Family time

Hi all

There are important things in life that require our full attention and need us to disconnect completely from our day to day activities and that is exactly what holidays are for.

In our modern world, sometimes we forget that life goes on without us moving around like ants making sure that something is being done or by watching the time every five minutes to make sure that we know what is happening somewhere in the world.

When we are young we enjoy the life to plenitude and we are easily impressed, that is why we spend most of the time happily living and enjoying our life with as little worries as possible but when we grow older and we join the adult world we forget the excitement of the young ones. Until we have kids and we see them enjoying themselves with the most simple things, at that moment is when we go back to our young-selves and we reconsider our way of living.

Now, holidays are for us to enjoy the life as it should be and to get a balance in our crazy life. Be yourselves, make sure that you see things that are not just in front of your eyes and use the eyes of the young ones.

Give those first steps to that world forgotten by your old self and enjoy the happiness of being around your love ones, and with them just move from your safe ground to the unknown of the life.To make sure that you can achieve it remember to become part of the spectators and understand the world that you were into when you were a kid.

Fell into the dreams, first on your bed when you sleep (and sleep a lot) and later in your mind, use your imagination every second of the day and forget what you are and become what you want to be in that dream

Being a Panda or a Lion is up to you,  as soon as you are able to dream it.

Make sure that you can see beyond the bubble that encircle your world and submerge into the sea of the possibilities.  When you achieve all that, you will be ready to see with the eyes of the young ones and them you will be able to see what is in front of you but not at plain sight.

That should be your family time!!! Hope that you all enjoy your summer holidays as we did.

Be free. Open your eyes. Become a Kid!

 

 

 

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September the month of a new start

Here it comes September with a lower sun, still the trees are dressed and you can see the colours of flowers already bloomed. Temperatures are dropping, but yet you can not feel the cold of the winter nor the heat of the summer left behind. It is definitely a month of transition, transition because nature rules it, transition because old cycles are closing to open new ones with a fresh air, that air that we all need to start again.

September the month of a new start…

Thank you and love

Marialegs

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Roast Chicken

This idea of roasting chicken came out of good memories when one of my aunties (Otilia) used to prepare a delicious chicken in orange sauce. I was always thinking I would like to make a chicken like this until one day I decided to search by internet some recipes, I found one that really drew my attention and I have been adapting up to my taste, so now I prepare it even with lemon and lime as well as different spices.

Here we go, I am going to show you with detail how to make the one in an orange sauce and then give some different ideas for the marinated part, so you could make the roast chicken you like the most.

Chicken in orange sauce

Ingridients

A tray of 6 to 8 chicken thighs

4 oranges and two cups of 100% fresh squeezed orange juice from supermarket.

2 tea spoons of fennel seeds

2 tea spoons of mustard

1 tea spoon of salt

3 table spoons of honey

4 cloves of garlic

Marination

– Place the chicken thighs in a deep container to make sure that they sink in the orange juice.

– Squeeze the 4 oranges and add the two cups of orange juice.

– Add the fennel seeds, mustard, salt, honey.

– Chop the garlic and add it to the mix.

– Leave the chicken in the container with the mix for 20min to one hour, if you have the time.

– Then put everything in a baking tray.

– Pre heat the oven to 160*C for about 10min and then place the tray with the chicken in the oven.

– To cook the chicken is about an hour, make sure that when the chicken thighs look roasted on one side you flip it over to roast the other sides.

I have made this roast chicken in orange sauce adding 2 tea spoons of curry powder and also replacing the fennel seeds by Rosemary ( I discover my little daughter does not like much the fennel seeds, so to make it nice for her I replace it sometimes).

All these steps mentioned above you can also try them with different ingredients.

Chicken in a lemon sauce                        Chicken in a soy sauce

3 limes and 4 lemons                                Soy sauce

3 tea spoons Herbs de provence              2 tea spoons of rosemary

1 tea spoon of rosemary                           1 tea spoon of salt

2 tea spoons of salt                                   3 table spoons of honey

1 table spoon of Spicy smoke paprike

Sometimes for the Chicken in lemon sauce, instead of using paprike I have added spicy pepper seeds as well as some curry powder. Amazing the different ways the chicken can be prepared, I will soon try with ginger and lemon grass.

Get creative, take your herbs and spices out and try your own way.

I hope you enjoy it.

Thank you and love 🙂

Marialegs

 

 

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Milk Cake/ Torta tres leches

Hi all

This is a simple and sweet cake recipe that can be accessible to almost any one.

