Thursday, August 31, 2017

Zucchini and chorizo risotto - a truly delicious recipe

Zucchini and chorizo risotto / Risoto de abobrinha e chorizo

You might think that I obsess over sweet ingredients only – and taking a look at the blog, who can blame you? :) – but some savory ingredients make me so happy I want to include them in just about anything. Chorizo is one of them: ever since I tried it for the first time I have been using it in several dishes, always with delicious results.

I make risottos often and it was only a matter of time before I added chorizo to them, however, I was trying to play with different textures and wanted to add layers to my risotto. Adding the crunchy bits of chorizo on top was one of the ideas, which turned out to be a win/win situation, since I used the fat rendered from the chorizo to coat the rice and removing it from the saucepan before adding the liquid I avoided it from going soft. I also wanted two different textures for the zucchini, so half of it was thinly sliced and grilled – which added a nice smoky flavor – and the other half was incorporated in the risotto. I do not mean to brag, but this is one of the most delicious dishes I have ever cooked.

Zucchini and chorizo risotto
own recipe

Grilled zucchini:
1 large zucchini (about 200g/7oz)
olive oil

For the risotto:
50g (2oz) chorizo sausage, in small cubes
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter – divided use
½ small onion, finely diced
1 sprig of fresh thyme
¾ cup (165g) Arborio or Carnaroli rice
¼ cup (60ml) dry white wine
3 cups (720ml) hot vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g (2oz) Canastra cheese, coarsely grated*
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese

Slice half the zucchini into thin slices and dice the remaining in to small cubes. Set the cubes aside (they will go in the risotto). Drizzle the zucchini slices with just a bit of oil and season with salt. Heat a large nonstick skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat and grill the zucchini slices for 1-2 minutes each side or just until golden. Set aside on a plate.

Heat the chorizo cubes in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally so the pieces brown evenly. As soon as they are crispy, remove them from the saucepan using a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Add ½ tablespoon of the butter to the saucepan , followed by the onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent. Add the zucchini cubes and the thyme sprig and cook for 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, until rice is nicely coated in the fat. Stir in the wine and cook until it evaporates. Stir in the hot stock, 1 ladleful at a time, and continue to cook, stirring until all the stock is absorbed, before adding more stock.

Repeat this until all the stock has been used, the rice is al dente and the risotto is thick and glossy – about 20 minutes (you might not use all the stock). Season with salt and pepper, but go easy on the salt since chorizo and parmesan might be salty.
When the rice is al dente, remove the thyme sprig and stir in the cheeses and the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Check the seasoning, put the lid on and wait 2 minutes. Transfer the risotto to the serving plates, top each with the grilled zucchini slices and the crispy chorizo and serve immediately.

* for this recipe I used a kind of cheese typical from Brazil called Canastra cheese. Feel free to replace it with Grana Padano, more parmesan or any other cheese you like – just keep in mind that chorizo can be salty, so very salty cheeses might not go well in this recipe

Serves 2

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Coconut apple galette - coconut, again :)

Coconut apple coconut galette / Galette de coco e maçã

Even though it is a controversial ingredient/flavor, I do love coconut and when I was working on the book project I tried to include it in several different recipes – not only I got delicious results out of it, but it was much cheaper than my lemon frenzy. :)

I made muffins, cakes, crumbles, popsicles and cookies using coconut, and I cannot wait to share more with you: today I bring you a galette, in which I replaced part of the flour with desiccated coconut. I paired the lovely coconutty pastry with apples and added a touch of both lime (in zest and juice form) and cinnamon to the fruit – it tasted and smelled delicious.

This galette is wonderful either warm or at room temperature, but I urge you to try it warm with vanilla ice cream on the side – it is truly heavenly.

Coconut apple galette
own recipe

1 ¾ cups (245g) all purpose flour
1/3 cup (33g) unsweetened desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch of salt
¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1/3 cup (80ml) iced water

4 Granny Smith apples (about 700g/1 ½ pounds), peeled, cored, cut in half then thinly sliced
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lime
freshly squeezed juice of ½ lime
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Egg wash:
1 egg yolk + 1 teaspoon whole milk, room temperature, whisked well together in a small bowl

Start by making the pastry: in a food processor, pulse flour, coconut, sugar and salt until well combined. Add the butter and pulse a few times until mixture resemble coarse breadcrumbs. With the motor running, gradually add the water and mix just until a dough forms. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Place the dough onto large piece of baking paper, cover with another piece of paper and roll into a rough 30cm (12in) circle. Slide the paper into a baking sheet.

