Raspberry Cheesecake

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July is almost over. It was a month of many changes, but it was also a month that brought lot of calm. It was a month of reconciliations,  discoveries, a lot of thought on life… it was a month of many fruits and vegetables harvest. In resume, it was a great month!

The first days were dedicated to moving from my old apartment and the organization of the new house. I took some rest on the following days. Thereafter, I just felt that I need to cook more often and make peace with the blog. By mid-July, I had already discovered a lot of beautiful places and stores in my new quartier. We had a lot of fresh air, flowers and fruits. It is the fruit picking season and I picked a lot of blueberries, corn, tomatoes, strawberries and raspberries.
The last weekend of the month could not be different. I had two bucolic, hot and rainy days. I picked some raspberries on Saturday morning and visited some farms on Île d’Orléans. And finally, I made this beautiful and delicious cheesecake. Simple things, but definitely are those that deserve to be lived!

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The cheesecake, as well as my weekend, was perfect! It is rich, luscious and creamy, delicately tangy and paired with a raspberry coulis, which gives to the cheesecake a scent of fresh fruit. It has well balanced flavors for sure. It is a winning dessert and I could not ask for anything … just another day and desserts like that.

Finally, I took some pictures of my walk through the Île d’Orléans for you to know a little more of Québec. 🙂 I hope you like it!

Bon appétit!

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Preparation time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 60-70 minutes
Resting time: At least 6 hours
Makes 8-10 servings

Ingredients for the crust
1-1/2 cup finely ground graham crackers
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Ingredientes for the raspberry coulis
200 grams raspberries
2 tablespoons sugar

Ingredients for the cream cheese filling
750 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
1-1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
4 large eggs, at room temperature

  1. Preheat oven to 175ºC/350ºF. Wrap exterior of a 9-inch springform pan (including base) in a double layer of foil; set aside.
  2. For the base: Stir together cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium bowl. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom of pan. Bake until set, about 10 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 160ºC/325ºF.
  3. For the cream cheese filling: Put the zest of the lemon into a large bowl and add the sugar. Using your fingertips, work the ingredients together until the sugar is moist and aromatic.
  4. Put cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add sugar in a slow, steady stream. Add salt, vanilla and lemon juice; mix until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing each until just combined (do not overmix). Pour cream cheese filling over crust.
  5. Set cake pan inside a large, shallow roasting pan. Transfer to oven. Carefully ladle boiling water into roasting pan to reach halfway up sides of cake pan. Bake until cake is set but still slightly wobbly in center, 60 to 70 minutes.
  6. Transfer cake pan to rack; let cake cool completely. Refrigerate, uncovered, 6 hours or overnight. Before unmolding, run a knife around edge of cake.
  7. For the raspberry coulis: Process raspberries in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pass puree through a fine sieve into a small bowl; discard solids. Whisk in sugar. Cover the cheesecake with the raspberry coulis and serve it along with some fresh raspberries.

Storing: The cheesecake can be stored in the fridge up to 2-3 days.

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Zucchini, Tomato & Goat Cheese Polenta Tart

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It is 23h24, I am baking a cheesecake and thinking how I’m going to tell you that I’m trying to change my eating habits a bit, but at the same time that this week we will have a lot of desserts here. I’m already contradicting myself from the beginning of the post, but it’s true, I have really been trying to adopt a healthier diet cutting some meat out, specially red meat.

First of all, I still have no immediate plans to adopt a vegetarian diet – although I sympathize with the idea – and no, I did not stop like a good rare steak or a slice of that parma ham that melts in your mouth, not even ! The fact is that I have tried to decrease the amount of this type of protein in my menu for several reasons. And even if discreetly, I am managing to do it.
As I’m finding plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits at the local market, it has helped and inspired me a lot in this new resolution. And at the end, I’m not missing eating red meat at all. Over the past 20 days I ate salmon twice, scallops on last Wednesday and that’s it. It might be a phase … I don’t know. But the truth is that I am very well, thank you!

So, without this appetite for meat, I get  this recipe published by Patricia Scarpin, in her blog Technicolor Kitchen. At the time I saw it was something I’d love to eat and I also could use the zucchini that I had bought. The best? The crust is made with polenta, which gives a more interesting flavour to the tart and it is easier to make than a standard dough, for example. It was an excellent option for my lunch and I ate it accompanied by an arugula salad tossed with some balsamic vinegar. Definitely recommended!

Well, what about cutting desserts out? This is different … I’m not ready for such an important step in my life. 😀

Bon appétit!

