Showing posts with label Grow Your Own. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grow Your Own. Show all posts

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Yucca stew - Grow Your Own 1st anniversary

I say manioc (cassava), you say yucca. Many people have tried yucca without even knowing it, like when you use tapioca flour... does this ring a bell?

This entry celebrates Grow Your Own's first anniversary! Congratulations Andrea! Thank you for planting the seed of friendship with your event!

This is a simple recipe for chilly nights. I had some yucca in the freezer from the family farm and I added harissa, the Tunisian spice blend, to the stew to spice it up.

Harissa has the power to turn an ordinary dish into a gourmet dish!

Yucca stew
  • Peel and strip the yucca root before cooking (remove the long stringy fibers in the middle)
  • Cut into chunks and cook it in water until soft (it can take from 20 minutes to over one hour, use a pressure cooker if you have one)
3 pounds (1.5 kg) cooked yucca, smashed
10 to 12 cups water or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon salt (omit the salt if using stock)
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 oz bacon, cooked, lightly browned
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon harissa (or any pepper)
2 cups watercress, chopped (or kale)

1) Sauté onion and garlic in oil and olive oil. Add smashed yucca, water (or stock), salt and harissa. Bring to a boil, then simmer until stew is thickened. Using an immersion hand blender (or a blender), puree stew until smooth.

2) Towards the end, add the watercress and the cooked bacon, turn off heat and cover for a few minutes before serving. Serve warm.
  • This recipe can be adapted for the slow cooker.
Yucca plantation

You can check all the entries for the 1st anniversary here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Spiced Hot Grape Punch - Grow Your Own #11

Winter is just around the corner here and I have been fixing this hot punch for friends and family in our small group that meets once a week. It is a non-alcoholic beverage, the aroma fills the air, and you can enjoy it slowly, as it is served hot. In the Summer, you can serve it cold.

This is my entry for Grow Your Own event and you can participate too! This event is about homegrown products, so if you have a garden why not celebrate the bounty of the season with a unique dish prepared with foods that you grow?

My spiced hot grape punch is made with fresh ginger from my mom and dad's garden.

3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons honey
Rind of 2 oranges
Rind of 1 lime
2 oz (50 to 60 g) sliced fresh ginger
4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2 apples, cored, peeled and chopped
4 cups (1 liter) unsweetened red grape juice

1) In a large sauce pan over medium combine sugar and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil to dissolve sugar.

2) Add honey, sliced ginger, cinnamon stick, cloves, lime and orange rinds. Simmer 4 minutes. Remove rinds.

3) Add 1 cup water and simmer 5 minutes. Then add the chopped apples, the grape juice and bring to a boil again for 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rice with black-eyed peas - Grow your own #10

Rice and beans... another staple food here in Brazil. Every time we visit the family farm, which is in another state, the lady who works and lives there gives me black-eyed-peas that her family grows. She taught me how to make this dish called "baiao-de-dois" that is popular in the Northeast part of Brazil. This is the simplified version as you will hardly find the type of clarified butter (bottle butter) they use to cook this and the coalho cheese (a type of curd cheese).

This is my entry for this month's Grow Your Own event. If you grow or raise anything in your garden or if you received something as a gift that the giver has personally grown or raised you can participate too.

1 cup black-eyed peas, cooked
2 cups of rice
4 cups water
1 cup frying cheese, cubed
1/2 cup italian smoked sausage or chorizo, sliced (I omit this sometimes)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped onions
cilantro leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Heat oil in a large pan. Add onions, garlic and sausage and sautée until tender. Add rice and fry it stirring it frequently. Add cooked beans, water, salt and pepper and cook for about 15 minutes until most of the water gets absorbed.

2) Add the cubed cheese and the cilantro. Turn off stove and let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Courgette Salsa - Grow Your Own #9

¡Viva Cinco de Mayo!

This tasty salsa can be used as an appetizer, spooned over a steak or as salad dressing.

I used organic zucchinis (or courgettes) from the family farm located about 150 miles (about 250 km) from where we live. We go there once a month and that's when I have plenty of time to experiment with home grown ingredients.

