Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Haleem from American Masala

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about this recipe from Suvir Saran's last book, American Masala, is true texas chili. You know the kind I mean. Chili that does not hold back on flavor and heat, that brings a pleasant fire to one part of the mouth while the sweet flavor of familiar spices sing a chorus in another , that only asks for the added sweetness of some red onion and perhaps some bread to enhance the texture and flavor. And while the two renditions share many of the same flavors--onions, garlic, chilies and cumin are noticeably present--the execution and other ingredients make this chili stand out from your typical bowl of red.
When I first started reading the directions for cooking this wonderful dish from the muslim community of northern India, I smiled to myself as one does when an old friend shows up unexpectedly. Hearkening back to his first book, Indian Home Cooking ,Suvir Saran directs the cook to use whole spices in this as he does many of the recipes in that first collection of gems. I must confess that this practice put me off at first. Crunching down on a cardamom pod or whole clove was certainly something out of my midwestern comfort zone. However, what began as a nuisance gradually became a pleasure, a part of the experience, a nice surprise instead of a bother. And now I find myself enjoying the same delights with this "chili" as well. But perhaps even more than that is the additional flavors that take this in a dervishly different direction.
When looking at the word chili, which appears in quotes, one of the first ingredients that comes to mind is tomatoes. How can you call anything chili (quotation marks or not) if tomatoes are not involved? The final taste and texture assured me that none were needed. The traditional Indian spices one uses in Haleem more than makes up for the missing tomate we are at home with in our more familiar versions. And, in fact, they would get in the way of the lovely cardamom, cloves and fresh ginger which finds their way into this exotic bowl of heat* and perfume,
a bowl which, I found, pairs with a good many things besides a wedge of pita and some red onions and cilantro as pictured in the book.
As I am the only carnivore in the house (except for the cat and dog), I found myself with lots of leftover haleeem with which to get creative so I thought I would give my old leftover chili con carne concoction a makeover and was very pleased with the result! While living in Houston, I learned a trick from the Mexican dishwashers who always made the same breakfast for themselves which consisted of fried tortillas topped with eggs, chili, and cheese. This has been a standby for me for years. But why not haleem in a similar dish? Two over easy's topped with red onion on a bed of haleen with sides of guava and dwarf banana proved to be a very delicious breakfast this morning. (Hmmm thinking the same tomorrow with a crumbling of cotijo cheese)
Another tasty bite involved a baked pita wedge topped with some chili, red onion, yogurt (Greek style is best here) and a few strips of fresh mango. My dinner from the other night. I can see this as part of a Super Bowl Party buffet. (Or any buffet, for that matter....)
Can a stuffed omelet be far behind.....

*I use the term 'heat' loosely. Of course, you may adjust the heat to your (and your other diners) liking.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cranberry Margaritas

Growing up in an evangelical home, holiday beverages were limited to eggnog sans any kind of alcohol. Oh yes, and something called Sprite and Spice which was the soft drink put out by Coca Cola that came with a packet of mix that you made a punch with. Without getting into a treatise on religion here, I will say that those days are long gone and I now enjoy my life guilt- and brimstone-free and can enjoy one of these cocktails which use whole cranberries as well as cranberry juice. This particular recipe appeared in Sunset Magazine two years ago.

Cranberry Margaritas

1 1/4 cups cranberry juice cocktail, divided
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed
3/4 cup fresh lime juice
3/4 cup tequila
1/2 cup orange-flavored liqueur, such as Cointreau
3 cups coarsely crushed ice

1. Pour 1/4 cup cranberry juice into a shallow bowl. Pour 3 tbsp. sugar onto a plate. Dip rims of 4 to 6 widemouthed glasses (6 to 8 oz., suitable for margaritas) into juice, then sugar. Set glasses aside.
2. Reserve 12 cranberries. In a blender, whirl the remaining cranberries, cranberry juice, and sugar, the lime juice, tequila, orange liqueur, and ice until smooth and slushy. If necessary, blend in 2 batches, then mix together. Divide among glasses and garnish with reserved berries, skewered on toothpicks.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Baked Turkey Sandwiches

Finally, our quick fix from last week. This recipe is based on one from a Brazilian recipe site that I frequent. The original calls for smoked turkey, which you can certainly use if you like, but I thought some leftover slices from the Thanksgiving turkey would be fine. A slice of boiled ham would not be amiss, either!