Place the apples in a bowl with the sugar, lime zest and juice and cinnamon and toss to combine. Arrange the apple slices on the center of the dough – arrange them as you please. I prefer to put them side by side, that way the heat can circulate better through the fruit and tart bakes more evenly. Carefully fold one edge in towards the center of the fruit and continue folding all the way round, bringing the edge of the pastry towards and over the apple slices. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and bake for about 40 minutes or until pastry is golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6-8

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Orange olive oil waffles

Orange olive oil waffles / Waffles de laranja e azeite de oliva

I do not make waffles very often because my husband does not like them, leaving me to eat the whole batch alone (not pretty), but since I like them a lot I am always interested in trying new flavors and toppings. A bit of research led me to the fact that the key to get crispier, crunchier on the outside waffles was to use oil instead of butter, and it actually worked.

Now that I no longer can eat regular dairy I have been making my waffles like the ones I bring you today, with olive oil and lactose-free milk, but if you prefer the butter flavor over the crispy texture it is just a matter of replacing the olive oil with melted unsalted butter.

I absolutely love the combination of orange and blueberries – one of my favorite flavor combos – so it is my duty to tell you that the waffles taste amazing served with the baked blueberry jam I posted a couple of years ago (it works well with frozen, thawed blueberries when fresh ones are not available).

Orange olive oil waffles
own recipe

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 large egg
¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup (180ml) whole milk, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, place the sugar and orange zest and rub them together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk well.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, olive oil, milk and vanilla. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir just until incorporated – do not overmix.

Heat a waffle iron until very hot; lightly coat with nonstick spray – my waffle maker is nonstick, so I do not coat it.
Working in batches, cook waffles until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet and keep warm in oven until ready to serve.

Makes 5-6 waffles

Friday, August 25, 2017

Hasselback baby eggplants

Hasselback baby eggplants / Mini berinjelas Hasselback

If you have been reading me for a while now you probably know that I am a huge fan of Nigella Lawson – I was lucky enough to meet her a few years ago and got one of my books autographed. She is the one who, ages ago, introduced me to Hasselback potatoes, a recipe I find not only delicious but also really pretty.

When I was still working on the book project, I thought one day: “why not Hasselback other veggies, too?”. One day, at the farmer’s market, I saw these beautiful baby eggplants and the Hasselback feeling came back to my mind. To make things more interesting, there had to be cheese, of course, but a strong flavored one. A drizzle of garlic oil turned everything into a delicious and perfumed side dish – if my husband saw this post he would strike the word “perfumed” off, for that and “gorgonzola” cannot be in the same sentence as far as he is concerned. :D

Hasselback baby eggplants / Mini berinjelas Hasselback

Hasselback baby eggplants
own creation

12 baby eggplants (about 600g/little less than 1 ½ pounds)
4 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove
salt and freshly ground black pepper
75g gorgonzola cheese, firm enough to be sliced

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Tear 12 pieces of foil, about 20x20cm (8x8in) each, then crumple each one of them formatting into little nests – they will be the support for each eggplant, that way they don’t roll around the baking sheet.
Place the foil nests on a large baking sheet and brush their cavities with a little of the olive oil. Set aside.

In a mortar and pestle, place the garlic and salt and pound until a paste forms. Add the black pepper and the remaining olive oil and mix well.

Place each eggplant on a wooden spoon and cut into slices without going through the end – you want the eggplant to remain whole. Cut the gorgonzola into thin slices and place them inside the slits in the eggplants – make sure the cheese slices are thin enough to fit into the eggplants. Place the eggplants into the foil nests and drizzle with the garlic oil. Bake for about 25 minutes or until eggplants are tender.

Serves 4 as a side dish

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Brownies with white chocolate chips and cocoa nibs

Brownies com chocolate branco e nibs de cacau / Brownies with white chocolate chips and cocoa nibs

One can tell that I am crazy for brownies by the amount of brownie recipes on this blog, however in my defense I have to say that I do not bake them for my own pleasure only: every time I want to make someone’s day better I give brownies as gifts (some of my friends already know that very well). :)

I had a small package of cocoa nibs at home and wanted to use them in a nice recipe – since they are on the bitter side, I thought that pairing them with the sweetness of white chocolate would work well - the creamy, gooey brownies are the perfectly vessel for that flavor encounter, and I added a touch of dark cocoa powder to the batter for extra richness.

Brownies with white chocolate chips and cocoa nibs
own recipe

¾ cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened and chopped
170g dark chocolate, finely chopped – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
¾ cup (105g) all purpose flour
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon table salt
100g white chocolate chips
1/3 cup (40g) cocoa nibs

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 20cm (8in) square pan, line it with foil leaving an overhang on two opposite sides, and butter the foil as well.

