Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies

My boys are crazy about chocolate. I only began to make cookies few months ago. I love cooking and during COVID-19 times, I have used my extra time at home to expand my cooking repertoire. Although we have a sweet tooth, we don’t like overly sweet deserts. I usually end up “taming” the amount of sugar in the recipes.

For today, I wanted to make chocolate chunk cookies, because I ran out of chocolate chips. I have good quality semisweet baking chocolate bars, and I wanted to use them.

I mixed two recipes, one by Martha Stewart, and one by Denay DeGuzman ending with the perfect treat for my boys. They are not too sweet, and I got to use what I have in my pantry. Enjoy!

Yield: 3 dozen cookies
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 90 minutes

Ingredients

Butter | 1 cup/226 grams

Good quality semisweet cooking chocolate | 100 grams

Good quality semisweet cooking chocolate in small chunks | 300 grams

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder | 2/3 cup

Brown Sugar | ½ cup

Granulated Sugar | ½ cup

Baking Soda | 1 tsp

Salt | a pinch

Eggs | 2

All-purpose flour | 2 ½ cups

Vanilla Extract | 1 tbs

Optional to decorate: White Chocolate Chips/Chunks

Directions

  • Melt the 100 grams of chopped chocolate with the butter in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water or the microwave (if you use a microwave, make sure you use a low setting and cover the bowl). Let the mix cook for few minutes.
  • Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
  • Transfer chocolate mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla; mix on medium speed until combined. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.
  • If you have a bread hook attachment, switch to that one, add the chocolate chunks to the mix.
  • With an ice cream scoop, make the cookies on baking sheets covered with parchment paper or baking mats. Refrigerate the cookie balls for at least 30 minutes.
  • While the cookies are in the refrigerator, preheat your oven to 170C/350F (mine takes about 10 minutes).
  • Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. They will be set in the edges and soft in the middle. Let them cool for at least 5 minutes before you transfer them to a cooling rack.
  • Optional: You can add white chocolate chips after baking and swirl them with a toothpick for a melting effect.

Vegeterian Enchiladas

Greetings from cloudy, rainy, and foggy Cabo da Roca!

I love living in the westernmost point of Continental Europe, but three weeks under the clouds can get even to me (and I am an Andes mountain girl). In days like these, my husband and I like warm meals … hearty meals, and very few things can beat the taste of melting cheese over a wrap filled with glorious beans with a touch of spice.

Few months ago I came across the Bean and Cheese Vegetarian Enchiladas from Food & Wine, and it is a keeper! However, you need to know your spices. The “piri-piri”, chili, I find here it is vey spicy. I can’t use one tablespoon of chili! I use half a teaspoon. My husband loves peppers, but cooking with raw peppers gives him acid reflux, so I use roasted red peppers. We add sour cream, “natas acidas”, guacamole and some salad as side dishes, perhaps few nacho chips, and our dinner is ready!

This recipe makes 8 enchiladas. They freeze well, so you will have more than one meal ready to go!

White Chocolate Cupcakes & Two Choices for Frosting

I love chocolate, dark and white. My husband and son are chocoholics, but my husband can get migraines by eating dark chocolate. Eating dark chocolate is like playing Russian Roulette for him. Nevertheless, white chocolate is completely innocuous to him, so I did some research on how to make white chocolate cupcakes as an alternative for an occasional treat.

I found an amazing and totally scrumptious recipe at Veena Azmanov’s  ” A Cake Decorating Blog & Food Blog” 

The cupcakes are super light and with the right amount of sweetness. I made them with her suggested White Chocolate Buttercream frosting for a bake sale at school, and they disappeared in five minutes!

They looked like this.

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Now, my husband doesn’t like buttercream frosting so I looked for a chocolate ganache alternative. Nick Makrides has a wonderful recipe at his website  The Scran Line

I added some Baileys Original Irish Cream to it and it was a total success!

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Buen provecho!

 

 

Pancakes

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I didn’t get to eat pancakes until I was about 10 years old. My best friend aunties made pancakes for us for tea time on a play date afternoon. In Venezuela, we don’t have maple syrup, so my childhood pancakes were eaten with butter and jams. Much later, during the late 90’s when I went to a summer workshop in Vermont: I got totally hooked on fluffy pancakes and maple syrup. 12 years in the east coast taught me the different types of syrups, and also different flavors of pancakes. It was easy to experiment making them, because there are plenty brands of pancake mixes, and even sugar free maple syrup!

Once in Portugal, I had to search for a recipe to make them from scratch. Maple syrup is rather expensive, so every time the store Aldi has an American Food Sale Special, we stock on several bottles that will hold until the next maple syrup haul.

The best recipe I have tried is from www.allrecipes.com

The only modification I make, is that I use vegetable oil instead of melted butter on the mix. Also, because the brand of we vinegar we get is rather strong, I used half of the amount to sour the milk.