Baked Turkey Sandwiches

12 slices of bread
12 slices of mozzarella
12 slices of turkey breast
Béchamel using 2 cups milk, 6 tablespoons butter and 6 tablespoons flour
Grated Parmesan cheese to taste
method of preparation

On a baking sheet, place 6 slices of bread.

On each place 2 slices of mozzarella cheese and 2 slices of turkey breast.

Cover each with the other slice of bread.

Top with béchamel.

Sprinkle the grated cheese.

Bake in a 350°F preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pequi Rice

I must admit when I bought that jar of preserved pequi last month at the Brazilian market in San Francisco, that I was afraid to open it based on what a couple brasileiros had told me. Erick, my friend in Brasilia who hails from the Cerrado (say-hah-doo) where pequi is grown, tells me that he not only doesn't like the taste but also can't stand the smell of it. When his family makes this rice, they make a separate one for him....(Between you and me, I think Erick is a little spoiled but I would never tell that to him.....rs) My friend, Rodrigo, who lives in San Francisco and runs a business called Adventures In Brazil, claims it to be the worst tasting thing one could ever eat. So you can understand why, with all the negative reviews--another friend, Felipe, from Amasonas (Amazon) and had never even heard of it so could not comment one way or another--I was hesitant to even open the jar lest I should be repulsed by the stench thinking about what Erick had said. But my miserly ways rose above the opinions of others. (The jar had cost nearly $15 and I was not about to toss it out.) I will admit the odor that emanated from it upon my opening it was different but not in a bad way.
One of those familiar-but-I-can't-place-it sort of odors. Astringent yet earthy. I used the amount suggested in the recipe, several tablespoons for each cup of rice, as I didn't want just a little hint but the full on flavor of what it was supposed to taste like. That was a few weeks ago and I will have nothing else with my beans and stews. It is an ingredient I love as much as hot sauce and dendê. (OK, not as much as dendê which is my ingredient discovery of the year!)
Here is the recipe for pequi rice, one I hope you will try.

Pequi Rice

1 cup rice
1 half onion, chopped
1/4 cup pequi, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt,
2 cups hot water

Rinse rice in several changes of cold water to remove excess starch. Drain in a sieve for 1o minutes.
Heat oil in sauce pan and saute onions and pequi until soft. (Do not let brown)
Add rice and cook, stirring, until the rice achieves a white chalky hue.
Add water and salt and cook stirring until much of the water has boiled out but rice is still quite wet.
Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Fluff with fork.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Side and Rolls to Die For!

The rolls pictured on the left are the large size version of the recipe which is not only easy but also very delicious. The hardest part is kneading which can also be done in a bread machine or a stand mixer with a hook. However, I really find kneading dough a very meditative ritual. It is almost yogic in nature when you feel the rhythm of the the stretching, kneading, turning.... But if you must....
This is a recipe I got online but part of the method is from my Great Aunt Ruth, a fabulous country cook from Wisconsin who I will also remember for the wonderful rolls, homemade preserves and ability to make you feel as if you were there permanently. And it's true that we never wanted to leave when we had to go back to Michigan after our annual summer visits.
Do yourself and your guests a favor this Thanksgiving and leave the brown-n-serves where they belong.....on the shelf of the grocery store..rs

Whole Wheat Rolls

2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2 cups warm water (110 degrees to 115 degrees)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups whole wheat flour

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let stand 5 minutes. Blend in sugar, salt and 3 cups all-purpose flour at low speed until moistened; beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Beat in egg and oil. By hand, gradually stir in whole wheat flour and enough remaining all-purpose flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise until doubled or cover and refrigerate overnight. Punch dough down and form into dinner-size rolls. Place on greased baking sheets for plain rolls or knots, or in greased muffin tins for cloverleaf rolls. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour for dough prepared the same day or 1 to 2 hours for refrigerated dough. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and cover with a clean kitchen towel for 15 minutes. Serve warm. If desired, dough
may be kept up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Punch down daily.

