Showing posts with label mozzarella. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mozzarella. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Spinach and cheese “meatballs”

Bolinhos de espinafre e queijo

Who follows me on Instagram has seen some of my lunch dishes: it is usually simple food, quick to put together, so I can make it and eat in on my lunch break. Rice and beans I keep ready at the fridge, so it is just a matter of roasting some vegetables, making a salad or an omelet, or getting meatballs from the fridge straight to the oven. All very quick.

But when I have a little more time, or when I get organized enough on the previous night, I like to make new recipes, food that takes a little bit longer in the kitchen, like these delicious spinach “meatballs”: I had some spinach in the fridge and wanted to use it in something different – on a busy day I would simple stir-fry it with olive oil, garlic and a pinch of nutmeg for a tasty side dish, but since I had a bit of extra time I went to my good old sources for recipes online (Donna Hay, Jamie Oliver, Gourmet Traveller, both Australian and UK Delicious magazines) and it was on the Guardian that I found something interesting. I adapted the recipe slightly and got truly delicious spinach cakes – I am calling them meatballs because I decided to roll them into balls.

I am sure these meatballs would be delicious baked, but since my oven was already full with something else I just grilled them quickly in a nonstick frying pan with a little bit of olive oil. If you decide to bake them, line the baking sheet with foil and brush it with olive oil, because the amount of cheese in these cakes will make them stick on the sheet.

Too bad the recipe does not yield much – the meatballs were gone in no time at all. :D

Spinach and cheese “meatballs”
adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's savory spinach cakes recipe

4 cups (260g) fresh spinach, tough stalks removed, leaves washed, packed
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
½ cup coarsely grated yellow mozzarella – cheddar should make a fine substitute, or even Monterey Jack
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan
1 tablespoon cream cheese
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten – the egg I used was a small one, 50g; I buy organic eggs and sizes vary
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For frying the balls:
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large nonstick frying pan over high heat, cook the spinach in two batches, stirring until wilted. Transfer to a colander. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze very well with your hands, then chop. Set aside to cool completely.
Using the same frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute – don’t overcook or the garlic will turn bitter. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely.

Transfer spinach, onion and garlic mixture, cheeses, cream cheese, breadcrumbs and nutmeg to a medium bowl. Stir in the egg and season with salt and pepper. With damp hands, roll 1 ½ tablespoons of the mixture into balls, pressing slightly to compact the mixture. Transfer to a place and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Before frying the meatballs, roll them into the breadcrumbs. Heat the olive oil in the same frying pan used before over medium-high heat and fry the balls, turning two or three times to evenly brown them – be careful because they are very soft. Serve immediately.

Makes 10-11 cakes

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Quinoa, carrot and mozzarella fritters

Quinoa, carrot and mozzarella fritters / Bolinhos de quinoa, cenoura e mozarela

It took me a while to get on the quinoa bandwagon (I don’t really know why), but after I did I started making fritters with it quite often: with a salad they become a delicious and light lunch or dinner.

Here I have combined quinoa with other tasty ingredients such as carrots, mozzarella and olives – their saltiness goes really well with the sweetness of the carrots and the mozzarella. However, if you like intense flavors (I do), the mozzarella can be replaced with a stronger cheese.

Quinoa, carrot and mozzarella fritters
own recipe

1 small carrot, coarsely grated
150g cooked quinoa, drained and cooled
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan
1 spring onion, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons chopped green olives
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
60g fresn mozzarella, finely chopped
2 large eggs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
canola oil, for frying

Place the carrot in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze to remove excess liquid. Transfer carrot to a large bowl and add the quinoa, parmesan, spring onion, parsley, thyme, olives, flour, mozzarella and eggs. Season with salt and pepper and stir until well combined.

Heat about ½ teaspoon oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Pour about 2 tablespoons of batter per fritter and flatten with the back of a spoon, shaping the edges quickly to form a rough circle. Don’t overfill the frying pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook until golden.

Serve immediately.

Makes about 10

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

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Baked moussaka eggplants and understanding references

Baked moussaka eggplants / Barquinhas de moussaka

I was listening to an FM radio station weeks ago and when they started playing Katy Perry’s “Roar” it suddenly hit me: her teenage fans don’t understand the references on her song, do they? I don’t think they do because they’re not old enough for that.

I don’t mean to be cranky - I don’t get tons of references either (and it’s pure joy when I do get them). :) It’s just that sometimes we might let something nice go unnoticed because of our lack of reference, which is such a pity. I guess that because of the blog and all these years of reading and being curious about food I immediately felt like making this recipe when I saw it – otherwise I would probably not pay much attention to a dish called “moussaka”.

