Getting it right and Writing it Down!

Good Morning You and Happy Monday!

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I hope you had a nice weekend!

Here, we kept going with the celebrations for our new status (not married, yet! please relax) and for A’s Birthday! 

We were both caught by surprise and finally tried our much desired lunch at Filandon, a restaurant in Madrid that is one of those places that between the food, service, space and the cosy decor will always impress you! 

Yesterday, as a cold and windy Sunday was the right day to bake a simple tea cake and enjoy an afternoon snack with friends that popped by! I have to say that sometimes I do have a plan for what I am going to bake, and sometimes I have no clue…and yesterday I went a bit random based on the flavours I really wanted for my tea cake (after a good nap) and a I had special request …Pears!

So, before I forget, and because this time it went so very right (in taste, in texture, in moisture and yumminess), I’ll write it down for me and for you..before I forget!

The days are indeed longer, there is more light…winter will soon enough subside ..and energies will be renewed!

Have a great week!

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A Pear and Vanilla Cake

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This is an ideal cake for a tea time as you can prepare it very easily in less than 1hour and serve it slightly warm…it was a success! Yes, there is sugar and butter and white flour…but we do try to keep it as a balance between healthier options and some days…like yesterday we felt we deserved it! I’ve made a similar version of this while on our New Year’s break with friends, but had apples, walnuts and cinnamon..so for now I am going to give a rest to my ‘no cinnamon’ fans and I’ll share it with you another day!

INGREDIENTS

  • 150g butter, softened
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • rind of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 a medium pear (shredded)
  • 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste
  • 150g self-raising flour (sifted)

for the top

  • 1 & 1/2 medium pears 
  • demerara sugar to sprinkle

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 180ºC and prepare a loaf cake tin (either grease or use baking paper).
  • Beat the butter with the sugar with an electric mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy and then add the eggs, one at a time.
  • Add the lemon rind, half of one pear (peeled and cored) shredded and the vanilla.
  • Sieve the flour into the mixture and fold it gently to not remove the air from the dough, so it is light and fluffy when baked.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, top it with the rest of the pears (peeled, cored and sliced) arrange as you like and sprinkle some demerara sugar. 
  •  Bake for 30 minutes or until is golden and when inserting a skewer in the centre it comes our clean and dry. 
  • Enjoy it slightly warm or cold with a nice cup of tea or coffee!

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The Favourite Cake…for Him!

Good Morning You!!!

…and thank you so much for all your greetings to our A. yesterday on his day

 As promised yesterday, here is the daily share of what was the choice of birthday cake (his favourite of all times). When I think of birthday cake, I think of several layers of sponge with some kind of frosting…but not him! At any event, any Sunday…he always asks for ……….. A Tarte Normande!

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I know it’s quite a special one, a recipe from the chef John Burton Race and his book Flavour First, a book I treasure very much from my London times! Still… is an Apple Tart….for a birthday cake???? Ok! Tarte Normande will be!

Deep inside I did feel some joy as it’s a recipe I know by heart and I can bake it quickly…still I ended the baking a bit too late and with the rainy and dark day the light conditions to photograph were in fact not the best…sincere apologies!

Although a simple recipe with simple ingredients I am always so surprised by how good it is…and somehow I end up understanding why do A. likes it so much….it’s the simplicity of the flavours that make your taste buds super happy…and if you follow my Instagram  in the stories you could see that was almost finished by the time dinner was over…if you don’t follow you are always in time to do it :)!

The cold weather came back to Madrid and there are predictions of snow again, so if wherever you are you are aiming for a cosy weekend, this is the perfect recipe to bake to go with your nice cup of tea or coffee…or breakfast like we did today (OMG!)

Have a good weekend

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Tarte Normande 

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Although I use exactly the same ingredients and procedure as described in the John Burton Race recipe I feel that for a normal Tart tin (25cm) some adjustments in the amount of cream need to be made as it can be to little for the amount of apples. So here is what I have been doing for years…

Please don’t be afraid of doing your own dough…this is a recipe that always works out very well without too much fuss and it makes so much of a difference when the dough is hand made…so go ahead and give it a try! Also…use good butter, Lurpak, Président or the Spanish brand Asturiana special for cakes are very good options!