I hope if you are one of the people who bring the canned yams with the marshmallows on top every year to the Thanksgiving Dinner that you will delightfully surprise the other diners by taking the sweet potato to new heights by making this delicious, yet simple, soufflé. I promise you will be asked to bring this time and again. (You don't have to tell them where you got this. Tell them you made it up.....rs)

Sweet Potato Soufflé

2 1/2 pounds yams, baked, peeled and mashed
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 400°F

Mix and pour into a buttered baking dish and top with the following:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons butter

Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thanksgiving Starters

If you didn't catch the last edition of Hoos Cookin' you're probably wondering what the ingredients for stuffing is doing in a blog titled, Thanksgiving Starters. The answer to that mystery will be revealed soon but first I want to share a very delicious dip that, like other offerings, has become a tradition for the holidays.
There are many versions of hot artichoke dip out there. This is the one I use and is a must during the holidays!

Hot Artichoke Dip

1 can (14-oz) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped coarsely
1 small can diced mild chilies
1 cups mayonnaise
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Mix all ingredients and bake at 325°F in an even proof bowl until bubbly.
Serve with crackers or toasted pita wedges.

Several years ago I happened to be at a local market during the judging of a stuffing recipe for Thanksgiving. I don't remember who won but I do remember this recipe for stuffing-turned-appetizer because I think I have made it every year since. It comes from a local family-Mada-and is simply called The Mada Family Stuffing. The hardest part of this is pulling the bread apart. Get some clean extra hands to help!

Mada Family Stuffing

1/4 pound imported provolone, diced in 1/3-inch cubes
3 hard cooked eggs, chopped
1 cup hard salami, diced in 1/3-inch cubes
2 beaten eggs
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 loaves day-old Italian bread
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Milk, enough to just moisten the bread
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled but still pourable

Preheat oven to 350°F

Remove crust from bread.
Tear into small pieces and place in a large bowl. Add milk to just moisten.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with hands.
Make into walnut-size balls and bake on a baking sheet for 20 minutes or until they start to turn golden.

Avocado doce

Please take note: the avocado pictured did not have a make-up assistant and ended up looking like an avocado does after a second of being cut open. I was going to put up a picture of a perfectly green, creamy freshly cut avocado but I decided to make this a reality blog this time around....rs But while I am on the subject of discoloring, you can always hit the surface of any freshly cut fruit, be it an avocado, apple or pear, with a little fresh lemon juice.
I have not tried it with lime yet but I would imagine it would slow the oxidation process. It is one of the key ingredients in the next recipe which I featured on Monday's show.

Crema de Abacate

2 large avocados, chilled, halved, seeded and diced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 lime, cut into four wedges

With the back of a spoon, force the avocado through the mesh of a sieve.
Add lime juice and sugar and chill in parfait glasses. Serve with a slice of lime as garnish.
Makes four servings.

The next recipe comes from the Dr. Oz show. It's also a Brazilian concoction in the form of a healthy shake.

Brazilian Avocado Shake

2 cups of low-fat milk
1 large, ripe avocado
2 tbsp of honey or agave nectar
A little bit of ice

Blend until smooth and serve

Have to share this next recipe that listener and friend and fantastic cook and food stylist, Claudia Raymond sent me. Never heard of this treatment of an avocado before but it sounds good. After all, chocolate is involved!

Raspberry Fudge Cake

Fudge Cake:
3 cups dry walnuts
2?3 cup unsweetened cacao powder or carob powder
1?4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup pitted Medjool dates
1?3 cup semi-soft pitted Medjool dates
1?4 cup agave syrup
1?2 cup ripe avocado flesh (from about 1 medium avocado)
1?3 cup cacao powder
1?2 cup raspberries
To make the cake, combine the walnuts, cacao powder, and salt in the food processor and pulse until coarsely mixed. Avoid overprocessing. Add the dates and pulse until mixed well. Shape into 2 stackable cakes of desired shape and set aside.
To make the frosting, combine the dates and agave syrup in the food processor and process until smooth. Add the avocado and process until smooth. Add the cacao powder and process until smooth.
To serve, frost the top of one of the cakes with half the frosting and top with the raspberries. Stack the second cake on top and frost the top and side. Serve immediately, or place in the refrigerator for a couple hours to firm up.
The cake on its own will keep in the fridge for many weeks. The frosting will keep separately in the fridge for 1 week. The assembled cake with raspberries will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Breakfast Italian Style

