Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Last Executed Slave

It was a clear night with a big, white moon. James and I were leaving the movies . We were driving back from Little Rock , AR to James house up in the lake. James and I met at school, where we became very good friends.

Driving back home , James took a different route. He drove me through a forest road. The trees had long , overwhelming figures. The road became narrower and the forest dense. At that point , I have to admit, I was getting scared.

James stopped the car in a very little bridge, over the dry bed of a river. He rolled the windows down and stopped the engine. I looked at James. We remained in silence. Suddenly a murmur from far was coming closer. I could not understand what that voice was saying. I could only tell the tone was not from this world.

Kind of agitated, I said to James that someone was out there and not very happy. In the middle of the forest? Who was out there? We left the place. I bombarded James with a million questions about what just happened.

He told me that the story says that the voice we heard was from the last slave executed in the bed of the river. He is still there. You can hear his cries because he could not cross to the other side.

That night I slept with the lights on.

Happy Halloween ……



Makes 18 to 24

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

3/4 cup warm water

3/4 cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons melted butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.



Serves 1 dozen cupcakes

1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar

1/2 cup soft butter

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon milk


In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, butter, salt, and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary.

Add milk and continue mixing until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary. With the mixer running, slowly add remaining 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, mix until well combined.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Honey Frosting

Pumpkins were never a big thing to me until I went to school to US. Pumpkins are not very popular in Spain, except from Cinderella´s one. It was when I worked in NYC, when I learn how much you can do with pumpkins. Even going to Starbucks and get a Pumpkin Spice Latte!!!

The flavor of the spices with the pumpkin is kind of unknown in Spain. Whenever I bake with pumpkin I get some looks saying: You said you are baking with what?.

After they try the pie or the cake their reaction is always “surprise”. My friends and family do not expect the delicious taste and always come back for more!!

This fragrant pumpkin spice cake is very easy to make. The recipe is from John Barricelli. His book “ The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook” has great simple and tasty recipes.

I hope you like it!



1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice (or 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/8 cloves)

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

15 ounces (425 gr) pumpkin puree

Honey Frosting

1/2 cup (125 gr) unsalted butter, very soft

8 ounces (225 gr) cream cheese, very soft

1/4 cup Honey


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch ( 23cm) baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin-pie spice. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, butter, and pumpkin puree until combined. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture, and mix gently until smooth.

Turn batter into prepared pan, and smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake 10 minutes in pan, then turn out of pan, and cool completely, right side up, on a rack.

Make Honey Frosting: In a medium bowl, whisk butter, cream cheese, and honey until smooth.

Spread top of cooled cake with honey frosting.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Zucchini & Ricotta Lasagna

Last Sunday, I came home from a wonderful ride with my horse. I prepared a cozy, simple lasagna with a zucchini from my Asturias garden. My sister came home to have lunch. We had the lasagna, which was very yummy.

After a short nap, we went for a long walk. The afternoon was sunny and warm. We walked around the lake and the Manzanares castle.

The entire walk I was amazed of how breathtaking was the view of the mountains, the lake and the castle.

Coming back home, I though what a simple and nice Sunday we had. I also realized how different this Sunday was from some Sundays ago.

For me Sunday meant laundry, ironing, packing, airport and traveling. I love my new Sundays. My horse, family, friends, home and cozy food. Nice change!!

This recipe is from “Everyday Food” from Martha Stewart. It is very simple and quick. I recommend it.

I hope you like it!


Serves 4

Olive oil, for baking dish

8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, room temperature

15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese

Coarse salt and ground pepper

2 medium zucchini, (8 ounces each) halved lengthwise, then sliced thinly crosswise

1 garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons dried oregano

6 no-boil lasagna noodles

2 ounces shredded (1/2 cup) part-skim mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking dish; set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together cream cheese and ricotta; season with salt and pepper. In another medium bowl, combine zucchini, garlic, and oregano; season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine.

Spread 1/3 zucchini mixture in prepared baking dish; top with two lasagna noodles, then 1/3 ricotta mixture. Repeat twice with remaining zucchini mixture, noodles, and ricotta mixture, finishing with the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with mozzarella.

Cover baking dish with aluminum foil; bake until bubbly and noodles are tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove foil; bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Desde Santurce a Bilbao"

For those of you that have been singing "Desde Santurce a Bilbao" and never been in Santurce, here you have a few pictures of one of my favorite places on earth.

As I told you in my last post I was raised in Santurce. As I also said, many of my childhood memories were related to food and now you will understand why.

After school, my mother and grandmother used to take me the fishing port before going home to my homework. The colorful fishing ships, the nets, the fish and mostly the "sardineras", made the port this fascinating place to me.

The "Sardineras" were a group of hard working-women that sold fish in the port. The
ir typical outfit and the particular way of selling fresh fish became an icon of Santurce. Loved and cherished, the Sardineras slowly desappeared from the port. The port was never the same ...

Walking through the port, I always stopped in front of the restaurant "Mandanga". They had a grill outside that was always busy with all kind of fresh fish. The heat of the grill, the color of the coal, the beautiful fish and the smell of all of combined, is one of my most vivid memories.

I still find inexplicable joy in having grill sardines in a piece of country bread while drinking a good wine .... it feels like going back to Santurce.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Èclairs with Crème Pâtissière

My family comes from the Basque Country. I was born in Portugalete and raised in Santurce, Vizcaya. Although we moved to Madrid when my sister and I where still kids, I have plenty memories from those years …. and the largest parts of them are related to food.

My mother, big pastry fan, tough me to enjoy a good “gateaux” at a very early age. We used to go to Kai-Alde pastry workshop for the best millefeuilles and èclairs “in the world”.

