30.8.11

Sweet Corn Crème Brûlée


I’m really happy because now it’s corn season. In Brazil corn season means pamonha and cural time. Pamonha is a savoury or sweet corn cream wrapped on corn husks and then cooked in boiling water. Only juiced corn can be used for pamonhas. When they start to dry out, we use them to make cural, a sweet cream dessert. It’s very simple to prepare cural. First, you blend the corn with some milk. After strain this mixture, you add sugar and then cook on a pan until form a consistent cream. It’s served chilled with cinnamon on top.




I remember when I was a child that my mom prepared cural because my sister loved it. I wasn’t a big fan of cural. On that time, I thought only salty corn dishes were good. But it is interesting how our taste changes over the years. This weekend I prepared a sweet corn dessert and I liked it.




First I thought to make cural but the corns that I bought were so fresh that I decide to make a sweet corn crème brûlée. I started making like the cural recipe, but I used cream instead milk. When the corn liquid started boiling I added the egg yolks and sugar mixture and baked on water bath. I was so happy with the result. It was in some way a sophisticated cural. The flavor was quite similar and the creamy texture with the caramelized sugar on top was fantastic.





Sweet Corn Crème Brûlée
(adapted from here)


3 ears sweet corn
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
8 egg yolks
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup coarse sugar or raw sugar

Remove the husk from the ears of corn and cut the kernels off. Puree the corn and milk in a blender until smooth. Strain the mixture into a pitcher. Add the cream and in a pan cook until start boil.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the granulated sugar. Whisking constantly, gradually pour in the hot cream mixture. Add the vanilla and mixture. Pour the cream mixture into the bowls and arrange in a hot water bath. Bake at 300 degrees F, in the center of the oven until almost set but still a bit soft in the center, 30 to 40 minutes. The custard should "shimmy" a bit when you shake the pan; it will firm up more as it cools. Remove from the water bath and let cool 15 minutes. Tightly cover each bowl with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic does not touch the surface of the custard. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. (Or refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 24 hours.)
Preheat a broiler to very hot (or fire up your kitchen torch). Uncover the chilled custards. Pour as much sugar as will fit onto the top of one of the custards. Pour off the excess sugar onto the next custard. Repeat until all the custards are coated. Discard any remaining sugar. Place the bowls on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan and broil until the sugar is melted and well browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Or brown them with a blowtorch. Let cool 1 minute before serving.




29.8.11

Banana Waffles with Strawberry-Maple Syrup


Isn't it funny when you think that you made a different recipe and then you see how common it is? This Sunday my husband and I prepared a banana waffles with fresh strawberry-maple syrup. While I was writing this post I saw that this is a common combination for a waffle.

Unfortunately, waffles are not so popular in my country, so since we moved to US, we chose Sunday breakfast to be the waffle time. It has been a delightful habit on our Sunday mornings. Over the weekends we tried to use different ingredients like tapioca, corn and rice flour or raisins and fruits. Yesterday he asked me if putting some bananas would be a good idea. I said yes! Then I saw the strawberries and asked him if strawberry-maple syrup would be a good idea for the top. He said great!

So my husband prepared a basic waffle recipe and then added a very ripe banana to the mixture. I made strawberry-maple syrup using some fresh strawberries and a lot o maple syrup. The result was very similar with a compote. I know that it’s a common combination, but everything works so well that I had to share with you. I hope you enjoy it!




Banana Waffles with Strawberry-Maple Syrup
(makes 4 6-1/2-inch round waffles)

1 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 cup reduced fat milk
1 ripe banana, mashed

Place ingredients in a large mixing bowl and combine until well blended and smooth. Let batter sit 5 minutes before using. Preheat your waffle making according to its instructions. 

Pour 1/2 cup batter onto the center of the lower grid; spread using a heat-proof spatula. Cook until the timer goes off.


Strawberry-Maple Syrup


3/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup quartered fresh strawberries

Combine maple syrup and strawberries in a small saucepan. Cook syrup mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve immediately.





25.8.11

Luisa's Cookie

Today’s post is about a special cookie recipe send me by my special friend Luisa. She works with my sister in Brazil and, although I’ve never met her personally, I know that we have a lot of things in common. She is always stopping by to write comments with kind words, as my other dear readers. This is the best part of having a blog and that makes me really, really happy.

So, this recipe is especially for all of you. Some delicious chocolate walnut cookies. Very crispy, indeed!










Chocolate Walnut Cookies


2 ¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
7/8 cup (200g) soft unsalted butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped


 Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

In a bowl of stand mixer beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until creamy.

Place the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.

Gradually add the flour.

Add the chocolate and walnuts.


Place the dough in spoonfuls on a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake for about 10 minutes at 400F.

 Let cool 2 minutes before removing from the pan.

