Showing posts with label vegetables. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetables. Show all posts

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Ratatouille calzones

Calzones de ratatouille / Ratatouille calzones

Last week I told Joao that for the weekend I wanted to make something different for lunch: I was not in the mood for pasta or for the good old rice and beans combo, and I definitely wanted to try my hands at a new recipe.

Going through the vegetables in my fridge I found one eggplant, one zucchini, a couple of carrots and that was it: not much to choose from. So I kept the carrots for some other time and used the eggplant and the zucchini to make a sort of ratatouille, adding tomato paste and olive to make the mixture more interesting. Mixed with cheese it became the filling for these calzones and I bring you this recipe with a very proud smile: the calzones turned out so good!

Apparently going through the crisper drawer might be a good creative exercise. :D

The recipe yields 8 large calzones, which is too much for the both of us for one meal, so I froze the remaining calzones and we ate them for dinner yesterday. If you want to do the same, just wait for the calzones to cool completely, wrap in foil and place them in a plastic bag, sealing well. Once the calzones are thawed, 10 minutes in a hot oven are enough to make them delicious again.

Calzones de ratatouille / Ratatouille calzones

Ratatouille calzones
own recipe

Dough:
2 teaspoons dried yeast
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups (300ml) lukewarm water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups (420g) all purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons table salt

Filling:
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
½ small onion, finely diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 medium zucchini (240g), in 1cm-cubes
1 medium eggplant (300g), in 1cm-cubes
1 bay leaf
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon dry white wine
10 large black olives, pitted and finely chopped
1 ½ cups (150g) coarsely grated yellow mozzarella*
3 tablespoons coarsely grated parmesan
2 teaspoons dried oregano

After assembling the calzones:
olive oil, for brushing
finely grated parmesan, for sprinkling over the calzones

Start with the dough: in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the yeast, sugar and water with a fork. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the olive oil, flour and salt and mix for 6-8 minutes or until a soft and elastic dough forms. Shape dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to proof in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size – mine proved for 90 minutes.

In the meantime, make the filling: heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook stirring occasionally until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant – do not let it burn or it will get bitter. Stir in zucchini, eggplant and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until vegetables are softer. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes – it is important to cook it thoroughly to avoid the raw tomato aftertaste. Add the wine and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the olives. Remove from the heat, cool completely, discard the bay leaf and then stir in the cheeses and the oregano.

Preheat the oven to 420°F/220°C. Have ready two large baking sheets.
Divide the dough into 8 equal parts – each will be around 100g (3 ½ oz.). Roll out each portion of dough on a lightly floured surface until you get a rough 25cm (10in) circle. Place about ½ cup of the filling on one side of the dough and fold the other half over, pinching the seams well to keep the filling inside – since vegetables can vary in size, if you have a scale weigh the filling and divide it equally in 8 portions. Repeat the process with the remaining dough and filling. Place the calzones onto the sheets and brush them with the olive oil and sprinkle with the parmesan. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. 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 8

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Pea and Japanese pumpkin soup

Sopa de abóbora e ervilha / Pea and Japanese pumpkin soup

Do you ever get tired of your own food?

That has not happened to me yet – not only during the pandemic, because before that I already took my own food for lunch at the office – but I must confess that there are days that I eat and think “it could have been better”, or “this does not go with that”.

Cooking with whatever we have at hand can yield good surprises, like the risotto I posted the other day, but it can go terribly wrong, too, like when I made rice and beans - the staple of Brazilian food - with pumpkin and carrots cooked together (because I didn’t have much of each) and a radish salad on the side: I felt that the salad did not agree with the other components, maybe because it was a cold day, maybe because the radishes were too peppery… I usually roast pumpkin because it tastes so much better that way, but I was baking bread and could not use the oven. The whole meal was not bad, but it lacked something… There was no “yum” factor. I filed that lunch under “I tried, but it didn’t work”. :)

But now I will talk about something good: there was also the day I made a soup using some of that same Japanese pumpkin, 1 lonely potato and frozen peas. It turned out delicious and with a beautiful, vibrant, almost fluorescent color.
Since both the pumpkin and the peas are sweet, the acidity of the lime (or lemon) juice and the saltiness of the bacon balance the sweetness perfectly.

