Thursday, October 4, 2012

Easy Unprocessed Dinner: Roasted Chicken, Veggie Purée, and Wheat Bread

Super Easy Vegetable Soup Recipe 
It's part of a completely unprocessed dinner in honor of October Unprocessed!

Here's what I did:

Decide to make a big batch of Martha Stewart's vegetable soup (recipe below)
Decide that potatoes must not be that important, and skip them because there are none in the fridge
End up making more of a purée instead
Freeze the soup/purée in individual containers for later in the week.

Make a couple loaves of whole wheat bread.
Add either too much yeast or not enough flour and make bread that's kind of heavy, but still tasty and edible.

Defrost a chicken breast and roast it with olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs of your choosing (I chose oregano, basil, and dried onion).

Eat a perfectly unprocessed dinner on Thursday night. :)

as always, it's tastier than my picture suggests

Here's the simple soup recipe. The great thing about it is that you can add in other vegetables. :)

Pureed Mixed Vegetable Soup
adapted from Martha Stewart's Cooking School

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion
1-2 peeled garlic cloves
other aromatic options: leeks or shallots

12 ounces (1 or 2) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
6 ounces (1/2 head) broccoli, florets separated and stems cut into pieces
6 ounces (2) carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
8 ounces (1 bunch) spinach, stems removed
other vegetable options: peas, chard, kale, watercress, or sorrel (added during the last 5 mins)

3-4 cups of basic chicken stock (optional -- you can also just use water, which is what I did)
salt and pepper

Finishing options: buttermilk, heavy cream, or mozzarella (I chose mozzarella)


Melt butter in a stockpot over medium heat. Add in onion, garlic, and any other aromatic options that you're using. Stir constantly until they soften (about 3 minutes).

Add the potato, broccoli, and carrots with enough stock or water to just cover them. Add salt, pepper, and any spices that you're using and bring it all to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add spinach and any other greens you're using and cook until vegetables can easily be mashed with a wooden spoon (another 3-5 minutes).

Reserve 1 cup of the soup to thin the soup at the end. (If you skipped the potatoes like I did, this is not necessary). Purée the rest of the soup in a blender or food processor. If necessary, blend in batches.

Return the purée to a clean pot and set over low heat. If you're using buttermilk or cream, add it now. Then add in enough of the reserved, unblended soup to create the consistency that you want. Test the flavor to see if you need any more salt and/or pepper.

Optional: Serve with shredded mozzarella on top.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Brazilian Fish Stew (NOT Moqueca)

My student taught me this recipe for a fish stew using a fish called pescada. (The English name is of the fish is weakfish or sea trout, but I imagine that any thin white fish filet can be used.) My student even took me to the farmer's market to meet her fish guy!

I'll try to type out the recipe as simply as possible so you can see how easy it really is.

You have 3 options for the fish:
1. You can add it directly to the stew and boil it with the vegetables
2. You can fry it on the side and treat the "stew" as a side dish.
3. You can skip it all together, or you can add chicken or another protein.

This recipe explains Option #2, with a simple note to guide you if you choose to make #1.

Pescada Stew

4-5 Pescada filets (they look like this, and the fish guy at the market will cut the fish for you)
2 fresh tomatoes (see picture below for chopping ideas)
1 can of tomatoes (or just more fresh tomatoes, chopped up in the food processor so they're liquidy)
5-6 cloves of garlic (more or less, depending on your taste)
2 onions
1 large eggplant
1 small green bell pepper
A few olives
1 lime
Olive oil

If you're frying your fish, you'll need flour and  fubá  (a.k.a. fine yellow cornmeal)
Feel free to add more spices that you like.

Optional: Rice, to serve as a side dish


1. Marinate the fish in the olive oil, lime, salt, pepper, and oregano. Marinate it for 1 to 8 hours.

2. Heat up some olive oil and add in the garlic, onion, and fresh tomatoes. Heat them until they're soft.

3. Add in your can of tomatoes, if you're using it. Heat and mix. Heat and mix.

4.Add in the salt, oregano, pepper, eggplant, green bell pepper, and olives. Cook covered until the eggplant goes soft. Stir occasionally.

