"A good meal is like a present, and it can feel goofy, at best, to give yourself a present. On the other hand, there is something life affirming in taking the trouble to feed yourself well, or even decently. Cooking for yourself allows you to be strange or decadent or both. The chances of you liking what you made are high, but if it winds up being disgusting, you can always throw it away and order a pizza; no one will ever know." (Jenni Ferrari-Adler)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rustic Italian Sweet Pea Soup


I love soup! Soud makes the ideal weeknight dinner.  Its quick to prepare, healthy and loaded with nutrients and vitamins, light enought to one doesn't go stuffed to sleep and yet heathy and comforting.  Growing up my gramma would serve is soup for dinner religiously. My favorite soups are the traditional portuguese kale soup CALDO VERDE and Roasted Tomato Basil soup. 

Last weekend inspired by the sping legumes I decided it was time for sweet pea soup. Got out my copy of Anne Sheasby "The complete book of 400 Soups", and voila, picked out this amazing Italian version of the well known British soup.  Sorry Nigella..... but Italians do it better!




Ingredients:
1 large onion (Chopped)
2 cloves of garlic
3 Tbs of olive oil
1 large carrot (chopped)
1 stalk of celery (chopped)
1 lbs bag of frozen peas
750ml (3 cups) low sodium vegetable stock
Salt, pepper
Fresh basil leaves and shaved parmesan to garnish

Preparation
Saute onion and garlic till onion is slightly translucent. Add carrot and celery, continue sauteing  for another 3 min or so.  Add frozen peas and hot vegetable stock.  Bring it to a rolling boil and then simmer it until peas are cooked throughly (about 20 min)

Process soup in batches in a food processor until smooth. Return soup to the pan.  Season with salt  and pepper to taste. Allow soup to thicken slightly by cooking it in medium high heat for 8-10 min. Be sure to steer it constantly so it doesn't stick to the bottom.


if you are blessed with a Bimby (thermomix) like me here is the adapted version


Preparation
Add quartered onion, garlic and olive oil to the cup and program 5sec/vel 5

Then program 3min/100/1

Add sliced carrots and celery, program 4/100/2 reverse spoon

Finally add peas and vegetable stock program 20/100/2.  Puree soup till smooth 1min/5-7.  Season with salt and pepper. To thicken soup (add basket on top of cup) program 8/varoma/3



Serve
Garnish with fresh basil and shaved parmesan





Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gordon Ramsay's Herb Crusted Rach of Lamb


Gordon Ramsay is my Idol...... the fucking best lamb chops ever...... here is the recipe



Here is what the result will look like..... I did cheat a little, marinated meat the day before (garlic, salt, herbs, white wine), went lighter on the bread and used panko instead of regular bread crumbs for an extra crunch, on and whole grain dijon mustard will bring it up a notch. Use a thermometer to check for doneness specially if this is the first time you are cooking them.....125F for medium rare, 130F for medium.  Also be sure to bring lamb to room temperature for about 2 hours before cooking so it cooks evenly.



5 starts recommended De-F@#*ing-licious

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Scallops in Blackberry Roasted Pepper Sauce

On December 31s, 2010 I had my first experience with scallops. I wasn't quite convinced as to its taste. It tasted kind of blend and it was slightly undercooked which conferred it with a gooey funny texture reminiscent of my brain would think raw snails would feel like.  At the same time is was kind of good, but as it is the case of expensive restaurants you get to pay 30 bucks for one scallop... well unless we are talking about chocolate, one of anything is never enough while determining likes.

After flirting for 5 months with the Mollusca, I picked up a 2lbs bag of the frozen (yes frozen .... you know the rule, no fresh shellfish in months without an R). Call me superstitious.

I came home and stuck it back in the freezer. Finally last weekend I was inspired by an old magazine containing this intriguing combination of peppers raspberries and SCALLOPS..... right on, i though. And without further thought I headed to the kitchen.

Here is the recipe adapted from the July/ August 2010 edition of Clean Eating magazine.

Scallops in Blackberry Roasted Pepper Sauce.


Ingredients
(serves 2)
1 Cup of fresh Blackberries
2 tsp of lemon zest
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1 splash of honey
1 roasted red pepper chopped
6 large scallops (20 count)
Salt and pepper
Butter
Olive oil
1/4 cup of god quality dry white wine

Preparation

If using frozen scallops make sure to taw then in the fridge for about 6 hours before cooking them.
In a bowl combine Blackberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey and red peppers. Set aside.

