Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Pasta with broccolini pesto and roasted peppers

Pasta with broccolini pesto and roasted peppers / Macarrão com pesto de brócolis e tirinhas de pimentão assado

Certain foods have a very special meaning for me: it might be something my mom cooked when I was a kid that takes me back in time, something I cooked for someone I love or something I ate at a special place. I first ate pasta with pesto sauce in Rome, and it was also the first time I ever traveled abroad, many years ago, so it holds a very dear place in my heart.

I make pesto quite regularly at home, for my husband have learned to enjoy it as well, and sometimes I switch the basil for other options, such as arugula, for example. This time basil was replaced by a mixture of broccolini and fresh oregano leaves, with a fiery touch of dried pepper flakes and a bit of sweetness from roasted peppers – a wonderful combination of flavors is the work of the man behind the best gnocchi I have ever made. To make things ever better, this is really easy to put together, and you can even roast the peppers in advance and keep them refrigerated in a bowl or glass jar with some olive oil to avoid them from drying out.

Pasta with broccolini pesto and roasted peppers
slightly adapted from the always delicious Urban Italian: Simple Recipes and True Stories from a Life in Food

2 small red peppers
olive oil to drizzle over the peppers
200g broccolini florets
½ cup (120ml) extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup pine nuts
1 fat garlic clove, minced
½ cup grated parmesan
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g long dried pasta – I used fusilli lunghi

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°C. Line a baking sheet with foil, brush it with olive oil and place the peppers onto the foil cut side down. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 30 minutes or until skins are blistering. Remove peppers from baking sheet and place in a large bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes. Remove the skins from the peppers and cut them into thin slices. Set aside.

Pesto: bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil – you’ll cook the broccolini and the pasta using the same water. Blanch the broccolini the boiling water for about 30 seconds, then remove them using a slotted spoon and place in ice water to stop them from cooking (keep the water boiling too cook the pasta). Use your hands to squeeze out as much excess water from the broccolini as possible and transfer to a blender. Add the olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan, red pepper flakes, oregano and blitz to a paste. Season with salt and pepper and blitz again. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water if pesto is too thick.

Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Toss pasta with pesto, adding some of the water if necessary to loosen the sauce. Stir in the roasted pepper and serve at once.

Serves 4

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Tara’s great chocolate chip cookies

Tara's great choc chip cookies / Os deliciosos cookies com gotas de chocolate da Tara

As much as I like making different things in the kitchen, there are certain recipes – the classics, if you will – that I keep coming back to: a good crème caramel, a chocolate mousse for when people come over for dinner, brownies to cheer friends up, and chocolate chip cookies, the ones I saw on American movies as a teenager.

I wasn’t so thrilled with the last batches of chocolate chip cookies I made, and because of that I did not even shared the recipes with you: some of them lacked flavor, some spread like crazy on the baking sheets and turned out as flat as a sheet of paper… Disappointments. But the ones I bring to you today are the complete opposite: they taste delicious, look beautiful and the dough is super easy to make – you don’t even have to wait for the butter to soften. These cookies are exactly what I wanted when I set out to make them – sheer perfection. I shared them with my family and some friends and all I heard was compliments – now I feel like sharing the recipe with you, for it is such a huge success. I have Tara O’Brady to thank for – not only has she a published a beautiful cookbook but has also restored my faith in chocolate chip cookie recipes. :)

Tara’s great chocolate chip cookies
barely adapted from Tara O'Brady, via Apt. 2B

1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, chopped
3 ¼ cups (455g) all purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon table salt
1 ½ cups (262g) light brown sugar, packed
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
300g (10oz) semi or bittersweet chocolate, chopped – I used one with 70% cocoa
flaky salt, to finish – I used Maldon

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over the lowest heat possible, stirring occasionally. Take care that the butter does not sizzle or bubble which means it's losing moisture. Cool.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and table salt. Set aside. Pour the melted butter into a large bowl and whisk in the sugars until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until just combined. Stir in the vanilla. Use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to stir in the dry ingredients until barely blended. When things are still looking a bit floury, stir in the chocolate until all of the ingredients are just combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll the dough into balls using 2 leveled tablespoons of dough per cookie and arrange them on the prepared pans, leaving 5cm (2in) between each cookie. While baking each batch, keep the remaining dough in the fridge. If you don’t want to bake all the cookies at once, refrigerate the dough balls loosely covered, overnight.)

