THE FRIDAY NIGHT RECIPE: BROWNIES

Hello! I’ve been absent for a while, I know. So, when I find some free time to cook other things than ordinary, I’m really happy. And this week I’m part of Fiesta Friday me too! This week I felt like eating chocolate… so brownies was an inevitable choice. During years, I read about so many versions of brownies, but this one remains one of my favourite. They’re just perfect for the autumn afternoons, what do you think?

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INGREDIENTS: (12 pieces)

– 170 gr butter
– 150 gr granulated sugar
– 200 gr dark chocolate
– 20 gr unsweetened cocoa powder
– 2 eggs (cold)
– 100 gr flour 00
– 50 gr chopped hazelnuts
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 5 gr baking powder for dessert

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PREPARATION: 

First of all, cut the chocolate in pieces, then cook the butter in bain-marie. When the butter is almost liquefied, add the pieces of dark chocolate.
Add the cocoa – previously sifted – and blend with a spatula to amalgamate all the ingredients, then turn off the stove and let them cool down. In the meanwhile, with the mixer (or with electric whisks) whisk the eggs together with the sugar, to obtain a soft and light-coloured mixture.

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Drizzle in the mix of chocolate and butter into the whisked eggs, and keep mixing. In another bowl, put together the flour with the baking powder and the pinch of salt, and sift together all the ingredients.
The last step is to add the “powders” to the other ingredients – one spoon after another – and frequently amalgamate to incorporate well all the ingredients. Chop the hazelnuts and add them finally to the mixture.

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Pour the mix in a rectangular baking tray – mine is 20×28 cm – and equally distribute the dough. You may use also a round tray diameter 24 cm. However, it’s important to cover the tray with wax paper before. Cook in preheated oven at 180º for 30-35 minutes: when ready, let the mixture cool down for 10 minutes and then take it out of the baking tray. When the dough is cool, cut it in squares and …brownies are ready to be enjoyed!Yum!

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CITIES OF THE WORLD: MÉRIDA

Hello folks! Let’s continue our trip through Yucatan: today we’ll discover the capital city, Mérida, in the north of the Peninsula. I must say that in Mérida I enjoyed myself really much: this city is just an explosion of colours, a bit “messy” in some parts; a lot chaotic: but these are all its charming points.

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First of all, the car trip: we arrived in Mérida from Playa del Carmen, about four hours drive. You have always to follow the highway (you have to pay twice for toll road) till you reach Mérida suburbs: then, you always go straight following the brown signs for the ancient city center. The city was founded by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 1540s on top of an old Maya city called T’ho, infact it’s not rare to see here and there bits of ancient Maya stonework reused in Spanish Colonial era buildings in the old part of town.

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The main square of Mérida, called Zócalo, presents some interesting historical buildings, like the cathedral, the Governor’s Palace, and the palatial home of the family of Conquistador leader Montejo – on the south side of the Zócalo -. The cathedral of San Ildefonso was the first cathedral to be finished on the American mainland, and the only one  to be entirely built during the 16th century. It is a unique monument with clear antecedents in Andalucia.

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Don’t miss the chance to visit the Governor’s Palace, where it’s free to go inside and upstairs to see the beautiful murals depicting local history.
Orientate yourself may be difficult only at the beginning. The streets in most of the parts of interest to visitors are in a rough grid with numbers for street names. Even numbered streets run from north to south, with the numbers increasing as you go further west; odd numbered streets run from east to west, with the numbers increasing as you go further south.

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This makes it easy to tell how many blocks away from something you are (just remember to divide by two when counting blocks in the same direction). Addresses are commonly given as either intersections of two streets, or stated as on a street between two cross streets. For orientation in the old part of town, remember the Cathedral and Zocalo are at the corner of 60 and 61.
If you’re staying in the older central part of town, many attractions, restaurants, etc. are within walking distance for those who don’t much mind walking in the tropical climate. Buses and taxis are numerous and reasonably priced.

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Always in this part of the town, don’t miss the chance to visit the fruits market and walk through the market streets: initially I’ve been a bit dazed by the noise and the confusion, but the sight of all the people and the colours all around made me feel immediately amused and happy to be there.

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to be continued..

CANCÚN AND ISLA MUJERES

Hello! It’s a pleasure for me to start today our beautiful trip with a quick focus on the area: this is a map of the places visited, most of all by car, and a pair of these by organized trip. (only Chichén Itza and Tulum, where you required a expert guide the most)

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México will surprise you in many ways. It’s a great mix of history and outstanding nature, culture and popular belief: this is the Yucatan Peninsula. (actually composed by other states, like Quintana Roo and Campeche, as you can see)
We start our tour from Cancùn, located on the north-east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. As you well known, it’s a renowned tourist destination in México. There are two possible translations of Cancún, based on the Mayan pronunciation kaan kun. The first translation is “nest of snakes.” The second version – less accepted – is “place of the gold snake”.
When development started in 1970, Isla Cancún had only three residents, caretakers of the coconut plantation of Don José de Jesús Lima Gutiérrez, who lived on Isla Mujeres, and there were only 117 people living in nearby Puerto Juarez, a fishing village and military base. The mass tourism project began in 1974.

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You sure saw beautiful images of the beaches in Cancun: no surprise that they’re actually part of the world’s second-longest coral reef. Indeed the Zona Hotelera of the city, has a particular disposition, on sand strips which run out into the Caribbean Sea. However, if you don’t like touristic places full of resorts, Cancun will not affect you. You sure will remember instead the thousand colours of the sea. (enough, isn’t it? below: Playa Delphines)

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If you’re interested, in the area there are also some archeological minor pre-columbian Maya ruins, El Rey and El Meco. Out of the hotel area, Cancun is similar to many others village in the nearby.

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If you have the possibility, i suggest to dedicate a day to Isla Mujeres, 30 minutes boat from Cancun. There are several points where you could buy the tickets and enter the harbour. I must say that initially I was a bit “disappointed” because the island, especially during week-end, it’s really crowded by tourist and also by mexicans on summer holidays.

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However, the caribbean gaudy, colourful atmosphere of the streets will conquer you: you could also take a tour of the island with a golf cart. The city center is great for souvenir shopping.

Tips for this one day trip:

– you may be prepared about the ferry-boat timetable, but often times are subject to change without prior notice. (we had our ride suddenly suppress, and we had to wait 30-40 minutes for the next one: after all, you’re in México, rhythm is slow and peaceful.)
– if you’re in Isla Mujeres by chance on Sunday, on the main beaches you could observe how mexican families enjoy their free time: they rush to the beaches with huge food containers, they sit down under the palm trees and they get ready for a neverending Sunday lunch (from 13.00 p.m. till 18.00 p.m. and over: so, basically they have an all-day meal: quite challenging, isn’t it?)