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Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 1 hour
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients for the crust

500ml vegetable stock
140g instant polenta
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients for the filling

2 tablespoons crème fraîche
50g goat cheese
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced into thin slices
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Shaves of Parmesan cheese
Olive oil

  1. Start by making the polenta crust: bring the vegetable stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan and pour the polenta into the water. Keep your pan over a low heat and, using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture constantly, thrashing out any lumps that try to form. Cook your polenta following the package instructions.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the butter and Parmesan and stir until they have disappeared. Cool for 5 minutes, then stir through the beaten egg and season with salt and pepper. Let cool slightly – in the meatime, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
  3. Lightly grease a tart pan with olive oil. Put the polenta in the centre and, using a spatula or oiled fingers, gently tease it up the sides of the pan to create the sides of the crust.
  4. Smother a thin layer of crème fraîche over the base of your tart and top with goat cheese. On top of the cheese, alternate slices of zucchini and tomato. Finish with the thyme leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.
  5. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 45 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180°C/350°F and bake for a further 15 minutes. Remove and allow the tart to cool for 5-10 minutes, finish with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle some olive oil.

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Brazilian Flan, aka Pudim

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The days have dawned grey and wet. The desire to stay late in bed has chased me, but singing birds and my adorable dog, Praliné, keep forcing me to get up earlier and enjoy life, even if it will be indoors and watching the rain fall outside.

My neighbours have complained a lot about the temperature those days. It’s summer! We are in the most anticipated season for most of the Québecois, everyone wants to be outdoors enjoying the high temperatures, picnicking, drinking a cold beer or a glass of wine in the terraces of the city and trying to forget that the glacial temperatures arrive in less than four months. Yes, in November it starts to snow and we will be in frozen land until April. It doesn’t bother me at all, actually I do like the to see nature changing and all the colors. However, I confess that after one week of cloudy days, I’m absorbing the spirit of some locals and hoping for sunny days coming back. Anyway, c’est l’été et je veux en profiter!

Well, as claim will not do any good, it will only make the days become less pleasant, I decided to make this dessert, pudim. It is a very traditional and delicious Brazilian dessert and I actually don’t know anybody that doesn’t like it! So, the recipe is very easy to make and require no expertise in baking or cooking. You will need a blender, an oven and 2 pans. The only difference from my recipe to the one that everyone does in Brazil is the coconut.  I have included some lightly toasted coconut just to give some texture. I think it gets more interesting, you know? But if you, like my Amore, like the classics recipes, omit the coconut and enjoy this delight in the traditional way. It is good anyway even!

So that’s it folks, hope you have a beautiful Sunday!

Bon appétit!

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Preparation time: 5 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes
Makes 6 servings

Ingredientes

1 can (300g) condensed milk
450ml whole milk
2 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
1/4 cup lightly toasted coconut, optional

1 cup sugar to make the caramel

  1. Preheat oven to 170ºC.
  2. In a saucepan, cook the sugar until it is a golden brown caramel. Transfer to a round pan, cover the bottom and sides and allow to cool.
  3. In a blender, add all ingredients, except for the coconut. Blend until well combined, add the coconut and mix quickly just for combine.
  4. Transfer the mixture to the pan. Carefully ladle boiling water into a roasting pan to reach halfway up sides of  pan with the flan. Carefully transfer roasting pan to oven. Alternatively, you can set the flan pan inside the roasting pan, place it in the oven and then ladle the boiling water into the roasting pan.
  5. Bake for about 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and let reach room temperature. Refrigerate.
  6. Run a blade knife around the pan, invert over a plate and serve cold.

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Rice pudding with Strawberry & Hibiscus Syrup

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If I could put into words what rice pudding is, certainly I would say: rainy afternoons, romantic movies on TV, mother’s hugs and pyjamas! It is impossible not to associate this comfort food with lazy days when the only thing I want is not to worry about anything other than what I will eat during the day. I love days like this!

In fact, in summer times, once in a while we have a rainy afternoon here by the northern lands and some great movies on TV. I don’t have my mother here in Canada, she lives in Brazil, and I do not like being in pyjamas all day … but on the other hand, I have awesome fruits to play and to invent what I want in the kitchen. And, as the strawberries are at their peak, i had to give a destination for these berries that I had picked on a sunny Sunday earlier this month. So, I decided to prepare a syrup with them and I decided to pair it with the beautiful hibiscus flower that I’ve bought some months ago.
The rice pudding was the perfect accompaniment to the syrup. As it was raining outside, I was too  lazy to do anything outside, I thought that spend 40 minutes stirring the rice, it would be an excellent use of my time.