Preparation time: 20min     Cooking time: 30 min     Serve: 15 Portions

Ingredients

  • 200gr Plain flour
  • 250 Caster sugar
  • 6 medium Eggs (separate egg yolks from whites)
  • a pinch of salt

For the milks

  • 1 tin of Condensed milk
  • 1 tin of Evaporated milk
  • 200ml Double cream/ Heavy cream
  • 1 Vanilla beans or 1 tsp Vanilla essence
  • 1/2 Tonka bean micro plane (Optional)
  • Dark Rum (Optional and to your taste)

For the topping

  •  3 eggs whites
  • 100gr of caster sugar

Preparation:

Preheat your oven at 170C.

We will first prepare the basic sponge by adding the eggs whites into the mixer with a pinch of salt (see basic Meringue recipe) whisk until you have a soft peak, then start adding the caster sugar without stopping mixing very slowly to not drop the eggs whites, when you have finished with the sugar and the meringue is smooth texture, stop the mixer and proceed to add the flour slowly using a mixing spoon or plastic spatula, you need to be really careful when adding the flour to avoid mixing too much or adding to much  flour at a time as this will make your cake heavy. When you have finished adding the flour, add the yolks one by one and incorporate to the mix slowly.

Prepare a baking cake mold, please make sure that is a deep mold at least  5cm deep and 30 cm long, and add soft butter all around the areas of the mold, after that, add a bit of flour and spread it all trough the baking mold. Place the mix on the mold and put into the oven and cook for 30 minutes or until center of the cake is dry (insert a small knife or stick into the middle of the cake and if it comes dry the cake is ready)

Now we can prepare the milks,mix all the ingredients in the blender or on a bowl. reserve until the cake is cooked.

When the cake is cooked, leave it to rest for 10 minutes or so until is warm but not hot and with the help of a fork or small knife start making some holes all over the cake, this is to help the cake absorb the milks. When you are done start adding the milks mix slowly to not over flow the mold, every time the milks are absorbed add a bit more until the whole milk mix is gone. Leave the cake cool down on the fridge and the milks to set.

For the decoration place three eggs whites on the mixer or bowl and with the help of a whisk bring them to a soft peak point and add the sugar slowly with out stop mixing to avoid the meringue to drop.When the meringue is done cover the cake with it. This can be done by using a piping bag, a spatula or even a spoon, here is where your imagination will help you. On this occasion I just use a palette knife to spread the meringue and later a spoon to make a bit of rises on the cake, add the end I used a blow torch to burn the top of the meringue and give it a  bit of colour.

The cake is ready to serve. Enjoy it.

He forgot to say that the idea of decorating it with the spoon was mine :), how cheeky!!

 

 

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Willmer Colmenares

Basic Meringue (understanding the process)

 

 

 

 

 

Hi All

While writing some of the recipes I realized that some of the people that I know does not understand a few of the basis techniques that could help them achieve the best results when making preparations with eggs. A Basic meringue is one of the most important thing to understand if you want to be able to make cakes and baking mix as understanding how to use eggs on all this recipes is what makes the final product a success.

Meringue is a basic part of some mayor cakes and pastries as angel food cake, pavlova, Baked Alaska, Queen of Puddings, Key lime pie, Eton mess and lemon meringue pie

There are three main kinds of meringue recipe that you should know.

French meringue: this is the most basic meringue, is made by beating the eggs whites with fine sugar, this is not a really stable meringue and is normally keep  for a short period of time before start dropping.

Italian meringue: this kind of meringue needs a bit more of understanding, and is  achieved by boiling sugar syrup until you reach the ball point at around 116C and then incorporate eggs whites as on the french meringue. The result of this is a more shiny and stronger meringue that stays firm for many days,  this kind of meringue is usually used for cakes, decorations, souffles and some other kind of baking. The proportion of sugar is usually 30g for eggs white.

 

 

 

 

Swiss meringue: is prepared by whisking the eggs over a Bain Marie, and then whisk steady until the eggs cook, this will give you a more firm meringue that is usually baked or used as filling for tarts and fruits.

 

 

 

 

Well now that we all know the general information we need to come to the practical part. how to whisk or how much ? why to whisk? how all this work?.

For some time I have many of my chefs asking me those questions and it amazed me how little nowadays cooks know about the physics and chemistry of the general basic cooking. I would like to start recommending for some of you who are interesting on knowing how things happen! the following books “Mcgee on Food and Cooking” by Harold McGee and “kitchen Mysteries” by Herve this, the first is for those of you who like chemistry and want to understand every detail, the second is detailed enough to help you understand the process of cooking.

