Lemon Cupcakes ~ Cupcake de Limão

At a beach house.  I’m inside making lemon cupcakes.  Just about done piping the frosting on them and sprinkling them with yellow sugar sprinkles.  I hear the door open, salty air permeates, seagulls calling.  Footsteps on the hardwood floor.  I feel his warm body press against my back, the scent of coconut suntan oil.  He gently moves my hair to one side and touches his moist lips to my bare shoulder.  His bristly beard tickles my neck.  Goosebumps.  He reaches around my waist and takes a cupcake from the counter.  I let him lick off the frosting…Mmmmmm…

You like that short story, huh?  Me too.

Lemon Cupcakes

1/4 cup unsalted butter softened (56g)
1/4 cup canola oil (60ml)- I used vegetable oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar (150g)
2 Tablespoons lemon zest (finely grated)
2 large eggs lightly beaten, room temperature preferred
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 185g may substitute cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk 118ml
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter softened (113g)
8 oz cream cheese softened (brick-style, not spreadable) (226g)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract optional
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
4 cups powdered sugar (500g)

Lemon Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and line a 12-count muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.

Place butter in a large bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer) and use an electric mixer (or stand mixer) to beat until creamy.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add oil, sugar, and lemon zest and beat again until creamy and thoroughly combined.  Add eggs and vanilla extract and stir well until completely combined.

In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large measuring cup, briefly stir together buttermilk and lemon juice.

Using a spoon or spatula, gradually stir about a third of the flour mixture into wet ingredients until just-combined (don’t use an electric mixer here or you’ll be more likely to overmix the batter, resulting in dense/dry cupcakes). Add about half of the buttermilk mixture into the batter and stir until just combined. Repeat adding flour and buttermilk in this way until ingredients are completely combined, but don’t mix more than you need to. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl so all ingredients are combined.

Evenly divide batter into prepared cupcake tin, filling each liner 2/3 of the way full. Transfer to 350F/175C oven and bake for 17-18 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Allow to cool completely before topping with lemon cream cheese frosting.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Combine butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and use an electric mixer (or stand mixer) to beat until well-combined.

Add lemon zest, vanilla extract, lemon extract (if using), salt, and lemon juice and beat well.

Gradually, with mixer on low speed, add powdered sugar until completely combined. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl to make sure ingredients are well incorporated.

Once cupcakes have cooled, spread or pipe lemon cream cheese frosting over cupcakes.

**Hate to ruin the mood from above…but what really happened is this:  I caught my cat on the table, licking the frosting off a cupcake.  The end.

Cupcakes de Limão

56 g manteiga sem sal, temperatura ambiente
60 ml óleo vegetal
150 g açucar
1 colheres de sopa raspas de limão amarelo (finamente ralado)
2 ovos grandes batidos ligeiramente, temperatura ambiente
3/4 colher de chá de extrato de baunilha
185 g farinha de trigo ou farinha de bolo
1 1/2 colher de chá de pó royal
1/4 colhere chá de sal
1/2 copo de leitelho (118 g)
2 colheres de sopa de suco de limão fresco

Cobertura de Limão e Cream Cheese

113 g de manteiga sem sal, temperatura ambiente
226 g de cream cheese em barra, temperatura ambiente
1/2 colher de chá de extrato de baunilha
1/2 colher de sopa extrato de limão
1/4 colher de chá de sal
1 colher de sopa de suco de limão
2 colheres de chá de raspas de limão
500 g de açucar de confeiteiro

Cupcakes de Limão

Pre-aqueça o forno a 175C e coloque as forminhas de papel na forma para 12 cupcakes.

Coloque a manteiga numa tigela grande e bata até ficar cremoso.  Adicione o óleo, açucar e as raspas de limão até incorporar.
Adicione os ovos e a baunilha e misture até ficar homogeneo.

Numa tigela separada bata a farinha, o pó royal, e o sal.  Num copo grande misture o leitelho e o suco de limão.  Usando uma colher ou spatula, pouco a pouco, misture um terço da farinha de trigo com os ingredientes molhados apenas até incorporar (não usa a batedeira).  Adicione a metade da mistura de leite e limão.  Repita, adicionando a farinha e depois o leite, terminando com a farinha. (sempre respando os lados da tigela.