Pea and Japanese pumpkin soup
own recipe

2 slices of bacon, chopped
½ tablespoon olive oil
½ large onion, finely diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 medium potato (150g), peeled and diced
200g peeled and diced Japanese pumpkin (about 1 2/3 cups already diced in 2cm cubes)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 ½ cups (840ml) boiling water
1 bay leaf
2 ½ cups (325g) frozen peas, straight from the freezer
juice of ½ lime (or lemon)

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp – remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the olive oil to the pan and mix with the rendered fat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute – do not let it burn or it will turn bitter.
Add wine and scrape the bottom of the pan, cooking until wine has evaporated. Add potato and pumpkin, stir to combine and season with salt and pepper. Add the water and the bay leaf, stir, and let it come to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 15-17 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add the peas and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf and blitz with a handheld mixer.
Stir in the lime juice and serve topped with the crunchy bits of bacon.

Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as an entrée


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

"Meatballs":
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

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Carrot and kale risotto with roasted radishes, or “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-risotto”

Risoto de cenoura e couve com rabanetes assados

Saturday morning, feeling super lazy after cleaning the apartment, all I really wanted was to take a shower, open a bottle of wine and lay on my couch. But we gotta eat, right? After cleaning the apartment and doing the laundry Joao and I get pretty hungry – never fails. :D I was not feeling very creative or inspired to cook, to be honest with you: I could have made burgers, but had forgotten to defrost the beef. I did not feel like eating pasta. So I opened the fridge and grabbed everything in front of me: carrots, leeks, radishes. Oh, there were also some kale leaves already washed, so I just gathered everything and decided to use them up in a risotto.

It is a carrot and kale risotto with roasted radishes, a.k.a. “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-risotto”. :)

As I did not have any vegetable stock at hand, I used leeks and onion to enhance the risotto flavor and boiled 1 bay leaf in the water I used to replace the stock. It worked like a charm! The risotto turned out really good, guys – sorry for not being modest at all. :D
In the end, the roasted radishes did not go so well with the rest of the dish: I wanted to add a different texture to the meal, but the risotto worked very well without the radishes. I bring you the recipe anyway, in case you want to serve the radishes in a different meal, with a different dish.

Carrot and kale risotto with roasted radishes
own recipe

Radishes:
5 small radishes (100g in total), sliced in half lengthwise; if radishes are large, cut them in 3 or 4 pieces
2 teaspoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Risotto:
3 cups (720ml) water
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ tablespoon olive oil
1 small and thin leek, only the light green part, thinly sliced
½ small onion, finely diced
¾ cup (165g) Arborio or Carnaroli rice
¼ cup (60ml) dry white wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 small carrots (160g in total, weighed before peeling), coarsely grated
2 kale leaves, without the central stalk, torn into small pieces
¼ xícara (35g) coarsely grated parmesan

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a small baking sheet with foil. Transfer the radishes to the foil, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Stir to coat, spread on the sheet leaving some space between the radishes and roast for 30 minutes, turning at half the oven time. Remove from the oven and set aside.

In the meantime, make the risotto: place the water and the bay leaf in a small saucepan over high heat until it boils. Keep it simmering. In a medium saucepan, melt half the butter and olive oil. Add leek and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the rice and cook for 2-3 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 carrots. Start adding the water, 1 ladle at a time, then stirring constantly so the rice releases its starch.
Repeat this until all the water has been used, the rice is al dente and the risotto is thick and glossy – about 20 minutes. Stir in the kale, the remaining butter and the parmesan. Check the seasoning, adjust if necessary, cover the pan and wait 5 minutes. Transfer risotto to serving plates, arrange the radishes on top and serve immediately.

Serves 2 generously, or 3 lighter servings

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Red lentil soup with kale chips

Sopa de lentilha vermelha com chips de couve / Red lentil soup with kale chips

As many of you, I have been cooking a lot more since the quarantine started, and it is not an easy task to cook lunch and dinner every day while also trying to vary the menu with what I have at hand – we already feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, so if the food is also the same in every meal… I don’t want to think about that. :D

I was going through some recipes I bookmarked in the past and found this soup on Gourmet Traveller, one of my favorite recipe sources. I decided to freestyle a little with the recipe while also aiming to make it a vegan meal. I did not have vegetable stock in the freezer and was also out of carrots to make some from scratch, so on top of the spices I also added a bay leaf and tomato paste to enhance flavors. And speaking of spices, I used the ones I have at hand and you can adapt and do the same.