24.8.11

Chicken and Bell Peppers Weave


Bell peppers are one of those ingredients that always bring flavor and color to a dish. They are beautiful, juicy and mouth watering. That's why I love them!

When I was in Brazil, I saw a very interesting chicken recipe on TV that I want to share with you. Chicken and bell peppers weave. This is a fun and healthy way to eat breast chicken. The red, yellow and green bell peppers give a vibrant look for this dish.




Maybe it seems a complicated recipe, but it's very easy to prepare. Here are three tips to help you. First, put the bell peppers in boiling water for 3 minutes. This will help you to weave them between the chicken. Second, do not put a pepper close to the end of the chicken stripes. The length of the strips will reduce and the pepper may drop off. Third, making the braid on a parchment paper will help you to turn it on the pan. If you want, you can also replace the chicken for pork tenderloin or beef.






Chicken and Bell Peppers Weave
(from here)

parchment paper

1 red bell pepper cut into strips 0.2 in wide, pre-cooked
1 yellow pepper cut into strips 0.2 in wide, pre-cooked
1 green pepper cut into strips 0.2 in wide, pre-cooked
1.5 kg chicken breasts cut into strips 0.2 in wide
A drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste



 Put on a piece of parchment paper and vertically, two strips of each pepper, one beside the other. Try putting the colors in the same order (red, yellow, green and new red, yellow, green, or other order of colors you prefer).

 Take a chicken strip and place horizontally as follow:

beneath the red pepper strip
over the yellow pepper strip
beneath the green pepper strip
over the red pepper strip
beneath the strip of yellow pepper
over the strip of green pepper. Take another strip of chicken and fit horizontally on the side of the first strip of chicken, like this:
over the strip of red pepper
beneath the strip of yellow pepper
over the strip of green pepper
beneath the red pepper strip
over the yellow pepper strip
beneath the green pepper strip 

Do this two more times, alternating the chicken strip with peppers strips. Let the strips close together to be more firm and nice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 


 In a pan place a little olive oil and with the help of parchment paper turn the chicken peppers weave on the pan. Hold the weave with a spatula until you feel that the strips are firm. Grill over medium heat for +/- 3 minutes or until golden. Turn with a spatula and allow for +/- 1 minute to finish cooking the chicken.

23.8.11

Pêches Cardinal

Last weekend I visited a fruit farm to pick up some peaches. It’s simply beautiful. I don’t know if I admired the pretty ripe peaches or took pictures. Do you believe that we spent about one hour and a half to pick up 16 peaches? Picking up a fruit directly from the tree is an amazing experience. You should visit a place like that! Bring your kids to play with you too. I’m sure they will enjoy it. Maybe they can have a small surprise and find a ladybird, as I did.










While I was picking the peaches and taking pictures, I was thinking about that I should prepare something that I’ve never tasted before. So when I came back to my house I looked for a recipe on my books and then I read the peach cardinal recipe from Julia Child’s book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This dessert is a combination of peach compote with raspberry purée. It’s so simple, but at the same time so luscious.






I can’t resist a compote recipe. I grew up looking my mother making all kinds of compotes. Isn’t it good when we can prepare something that can bring back the memories of your childhood? I was glad that I could have this feeling once again.






Pêches Cardinal - Compote of Fresh Peaches with Raspberry Pureé
(from Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

For 10 people

6 cups water
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 Tb vanilla extract or a vanilla beam
A 12-inch saucepan
10 firm, ripe, umblemished, fresh peaches about 2 1/2 inches in diameter
A slotted spoon
A cake rack
A serving dish 2 inches deep

1quart fresh raspberries, and 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
or 1 1/2 lbs. frozen raspberries, thawed and well drained, and 2/3 cup sugar
An electric blender (or electric beater)
optional: fresh mint leaves


Simmer the water, sugar, and vanilla extract or bean in the saucepan and stir sugar has dissolved.

Add the unpeeled peaches to the simmering syrup. Bring again to the simmer, then maintain at just below the simmer for 8 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let peaches cool  in syrup for 20 minutes. Drain peaches on rack; peel while still warm, and arrange in serving dish. Chill.

Force the raspberries through a sieve and place the pureé in the jar of an electric blender along with the sugar. cover and blend a top speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until pureé is thick and sugar has dissolved completely. Chill. (Or beat pureé and sugar for about 10 minutes with an electric beater.)

When both pureé and peaches are chilled, pour the pureé over the peaches and return to refrigerator until serving time. Decorate with optional fersh mint leaves.

18.8.11

Forbidden Rice Risotto with Calamari and Shrimp


The forbidden rice, or black rice, receives this name because it was served exclusively for the Emperors in ancient China, who believed in its aphrodisiac effects and to ensure longevity. In that time, only around ten grains of black rice grew for each hectare of rice paddy. Nowadays, this rice is prized for its savor and high nutritional value. It could be prepared like another rice types or as pilafs and risottos.