These stuffed eggplants were a hit at home – my husband and I loved them, and a plus is that they’re easy to make. I replaced the passata called for in the recipe for tomato sauce I’d made the night before (using canned tomatoes and lots of fresh basil, thyme and oregano) and I think that made the dish even tastier.

Baked moussaka eggplants
slightly adapted from the delicious Taste Magazine (I got a digital subscription through

2 small (about 500g total) eggplants, halved lengthways
1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
1 fat garlic clove, crushed and finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons dried oregano
250g beef mince
¼ cup red wine
½ cup tomato passata*
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
50g sourdough, chopped – better if stale
50g grated fresh mozzarella
30g feta, crumbled or grated
basil leaves, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a roasting pan (large enough to hold the 4 eggplant halves side by side) with foil.
Using a sharp knife and a spoon, scoop out the eggplant flesh leaving a 1cm border. Finely chop the flesh. Place the shells on the prepared pan, brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes or until it starts to soften.
In a large saucepan, heat ½ tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for2 minutes or until soft. Stir in the chopped eggplant and cook for 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in the garlic, cook until fragrant, then stir in the cinnamon and half the oregano. Transfer to a bowl.
Heat 1 teaspoon of the remaining olive oil in the same saucepan. Add the beef and cook until brown. Return onion mixture to the saucepan, stir in wine and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the passata and vinegar, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes or until thickened. Divide the mixture among the eggplant shells, cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. In the meantime, place the bread, cheeses, remaining oregano and olive oil in a small bowl and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove the foil, spread the cheese mixture over the eggplant and bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until topping is golden. Sprinkle with the basil and serve.

* I’d made tomato sauce (using canned tomatoes and lots of fresh basil, thyme and oregano) the day before and used it instead of the passata

Serves 2

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Salami and cheese rolls from a fantastic recipe source

Salami and cheese rolls / Pãezinhos de salame e queijo

I might be the owner of too many cookbooks, that is true, and still one of my favorite sources for great food is Gourmet Traveller: the photos are crazy beautiful and the recipes are delicious and never disappoint. With a long holiday ahead and the urge to bake bread I went straight to GT’s website for some inspiration and there I found the perfect recipe: it was yeasted, as I wanted, and it called for cheese and salami, two ingredients I had in the fridge that needed to be used with some urgency. While the bread was in the oven my husband – the salami eater of our house – kept telling me how good it smelled, and after tasting one of the rolls he told me that next time he bought salami he would bring home some extra on purpose so I could make these rolls again. Indeed the bread turned out fantastic but I would do two things differently next time: amp up the amount of cheese and double the recipe – 8 rolls were gone in no time. :D

Salami and cheese rolls
adapted from the always stunning Gourmet Traveller

1/8 teaspoon dried yeast
pinch of sugar
125g all purpose flour

½ tablespoon olive oil
½ large onion, finely diced
1 ¼ teaspoons dried yeast
pinch of sugar
2 cups + 2 tablespoons (300g) all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon table salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
30g unsalted butter, softened
70g salami, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, coarsely chopped
100g fresh mozzarella, grated

Make the sponge: combine the yeast, sugar and 1 tablespoon warm water in small bowl, stand for 10 minutes or until foamy. Add 1/3 cup (80ml) warm water and the flour and stir for 2 minutes or until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and stand for 3 hours or until doubled in size. Starter can be refrigerated at this stage and brought to room temperature before using.
In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until fragrant and beginning to brown. Remove from the heat and cool completely.

Dough: combine yeast, sugar and 2 tablespoons warm water in the large bowl of an electric mixer and stand for 10 minutes or until foamy. Add starter and, using the dough hook, mix for 4-5 minutes or until smooth. Add butter and combine. Add onion, salami and oregano and mix until well combined. Add the flour, salt and pepper and knead for 3 minutes or until shiny and elastic. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap stand for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F. Lightly brush with oil a 25cm (9in) round cake pan.
Knock back dough, turn onto a floured surface and roll out dough to a 50x30cm (20x12in) rectangle, scatter the mozzarella over the dough, then roll into a cylinder beginning with the longer side. Cut into 8 pieces and place, cut-side down, onto the prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and stand for 30-40 minutes, then bake for about 25 minutes or until golden. These are delicious warm drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and reheat really well – keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Makes 8

Friday, May 24, 2013

Roasted tomato and mozzarella panzanella

Roasted tomato and mozzarella panzanella / Panzanella com tomates assados e mozzarella