To make it vegan I served my soup with kale chips and it worked beautifully – feel free to do what GT suggests and serve the soup with yogurt. Next time I have the soup for dinner (I froze half of it for some other day) I will top mine with a poached egg – my mouth is watering already. :D

Red lentil soup with kale chips
soup recipe adapted from here, chips adapted from several recipes around the web

Soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1/3 cup celery stalks, finely chopped – I used frozen and added unthawed to the pan
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon tomato paste
5 ½ cups (1,320ml) boiling water
1 1/3 cups (285g) dried red lentils
1 bay leaf
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large lime, finely grated zest and juice

Kale chips:
5 large kale leaves
1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
In the meantime, start with the soup: heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add celery and cook for another 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute – do not overcook it or the soup will taste bitter. Add spices and tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes – it is important to cook the tomato paste well to remove the flavor of raw tomatoes from the recipe. Add water and stir. When it comes to a boil, add lentils and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper and then simmer for 15-17 minutes or until lentils are soft and starting to break down – stir occasionally so it does not catch in the bottom of the pan.

While the soup boils, make the chips: tear the kale leaves into medium pieces and transfer to a nonstick large baking pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper and dress the leaves using your hands. Spread the kale onto the sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Leave to cool completely so they become crunchy.

If you will eat the soup right away, remove the bay leaf, add lemon rind and juice, then blend with a hand-held blender until a coarse purée. If you are making the soup to freeze, do not add lime zest and juice – do this upon serving.

Divide among bowls and serve with the kale chips.

Serves 4-5

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Lentil bolgonese and trying to be a better person

Bolonhesa de lentilha

I was going through some old photos I made for the blog (or for the book, when I still considered writing one), and found today’s photo: a lentil Bolognese that I tested a few times and turned out quite tasty. I liked it a lot, but my husband not so much: he is not addicted to meat and does not mind at all eating without it most days, but he is not very much into lentils. I ended up forgetting about the recipe, and also because the name kind of bugged me a bit: it is a delicious and nutritious sauce, but it has nothing to with the once made with mince beef.

Since then, time flew, lots of things happened, I became lactose intolerant and started drinking plant based milks – they saved my beloved lattes in the morning – and I realized that I had to stop lecturing so much. If people want to call those plant based beverages “milk”, what is the issue? Same for calling this sauce “bolognese” – no worries anymore. I don’t want to be that person – if you have read my blog long enough you will probably have seen me being a dick a couple of times about something (excuse my French), so I apologize now. I want to be a better person.

I decided to post this recipe because I believe that it might come in handy for those quarantined like me, who don’t have mince beef in their fridge or freezer. I must confess that I wasn’t very fond of this sauce on pasta, but it was delicious over soft polenta.

Lentil bolgonese
own recipe, inspired by several recipes

For the lentils:
2 cups water
pinch of salt
½ cup dried green lentils
1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced in half

Sauce:
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
½ medium onion, finely diced
2 small celery sticks, finely diced (1/4 cup after they are diced)
2 large garlic cloves, finely diced
2 tablespoons dry red wine
1 can (400g) peeled tomatoes, chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
sal and freshly ground black pepper
handful fresh basil leaves

Start by cooking the lentils: place the water in a small saucepan and heat over high heat. When it starts to boil, add the lentils, garlic and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until lentils are al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Remove the garlic – you won’t need it anymore.

Now, the sauce: heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and the celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute – do not let it burn or it will give the recipe a bitter taste. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, the thyme, the bay leaf, the sugar, season with salt and pepper. When it starts to boil, turn down the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Add the lentils and cook for another 5 minutes. Check the seasoning, remove the thyme sprigs and the bay leaf, add the basil and serve.

Serves 4 over soft polenta, 2 served with pasta


Thursday, April 2, 2020

Quarantine vegetable soup

Sopa de legumes da quarentena

Hello everyone, long time no see. Ages ago I decided to be honest with myself and accept the fact that I no longer had time to write on this blog, unfortunately – I can barely update the one in Portuguese. But with these crazy, uncertain times we are living I thought I should ask you how it has been for you.