Pat dry scallops with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat up a skillet till its hot, add a little olive oil and about 1 spoon of butter maybe 2.  Do NOT let butter burn (make sure you keep stove on medium-medium high). Sear scallops for about 2-3 min on each side till golden.  Remember if there is no color there is no taste. For smaller scallops 1-2 min. Remove scallops from heat place them in a plate covered with aluminum foil and keep warm. 
Deglaze pan with white wine, add the blackberry concoction, and let it simmer for about 4 min (till berries start popping)

We acompaigned it with whole wheat couscous as suggested by the recipe. 

I am proud to announce that i love scallops and can't wait to cook  them again.  Next time Coquilles St. Jacques, bien sure!


Monday, May 30, 2011

Salmon en Croute

Hey everyone,
Happy Memorial Day!

I'm still here and trying to get back to blogging. I must confess time management is not my forte and lately i've been rather lethargic.

Just headed back from a refreshing weekend away from the city. The best thing about home no doubt is eating home made food.  I did turn down a steak dinner at Cafe Bizou tonight.. and truth be told, after tasting this Salmon en Croute, I do not regret it even a bit.  And it is so easy to make.....



Ingredients
(Serves 4)
1 sheet of puff pastry (thawed)
1 lb salmon filet (about 1 inch thick)
3 chopped tomatoes ( I used left over canned tomatoes)
1 large garlic clove
1 hand full of basil leaves
2 Tbs of pine nuts
Grated parmesan
salt, pepper
Oregano
Olive oil
1 Egg beaten

Preparation 
Preheat oven to 350F
Dust the kitchen counter with some flour and gently unfold the pastry on top roll it out till its large enough to cover the salmon filet.
Place salmon in the middle of the dough. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Just over the salmon add chopped tomatoes, garlic, basil leaves, pine nuts, parmesan, salt, pepper, oregano and top it off with a drizzle of olive oil.
Wrap the dough over the salmon, like you would wrap a gift. With a basting brush, coat the dough with one thin layer of beaten egg (do not soak).
Oven bake it for about 30 min ( the clue is the doneness of the puff pastry)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Politically Incorrect Political Rants, because I care

Today I don’t want to talk about cooking. There are so many events going on in the world my mind has been all over the place. What happened in Japan, what is still going on in Libya, the price of gas, threats of inflation, etc, etc,etc. it seems like civilization has hit a wall. We can’t run, we can’t hide, there is no escape….. karma is there to get us. But then there are news like this  that make me think this is all a big joke and there is someone (call him “big Brother”) who not only out to get us but also is a big fat fucking bully trying to drive us to absolute madness?

So on the news this week the Portuguese Government is getting ready to lower the VAT (value added tax) on Golf from the current 23% to 6%. This is at a minimum ludicrous and obscene. In a country where non-processed fish and fruits will soon be taxed at 23% (currently 13%) and soy derived products will also see its current 6% tax increased to 23%, a 17% decrease in VAT on Golf is what they really need.  What message is the government sending to its people? Golf is an essential good, soy milk is not.  Try telling that to a lactose intolerant person. 

Why do I care? Well I do for 2 reasons. First, though I was not born in Portugal, I was raised there and have considered it my home country for the past 28 years. But most importantly and reason number 2, because I refuse to tip in one penny of my paycheck to bail out countries whose government leaders are as corrupt as any Libyan, Egyptian or Tunisian leader. In American we say “put you money where you mouth is” ok fine I refuse to put my money in my own country.  As a matter of fact when I pay my taxes here in the US to Uncle Sam’s bottomless pit, I don’t want any of my fucking paycheck to end up in the IMF funds to give away any bailouts in reinforcement this kind of behavior. 

But what really surprises me, is how little people in Portugal care.

How is that I in the US who make 5 or 6  times more money than the average Portuguese, and pay no VAT or sales tax on food (considered essential goods in California) am ranting about this calamity in my blog whereas most people there overlook it  in complete denial? I actually wonder how many people know fish and fresh fruits will now be taxed at 23%.

