Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Taste Of Autumn - Pear Upside-Down Cake

Pears, often considered the humble cousins of apples, are one of the most versatile fruits and have a delicate aroma and natural sweetness, talents that makes them one of the shining stars of atumn.
They belong, curiosly enough, to the rose family, that gives them a quite aristocratic family background.
There is an enourmous verity of pears grown around the world, an estimated over 3000.!
Apart from sweets they make a wonderful match with cheese, specially blue cheese.
Pears contain antioxidants and anti- inflamatory flavonoids and are rich in diaetary fiber.
So enjoy this wonderful fruit not only for its lovely taste but also for its health benefits.

Here is another elegant way to prepare them, poached and served with orange butter and lemon zest.

Or, as a sophisticated appetizer,combined with blue cheese and crunchy Prosciutto.
 Roquefort Mousse With Poached Pears 

For the Pear Upside Down Cake 
You Need:
For the topping
4 Pears, cut in medium slices
1 spoonful butter
2 spoonful brown sugar ( I prefere to use little sugar, so the natural aroma of the pears is not overwhelmed.)   

For the cake:
1 pear, peeled and diced
250g  (8.8 oz.) of flour
½ teaspoonful of baking powder
125g  (4.4 oz.) of unsalted butter
120g  (4.2 oz.)of sugar
1/8l of milk

In a large skillet, heat butter at low heat until butter has melted.

Add sugar, stir gently until sugar has melted than add sliced pears and continue cooking until pears are slightly caramelized.
Set aside.

Arrange the pear slices in a greased baking pan.

-In a large bowl, combine  the flour, butter, sugar, eggs and milk.

-Mix with a hand mixer until  smooth and fluffy.

Cover pears with cake batter, smooth with a spatula.

Preheat oven to 220CBake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a thin knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove cake from the oven and place it on a cooling track.
Let the cake cool down for some minutes (not longer, otherwise the pears will stick to the backing pan), then run a knife around the edges of the cake.
Place a cake plate over the cake and, using hot pads, flip the cake carefully over.
Gently remove thecake pan.
Et voila!

Couldn't resist :)

Serve with a small portion of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Serves 8-10P

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Corn Pie (Pastel de Choclo)

Pastel de Choclo is a classic and very popular dish of  South American cuisine.
It is made of Peruvian giant corn, also known as Choclo, an Andean corn with extra large kernels, almost 4 times bigger than the North American corn.
When I first heard about it, I thought the tale about the giant corn was slightly exagerated, but after visiting the local markets I was really impressed by its size and taste.
Corn is one of the most consumed foods in Peruvian cuisine and has been planted in this country for centuries.
According to Bernabe Cobo, a Sixteenth-century chronicler in the Inca Empier one could find corn ein every color under the sun from pale yellow to red, dark purple and black.
Still today there are almost 55 varieties of corn grown by local farmers.
Local cuisine offers a huge choice of dishes based on corn such as the Pastel de Choclo  , which we are going to prepare today., Peppian (a stew based on grated corn kernels mixed with onions, garlic, chili and a touch of fresh coriander., sweets like Humitas ( corn mashed pastries wrapped and steamed in corn husks) or the wonderful refreshing Chicha Morada, a drink made of purple corn. 
 The Amazing Purple Corn

Pastel de Choclo is a creamy, delicatley flavored dish with a wonderful combination of textures and savors.
There is as well a vegetarin version, filled with cheese instead of meat and it tastes fanatstic too.
Pastel de choclo  is easy to cook and can be prepared in advance, making it a crowd pleasing and ideal party food.

You need:
 4 cups of fresh white corn kernels
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup of soft butter
1 spoonful sugar
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the filling:
1/2 kg ground meat (beef)
1 1/2 spoonful olive oil
1 cup tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon yellow chili paste (optional)
1/2 cup raisins
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 cup black olives, stoned and roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 375 F
Blend corn kernels in a foodprocessor or blender together with the milk and soft butter.

 Add sugar, chilies and egg yolks.

 Season with salt and pepper.
Beat egg whites until soft peaks are formed, then fold carefully into the corn mixture.

 Aside, heat olive oil in a large sauce pan and saute onions and garlic until traslucent.

Add beef, chopped tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

 Then incorporate hard boiled eggs, raisins and oilves.


Grease a rectangular Pyrex and pour half the corn mixture into the pan.
 top with the meat mixture, then pour over it the remining half of the corn mixture.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.

