Friday, January 28, 2011

Scrumptious granola bars


After a month of making Panettone, the number one sweet bread treat throughout the Brazilian Christmas holiday season, I had a plastic container filled with candied fruits hiding out in the back of my refrigerator.  My friend Alice, supreme professional chef extraordinaire, suggested via Facebook that I could make granola bars with the leftover fruit.  I loved the idea.

So I Googled “granola bars” and weeded through a number of recipes until I settled on this one.  Then of course I tweaked it a bit to use up the ingredients I had on hand, and to incorporate my friend Alice’s suggestion that I soak the dried/candied fruit in orange juice.


Here we go.

Ingredients:

3 ½ c. oats
1 ½ c. mix of dried fruit (I used golden raisins, dried cranberries and diced candied fruit)
1 ½ c. mix of chopped nuts (I used walnuts, almonds, peanuts and sesame seeds)
2 oranges, juiced
1/3 – ½ c. honey
½ c. brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 egg, beaten
2/3 c. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract (I used almond extract)

Procedure:


Rinse the excess sugar off the candied fruits and dice them into pieces about the size of the raisins.  Mix the dried/candied fruits in a bowl and add the orange juice. Stir. Set aside.


Chop the walnuts and almonds.  In a large ungreased shallow pan, stir together the nuts, sesame seeds and oats.  Place the mixture in a 350 degree F. oven until toasted, stirring every 5 minutes or so.  Watch carefully so you toast, but do not burn the mix.  It may take 20 – 30 minutes depending on your oven and how deep the mix is in your pan.  (The peanuts and sesame seeds I had were already toasted, so I added them after the oats mix was done.)


Combine the honey, brown sugar, melted butter, beaten egg, cinnamon and extract.

Drain the fruit.


Combine everything in a large bowl and mix well.


Press the mixture into a greased, large baking pan.  I was nervous about it being difficult to remove from the pan so I lined the pan with parchment (papel manteiga) and then greased the paper.

A little mouse has already nibbled on the corner.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned along the edges.  Cool completely.  (I cooled on the counter for about 20 minutes and then placed the pan in the refrigerator.  Given the ambient heat, things would not have set without being chilled a bit.) Cut into bars.  Enjoy!  [Store tightly sealed in the refrigerator.]

Friday, January 21, 2011

Chicken Risotto Thing

Ok so this recipe is a combination of recipes and my own preferences for a chicken risotto. It's SUPER easy and delicious!


The batteries in my camera died a while ago and I always forget to buy new ones, so I'll have to take a picture the next time I make it. So here's a picture I stole off the internet to kind of give you an idea of how mine looked:



This recipe is enough for 2 people.

You need:

*2 chicken breasts
*1 small cup of rice (like however much you usually make for 2 people)
*3 parts water to 1 part rice
*the spices you want (I used cumin, oregano, and a Knorr chicken bullion cube (of course))
*3 garlic cloves
*a small carrot
*half of an onion
*Some green onion and cilantro
*a bit of cooking oil

*The important thing to remember is that this recipe is really easy to modify. I just used these veggies and spices because they were what I already had in the fridge. Some versions of this said you could use tomato (I thought the texture didn't really go with the rest though), and as you can see in the picture, they have peas and (what I think are) bell peppers. Alexandre makes a similar dish with palmito. So just take this style and run with it, I suppose!


Instructions:

*Chop up the chicken into small chunks (like in the picture).

*Chop up your onions, carrot, garlic and cilantro. Best not to mix them yet.

*In a pot big enough for everything (the convenience of this recipe is having to wash only one pot), fry the chicken, onion, and garlic in a bit of oil. It shouldn't take long if your chicken is cut up small.

*Add in the spices that you're using, and keep mixing so it doesn't burn!

*Add in the dry rice and mix it all up really fast with the rest of the stuff in the pot, just for a few seconds.

*Add in the water (remember, about 3 parts water to rice-- you can always drain it if it's too much)

*Add in the other vegetables, mix one more time, and cover it. It takes about 10 minutes for the rice to cook.
If you see that the rice seems done but there's still a bit too much water, just keep frying it with the lid off and mixing it to burn off the extra water.

Wait for it to cool, and then enjoy! It's not "pretty" necessarily, but it's quick and easy and pretty healthy. Great when you are feeling lazy but don't want to spend money on eating out (which is like, pretty much how I feel every night).

What would you guys add to this? I welcome your ideas!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fresh Banana Mango Sorbet

Here's another tasty dessert recipe.

