Monday, August 31, 2020

Roasted eggplant bacon pasta

Macarrão com berinjela assada e bacon / Roasted eggplant bacon pasta

Even though Joao and I are not vegans or vegetarians, most of our meals revolve around vegetables, and there are several occasions when we eat vegan or vegetarian lunches and dinners – it has been like this for many years now and it happened very naturally. We both love vegetables and I am always searching for new ways to prepare them.

I like pretty much all veggies except for sweet potatoes, and Joao does not like cauliflower, but he loved the cauliflower balls I made the other day. I guess it is just a matter of making vegetables interesting, instead of simply boiling them in water. Roasting is one of the cooking methods I use the most and it seems to make all vegetables delicious.

I still cook beef and chicken sometimes – once a week, tops – and I like to use a little bacon here and there, occasionally, for flavor, or to enhance a dish that is based on vegetables. This pasta has a very meaty texture because of the eggplant, and the bacon just makes it more interesting – the saltiness matches the roasted eggplant perfectly, and the tomato makes everything moist.

I made this recipe on a Saturday for lunch and we devoured it with some crusty bread – it is rather simple and does not call for many ingredients, but the result is very tasty.


Roasted eggplant bacon pasta

own recipe


1 medium eggplant (380g), diced in 2.5cm (1in) cubes

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

180g fusilli or other short pasta of your preference

4 slices of bacon

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 large ripe tomato, deseeded and finely diced

2 tablespoons dry white wine


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil.

Place the eggplant on the foil, drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for 15 minutes. Toss the pieces around, carefully not to pierce the foil, then roast for another 15 minutes.

In the meantime, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente.

Heat a large nonstick frying pan over high heat and add the bacon, cooking until crispy and the fat is rendered. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute – do not let it burn or it will turn bitter. Add the tomato, season with salt and pepper (go easy on the salt because of the bacon) and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes release their juices, 2-3 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 1 minute. Add the roasted eggplants and stir well.

Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the sauce and cook for 1 minute – if sauce is too thick or dry, add some of the reserved pasta water and stir – I did not have any fresh herbs at home, but do add fresh basil if you have some at hand.

Serve immediately.

Serves 2

Friday, August 28, 2020

Apple yogurt cake

Bolo de iogurte e maçã

I have been in love with Epicurious’ yogurt cake ever since quarantine started: versatile and delicious, easy to make – no need to wait for the butter to soften when you feel like baking! I have made this recipe in several different ways and all turned out wonderful: marble cake, orange with chocolate sprinkles, lime with poppy seeds, Rangpur lime with coconut…

When I found two small apples in my fridge that had been forgotten there for weeks I immediately knew I wanted to make cake with them, and I did not think twice to decide on which recipe I would use. A little bit of cinnamon, the classic pairing with apples, and the cake perfumed the entire apartment. The cake turned out moist, very tender and absolutely delicious.

My heart belongs to citrus flavors, as you know, but this apple cake won me over – of all the versions I have made, it was the tastier. My husband, who definitely does not have a sweet tooth, saw the cake cooling on the counter and asked me for a slice, while it was still hot from the oven – he told me he could not resist the smell. At that moment I knew this recipe was a winner and a keeper.


Apple yogurt cake

slightly adapted from Epicurious, again


1 ½ cups (210g) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon table salt

1 cup (200g) granulated sugar

¾ cup (180g) plain yogurt – I used sheep’s milk yogurt

½ cup (120ml) vegetable oil – I used canola

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 small Gala apples (100g each, weighed before peeling and coring), peeled, cored and diced in 1cm pieces – I used two apples that had been completely forgotten in my fridge for weeks


Preheat oven to 180C/350°F. Lightly brush a 6-cup capacity loaf pan with oil, line it with baking paper and then brush the paper as well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, yogurt, oil, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Fold in reserved dry ingredient – if batter is too lumpy, whisk for a few seconds – do not overmix or the cake will become tough. Stir in the apples.

Pour the batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a skewer or toothpick inserted into center of the cake comes out clean.

Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Carefully and using the paper as a guide, remove cake from pan and transfer to the rack to cool completely.

The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.


Serves 8

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Anthill shortbread

Amanteigados formigueiros / Anthill shortbread

My nephew loves anthill cake and because of that last December I bought a large bag of chocolate sprinkles – he was visiting me every week and we would bake the cake together. It was a lot of fun.

The pandemic came, so did the need of social distancing and the anthill cakes became a thing of the past. Sometimes I see the huge jar of sprinkles in my cupboard and I miss those Saturdays with my nephew so, so much. I wanted to find a way to use up the sprinkles in other recipes, and decided to add them to cookie dough.

These shortbread cookies are simple, yet delicious: crunchy when you bite them, then they melt in your mouth. I baked the first log of dough at the same day I made the recipe, then froze the other log for some other time. Last Sunday my husband wanted something tasty to go with his espresso and we were out of cake; I turned the oven on and baked the other dough log – freshly baked cookies for the super cold day we were having. 