This is my third week isolated, went out only once to buy groceries. How is it going for you? I miss my nephew, miss going to work and to the gym, miss buying things like fresh veg whenever I want to, miss going to the movies. But I know I am privileged and one of the lucky people who can work from home and I have food on my table.

I have been cooking a lot, trying to make everything stretch as much as possible to avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store. I also try to make each batch of food last for at least 2 meals. I have baked bread, but no sweets: my husband does not like them, and I don’t want to eat everything myself.

I made this soup earlier this week and it was enough for 2 dinners – my husband loves soup and if he wasn’t so eager to eat it the soup would have probably lasted for 3 meals. :D It is a riff on another soup I make regularly. I hope you like this recipe and I also hope to hear from you. xx

Quarantine vegetable soup
own recipe, a riff on this one

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
½ large onion, finely chopped
1 leek, light part only, finely sliced
1/3 cup finely diced celery - I used frozen, unthawed
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 ripe tomato, deseeded and chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large courgette, diced
boiling water, enough to cover the vegetables (about 1,5 liters, but it will depend on the size of your saucepan)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
150g frozen spinach, unthawed - here in Brazil that would be 5 portions

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until transparent, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Add the leek and cook for 1 minute. Add the celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes – if you use frozen, like me, cook for 4 minutes, because it will cool the bottom of the saucepan slightly. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant – do not let it burn or it will taste bitter.

Add the tomato and a pinch of salt and cook until it is mushy. Add the carrots, potatoes and courgette and stir to combine. Cover with boiling water, season with salt and pepper and add the bay leaves. When the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover partially and cook until vegetables are tender, 25-30 minutes – this will depend on the size you cut them; I test the carrots and if they are tender the soup is ready.
Turn off the heat and with an immersion blender, blitz the soup for a couple of seconds – you want the mixture to be half chunky, half smooth. Add the spinach and stir slowly, until it defrosts and gets mixed into the soup – this will cool the soup a little bit and make it ready to serve.

Serves 5-6

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Orecchiette with courgette and goat’s cheese sauce

Orecchiette with courgette and goat’s cheese sauce / Orecchiette com molho de abobrinha e queijo de cabra

This food stylist wannabe got crazy when she saw yellow courgettes in farmer’s market for the first time – until then I had only seen it on books, magazines and food TV shows. Of course I brought some home and immediately thought of something tasty and visually beautiful to make with it.

For this recipe I used red onion so I could have a nice color contrast, however after that day I made this pasta several other times using regular onions and courgettes and it was flavorsome anyway.

Orecchiette with courgette and goat’s cheese sauce
own recipe

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ large red onion, thinly sliced in half moons
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 courgette (about 350g/12oz), sliced in half lengthwise and then sliced into thin half moons
finely grated zest of 1 lime
handful of fresh marjoram leaves
2 tablespoons dry white wine
¼ cup (60ml) heavy cream
35g goat’s cheese, coarsely grated or crumbled
200g orecchiette pasta

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente (follow the instructions in the package). In the meantime, make the sauce: in a large frying pan, heat the butter and olive oil until butter is melted. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute only – do not let it burn or it will be bitter. Add the courgette and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until softened. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the lime zest and the marjoram. Add the wine and cook until it evaporates. Stir in the cream and the cheese and cook just until the cheese melts.

Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water, and stir into the sauce – if sauce is too thick, stir in a bit of the cooking water to loosen it up. Serve immediately.

Serves 2

Other ideas: this recipe tastes great if gorgonzola and fresh oregano are used instead of goat’s cheese and marjoram.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Loaded potatoes with spinach, cheese and bacon

Loaded potatoes with spinach, bacon and cheese / Barquinhas de batata com espinafre, bacon e queijo

I work for a Swiss company and this week several of my peers from Switzerland have been asking me about/wishing me a good Carnival – it is funny because I am not a Carnival person (they do not know that), but I do enjoy the days off (Netflix, here I come!). :)

To me these loaded potatoes are perfect for lazy days: just a handful of ingredients, easy prepping, and delicious results. My versions lately have been dairy free: I skip the cheese and add a couple of teaspoons of nutritional yeast to the filling to get the cheesy flavor. Sometimes I sprinkle a bit of Pecorino on top as well for a salty touch, since that cheese does not cause me digestion problems.

