Kladdkaka update– HOT!

I just had to let you know– I made the Swedish Sticky Chocolate Cake- Kladdkaka– last night and added 1 tsp of piri-piri infused oil (fairly intense heat). It was AMAZING. Really amazing. Ecstasy. It was like the perfect marriage of molten, sugary sweet chocolate and liquid red hots

It isn’t for everyone. My Man wasn’t a fan. He doesn’t like chili pepper in all things, as I do. Also, the combination of chili and chocolate, or sweet and salty, or many things we do in the US– these things aren’t common in the Portuguese palate. Then again, I simply don’t abide citrus in baked goods, so we all have things, right? Still, he didn’t dislike it so much that he couldn’t enjoy two slices. ;P

With this one, I recommend 20 minutes at 175C/350F. Top with loads of powdered sugar. It also freezes very, very well…and because it is so gooey and liquid, it is very easy to slice off a piece when frozen…and eat it on the spot. I checked today. For science.

Nonetheless, if this sounds good to you–this spicy, devilish cocktail of love– then I recommend you try it ASAP! It’s duct tape for the soul.


Chocolate and Sugar fix– Swedish Sticky Cake/ Kladdkaka

Along with Tibetan Flatbread, falafel, chana masala, pizzas, and healthy cakes, this delicious sugary chocolate bomb has been making regular appearances this baking season.

It’s awesome. If you cook it too long, it is like awesome brownies. If you bake it just long enough, it looks like the photos in the pretty photo blog. If you undercook it, it looks like goo, so don’t do that.

I have been using my 10 inch non-stick springform pan for this one, and I’ve learned something. “Non-stick” doesn’t apply when eggs or an obscene amount of sugar are involved. Parchment or baking paper, tucked right on into the top of the pan, not only saves you serving woes and clean up hassle, but it also looks rustic-chic when you are serving this greatness. Hurray for that, aesthetes!

I have been using this recipe. I chose it because of the very, very pretty pictures, and because the proportions seemed like they would best work with my size pan. The ingredients and photos here are great. However, my most awesome iteration of the recipe only came when I used tips from other pages, like here.

Basically, you need to know-

  1. Whisking the dickens out of the eggs and sugar makes for the best crispy glazed top on the cake you could want.
  2. Whisk your flour, too…because lumps are a pain in the ass, and you don’t want them in the wet mix. Over mixing does bad things to the cake. You’ll end up with a sort of rubbery, dense, unhappy (but let’s face it– still tasty. Chocolate, fat, and sugar. It’ll still work!) cake.
  3. You then gently fold in the flour to this glorious whisked wonder.
  4. You add the cocoa and the vanilla to the melted butter, and whisk to dissolve.
  5. You then add the melted butter mixture to the sugar/eggs/flour mixture.
  6. Adding some cinnamon or even–gasp— some cayenne makes it just that much sexier. Because “mexican chocolate” stuff is fun. I’m sure Sweden is cool with it. Don’t worry.
  7. A dash of coffee in the mix works well, too. I recommend instant. (Less drama with liquids).
  8. 350F for 30 minutes is a bit too long for the gooey cake results in my pan and in my oven. It yields a crackalicious moist, sticky brownie cake, which might be more to your liking. I did this on purpose when I wanted to transport and share the cake at a children’s party. For home consumption, 20 minutes and a spoon is more my speed.

Ok. Now check out the ingredient list at Top With Cinnamon and get inspired by the photos. Then read the order of things at About.com…and review my tips 😉 Mostly, just make this cake. It’s good lovin’, and you can freeze half to keep yourself from hating yourself in the morning 🙂

I’m planning on making this again soon. My Man needs a steady diet of chocolate and red wine this week after the whole “Benfica” travesty this past weekend. And after the loss again on Wednesday. Plus, I killed my iPad, wind/rain/hail have taken over summer this week, and My Man, Grandissimo, and I all have colds. Hm. Tough times. Need chocolate.

