Tag: cook

Return from Hiatus with a bonus bump


Olá, Gradissimites! I know, I know…it’s been a long time. Like months. What can I say?

Well, for one, I’m pregnant 🙂 I’m about 5 months in now, and for the first 3+ months, I felt hungover and lethargic, so cooking and food (an important part of my blogging world) was out the window. And of course, it was the tricky first trimester (for the uninitiated, this indicates a window of time during which, apparently, everything and/or nothing causes miscarriage, including jinxing and bad juju), so in the Portuguese fashion, I bit my tongue in re: the fetus situation. For me, this was difficult, since it was pretty much the only thing on my mind, so I simply stopped writing.

Not to worry– the multi-month hangover subsided, I took a trip to the US to visit my bestie and her new fabulous baby girl for some Baby Boot Camp (I passed with flying colors and a Certificate in Baby Neck Cheese), then back home to adjust to a new apartment (My Man moved us in, with some help from Paizinho, while I was away), and then Mom and Dad came for a fantastic visit 🙂 That is to say, things have gotten much happier in the recent past 😉

And now– I have a baby bump (I’m rockin’ it, yo’), and a couple weeks ago (Mom and Dad in tow), My Man and I went to the doctor and found out we’re having a Little Dude 🙂 Though we had no preference, it’s super fun to imagine my Little Dude as he bops around in my belly. I will, of course, be referring to My Man, Little Dude, and the Puppy as “my guys” or “my boys” after the birth. I’m pretty sure such things are mandatory in happy cheesy world.

So, Mom and Dad have returned to their busy lives in the US, My Man’s vacation is over, and the Puppy and I (and Little Fetus Dude) are settling into a routine. Plus, I love food again.

Before leaving, Mom harassed me (as good mothers do) about my protein intake. I pretended to blow it off (I’m still a daughter), but of course, I took it to heart. Yesterday, I made a healthy, protein-rich soup (because Mom is always right.)

The gist of it:
-Two small butternut squash from the market (cubed)
-Two medium potatoes from Paizinho’s garden (cubed)
-Lots of water and some boiling
-Leftover bits of an onion (chopped)
-Leftover 3/4 of a red capsicum (red bell pepper) (chopped)
-Leftover leeks (chopped)
-Vegeta veggie stock, to taste
-A big jar of garbanzo beans (chick peas)

Boil, then blend with immersion blender. Add fresh, chopped spinach and fresh, chopped basil (if you feel like it) at the end. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve.

I also whipped up a flour tortilla with some flamengo cheese and fresh thyme and a pinch of salt and threw it in the microwave with some grill action– a sneaky, pizza-type substance that went quite happily with the soup 😉

Ahhhhhhh….it’s good to be back 🙂

Advertisements

Warm Fava Bean and Chanterelle Salad with Poached Eggs recipe (via Chow.com)


I love Chow.com 😉 I’m also on a fava kick since they are in season now. I even picked a big old bag of favas from Pai’s garden in the homeland a couple days ago. Bliss.

Anyway, I’m back from the Easter family holidays, and I’m mentally processing a post I want to write. In the meantime, however, please enjoy the recipe, link below, courtesy of Chow.com, submitted by Christine Gallary. Don’t hesitate to check out all the other delectable shenanigans Chow is up to these days… you know they’ve got everything from aperitifs to dessert, and all kinds of kitchen hacks in between!

Warm Fava Bean and Chanterelle Salad with Poached Eggs Recipe

http://www.chow.com/recipes/28304-warm-fava-bean-and-chanterelle-salad-with-poached-eggs

Last-Minute ‘Mexican’ pie, from scratch


I’ve gotten lazy with the pastry dough. I realized this yesterday. Pastry dough is easy to make, and when I make it myself, it always tastes better than the store-bought kind. Plus, I’m in control of the ingredients, which means healthier fats and quality ingredients.

I’ll admit, I was entirely uninspired to cook yesterday. We had odds and ends leftover in the fridge, and none of them cried out as a central ingredient for anything tempting. Unfortunately, we were also out of frozen pizza. I kept avoiding the issue, thinking that inspiration would strike closer to dinner time. That’s why this is last-minute food 🙂

Sigh.

Still lacking inspiration, I figured I’d make pastry dough for a quiche/pie/something and sort out the details of the filling later. I used (as my starting point) the delightful Easy Olive Oil Tart Crust from Chocolate and Zucchini. The crust is a breeze, and I added about a tablespoon of flax-seed/linseed, a healthy dose of cumin and garlic powder, plus some oregano for looks 🙂 (I like my dough sexy.) I added these flavors because of the filling I’d settled on… you should tweak yours according to your own tastes 🙂

What follows is a truly rag-tag list of ingredients that were sitting in my refrigerator. Many of these things were about to go bad and had to be used. Because of the beans, I decided to go “Mexican” (I know, this is nothing like actual “Mexican” food, whatever that might be. It does, however, involve cumin, garlic, and spicy red pepper, which means “Mexican” to Midwesterners.)

