin the pulp exposed and ready to use.

Health benefits.

The aji ducles contain many bio active substances, the most known is the capsaicin, that stimulates the blood circulation, helps to regulate temperature and has anestesic properties. The aji dulce has an significant caloric content (for each 100 grams, calories 46, fat: 6 g, Protein: 19g), it contains water, fiber and vitamins C, E, A, B1, B2, B3, B6, it also possess minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and calcium, and also folic acid, carotene and beta-carotene.

The Venezuelan chef Helena Ibarra, confesses to writer Mayte Navarro that one of the secrets to the preparation of the (Venezuelan) “sofrito criollo” is to have in mind that the ingredients at different, so the cooking time can’t be the same between the garlic and the aji dulce, so they must be cooked separately. “The are sautéed by separate and then bridged together, this way the aji dulce keeps it’s perfume and it’s not contaminated by the garlic”.

 

Sources (all in Spanish)

Agrotecnologia Tropical Cultivo del Ají Dulce – Ing. Fernando Hernández – 

Mayte Navarro, El Ají, Article for diario el universal May 5th 2012 

Juan C. Ohep G. La producción de ají dulce en el Oriente del país, Fonaiap divulga No.18 mayo 1985

 

Oatmeal chocolate-nut muffins

Oatmeal chocolate nut muffins

Desserts, Healthy

Spanish version

Muffins instead of cupcakes, are relatively healthy. It’s not too sweet, is perhaps made with whole wheat flour or some fiber content, and is more likely to be loaded with fruit than candy. A muffin can also be savory instead of sweet. The texture is usually dryer and slightly denser than cupcakes.

With all this said, This oatmeal-nut-muffins turned out to be delicious, mostly because anything with chocolate on it -on this case 70% cacao dark chocolate – it’s delicious! Toasted oats and nuts bring a fragrant great texture, a great source of fiber, which make it a complete pre-training snack.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/4 cup milk

1/3 cup rolled oats, toasted lightly

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted lightly

80 grams 70% cocoa chocolate, chopped

Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less.

PREPARATION

In a pan over mid-high place the oatmeal and nuts, heat and stir constantly until a slight toast, this will bring up flavor and aroma, then pour on a colander an sift to remove excessive dust, and let it cool down.

Preheat oven to  400 °F, and place rack on the middle.

In a bowl whisk together the flour, the sugar, the baking powder, and the salt.

In another bowl whisk together the egg, the butter, and the milk, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the mixtures are just combined. 

Stir in the oats, the walnuts, and the chocolate chips. 

Divide the batter among 6 paper-lined 1/2-cup muffin tins and bake the muffins  for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean, this may be complicated the first time around because chocolate will be melted, so try to prick on the batter side.

Transfer the muffins to a rack, let them cool you may serve them warm.

Nutritional facts (approximated for each muffin)

Calories 326

Carbs 33 g

Fat 20 g

Protein 6 g

Sodium 200 mg

Sugar 13 g

Pumpkin Risotto

Pumpkin Risotto

Easy to make, Main Course

Spanish Version

Risotto Is a kinda new thing for me, first time I did it back in 2012, it I was afraid to mess it up, it turned out to be really easy to do, flavor riched and very versatile.

This is a basic recipe, you can swap the pumpkins for pretty much another vegetable, change the broth, or even herbs and spices.

INGREDIENTS

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves thinly chopped
2 cups diced peeled pumpkin (fresh)
2 cups arborio rice
5 cups low sodium low fat beef stock
1 cup of dry red wine
Leaves from 1 sprig or thyme
1 Rosemary sprig
1/4 cup scales of parmigiano reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons of butter
Kosher Salt
Ground black pepper

 
PREPARATION

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over high heat and sweat the onions until soft, once clear add the garlic. Add the pumpkin and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 8 minutes. 

Add the rice, stirring with a wooden spoon to make sure each kernel is coated with oil. Add 3 cups of the broth, the thyme leaves, rosemary sprig and a dash of salt.  Bring slowly to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. As the broth is absorbed, add wine and more broth gradually and 


Cook the rice until it is slightly al dente and most of the broth has been absorbed. The rice should be creamy. This should take about 18 minutes. 


If you don’t have a dairy restriction, finish the risotto stiring 2 tablespoons of butter and some thin scales of Pamesan cheese. 