INGREDIENTS

for the pastry

  • 220g plain flour, some extra for dusting
  • generous pinch of sea salt
  • 100g of butter, diced 

for the filling

  • 6 apples (cored and cut into large segments)
  • 200ml of cream (double cream is normal what I use)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • pinch of ground cinnamon (it’s a very subtle flavour but if you are not a fan take it out)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon

to finish

  • 30g butter, diced
  • 2 tbsp of brown sugar (that’s what I use, but you can do with caster sugar)
  • icing sugar to dust (if you want)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a bowl, add the butter (at room temperature) and rub into the flour, using your finger tips until you have a crumbly consistency. Gradually mix in enough water (4-5 tbsp) to bind the mixture. When the dough starts to come together, gather with your hand and knead gently until the pastry forms a ball. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface more or less to a 5mm thickness and use to line a 25 cm tart tin. Leave to rest in the fridge, loosely cover with cling film.
  • Meanwhile prepare the filling and pre-heat the oven to 200ºC. Peel and core the apples and cut into large segments. In a bowl whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon, salt and lemon zest.
  • Arrange the apples segments evenly in the pastry case and pour the cream mixture over it. Place the tart tin in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. After this time the dough should be cooked and golden and the cream and apples turned into a yellow and golden cooked filling.
  • Take out of the oven and dot little pieces of butter over the surface and sprinkle the brown sugar over it and return to oven for 5 minutes to caramelise. 

Enjoy!

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Today is Yours! Happy Birthday my A.

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Today this cute face (the one on the left) completes one more year of Life! 37 years from which 20 are mine…well, ours to say it better!!!

You likely drive me crazy with anger as much (a bit less) as you make me laugh…and then I lean in on you, pass you my pains and I can breath again…and I know that it makes you breathless but you make sure I know you can handle it better…and so we go! So many times we broke together or alone but never apart, we picked up pieces and tided up the mess life leaves behind sometimes.

You are the sweetest father I could ever asked for my child and seeing you growing as one it makes me proud every day…and the moments when you come back home and make T smile from inside his guts will always be Perfect…so for us, even if some days we don’t say it or feel it as much, you are indeed Perfect!

So, until the wheels come off baby….on this day, there will always be cake (your favourite) and January will always always be special!

Happy Birthday!

Have a beautiful day!

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PS: And as for you there on the other side…I promise to update you on the latest recipes I have been baking and on our slow start of 2018!

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A Merry & Healthy Christmas – New Spot in Town

Good Morning!

For a while now, I wanted to share this project with you…And because sometimes things turn in different ways, this was in fact the perfect moment…Christmas!

EDITORIAL

As if there was not enough reasons to like and visit Lisbon (amazing city, the yellow trams, beautiful museums, the sea side, high end restaurants, gorgeous shops and the list goes on), we now have an extra one!!!

Located in the heart of Lisbon, The Club Life to Go arrived by the hands of my dear friend Teresa and is here make your lunch, coffee/tea times…and your Christmas Jolly Healthier….Yes!!

Apart from her extreme good taste and love for food, Teresa is an amazing cook and makes the best chestnut soup you will ever taste in your life…More importantly she dared to bring this idea all the way across the Atlantic and with a full team of professionals they dedicate their time thoroughly planning, preparing and testing fresh meals every day! 

There is also the care of adapting some traditional Portuguese recipes to be made with organic ingredients, low carbs, no sugar and with lactose and gluten free options…and Christmas was not an exception…prepared for mouthwatering?

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Low Carb PanettoneChocolate
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Low Carb PanettoneFruits and Lemon drizzle
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Typical for Christmas – Broas Castelares gluten free and sweetened with dates and agave nectar
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Typical for Christmas- Azevias 

So, either if you live in Lisbon, or are planning a visit or while you enjoy the Lisbon Christmas decorations and perhaps some shopping why not to do a pause, see a friend for lunch or coffee and enjoy one of these gems and so many other options available. 

And while you are there…if you see Teresa, go and say Hi for me!! 

Follow them on Instagram and you can see their fresh menu table everyday! They are just celebrating their 10K followers and until Saturday 16th December  there is a code for discount…check it here.

