Sunday, April 30, 2006

Chickpeas with Pomegranate Molasses

I am a very big fan of chickpeas. There is something about them that makes me eat non-stop. It’s horrendous. I can easily eat 400g in one sitting. I have, however, been working really hard on my self-control. I now restrict myself to eating them socially. It was in my social mission of sharing chickpeas with my dear friends that I prepared this wonderful recipe. It has a strong North African influence.

The recipe is from the Casa Moro The Second Book. If you are not familiar with this book I recommend that you borrow it from your local library and have a browse. The influence is from the cuisine of South Spain and North Africa. Having been to their restaurant in London I became an even bigger fan of theirs.

Back to the recipe:

450g home-cooked chickpeas (200g dry weight) or 2 x 400g cans cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons Pomegranate Molasses ( I bought mine in a Morocan store - I also have a recipe for home made molasse ; let mek now if you would like that)

200ml cold water or a mixture of chickpeas liquor and water

About 60 threads saffron, infused in 4 tablespoons boiling water

3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh coriander

Seeds of 1 pomegranate

Sea salt and black pepper (I used cumin instead)

Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. When hot but not smoking, add the garlic and fry until nutty brown. Now add the drained chickpeas, pomegranate molasses, water and saffron infusion and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in coriander and season with salt and pepper. Finally, sprinkle in the pomegranate seeds. Taste and serve with fish or on its own as part of a selection of mezze. It goes really well with toasted pita bread.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Salad of Lettuce Boats with Minced meat

I am in salad mode. I’ve been like that over the last two weeks. Luckily I have come across some pretty amazing ones. Most of them pretty simple, straight forward…and terribly delicious. This one here could not be simpler and nevertherless more scrumptious to my eyes. Lovely for a yummy and informal meal. Just grab the lettuce boats with your fingers if you feel like it. Don’t take me wrong, I love the whole table setting and all. However I equally take pleasure out of eating without ceremony sometimes. Just for the pleasure of the food.

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

2 red birdseye chillies, finely chopped

375g beef mince

Tablespoon of Thai fish sauce

4 spring onions, dark green bits removed, finely chopped

Zest and juice of 1 lime

3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander

1-2 iceberg lettuces or romaine lettuce hearts

I like buying my meat and mincing it at home. I just chuck it in the food processor. I heat the oil in a frying pan on medium heat and then chuck the chillies in there. They have to be minded so that they don’t burn so please think of them as babies who are somehow frail and that need your attention. Turn the heat up, throw the minced meat in the pan and use a wooden spoon to separate the mince. Cook for around 4 minutes – until you cannot see any pink meat. Add the fish sauce and mix it until it evaporates. Remove it from the heat. Put the spring onions, coriander, zest and juice of lime in together with the meat and mix well.

Take each lettuce leaf and arrange the minced meat on it. They will look like little boats, carrying their load. Grab each boat with your fingers and enjoy this lovely treat. I enjoyed every single one of mine.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Papaya, Rasbperries and a Squeeze of Lime

In Brazil papaya is something that we always have in our shopping list. It's cheap, abundant..and terribly sweet. We often have it for breakfast. Growing up I would also have papaya smoothies - often with a banana and milk. I am talking ripe papaya. Not the unripe ones I see quite often around here. No wonder many of my friends who have tried it do not like it. I don't eat it often enough these days as they are terribly expensinve in the UK - at least £1 for a quite often unripe one. Even so every so often I indulge and buy myself a couple. I eat them with no reservation. Do not even like to share. I was watching TV last night and saw Nigella Lawson cutting one little papaya in half, scooping the seeds out and filling each half with fresh raspberries. To finish it off she squeezed some lime juice on it. I have to admit to an initial shock horror expression on my face at seeing that. After all I always had my papaya untouched, not mixed with anything. However, curiosity killed the cat, and this morning I reserved half of a papaya I had lying around and tried to replicate what I saw. To my surprise the result was a lovely surprise. The lime does indeed brings out the papaya flavour, and it all combined with the sharpness of the raspberries adds up to a wonderful experience. Have you ever tried it like that?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Chocolate Panna Cotta

The original recipe asked for white chocolate and pistachio and I did prepare half of it so that I could test it. I have to say that I did not enjoy its taste. It was awfully sweet to my taste – nealy sickening - picture at the bottom of post . It was served with a crispy dark chocolate biscuit on top to add a bit of crunchiness to contrast with the softness of the panna cotta.