Sprinkle with pepper before serving.

plated Tequeños

Tequeñón and Watermelon Juice – Taste of my childhood

Venezuelan Food

Spanish Version

Going through my childhood flavors I clearly remember the weekend’s breakfast off the house, my mother took me to this joint and I always choose a “tequeñon” with watermelon juice.

There are a few articles about its origin but there is no unanimity or document that can prove its birth and everything is just based on interpretations or anecdotes without no historical support. According to the professor Rafael Cartay, el tequeño is “an appetizer or a deep fried finger food with a cylindrical shape made out with a white semi-hard cheese stick wrapped in a weath flour dough. That is believed to be invented at Los Teques.

By the XIX century, Los Teques was a very exclusive area for vacations to the most wealthy families in Caracas, and since it beginnings the Tequeño was served as a side dish or finger food. In Venezuela there is no party with no tequeños, so people call them “the party kings”.

According to the Venezuelan food writer Miro Popic, the Teques’ story is not quite like that. He found out that professor Jose Rafael Lovera found a neighborhood in Caracas, called “barrio el teque” where once they caught a burglar and when he was confronted he said he was buying some cheese pastries, that could have become the “tequeños”.

Popic have also found a story about it being created in the Zulia state, a western state in Venezuela mostly dairy producers, by an Italian immigrant named Franco. This story might have sense because a tequeño is a deep fried cheese stick covered in dough, and with all the dairy farms and the deep frying culture of people from there, it can actually be certain. They said they used a white fresh cheese called “queso de matera” or flower pot cheese that has enough consistency to stand high temperatures and keep the structure.

So here it is, there is many origins for the same one, but anyway, it’s a very tasty snack.

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup corn oil
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of milk
2 1/2 cups of all propose flour
2 lbs of white cheese such as farmers cheese.
Sufficient oil for deep frying

PREPARATION

In a saucepan mix all the liquid ingredients and warm it up and beat until create an emulsion without boiling.

In a big bowl sift the four and shape a vulcano in the middle.

Pour the warm liquid in the middle of the flour and fold it until having a uniform dough, knead it a couple of mitutes and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile cut the chese into 1/2 inch by 3 inches for small tequeños and 1 by 6 inches for larger ones.

Assembly

Once the dough is rested, extend it with a rolling pin until getting it very thin (1/16 inch). Then cut it into 2 inches stripes for the larger ones and 1/2″ for the snack size ones.

To assembly them put the cheese stick and fold it over with the dough, once folded in both sides cut the stripe and cover all the stick in a spiral so there is no cheese uncovered.

Once done set aside on a platter covered with flour and move to the next one, the tequeños can be done ahead and frozen up to a month.

Cooking

In a frying pan heat the oil and fry the tequeños until golden, set aside on a paper towel to absorb the extra oil.

If you want to bake them introduce them in the preheated oven on 350 °F until golden for 15-20 minutes, then carefully let them rest for a few minutes and enjoy.

Reina pepiada arepa

Reina pepiada

Venezuelan Food
Talking of Venezuelan food without mention the arepa, just has no sense.
The arepa is the excellence food for the Venezuelan, it’s used at any time as main course, side dish or even sweet snack. The consumption it’s calculated at 3,5 arepas/day/Venezuelan, reason why there exist a lot of recipes for preparations and fillings.
The “reina pepiada” it’s a classic on the Venezuelan areperas (a food joint mostly driven by the consumption of  arepas with a variety of fillings), it’s been said they was named in honor of a beauty queen of the 50’s. In my case I remember my first retina pepiada at one “arepera” at the “el rosal” neighborhood in Caracas, when I was 8 years old on one of those long entertainment days with my mother, the recipe seems simple, a chicken salad arepa with avocado, but it’s the complexity of the salad what makes it unique and delicious.
 