Amanteigados formigueiros / Anthill shortbread

Anthill shortbread

slightly adapted from Annie Bell’s brown sugar shortbread


200g unsalted butter, chilled and diced

50g light brown sugar

50g granulated sugar

300g all purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon table salt

6 tablespoons chocolate sprinkles

3 ½ tablespoons whole milk, cold


For sprinkling over the dough logs:

1 ½ tablespoons granulated or demerara sugar


Place butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs – at this stage there will still have large pieces of butter. Add flour, salt and chocolate sprinkles and mix again until mixture is sandy. With the mixer on low, add the milk, gradually, just until a dough starts to form – you might not need to use all the milk.

Divide dough in half and place each onto a large piece of baking paper. Shape dough like a cylinder, using a ruler to help, as Martha does here. Refrigerate for 4 hours, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.

Unwrap one of the dough logs (keep the other in the fridge) and brush it lightly with water. Sprinkle with half the sugar, spreading it evenly. Slice the cylinder into 1cm-thick rounds. Place onto the prepared baking sheets 5cm (2in) apart and bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and cool in the sheets over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then carefully slide the paper with the cookies onto the rack and cool completely. Repeat the process with the other log of dough and sugar.

Cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Dough can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Makes 40

Monday, August 24, 2020

Cauliflower balls and feeling nostalgic

Bolinhos de couve-flor / Cauliflower balls

I have been feeling nostalgic lately, thinking of my mom a lot. Some ingredients and foods remind me of her so much, it is impossible not to think of her and of some moments of my childhood. Cauliflower, for instance, is something that immediately takes me back to the past, it is as if I could almost hear my mom telling me “eat the little trees, my dear, for they are very good for you”. Cauliflower, to me, will always be “little trees”.

As much as I love these little trees, I’ll admit that sometimes they need a little push when it comes to flavor: cauliflower can be pretty bland depending on how it is prepared. It is not the case with these balls: they are delicious! Very flavorful, crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside.

I served these balls as part of a meal with rice, beans and cooked kale, but they would be wonderful to nibble on with a cold beer. By the way, I recommend adding a few drops of Tabasco to the balls when eating them – they taste even better.


Cauliflower balls

own recipe, inspired by these lentil patties


400g cauliflower, cut into florets – a little more than ½ small cauliflower


½ small onion, finely diced

1 egg, room temperature

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley leaves

½ tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup finely grated parmesan

¾ cup breadcrumbs – I used homemade

freshly ground black pepper


Place the cauliflower in a large saucepan and cover with water. Heat over high heat and when the water starts to boil, add a pinch of salt and cook until cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well, then refresh under cold water until cauliflower is cool. Drain again and chop finely. Transfer to a large bowl.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil, then brush with olive oil

Add all the remaining ingredients to the chopped cauliflower and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. With a handheld mixer, process half the mixture (use a food processor if you don’t have a mixer). Stir well, then shape small balls with your hands using 1 ½ leveled tablespoons per ball. Place the balls into the prepared pan leaving 2.5cm (1in) between them. Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully turn the balls. Bake for another 15 minutes and serve.

Makes about 22 – we ate half of the balls on the day I made them, and I froze the rest for some other time

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Buttermilk pound cake - perfect with a cup of coffee (or tea)

Bolo de buttermilk, ou bolo de nada

Because of the recently acquired habit ofcoffee breaks at home, I have been searching for good cake recipes on my books and on the Internet – I no longer remember the last time I had stayed in my couch for hours bookmarking cake recipes: for a good while, my main focus was savory recipes only, with a cookie or a brownie recipe here and there for the people at the office.

I felt like having a slice of plain cake, simple, but with a tender texture. When I saw Sydney’s photos I knew I had to bake that buttermilk cake! It was exactly what I wanted, and the photos were mouthwatering. I immediately marched to the kitchen to remove the butter from the fridge.

Her recipe does not specify the size of the loaf pan, but I knew that mine would not fit a batter made with 3 cups of flour. I downsized the recipe slightly to make a smaller cake and loved the result. My husband told me that the sugary crust was the best part of the cake, while to me it was the very tender middle part.

I used Frangelico to perfume the cake – I love using booze in recipes – but go for vanilla extract if you don’t want to use alcohol (Sydney does not use anything in her cake). I have been thinking of making this cake again, adding orange zest and Cointreau in the batter – yum!