Divide a mistura igualmente entre as forminhas de cupcake, enchendo até 2/3 do topo (a massa cresce um pouco).  Leve para o forno e asse por 17 minutos ou até que um palito enfiado no meio saia com esfarelos úmidos.  Deixe esfriar e coloque a cobertura.

Cobertura de Limão e Cream Cheese

Junte a manteiga e o cream cheese numa tigela grande.  Use uma batedeira elétrica e bata até ficar bem incorporado.  Adicione as raspas de limão, extrato de baunilha, extrato de limão, sal, suco de limão e bata bem.  Diminua a velocidade da batedeira (velocidade baixa) e adicione o açucar de confeiteiro lentamente.  Raspe os lados da tigela para asegurar que os ingredientes incorporem.

Quando esfriarem os cupcakes, espalhe a cobertura de cream cheese.


Pan-Seared Tuna Steaks with Ginger Vinaigrette ~ Filets de Atum na Chapa com Vinagrete de Gengibre

Photos by Priscillakittycat, Recipe by Food & Wine Magazine

I have been without a cell phone for almost two weeks.  Happy to report there’s nothing major to miss, or at least nothing that I’m aware of.  Hehehe. Long story about why I’m without a functioning cell phone…but I was quite worried at first.  What if someone needs to reach me (like to offer me a job that pays a million dollars) and I miss the opportunity?  Or, what if one of my cat lady friends calls to say there is a cat in need?  What if that person calls me to complain that I never answer my phone?  Yeh, well now I have the best excuse ever.

Seriously, though, this thing of not having a cell phone isn’t so bad.  I’m debating whether cell phones are even necessary.  At first you might feel anxious but that strange feeling subsides after a few days.  You will survive without a cell phone.  I encourage you to try it.  It’s nice to disconnect from the virtual world.  It means you have to spend time in your reality—good or bad.

A colleague went fishing with his buddies and brought back a bunch of tuna.  He filled our office freezer with zip-lock bags of the filets and said we could help ourselves.  The sauce recipe inserted below is nice because it doesn’t overpower the flavor of the fresh tuna.  Try it and you’ll agree!

5 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
5 tablespoons sake
2 1/2 tablespoons mirin
3 tablespoons minced shallot
1/2 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Two 1-inch-thick yellowfin tuna steaks
2 teaspoons toasted white sesame seeds
Lemon wedges, for serving

In a small saucepan, simmer the soy sauce, sake, mirin and shallot until the liquid is slightly reduced, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in the ginger. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup of the oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Season the tuna with salt and pepper. Sear over high heat until golden brown but still rare within, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Slice against the grain and transfer to the plates. Drizzle with some of the vinaigrette and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Serve with lemon wedges and the remaining vinaigrette.

Estou sem celular a quase duas semanas.  No começo deu uma sensação estranha, como se faltasse alguma coisa na mão ou dentro da bolsa.  Mas depois a gente acostuma e não faz tanta falta.  Aconselho que todo mundo tente ficar sem usar o celular durante 2 ou 3 dias na semana.

A gente não tem ideia quanto tempo perdemos olhando para o celular, sem falar no estresse que causa.  O cerebro cansa de procesar tanta informação.  Dizem que devemos ficar sem olhar o celular ou computador pelo menos 3 horas antes de deitar na cama.  Está comprovado que a luz azul faz mal para os olhos e provoca ansiedade (hiperatividade cerebral).  A outra vantagem de ficar sem o celular é que ao inves de viver no universo virtual, a gente vive na nossa realidade.

Um colega encheu o freezer do escritório com os filets de atum que ele pescou junto aos amigos e falou para cada um nós levar o que quisessemos.  O molho que se encontra abaixo é bom porque ele complementa o atum fresco sem dominar.