Loaded potatoes with spinach, cheese and bacon
own recipe

4 large potatoes
6 bacon rashers, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ¾ cups (120g) spinach leaves, packed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup (75g) coarsely grated Canastra cheese*

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a medium baking sheet with foil.
Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork. Place them on the foil and bake for about 50 minutes or until potatoes are tender (remove them from the oven, but keep it on). When potatoes are warm enough to handle, cut them in half horizontally, remove some of the pulp and transfer to a bowl – do not carve the potatoes too much or the shells will be too thin and delicate to hold the filling. Place the potato shells back on top of the foil.

In a large nonstick frying pan, cook the bacon over high heat stirring occasionally until crisp. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper, and cook until wilted, 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the potato pulp and mix. Stir in ½ cup of the cheese. Spoon filling back into each potato half and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for about 15 minutes or until top is golden.

* for this recipe I used a kind of cheese typical from Brazil called Canastra cheese. Feel free to replace it with cheddar or the cheese of your liking

Serves 4 with a green salad on the side

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Vegetable tagine and some planning in the kitchen

Vegetable tagine / Tagine de legumes

There are times when work is pretty intense (like last week, for instance), and something I have been doing for those times is to have ready or almost ready meals in the fridge or freezer – it makes a huge difference. Planning is, indeed, everything.

Meatballs, tomato sauce, pesto sauce, soups, beef stews – these have been my usual suspects lately. Now I will add one more dish to my list: this vegetable tagine. It is delicious and freezes really well – just do not add the cilantro leaves in the end (do it right before serving it). I have made this tagine a couple of times already and sometimes I added green olives to it – it adds a nice saltiness to the tagine. I did not have any in the fridge on the day of the photo, but if you like olives like I do please consider my suggestion.

Vegetable tagine
own recipe, inspired for several around the web

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
½ yellow pepper, finely diced
½ large onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon hot paprika – use the sweet kind if you don’t like spicy food
1 teaspoon Baharat
¼ cup dry white wine
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into ½cm (¼in) slices (the ones in the photo are too thick, they take too long to cook)
1 sweet potato (about 250g/8oz), peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
200g (7oz) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
1 400g (14oz) can peeled chopped tomatoes
2 cups boiling water, plus more if needed
2 bay leaves
1 small eggplant (about 250g/8oz), cut into 2cm cubes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas, unthawed
handful of fresh cilantro leaves

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over high heat – a deep frying pan works well here. Add the yellow pepper and the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the spices and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the wine and scrape the brown bits around the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the carrot, sweet potato and butternut squash and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the peeled tomatoes and crush them with the back of the spoon. Add the water, bay leaves, stir in the eggplant, season with salt and pepper and cook, partially covered, for 30-35 minutes or until vegetables are tender, checking eventually - if the tagine starts to get dry, add more water. Stir in the peas, cover, remove from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve.

Serves 4-5

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Red onion tarte tatin with rye pastry

Red onion tarte tatin with rye pastry / Tarte tatin de cebola roxa com massa de centeio

I was never a pie/tart maker (one look at the blog index can confirm that), but I do love pies and tarts: I just don’t have much time for them, I guess. Two things that have helped me with this matter is making the pastry in one day and assembling and baking the pie on the other, or keeping an extra batch of pastry in the freezer – nothing like having the pastry ready when you find beautiful veggies or fruits in the market: lunch, dinner or dessert are halfway there.

This pastry is delicious and flaky, very similar to the corn flour pastry I posted a while ago. The onions not only make the tarte tatin beautiful but also very flavorsome: the time in the stove top and then in the oven transform their acrid flavor into something sweet and mellow.

Red onion tarte tatin with rye pastry
own recipe

Pastry:
¾ cup (105g) all purpose flour
3 tablespoons (30g) fine rye flour
¼ teaspoon table salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
3 tablespoons sour cream, chilled*
1 tablespoon iced water

Filling:
2 red onions (approximately 250g/9oz in total)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon olive oil
5 fresh thyme sprigs
½ teaspoon demerara sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dry red wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Start by making the pastry: in a food processor, pulse all purpose flour, rye flour and salt until well combined. Add the butter and pulse a few times until mixture resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Mix sour cream and water in a small bowl, then with the motor running, gradually add the mixture and process just until a dough forms. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