I combined, in a large bowl:

  • 1/2 large red capsicum, diced
  • 1/2 c white beans
  • 1/4 c sliced carrot
  • 1/4-1/3 c chopped leeks
  • 2 small tomatoes
  • 1/4-1/3 c tomato pulp
  • salt to taste
  • garlic powder to taste
  • red pepper (ground, spicy) to taste
  • 1 crumbled fresh cheese (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 c dried polenta (to bind ingredients)

Mix the ingredients well, then spread into the tart crust. Bake until crust is golden brown.

Honestly, I didn’t have high expectations on this one, but it turned out to be delicious. My Man loved it. I loved it. I’m about to have another slice as my afternoon snack. As always, this can be hacked/tweaked at will. Use whatever you have on hand. The key elements, for me, are the beans and tomato pulp with the cumin and garlic flavors…plus the crust, of course! The rest of the veggies should be interchangeable with any number of other things. Leave out the cheese, and the dish is vegan– so easy! (See, vegans aren’t hard to cook for!)

Top Hacks of the Week: Gradissima’s tweaked Shortbread cookies and Stuffed Roma Tomatoes recipes


Adjusting, tweaking, hacking- whatever you call it, taking an idea and making it work for you is fun.

I almost never follow entire recipes when I’m cooking. If I’m baking, I’ll use a few recipes as a guide, and if I’m cooking on the stove, I might consult recipes online to bolster (or to helpfully redirect) my ideas of what flavors might work well together.

Here are some recent successful hacks you might like:

1. Shortbread cookies

It all started with 101 Cookbooks (as it so often does). Last year (or before?) I fell in love with Heidi’s Pine Nut Rosemary Shortbread.  The outcome is awesome. You also come off like a pro if you whip these out over the holidays. Simple elegance – Check!

I plan on making these again for the holidays. I was planning to do some test-runs with the recipe because of my degree-less-oven, and since pine nuts are insanely expensive here, I just used rosemary.

They were righteous. And the tweaking continued…

After a whole lot of calories, I ended up with this go-to hack (half the fat of the original, mind you!)

Ingredients

  • 250g (2 cups) flour (white, wheat, whatever you want… but remember wheat absorbs more liquid, so you might need to do your own tweaking)
  • 1 tsp salt (you might use a whisper less than this…I love the salty undertone.)
  • 100 ml/approx. half a cup of olive oil (Extra Virgin, regular Virgin, or slutty…whatever kind you want)
  • 2 tbs Water (you might need a bit more if you are using whole wheat flour. Just use enough so that the dough is moist enough to make a log out of)
  • 2/3 c sugar (brown sugar, white sugar, raw sugar…it all works)

This is your base… Nowadays, I do four main flavor variations. You can mix these into the flour before combining ingredients, or you can manage it by making the dough and dividing it into multiple batches, mixing after the fact in separate bowls. It all pretty much works.

My current favorite variations:

  • Cinnamon/Canela (a sure Porto-pleaser, I always make some of these in case I’m the only one with a more ‘adventurous’ palate)
  • Saffron (red, flower-looking Turkish saffron from my mother-in-law plus yellow powder saffron from Sao Tome ) + Nutmeg/noz moscada
  • Rosemary (dried is fine…rub it in your fingers or grind it to break it into smaller pieces so you don’t feel like you are eating pine needles)
  • Cacao Nibs (I feel pretty superior about this one. We were in Sao Tome e Principe a couple of months ago, and I brought back a cacao pod, cut it open, scooped out the seeds, cleaned them, dried them for a week, then roasted and crushed them. Rockstar? Yes. Yes I am.)

How much of the seasonings should you add to the batch?  A generous amount. I do it until it looks good. With the Turkish saffron, I add enough so I can see pretty little flowers in my cookies, and then enough of the good-smelling things to make the mix smell good.

Ok. So, you have ingredients. Now what?

  • Mix. Form, shape, roll out on baking paper. Slice/cookie-cut/whatever your cookies from the flattened dough. Bake until just barely getting golden around the bottom edges touching the baking paper. Cool. Eat. (For more precise details, look at the original recipe. )

Helpful hint- I now use baking paper to excess. I roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper (vegetal), and my rolling-pin (or wine bottle, if you haven’t got a rolling-pin… or your hands, if you want to go commando) doesn’t get goopy. Neither does my countertop.

I have one baking sheet, so when I’m doing batches, I have one in the oven (on baking paper, on the baking sheet), and one batch ready to go on another sheet of baking paper. When the first is done, I just switch out the paper (which doesn’t burn your hands) and leave the baking sheet in the oven.

You can also make a dough log and freeze it. I don’t know how long it lasts, but probably months.