Now is time to explain the process on the recipe that we are looking at, let’s start from the beginning, keep your eggs at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before any preparation as the temperature of the eggs is essential to break the hydrogen bonds in the protein, and make them unfold and denature and in consequence trap the air particles on itself creating the bubbles that will make the whites to grow into a foamy texture.

Be aware of where  you are going to beat your eggs, the material of the bowl might help you or not. If you use a plastic bowl for example or any other material where the fats are easily stuck it will make it more difficult to lift your eggs as the bowls could have fats particles within its walls and in consequence make it difficult the braking up of the hydrogen bond in the proteins of the eggs. In the other hand if you use a copper bowl, it will react with the eggs and help on the denature of the proteins that will create better peaks when whisking your eggs. In resume, make sure that your bowl is clean of any fat, water or debris before adding the eggs whites.

When breaking the eggs make sure that not egg yolks fall into the whites because  the egg yolks fat will mix with the proteins on the egg whites and will reduce their ability  to brake and fold the air particles. Brake the eggs one by one on small containers or remequins to avoid having them contaminated with the yolks in case the yolk brakes.

Now that we have finally brake the eggs and place them into the bowl there are a couple of factors that will help you on the process of lifting the eggs whites.

Acidity: the addition of vinegar, lemon, lime or a similar kind of acid will help you to brake the proteins because of their electric charges. A bit to complicate to go in details but easy enough to understand that a touch of lemon juice or vinegar will help you to have faster whisk whites and steady peaks.

Salt: adding a pinch of salt before starting whisking the whites will help the eggs whites to coagulate easily when whisking the eggs.

Cream of tartar: also known as potassium hydrogen tartrate is a acid salt that is used as a stabilizing of egg whites  and increase their heat tolerance and volume.

Now how long should we whisk. The eggs white beating is classified in three stages according to the peaks they form when the beater is lifted: soft, firm, and stiff peaks. This is whisking your eggs from soft to hard, being stiff peak when your eggs form a stiff peak when lifting your whisk from the bowl.

Wow!! So much information just to make a basic recipe, but I am sure that after understanding the whole lot, you will never have any problems when whisking your eggs.

Baking meringues is a classic and simple recipe which is mainly whisk egg whites with sugar cooked a really slow temperature for a relatively long period of time

Basic French Meringue recipe:

  • 4 eggs (separate the whites from the yolks)
  • pinch of salt
  • 220 gr of Caster sugar
  • the juice of half lemon and the zest

The first thing that you should know is that when making meringues your first enemy, to call it someway, will be the humidity as the whole process is only to make and keep the  the products as dry as possible, then try to not make them on a rainy day or just after baking as there will be a lot of humidity around that will make your meringues soft.

Now is time to follow all the recommendations explained before and put into practice your knowledge and common sense.

Pre heat the Oven at 120C. Whisk your egg whites into soft peak and start adding the sugar slowly but consistently  spoonful by spoonful without stopping whisking until all your sugar have been incorporated and you achieve a stiff peak, the best way to check it is by lifting your whisk and checking if the meringue does not move and make like a wizard hat, the consistency should be smooth and the sugar should be dissolved completely. One word of caution, make sure that you do not over beat the eggs as this will make the meringues collapse on the oven and crystallize .

 

 

 

 

By using a spoon or a piping bag make small round cones kind of shape on a silicon tray
(silicon baking mad) or a baking tray with silicon paper, make sure that you leave some space between the meringues to avoid getting stuck together. Place the meringues into the oven and reduce the temperature to 90°C. When you place the meringues in the oven, the initial slightly higher temperature sets their outsides. The lower temperature then dries the meringues rather than bakes them. Leave the oven on for 1 1/2 hour or until the meringues are crispy and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Turn the oven off and allow the meringues to cool in the oven – this will take 3-4 hours

The meringues will have a pale looking colour (not toasted colour), they will be crisp on the outside and slightly soft on the inside. Place the Meringues on a air tight container and keep up to three weeks.

Remember that the same process could be use to any kind of meringue recipe that you will need, from decorating ones to Souffles

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The greatest moment ever in life

We as women have the great gift of giving birth and the ability to grow with warmth and love from the very beginning a little person in our womb, great experience indeed!!!. My experiences were similar but not the same in certain moments during the delivery, I really enjoyed my two pregnancies and when it came to giving birth I was mentally prepared to do so in a natural way.

My first baby took me so long, I had contractions for three days ( they were not strong enough so I could cope with the pain), until finally the third day in the morning I got in to labor, I was dreaming with a home delivery in a pool which was the funniest part ever because my hubby kept setting up the pool, filling up and emptying it through the three days and in the end that morning he was so knackered  that I went up to wake him up. That day we headed off to the hospital since my little lady did poo inside and they had to monitor the progress.