All Day Cake- Recipe

All Day Cake, because, let’s be honest, we’ll be eating it all day anyway.

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup flour (I only had white, so I also added a few spoons of wheat bran and wheat germ)
  • 1/2 cup fruit muesli
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • about 1/4 c shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • a couple spoons of corn flour (optional)
  • 3/4 c honey
  • a gigantic, heaping tablespoon of molasses
  • 2 eggs (I strongly encourage you to use organic, free range, local, etc. etc. etc…)
  • 2 containers of plain, unsweetened yogurt (1 cup total)
  • 1/2 c oil (I always use olive oil, in spite of–or rather, embracing–the flavor)
  • nutmeg, to taste
  • cinnamon, to taste
  1. Whisk the dry ingredients
  2. Mix in the wet ingredients
  3. Oil or butter and flour a big bundt cake pan (after flouring, I also tossed in some more coconut, for funsies and for a bit of insurance)
  4. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake at 160-175 C (320-350 F) for about 50 minutes. Test with a toothpick.
  5. Let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a serving plate. Flip over onto another plate so it is right side up– the top glazed surface is quite tasty!
  6. Feel less guilty about eating cake all day. At least we kicked the refined sugars out of the equation and added some fiber and vitamins and minerals 😉

Let me know how this works for you! We had it for breakfast, and it is already a hit in the house. I think I will cut the honey back to 1/2 cup, but I wanted to be conservative for this first try. The sugars from the fruit muesli do add more than enough sweetness to compensate for the reduction, I think!

What’s been cooking– recent weeks at Gradissima’s house (honey sweet and sour ; Tibetan flatbread)

Spring makes me love the world again. Strike that. SUN makes me love the world again. We haven’t had too many days with glorious sun and good weather in the past weeks, but we’ve had enough to jumpstart my biological clock into “I love Portugal and farmer’s markets and flowers and the organic farm and fresh food and produce and making EVERYTHING in my kitchen” mode.

After such a long, gloomy winter, my sunshine standards have lowered quite a bit.

It also helps that Grandissimo, coming out of a few baby illnesses, teething periods, phases of velcro napping (ie, sleeping only when firmly attached to Mommy), etc. has gotten back into an easier routine. (I write this with great optimism, as the ‘routine’ has really only been a sporadic sequence of happy events… I think the real routine is rough, and the successes are little Easter eggs along the trail….)


A few weeks ago, while Grandissimo was sleeping and latched onto el boob, I watched a rerun of Jaime At Home (Love you, Jaime Oliver! Don’t you wish you could work with him? Anywhere?) and he was having fun with rhubarb. I loved what he did with pork (more or less THIS recipe). In reality, I just liked the garam masala and honey idea in a sweet and sour dish.

I recreated it, sans rhubarb and pork, with TVP nuggets. It was delicious. The oven time was ideal (like a fast marination) and let me do baby stuff in between prepping dinner in stages. I added extra carmelized onions. Greatness.

Then, this weekend, I did more or less the same with some shiny, happy eggplants from our local organic farm. Awesome. I’ve been eating my veggies….ahhhhhh. Responsibility tastes good 🙂 And, of course, I’ve been feeding My Man healthy food, too! (Grandissimo is still a bit young for the kind of spice I throw into these things, but he likes the noodles!)

Another recipe I’ve developed a serious crush on is this Tibetan Flatbread recipe. La Fuji Mama adapted it from Jacques Pépin. It probably has a very marginal affiliation with anything Tibetan, but it works, and it lends itself to adaptation.

I have a love affair with this bread for the following reasons:

1. I was already in the habit of making pancakes in the afternoons for snack time with Grandissimo.

2. La Fuji Mama’s directions are crystal clear. With photos for each step. And it worked for me the first time.

3. It is a great, great recipe to have if you live in Southeast Asia or anywhere conventional ovens are hard to find…if you like fresh bread.