20 minutes before the end of the resting time of the pastry, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F and start prepping the onions: peel them and cut them in half lengthwise. Then slice the onions in to 1cm (roughly ½in) half-moons – if the slices are too thin they will melt in the oven. Set aside.
Heat a 22cm (9in) frying pan over medium heat – for this recipe you need a frying pan that can go into the oven. Add the butter and the olive oil, followed by the thyme sprigs – this way they will be on the top of the tart once you invert it. Remove the frying pan from the heat for one moment and arrange the onion slices on top of the thyme, placing the slices close together, for they will wilt slightly when cooked - cover the entire frying pan with the onion slices. Put the pan back on the heat and cook for 10 minutes, shaking the pan slightly instead of stirring the onions, to avoid them sticking to the bottom, but keeping them in place. Sprinkle with the sugar, drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and the wine, season with salt and pepper and cook for another minute. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Red onion tarte tatin with rye pastry / Tarte tatin de cebola roxa com massa de centeio

Place the dough onto large piece of baking paper, cover with another piece of paper and roll into a rough 24cm (9in) circle – work fast in order to keep the pastry chilled. Peel off the paper from the top, then roll the pastry into the rolling pin, very gently, then unroll it on top of the onions (be careful since the pan will still be hot). Tuck the pastry in, make a small hole in the center of the pastry so the hot air can escape, then bake the tart for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the heat and very gently loosen the pastry from the edges of the pan. Top the pan with a plate and carefully unmold the tart – don’t worry if any onion bits get stuck in the pan, just loosen them up with a spatula and arrange them back on top of the tart. Serve with a green salad.

* 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)

Serves 4 with a green salad on the side

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Spinach, cheese and chorizo calzones

Spinach, cheese and chorizo calzones / Calzones de espinafre, queijo e chorizo

When I have difficult and/or very busy days I usually take a breather and go to People magazine’s website: I get to read about celebrities and for that I don’t need to use any of my brain cells. :D

Today I read about how Kim Cattrall “killed” the plans of a third SATC movie, and for that we all have to send Kim a big thank you card – the first movie was nice, but the second was absolutely ridiculous and just the thought of certain scenes makes me agonize all over again. Some of the comments suggest that the writers kill Samantha Jones and do the movie with the other three women instead, however I don’t find it a smart decision for the fun of the TV show was the four of them together, and Samantha was always my favorite character (followed very closely by Miranda).

I will borrow inspiration from SATC and present you these delicious calzones: the filling is a combination of spinach, cheese and chorizo and I beg of you not to remove any of the ingredients from it: the calzones would not be the same. The spinach and the cheese benefit intensely from the saltiness of the chorizo, however if you can’t find it bacon goes well here too.

Spinach, cheese and chorizo calzones
own recipe

Dough:
2 teaspoons dried yeast
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups (300ml) lukewarm water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 ¼ cups (455g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

Filling:
¾ cup (105g) finely diced chorizo
2 large garlic cloves
2 cups (120g) fresh spinach leaves, packed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (200g) coarsely ground yellow mozzarella*
extra virgin olive oil, for brushing the calzones

Start with the dough: in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the yeast, sugar and water with a fork. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the olive oil, flour and salt and mix for 6-8 minutes or until a soft and elastic dough forms. Shape dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to proof in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

In the meantime, make the filling: heat a large nonstick frying pan over high heat. Add the chorizo and cook stirring occasionally until the pieces are golden and crispy. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant – do not let it burn or it will get bitter. Stir in the spinach leaves and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper – go easy on the salt for the chorizo is usually salty. Cool, then stir in the cheese.

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and brush it lightly with olive oil.
Divide the dough into 8 equal parts – each will be around 100g (3 ½ oz.). Roll out each portion of dough on a lightly floured surface until you get a rough 25cm (10in) circle. Place some of the filling on one side of the dough and fold the other half over, pinching the seams well to keep the filling inside. Repeat the process with the remaining dough and filling. Place the calzones onto the prepared sheet and brush them lightly with olive oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden. 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 8

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Stuffed zucchini, not like my grandma's

Stuffed zucchini / Barquinhas de abobrinha

One of the dishes that remind me of my grandmother the most is stuffed zucchini: she would make these quite often when she lived with us because my father liked it a lot.