Celebrating local ingredients here in Brazil begins and ends with fresh tropical fruit.  Here is a simple way to cool down on a hot summer night.  This is a super-simple recipe for fresh sorbet – and you do not need an ice cream maker.

Ingredients: (Use more or less – it’s totally flexible)

4 – 6 bananas (Choose your favorite: banana prata, banana d’ agua, banana ouro, banana nanica, banana maçá, banana figo…)
2 ripe mangos (Again, choose your favorite: manga rosa, manga espada, manga carlotinha – or the one that hit you on the head while waiting for the bus yesterday ;-) …)
1 lime (or 2 if they are small)
Sugar (I used artificial sweetener – Luiz is a diabetic with a sweet tooth)

Procedure:


Peel the bananas and chop into pieces about an inch long.  Place in a bowl.  Slice the large pit out of the center of the mango. Remove the mango fruit from within its skin.  This is done by scoring all the way through the fruit, but not through the skin in a cross-hatch fashion.  Then invert the mango half inside out.  Slice off the squares of mango.  Place in the bowl with the bananas.


Pour about two - three tablespoons of lime juice over the fruit and toss well.  This will both keep the fruit from discoloring and push the flavors a bit.


Cover the bowl and place it into the freezer overnight (or from morning to evening).  In other words: freeze completely.

Remove the frozen fruit from the freezer and chop it up a bit, it will have all frozen together slightly.


From here you can either simply push the frozen fruit through a CLEAN meat grinder set to fine grinding, OR place the fruit in a food processer using the metal blade and process it for a good 5 minutes or until smooth.  You will likely need to stop the processor once or twice and stir up the fruit to keep it puréeing evenly.


Then stir in sugar or other sweetener to your own taste and depending on the original sweetness of the fruit itself.


VARIATION:  If you prefer a creamy/dairy version, while the frozen fruit is being puréed in the food processer, add about ¼ - ½ cup of chilled crème de leite and combine well.


Get a spoon and enjoy.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chocolate and Banana Crepes

We just made chocolate and banana crepes. I gave myself a tummyache because I ate too much. But boy, were they amazing. Here's the recipe for you:
picture from http://emilyk.typepad.com, but the recipe is mine-- a combination of other recipes 

The Crepes: Makes about 6 big crepes

5 tablespoons (aka 70g) of real butter-- you can eyeball a stick of it (the sticks in Brazil are usually 200g)
1 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 3/4 cups of milk (more milk = thinner crepe)
1 or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons of sugar (it can be less if you want to use the crepe for something salty)

A banana or two

The Chocolate Topping

1 big (170g) Brazilian chocolate bar of your choice (it can have nuts, it can be dark chocolate)
1 heaping teaspoon of real butter
About 2 tablespoons of cream (creme de leite)

Instructions: The Crepes

*Combine the milk, egg yolks, and vanilla in a big bowl.

*Melt the 5 tablespoons of butter. (I just used the microwave.)

*In a second bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and the melted butter.

*Slowly stir in the ingredients from the second bowl into the first bowl.

*Heat a good pan for cooking crepes. (We have a wonderful electric grill with this type of surface.) You'll want it on a low temperature.

*Pour some of the crepe mix onto the warmed pan. Once the ends start to brown, flip it over. The crepe is done when it's brown (you probably know what a finished crepe looks like).


Instructions: The Chocolate topping

*Boil some water in a pot and put a container inside to make a banho-maria, or "water bath" for the chocolate (i.e. to cook it in hot water instead of frying it directly). Here's a picture from Wikipedia:

 We put a small glass casserole dish inside of the pot.

*Add the chocolate to the pot and melt it on low heat.

*Add the heaping teaspoon of butter to the chocolate. Mix mix mix.

*Slowly add creme de leite and keep mixing until you're happy with the flavor and consistency.

------------------------------------------------
Once everything is ready, chop up the bananas. Then you have 2 options: You can add the chocolate and bananas to the crepes while they're still cooking (Alexandre's preference), or you can finish frying the crepe and add the yummy things at the end (my preference).

A note: This recipe might make a lot of crepe mix and not a lot of chocolate topping, depending on how much chocolate topping you like. One problem may have been that I was in charge of mixing the chocolate, and Alexandre was in charge of frying the crepes. So.... you can imagine how that went. I needed to "test" the chocolate about 20 times to make sure it didn't need more cream or anything. ;) But anyway, if you REALLY like chocolate, you might want to double the topping recipe.

And of course, you can change the ingredients, use different fruits, etc. I encourage you to share your ideas in the comments!