5. If you're adding the fish directly to the stew, do it now. You only need to cook it for about 3-5 minutes.

6. If you're frying the fish, dip the filets in a mixture of fubá (cornmeal) and flour (4 parts cornmeal to 1 part flour). Don't use egg. Then fry them in a generous amount of hot olive oil (not completely covered in oil, but you're not just lightly grilling them, either).

Then serve it all together:
Ta-da! It tastes much better than my picture looks, I promise.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Jennifer's American-Style Pizza

I know there's lots of debate over which style of pizza is better/more authentic (not mutually exclusive, in my opinion) between Brazilian pizza and American pizza. I think both are delicious in their own right. The more, the merrier!

That means that sometimes, you just want American-style pizza! Jennifer has so kindly shared a recipe:

Homemade Pizza

300 grams  tomato paste (extrato de tomate)
1 Tablespoon oregano (I like it really oregano-y, but adjust to your taste)
½ tbsp salt crushed with 2 garlic gloves, then added to the rest of the sauce

I used this recipe- it's wordy, and has lots of extraneous information, but it worked the best so far for pizza dough.

Peter Reinhart's Napoletana Pizza Dough Recipe 


Heidi notes: Peter's recipe says the olive (or vegetable oil) is optional. I use it every time - always olive oil, not vegetable oil. I love the moisture and suppleness it adds to the dough, and it makes your hands soft too.
4 1/2 cups (20.25 ounces) unbleached high-gluten, bread, or all-purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 (.44 ounce) teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon (.11 ounce) instant yeast
1/4 cup (2 ounces) olive oil (optional)
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) water, ice cold (40°F)
Semolina flour OR cornmeal for dusting
1. Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in a 4-quart bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). With a large metal spoon, stir in the oil and the cold water until the flour is all absorbed (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment), If you are mixing by hand, repeatedly dip one of your hands or the metal spoon into cold water and use it, much like a dough hook, to work the dough vigorously into a smooth mass while rotating the bowl in a circular motion with the other hand. Reverse the circular motion a few times to develop the gluten further. Do this for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are evenly distributed. If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet and doesn't come off the sides of the bowl, sprinkle in some more flour just until it clears the sides. If it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a tea- spoon or two of cold water. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50 to 55F.
2. Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with baking parchment and misting the parchment with spray oil (or lightly oil the parchment). Using a metal dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you are comfortable shaping large pizzas), You can dip the scraper into the water between cuts to keep the dough from sticking to it, Sprinkle flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Lift each piece and gently round it into a ball. If the dough sticks to your hands, dip your hands into the flour again. Transfer the dough balls to the sheet pan, Mist the dough generously with spray oil and slip the pan into a food-grade plastic bag.
3. Put the pan into the refrigerator overnight to rest the dough, or keep for up to 3 days. (Note: If you want to save some of the dough for future baking, you can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag. Dip each dough ball into a bowl that has a few tablespoons of oil in it, rolling the dough in the oil, and then put each ball into a separate bag. You can place the bags into the freezer for up to 3 months. Transfer them to the refrigerator the day before you plan to make pizza.)
4. On the day you plan to make the pizza, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before making the pizza. Before letting the dough rest at room temperature for 2 hours, dust the counter with flour, and then mist the counter with spray oil. Place the dough balls on top of the floured counter and sprinkle them with flour; dust your hands with flour. Gently press the dough into flat disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil, and cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag. Now let rest for 2 hours.
5. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone either on the floor of the oven (for gas ovens), or on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven as hot as possible, up to 800F (most home ovens will go only to 500 to 550F, but some will go higher). If you do not have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan, but do not preheat the pan.
6. Generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal. Make the pizzas one at a time. Dip your hands, including the backs of your hands and knuckles, in flour and lift I piece of dough by getting under it with a pastry scraper. Very gently lay the dough across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion on your hands, carefully giving it a little stretch with each bounce. If it begins to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue shaping it. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss as shown on page 208. If you have trouble tossing the dough, or if the dough keeps springing back, let it rest for 5 to 20 minutes so the gluten can relax, and try again. You can also resort to using a rolling pin, though this isn't as effective as the toss method.
7. When the dough is stretched out to your satisfaction (about 9 to 12 inches in diameter for a 6-ounce piece of dough), lay it on the peel or pan, making sure there is enough semolina flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide. Lightly top it with sauce and then with your other top- pings, remembering that the best pizzas are topped with a less-is-more philosophy. The American "kitchen sink" approach is counterproductive, as it makes the crust more difficult to bake. A few, usually no more than 3 or 4 toppings, including sauce and cheese is sufficient.
8. Slide the topped pizza onto the stone (or bake directly on the sheet pan) and close the door. Wait 2 minutes, then take a peek. If it needs to be rotated 180 degrees for even baking, do so. The pizza should take about 5 to 8 minutes to bake. If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone to a lower self before the next round. if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone for subsequent bakes.
9. Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait 3 to 5 minutes before slicing and serving, to allow the cheese to set slightly.
Makes six 6-ounce pizza crusts.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Shelley's Donut Muffins