This is my entry for Grow Your Own event that promotes the use of ingredients we grow or raise ourselves and also the dishes we make using our homegrown products. To view other entries and participating blogs, please visit Andrea's blog!

Courgette Salsa
From Woman and Home magazine

2 ripe tomatoes, core removed, finely chopped
1 medium courgette, finely chopped
2 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
finely grated zest and juice 1 lime
handful fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
3 tsp sweet chilli sauce (optional) - I used 1 tsp chilli powder
1 lime, cut into wedges, to serve
1/4 teaspoon salt

1) Mix the chopped tomatoes and courgette with the rest of the ingredients, plus a pinch of sugar if not using the chilli sauce. Set the salsa aside at room temperature. Serve as appetizer.

Zucchini plants

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mixed Pepper Vinaigrette - Grow Your Own # 8

While visiting the family farm I picked different types of pepper and made this vinaigrette that goes so well as an appetizer, with any side dish or as a dressing for grilled vegetables.
Straight from the farm

This is my entry for March's Grow Your Own event at Andrea's Recipes. Click the badge to view all events listed on the page and get to know some wonderful blogs that participate and share their passion for homegrown ingredients.

Ingredients: (quantities may vary, pick assorted colors)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 fresh hot peppers, seeded and diced (chili, malagueta or Aji)
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar or lime juice
1/4 teaspoon italian seasoning or oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup anchovies, sliced (aliche) - optional

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Serve over sliced italian bread as an appetizer or with any kind of grilled vegetables.
With anchovies and extra parsley.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bolognese Polenta - Grow Your Own # 7

Polenta and pizza: two magic words! Travel anywhere in the world, even if you do not speak the language, and these simple words will put food on your plate. So, to celebrate the end of the cold season in the Northern hemisphere and the beginning of possible colder days here... I couldn't think of anything more comforting than the traditional italian dish: a Bolognese Polenta!

My mom used to make a lot of polenta when we were kids, like chicken polenta soup, fried polenta as appetizer and even a very soft sweet polenta which we had for breakfast or dessert.

My contribution to this month's Grow your own event at Andrea's blog has basil from my indoor garden. My dad makes sure I never run out of basil, he always sends me basil seeds and also dried basil!

Ingredients for hard polenta - from my mom's kitchen
1 cup yellow cornmeal or instant polenta
4 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 tablespoons onion, thinly diced
2 tablespoons canola oil

1) Combine the cornmeal and 2 cups of cold water into a large bowl and whisk, this will avoid lumps forming.

2) In large sauce pan, sauté onion over medium heat until translucent, add garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes more, until fragrant, do not brown. Add the remaining 2 cups water, boil, add salt and gradually stir in the polenta and water mixture.

3) Let the polenta and water simmer stirring frequently with wooden spoon to prevent sticking. It will take about 15 to 30 minutes until it's very thick, or 5 minutes if using the instant polenta. If it is too thick, add more water.
  • You know the polenta is ready when it pulls away from the side of the pan.
4) Grease a baking dish or ramekins with butter. Add the polenta. Let it stand a few minutes. Spoon your favorite sauce. Garnish with grated parmesan cheese, chopped parsley and fresh basil leaves.
  • The polenta will be creamy if you eat it right away and very firm for your next meal or if you let it set for 15 minutes while you make the topping.
Bolognese Sauce

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1⁄4 cup shredded carrot
1⁄2 lb (250g) Italian smoked sausage, cubed or grated (remove casings)
1 lb (500 g) ground meat, preferably chunk
1 can (14-ounce/500g) peeled, crushed tomatoes with the juice
(or 1 can (6oz/180g) tomato paste)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Fresh basil leaves
Chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1) In a large sauce pan, heat extra-virgin olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat until the onions are translucent.

2) Add carrot, sausage and sauté for 5 minutes. Raise heat to high and add the ground beef. Break up any large lumps and cook until meat is no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Add parsley, basil and nutmeg.

