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.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Spinach Salad with Spicy Honey Dressing

This salad is to celebrate warmer days and the bounty of the season in the Southern hemisphere. Also, it is my entry for the Leftover Queen Forum that listed mushrooms, herbs and cheese for this month's foodie joust. I wanted something cool and refreshing, but a little spicy, and this dressing is exactly what I had in mind: sweet and spicy.

Spinach salad
4 cups torn fresh spinach
1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 cup moyashi (bean sprouts), rinsed and drained if using canned
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or tofu cubed)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Spicy honey dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey (microwave for 20 seconds)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon chili sauce or pepper sauce
1 tablespoon shoyu (or worcestershire sauce)
1/4 teaspoon salt

1) In a large salad bowl, combine the spinach, mushrooms, almonds, tomatoes, celery, moyashi, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.

2) In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the dressing ingredients; shake well. Drizzle desired amount over salad and toss to coat or serve dressing on the side. Serve immediately. Refrigerate any leftover dressing.

Recipe adapted from a leaflet found inside magazine Taste of home, dated 2003.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Blondie Brownies

The last day of October seems to be the busiest evening of the year where we live. There are many kids running around on their costumes, the doorbell rings every minute and at the end of the evening lots of candy wrappers are all over the house. I believe English Language schools started this tradition here in Brazil and kids love it. I always have something handy for the kids. This year I decided to try first with my kids this blondie brownie recipe. It did not turn out as blonde as I expected, maybe because I used dark brown sugar instead of light brown or demerara sugar. We used whipped cream to make the ghosts and allspice to make the eyes because I ran out of mini-chocolate chips.

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 dash salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg beaten (use 2 if they are small)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup white or dark chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to
350°F/180°C. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add chopped nuts. Set aside.

2) Melt butter, add brown sugar and
mix. Add egg and vanilla and blend well with a whisk or a hand mixer, 3-4 minutes or until mixture whitens. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, mixing well. Stir in chocolate chips.

3) Spread into a 9 x 9 inch (20 x 20 cm) greased pan. Bake at
350°F/180°C, 20-25 minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out clean.

As far as I know, here in Brazil, blondie brownie can be found at Applebee's in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

I am dedicating this recipe to two dear friends: Mona, because I am so sure she would be giving lots of treats to my kids if we lived closer and to Karla, who has been such a good friend since I was a senior in high school, something like 20 years ago?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Baked Macaroni and Cheese - World Pasta Day

Are you a pasta fan? October 25th is World Pasta Day, a day to celebrate the most globalized and beloved food in the world. Well, to be honest, my kids could have pasta every day, and we actually have it once or twice a week. I fixed this Baked mac & cheese on a Sunday as it is an easy one-dish meal and it takes you out of the kitchen fast, allowing you more quality time with the kids and family on such a lazy day.

The UNFPA is the organization responsible for the activities to promote Pasta in the world, you can learn more here.

If you would like to participate, Verena is hosting this year's event. To join the fun, fix a Pasta dish, take a picture and post it in your blog on Thursday, October 25th, 2007. Link back to her announcement in your post, and eventually to the roundup.

Send an email to worldpastaday(at)gmail(dot)com including:

- Your name
- Blog name and your blogs URL
- Recipe name and the posts URL
- Y
our location and country

Submissions can only be accepted until Thursday, October 25th, 2007.

Ingredients for the Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound elbow pasta, cooked and drained (I used mini penne)
4 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
4 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, (optional)
1 1/4 cups shredded (5 ounces) yellow cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cups shredded (5 ounces) white cheddar cheese (I used mozzarella)
8 ounces (250 g) ham, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces (250 g) bacon, diced and cooked to a light brown
2 slices white sandwich bread or 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1) Preheat oven to 375 °F (180 °C) degrees. Cook pasta, and drain; reserve. Meanwhile, in a 5-quart (4.5 liters) heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in flour to coat onion. In a slow steady stream, whisk in milk until there are no lumps.

2) Cook, whisking often, until mixture is thick and bubbly and coats the back of a wooden spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in cayenne, if using, and 1 cup each yellow and white cheddar cheese. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

3) Toss pasta with cheese mixture; fold in ham. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or individual dishes. Set aside.

3) In a food processor, pulse bread until large crumbs form. Toss together with remaining 1/4 cup each white and yellow cheddar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Top pasta with breadcrumb mixture. Bake until top is golden, about 30 minutes.

Note: You can make mini mac & cheese. This recipe makes enough to fill eight 12-to-16-ounce baking dishes or ramekins. Divide the macaroni and cheese evenly, sprinkle with topping, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden.

Recipe from the book: Everyday Food: Great food fast - Martha Stewart

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Peach Cobbler - October AFAM (A Fruit a Month)

It all started with a magnet I bought long time ago in Atlanta, Georgia, the "Peach State." I had never tried peach cobbler before and decided to give it a shot. And one thing intrigued me, the difference between Cobblers, Crumbles and Crisps. The best explanation I found, of course, with Martha Stewart. I changed the recipe on the magnet a little, because I used canned peaches.

Mansi is hosting an event called A Fruit a Month. This month's fruit is Peach. To participate all you have to do is post a recipe on your blog, include a brief intro about the fruit choice and the concept of your dish. For more instructions, please visit her blog.