So Shelley was so nice as to submit a recipe for "donut muffins." I've never heard the term but I like the sound of it! Shelley has this to say about the donuts:

They TOTALLY satisfied some serious donut cravings we were having here.  Plus they are easy!

My computer says that "donut" is the wrong spelling and tells me to use what I consider to be the old-fashioned "doughnut". Thoughts?

Anyway, without further ado, here is the recipe:
Shelley's Donut Muffins
makes 12 "regular" sized muffins or 24 mini

1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (noz-moscada)
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon baking powder (fermento em pó)
1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 12 muffin cups or 24 mini-muffin cups.

Mix 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup margarine, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in the milk, then mix in the baking powder and flour until just combined. Fill the prepared mini muffin cups about half full.

Bake in the preheated oven until the tops are lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

While muffins are baking, place 1/4 cup of melted margarine in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together 1/3 cup of sugar with the cinnamon. Remove muffins from their cups, dip each muffin in the melted margarine, and roll in the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Let cool and serve.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Torta de Legumes Pot Pie, Chicken Optional

You guys are in for a real treat today. You get recipes for the following things, all in one post:

Brazilian Vegetarian Torta de Legumes (vegetable pie, totally doable in the US)
Add in some chicken, and you get a Brazilian-style chicken and vegetable pie
Mini Chicken Pot Pies
Homemade Bisquick!
A general pie crust

What I did in my kitchen was make the torta de legumes and mini chicken pot pies at the same time using the same filling. We ate the vegetable pie and froze the mini chicken pot pies.
from my phone
from Betty
So the instructions will assume you're doing that. The quantities of the filling are enough for both. But it's very easy to do only one or the other.

To make the mini chicken pot pies, you'll use Bisquick. But wait, you're in Brazil! That's OK. Lucky for you, I found a great homemade Bisquick recipe here (don't worry, it's typed out below too).

Torta de Legumes and/or Mini Chicken Pot Pies

I used a 9-inch (24-cm) pie tin and I made 12 cupcakes. This amount of filling and doughs was PERFECT for these sizes.

Filling Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of shredded carrot
1/2 cup of peas
3 tablespoons of potato flakes
1 cup of chicken stock
1/2 cup of palmito, chopped into half-moons (If you're in the US, this is called heart of palm. Kind of hard to find, so it's not TOTALLY necessary, but it's delicious.)

Optional: Chicken, chopped into small pieces

Torta de Legumes / Vegetable Pie Crust Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups of flour
2 tablespoons of baking powder (fermento em pó)
About 100g/10tablespoons of butter
Water to create the right consistency (about 1/2 cup)

1 egg

Chicken Pot Pie Crust Ingredients:

Bisquick mix:
1 cup of flour
1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening (gordua vegetal)

Other ingredients:
1 egg
1-2 cups of milk, maybe more, until you get the watery consistency that you want
Some pepper and any other light spices you may want, like nutmeg or an onion/garlic mix

Instructions for Making the Filling:

1. Heat the onion in the olive oil. (If you’re adding chicken, add it now.)
2. Add in the carrot, and mix continually.
3. Once the carrot is softened, add in the palmito and the peas.
4. Cook and mix, cook and mix.
5. Meanwhile, make some chicken stock, or heat some store-bought stuff in a separate pot.
6. Add in the potato flakes to thicken the chicken stock.
7. Slowly add the chicken stock to the vegetable mixture, just to make it a little moist. It can’t be too watery – it has to be a pie filling, after all!
8. Let the vegetable filling cool a little before you put it into the crust.

