Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mixed Greens with Cashew Nut Dressing

Every month Jenn at the Leftover Queen will be hosting the Royal Foodie Joust challenging us with three ingredients to create recipes. For this month's joust, the ingredients are a dried fruit, nuts, and cheese. I picked a few ingredients that are common in Brazil, created this salad and named it Mixed Greens with Cashew Nut Dressing. The flavors blended so easily: cashew nuts and golden raisins for the dressing and grilled farmer's cheese with mixed greens for this Summer salad that was ready in a few minutes.

For the cashew nut dressing
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped cashew nuts
1 tablespoon raisins (I used golden raisins)
salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:
- Thick slices of farmer's cheese
- Mango slices
1 pound greens such as:
- Outer leaves of red cabbage
- Arugula
- Iceberg lettuce
- Cauliflower florets

1) Start with the dressing: in a small bowl whisk all the ingredients until mixed.

2) Make a salad bowl with the outer leaves of the cabbage and add the arugula, the lettuce, the mango slices and the cauliflower florets. Add the cashew nut dressing and season with additional salt and pepper to taste. (Or, in a large bowl, place the mixed greens and add the cashew nut dressing, tossing gently until all the vegetables are evenly coated.)

3) Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes (I used my George Foreman grill). Put thick slices of cheese in the skillet and cook for 2 minutes or until the undersides are golden brown. Add the cheese to the salad. Serve immediately.

More ideas...
- Use crêpes or flour tortillas and make wraps! Just spread the salad dressing down the center of each tortilla. Layer arugula, cauliflower florets, lettuce, mango and chopped cabbage over the dressing. Roll the tortilla around the other ingredients.
You can also vary the type of greens you use to change the character of the salad.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Creamy Brazilian Limeade

This is a popular limeade served in restaurants in Brazil, it is very refreshing and with a creamy texture. Actually, we call it "Swiss lemonade," I have no idea why. The juice has a mousse consistency, some people use condensed milk but I prefer this lighter version, specially because my son is allergic to milk and we use soy cream as substitute for heavy cream.

3 limes
4 cups water
7oz/200 g heavy cream (I use soy cream)
1/2 cup sugar (or Splenda)
2 cups ice cubes

1) Wash limes thoroughly with water and detergent. Cut off the ends and slice into eight wedges.

2) Place limes in a blender with 2 cups
water, pulsing only 3 to 5 seconds (so it won't become bitter).

3) Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove rinds. Add 2 more cups of water, the heavy cream, sugar and ice, blend again for a few seconds. Serve immediately.

More ideas...
- Before juicing the limes, roll them
under your palm against the kitchen counter, they will have more juice.
- Don't let the juice stand for too long, it will become bitter.
- Don't try this recipe with lemons.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Radicchio Stuffed with Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

Radicchio or red chicory is a popular vegetable in Italy with slightly bitter flavor. It can be eaten raw, cooked, roasted or combined into other dishes such as salads, risottos, pizzas, etc.

This recipe was cortesy of Adriana, an old friend, who is an excellent cook and nutritionist. It can be served either raw or roasted. I prefer raw because it preserves the beautiful colors.

Radicchio with Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

2 large heads radicchio, washed (or 4 small ones)
1 cup goat cheese, feta cheese or ricotta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper

1 1/3 cup Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette (recipe below or use italian dressing)

1) In a small bowl, combine the cheese with olive oil, garlic, basil, salt and pepper.

2) Cut out the core of the radicchios and reserve. Spoon cheese mixture into center of radicchios. Place the cores back.

3) Drizzle with sun-dried tomato vinaigrette. I like to garnish the plate with endivia leaves. Serve immediately.

Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomato halves, drained and chopped
1/4 cup chopped green onion
2 tablespoons chopped onions
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredientes together to blend.

For baked radicchios:

Pre-heat oven to 350°F/180°C.

Stuff each radicchio with the cheese mixture and place the cores on as caps. Arrange the radicchio in a pie plate, add about 1/4 cup water to the bottom of the plate, cover with aluminum foil and bake until tender, for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven.

To serve, spread the vinaigrette on bottom of dinner plates and top with the baked radicchio. Serve immediately.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Strawberry Chocolate Éclair Cake

Another version of the chocolate éclair cake. I added strawberries on top for the perfect finishing touch. This dessert was so requested by our family and friends that I ended up enhancing the cake's presentation!

Cream puffs and éclairs always catch my attention at every bakery, imagine then a whole cake made with this pastry. I found this recipe on Kerri's blog, and decided to give it a shot. 
A family favorite recipe.

Crust (Cream puff/éclair): 
1 cup of water
½ cup butter or margarine
½ tsp. salt
1 cup plain flour
4 eggs

1) Put water and butter in a medium saucepan, bring water to boil; simmer until butter melts. Remove from heat.

2) Mix salt and flour; add all at once to water; butter mixture. Stir until dough forms a ball. Add one egg at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition.

3) Spread in a greased jelly roll pan (15x10x1 inches) (38x25x2.5 cm) I think a 13x9 (33x23) pan would work if you don’t have the bigger one.

4) Bake at 400ºF/205ºC for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and press flat (wait a minute or two so you don’t burn yourself). Cool.

5) Spread filling and topping over crust. Serve cold.

Pastry cream filling:  
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 can milk (use the can to measure milk)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sweetened condensed milk, milk and cornstarch and then bring to a boil, stirring frequently. The mixture will thicken. Add the vanilla. Transfer to a shallow bowl and press plastic wrap directly to prevent a skin from forming. Use as a filling for cakes, éclairs etc.

(Sometimes I use a creamy Brigadeiro recipe (Brazilian chocolate truffles) instead of the pastry cream as filling.)

1 8oz tub of Cool Whip  Spread on top of pudding mixture.
Garnish with fresh strawberries.

Or you can use this filling instead of the Pastry cream:
2 packages of instant vanilla pudding
2 ½ cups of milk
8oz (227 g) package of cream cheese, softened

With electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and add just a little milk at first (if you add too much at once you’ll end up with lumps of cream cheese). Keep adding milk gradually while beating. Then add the 2 puddings and beat until thick. Spread over crust. Serve cold.