3) Add the milk
and let it simmer gently stirring frequently. Then add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, add the tomatoes and stir throughouly. Cook over medium low heat until the sauce thickens, for at least 1/2 hour. Check for seasoning. Serve hot over the polenta and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Moqueca: Brazilian Fish Stew - Grow Your Own # 6

Moqueca is a traditional Brazilian seafood stew that consists basically of layers of onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, pepper and fish steaks cooked and served in a black clay pot and a side of rice.

There are many types of moqueca depending on the meat used, but two stand out: one from Bahia state and another one from Espirito Santo state. What differentiates one recipe from another is the use of two ingredients: coconut milk and palm oil that are added only to the Bahian style.

On our first vacation together after we got married, some 13 years ago, we drove a thousand miles to Porto Seguro, a place that claims to be where the history of Brazil started. As we were on vacation and time did not count, we would stop for a couple of days here and there to enjoy the beaches along the coastline. Over there, they eat a lot of fish and we were able to try the two types of moqueca, that were always brought steaming hot to our table.

This is my contribution to Andrea's recipes and her Grow Your Own event. I used cilantro from my indoor garden.

Moqueca baiana (Bahian fish stew)

2 lbs. (1 kg) fish filets, cut into large portions, about 2 inches (5 cm)
juice of one lime
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 pound (500 g) shrimp, peeled and deveined (optional)

2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large tomatoes, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 bunch cilantro
7 oz (200 ml) coconut milk
2 tablespoons palm oil (azeite de dende)
1 teaspoon salt

1) Marinate the fish filets and the shrimp with salt, pepper, paprika and lime juice for at least one hour.

2) In a large sauté pan or dutch oven, sauté garlic in oil. Turn off the heat at this point and using half of the vegetables start making layers of onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and peppers. Cover the layers with the fish, the marinade and cilantro.

3) Cover the fish making other layers with the shrimp, the remaining onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and cilantro. Add the palm oil, the coconut milk and sprinkle the salt. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer over low heat for 30 to 60 minutes or until fish and vegetables are cooked. Serve with rice.

Serves 4 to 6.

More moqueca recipes with pictures can be found here:
- Simply Recipes
- Epicurious

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Cassava or Yucca Root - Grow Your Own # 5

Cassava, yucca, Brazilian arrowroot, mandioca... So many names for a root that can be used in a variety of dishes. The most known ingredient extracted from the root of cassava is tapioca flour, tapioca starch or yucca flour. Sounds familiar? I use cassava as much as many people use potatoes. Puddings, breads, cakes, chips, deep fried, purées, dumplings, soups, etc. can be made with cassava or tapioca. Gluten-free, it can replace wheat flour and it is very used by people with wheat allergies, like coeliac disease.

This is my contribution to this month’s Grow Your Own event.

The pictures were taken from my husband's family farm. Cassava is organically grown there and right now I have some in the freezer for future recipes.

To view a recipe using tapioca, please click the picture.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rosemary-Roasted Potatoes - Grow Your Own # 4

Easy and ready in 30 minutes while you fix dinner or perform other chores, these rosemary roasted potatoes make a great side dish. At our Thanksgiving we had this as one of our side dishes.

This is my contribution to this month’s Grow Your Own event.

2 pounds (1 kg) large potatoes, unpeeled and cut into halves or quarters
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves (from my mother-in-law's garden)
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon saffron (it makes all the difference)
1/2 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
1/2 cup water

1) Preheat oven to 475°F (245°C).

2) In a large roasting pan or baking sheet, arrange potatoes. Coat with olive oil, garlic, basil, rosemary, parsley, red pepper flakes, safrron,
paprika, salt and water. Toss well to combine.

3) Cover pan with foil and roast for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, turning occasionally to brown on all sides.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Avocado Lassi - Grow Your Own # 3


Lassi is a typical Indian shake that can be either sweet or salty. It is yogurt-based and it contains spices, like cumin, and fruits, being mango the most common. This is another recipe I came up with for our Summer that is just around the corner. I used avocado and as I did a little research I found out that avocado contains nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, including vitamins E, C and B, among others and it has monounsaturated fat, just like olive oil. Also, I wanted to point out a cultural factor: in Brazil avocados are associated mostly with sweet food and not with salty food as in many countries. Another ingredient I used, the lemon balm or melissa, a member of the mint family, is a very resistant perennial plant that grows indoors so well and can be used to make teas, salads or added to juices.