In a large bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water) combine butter and chocolate and stir occasionally until both are melted. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Whisk in sugar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth. Stir in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, mixing just until incorporated. Stir in the white chocolate chips and cocoa nibs.

Spread batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies comes out with moist crumbs. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Cut into squares to serve.

Makes 16

Monday, August 21, 2017

Roasted tomato and red lentil soup and freezing feet

Roasted tomato and red lentil soup / Sopa de tomates assados e lentilha vermelha

I believe that one of the reasons why my love for the winter has considerably decreased is the fact that at least here in Sao Paulo we are not actually prepared for cold temperatures: there is no heat inside most of houses and apartments, stores and restaurants – one suffers with the cold both outside and inside. Taking a shower is a nightmare, getting dressed another one. :S

As I type this recipe on a very cold Sunday with a piping hot mug of tea by my side, my feet are covered in two pairs of socks and yet they feel like two ice cubes. I dream of nicer weather, and while that does not happen I make soup – this is simple, delicious and the heat turns the tomatoes into gold even if they are not at their peak, while the lentils make the soup thicker and more fulfilling.

Roasted tomato and red lentil soup
own recipe

For the roasted tomatoes:
8 ripe Italian tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 sprigs fresh oregano
2 bay leaves

For the soup:
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large leek, white part only, finely sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 cups (720ml) vegetable stock, hot
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (100g) dried red lentils

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil.
Place the tomatoes on top of the foil, cut side up, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Place the oregano and the bay leaves on top of the tomatoes and roast for 40 minutes or until very tender. Remove from the oven and discard the oregano and bay leaves.

Start the soup: melt the butter with the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with any juices from the sheet. Add the vegetable stock, then blitz with a stick blender until smooth. Stir in the lentils and cook until they are tender, about 10 minutes. Check seasoning and serve.

Serves 4-6

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Coconut sour cream buns and polarizing flavors

Coconut sour cream buns / Pãezinhos de coco e creme azedo (sour cream)

I thought I was crazy for sweets until I started working at my current job, two years ago: my coworkers are addicted to all kinds of sweets, and being a Swiss company you can imagine the ridiculous amounts of chocolate coming every time someone travels from headquarters to Sao Paulo. :)

One of the executives at the office keeps a jar of candy on top of his desk, and the group is welcome to get some whenever a sugar high is needed. Everyone that travels brings candy for the jar, which I find very nice and generous. Last week we started a debate about flavors because of the jar: my boss reached out for some candy, and since she does not speak Portuguese I warned her that those were coconut-filled candy bars. She told me she loved coconut, and then someone else replied that they hated it, while another person said they loved it too, and my boss said she believed that coconut is one of those flavors that polarize people: you either love it or hate it – like cilantro. :)

I am part of the coconut fan club for I love it in absolutely anything, including savory dishes. For that reason I wanted to come up with a recipe for buns made with coconut, but no only in the filling, as most recipes I have seen – I wanted a double splash of coconut, both in the dough and in the filling. I came up with these delicious buns that look super cute by being baked in a muffin pan, and they taste oh, so good. The addition of both sour cream and butter to the dough makes them insanely tender.

Coconut sour cream buns
own recipe

2 ¼ teaspoons dried yeast
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
½ cup (120ml) lukewarm water
½ cup (120ml) sour cream*
1 large egg yolk
2 ½ cups (350g) all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/3 cup (33g) unsweetened desiccated coconut
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, very soft

¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter, very soft
2/3 cup (66g) unsweetened flaked coconut
4 tablespoons demerara sugar

For the egg wash and sprinkling the buns:
1 egg, + 1 teaspoon water, lightly beaten with a fork
3 tablespoons unsweetened flaked coconut

Start by making the dough: in the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough attachment, mix yeast, pinch of the sugar and water with a fork. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the sour cream, yolk, remaining sugar, flour, salt, coconut and vanilla and mix for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Gradually beat in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition – dough will be soft. Transfer to a lightly buttered large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 ½ hours.

Generously butter a 12-hole nonstick muffin pan. Set aside.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 30x40cm (12x16in) rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough leaving a 1cm (½in) border. Sprinkle the butter with the sugar, then with the coconut. Starting from the longest side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder, then slice into 12 equal pieces. Place each piece into a cavity of the muffin pan. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and set aside to prove again, 40-45 minutes – in the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.

Brush the rolls with the egg wash and sprinkle with the coconut. Bake for about 25 minutes or until risen and golden. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully unmold the buns and transfer them to the rack to cool completely (they are delicious served warm, too).

* homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

Makes 12

Friday, August 11, 2017

Orange, blueberry and olive oil muffins and a lactose problem

Orange, blueberry and olive oil muffins / Muffins de laranja, mirtilo e azeite de oliva

I know how rare it is nowadays to post recipes on the blog on two consecutive days, and I am still running around like a headless chicken trying to do everything I have to do lately, but since next week will be even busier than the week ending today I decided to go crazy and bring you these muffins: again a speedy recipe, but a very delicious one. These muffins are golden and really moist, very tender and perfumed with orange zest.

I am a complete sucker for citrus as you all know and in these muffins the orange flavor compliments the blueberries in the most wonderful way. The addition of olive oil is a nice surprise, not to mention that this became my go-to muffin recipe after I was diagnosed as lactose intolerant, a month ago or so: I have made it using lactose-free milk with good results (next time I will try making them using almond milk).

Orange, blueberry and olive oil muffins
own recipe

¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
1 ½ cups (210g) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg, room temperature
½ cup (120ml) whole milk, room temperature
1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (140g) blueberries, fresh or frozen (unthawed)

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with 8 paper cases. Fill the empty cavities halfway through with water (this will prevent the pan from warping).

In a large bowl, place sugar and orange zest and rub them together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Whisk in the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, olive oil and vanilla until smooth. Pour over dry ingredients and stir lightly with a fork just until combined – do not overmix or your muffins will be tough; muffin batter is not smooth as cake batter.
Stir in the berries. Divide the batter among the paper cases, then bake for about 20 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the muffins from the pan and transfer to the rack. Cool completely or serve warm.

Makes 8

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Peanut cinnamon amaretti and no time for blogging

Peanut cinnamon amaretti / Amaretti de amendoim com um toque de canela

My days have been pretty busy lately, and I guess that some of you already know that given my disappearing from the blog. :)

However, I wanted to stop by quickly today and give you a recipe that I simply adore - and that is also quick to put together: the amaretti I make by replacing the almonds with a very Brazilian ingredient, peanuts, and adding a touch of cinnamon. Let’s call this an Italian-Brazilian cookie (I do like to mix and match countries in my kitchen). :) They go wonderfully with coffee and tea, and are also delicious broken into smaller pieces and sprinkled on top of ice cream.

Peanut amaretti
own recipe

2 ½ cups (250g) peanut meal (finely ground peanuts)
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 large egg whites (56g)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the peanut meal, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the egg whites and the vanilla and mix until a dough forms.

Roll 2 teaspoons of dough per cookie into balls and place onto prepared sheets 2.5cm (1in) apart. Press down slightly with your fingers. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Cool in the sheets over a wire rack.

Cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Makes about 35

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Broccolini, caramelized onions and mozzarella frittata, or eggs are my kitchen heroes

Broccolini, caramelized onions and mozzarella frittata / Frittata de brócolis, cebola caramelizada e mozarela fresca

I can surely say that eggs are one of my favorite things to eat and to cook with: I love how tasty, healthy and versatile they are. No matter how empty your fridge and cupboards are, if you have eggs on hand you have dinner, and usually quickly.

I make frittatas quite often for in them I can use whatever I have begging to be used in the fridge. The one I bring you today is one of my favorite combo flavors, and I sometimes buy broccolini and/or mozzarella especially to make it – the broccolini tastes amazing paired with the gooey pieces of cheese, but to me what really makes this dish are the sweet, delicious onions, so take your time to caramelize them, even if it sounds like a boring chore, I assure you it is worth it. I have used fresh oregano to replace thyme a couple of times and it worked beautifully, too.

Broccolini, caramelized onions and mozzarella frittata
own recipe

½ large onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
1 ½ cups (60g) broccolini florets
3 large eggs, room temperature
freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup (60g) fresh mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Heat the olive oil in a 20cm (8in) frying pan over medium heat – make sure you use a frying pan that can go into the oven. Add the onions and stir to coat them in the oil. Sprinkle with the sugar and a pinch of salt, then lower the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until onions are golden brown and soft.

Stir in the broccolini and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. In the meantime, crack the eggs in a medium bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk. Whisk in the thyme leaves. Give the broccolini and onions a good stir to avoid the onions being all in the bottom of the pan, then pour over the egg mixture. Tear the mozzarella into pieces and place them around on top of the eggs. Cook on the stove over low heat for 2 minutes without stirring, then transfer to the oven and cook for 8 minutes, or until puffed up and golden. Serve immediately.

Serves 2

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