As you might know, I spent some years in Timor, and I have beloveds still living there. Fresh bread on demand was hard to come by (though you could get awesome rolls in the mornings, if you caught the pão guy and his cart, or got to Tiger Fuel in time), and even folks with toaster ovens were bread-challenged. I wish I’d had this recipe back then, and I think my Timor pals will get a lot of use out of it now.

Last-minute, home-made, cheap bread. What’s not to like?

I have some Pro Tips for you before you get started.

1. Follow La Fuji Mama’s directions. They are clear. Yes, the bread will be very plain… but doing a trial run without variations is cheap and it will help you get an idea of what you need to tweak in terms of temperature, or baking powder, or flour or oil or water or pan… Have patience. Do the trial run.

2. If it sticks when you try to flip it, let it cook longer.

3. If it starts to break apart when turning, let it cook longer.

4. Now that’s out of the way, here are some variations I’ve tried and loved:

  • Mix dried herbs into the dough. Put half the batter into the pan, then layer cheese and tomatoes (seeded) and basil in the middle. Put the rest of the batter on top. PIZZA BREAD!
  • Mix about 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast and a couple teaspoons (or more!) black pepper into the dough. Instead of one big blob in the pan, make several “biscuits”.
  • If you want to use a bigger pan, increase the recipe by 50%.
  • Sautee some mushrooms or onions or garlic (or all of these) and throw them into the mix…

5. I know La Fuji Mama says (in the comments section) that a pan without non-stick coating should work, but I’ve had the best luck with the non-stick pan. I know…it’s bad for you, and the kids, and the air, and the world…but it works. I do think an uncoated pan would work, but sometimes things stick. And burn. I have little patience for anything BUT my child. Stick ‘n’ burn = no.

Give it a whirl, and let me know what you think!


Toasted Almond Honey Cream Cheese Puffs with Jam

Who needs a creative title when the ingredient list looks this tasty? This, friends, was what came of a post-wedding cake craving for sweet, cheesecakey goodness.

It did not taste like cheese cake. It was delicious. It was easy. I will be making these again.

Plus, the puffs are super cute.

Like many great concoctions, this began with a store-bought roll of puff pastry. I buy these en masse when they go on sale, and I throw them into the freezer. When I want to use one for dinner, I take it out of the freezer in the morning. Easy peasey.

I used some cute silicone cupcake cups, cut squares of puff pastry dough into squares to fit the cups.

-big handful of toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
-light cream cheese (maybe ¼ cup?)
-equal part local honey (1:1 ratio with the cream cheese)

Mix the cream cheese and honey until smooth. Add toasted chopped almonds.

Spoon into puff pastry cups– just a spoonful in each, to cover the base.

Top with a very small spoonful of jam (I used strawberry).

Put cups onto baking tray. Pop into preheated oven (I cooked mine at 160 C/ 320 Funtil the puff pastry turned lightly golden)


The Portuguese Soliloquy of Complaint, and other Culture Shock Challenges

Culture shock is a tricky thing– just peek at the Wikipedia page on Culture Shock, and you’ll get an idea of how complex and interwoven it really is. I’d really love to (honestly) call myself cosmopolitan, but most of the time, I feel like my brain is swamped in an ongoing struggle to make sense of everyday encounters.

I struggle with this stuff on an intellectual and existential level…. but most days, I just try to keep my adolescent inner-self in check. 

Allow me to list some pet peeves in broad-sweeping, stereotype-laden and un-anthropological language.


The “Portuguese No” finger.

  • You’ll know when you encounter this one. You’ll offer a Portuguese person something at the dinner table, perhaps a beverage or some more potatoes, and rather than responding verbally, the Portuguese person will give you an absurd finger wag as though you are a toddler being chastised. This, apparently, means “no, thank you, but thanks for offering.” 
  • The “Portuguese No” also pops up in the course of normal conversation– politics, food, clothes, whatever. It simply means “I disagree”.
  • Most appropriately, it is used in interactions with small children.
  • RESIST the temptation to grab the finger (which is sometimes wagged dangerously close to one’s face) and to break it. Breaking the finger, as your instincts most certainly command you to do, would be very, very inappropriate.