The picture here is of Caccamo, Sicily, a little hill town about 45 minutes east of Palermo where we once owned a modest home. In addition to it's medieval fairy tale charm, one of my most cherished memories is that of the bar in town where I had my first taste of a pastry known as a Genovese, a fried pastry stuffed with ricotta or pastry cream and unheard of by most people and search engines. The very best were had by us in a bar (read coffee bar that sells alcohol in the afternoon and night) in Palermo the vouchers for which we were given every morning at our hotel, The Oriental, one of the old grand places just a few blocks from the central train station. (Sadly, this classic building is falling into disrepair but it was in it's day a showplace of splendor and Mussolini used to give speeches from a balcony there.) We would make our way down the street every morning the few blocks to a tiny coffee bar and hope for an available table. Inside, the proprietor would take your voucher, ask what coffee drink you preferred and then point to the row of pastries you were allowed to have. It didn't matter that other were off bounds to us as we chose the same delicious Genovese each time, fresh from the fryer, stuffed with sweetened sheep milk ricotta, chunks of chocolate still in the process of melting and dusted with powdered sugar. You would think that something so wonderful would be so easy to find on the internet. However, the best I have come up with (with a few exceptions) is something called a cassateddi, which also shows up in Mary Taylor Simeti's book, Pomp and Sustenance, a book on the history of food in Sicily which also has a recipe for this pastry containing sweetened garbanzo puree.
I will confess that I do not know if there is the difference between the two but I will offer the one for cassateddi that I received on FB from a Sicilian source. Although it doesn't call for it, some little chunks of chocolate could only make this recipe better?


Ingredients for the dough: 500 g flour, 100 g of caster sugar, extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons marsala Ingredients for filling: 400 g ricotta cheese,well-drained cinnamon, sugar,
Powdered (icing) sugar for dusting Preparation: Mix the flour with 2 tablespoons of sugar, Marsala wine, olive oil and a pinch of salt until a paste consistency. Cover and let rest for about 30 minutes. Sieve the ricotta into a bowl and stir in remaining sugar, a pinch of cinnamon and the grated rind of one lemon. Roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut with a 4-inch disc cutter . Fill and fold the dough into little piles of ravioli. Fry in hot vegetable oil, drain and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve hot.

From the hills of Sicily we come back to the shores of the Pacific in the San Francisco Bay Area for a regional dish of eggs, bacon and......oysters! What? I know it sounds like a very unlikely and strange combination but what's not to love about fried oysters? Even for breakfast! And what's more there are a few legends to go with its origin. One story has it that a miner struck it rich, came back into town and ordered the most expensive thing he could think of for breakfast. But my favorite (and the one I subscribe to) is that in Placervile (aka Hangtown because of the executions) those convicted to "dance from the end of a rope" would order this for their last meal to postpone the inevitable for a bit longer as eggs were not plentiful and had to be brought in from afar. Whichever is the true story, this omelet is worth the splurge!
Hangtown Fry

2 eggs
2 strips of bacon, fried to your liking
2 fried oysters
(1 egg, beaten, bread crumbs, oil)
Drain and pat dry the oysters. Dip in beaten egg, dredge in bread crumbs and fry in hot oil for a few minutes on each side.
Add the 2 beaten egg to the pan and fry lifting up the sides of the omelet as it cooks to let the uncooked egg flow under.
Carefully turn the omelet and cook for a few more minutes.
Lay the bacon on top and serve with toast and hot sauce if desired.

The last offering which comes from the Gourmet Cookbook is perfect for a Sunday brunch item. Invite a few more people over with a few more dishes of fresh fruit, rolls and cheese and this would be a great get together. (Make sure someone brings chilled champagne and fresh oj!)

Breakfast Strata

1 1/2 pound breakfast sausage
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 large loaf Italian bread, crusts removed and cut into slices
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Brown sausage in skillet, add mushrooms and onion and saute until done.

In a buttered baking dish, place 1/3 of bread on bottom. Top with 1/2 the sausage and 1/3 of the cheese.
Pour egg mixture over and top with remaining cheese. Cover and refrigerate.
Bake in 350°F preheated oven for 1 hour or until top is brown and bubbly.