I did not like meat growing up and back then I did not understand why my grandma would make this dish so often, but now that I am all grown up it makes a lot of sense to me: it is delicious – when prepared properly – and it makes things quite easier for the cook, since you only need a green salad on the side to call it a complete meal.

This is my version of stuffed zucchini: out with the mushy rice mixed with pale beef, in with with wine, tomatoes, fresh marjoram and gorgonzola – absolutely delicious (sorry, grandma). :)

Stuffed zucchini / Barquinhas de abobrinha

Stuffed zucchini
own recipe

4 zucchini, about 250g/8oz each
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
400g (14oz) beef mince
salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup (60ml) dry white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 ripe tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
handful of fresh marjoram leaves
150g (5oz) gorgonzola, coarsely grated or crumbled
finely ground parmesan, for serving

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and brush it with some of the olive oil.

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise – you should then get 8 halves that look like little boats. With a small spoon, scrape some of the flesh – do not carve the zucchini halves too much or they will be too flimsy. Chop the flesh and set aside. Place the zucchini on the prepared sheet and brush the inside of each half with some of the olive oil.

Bake for 20 minutes – in the meantime, make the filling: heat the remaining olive oil in a large nonstick frying pan over high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant – do not let the garlic burn or it will turn bitter. Stir in the mince and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden. Season with salt and pepper – go easy on the salt since the cheeses can be salty. Stir in the wine and cook again for 2-3 minutes or until wine is reduced – using a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits in the bottom of the saucepan for extra flavor. Stir in the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, ¾ cup of the reserved zucchini flesh (you can freeze the remaining flesh and use it to make vegetable stock) and the marjoram. Cook for about 5 minutes or until tomatoes are soft. Remove from the heat, stir in the gorgonzola and divide the meat filling among the zucchini halves. Bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the parmesan and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Asparagus and gorgonzola galette with corn flour pastry and creative days

Asparagus and gorgonzola galette with corn flour pastry / Galette de aspargo e gorgonzola com massa de fubá

I could start several posts with “when I was still working on the book project” because during that time I exercised my creativity almost on a daily basis. Everything I saw was a source of inspiration, and a trip to the grocery store or the farmers’ market would turn into an idea, that turned into a recipe, that turned into several tests in my kitchen. Several times my husband and I ate the tests for lunch, and whoever came to my house would be served cake or cookies I had been working on – everyone became my guinea pigs. :)

I was at the grocery store with my husband one day when I saw beautiful asparagus – I brought them home with the idea of making a frittata, but I decided for a galette instead: I love galettes, they are my favorite kind of tart – they are easy to put together (no blind baking involved) and they always look stunning.

We ate this galette for lunch 3 times – I was going to make it a few times anyway to test the recipe in different occasions, however it tasted so delicious that making it again never felt like a chore.

Asparagus and gorgonzola galette with corn flour pastry
own recipe

Pastry:
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (150g) all purpose flour
¼ cup (35g) corn flour (finely ground cornmeal, not corn starch)
¼ teaspoon table salt
100g unsalted butter, very cold and diced
¼ cup (60ml) sour cream*, very cold
2 tablespoons iced water

Filling:
100g fresh ricotta – I use homemade
50g gorgonzola, coarsely grated or crumbled
1 tablespoon sour cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g fresh asparagus, already trimmed

Egg wash:
1 egg yolk whisked with 1 teaspoon sour cream

Start by making the pastry: in a food processor, pulse all purpose flour, corn flour and salt until well combined. Add the butter and pulse a few times until mixture resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Mix sour cream and water in a small bowl, then with the motor running, gradually add the mixture and process just until a dough forms. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Place the dough onto large piece of baking paper, cover with another piece of paper and roll into a rough 20x35cm (8x14in) rectangle. Slide the paper with pastry into a baking sheet and remove the paper from the top. In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta, gorgonzola, heavy cream until a paste forms. Season with salt and pepper (go easy on the salt since gongonzola can be salty). Spread the dough with the filling leaving a 2.5cm (1in) border. Arrange the asparagus on top of the filling, pressing them slightly to adhere. Carefully fold one edge in towards the center of the filling and continue folding all the way round, bringing the edge of the pastry towards and over the filling/asparagus. Freeze the galette for 15 minutes – in the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.

Brush the pastry with the egg wash and bake for 30-40 minutes or until pastry is golden. Serve warm.