1 avocado
1 cup yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
leaves of fresh lemon balm (from my indoor garden)
1 cup ice (optional)
Sugar to taste

1) Scoop the avocado pulp into a blender. Add the yogurt, honey, lemon balm and sugar to taste. Blend until pureed.

2) Add ice and blend again. Serve cold. You can pour jelly into the cups and add the lassi. I used the avocado peels as bowls.

This is my contribution to Andrea's Recipes monthly event: Grow your own.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Roasted Red Pepper Homus - Grow Your Own #2


Hummus or homus is a dip made basically of chickpeas and sesame tahini. It is a popular spread in various countries in the Middle Eastern world that we borrowed. This recipe has been on my waiting list for so long... One of the reasons it took me so long is that I live close to a restaurant with a drive-thru that sells this type of food, and it is so easy to order it from my car... So, this time, I planned this meal, went to the market and bought both chickpeas and tahini. And I combined two recipes, one from Technicolor Kitchen and another one from the kitchen of The Budding Cook, because the red pepper adds a fascinating color to this dip!

15 oz (about 400g) drained canned chickpeas
2 big pieces of roasted red pepper
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cloves garlic (I baked them for a minute in the microwave)
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil

1) Combine all ingredients, except olive oil, in a food processor and blend well. With the processor running, gradually pour the olive oil processing until just smooth.

2) Transfer to a bowl and decorate with mint leaves and green onions (these herbs are both from my tiny garden).

3) Serve with pita bread, vegetables or other Middle Eastern dishes.

Here's how I roast peppers
- Directly on the burner, over the gas flame of my stovetop, I blacken the pepper. I remove them from the fire and place in a food grade plastic bag so the steam that forms will help to remove the skin. Let cool for about fifteen minutes, remove from bag and with a knife I peel off the skins.

Be careful:
If you don't use this type of stove, roast the peppers under a broiler or in the oven.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Homemade Sun-Dried Tomatoes - Grow Your Own #1

To celebrate the bounty of her garden Andrea created the "Grow your own" event to motivate the use of ingredients we grow in our own backyard. As I live in a condo, I looked at the aromatic herbs corner in our laundry room and the first thing I laid eyes on was a thyme pot. The recipe that came to my mind I learned about 10 years ago with a friend, when sun-dried tomatoes were not very popular in Brazil. So, I asked my friend if I could post her recipe, and to my surprise she was making a batch of sun-dried tomatoes on the same day as me! This recipe requires some patience and time, even though it is so easy! Here's the whole recipe, but you can make enough to fill a roasting pan.

30 ripe tomatoes (romas work best)
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons salt
Fresh thyme (you can use oregano or Italian seasoning)
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Olive oil and black pepper


Preheat oven to 200°F/90°C.

1) Rinse the tomatoes. Cut them in half lengthways and remove the seeds. Place the tomato halves, cut side down, on a rack to dry for about half an hour and remove excess juice.

2) Place tomatoes onto tray, cut side up. Sprinkle with sugar and salt, drizzle a little olive oil over each tomato; add thyme, black pepper and garlic slices.

3) Bake in the oven for at least two hours. With a spatula, gently turn the tomatoes over, and bake for one more hour. Take the tomatoes from the oven, put them in sterilized jars, and pour olive oil on top so that all the tomatoes are covered. Keep them refrigerated and use within two weeks.

My serving suggestions: pizza (I will post it soon), dips, risottos, pesto, spaghetti sauce, etc.

The homemade sun-dried tomatoes have a milder flavor and a finer texture than the store-bought variety.

Update: The old-fashioned sun-dried tomatoes are dried out in the sun and this may be time-consuming. It can take you from four days to two weeks. You place the tomatoes skin-side down on clean plastic (not metal) framed screen, add salt, cover them with cheesecloth, raised so it does not touch the tomatoes, to keep off bugs and dust and provide proper ventilation. Bring them in during the night and return them outdoors when the sun is bright.