To bake, sprinkle each cookie with a bit of sea salt and bake until the tops are cracked and cookies are golden, especially around the edges, 15-18 minutes. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then slide the paper off the sheet onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Makes about 38

Monday, January 11, 2016

Simple cornmeal cake, or "bolo de fubá"

Cornmeal cake / Bolo de fubá do Panelinha

The first cake I ever made was a cornmeal one, made with corn flour (not corn starch - the same corn flour used in these tartlets), which is a very common ingredient here in Brazil. “Bolo de fubá” is one of the most beloved cakes we have here, a favorite of many and it goes particularly well with coffee – I was always a tea kind of girl, coffee is something I have learned to enjoy in the past few months.

I guess I was feeling a big nostalgic last week, for I felt a sudden urge to bake a bolo de fubá – so here it is. It is a very simple cake, prepared with the help of a blender, also something very common here in Brazil. It is also best served on the day it is made, and it tastes delicious still warm from the oven - I should know, because I ate several slices in a row – shame on me. :)

Simple cornmeal cake ("bolo de fubá")
slightly adapted from here

soft unsalted butter, to prep the pan
1 cup (140g) all purpose flour
1 ½ cups (210g) corn flour (fine cornmeal - fubá) – not corn starch, the same corn flour used in these tartlets
pinch of salt
4 large eggs
1 cup (240ml) canola oil
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1 cup (240ml) plain yogurt
1 tablespoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter and flour a 25cm, 10-cup capacity (10in) Bundt or ring pan.

In a large bowl, sift together the all purpose flour, corn flour and salt. Set aside.
Place the eggs, oil, sugar and yogurt in a blender and mix until smooth, about 5 minutes. Pour over the dry ingredients in the bowl and whisk gently until smooth. Whisk in the baking powder.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden and risen and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 15 minutes, then carefully unmold onto the rack and cool completely (this cake tastes absolutely delicious warm).

This cake is best served on the same day it is made – I found it a bit on the dry side on the following day.

Serves 10-12

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Beef kofta in sweet-sour tomato sauce

Beef kofta with sweet and sour tomato sauce / Kofta de carne bovina com molho de tomate agridoce

I am a complete sucker for food magazines and because of that end up with tons of them and thousands of recipes to choose from. At this time of the year my favorite ones – Donna Hay and Gourmet Traveller - are all about grilling, since they are Australian magazines celebrating the same season as we are here in Brazil (summer). The grilled foods look amazing, but I live in a small apartment and don’t own a barbecue – therefore, the inspiration most comes from the European mags or older issues of my favorite ones.

These beef koftas are delicious and I made them in a matter of moments – some rice and a salad completed a very simple yet tasty meal. I found the recipe on Olive magazine, which is always a good source for quick recipes, and replaced the lamb for beef and the cinnamon for baharat, since it always goes wonderful with beef (like in the sfihas I make sometimes and that my husband eats like a madman).

Beef kofta in sweet-sour tomato sauce
slightly adapted from the always great Olive magazine

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided use
1 onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons baharat
1 teaspoon ground cumin
500g beef mince
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar – I used sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves

In a large nonstick frying pan, heat half of the olive oil and cook the onion until it’s soft and translucent. Add the baharat and cumin and stir for a minute. Remove from the heat, cool and then add half of the mixture to the mince along with the 2 tablespoons pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Divide it into 24 and roll each lump into a neat ball between your hands. Fry them in the remaining olive oil until they brown all over (you might need to do this in batches). Lift them into a sieve while you make the sauce.

Remove any excess oil from the frying pan, then put the rest of the onion mix back in the pan and cook until warm. Add the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Bubble the lot gently for 5 minutes, then add the kofta. Cook for 15 minutes, over medium heat, turning over the kofta half way. Make sure they are cooked through. Scatter on the remaining pine nuts and the parsley and serve.

Serves 4

Related Posts with Thumbnails