Enjoy!

Kibe Semi-Success

from www.cometudo.com



As the final recipe in Jim's and my Lebanese-Brazilian collection, I planned to share you the kibe recipe that I made yesterday.  Ours were pretty good-- the only problem was that they were ugly. But that's fine, because my camera ran out of battery this week, and there's a great video online that you can use (see below).

We made fried kibe. The important ingredients are farinha para kibe and pimenta siria. We made a meat stuffing separate from the shell (the shell is just ground beef, farinha para kibe, pimenta siria, and salt).

This video doesn't suggest it, but Alexandre came home with coalhada while I was finishing the kibe, so we put some inside as stuffing. It worked well! I LOVE coalhada, but it is so difficult and time-consuming to make. 

So without further ado, here's the video with the kibe recipe. It's in Portuguese. He discusses fried kibe at the end. If you're dying to make kibe and you can't understand him, let me know and I'll type out the instructions in English.

Click here for the video!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hummus

Yay! It's my turn to add to Jim's Middle Eastern food posts. Tomorrow I might put up a kibe recipe, if all goes well with cooking it today.

Here's the recipe I learned for hummus over the holidays:. It makes a big bowl, as you'll see in the pictures. If you want less, you can try halving the amounts of everything.


Ingredients:

*2 ½ cups of dry Chickpeas (called grão de bico in Portuguese). They come in a bag of 500g in Brazil, so you can just put in the whole bag. Don't buy the chickpeas in a can or jar!

*1 big spoonful of Tahini, aka sesame seed paste. The 2 names in Portuguese are tahini and pasta de gergelim. I bought it at a little Middle Eastern market in town. I've heard you can find it at Pão de Açúcar. If I can get it in my small town, it shouldn't be too hard to find in other parts of Brazil!

*A bit of garlic (optional)-- it can be fresh chopped garlic, or that pre-prepared purée de alho, either way

*1 tablespoon of olive oil

*1 small lime

*1 small onion

*Salt, pepper, and/or whatever spices you want

*A bit of green onion and parsley or cilantro (mostly for decoration)


Instructions:
*After soaking them in water for 3-4 hours (the way you would other beans), pressure cook the chickpeas for 40 minutes (start counting the 40 minutes when it actually is pressurized). I learned the hard way that if you don't soak them and you don't pressure cook them, they take about 3 and a half hours to cook. They need to be extra soft and easy to mash with a spoon. Otherwise, your hummus will be too grainy.

*Let the boiled chickpeas cool, and then put them in the blender with a tablespoon or two of the water that they boiled in. Blend blend blend, a lot, until they turn into a cream. If they're hard to blend, add more water (but remember that you're making a creamy paste, so it can't be too watery).

*Add 1 big spoonful of the Tahini to the blender.

*If you want garlic, add it in now. Keep blending!

*Add in the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Blend a little more.

*Take the hummus out of the blender and put it into a bowl that you want to serve it in.



*Add the juice of 1 small lime, and also some salt or whatever spices you're using. Mix by hand.

*Slice the onions like this and add them to the hummus like tombstones. The idea is that guests can scoop the hummus with the little onion pieces.


*Decorate the top of the hummus with some more olive oil, parsley and chopped green onion.

all done!


There are lots of variations to the extra ingredients in hummus. The base things are just the chickpeas, the tahini, and the olive oil. My dear friend Michelle recommends adding a bit of roasted red peppers, but I was voted out on that idea at home. Any other changes that you guys make to your hummus?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tabouleh

Another Lebanese food post from Jim! Enjoy!

Tabouleh (Parsley and bulgur salad)
Serves 6 – 8
This tabouleh is best served with Jim's stuffed cabbage rolls,

The age-old and regional dispute about this salad centers around the ratios of parsley to bulgur (cracked wheat). Our family came down decidedly on the MORE PARSLEY side. Plus lots of lemon juice.

NOTE: For us, the cracked wheat was seen as the ‘cheaper’ ingredient and was added when it was necessary to stretch the meal. In our family – the greater the percentage of the parsley, the finer the salad.

If you are accustomed to a ‘wheat salad’ experience – stay with me. This version will change your opinion of tabouleh.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup bulgur (farinha para kibbe), rinsed well
2 cups boiling water
2 packed cups chopped parsley (not Italian parsley or cilantro)
½ cup finely chopped green onions
¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbls. lemon juice (not lime juice)
1 ½ tsp. salt, or to taste
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 firm, ripe, delicious tomatoes
Lemon wedges

Procedure:

Thoroughly rinse the cracked wheat. Pour the boiling water over the cracked wheat in a bowl and set aside.