It was a long day, I started the labor at 6am and gave birth to a healthy baby at 7:20pm, a bit long I know, I could not feel all the process naturally because they were helping me to accelerate the dilation with oxcitocine and I was so tired that I ended up asking for epidural, but anyway the big moment came when I had to push and I did not know whether to focus only on pushing or laughing because I had a bunch of lovely people supporting me, one of them was my hubby, at the beginning also my mom and later on, all the doctors. Can you imagine? push push push!!, hehehe, and then all of them looking at my most intimate parts until the delivery doctor said she is here, took her and put her in my abdomen. Happiness of success for bringing a baby safe and sound to this world.

My second baby was more relaxing, I started feeling contraction around 4pm on a Saturday and he decided to come into this world the day after around 7:30pm. In this occasion I was determined to give birth in the hospital, so I arrived to the hospital around 4 am in the morning and I was almost in established labor which made me feel so release, still when they passed me to the waiting pre birth rooms, I kept chasing the midwife in charge to make her check on my progress, but she kept saying you are not ready yet, so I told her, then give gas.

Great decision for me because once I had the gas everything was turning into pink, even my hubby and I were making jokes out of silly things, he actually said I think I will take some gas home for the hard time to relax, hehehe. Finally around 4 pm the midwife decided that it was time to check on me, realising that I was already 7 cm dilated, amazing!!, work in progress :). I could feel all the changes in my body and how the contraction came closer.

I only had time to walk and stop having a contraction every 5 and 3 minutes until I arrived to the delivery room, there she was a strong midwife waiting for me, and with no time me saying I want to pushhh. All this time my hubby trying to guess what he should do and feeling uncertain on which way to treat me. The feeling of the push was like a reflection of the body (exactly how my mom describes it, like a sneeze and an urge feeling of going to the toilet), there it was I finally met that feeling and lived it, but for some reason again my baby position was back to back and it was difficult to get it out, so I had some help and taraaa baby on my arms crying, safe and sound, everyone in the room giving me that great smile of, a little person has just arrived!! :).

 

In both births my hubby was my strongest support, there he was in the most difficult moments, saying you can do it, loving me and embracing me with his glance and the warmth of his kiss and rub on my face, everything is going to be ok, his glance expressed it to my glance in every moment, and then hugging with his arms our little babies, babies made with love :).

Thank you and love

Marialegs

 

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Taste of London

What an exiting weekend!!a lot of different food and a great park!

Dharma’s and Aiden first food exhibition.

Nothing better than food, good company and a LONDON SUMMER! haha

 

 

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The Secret of Spices and Herbs

I guess this topic will be better in my hubby’s hand, but for some reason I want to write about it. Spices and herbs have been around all my life, I come from a family where every single woman likes cooking, great grand ma, grand ma, mum and aunties, actually even the ones that we borrowed from other families that we also call aunties! they know how to cook too. Cooking is one of the greatest way to share our family culture and with this spices and herbs come into place.

I am always trying to understand what combines the best with certain food, and lately I have realised that spices and herbs are a good help to give a boost to the taste of our dishes in a very easy way, it is like if I already know it but it is now when the knowledge is awakening inside me. Sometimes, we have to know that some herbs are put right in the end but some others from the beginning of the preparation.

So here I would like to recommend you a free encyclopedia that describes herbs and spices as well as gives some tips on how to use them, Spices & Herbs/ Culinary Cafe, and also I would like to give you the name of a book that gives some suggestions on how to combine flavors ( great gift from my hubby, he is reading my mind lately), The flavour Thesaurus, very practical and easy to use.

One great thing about herbs is that you can have them fresh or dry, so even if you do not have a garden you can plant some of them in a pot indoors and they grow beautifully, thus you have them at the reach of your hand whenever you wish to use them.

Just to finish, after having all those lovely ladies surrounding me with great food I ended up marrying a great chef. I always say Life is grand 😉

Thank you and Love

Marialegs

 

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Resolutions

Half of the year is gone and it is incredibly quick the way is going, so I think it would be very helpful to review all those resolutions that you set at the beginning of this year when you were eating the grapes and start ticking the list.

For those resolutions that you can see are impossible or not quite ready for this year, feel free to put them off and reinforce those ones that are more realistic, put all your enthusiasm on them, even if the picture have changed, be flexible and change with it, set new resolutions according to what you are living and go with the flow.

Avoidance takes us to repeat the same situation again and again, so it is better to do what life is asking us to do than just avoid doing those special things in our path and miss something on the way because sometimes doing the ones not so special will lead us to the great ones.

Just a thought.

Thank you and love

Marialegs

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