Bolo de buttermilk, ou bolo de nada

Buttermilk pound cake

slightly adapted from this lovely blog


2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon table salt

2/3 cup (150g) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup (200g) granulated sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 ½ tablespoons Frangelico – optional; Amaretto would be delicious as well. If not using liquor, replace with 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

½ cup (120ml) buttermilk*


For sprinkling over the cake:

1 tablespoon granulated or demerara sugar


Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 6-cup capacity loaf pan, line it with baking paper leaving an overhang on the two larger sides, and then butter the paper as well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, at least 4-5 minutes – the more you beat these ingredients together the better the texture of your cake will be.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating each in until adding the next, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times during the making of the entire recipe. Beat in the Frangelico (if using).

In low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk in two additions (start and finish with the dry ingredients). Mix until incorporated, but do not overmix.

Transfer batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the sugar and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until golden and risen and until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 30 minutes, then carefully lift the cake using the paper and transfer to the rack to cool completely.

Cake can be kept in an airtight container for up to 5 days, but I thought that it started to dry out slightly after day 3 (we ate it anyway). :D 

* buttermilk is not sold in Brazil, so I made a homemade version using whole milk and lime juice


Serves 8-10 slices

Monday, August 17, 2020

Spinach and mozzarella risotto - lunch on the table despite a bare fridge

Risoto de espinafre e mozarela / Spinach and mozzarella risotto

A while ago I made a risotto with severaldifferent veggies, using pretty much all there was in my crisper drawer – it turned out delicious and full of good-for-you stuff. This time, it was the complete opposite: the fridge was almost bare, so I reached out to the freezer and made a risotto using frozen spinach, throwing in some cheese to make it better. I never use garlic in risottos, but this time I added a small clove since garlic and spinach are so great together.

I was actually surprised with how good the risotto tasted! Joao is not fond of risotto and this time he had seconds – I was impressed, because that never happens. I always have frozen spinach in my freezer because I use it a lot in soups – like this one – but in a risotto was the first time. I was happy with the results and even happier to have lunch on the table in about half an hour – that is great on the days we clean the apartment. :D

Spinach and mozzarella risotto

own recipe

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup finely diced celery

½ small onion, finely diced

1 small garlic clove, minced

¾ cup (165g) Arborio or Carnaroli rice

¼ cup (60ml) dry white wine

salt and freshly ground black pepper

100g frozen spinach, thawed

3 cups (720ml) vegetable stock

1 cup (70g) coarsely grated yellow mozzarella*

2 tablespoons coarsely grated parmesan

In a medium saucepan, melt half the butter and olive oil. Add the celery and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute – do not let it burn or it will turn bitter. Add the rice and cook for about 2 minutes, to coat all the rice grains with fat. Add the wine and cook until it evaporates. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the spinach. Start adding the stock, 1 ladle at a time, then stirring constantly so the rice releases its starch.

Repeat this until all the stock has been used, the rice is al dente and the risotto is thick and glossy – about 20 minutes. Stir in the remaining butter and the cheese. Check the seasoning, adjust if necessary, cover the pan and wait 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

* the yellow mozzarella I used is not like fresh mozzarella balls, therefore it does not release too much liquid. Replace by cheddar or something similar texture wise.

Serves 2 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Potato, pea and cheese croquettes for Nana

Croquetes de batata, ervilha e queijo

Food is a synonym of love and comfort in many moments of our lives. Days ago I was thinking about my grandmother, who is now 95 years old and no longer remembers people or things. I kept the thought to myself and continued my day. 

On the following day I received a message from one of my cousins saying that she had played my Instagram stories for grandma, and that she recognized me from the videos, saying that I looked just like my mom, but only on the outside, because on the inside I was just like her, grandma, and that we were too intense and that made us go through life with a lot of suffering. I cried so much on that day, because she remembered both me and my mom, and also because yes, we pretend to be strong, Nana, but we suffer, and we feel lonely, and we cry.

After that I went to the kitchen and cooked food that reminded me of Nana: croquettes – every time she made these for lunch I was a happy kid. She used to make croquettes using leftover minced beef (already cooked) or leftover pot roast, but I decided to make a vegetarian version, and baked the croquettes instead of frying. The dough is very soft, so be careful when turning the croquettes on the baking sheet – and feel free to fry them if you wish.


Potato, pea and cheese croquettes

own recipe


2 medium potatoes (300g/10oz weighed before peeling), peeled and cu tinto quarters


1 tablespoon unsalted butter

¼ cup frozen peas, thawed

¾ cup (50g) yellow mozzarella, coarsely grated*

freshly ground black pepper


For coating the croquettes:

1 egg + 2 teaspoons cold water, beaten with a fork and seasoned with a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper

2/3 cup dried breadcrumbs, seasoned with a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper


Place the potatoes on a small saucepan, cover with cold water, add a pinch of salt and then cook over high heat until potatoes are tender – just like you would do for mashed potatoes. Drain and mash them, using a ricer if possible. Add the butter, peas and the cheese, season with salt and pepper and mix well. Using 2 leveled tablespoons of dough at a time, shape the dough into croquettes and transfer to a plate. Refrigerate for 40 minutes so they are firmer.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a medium baking sheet with foil and brush it well with olive oil – very important step, since the melted cheese might stick to the foil.