I have a couple of friends and a brother who are salad haters – they simply can’t stand the sight of leaves piled up on a plate (it’s pretty much what I feel about Michael Bay’s movies, so I can relate). :) I personally love salads because I grew up eating vegetables by the bucketfuls since I was never a fan of meat, and the salads I make nowadays are packed with interesting ingredients such as fruits, nuts, eggs... There’s nothing boring about them. I believe that this panzanella, a recipe I adapted from Jennifer Perillo’s beautiful and delicious book, will please both salad haters and lovers: it was a hit with me, the girl who can’t live without cheese and bread, and the hubby, a.k.a. Mr. Picky Eater. :D

Roasted tomato and mozzarella panzanella
adapted from the wonderful Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie's Kitchen

300g roasted cherry tomatoes, recipe here

Parmesan croutons:
2 heaping cups cubed day-old baguette
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 heaping tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For assembling the salad:
1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon honey
salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g fresh mozzarella, cut in small cubes
handful of fresh oregano leaves
handful of fresh basil leaves

Croutons: place all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss until the bread cubs are coated.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the bread and cook turning occasionally, until golden all over, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
In a large, deep bowl whisk together the oil, lemon juice, mustard, honey, salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. Add the croutons, mozzarella, tomatoes, oregano and basil and toss to combine. Let the salad sit for 5 minutes so the croutons can absorb the flavors – do not let it sit more than 15 minutes or the bread will be soggy.

Serves 2 generously

Friday, January 9, 2009

Mozzarella in carrozza

Mozzarella in carrozza

Saturday is my favorite day of the week and one thing I love doing is watching some of Nigella’s shows. They are basically reruns and I have already seen many episodes, but that’s fine – it’s a joy to see her cook, even though I’m not always crazy about the dishes she prepares. :)

One can certainly turn to Nigella when looking for delicious food that can be made in almost no time. And that’s what I did, right after watching one episode of her Christmas series – I was hungry but the couch kept calling out my name. :D

If that doesn’t inspire lazy people to cook, I don’t know what will.

Mozzarella in carrozza

Mozzarella in carrozza
from Nigella Bites

6 slices white bread, crusts removed
1 fist-sized ball mozzarella, cut into approximately ¼-inch (0.6cm) slices, then strips – I used buffalo mozzarella with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (120ml) whole milk
3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 egg
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (120ml) olive oil (not extra-virgin), for frying – I used much less

Make sandwiches out of the bread and mozzarella, leaving a little margin around the edges unfilled with cheese, and press the edges together with your fingers to help seal. (One of the advantages of soft white bread is that it easily smushed together.)
Pour the milk in to 1 soup bowl*, the flour into another, and beat the egg with salt and pepper in another.
Warm the oil in the frying pan over medium heat. Dunk the sandwiches briefly, 1 by 1, in the milk, then dredge in the flour, then dip in the beaten egg. Fry in hot oil on each side until crisp and golden and remove to a paper towel. Cut in half and serve.

* I found it easier to work with shallow plates

Serves 2

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Grilled cheese and basil polenta

Grilled cheese and basil polenta

I never thought this would happen, but it did. Donna Hay disappointed me.

It was last Saturday – my Amazon box arrived and I couldn’t wait to go through my new cookbooks. Donna’s book looked so adorable and cute... I started to flip the pages, eager to choose the first recipe to prepare. Unfortunately, as I glanced at the photos there was only one thing going on in my mind – “I’ve already seen this. And this. And this one, too.”
Several of those recipes had been published in other Donna Hay’s books and magazines – the ones on my bookshelf. :(

I’m not interested in buying cookbooks with recipes I already own and I guess you aren’t either – that’s why I thought you should know about this. I have deleted the other “Simple Essentials” volumes from my wish list.

To remind me of how wonderful Donna’s recipes are, I prepared this polenta (from her magazine, issue 40). I’ll tell you, my friends: this is what I call reconciliation. :)

Grilled cheese and basil polenta

Grilled cheese and basil polenta
from Donna Hay magazine

3 cups (750ml) water
1 cup (170g) instant polenta
60g butter, chopped
½ cup (50g) finely grated parmesan
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup basil leaves
2 cups (200g) grated mozzarella*
olive oil, for brushing

Place water in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Gradually whisk in the polenta and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir through the butter, parmesan, salt and pepper. Pour half of the polenta into a 20cm square pan lined with non-stick baking paper (I used foil) and spread to smooth. Top with the basil, mozzarella and remaining polenta. Refrigerate for 45 minutes or until set.
Cut into squares/rectangles and brush with oil. Heat a char-grill pan or barbecue over high heat. Cook the polenta for 3-4 minutes each side or until golden and the cheese has melted. Serve with pan-fried veal cutlets, grilled lamb or steak and baby spinach.