1 1/2 copo mirin
3 cebolas da especie chalot (shallot, em inglês)
5 colheres de sopa de shoyu lite
5 colheres de sope de sake
1/2 colher de sopa de gengibre ralado
1/4 copo e mais 2 colheres de sopa de azeite de oliva extra virgem
4 filets de atum fresco
2 colheres de chá de sementes de gergelim

Coloque o shoyu, o sake, o mirin e a chalot numa panela pequena e deixe ferver até o liquido evaporar um pouco (uns 3 minutos).  Retire do fogo e misture o gengibre.  Acrescente o azeite pouco a pouco a bata lentamente com um batedor.  Tempere a gosto.

Numa frigideira grande esquente as duas colheres de azeite.  Tempere o atum com sal e pimenta.  Passe no fogo alto até ficar dourado mas crú por dentro.  (uns 2 minutos em cada lado, dependendo da grossura dos filets)  Transfira para um prato forrado de papel toalha para drenar.  Corte em fatias contra a linha e transfira para um prato.  Regue com o molho vinagrete e polvilhe com as sementes de sesamo.  Sirva com o limão.

Egg, Spinach, Onion, Red Pepper and Cheese Muffins ~ Muffins de Ovo, Espinafre, Cebola, Pimentão e Queijo

The last of the guests who attended my brother’s wedding were gone last week.  Yes, it was a beautiful week of festivities but it was also a very hectic several months leading up to the wedding.  After it was over, I would have totally sailed to a secluded island to re-center.  Unfortunately, we’re slammed at work…so R and R isn’t an option.

For the Key Largo wedding, my brother rented two large waterfront homes, one for the Russian family and the other for the Brazilians.  What do you get when you put 24 Brazilians together in a house for one week?  Well, when it’s all over you have a lot of stories to tell.  Like the night my mom walked into the bathroom and found someone sleeping in the bathtub.  Apparently, this character wanted a cool, quiet place to rest his alcohol-infused body and the bathtub looked inviting.  It would be improper to divulge most of the other stories on the worldwide web (lol).  Let’s just say the wedding was epic!

Here’s a little something that’s nice to prepare for breakfast guests.  Sorry about not giving credit to the blogger and for not including the exact measurements but I lost the link to the original webpage/blog.  Pretty sure the ingredients and steps are correct, though.

8 large eggs
2 cups Baby Spinach
½ cup chopped roasted pimentos (1/2 jar), chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
Cheese (Feta or your choice)
Olive Oil

Preheat oven 350F.  Heat two tablespoons oil and the onions in a sauté pan.  Cook for ten minutes until the onions are brown and fragrant.  Add the spinach and stir until it wilts.  Season with salt.  Turn off the heat and add the pimentos.  Stir to combine and set aside.

Spray a non-stick muffin pan with cooking spray. Beat the eggs and season with salt.  Divide the onion mixture into each of the muffin holes.  Pour the egg on top, filling ¾ of the way.  (The eggs will expand/rise)  Top with shredded cheese.  Bake for about 25 minutes.

Os últimos convidados se foram. Comemoramos o casamento de meu irmão em Key Largo com 120 amigos e familiares.  Foi espetacular.  Casamentos são ocasiões lindas, mas dão muito trabalho para organizar.  Nos meses antes do casamento o nível de estresse era alto.  Agora que acabou eu queria ir para uma ilha deserta.

As pessoas que perderam o casamento sabem o que perderam.  Foi fora de sério. O meu irmão alugou duas casas grandes em Key Largo. Uma casa para os Brasileiros e outra para os Russos.  Eram 24 pessoas dormindo na Casa Brasil…mas durante o dia a média era de 40 pessoas.  As comemorações geraram muitas histórias engraçadas.  Minha mãe acordou de madrugada para ir no banheiro e encontrou um dos hospedes dormindo na banheira.  Ele explicou que escolheu a banheira porque precisava de um lugar fresco e sossegado. Tem outros casos mas é melhor não compartilhar na net.

