Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Aletria: Portuguese Noodle Pudding

I considered telling the story of a woman and her granddaughter cooking together, sharing a moment, creating a bond, bridging the generation gap, and making up for lost time. But let's be honest here...at 84 years old, isn't it time to sit back, relax, have a cup of coffee, and let someone cook for you?!

My 84 year old grandmother (Vovó) from Portugal, recently here for an extended visit, was the inspiration for this post. Though we've had few visits throughout my adult life, I hold fond memories of our visits as a child...the snap dragons in her garden, the "giant" pine tree in her yard, the curtains hiding shelves of mystery in her basement, the blown glass (that we dared not touch) in her living room, the stacks and stacks (and stacks) of A Bola in the den, and the dish of aletria in the fridge ~made just for ME! (Well, my cousin Tina always had one too, so ~made just for us!) Sweet noodle pudding always decorated with a perfect diamond pattern of cinnamon...mmm!

Trust me on this one!

Aletria (Gil's Portuguese Recipes)

8 cups of milk ( 1/2 gallon)
6 eggs
1and 1/2 cups of sugar
1 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of vanilla extract
1 ( 12oz) Pkg. of fine egg noodles

Pour milk into a large pan. Bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 of the sugar and the salt to the milk. Beat the eggs then add the rest of the sugar and all the vanilla to the egg mixture. Slowly blend some heated milk into the eggs to make them thin enough to pour easily. Break the noodles up and add them to the boiling milk. Stir constantly until the noodles are cooked. Remove from the heat. Slowly add egg mixture into the cooked noodles mixture. Pour into platters to cool. Sprinkle with cinnamon. 

As for the story of the woman and her granddaughter...

Moments were shared, bonds were created, gaps were bridged, and as her eyes filled with tears when she whispered her goodbyes, and the sobs grew louder as the door shut behind us, the lost time seemed so very insignificant. New memories had been made.

We'll miss you Vovó!

Oh, and BTW, she gave my aletria 2 thumbs up (with a pinch more salt next time)! ;)


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Crumb Coat Cakes: Painter's Palette

My pipeline is plentiful, the recipes are piling up...my time, however, is a bit more scarce. Cakes kept me busy this weekend. Very, very busy! And though the kitchen got trashed, and the laundry...ignored (not different from any other day, but it's a good excuse), I enjoyed every minute of it. So other than another quick plug for Sylvia Weinstock's vanilla cake recipe, no new recipes today...just a fun cake to share.

A special cake for a creative little girl! Happy Birthday A!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes


Yes, I AM on the cupcake bandwagon...the perfect portion, your own personal dessert, and so many possibilities...how can't you be?!

I may not be ready for the set of Cupcake Wars just yet (love that show), using ingredients like wasabi, Dr. Pepper, and flax seed, but I sure do enjoy using more traditional flavor combinations to create these sweet little treats.

Lemon Meringue Pie Cupcakes
Lemon Cake Recipe (Food Network, Diner Desserts by Tish Boyle)
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large whole eggs, at room temperature
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup whole milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake tins with paper liners.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir together the dry ingredients with a whisk. Set aside.

3. In an electric stand mixer, using the paddle attachment or beaters, beat the butter on medium speed for about 30 seconds, or until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, increase the speed to medium-high, and continue to beat until the mixture is light, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. Add the whole eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and lemon zest. Reduce the speed to low and gradually beat in he lemon juice (the batter will appear curdled at this point, but will smooth out after you add the dry ingredients).

Beat in the dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another 10 seconds.

*Here's my optional modification...for a lighter cake, beat and fold the 3 left over egg whites into the batter. (as I said, this is optional...sometimes I do, sometimes I don't...this time I didn't)

5. Scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake tins. Bake for 18-20 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Makes approx. 30 cupcakes.

Let me make this easy for you...store bought!

Or, if you're feeling somewhat ambitious, make your own. I love Alton Brown's lemon curd recipe, but found that something a bit lighter (more of a pie filling consistency) works best with these cupcakes...it is a matter of taste though, isn't it? For my next batch, I'll be trying the lemon filling found with the original Diner Desserts recipe. It makes complete sense, not sure why I haven't tried it before...

Fill a pastry/icing bag, coupled with a filling tip or any other open ended tip (#10 or #12 works great) with lemon filling, insert tip into the center of cupcake and gently squeeze the bag until you see filling rising through the top of the cupcake.

No pastry bag, no problem! Another way to fill them is to carve out a pocket in the center of the cupcake and spoon it in.

Meringue Topping
6 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar

Beat the egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar and beat until peaks are stiff. Pipe onto cupcakes and place in oven under a low broil until lightly browned, and trust me...DO NOT WALK AWAY!

Happy Spring!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Featured Tab...Coming Soon!

The Featured or Press tab...

A tab on the menu bar of your page that, when clicked on, will show where you or your blog has been featured. Magazines, newspapers, websites... it all counts!

Finally a cover girl! (sigh) It's about time! ;)

Yep, that's me there on the cover of that magazine! Kind of crazy, right?!

In honor of Mother's Day, I was one of 5 area moms featured in Lehigh Valley Magazine's May/June, 2011 issue. A wonderful article, written by Jennifer LoConte, gives a glimpse into the lives, purposes, and creative outlets of some "Moms With A Mission". To be featured amongst such a fabulous group of women is humbling to say the least. I am honored!

So there you have it...Featured tab coming soon! And you know what else is coming soon? The recipe to those "when life hands you lemons" lemon meringue cupcakes that I'm posing with...stay tuned!