Wash all the greens, finely chop (mince to a texture you will enjoy but don’t shred to a pulp in a food processor) and toss in a serving bowl. .

Seed and dice the tomatoes.

Drain, rinse and squeeze dry the soaked cracked wheat. It should be plumped with water, but not mushy. There should be a bit of an al dente thing going on.

Mix everything in the serving bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the salad, and then pour in the lemon juice. Toss – toss – toss. Salt and pepper.

Serve with big lemon wedges and olive oil for those who wish to push or pull the fresh flavors.


Rice – you know that one…

Have fun impressing yourself (or your mother-in-law).

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Jim from Qualidade de Vida is sharing some great recipes this week. Take it away, Jim!:



Some time ago there was an animated discussion about Lebanese foods in Brazil on my blog. Brazil enjoys a robust immigrant community from Lebanon and has a much popularized set of foods from this culture in restaurants and fast food outlets.

After writing about it I got all inspired to make some old-country food for Luiz and I. Independent of seasonal thinking I decided to make stuffed cabbage leaves, rice, and a tabouleh salad.

Since I grew up in a family only one and a half generations separated from Lebanon, I used my mother’s recipes. That meant that the lamb was to be ground more finely and the tabouli was to contain only a little bit of bulghar – and everything was to have a bit more lemon (not lime) dribbled over it.

So here we go:

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Mishi Malfuf)
Serves 6; Cooking time 1 ¼ hours
Don’t be afraid – it is not that hard.

Ingredients:

1 large head of cabbage
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 Tbls. clarified butter (or just use soja oil)
1 ½ lbs (750 g) coarsely ground lamb shoulder (carne moida cordeiro) [You can use ground hamburger if you can’t find the lamb, but it is not quite as delicious.]
1 cup short grain rice, washed and drained
½ tsp. ground allspice (pimenta da Jamaica) [I could not find pimento da Jamaica so I used 3 parts cinnamon and 1 part nutmeg (noz-moscada)]
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup water
4 cloves garlic (more to taste), chopped
¼+ cup lemon juice (not lime juice)
1 tsp. dried mint (or perhaps 2+ tsp. if fresh)
Water as needed

Procedure:

Peel off the outer, typically torn or otherwise soiled, leaves of the cabbage, save. Core out the stem of the cabbage as keenly as you can.

Bring a huge pot of water to a boil. When the water is boiling, plop the cabbage (gently, don’t splash!) into the bath and, after each leaf has cooked sufficiently, peel off one leaf at a time and drain. You really want to have a completely cooked leaf. If it is still a bit crisp it will work against you later on. 







Leaves will fall off the cabbage head easily when they are completely cooked. You may want to let them cook a bit more even after they have fallen off the head. Don’t rush this process. Trim out the core as needed as you get further into the head. You want full, completely cooked, untorn leaves.

When the leaves are cool to the touch, trim off the bulk of the rib on each. You are cutting the rib down to nearly the thickness of the leaf itself. Try not to cut all the way through. You want a flexible, yet intact, full leaf.

Some of the outer leaves are super big. If you have some of those, slice them in half along the ridge line.

Keep the sliced-off rib bits and any torn leaves to use to line your cooking pan.




Gently sauté the chopped onion in the clarified butter or oil until soft and nearly clear. Add the ground lamb, rice, allspice, salt, pepper and water. Combine well and cook just a bit.
chop

sauté

Place a couple tablespoons (more or less, usually less) of the meat/rice/onion filling on the bottom edge of a leaf and roll, tucking in the sides to contain the filling. Maintain a tightening pressure as you roll so the final product is tight, neat sausage shape. Repeat. Repeat.


Pack finished rolls flap side down in a big pot with a layer of trashed leaves on the bottom. Place them close together. When you begin the second layer, place them at 90 degrees to the first layer, etc. Pack ‘em tight. (Read ahead here.)



Combine the minced garlic and mint. Have salt and lemon juice at hand.

Sprinkle the garlic/mint mixture between each layer and on top of the whole affair. Then pour the lemon juice over everything. Salt, also, as you see necessary.



Now you have a lined pot layered with tight stuffed cabbage rolls spiced between each layer. Carefully add water to cover the rolls. Now invert a heavy plate and place it over the rolls. (You are keeping pressure on the rolls so they do not UNROLL while cooking.)




Cover the pot and simmer for about an hour.



Serve hot. (OMG!)

Check out the tabouleh salad that goes with these rolls here.