A receita que segue é uma boa para o café da manha.  Dá para fazer um monte de quichezinhos quando a casa esta cheia.  Desculpa que não coloquei o nome da blogeira e nem o link para o site mas é que esqueci onde foi que ví a receita.  Acho que é assim:

8 ovos grandes
2 copos de espinafre
1/2 copo de pimentão vermelho, picado (de lata)
1 cebola média picada
Queijo (feta ou qualquer outro)
Azeite de Oliva

Aqueça o forno a 350F.  Coloque duas colheres de azeite numa frigideira com a cebola picada.  Cozinhe até a cebola ficar corada e macia, aproximadamente 10 minutos.  Adicione o espinafre.  Tempere com sal. Cozinhe até murchar.  Desligue of fogo e acrescente o pimentão.

Coloque spray de untar numa fôrma de muffins.  Bata os ovos.  Divida a mistura de cebola entre as fôrminhas.  Acrescente o ovo (somente até 3/4 da altura da fôrma porque os óvos vão expandir).  Adicione o queijo ralado.

Asse no forno por aproximadamente 25 minutos.






Spanish Tortilla ~ Tortilha Espanhola

Recipe by Rosa Cocinera y Madre, Photo by Priscillakittycat

Time passes so quickly.  Here we are in June.  Maybe it’s time…

I read (or heard) somewhere that as we get older, time passes very quickly.  I never really believed this because time is precise.  A second is a second, today or tomorrow.  An hour will be the same tomorrow as it will be in ten years.  Maybe whoever said time passes more quickly might have meant that our perception of time changes as we age.  This I believe.

Ten years ago, I had all the time in the world to do nothing.  These days it’s difficult to accomplish all the things that need to be done, within the allotted time.  I used to be an 8 hours of sleep kind of gal, rarely you would see dark circles under these eyes.  Now I’m happy with 6 hours but often only get 5…then struggle to stay awake on the drive home from work.  Neither am I the type to hit the snooze button or one who lies idly in bed.  “Sleeping-in” doesn’t even attain fleeting-thought status.  I tell myself (mostly every night) that I’ll get to bed earlier to make up for lost sleep.  Uh-huh, sure.

Last Sunday night I had it all mapped out and I was on schedule to be in bed by 10:00 p.m. (miraculous).  I walked with a skip in my step and gave myself mental high-fives for being highly efficient during the day…until I reached the hallway near the laundry room and saw a committee of cats congregated in the area, curiously observing the destruction ahead.  I had accidentally left the laundry room faucet on…and flooded both the laundry room and an adjacent bathroom.  Dozens of beach towels later.  The clock struck midnight and I hadn’t even showered yet.

What’s with the obsession with time? Have you heard the song by Cyndi Lauper?  “All through the night.”  In her video, Cyndi motions her arm in a circle…as she says that the meter clicks and goes running all through the night.

We have no past, we won’t reach back
Keep with me forward all through the night
And once we start the meter clicks
And it goes running all through the night
Until it ends, there is no end

A more recent song that talks about the value of time.  “Maybe it’s time.”  In this song, a delicious Bradley Cooper says it’s time to let the old ways die.

I’m reminded of a recent encounter at work where I could have reacted the same way I always react.  That was until I realized, if I did, the other person would react the same way he/she always does.  So…I had to change.  Most often, people just keep repeating the same patterns of behavior time after time…and then they get upset because the outcome is the same.  Try something new and guess what?  That person who drives you nuts just might become your best friend.  Well, let’s not go that far.  But you get the picture.

Why waste time making the same mistakes?  “Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die”.

On a completely unrelated note, I’ve always wanted to learn how to make a good Spanish Tortilla.  YouTube is the best resource for recipes that involve proper technique.  I searched and found this vivacious Spaniard, “Rosa Cocinera y Madre”.  Her version and explanation of the technique are great.  Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you can still watch the video and make the tortilla.  Thanks to Rosa, I’m now an expert at making Spanish Tortillas.

6-8 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced as shown in the video (800 grams)
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced as shown in the video
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (lots of it)
8 eggs

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan (between 1-1.5 cups).  The oil should be hot, but the stove setting should be on medium (not high).  The objective is for the potatoes to poach in the oil, not fry.  Add the peeled and sliced potatoes and onions and cook for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes and onions are tender.  Meanwhile, beat the eggs with salt.  When the potatoes and onions are cooked, pour into a strainer that has a bowl underneath to capture the oil.  When the oil has drained, add the onions and potatoes to the eggs, add salt and stir to combine.