Roll the croquettes in the egg mixture, them in the breadcrumbs, and place them 2.5cm (1in) apart in the prepared sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, carefully turn the croquettes and then bake for another 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

* the yellow mozzarella I used is not like fresh mozzarella balls, therefore it does not release too much liquid. Replace by cheddar or something similar texture wise.

Makes about 12 croquettes

Monday, August 10, 2020

Anthill banana cake and something new in our house

Bolo formigueiro de banana

These are insane times we are living in – and in Brazil, for more reasons than the pandemic only – and many things are changed. However, I’ll tell you about something small, but important to me: my husband has discovered the joy of having a slice of cake in the middle of the afternoon. He was never fond of sweets and never tried my baked goods or desserts, but nowadays he asks me to bake a cake, or cookies, so he can take a break between lunch and dinner and enjoy something sweet with his espresso.

It might seem silly, but for me it was a very nice surprise, in these crazy days. 

Therefore, I have been baking once a week, a cake or sometimes cookies, and he looks at me with those Puss in Boots’ eyes asking if he can have something delicious with his coffee. :) My heart is filled with joy.

One of the cakes I baked recently was the one I bring you today, a banana cake with chocolate sprinkles as the Brazilian anthill cake. I had to adapt the recipe to yield a small cake since I had only 1 ripe banana at home. The cake turned out moist, tender and perfumed the entire apartment while it was in the oven. 

Bolo formigueiro de banana

Anthill banana cake

adapted from this recipe


1 large very ripe banana (150g/5oz weighed before peeling)

2 eggs, room temperature

65g light brown sugar

100ml vegetable oil – I used canola

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

185g all purpose flour

1 ¾ teaspoons baking poder

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

3 tablespoons chocolate sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly brush with vegetable oil a small loaf pan - 22x10cm, 4 ½ cups capacity – line it with baking paper and brush the paper as well.

In a medium bowl, mash the banana with a fork. Add the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla and whisk well. Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and fold with a spatula – do not overmix or the cake will turn out tough. Stir in the chocolate sprinkles. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 40 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 20 minutes, then carefully unmold using the paper as guide. Transfer to the rack and cool completely.

Serves 6-7 slices

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Stuffed eggplants with tomato and cheese

Barquinhas de berinjela com tomate e queijo

Days ago I asked my Instagram followers what they like to see on the blog the most, the recipes they immediately feel like making in their homes when I post: cakes and cookies were the champions, followed by brownies and bread. Some followers told me they love my savory recipes, to vary the daily meals, and soups were also mentioned. 

I must confess that I love baking and photographing (and eating!) cakes and cookies, but one cannot live on these alone, especially now that I am no longer exercising daily as I used to. Therefore, I will continue posting the sweet recipes my Brazilian followers love so much, but will focus on the savory ones, like these stuffed eggplants I bring you today: they are delicious! A vegetarian meal full of flavor and that looks beautiful on the plate. 

I would also love to hear what you, my foreign readers, like to see around here the most – please share with me your thoughts. Thanks. xx

Barquinhas de berinjela com tomate e queijo

Stuffed eggplants with tomato and cheese

own recipe

Eggplant “boats”:

2 large eggplants (about 350g/12oz each)

2 teaspoons olive oil 


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 ripe tomatoes, seeded, in small dice

sal and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons dried oregano

a few fresh basil leaves

2 cups (140g) coarsely grated yellow mozzarella* - set aside 3 tablespoons to sprinkle over the dish

8 large black olives, pitted and finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°C. Line a large baking sheet with foil.

Cut the eggplants lengthwise, making little “boats” with them, and then make crisscross cuts on the flesh, but be careful not to pierce the skins. Brush the cut side with the olive oil and place it upside down, facing the foil. Bake for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, start the filling: heat the olive oil in a large frying pan (nonstick is better) over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute – do not let it burn or it will become bitter. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to break down. Add the oregano and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in the basil and turn off the heat.

Remove the eggplants from the oven (keep it on), and very carefully not to get burned, using a spoon remove the flesh from the eggplants, but not too deep so the “boats” stay intact. Add the flesh to the cooked filling, stir in the cheese (do not forget to set aside 3 tablespoons for topping the dish) and the olives. Stuff the eggplant shells with the filling, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and place them back on the baking sheet. Bake for another 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

* the yellow mozzarella I used is not like fresh mozzarella balls, therefore it does not release too much liquid. Replace by cheddar or something similar texture wise.

Serves 4 – I served my stuffed eggplants with rice and a green salad on the side, so 1 “boat” (1/2 eggplant) was enough per person; if you intend to serve this as a single dish, I believe 2 “boats” (1 eggplant) per person should be enough

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