My family loves how fluffy they are. They make a nice weekend morning treat.

Enjoy!

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Honey Cornbread

Coming from the land of Arepas and Empanadas, Bollos and Carabinas, I can say that corn flour side dishes were always part of my Venezuelan childhood menu. Yet, when in the USA I first tried Cornbread, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t eaten it before!

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This recipe of Cornbread has honey as one of the ingredients. It makes all the difference in the world. Cornbread is the perfect side dish for chili, for a good steak, and it is delicious just by itself.

Honey Cornbread

Enjoy!

Chili!

In the Venezuelan Andes cuisine, we find lots of bean dishes. I grew up eating black beans, lentils, and chickpeas, but somehow there were no mixed bean dishes. When I first tried a “chili”, during my years in the USA, I fell in love with the possibilities of this dish. I am an omnivore, but my husband only eats some fish; therefore, we mostly eat vegetarian dishes at home.

I found this easy, yet tasty three-bean chili while preparing a pot of chili for our annual “Autumn chili cookout”.  In the past, I had prepared more complex dishes, yet with this one I won the prize for the “Best Vegetarian Chili”!

I only changed one thing: Instead of using green bell pepper, I use roasted red Spanish pepper. Also, if I have sweet corn, I also add it to the pot.

Here it is the recipe:

Chili

Enjoy!

Making Bagels in Portugal

As I said in my previous post, everywhere I have lived I have found products/produce in different packing. In Venezuela I would find grain yeast in big packs, in NY in packs of 3 grams, and here in Portugal, the best price for instant yeast is Aldi’s packs of 7 grams.

I had to adjust Mr. Reinhart’s recipe to what I find in the supermarket. Here I would like to share the proportions for plain bagels:

2 tablespoons of honey (great replacement for Malt Syrup)

20 grams of kosher salt

1 pack of 7 grams of instant yeast

1100 grams of white flour

2 cups and 4 tablespoons of water (depending on the type of flour you might need to add a bit more or less water. The dough shouldn’t be runny. If you need to add few more table spoons of flour is OK).

I add all these ingredients to my bread making machine and set it on the dough cycle. In one hour and fifty minutes my dough is ready to go to the refrigerator for overnight slow rising.

I coat a glass container with a little bit of vegetable oil, and then cover it with plastic wrap. Next day will be the process of rolling, boiling and baking the bagels. You can make them the same day, but they taste much better if you let the dough to slow rise.

 

Welcome to Just Living!

Living somewhere else than the place I was born was not a surprise for me. I always knew that I was not going to stay in Venezuela forever. I knew it since childhood, and I knew it meant to be away from the family I love and friendships I cherish. Nevertheless, I am blessed, and I have been able to keep bonded to these affections.

What was a surprise, was to discover the impact that such small things such as your commodities brands, the size of the typing paper, and the procedure to buy medicines have on everyday life. Adjusting to these little things moving from Venezuela to USA’s East Coast was not so difficult; back then we used to have most of the big American brands in Venezuela. I only needed to get used to “inches and pounds”, and to learned that to buy medicines I needed always a prescription; you get ONLY the numbers of pills the doctor prescribed, and they come on bottles with your name, address, phone number, and the number of refills allowed.

Living in New York there is no room to miss anything you used to have in your birth country. There are Venezuelan restaurants (although I didn’t visit any in almost twelve years), and you can buy anything from Harina Pan (pre-cooked corn flour) to plantain leaves to make the traditional hallacas for Christmas, and the occasional arepa. During those years I also came to love Indian Cuisine, Sushi, Korean Food, different types of food from China, and the very American New York’s Bagels.

Because such diversity and availability of produce, it was a bit of a shock not to find all that in Portugal. I have been told that in the heart of Lisbon, in Martim Moniz, you can find anything your heart/stomach desire. I live now very close to Cabo da Roca … so food shopping trips to Lisbon are not that appealing. When I found myself missing New York’s thin crust pizza, and bagels, I knew it was the time to bake again like when I lived in Venezuela.

I love cooking, and during three years I tried different recipes. All were OK, they were bagels … but almost two years ago I came across a recipe in Epicurios, and that was it! The best bagel recipe I had tried before. I have made some variants: I make egg, cinnamon raisin, plain, oatmeal, and cranberry & walnuts bagels. In average, I bake every two weeks. They freeze wonderful, and although I have not found a deli with flavored cream cheese or egg salad, I am happy having my toasted bagel with plane Philadelphia Cream Cheese for breakfast.

Here I share with you this wonderful recipe. If you are an expat missing bagels, or if you are a bagel lover and want to learn how to make them, this is a great way to start. I make the dough on my bread machine, so I don’t even knead by hand anymore. I do roll them though; it took some practicing, but it is fun to try to make them like the “real thing”.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Bagels by Peter Reinhart

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Photography: My egg bagels on my kitchen island.

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