However I like the texture that panna cotta gives so I decided that I would check how it would turn out if I used dark chocolate instead. I was pretty happy with the result. It is quite intense so it is great for chocolate lovers.

Original recipe - change the white chocolate for dark chocolate, and pistachio for other nuts if you desire:

568ml cartoon doublé cream

2 tbsp caster sugar

2 sheets leaf gelatine

150g good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped

50g hazelnut

Put the cream and sugar in a pan over medium heat. As soon as bubbles appear, turn the heat down to very low and cook for 12 minutes.

Meanwhile soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes.

Add the chocolate to the hot cream and stir until smooth. Lift the gelatine out of the water ( no need to squeeze it ) and stir into the hot mixture to dissolve. Remove from the heat.

Grind the hazelnuts finely in a mini processor or coffee grinder. Add to the cream mixture and allow to infuse for 15 minutes. Pass through a sieve into a jug, then divide between 4 x 150ml dariole moulds or ramekins. Chill for 2 hours, until set.

To turn out, dip the bases of the moulds very briefly in hot water, then invert onto serving plate. Decorate with
ground nuts.

the original white chocolate panna cotta

Friday, April 14, 2006

Vin Santo Risotto with Prosciutto

One of the magazines I subscribe brought up this issue entitled Italian Special. I find that in the UK there is a bit of an obsession with all things Italian. Anyhow, flicking through the magazine I came across this risotto recipe and the vin santo was what attracted me to it.

Don’t take me wrong, I love rice and risottos. Being Brazilian by birth I find it nearly impossible not to like rice since it is ‘staple’ food for us, we eat it every single day. What attracts me to dishes is the twist given to the ‘ordinary’, the special touch. I had NEVER eaten anything cooked with either vin santo or Marsala. I ended up using Marsala as there was no vin santo in the cupboards.

I have printed the recipe as it has been published but I made a few adaptations: a) I used vegetable stock – bouillon; b) I didn’t use celery – only the onions; sometimes I find celery quite overpowering; c)as I have already told you, I used the Marsala as opposed to the vin santo. The result was a lovely dish, with a beautiful, slightly sweetend taste to it. Not too sweet by any means. It had a sophisticated sweetness to it.

1 litre chicken stock

150g unsalted butter

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

250g risotto rice

350ml vin santo (Italian dessert wine) or dry Marsala

100g Parmesan, grated

8 slices prosciuto to serve

Bring the chicken stock to a simmer and adjust the seasoning. Melt half the butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Gently fry the onion and celery over a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the rice and stir until each grain is coated. Add 250ml vin santo or Marsala and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, until it has almost been absorbed by the rice. Start to stir in the stock, a ladleful at a time, only adding more stock when the last has been absorbed. Continue adding the stock and stir until the rice is cooked – about 20-25 minutes.

Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the remaining vin santo/Madeira and butter and the grated Parmesan.

Spoon into shallow bowls and top with the prosciutto slices and extra shavings of Parmesan to serve.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Brazilian Carrot Cake

This is a Brasilian carrot cake. A very big nation favourite. It is quite different from the carrot cakes that are baked in this country. There is no dried fruit added to the Brasilian one. As for the icing, as you can see it is made of chocolate. If you fancy knowing a bit more check the post in the Tapioca blog. It is a blog that I keep to tell other blogers of Brasilian baking habits.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Two Different Recipes with Blueberries

In preparation for the Easter weekend I have been looking for a nice dessert to serve on Sunday for lunch. My first attempt was this lovely blueberry pie recipe from the blog
Kitchenspace. Ana's has a cookie crumb crust and looks absolutely divine. I can imagine the wonderful crunchiness of the base against the blueberries. Unfortunatelly I used some short crust pastry I had ready made. It had to be used as soon as possible so I chose to use it as the base for my pie. The filling is gorgeous but I have decided that I will not use an ordinary shortcrust pastry as base. It doesn 't do the pie justice. One thing I absolutely adore about this recipe is how simple and quickly it is to make. Don't be fooled though as the result is delicious. If you want the recipe just visit the blog via the link above and have a look. You will not be disappointed. It is a great contender for my Sunday lunch.