The Portuguese Soliloquy of Complaint.

  • This is a doozy. When two Portuguese people have an interaction that involves some sort of social or physical mishap, and either one or both think the other is at fault, the offended person(s) will launch into a Soliloquy of Complaint. This involves mutually understood, though archaic, hand-gestures and an extended input of energy. The offended person(s) will lecture the other person on elementary manners, list the people the offending behavior may or may not have affected/affect in the future/are theoretically affected by at home , wonder out loud if the offender behaves this way in other situations, and sometimes continues on into another topic of seemingly unrelated conversation.
  • It is a soliloquy rather than a lecture because “lecture” assumes that someone is listening. Most often, both parties launch into the soliloquy without any apparent regard to whether the other person is listening. Often, if the two are in fact engaged with one another, the competing soliloquies merge into a sort of argument involving a great number of hand-gestures and folksy colloquialisms.
  • Impressively, the Portuguese Soliloquy of Complaint is a common occurrence between motorists. The fact that the two motorists cannot hear one another does not seem to damper the impetus to expound upon manners and perceived infractions to one another, and the hand-gestures are conveyed by use of rear-view and side-mirrors. The Soliloquies can continue for several minutes, despite driving at high speeds while tailgating, which apparently all motorists do.


  • This is standard behavior. I’ve seen extreme tailgating take place late at night, when there are only two cars on the road. I have no idea why this is so widespread. 

Long, Repetitive Conversations about Nothing

  • These normally take place in inopportune locations. For instance, if a group would like to figure out where to go next after a party, they will congregate late at night, in the freezing cold, in a parking lot, especially if the women are in very high heels and wearing short dresses exposing them to the cold. The conversation will not take a quick problem-solving direction. Rather, the same ideas and concepts will be repeated over and over by different people and unrelated issues will be introduced. This is in order to make sure everyone is as uncomfortable as possible.
  • This can also take place outside of restaurants at night (in the cold) while discussing why the person the group is waiting for is late. There is no way this conversation can take place inside the restaurant while waiting for the person who is late. 
  • The Long, Repetitive Conversation about Nothing can be about anything (nothing). The important thing is that it takes a great deal of time and focus and that it usurps the time/place of something that is actually enjoyable by all parties.

Adults Lecturing Adults as though they are Small Children

  • In my comfort zone, conversations between adults often includes advice. However, the advice is offered as one of many options, and there are usually conversational buffers involved. Here, no such thing occurs. There’s no softening of words, no buffers–You MUST do X. That’s it. You CAN’T do Y. It’s all very black and white and right and wrong, and it makes it quite challenging to gracefully maneuver out of an uncomfortable discussion using old-school techniques. 
  • For example, if you are pregnant and someone comes up to you offering unsolicited advice, you can whip out the generic “oh, thank you. What a good idea. I’ll talk to my doctor about that/ I might try that.” Here, however, the advice is an order, and the lecturer is eagerly awaiting your implied promise to do what they just told you to do. …alternately, you could engage in a lengthy discussion of why you don’t agree with the order/advice. Knowing how long a conversation will take, however, and given that you have probably already invested all the time you are willing to invest on this topic with this person, you don’t want to do that. 
  • The Lecture pops up in all facets of life– babies, pregnancy, dogs, house, money, food… I have yet to find a phatic way of excising myself from these lectures. Unnecessary confrontation seems rude to me, as does my own lecturing of the other person and giving them a condescending intellectual smack-down. I’m not interested in having lengthy discussions about germane topics with every person who lecture-talks to me. I respect that we all have different ideas, and that they are appropriate in different situations. I just don’t want to get into an awkward conversation about it. (I’m, like, SO unenlightened…)


There are ever so many more, but Grandissimo is awake, so I’ll have to vent later. 


We can’t always be culturally competent superstars 😛