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Almond Milk Hot Chocolate – no sugar added and a Broa Castelar 

The Random SSs Suggestions for Christmas 

  • Take a Panettone or two as a dessert for your Christmas dinners and lunches (friends and/or work). If you like, you can give your own touch and personalise with a card, a nice card box or bag and some Christmas ribbon. 
  • Do the same with little boxes and add Broas Castelares and Azevias for a coffee or tea at a friend’s house.
  • If planning Christmas baskets with some goods to offer, why not to add these Panettones  and a box of Broas and Azevias for the Christmas day sweets table? Family and Friends will thank you!!! Mine are already reserved!!!
  • There are also some little Cod Cakes which will be amazing as a starter for the Christmas Eve dinner which will leave your guests taste buds jolly happy!
  • And….Enjoy!
  • …..and for the after Christmas…there are always the detox juices.

More ideas for Lunch…just saying..

 

 

Additional Notes

Website: http://www.clublifetogo.com/ here

In Lisbon: Av. Elias Garcia 84, 1050-053 Lisboa, Portugal

Make orders to take home: teresa.lopes@clublifetogo.com

On Instagram: clublifetogo.lisboa follow here 

On the Portuguese media:

Observador here

Evasões here

 

*All photos are owned by The Club Life to Go and fully authorised to be published in Susana Random Ss

Christmas Series: Post #1 Cookies

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Hello Again!
What a way to start this Random Ss Christmas Series …it had to be with Cookies of course, what else? Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked cookies, and these ones smell heavenly when baking.
My Christmas memories are very associated with food, on the days before Christmas our kitchen became a production line with three different generations kneading and rolling dough and baking cakes and pies. The smell of cinnamon was such that you could smell it from outside of the house…and was almost a tradition to run out of it and beg to whoever showed up at the door to do a supermarket run for a couple of packs more!
Last year, when looking for some more healthy alternatives for the kids, my sister shared with me this recipe of Cinnamon and Ginger Cookies from the blog Made by Choices. We both prepared them for the family cookies bag and they where a success, and since then I have made them not only for Christmas but all year round. For the less appreciative of cinnamon (I know you are there) I have a little tip for you below.
The dough is easily and quickly prepared using a food processor and if you don’t eat the dough raw as myself and T did (is so tasty), you will have enough for around 40 cookies which will already allow for some cute nice Christmas bags to share.
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Some Christmas Ideas/Tips:

  • Use cute Christmas cookie cutters, invest in some different ones they will last you for a long time if not forever. Stars, ginger man, leaves, snowmen….
  • Make little bags of cookies to share. You can use some transparent bags (so you can see the nice cute shapes) and close with some Christmas ribbon, there are beautiful ones. When setting the table for a Christmas dinner or lunch put one bag next to everyone’s plate, people can choose to take it home or just have it with coffee or a cup of tea after the meal. If there are kids they will eat them immediately.
  • If you want to offer them for Christmas, it’s better to invest on a nice airtight container jar so they can keep nice and crispy for longer. 
  • There are beautiful bags and ribbon to make cute presents, one thing I tend to do is to always buy different ones at the end of the season when all goes on sale and keep it for the next year! 

Some links that might help you with your Christmas decorations and baking utensils:

  1. Maria Lunarillos Spain, My new find and I am in love!
  2. Docinho de Açucar Portugal, Will be love at first sight…
  3. LakelandUK, All you need for your cooking experiences 
 
And you?  What are your Christmas Traditions, what do you bake, cook, eat?
And don’t forget….
Enjoy!
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 Cinnamon & Ginger Cookies 

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If you are not a big or at all of cinnamon, here is an idea..replace it and the ginger by unsweetened cocoa and use roasted hazelnuts instead of the almonds. Chocolate taste and hazelnuts can never fail! Yummy!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups (220g) oat flour
  • ½ cup (60g) raw almonds
  • 1 cup (150g) pitted dates (I used medjol dates)
  • ⅓ cup (80ml) non-dairy milk (I used almond)
  • 3 tbsp (45ml) melted coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
 
INSTRUCTIONS
  • Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  • In a food processor (normal one, a thermomix, Bimby, etc.) add all ingredients and blend until the dough begins to clump up around the blade.
  • Remove the dough out of the processor and and hand knead until smooth, you may have to use a little bit of flour.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and roll the dough.
  • With cookie cutters (in whatever shape you want) cut and place on the baking tray.
  • Bake until they are golden (15 to 20minutes).
  • Let them cool and harden.
  • Store in a glass container up 2 weeks.

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The Random Ss Christmas Series …

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Hello you! 