One of the things that allow me to share this recipe is that the main ingredient for the preparation of the arepas, the precooked corn flour, can be found in more than 32 countries in the world under the brand P.A.N., so there is no excuses to do them.
INGREDIENTS
Filling

  • 2  skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 12 oz)
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley minced
  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup seeded and smally dice dried bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1 scallion, white and green parts, finely chopped

Arepas

  • 3 1/2 cups lukewarm water.
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups precooked corn flour (I use white corn P.A.N. corn flour)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon corn oil, plus more for the griddle
PREPARACIÓN

Filling

Place the chicken breasts and onion in a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1 inch, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil over medium heat, once boiling reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the saucepan and let cool completely so can be handled by hand and then tear it into shreds.
Mash the avocado, mayonnaise, and vinegar together in a medium bowl with a fork until smooth. Stir in the cilantro, parsley, jalapeno, and garlic, then add the chicken, red pepper, red onion, and scallion and mix together. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more vinegar to give the filling a pleasant, but not sour, tang. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Arepas
In a bowl dissolve the salt into the  3 cups lukewarm water. Gradually add 3 cups precooked corn flour, mixing with your fingers to dissolve any lumps, adding enough to make a soft dough that holds its shape without cracking when molded.
Set dough aside to rest for 5 minutes then add the oil and work it in with your hands, if needed add more corn flour or water to keep the dough to the proper consistency.
Divide the dough into 6 equal portions, shape them into a 4-inch diameter patties, about 1 inch thick. Transfer to a baking sheet.Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Lightly oil a large nonstick skillet or griddle and heat over medium heat.In batches, place the arepas in the griddle.
Cook until the underside is golden brown, about 4 minutes, the patties must be loose from the griddle.
Turn and brown the other side. Return arepas to the baking sheet.
When all of the arepas are browned, transfer them directly to the oven rack (without the baking sheet). Bake until the surfaces of the arepas have formed a taut skin, return the arepas to the baking sheet and let them cool a little bit.
Split each arepa in half and fill with the chicken mixture. Serve warm.
Washed mulberries ready to eat

Mulberry Pie

Desserts
In my country, Venezuela, there up is just a few varieties of berries in the Morus realm, they have the “tree blackberries” (Morus insignis) and the “fesamora” this last ones, the most comun and known by the people just as “moras”, are a variety of the Morus, the Morus alba or white mulberry.
 
The fruits are small and more acidic than a black berry, this acidic taste resembles the strawberry and therefore that calls it’s name “fresh mora”, the main use of the white mulberry trees is to feed the silkworms with the leaves, they only eat those leaves, so the fruit is all for us.
 
This pie is a recipe that has a flaky crust and brings out the flavor of this delicious fruit.
INGREDIENTS
Dough:
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115 g) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup frozen non-hydrogenated solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
  • 5 tablespoons (or more) ice water
Filling
  • 1lb mulberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
PREPARATION
Pie crust:

Mix the flour, sugar and salt on the food processor.

Add the butter and shortening using the on and off switch, until obtaining a corse meal.
 
Transfer this meal into a large bowl and add the iced water one spoonful at the time,mixing with a fork until moist crumbs form.

Note: if you are using instead of butter or shortening margarine, then you may need less water, and depending of the climate and local temperature you may need more water.

Gather dough together; divide into 2 equal pieces. 
Form each piece into ball; flatten into half inch disks and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 30 minutes.
Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let soften slightly before rolling.
Baking the Pie

Preheat oven to 350 °F

Once chilled the dough, extend with a rolling pin over a slightly floured surface, until having a thin dough that covers the whole pie dish, I particularly like the ones with removable bottom.

Put the dough over the pie dish and pinch the bottom with a fork so the hot air won’t make air bubbles. 

Cover with foil paper and use pie wights, if you don’t have you can use raw beans or chickpeas, this will help the crust to stay down.

Put it on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and let it cool down for no more than 10 minutes, meanwhile, in a bowl toss the berries with the sugar without harming the mulberries.

Pour the frute mis over the crust and place it back to the oven for another 20 minutes or until the filling is bubbling 

Remove from oven and let it cool, serve it by itself or with yogurt, or ice cream or whipped cream.

Daniel Quintero

So it begins!

Editorial

This is the first post if this blog, my idea is to create awareness on healthy eating, present recipes made from scratch, offer information about ingredients and how to create dishes promoting those flavors.
I like to be informed on what is on my food, so I’m gonna share that info with you.

I call it Cooking with a View because with every recipe I will share my point of view, sometimes it can be sweet some others a little bit sour, but that’s the good of cooking.

I love baking, so you if you follow this blog you may find the joy of baking, aswell desserts and healthy food, now get your taste buds ready and let’s have fun!