This last weekend 300,000 Portuguese protested in the streets against the misery the country is in, against unemployment, against their 3rd world salaries, against paying into a system that only benefits those in power. Where in the fucking world were the other 9.7million? Where? And then Mr. Mario Soares (former president) has the nerve of writing an opinion on the French and Germans not wanting to help them out. Why would they? As a matter of fact why should the IMF the EU or GOD even care? Only 300,000 people cared enough, to make their voices heard on the streets. And to these brave men and women goes my heart, for they’ve shown courage; the courage to challenge the status quo, the courage to start a revolution. Keep the faith my friends, you’re half way there! Don’t give up now! Get those fuckers in power by their balls.

SHAME on all of you who bitch moan and complain, but don’t get tired of seating on your hands, and rather seat in front of the TV or go shopping than make your voices heard. Unfortunately things will eventually come through for your lazy conformed asses as well………….But it will be nothing but charity crumbles given to you by those who hustle.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Nutty Cheese ball

Ingredients

Servings (about 24) 

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded swiss cheese 
1 (8 ounce) package light cream cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon paprika 
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
Crackers or vegetable, for serving 

Preparation

Place all ingredients except pecans and crackers in mixer bowl (or Thermomix  (Bimby)).  
If using a mixer attach bowl and flat beater to mixer.  
Turn to speed 4 and beat about 1 minute, or until well blended. 
On waxed paper, shape mixture into a ball 
Roll ball in chopped pecans. 
Wrap in waxed paper.Refrigerate until serving time.


This recipe was taken  from the Kitchen Aid Standing Mixer Manual. I added some fresh thyme and Herbs of Province to my recipe as well as replaced the garlic powder bu real minced garlic, which makes all the difference.  If you don't like the taste of garlic use garlic powder or just leave it out completely.




Gateau a L'Orange

Gateau a L'Orange [Orange Spongecake]
recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Ingredients
9" round cake pan
2/3 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
the grated rind of one orange
1/3 cup strained orange juice
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
4 egg whites
pinch of salt
1 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. 

Butter and flour the cake pan and measure out the ingredients. Gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks and continue beating until the mixture thickens and forms a ribbon. Add the grated orange peel, orange juice and salt. Beat for a moment or two until the mixture is light and foamy. Then beat in the flour.

Beat the egg whites and salt together in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed. Sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed. Stir one fourth of the egg whites into the batter, delicately fold the rest. 

Immediately turn into prepared cake pan and run the batter up to the rim all around. Bake in middle position for 30-35 minutes Cake is done when it has puffed and browned and shows a faint line of shrinkage from the edge of the mold.
(According to Julia, American flour differs from French flour, and after reading about this i think now i understand why my baking sucked so bad, so i tried Julia's method on this one and it worked beautifully.  When a french recipe calls for flour combine American All-purpose flour and Cake Flour at 3-1 ratio. From my experience this proved to be right, and going on forward i'll be testing this on portuguese cake recipes as well)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Where did the week go?

Time goes by so fast these days its just hard to keep up.  I finally had time to submit one of my tested recipes reviews today. I baked the cake on Wednesday, and today is what? Friday, is there such a thing as 2 days too late?

Someone quit pushing the FF button in my life please!..... that was more like a FFFF (Fucking-Fast-Flash-Forward). Do you feel like your life is also going at a million miles and hour or is it  just me growing older tired and crazier? Oh lord .... and this week's icing on the cake was, " I found 2 gray hairs on my  head, TWO!" I cant decide what was worse the discovery of "fine lines" or gray hairs.... sigh

I'm still cooking despite not being able to post one single picture on the Blog this week.  And truth is the more i eat at home the more i don't want to eat out, to the exception of sushi off-course, though that also may become part of the rule as soon as get my ass to seat in a  Hipcooks class. And that will be sometime between the end of pole-dancing and the beginning of CPA review classes (Pole-dancing and accounting, extremely related subjects as we all know, can only be bridged by sushi).

So this is a snap shot of my weekly cooking in pictures (all snapped with my cell). Recipes to follow :D

Julia child's Orange sponge cake

Saturday Morning Cheese Omelet

Arugula and parmesan stuffed ravioli with sweet peas and asparagus, tossed in a white truffle butter.

