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Recipe for Torte de Limao

Our first attempt at torte de limao

It hasn’t all been hard work. On Sunday Jon’s sister invited us all around for Sunday lunch. We thought we’d try making a torte de limao which we’d tried and loved in Brasil. It’s kind of a cross between lemon cheesecake and lemon meringue pie, sweet and creamy, and can be made with lemons or limes. It went down very well after Karin’s superb lunch and so we thought we’d share it with you all.

Torte de Limao

The base
250g crushed ginger nut biscuits
75g melted butter
chopped stem ginger to taste

Mix all the base ingredients together and using the back of a spoon, press down into a greased, 22cm, loose-bottomed, deep flan or cake tin.

The middle lemon cheesecake layer
2 tins condensed milk
200ml double cream
juice and all the zest of three lemons (or five limes)

Mix (don’t whisk) lemon cheesecake layer ingredients together until the mixture stiffens (due to a reaction between the lemon juice and the condensed milk). Pour the mixture on top of the biscuit base and place into the fridge to chill for a couple of hours.

The meringue topping
3 medium egg whites
150g caster sugar
juice of half a lemon (or lime)

Preheat an oven to 160 degrees C (gas mark 3). Using an electric whisk on a high setting, whisk up the egg whites until stiff. Then continuing to whisk, add in a spoonful of sugar at a time and also the lemon juice. Check that the meringue forms soft peaks and spoon carefully onto the top of the cheesecake filling.

Place the tin on a rack in the middle of the oven for 10-12 minutes, checking carefully throughout cooking, then turn the oven off and leave the torte in the oven for a further 10 minutes.

After this time, remove the torte from the oven, cool and then chill until it’s time to serve. The torte will serve approximately 12 people.

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Learning how to make chocolate

Roasted cocoa beans

Back in Cusco yesterday we decided to recuperate from our hike with a 2 hour chocolate workshop at the highly rated ChocoMuseo. It turned out to be a great idea. Our chef first of all gave us a talk on the cocoa tree and we got to see some cocoa pods. Then back in the kitchen she took some locally grown cocoa beans that had already been through a fermentation process and slow roasted them on the hob. We all got to have a lucky stir and the aromas were amazing. We then all mucked in to shell the beans. She made the roasted shells  into cocoa tea (which we love anyway when we find it back in the UK). We ground the  remaining chocolate nibs using pestle and mortars (and then a grinder) until smooth and liquidy. At this stage the paste tasted chocolatey, but quite bitter and earthy as well. The chef then showed us how to make this into two different types of hot chocolate: one she just added water, sugar and a bit of chili like the Maya people would originally have made; the second version was inspired by the English, adding milk and sugar and then frothing it up using a twizzle stick. Both were great.

Mmmmm

To make chocolate, the factory adds the  ground pure chocolate and sugar into a special grinding machine and lets it run for 24 hours. The proportion of sugar to chocolate makes the 70% or 50% dark chocolate we´ve come across in the shops. After this they temper the chocolate to make it smooth and silky. As we were only there for a couple of hours we were given some ready-made runny chocolate, moulds and flavourings and we got creative making some chocs.

Amongst the flavourings were whole almonds and brazil nuts, salt, ground chili, cinnamon, oreo cookies, peanuts, sugar, raisins, fennel, ground coca leaves, coconut, coffee beans and cocoa nibs. It was lots of fun making up our own combinations and initial results have been very positive!

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Our favourite Thai recipes

Mmm, chicken with cashew nuts

We had a really great day out at the ‘Thai cookery farm’, a cooking school just outside Chiang Mai. They took us around the local market to show us the different types of rice and spices that make up Thai cuisine, and then we learned to cook five dishes each. So we’ll have plenty to choose from when we get home. Here are our favourite two main courses and two deserts from our Thai cookery course for you to try: Chicken with cashew nuts, chicken in coconut soup, mango with sticky rice, and bananas in coconut milk.

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Vietnamese recipes

Shaun, our cookery course chef

While in Hoi An we went to a cookery course and learned to cook four dishes: fresh spring rolls with prawns and pork, noodle soup with beef (Pho Bo), fish cooked in a clay pot and sauteed water spinach with garlic. All amounts are to make enough for 6 people but otherwise, you’ll have to use your own judgement. The dishes were all simple to make and delicious. We’re looking forward to trying them out once we have access to a kitchen. If you try them out, let us know how it goes!

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Beachtime

After a whole day on the public buses from Hampi, we finally arrived in Gokarna for some serious beach time, rest and relaxation.  We’re staying at the Namaste beach cafe in an ok room.  The best thing about it is its proximity to the beach.  Unfortunately when it rains, as it has torrentially for the past two nights, our roof leaks and we get dripped on!  A hastly arranged canopy of bin bags and sarong laid onto our mosquito net provided a fast solution in the early hours.

One notable is indian swimwear or the lack thereof.  Men and women splash around in the shallows fully clothed or the men sometimes strip to their underwear.  We still haven’t seen any Indians swimming as we know it.  We’re not sure why this is, whether its to do with having to wear revealing clothing, or whether it’s just not a popular past time. Does anyone know?  Also impossible to buy swimming shorts so Jon’s making do with his zip-off trousers.

A quick plug here for banana porridge (with sliced bananas).  We had some for breakfast yesterday and we can’t understand why it didn’t occur to us before. It seems like a match made in heaven.

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