 Serves about 6-8 P.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Herb Crusted Pork Filet

Airplane travel is nature's way to make you look like your passport photo.
I think it was Al Gore who made this statement and I couldn't agree more.
The trip from Vienna to Lima lasts door to door about 20 hours

 and after finally arriving I looked even worst than my passport picture. Believe me it is possible.
 Nowadays a good flight means probally that your plane didn't have any major delight, that you didn'tget hijacked and that you did arrive at the right airport. So you see, making passengers happy is quite easy for the airlines.
 Now we have recovered and I can't believe that it's already two weeks that we are back to Peru.
Actually, sometimes it feels as we would have never left, so fast we were back to routine.
Anyhow, looking at the bright sight of life, we have escaped the incredible heat in Europe and are emjoying an extremely mild winter in Peru, due to "El Nino"
After redirecting my kitchen GPS, I was finally able to find my way around and even found surprising kitchen items I didn't know I had.
The piles of laundry have disaapeared, luggage is stored and I was in the mood for some comfort food that is light and easy to prepare but still wakes up your taste buds and appetite.
This pork tenderloin, combined with fresh, aromatic herbs that melt together with bredcrumbs to a crispy, delicious crust is one of our family favorites, no leftovers ever.
Pork filet is one of the moste tender  and lean parts of pork meat.
Preparin it is easy and fast but keeping it moist and juicy can be tricky as it tends to try out soon when overcooked.
Just use your kitchen "Sense Ad Sensibility" and you won't be sorry to prepare this fantastic meat.

Herb Crusted Pork Filet (Tenderloin): 
1 cup of finely chopped toast bread
1\2 cup of olive oil
2 spoonful olive oil to brown the meat and seal in the juices
1 crushed garlic clove
1 spoonful Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
3\4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 spoonful finely chopped chives
2 spoonful finely chopped roesmary
1 spoonful finely chopped thyme (fresh or dried)
1 spoonful mild paprika
 Freshly ground salt and pepper

With a sharp knife rempve the white, tough membrane from the meat.

Preheat oven to 450 F (230C )

Heat the 2 spoonful of olive oil in a heavy frying pan, season the meat with salt, pepper and paprika and brown it well on all sides to seal in the juices.
 Combine chopped bread, herbs , lemon zest, mustard, crushed garlic and olive oil in a bowl.

Press herb mixture on both sides of the tender loin adhering well.

Transfer the fillet to a roasting pan. 
Roast pork fillet only 15 to 20 minutes or until just a hint of pink remains.
 Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for about 5 minutes before cutting into slices.


Serves about 4 p.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Salmorejo- Gazpacho's Creamier Cousin

While I'm writing this, I'm sitting in a lovely garden over looking the beautiful Danube region of Wachau in Lower Austria.

The last weeks have been so incredibly hot that even the Austrian country side known for its lovely landscape displaying all shades of green has slowly turned into  sad 50 shades of brown.
People try to escape the heat in the city travleing to the many lakes that surround Vienna and having a refreshing swim, even it's only after office hours.
We had literally tropical nights with temperatures far beyond any historical record.
But it's not all about heat, there are as well the joys of summer such as:
-Wonderful ice cream at our favorite Italian ice cream parlor.  Zanoni in Down Town Vienna seems quite addictive to all my family.

-A delicious Frapuccino at one of the many traditional Viennese Cafes.

 -A refreshing swim at the gorgeous "Krapfenwaldl" public swimminig pool
 -Summer nights at one of the typical Heurigen, where white wine from the latest harvest is served, together with fresh and delightful simple food and typical Viennese music.
Fuhrgasselhuber at the district of Neustift is one of our favorites.

-Enjoying my favorite book under the shadow of an old tree
And there are as well all the gastronomic pleasures of summer.
One of them is the simple, light and refreshing Salmorejo.
This wonderful iced tomatoe soup comes originally from the Spanish region of Cordoba.
Its simple elegance and perfect harmony of flavors and textures makes it an all time summer favorite.

I got this recipe from my friend Pepe, a Spanish diplomat and  foodie with a passion for the delicious plates of his home country.
When we tried the Salmorejo at his home, I got carried away by it-s fantastic taste and was astonished how simple it is to prepare.
This is why I want to share this gorgeous little summer secret with you.
Less known abroad than it's cousin Gazpacho, it is very popular in Spain and is starting to conquer the many foreign visitors to Spain as well.
This is what you need:
1 cup of day old white bread. crusts discard, cut into chunks
1 kg of ripe red tomatoes,  peeled.
1/2 a cup of excellent quality Spanish olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed ( for me, just one worked fine)
1/4 cup of Balsamico vinegar (or Sherry vinegar)
1 hard boild egg and Jamon Serrano to garnish
Coarse salt
Cut out the cores of the tomatoes and divide each tomato into four.

Blend tomatoes at high speed until creamy..
Add the bread soaked in a bit tomato juice or water, the  garlic and the vinegar. Pulse through.
Add olive oil and if necessary a bit more of water and blend just to reach a creamy texture. At the end add the vinegar and mix again.
Check the seasoning, add more oil if necessary and this wonderful summer dish is ready.
Garnish with chopped hard boiled egg and chopped Jamon Serrano,

Serves 4 larger or 6 small p.
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