Feijões ala Erick

This recipe comes from my friend, Erick, who lives in Brazilia, the capitol of Brazil. Aside from the beans (I used pinto but I think other beans could be used with equally good results) the chief ingredient in the recipe is garlic paste, something that his family uses in many of their recipes. (I'm thinking that with so much garlic being used, there can't be many vampires in Brazil, a thought that ruins my crazy fantasies of a place I've yet to visit but have fallen in love with like a place you only imagine or read about in a book.)
If you have access to a mortar and pestle, this is the easiest way to make garlic paste. Smash two large cloves (or teeth if you're in the land of "Ordem e Progresso") and place them in the mortar with a large pinch of salt and grind them to a paste. The other method is to mash them, add salt and work them into a paste on a cutting board with the broad side of a chef's knife. Either way this is enough for the recipe that will follow.
The treatment of the beans are much different than the ways I was taught to make them which are to either soak them overnight in cold water or to boil them for two minutes and let them sit, covered, for an hour. It seems that the Brasileiro wants his beans and wants them now! He doesn't have time to wait all night or even a few hours. He will starve to death and miss his day at the beach. This is where the pressure cooker comes into play. I will give you my method. (Erick may have his own but he hasn't divulged that secret to me yet.) After going over your beans to make sure there are no stones or clumps of dirt among them, wash and place in a pressure cooker with 3 times the amount of water. Place on heat and let pressure rise to 15 psi.
(If you don't have a pressure cooker that measures psi, just wait until the weight starts rocking in a slow yet steady motion and keep it there.) Let it cook for 2 minutes and then cool in down under running water. Open and drain the water from the beans then add the same amount of water and return them to the heat cooking them at the same pressure for 15 minutes. Again, cool the pot down under running water and drain the n0w-cooked beans.

Feijões ala Erick

1 cup dry beans
Garlic paste (above)
2 tablespoons oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Make beans in the method mentioned above.
Fry garlic paste in heated oil. Add beans and a little water mashing the beans on the side of the pot with the back of a wooden spoon.
Season to taste.
Serve with rice.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A linguagem da comida (the language of food)

Few things are as satisfying as learning a new language or a new recipe. But I have learned to double my satisfaction by doing both at once.
This first started a few years ago on my first visit to Sicily.
I will confess here and now that I hate writing postcards. Not that I don't love my friends and family. But I hate the limited space on a postcard and my poor penmanship. (OK, so how is it have no trouble tweeting?) So when we went into a small shop in Caccamo, Sicily, I steered clear of the postcards and wandered to the magazine section when this idea hit me: Wouldn't it be cool to practice my Italian and Italian cooking by translating recipes? It was! I have since gone on to doing the same with Brazilian cooking by going to online cooking sites and translating the recipes from Portuguese. In no time at all I have learned to recognize ingredients and measurements.
The following recipe is from last Monday's show and one that I made after arriving home from that first trip to Sicily. It was from the Idee Pasta magazine shown in the photo.

Tagliatelle with Butternut Squash

1 pound butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
5 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
4 ounces prociutto, julienned
8 ounces fresh tagliatelle
2/3 cup heavy cream

Clean, peel and deseed squash and cut into half-inch cubes.
Heat oil in pan and saute onion and garlic.
Add parsley and saute a few minutes longer.
Add squash and cook a few minutes.
Add salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir. Stir in stock and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add prociutto and cook for a few minutes.
Cook pasta until al dente, add to sauce along with cream and briefly cook, stirring to coat the pasta. Remove to a serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley.
Serve with parmesan or pecorino cheese.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Good Morning, Bom Dia, Buon Giorno....

Most important. But favorite?

Growing up, breakfast was my least favorite meal of the day. "Cereal and eggs" was the answer to "What do we have?" which was the answer to "What do you want for breakfast?" Seriously, I didn't want anything for breakfast. I did not want to even think about food at that time of day. I wasn't hungry and didn't even want to think about food. I hated eggs and cereal was only good for the prize that was offered in the box. No, I'm afraid there was little that could have tempted my palate at that time of day.

I did say "little." Actually, if there were donuts or pancakes or waffles on the menu, I would be at the table in an instant! This was like getting dessert first thing of the day. Your day had to be good if it started out with dessert, no? For sausage and waffles, I would even have set and cleared the table! I still love all kinds of waffles from the wonderful yeast-raised ones with the crunchy coating of sugar that you find from the outside vendors in Brussels to the quick bread type that most of us are familiar with. (You may keep the frozen ones, thank you very much!)
The waffle recipe I am giving here comes from an old out-of-print cookbook called The Settlement Cookbook (The Way to a Man's Heart). I think I got the last edition some years ago when working in a bookstore in Westwood, an area in Los Angeles that is also home to UCLA.
I hope you'll try these and also keep an eye out in used bookstores for any editions of this book.