Add a bit of the leftover oil to a sauté pan and heat.  Pour in the eggs and potato mixture.  Cook, without stirring until the tortilla is formed and takes it’s shape.  During cooking, you can slip a spatula onto the sides of the tortilla to allow the egg mixture to fill in the spaces.  When the tortilla has taken a stable shape but is still soft, place a large plate over the sauté pan.  Turn the pan over with the plate.  Slide the tortilla off the plate and slide back into the pan.  Cook until the tortilla has it’s full form.

-You will use a lot of olive oil to make a tortilla.  It’s worth making two in a row because the oil can be re-used.
-Some recipes suggest adding the potatoes to the oil first, then the onions after a few minutes.  It’s up to you. (Either method works)
-Be sure to weigh the potatoes.  You want to have the right amount of potatoes.

Nossa, como o tempo passa.  Já estamos no final de Maio!  Receitas e fotos não faltam.  Falta tempo.  Tem tanta coisa que quero fazer, mas não dá tempo.  Ahhh, como eu queria ser daquelas pessoas que acorda de manha e fica na cama, sem fazer nada.  Daquelas que bate no despertador dez vezes e não consegue levanter da cama.  Nunca fui!  O despertador toca, e estou de pé.  Existem centenas de músicas que falam sobre o tempo.  Tem aquela da Cyndi Lauper, “All through the night”.  A letra é muito interessante.  “Não temos passado, e nem tentaremos atingir o que ficou para trás.”

We have no past, we won’t reach back
Keep with me forward all through the night
And once we start the meter clicks
And it goes running all through the night
Until it ends, there is no end

É melhor olhar para frente.  A Clara Nunes canta uma música que eu gosto.  “O Amanha.”

Uma mais recente é daquele homem delicioso, Bradley Cooper.  “Maybe it’s time”.  A música propõe que devemos deixar os velhos costumes morrerem.  Concordo.  A pouco tempo, numa situação de trabalho eu quase reacionei da mesma forma de sempre ao deparar com certa pessoa.  Lembrei da música e resolvi fazer de forma diferente.  Sabe que funcionou!  Deixe o passado, não preocupe com o amanha…e viva no presente.

O YouTube é um recurso muito bom para quem quer aprender as tecnicas da culinaria.  A tortilha espanhola requer uma tecnica especial.  Os videos da “Rosa Cocinera y Madre” são ótimos.  Graças a Rosa virei craque na tortilla.

6-8 batatas (800 gr) descascadas e cortadas como mostra o video
1 cebola média, descascada e cortada como no video
Azeite de Oliva extra virgem (bastante)
8 ovos

Aqueça o azeite numa panela mas deixe o fogo em temperatura média.  O objetivo é de cozinhar as batatas e as cebolas, ao inves de fritar.  Adicione as batatas e a cebola, tampe a panela, e cozinhe por uns dez minutos, misturando poucas vezes.  Quando a batata amolescer, coe e deixe o azeite cair numa tigela.  Reserve.  Bata os ovos com sal e junte a batata e a cebola.  Tempere com sal e misture bem.
Coloque um pouco do azeite que sobrou numa frigideira e ligue o fogo.  Despeje a mistura do ovo, batata e a cebola na frigideira.  Não misture. Mas, se quizer, insira uma spatula nos cantos da frigideira e deixe o ovo escorrer pelos lados.

Quando a tortilha pegar a forma mas ainda estiver um pouco macia, coloque um prato por cima da tortilha.  Vire a panela para a tortilha cair no prato.  Devolva a tortilha para a panela e cozinhe até ficar firme.


-O azeite pode ser re-usado.  Vale a pena fazer duas tortilhas para aproveitar o azeite.
-Algumas receitas para tortilha recomendam cozinhar a batata por alguns minutos antes de acrescentar a cebola.  Qualquer metodo funciona.
-Pese as batatas.  A quantidade certa deve ser usada.