Pan seared lamb loin, polenta cake and mushroom Malbec sauce
Nutty cheese ball

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Salmon lovers delight

Sunday night dinners are always challenging events. We are either too tired, too lazy, too cold or just too bored to cook  That's how i felt last Sunday exhausted from trying to get over a flu that insists in lingering. Ordering pizza was out of question, as we are trying to eat healthier here, and cereal.... I'd have to get out of the house and get some soy milk.... hello it was 37F outside... I could see snow from my window (very unusual winter this one..... the ice age is making a comeback, Snow must be "the new black").

But I digress....

Without giving it further thought I decided to pull out my Bimby (TM31) long forgotten BFF seating abandoned on that cluttered counter top. Dust off and voila we were back in business.

I decided to prepare a sexier version of the old dull fish and vegetables.


Steamed Salmon accompanied by steamed asparagus and garlic jerusalem artichokes garnished with blanched lemon zest

To prepare this decadent dinner I used the Thermomix and the Microwave (an exception to my rule)


Steamed Salmon in wine and fresh herbs
(serves 2) 

Ingredients
2 6oz skinless salmon steaks
salt and pepper
zest of 1/2 lemon (make sure its thinly cut) blanched
1 leek (just white part, thinly sliced)
1 Bay leaf
1 Tsp of smashed peppercorns (place peppercorns in a zip loc bag, hammer it with a frying pan a b  out 3 times will do it)
2 Springs of fresh thyme
1/2 Cup of white wine (I used 2009 Chateau Ste Michelle Sauvignon Blanc)
1/2 Cup of water
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs of olive oil


1. Season salmon steaks with salt and pepper, place steaks side by side in the Varoma tray (lower division)
2. Add leeks, bay leaf, peppercorns,thyme, wine and water to the Thermomix (bimby) cup and program 15min/varoma/1. Place varoma on top. You can steam the asparagus at the same time on the upper tray of the varoma (I used a bag to cook the asparagus so the drippings didnt add flavor to the fish) 
3. Meanwhile prepare the sauce. Whisk together olive oil and lemon, season to taste and add blanched lemon zest.

It should all be ready to plate by then. Notice how the asparagus are still vibrant green and crunchy?... thats because this is how JULIA CHILD intended for us to eat it! Do not overcook  or they will be soggy and muchy and no one likes that.

If you dont have a thermomix you can use a bamboom steamer, the cooking time maybe slightly different depending on the quality and properties of your cookware. Make sure to bring liquid to a boil and then simmer it in low heat while fish is cooking (check after 7 min, it may be ready)

Being that this is pretty quick  to prepare you want to prep the Jerusamel artichokes simultaneously


Garlic Jerusalem Artichokes
(serves 2)

Ingredients

1/2lb Jerusalem artichokes (peeled and  cubed)
salt
pepper
1 Tbs olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced

Place jerusamen artichoked in the microwave and program Baked Potato-2 (basically like you would microwave 2 potatoes), season with salt and pepper.

Heat up a skillet, make sure its hot. In low heat, add the olive oil, allow it to heat up before adding the garlic (if the oil smoking, its because it is too hot). Cook garlic till it  becomes translucent, add the jerusalem artichokes and give them a quick stir fry.  DONE

Jerusalem artichokes can be replaced by potatoes (follow same directions)


Plate as shown in the picture.
Enjoy :D


Quick notes on Jerusalem Artichokes (sunchokes)

Pircture from here http://home.howstuffworks.com/jerusalem-artichokes.htm/printable

These "beings" are a bitch to peel. But stay calm and focused, you know you can do this!

Use a potato peeler and then use a knife to remove skin located closest to the ridges. The second one is easier to peel... and it gets easier with practice, I  promise.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Recession proof healthy meal in under 20min

Healthy Hearty Meal, because nothing says comfort food like a bowl of beans



This was my twist to the traditional Portuguese Tuna salad, hope you enjoy it.

Garbanzo and Tuna Salad
Serves 2
Prep time: 20min
(cost per serving $2.50)

Ingredients
1 Can of organic garbanzo beans (run it thru tons of water, be sure to remove as much sodium as possible)
1 Can of tuna in Olive oil
1 Tomato, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 hand full of Microgreens
Salt, pepper, Olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste
fresh thyme (1 spring)
1 Fried egg (sunny side up)

Directions
Run Beans thru running water till water no longer bubbles.
Drain Tuna and take it apart with a fork.
In a large bowl toss beans,  tuna, tomato and onions with oil and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Plate the salad, sprinkle with fresh thyme and top it with Sunny side-up.
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