Thursday 9 February 2012

Chocolate Argentine Alfajores for Valentine's Day

Dear readers,

I wanted to make a tasty treat to post to my boyfriend (in Argentina) for Valentine's Day. I posted him some of the Argentine Thumbprint Cookies that I made back in October and he absolutely loved them, as well as the idea of them being homemade and travelling so far. I decided that the Valentine's treat had to be heart-shaped and it had to be something small and light for the post. The Argentine Thumbprint Cookies were adapted from the traditional Argentine Alfajores (shortbread cookies sandwiched with dulce de leche and dusted with desiccated coconut), so I decided to make a Valentine's version of alfajores!

I used the same recipe for the shortbread that I used for the Argentine Thumbprint Cookies (55g sugar creamed with 125g of butter with 180g plain flour), but substituted 20g of the flour for some cocoa powder to make them dark and chocolately. Shortbread is so simple to make and so delicious that is has become a favourite of mine!

I rolled the shortbread dough (I ended up using an empty wine bottle as this student house seems to be a lacking rolling pin, as well as nutmeg, which I mentioned in my previous post!) and used a heart-shaped pastry cutter to cut out some hearts that were around 3mm thick. I then baked them at 180°C for around 10-12 minutes. After they had cooled, I sandwiched them with dulce de leche and rolled the edges in desiccated coconut.

I can only hope that they make it safely through the post and arrive on time!

Thursday 2 February 2012

Simple Gratin Dauphinois

Dear readers,

I hope that you are all keeping yourselves warm this winter! Yesterday, as I was walking home from university, I had a sudden craving for Gratin Dauphinois. I used to make this dish all the time when I was a child, due to it's simplicity. As a student, half of my diet consists of potatoes. I am well known for eating "mountains of mash" on the side of every meal and so I decided to do something different with some of the potatoes from the 5kg bag that I purchase on every shopping trip!

Fortunately, I had some parmesan in the fridge. I find that this beauty goes with almost everything, especially everything potato.

Apart from the parmesan and some milk, my fridge was pretty bare. So this gratin really is simple. It consists of layers of sliced potatoes, softened onions and parmesan, with some milk, salt and pepper. This house does have paprika but, in the end, I forgot to add it! It would have been better with cream instead of milk, but what wouldn't be better with cream?! This version, however, still satisfied my craving nicely.

This recipe is very adaptable. One could add whatever cheese one wished, and mushrooms to the layers (or any vegetable for that matter). I would have loved to add some nutmeg, but that is something that this student house is lacking!

P.S. Sorry (again!) for the delayed posting. I have, actually, been experimenting in the kitchen, but I've experienced a couple of failures! Please stay tuned!