Sour Cream Waffles

1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs separated
2 cups sour cream
3 tablespoons of butter, melted

Sift dry ingredients. Beat egg whites until stiff (but not dry). Set aside.
Beat egg yolks, add sour cream and mix with dry ingredients just enough to blend. Add melted butter and fold in egg whites. Bake in waffle iron according to manufacturer's instructions.

Call them tortillas in Spain, frittatas in Italy or egg foo young in China, every culture has their own version of the omelet. And it seems to me that they originated as a vehicle for leftovers. I smidgen of this or that, a few eggs and a pan and you have an easy and inexpensive meal which is, at the same time, tasty. I think one of my favorite uses for leftover Calabrian spaghetti (or the recipe I have for something with that name) is in a frittata with some extra cheese thrown in.
Not the quintessential breakfast frittata. I think you may find this one a little more appropriate.

Potato Frittata

5 eggs
1 1/2 cups cold boiled or roast potatoes, cubed
1 cup fontina cheese, grated
1 onion, thinly sliced, sauteed until caramelized
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil

Beat eggs in a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients except the oil.
Mix well.
Heat oil in a large skillet. Pour in egg mixture and lift sides of omelet as they become cooked. When the top is still a little undone, finish under broiler or turn over by placing a large plate over the top of the skillet, turning the skillet upside down, then sliding the omelet back into the skillet. You may need to add a little more oil to the skillet.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

QF: Mushroom Soup

Although I did not get around to the Quick Fix segment of the show on Monday, I did want to give this recipe for mushroom soup which comes from The Gourmet Cookbook. Forget about the nasty stuff that comes in cans and goes in casseroles. This puts them to shame!

Fresh Mushroom Soup

2 cups half-and-half
1 thick slice of onion
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 pounds of mushrooms, brushed and thinly sliced
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup beef stock
1 small bay leaf
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Bring half-and-half just to the boil. Remove from heat and cover.
Heat butter in a pot until the foaming subsides and add the mushrooms and cook until golden. Add the onion and sprinkle with the flour and cook stirring for 2 minutes longer. Slowly add the stock, half-and-half, bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
Discard onion and bay leaf and stir in lemon juice and serve.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bolo de Chocolate Amargo

One of my favorite parts of learning a new language is translating recipes into English. I first attempt at this was several years ago when in Italy I decided to pick up food magazines and translate some recipes and try them out. Fun and deliciously rewarding.
My recent love affair with all things Brazilian naturally led me to learning Portuguese, Brazilian cuisine and that magic place where the two meet...the online Brazilian recipe sites.
Sharing pics from the sites with online friends has made me have to translate certain recipes whether I planned to eat them or not because of the requests. After I've teased and tempted with pictures, how can I deny?
Just a note here to my American friends: We are the only country in the world who has not converted to the metric system. Our stubborn determination to stick with an out-of-date system of measurement has not done our children any favors. (All recipes in other countries use the metric system with the rare exception when you will find a teaspoon or tablespoon.) You can start the revolution by purchasing a kitchen scales that measure both ounces and grams. Get an electric one. They aren't that expensive and you will use it more than you think. I have translated language and measurements. But, just sayin'.

Dark Chocolate Cake with Milk Chocolate Sauce
(Bolo de Chocolate Amargo)

400 grams (14oz) dark chocolate, chopped
150 grams (1 stick and 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter
150 grams (about 1 cup) icing (powdered) sugar
5 eggs, separated
1/3 cup flour, measured after sifting

200 grams (7 oz) milk chocolate, chopped
100 ml (scant 1/2 cup) cream
20 grams (1 1/2) tablespoons unsalted butter

In a double boiler or a bowl set over (not in) simmering water, melt the dark chocolate, butter and icing sugar stirring until well blended. Remove and set aside.
Beat egg whites until stiff and set aside.
In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks then stir in two tablespoons of the melted chocolate mixture. Stir in the rest of the chocolate mixture slowly and stir until well blended.
Fold in flour until completely incorporated.
Carefully fold in the beat egg whites until well incorporated.

Pour batter into a 9X13-inch (32cmX22cm) greased baking dish. Bake in a 350°F (180C) preheated oven for 10 minutes or until the top is dry and cracked. (It should be soft on the inside.)


Melt milk chocolate, cream and butter in a double boiler or bowl set over (not in) simmering water, stirring until well blended. Keep warm.

While still warm, cut cake into individual pieces and serve with the warm syrup poured over.