At this point, I’d like to acknowledge that no self-respecting food blog is without photos. Not a problem, as my blog is quasi-nebulous at the moment, and it has no ego. It’s more a point of referral than anything else. The other blogs I’m directing you to have fantastic photos. Also, my gal pal in Azeitão will soon be contributing her mad photography skills to the foodhack endeavor. Hang tight, friends, hang tight.

2. Emptyouthefridgebeforeweleavetowntomorrow

Otherwise known as stuffed Roma tomatoes.

Lunch today involved leftover cannelloni for my man, eggs for me, and a tray full of stuffed Roma tomatoes. We leave tomorrow for a two-week holiday with my family in AZ, and we had to get rid of some food. In addition to about 6 Roma tomatoes, I had a half-used bag of shredded mozzarella.

I also had about 20 minutes before my man had to go back to work.

No problem.

  • Preheat oven.
  • Cut tomatoes in half. Scoop out the seeds. Discard the solid core bits and put some seedy-juicy bits in a bowl.
  • Take a tosta or two (if you live in Portugal, you have these somewhere in your kitchen. Otherwise, use croutons, or breadcrumbs) and crush it into the seedy-juicy-bit bowl.
  • Throw a heap of oregano in. Or another herb. And some salt. And whatever other flavor you want.
  • Mix it up. Throw in some cheese. Mix a little more.
  • Line tray with baking paper.
  • Put the tomato halves on the tray, fill with treats from the juicy bowl. Top with more shredded cheese.
  • Put them in the oven until they smell good, and until they look like you’d want to eat them.

The whole process took, like, ten minutes.

Ok. That’s two quickies to start with. I also made veggie dumplings/gyoza the other night, but I need to pack so I’ll write about that later.

Let me know if you have questions, comments, etc!

Spin-offs are the greatest…(Aka, hack of Baked Eggs via 101 Cookbooks)


I’ve been under the weather off-and-on for a couple weeks now (weather change, rain, hormones), and today’s surprise gift of sun in Mafrica came with a hovering sinus headache.

Whatev. More relevant to my general situation is that my man works nearby, and though the puppy and I are on our own for several hours a day, I get to feel like a contributing member of our young household for a solid two meals every day.

It’s not much, but I’m relatively new here, and I’m making the best of it.

The other week, I re-introduced to our kitchen an old faithful from Heidi Swanson’s fantastic online journal, 101 Cookbooks. Not only is she just lovely, the site is full of healthy, hearty, beautifully-varied recipes and stories, along with the requisite envy-inspiring photography.

So, on that day (the other week), my lunch menu came from Heidi’s Baked Eggs recipe.

And now, a note about my kitchen.

We live in a relatively old building. The outside is dismal and looks as though it has barnacles growing on the wall. (Yes, I know they are really lichens and such, but the idea of barnacles on my building amuses me. Incidentally, barnacles are considered a delicacy here.)

The inside of our apartment is actually pretty cute. There’s enough retro flare to maintain a theme. The kitchen is bigger than most small apartment kitchens. The refrigerator is tiny (european, of course) as is the freezer. The stove is gas, and I have no way of determining the temperature of the oven.

I like it that way. It absolves me of responsibility if the food doesn’t turn out.

Relevance? All recipes involving an oven, I wing. I peek and test and tinker. Thus I have no useful commentary to add about the baking times of recipes I cite here. I thought you should know.

Now, back to the eggs 🙂

The night before, we had had spicy bean burritos, and I had two tortillas and some spicy black beans left over. I also had a jar of salsa open. And, you know, some eggs.

I microwaved the tortillas just enough to soften them, tucked them down into a couple of ramekins (Continente, 50 cents each), spooned some black bean mixture in the bottom of the tortilla cup, and cracked a couple of eggs into each dish.

While those were baking (see Heidi’s recipe…I’m not responsible for those details), I made some sweet potato wedges in the oven (a bit of olive oil, sea salt, and rosemary).

If you have the right baking and serving dishes, it’s easy to make home-made (but slacker) food look wholesome and rustic. A nice, simple salad with baby spinach and roma tomatoes, or another attractive combination always helps.

Anyway, lunch was a success. A glass of red wine, and all was done.

Bringing it on home…

So, today, I feel a bit like poo. My man had meat (some burgers) he was going to cook for his lunch, so I threw some olive-oil coated frozen potato balls in the oven, and I prepped an omelet for myself.

Then I saw my happy little ramekin. And the crumbly, broken bits of the end of some very tasty, seeded bread we’d enjoyed this week.

Baking paper was soon cut into a square to line the ramekin. The bread was soon squished by hand to line said ramekin. The omelet mix awaiting the frying pan took a detour, into the ramekin and into the oven.

Yum. Cute. Pretty. Healthy-ish. And easy. Very, very easy.

I’ll figure out dinner in a couple of hours. 🙂