* 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)

Serves 4 with a green salad on the side

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Zucchini, bacon and cheese clafoutis

Zucchini, bacon and cheese clafoutis / Clafoutis de abobrinha, queijo e bacon

Those of you around here for a while know that the other habitant of my house used to be a very picky eater until he spent (precious) days in China - one of the things he did not eat back then was heavy cream (!).

That has luckily changed and many times in the warmer months, when we wanted something light but still delicious I made savory clafoutis for lunch and served with a big salad. Joao’s favorite mix of flavors is the one I bring you today: the salty bits of bacon pair wonderfully well with the cheese and the zucchini. My favorite clafoutis is the one made exactly like this, however swapping the zucchini for a handlful of button mushrooms that get browned in a drizzle of the leftover bacon fat before being added to the batter. If you ever try any of the versions I will love to hear your comments about it.

Zucchini, bacon and cheese clafoutis
own creation

2 slices of bacon, chopped
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk, room temperature
½ cup (70g) all purpose flour
1/3 cup gruyere cheese, coarsely grated
1 medium zucchini (about 200g/7oz), in small dice
2 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Set aside a 1-liter capacity heatproof baking dish – the one on the photo is 20cm (8in) wide and 3.5cm (1 1/3in) deep.

Heat a small nonstick frying pan over high heat and cook the bacon, 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. Use some of the rendered fat to grease the insides of the baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, cream and milk until smooth. Add the flour and whisk until smooth again. Stir in the cheese, zucchini and thyme leaves, then season with salt and pepper. Pour into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the bacon bits.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve immediately.

Serves 2-3 (depending on what is served with it)

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
salt

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

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

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 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
salt
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

Friday, July 7, 2017

Roasted butternut squash, bell pepper and chickpea soup with chorizo and a change of mind

Roasted butternut squash, bell pepper and chickpea soup with chorizo / Sopa de abóbora assada, pimentão, grão de bico e chorizo

Those of you who have been around here for a while know that I love cold days and that I also complain a lot about the hot summer temperatures – well, my dear readers, people can change their mind, can’t they? Not sure what happened in the last year, but as of now I no longer like the winter weather – I have felt miserable in the last days waking up to 9-10°C degrees days.

The ones in colder countries are probably laughing out loud now of me calling 9-10°C “cold”, I know. :D

I was never an outdoorsy person (not even as a kid), but in the past months I have been enjoying being outside a lot, especially taking long walks in parks – the smell of the trees brings me a mix of comfort and happiness. Maybe that is the reason why I am so upset with the winter – I miss spending time outside and I am not brave enough to go to the park on a 12°C evening.

A piping hot bowl of soup has been the best dinner option for me lately, and today I bring you a recipe I created with Spain in mind: I found that roasting the squash instead of only cooking it in the stock makes it creamier and adds another dimension of flavor, more caramelized. And who can say no to small bits of crispy chorizo? I certainly cannot – I might not be crazy for pork like my mother was, but bacon and chorizo make my heart beat faster. <3 I was a vegetarian for eight years and during that time the only meat I actually missed was bacon. :)

Roasted butternut squash, bell pepper and chickpea soup with chorizo
own recipe

1kg (2 pounds) butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into cubes
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves
5-6 sprigs of fresh oregano
100g Spanish chorizo, cut in small dice
½ large onion, finely diced
1 small red pepper, finely diced
3 cups (720ml) hot vegetable stock
1 ½ cups (300g) canned chickpeas

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and brush it slightly with some of the olive oil. Transfer the squash to the foil, add the oregano and the garlic and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix well with your hands to make sure all ingredients are covered. Spread the pieces of squash and the garlic cloves throughout the foil and arrange the oregano sprigs on top of the squash – make sure the oregano sprigs are coated in olive oil to avoid burning. Roast for 30-35 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove from the oven and when garlic cloves are warm enough to be handled remove the pulp from the skins. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, cook the chorizo over high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove chorizo pieces from the pan and set over paper towels. In the rendered fat, cook the onion and the bell pepper, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the squash and cook for 3 minutes. Pour in the stock and once the mixture comes to a boil turn the heat down and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and using a stick blender, blitz the soup until creamy. Stir in the chickpeas, check the seasoning and serve sprinkled with the crispy chorizo bits.

Serves 5-6

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