* I used the yellow mozzarella we have here, that seems to be really similar to Monterey Jack

Serves 2 - I think it can serve 4, depending on what you serve it with

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Baked pesto chicken

Baked pesto chicken

Some things sound wonderful but don't turn out so fine...

Take “Arrested Development”, for instance. Such a great show – perfect writing, sharp cast. To think that the poor boy’s name is George Michael makes me laugh already; nothing against the name - to be clear about it, in case there’s a George Michael reading me right now – but for someone my age it’s impossible to read that name and NOT think of him.

So, back to the show. I love everything about it. It even gave me hope about Ron Howard – I don’t like the guy, but he’s the voice behind the episodes (though I’ll never forget he made this). It should be the #1 comedy and all that. But it got cancelled. And that makes me sad.

What also made me sad was this recipe. I got it from an ad in Bon Appetit magazine a few months ago and I knew it would be delicious. Well, it was OK. But not I-want-to-make-this-200-times delicious.

I should have learned my lesson about not marinating chicken before cooking it, but apparently I have not. The idea of chicken with pesto blinded me.

So don’t be like me and marinate the chicken before making this recipe. And please, let me know how it turned out.

The original recipe is here – I changed it a little by browning the chicken before baking it.

Baked pesto chicken

Baked pesto chicken

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 (about 680g/1 ¼ pounds total) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup pesto sauce – I used this recipe
¾ cup (3 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF. Line baking sheet with heavy-duty foil.

In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat; add garlic and cook until it starts to brown. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper and cook until nicely browned in both sides. Remove from the pan and place it in a medium bowl. Add the pesto and toss to coat. Place chicken on prepared baking sheet and drizzle any remaining pesto sauce over it.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center. Remove from oven; top with the mozzarella. Bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serves 4

Monday, February 19, 2007

Spinach and radish salad with mozzarella rolled in breadcrumbs

Spinach and radish salad with mozzarella rolled in breadcrumbs

I’ve always loved vegetables – as a kid, I used to ask for a tomato or raw carrots as my afternoon snack and I would eat a huge bowl of watercress or arugula watching TV with my mom – I was a weird child, you might think. :)

Surprisingly, this is only the second salad I publish here.

I’d been keeping this recipe on my “to do” list – which is so big it’s actually a folder - for such a long time and the day I decided to make it I couldn’t find raddichio. Those are the times when I hate living in a small town.
Oh, and the anchovies I forgot at the supermarket. :S

This salad is divine and I intend to make it again with all the original ingredients, which I’ll post in case anyone wants to give it a try.

I got this recipe from my dear friend Valentina - go check her blog and see the wonderful things she's been cooking; I'm sure you'll tag a bunch of recipes. :)

Spinach and radish salad with mozzarella rolled in breadcrumbs

3 radishes
1 radicchio – use only the inside leaves
100g spinach – if the leaves are too big, tear them with your fingers
black olives

50g anchovies – drain them and set the oil aside
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
cracked black pepper

Mozzarella balls:
160g breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons basil leaves, torn in small pieces
1 teaspoon lime zest
4 large mozzarella balls, torn in pieces – I used small mozzarella balls I had at home
seasoned wheat flour – I used all purpose flour seasoned with a little salt
1 egg, lightly beaten*
cracked black pepper

For the dressing: place the anchovies, lime juice and garlic in a food processor and whiz until you have a uniform mixture. If you don’t own a food processor, chop the anchovies in small pieces and place the 3 ingredients in a bowl, mixing well with a whisk.
Start adding the oil from the anchovies can and the olive oil, drop by drop, then in a very fine steady stream – the mixture will get thick. Add 1 tablespoon hot water, little by little, to thin the dressing and season with cracked black pepper. Set aside.

To make the mozzarella balls: place the breadcrumbs in a plate, add the parsley, basil, lime zest, salt and cracked black pepper – mix well.
Place the seasoned flour in another place.
Coat every mozzarella piece with the seasoned flour, shake them to remove any excess. Dip them into the egg mixture then into crumb mixture and coat them well.
Place the mozzarella pieces onto a baking sheet and leave it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC if you’re baking the mozzarella balls – that’s what I did; if you decide to fry them, heat 1cm of vegetable oil in a small saucepan, over medium heat.

While the mozzarella is in the oven, prepare the salad: slice the radishes very finely and place them in a bowl with iced water. Set aside.
Place the radicchio in a salad bowl, top with the spinach leaves, the radishes (drained) and the olives.
When the mozzarella balls are ready - bake them for 15 minutes and turn them in half the time to get an even golden color - add them to the salad.
Drizzle it with the dressing or serve it in a sauce boat.

* you can use Dijon mustard instead of the eggs – that’s what I used.

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