Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Truffles in Croatia

Last week I was in Croatia, as usual in this time of the year due to working reasons. Every year the nice people from the Institute Ruder Boscovic in Rovinj, try to arrange some trips for us visitors to discover a bit more of Istria. This year we were visiting a family business dedicated to truffles.

The Karlić family has been dedicated to the truffles for some generations. They train their own dogs to sniff the truffles in the nearby Motovun forest in Paladini. In the small visit we made them, we were shown how the dogs were searching for the truffles (not very lucky though, we found only one) and of course the stock of white and black truffles they had for sale, as well as many other related products.

To finish things up, we were served some truffle cheese and smoked sausage, and truffle omelet (made with fresh eggs from the farmer down the road) . Devine! All served with home made wine.

It was a really nice familiar environment, reminded me of these small traditional places in Portugal that are becoming more and more rare.

I advise everyone to visit Croatia, in particular the area of Istria. Rovinj a harbor city, has a special meaning for me, but around it you find a lot of other towns and villages with a lot of history, good food and wonderful people.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Coconut and mandarine cake

My birthday was on the end of July, and usually where I work, we always take a cake for the colleagues when there is this type of celebration. Happens that in my working place I have a lot of colleagues which demanded for at least 2 huge cakes.

Here is one of them, a very fresh cake good for the summer (or for the lucky ones who happen to have summer where they live, because here it´s something virtual).

The recipe was adapted from Dr. Oetker.

Coconut and mandarine cake

Bottom cake dough
60 g butter
75 g of sugar (I used brown sugar)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (I used homemade one)
2 eggs
100 g cake flour
1 tablespoon of backing powder
25 g of maizena

Cream mixture
150 g of pealed and skinned mandarine pieces (can be canned also)
250 g of creme fraiche
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
50 g of maizena
80 g of sugar
(in the recipe it asked for a package powder for vanilla pudding, I opted to use the maizena and vanilla extract)

Coconut topping
100 g of grated coconut
50 g of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 egg
1 tablespoon of milk


Start by pre-heating the oven to 180°C and put some butter and flour in the springform.
For the bottom cake dough, mix the butter with the sugar until creamy. Add the eggs one by one mixing each egg before adding the next one. Slowly add the flour, maizena, backing powder and vanilla extract mixing it well. Place the dough in the backing form and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. After this time take it from the oven and let it cool slightly while you prepare the cream mixture.
For the cream mixture, mix the creme fraiche with the vanilla extract, sugar and maizena until well mixed. Distribute the mandarine pieces on the top of the previously baked cake dough and then add the creme fraiche mixture on the top. Bake again for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the coconut topping by mixing all the ingredients together. Spread it trough the top the baked cream cake and bake it one last time for 20 minutes, until the coconut topping is slightly brown.
Let it cool down completely and release from the springform.