Few weeks ago I met with my close cousins in Bilbao. We did not only enjoy pintxos, but my cousin Jorge, a talented graphic designer , took us to the coolest places in town.

Later we went to Santurce, straight to Kai-Alde. I will not tell you how many millefeuilles I bought. What I can show you is all èclairs I bake when I got home.

The recipe is from the book “Sucré” from Ladurée. I will not tell you this time about Ladurée. That’s for another time!

I hope you like it!!

Pâte à Choux


65 gr all purpose floor

2 medium size eggs

50 gr butter

Pinch of salt

150 ml of water

1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Sieve the flour on a parchment paper. Beat the eggs slightly. Place butter, salt and water in a saucepan. Bring it to boil very slowly.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour at once, mixing it with a wooden spoon. Bring the pan back to the heat and whisk the mixture energically for two minutes. You should get a soft ball that easily comes off the sides of the saucepan.

Remove the saucepan from heat, let it cool two minutes. Slowly and whisking at the same time add eggs and vanilla extract.

Preheat the oven at 200º. Sprinkle flour on baking sheet. Get the warm dough in a pastry bag with a plain or circular nozzle. Press until you get the amount of dough desired. Leave 5cm between each choux.

Bake for 20 min at 200º and 10-15 at 180º. When the time is up, turn off the oven but do not open the oven. Let them cool inside the oven.

Crème Pâtissière


1 vanilla bean

40cl whole milk

4 egg yolks

80gr caster sugar

30gr cornmeal (Maizena)

25gr butter


With a knife, cut the vanilla bean length-wise and scrape the seeds into a saucepan with the milk and the bean. Bring the milk to shiver. Remove it from the heat, cover it and let the vanilla infuse the milk for 15 min.

In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar until the mix pales slightly. Add the cornmeal (Maizena).

Remove the vanilla bean from the milk and re-heat until shivering. Pour 1/3 of the warm milk on the egg mixture and whisk; return the mixture to the saucepan. Bring the mixture to boil while whisking. Scrape down the sides of the saucepan.

Remove the cream from the heat and pour it in a bowl. Let it cool for 10 min, so the cream is warm but not boiling, then add the butter and whisk. Cover the cream with plastic film.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Honey ... Beautiful Honey

Every time that I heard or read in the news about the challenges that bees are facing two thoughts come to my mind. The first one is a concern about what we are doing to this world. The second one is for Roberto and his bees.

Roberto is this very nice guy that lives in the same village where I have my country house in Asturias and has a fantastic passion: Bee-keeping. Roberto has five beehives that he keeps with care and dedication. When the time comes, Roberto “harvest” the honey as some kind of precious gold.

I enjoy very much talking to Roberto and bombarding him with a thousand questions that he patiently answers.

Since I know about Roberto’s bees, I have become a regular customer of his glorious honey and a “supporter” of his bees. I have made sure that my garden is bee-friendly. I grow bee’s favorites flowers and plants. marigolds, poppies, roses, gladioli, lavender, sage, mint …

Every time I see the bees “at work” I can help smiling. My garden is a “little paradise” for them …. And I am happy for that. I use honey as much as I can. In my yogurt, tea, sauces, baking …. Everywhere!!!

Just think that honey is good for you and bees are good for all!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Chanterelle Mushrooms

I love autumn. I love everything about it!! The colors, the light, the food, the earthy smells, the cooler temperatures….

Geneva in autumn is just beautiful. The surroundings are breathtaking. You can see how the different colors take over the forest turning the mountain in a multicolor carpet.

But what it is really the best about autumn in Geneva is … the food market!! The pumpkins and the butternut squash are at its best, there are all kind of fragrant mushrooms, great looking parsnip…

So with autumn in the air, I decided to prepare a “super autumn” recipe from New York chef Frank Decarlo. DeCarlo has two fantastic restaurants in Manhattan: Barcaro and Peasant. GREAT FOOD!!!

I prepared pumpkin gnocchi with mushrooms and a tasty cream sauce. The essence of autumn in a recipe. The homemade pasta was delicious. A total revelation. I think I will be doing this pasta often this season!

I hope you like it!


Serves 4

1 small sugar pumpkin (1 1/2 to 2 pounds), stem removed, halved lengthwise, and seeded

2 cups "00" flour (high content of gluten), plus more for work surface

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for serving

1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 shallots, finely chopped

20 medium chanterelle mushrooms, trimmed

8 fresh sage leaves

1 cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup heavy cream


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place pumpkin halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet and fill each with 1 tablespoon water. Cover each half with parchment paper-lined aluminum foil. Transfer to oven and roast until soft, about 45 minutes. Let cool. Scrape pumpkin flesh from skin; discard skin.

Mound flour in center of a large work surface; add 1 tablespoon salt and the nutmeg. Using a fork, mix until well combined. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add 2 cups pumpkin and 1 cup grated cheese to well. Slowly incorporate flour, beginning with inner rim of well. When flour is incorporated, gather dough together to form a rounded mass; knead mixture until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes.

Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a cylinder about 1 inch in diameter; cut into 1/2-inch-long pieces. Transfer gnocchi to a baking sheet and cover with a clean, damp towel. Repeat process until all the dough has been used.

Bring 6 quarts water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Generously salt water and return to a boil. Add gnocchi and cook until they rise to the top, about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over high heat and add butter and shallots. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until shallots are golden. Add mushrooms and sage; cook, stirring, for about 10 seconds. Add 1/4 cup pumpkin, chicken stock, heavy cream, and 1/4 cup grated cheese; cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to skillet and toss to combine. Serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan and nutmeg.