And it really was! This is the best rice pudding I’ve ever eaten! The rice has an excellent texture and the hibiscus and strawberry syrup beautifully complemented what was already very good! It was a really pleasant  surprise! And my lazy afternoon, became the highlight of the day with this dessert. The recipe is from Dorie Greenspan again (I loved her new book … I think it’s the third or fourth recipe that I’ve prepared this month!), And the syrup was kind of a mix of I had in the fridge and pantry. The aroma and the taste of syrup are amazing! And is marriage made in heaven with the rice pudding, it is just divine! Certainly a recipe that goes into my book of infallible recipes!

Bon appétit!

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Preparation time: Approximately 1 hour
Makes 4 servings
From Baking Chez Moi, Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere, by Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients for the Rice Pudding

3 cups water
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup Arborio rice
4 cups whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split

Ingredients for the Syrup

1 cup  water
3 tablespoon dried hibiscus flowers
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cardamom pods, crushed
1/2 tablespoon pink peppercorn
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 handful fresh raspberries

  1. Put the water in a big saucepan, add salt and bring to a boil. Ad rice and boil for about 8 minutes, then drain.
  2. Rinse the saucepan, add the milk and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pay attention to this, because the milk boils quickly. If the milk bubbles up, stir it down. Lower the heat to a simmer and stir in the rice.
  3. Scrape the pulp from de vanilla bean and add it along with the pod. Stir regularly, mostly at the beginning and towards the finish, and cook the rice for 30 to 40 minutes, until it is very tender, but yet with some texture, the pudding has thickened a little and most of the milk has been absorbed. Don’t overcook the rice and don’t let the milk reduce to much! You should have some of the milk in order to not have a stiff pudding.
  4. Discard the vanilla pod. Divide de pudding into 4 ramekins, cover with a pice of plastic film, pressing it against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate.

To make the syrup:

  1. In a big saucepan, bring the water to a boil, add sugar, the hibiscus flowers, the cardamom pods, and the pink peppercorns. Cover the pan and allow  the mixture to steep for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Strain the mixture, transfer to the pan, add the strawberries and raspberries and cook in a low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring once in a while. Remove the pan from heat and cool to room temperature.
  3. Server the syrup with the rice pudding.

Storing: The rice pudding will keep tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. The syrup will keep, in a covered container, for up to 1 week.

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Baked Buffalo Mozzarella with Tomato Sauce and Pine Nuts

IMG_9769This summer, among many other things,  brought me the pleasure of reading my cookbooks and consequently gave me back the pleasure of cooking – not that it had been lost, but it was somewhat abandoned among many other daily activities.

So, as my vacation time is in its peaks, I’m spending my time creating new recipes, reproducing those that were already in my “to do list” – but somewhat forgotten, focusing on learning new techniques, and of course, I find an excuse to say that every day is a special occasion and then I must prepare a beautiful dish in order to celebrate! I have done so and it has worked perfectly! I celebrate the high temperatures with a lighter dish, I celebrate the achieved goals with a glass of good wine, I celebrate the fact be getting the most cherished visits with a beautiful dessert and finally I celebrate the simple fact of cooking with a simple but absolutely delicious dish!

Well, this is one of those dishes that you prepare in less than five minutes (if the sauce is ready) and, 20 minutes later, you will have a rustic and simple meal, but packed with flavour. Definitely delicious! The idea of this dish came from a TV broadcast with Nigel Slater that I saw some time ago … I do not remember exactly how he set up the dish, but I just remember the ripe tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and those beautiful pieces of buffalo mozzarella melting in front of me. Besides the fact that the dish looked extremely tasty, it caught my attention for its simplicity, celebration of fresh and high quality ingredients that we can find in this season. Perfect for a quick lunch!
Well, in addition to being served as a main dish, I think it  would be nice to serve smaller portions as an appetizer … Maybe served with  a freshly baked olive loaf and good glass of red wine. It is for sure a fantastic way to start, or maybe even finish a meal.

Definitely  recommended!

Bon appétit!

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Baking time: 20 minutes
Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

2 small buffalo mozzarella (about 125gm each)
250ml fresh tomato sauce
2 tablespoons pine nuts
Fresh basil
Olive oil
Fresh ground pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (400ºF).
  2. Dived the tomato sauce in 2 ramekins, add pepper and olive oil to taste. Arrange the mozzarella ball, the pine nuts and drizzle again with some drops of olive oil.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the sauce has thickened.
  4. Sprinkle some fresh basil and serve with slices of bread.