Instructions for Making the Torta de Legumes Crust:

1. Mix everything together except for the egg and divide it into two balls. Put the balls into the fridge for 15 minutes.
2. After the crust dough cools in the fridge, use a rolling pin to roll them both out to the size of your pie tin. One part is for the bottom, and one is for the top.
3. When you place the bottom piece of dough into the pan, use a fork to poke some holes in it. Make sure it’s flopped over the top of the tin a little so you can connect the top piece to the bottom piece.
4. Put the filling in over the bottom piece of dough. If you’re making the mini chicken pot pies, too, then you’ll have extra left over.
5. Put the top piece on and connect the crust around the edges.
6. Mix up the egg and spread some of it on the top of the crust to keep it from drying out. You can poke some holes for good measure. (If you don’t want to use an egg, you can also use olive oil or even some soy sauce.)
7. Cook at 200C/400F for about 35 minutes until the crust is golden-brown.

Instructions for Making the Mini Chicken Pot Pies:

1. Make the chicken pot pie crust.
2. Spread some butter or margarine around the cupcake tins to help prevent them from sticking (because you’re in Brazil and you don’t have those little cupcake papers!)
3. Fill each cupcake tin about 1/3 of the way with the crust mix.
4. Add in some of the filling.

Go for this texture and filling ratio (picture credit here)

5. Top off the filling with a bit more of the crust mix.
6. Cook  at 200C/400F for about 35 minutes until they’re dry in the middle. They might look a little undercooked on top, but try poking/opening one, and you’ll see that they’re not!

Hooray! It's a bit of work, and it's a little messy, but you end up with a lot of delicious food.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pepperoni Lasagna Rolls

OMgggggg so last night I tried to buy the ingredients to make a pasta recipe that I saw on Pinterest, but when I got to the store I couldn't find half of the things and then I remembered that I'm in Brazil, trying to make an Americanified Italian recipe, and my brain exploded a bit. 

So I had to improvise, but I think my invention came out waaaay better than the original would have. 

I'm too lazy to take a pic and upload it so here's a pic from the internet. Mine kind of looked like this: 

picture credit here

If you make a lot, like I did, you can eat them as leftovers and also freeze them! You guys know I'm all about freezing food.

A stick of pepperoni (not sliced), like this.

A spaghetti sauce that you like, the thicker the better (if you want to go homemade, you can use my tomato sauce recipe, which is here).

Mozzarella cheese (buy an extra soft one, yum)

Ricotta cheese

Parmesan cheese (a fresh block that you grate yourself is better)

Lasagna pasta (the fresh stuff in the cold section by the yogurt and stuff is way tastier than the dry boxed stuff, but I don't know if it's a lot more expensive in the US. It won't have the traditional wave shape like the dry stuff.)



spinach (it can be frozen)


1. Chop up the onions, garlic, and pepperoni together into small small pieces. I used a food processor.

2. Fry them all up in some oil (it'll be nice and greasy and fatty, yum)

3. Boil a little bit of water and throw the spinach in for about 5 mins. Chop it up (it can be in the food processor, too).

4. Shred all your cheeses (the best way to prepare the ricotta is to use a fork to smash it up, then to drizzle it with olive oil and mix)
  4a. Save some of your parmesean to put on top

5. Cover a big pan with some butter and with a bit of the tomato sauce

6. Build your lasagna rolls the way you'd build enchiladas
 a. Dip the piece of lasagna pasta into the sauce
 b. Put all of the ingredients in the middle: the pepperoni/garlic/onion mix, the three cheese, and the spinach
 c. Roll it up!

Here's a pic to give you an idea of how the process should look:
picture credit here

7. When you're done using up all the ingredients, you'll probably have some pepperoni fat at the bottom of the pan. You can be extra gluttonous and drizzle that over your uncooked rolls.

8. Drizzle the rest of the pasta sauce all over the rolls. Make them extra messy and delicious.

9. Sprinkle the parmesean cheese over the top of everything to create a crispier layer.

10. Bake for about 20 minutes at about 425, just to melt everything and heat it.

IT WAS DELICIOUS. I haven't been this pleased with something I've cooked for a while. 

I hope you like it!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pad Thai in Brazil!

Yeah! I did it! I made pad thai in a Brazilian kitchen. It wasn't 100% authentic, but it was good for what it was, and it'll be a fine stand-in on the days I'm craving Thai food here in Brazil. Alexandre also approved wholeheartedly. 