The second attempt was this recipe by Julie Le Clerc, the New Zealander food writer and cook. It is a mini Madeira cake soaked in blueberry syrup. The original recipe asked for raspberries but I decided to try with blueberries instead. The cake has a nice citrus taste. I have reduced the lime juice amount required for the syrup as I thought that it was a wee bit too much. As much as I like this recipe I am not too sure about whether I will bake it again. The cake becomes quite moist due to the syrup which is a bit runny and it might be a bit awkward to serve it. Apart from a big glass of water I am not too sure what the best drink to have with it would be. If coffee was chosen it had to be unsweetened as the cake is pretty sweet in my opinion. I am posting the recipe here in case you want to have a go yourself.
Let me know what you think of it.

For the baby madeira cakes:

125g butter
1 cup icing sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
4 egg yolks ( small egg)
¾ cornflour
1 tsp baking powder
cup milk

Pre-heat the oven to 160oC and flour 12 individual cake or muffin tins or one 20 cm spring-form cake tin.
Cream together butter, icing sugar, lemon zest and egg yolks. Stir in sifted dry ingredients and then milk. Spoon into prepared tins and bake for 15-20 min or until skewer inserted comes out clean. Please only fill in half of the tin as the cake rises a bit.
Remove from the tins to cool. Secure non-stick paper collars with string and saturate cakes with blueberry (or raspberry) crush syrup.

Blueberry ( or raspberry crush ) syrup

1 1/2 cups sugar ( I used only 1 cup as I felt that it would be too sweet otherwise)
1/4 cup water ( a bit less)
juice of 2 lemons
300g blueberries ( or raspberries)

Place sugar, water and lemon juice into a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved.Boil for 2-3 minutes.
Add blueberries (or raspberries) and lightly crush. Boil for another 2-3 minutes. Pour over cakes.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Around the World meme

I saw this meme when visiting The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz. As she left the invitation open to whoever would like to answer it I have decided to give it a go. There are so many lovely blogs that could have also been mentioned..

  1. Please list three recipes you have recently book marked from food blogs to try:

Well, recently is a concept that sometimes I hold on geological terms. On 7th February Paz from The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz published a great recipe of Crab and Corn chowder. Crab and corn are two passions of mine. I am still to prepare this recipe. Another recipe that is actually fairly recent is a recipe from the blog KitchenSpace, Blueberry Pie. I love blueberries and Anna’s recipes are always so lovely and she talks about them all with such passion. A third recipe is the one for Fried Ochra from Flavours. I have eaten loads of Okra’s whilst growing up but never fried ones so this is a must.

I just want to say that it has been a very hard task selecting only 3 recipes.

  1. A food blog in your vicinity

Not too sure about a close one. However I will select one in England as well – Nordljus. Keiko has such fabulous photographs and recipes. Every time I visit her blog I feel transported to another dimension. You MUST visit her blog. The photographs are pure poetry.

3. A food blog located far from you

Far from me, further than my home country, is Pecado da Gula. It is a blog by Clarice Akemi. It is in Portuguese but Clarice lives in Japan.

4A food blog (or several) you have discovered recently (where did you find it?)

This is a difficult one since I have not been able to visit the web much recently. However I did get a lovely message from a site I had not heard of before, Posy Party Cakes. She has lovely cakes – small ones , just the way I love them. Check it out! Another new one is Nami Nami. Pille has some great recipes.

5. Any people or bloggers you want to tag with this meme?

I will leave it open to whoever would like to answer them.