Risotto is one of the savoury dishes that I most like to prepare. Stirring constantly the rice and watch its transformation in a creamy and velvety texture is a labor of love for me, specially using the forbidden rice with calamari and shrimp. This heirloom rice gives a fragrant aroma and a nutty taste that are perfect with the seafood flavor.




If this is your first time that you prepare risotto, remember to add liquid gradually during the cooking and stir constantly. These will help to release the starch from the rice resulting in a creamy consistency. Besides that, the way that the calamari and shrimp are cooked makes real difference too. To obtain a good result you need to avoid overcooking them. Both of them are cooked separately with dry white wine, herbs and seasonings. The calamari takes about 15 minutes to be done. Chili, bouquet garni, tomatoes and kalamata olives are the base of the stewing. The result is a tender and fragrant calamari. When the risotto is almost done, you will start to prepare the shrimp. The whole shrimp is simmered for only 5 minutes. Although the brief cooking, the shrimps gain both flavor and moisture from the seasoned liquid. After cooled and peeled, the shrimp are warm in butter, seasonings and wine for some minutes until golden



Forbidden Rice Risotto with Calamari and Shrimp
(adapted from here)


Calamari

300g/ 0,66 lb  large and clean calamari

1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
300g/ 0,66 lb of diced tomatoes peeled and seeded 
30g/ 0,07 lb Kalamata black olives 
170ml/ 3/4 cup dry white wine
200ml/ 1 cup water
Bouquet garni
chili
salt 

Saute onion, garlic and tomatoes in olive oil. Add the sliced calamari and cook more. Add the olives, pepper and bouquet garni. Season with salt, white wine and cover with water and simmer for 15 minutes on low heat.


Risotto

½ onion, chopped
125g/ 0,28lb black rice
100ml/ 1/2 cup dry white wine
1.2l/ 4 cups of water
30g/0,07 lb grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter
60ml/ 1/4 cup cream
Pepper
Salt

Saute onion in olive oil, place the rice and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the wine and stir until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add a ladleful of the hot water, adjust the heat under the rice to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the water, a ladleful at a time, cooking and stirring after each addition, until the liquid is nearly absorbed. After 20-25 minutes, the grains will be tender but still slightly firm at the center and will look creamy. Add the Parmesan, mix well. Repeat with the cream and butter.

Shrimp
(adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

8 jumbo shrimps
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon thyme
black pepper
salt
2 cups water
2 tablespoon butter

Simmer wine, water, herbs, and seasonings in a sauce pan. Add the whole, unpeeled shrimps and simmer for 5 minutes only. Allow them to cool, then peel them, and warm them and butter, seasonings, and wine.


FINAL 

2 tablespoons chopped parsley or chives
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
grated Parmesan cheese


Mix the calamari with the risotto and add the parsley. Place on plate, add the shrimp, and cover with olive oil and Parmesan cheese.


16.8.11

Panzanella





This weekend I visited a local farmers market and I bought some beautiful yellow grape tomatoes. For the last few days, I was thinking about what kind of recipe I could prepare using them. So, I remembered a salad from Jamie Oliver’s book called panzanella.

This summery dish was originated in the areas of Tuscany and has as main ingredients tomatoes and croutons made from leftover bread. It was first recorded in 16th-century as a substantial dish made by the peasants who wanted to take advantage of stale bread. It is a great creation and also so flavorsome. The bread soaks up the oil, vinegar and the ripe tomato juices absorbing all the good flavors of the salad.

This recipe uses basil, roasted bell peppers, capers, onion, celery and anchovies, but you can also use any seasonal vegetables. I know that some people don’t like anchovies. So in that case you can use fresh fish like grilled tuna. Panzanella can be served either as a starter or as an entree.


Panzanella
(adapted from the book Jamie's Italy)
serves 6 people

2 lb different ripe tomatoes (chopped into rough 1cm cubes)

2 red peppers (roasted and chopped into 1cm cubes)
2 yellow peppers (roasted and chopped into 1cm cubes)
1/2 celery heart (finely chopped)
1 red onion finely chopped
Fresh basil (roughly chopped)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
 Extra virgin olive oil
 white wine vinegar
1 loaf of Toscana bread or Ciabatta bread
6 anchovy fillets
Capers

Cut the bread into 2cm cubes 400ºF for 7-8 minutes or until it is crunchy.
Cut the peppers into quarters and roast at 400ºC for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool before peel and cutting into cubes.
Chop all the remaining vegetables into rough 1 cm cubes and place into a mixing bowl. Mix until all the flavours and colours mingle.
Add the chopped garlic and basil.
Dress the salad liberally with the olive oil, vinegar, black pepper and a touch of salt.
When ready to serve, coat the croutons well in the tomato sauce before adding the vegetables. Mix together.
To finish, top the salad with anchovies (optional) and garnish with some fresh basil.
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