After a busy November, we finally have our Christmas decorations on! It seems that every year people start earlier and earlier, but I confess that with T’s birthday and Thanksgiving, I cannot switch my Christmas alarm until early days of December…so when friends told me that they had it all done, including presents by the 1st of December, I think for seconds I had a panic attack!!!

For us at home, when growing up, was on the bank holiday of the 8th of December that the old card boxes would come out of the attic, garage, wardrobes and so on, we tested the lights of the year before and there was always either something baking in the oven or a Bolo Rei (a traditional season cake in Portugal) freshly bought so we could have it for tea!

This year, and totally by chance, as we had to exchange our first pine tree, we officially opened the Christmas season at the V&C’s exactly on the 8th of December, with  cinnamon and ginger cookies baking in the oven and to the sound of All I want for Christmas is you..with T jumping and dancing and fighting his dad attempts to change to his Christmas jazz playlist…So, I jumped as well and for moments I forgot the hidden mess behind this picture (vacuum cleaner included).

And as for this Random space of mine and yours…and in a season that I treasure with all my heart, I planned some posts (as random as you can expect) dedicated to Christmas which I hope you enjoy and maybe help you with some ideas!

Until then…and in the middle of all that seems we are obliged to do during this season…don’t forget to enjoy and that Presence is, more than ever, the most important thing!  

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And our Sweet November Finishes with…

…A Cold and with very (very) cold weather!

It seems that a freezing cold front is underway and finally winter hit Madrid, it is snowing in most of the cities up north and the breezy and very cold days combined with the dozen of snotty red noses in T’s classroom, that every morning come and say hello and sometimes ask for a kiss were a lethal combination…not for them…but for Me!

So, I am indeed finishing this sweet November of ours with a cold and yesterday was an evening for comfort food!

For me the term of comfort food means something that warms your body  and soul, that cooks easily  with nourishing ingredients and that you can eat with a spoon seated on the sofa with a blanket…if this is not comfort what is?

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So the only thing I wanted was T in bed, a shower, a sofa and a blanket and a bowl of this winter soul warmer Red Lentil Coconut Dahl…It also brought me memories … the first time I had a homemade Dhal was at my friends Kelly G house, I can so well remember the smell and cosiness I felt on that afternoon…and the laughs! But yesterday when cooking this recipe was my sweet friend and London neighbour E. that popped into my mind…I remember well the first time I cooked this at home, I immediately knew it had her name on it and from downstairs to upstairs I shared a picture and the recipe…Food and Memories…what a bliss!

Thank you November for all you brought us, for all the Celebrations and Happiness …may December start with the same calm and sweetness!  

If ever in need of comfort, or not…cook this!

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Red Lentil Coconut Dhal 

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I have cooked this several times and I  now do it slightly by eye, but below you have the recipe adapted from the blog The Minimalist Vegan; I use olive oil instead of the coconut oil as the coconut milk is already enough as a flavour but you can use it if wished. I also add some smoked paprika and chilli flakes and serve it with a drizzle of lemon juice which I find to combine perfectly with the coriander and light coconut silky texture of the dhal

INGREDIENTS

  • cooked basmati or Jasmine rice to serve (I had it with brown rice which is nice as well)
  • olive oil (enough cover the sauce pan)
  • 1 red or brown onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2-3 medium tomatoes, diced and peeled (if in a rush you can use canned ones)
  • 400g split red lentils (soaked for about an hour and washed)
  • 1 can coconut milk (400ml)
  • 500 ml of warm water (may need more if too dry)
  • Salt
  • Smoked paprika
  • Chili flakes
  • Handful coriander, roughly chopped
  • Drops of lemon juice to serve

INSTRUCTIONS

  • In a sauce pan heat the olive oil, onion, paprika, chilli flakes and fresh ginger on medium heat until they soften and start slowly browning.
  • Add in the tomato and simmer for about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the lentils, coconut milk and half of the water. Simmer in medium heat and stir occasionally. Cook until all the lentils have turned yellow, softened and cooked through. You may need to add some more water if it’s getting too dry. Do this slowly so you can have a smooth dahl and not too dry or to liquid.
  • Season to taste and toss through the coriander at the end.
  • Serve with the cooked rice, some drops of lemon juice and a dash of smoked paprika.

Enjoy the Comfort

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