So I kind of cheated and bought fish sauce in the US, only to discover that the city we've just moved to has a Japanese market that sells fish sauce, rice noodles, and Thai chili paste. 

The one thing I haven't been able to find in Brazil is tamarind paste, which is an ingredient in pad thai sauce. That's ironic because tamarind actually grows in Brazil and is pretty easy to buy fresh, which is what I ended up doing in an attempt to make my own tamarind paste. That was a disaster, so the home-made pad thai had to go without. I also had to skip the palm sugar-- another surprise, what with all the palm trees here. The lack of this ingredient didn't seem to be too bad, since one of the recipes I found didn't even call for it.

OK, so if you're in a bigger Brazilian city, especially in the state of São Paulo or one of the other southern states that has Asian immigrants, you'll probably be able to pull this off.  I combined a traditonal pad thai recipe with a simplified, Americanized recipe, gleaning what I liked from each one. I've typed up what I did below. Note that the amounts of things can be increased or decreased depending on your personal preferences (especially in the cases of garlic and pepper).

Both of the recipes emphasize that you don't need to boil the noodles completely. I accidentally cooked mine a little too much, but it still tasted great. So don't worry too much about that!

Pad Thai in Brazil
Serves 2

- 1 chicken breast
- 3 handfuls of rice noodles, broken in half (this is the brand I found. It has a hilarious name.)
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
-1 medium-sized carrot, sliced as thinly as possible
-a handful of green onions, chopped up nice and small
-bean sprouts (called brota de feijão in Portuguese; they come in a bag and are available at feiras or in the cold part of the produce section in many Brazilian supermarkets)
-1 small regular onion, chopped into big-ish pieces
-a pinch of pimenta calabresa, a.k.a. red pepper flakes (if you like things spicy, you may want to consider using fresh dedo de moça peppers instead)
-1 tablespoon of soy sauce
-1 egg
-As many peanuts or ground peanuts as you like (I used the ones leftover from the homemade peanut butter recipe)
-1 or 2 limes
-A handful of fresh cilantro (called coentro in Portuguse; make sure you don't buy salsinha or cheiro verde!)
-Optional: Tofu (this is easy to find in Brazil in places where you can get the other ingredients, but Alexandre isn't a big fan and it was kind of expensive this week. I usually find the best tofu prices from the Japanese salesmen at the feiras.)

For the sauce:
-1/3 cup of fish sauce
-3-4 tablespoons of water
-3-4 tablespoons of soy sauce
-1/2 of a lime
-3 or 4 garlic cloves, ground up as small as possible (I used the food processor)
-1-2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or a few drops of thai chili sauce, if you have it
-1 teaspoon of tumeric (a.k.a. açafrão da terra -- I included this because it was in all of the tamarind paste recipes I read)


Chop up all of your vegetables so they're ready to go in. It's easiest to do this first (or, ideally, the person eating with you will help you by chopping things up while you do the first steps).

1. Boil water for the rice noodles. Once the water is boiled, turn it off and drop the noodles in.

2. Combine all of your sauce ingredients and bring them to a boil.

3. Chop up your chicken and drizzle some of the soy sauce on it as a sort of quick marinade.

4. Heat up some oil (ideally in a wok, but if you're like me, you'll just throw it into the one big pot that you have). Add in the chicken, the soy sauce, and the red pepper flakes (or fresh peppers), plus a little more soy sauce if you want / if the chicken is burning because you're using the wrong kind of pan.

5. Once the chicken is more or less cooked, remove it from the pan and set it aside temporarily.

6. Add in some more oil to the wok / pot that you used for the chicken. Heat up the garlic and onion in it. Drain your noodles and add them in. Then add in about 1/3 of the sauce. Mix mix mix mix.

7. Add in your carrots, bean sprouts, green onions, and the chicken. Mix mix mix. Add in some more sauce, to your liking.

8. In a separate pan, scramble up the egg really quick. (The traditional recipe says to do it IN the pot with the rest, but I thought that was risky.) After the egg is scrambled and cooked, add it into the pot with everything else.

9. Keep mixing, and, if necessary, adding more of the sauce. This is also a good time to squeeze in the lime juice.

10. Once it's all cooked and yummy, remove the pad thai from the heat and serve with the peanuts and cilantro on top.


Please leave a comment if you end up making it!