The roundup will be announced between 5th-7th November. So make sure you send in your entries before Nov 1st.

Peach Cobbler
1/2 cup margarine
3/4 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 tbs baking powder
3/4 sugar
1 large can peach halves, drained (or 4 cups fresh peeled peaches sweetened to taste)

1) Melt margarine in 8 x 12 inch (20 x 30 cm) dish. Mix flour, baking powder, milk, and sugar. Add to melted margarine.

2) Add peaches, but do not stir. Bake at 375 °F (180 °C) for about 40 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream.

- You can use self-raising flour, in this case, do not add the baking powder.
- Use any juicy fruit: peaches, apples, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

No-Knead Bread - World Bread Day

The No-knead bread caused such a stir when Mark Bittman, aka the Minimalist, shared this recipe on the New York Times. As soon as I started reading reviews and blogs with this recipe, I ran to the kitchen to make my own loaf and I lost count of how many times I have baked this magnificent bread! The secret to making this recipe work? Time and patience! The amount of yeast is minimal, and only four ingredients (flour, salt, yeast and water) make a delicious loaf, with an italian shape and flavor, somehow rustic, with crispy crust and yet chewy. The magic recipe has name and address widely known, and it belongs to a bakery in New York city, the Sullivan Street Bakery.

My recipe goes to the World Bread Day, an event created by UIB International Union of Bakers and Bakers-Confectioners to provide an opportunity to talk about bread and bakers, to find out about their history, their importance as well as their future.
World Bread Day '07
How to participate:

  • Bake or buy a bread, take pictures (if possible) and blog about it on Tuesday, 16th October 2007.
  • Please link back to this announcement in your post, and eventually to the roundup.
  • Send an email to worldbreadday(at)gmail(dot)com including
  • - your name
    - your blog's name and your blog's URL
    - the recipe name and the post's URL
    - your location (region and country)
  • Submissions can only be accepted until Wednesday, October 17.
To make things easier, before start making the bread, watch the Minimalist video here: New York Times (free registration may be required).

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, no need to sift, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups water

Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70°F/21°C.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Update: The World Bread Day '07 round up is online! Please take some time to visit 183 posts from all over the world!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fun sandwiches

Fun sandwiches... because you actually have so much fun making them! And they make that waffle maker or cookie cutters buried in the kitchen cabinet worth the money you invested. These sandwiches add special touch to any breakfast or brunch.

Waffle maker sandwiches:
From the kitchen of East Meets West
Many kid-friendly recipes there, this recipe was a hit both with kids and adults.


White bread slices
Thinly sliced deli turkey
Deli Swiss/cheddar cheese slices
Leaves of lettuce or arugula

1) Preheat your waffle maker. No need to grease.

2) Add the filling between two slices of bread, make sure the cheese is not showing. Cook sandwiches in batches (depending on the size of your waffle maker) until bread is golden and crispy. When ready, trim and slice to your desired shape and serve.

Man in the boat
From the kitchen of Kelli

These are so easy to make... Here we use french bread and cook the egg separetely, but I loved this version that Kelli shared and so did my kids.

Slices of bread
Salt and pepper

1) Cut a square or rectangle out of a piece of bread (I used a cookie cutter)
2) Melt some butter in skillet over medium heat and add the bread.
3) Crack an egg into center of bread.
4) Cook until bottom bread is toasted and then flip. When the egg is done, remove onto a plate.
5) Butter both sides of bread square and toast in same skillet.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Pear Pudding with Lavender Syrup

The Leftover Queen has this month's foodie joust challenge with white chocolate, lavender and pears. I knew what to do with the three ingredients, but I was not sure where I would add the lavender, to custard or syrup. So, I decided to cook the pear with a few leaves of lavender, and here is my entry: a simple homemade dessert that you can make using either canned or fresh peaches.

I offered this dessert to two friends, one is a foodie and the other one is not. Both of their faces brightened as I passed the dishes with scoops of this Pear Pudding with a slight lavender flavor and white chocolate drizzled on top.

For the syrup:
6 fresh pears (or 2 15-ounce (450 g) cans pear halves in light syrup)
1 teaspoon lavender leaves (about 5 leaves)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon lime juice

For the custard:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plain low-fat or fat-free yogurt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 oz/100 g white chocolate melted (1 minute in microwave) to drizzle on top

- Grease a 9 1/2x1-1/2- or 10x1-1/2-inch quiche dish (use a one piece-bottom pan, removable bottom may leak)
- Preheat oven to 375°F/200°C

If using fresh pears:

1) Start with the syrup. Bring the water to boil, then stir in the sugar, lime juice and add the lavender leaves. Cook for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile...

2) Remove peel, core and cut pears into halves. Add pears immediately to lavender syrup, cook 2 minutes.

3) With a spoon, remove pears from syrup, arrange pear halves, flat sides down, in bottom of the prepared dish.

4) Score the round side of each pear half by making shallow crosswise cuts across the top.

5) In a blender container or food processor bowl combine flour and granulated sugar. Cover and blend or process until combined. Add yogurt, eggs, vanilla, and 3/4 cup of reserved pear syrup. Cover and blend or process until smooth.

6) Pour the batter over pears. Sprinkle with brown sugar.

7) Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or just until center is set when gently shaken. Cool on a wire rack about 30 minutes. Drizzle melted white chocolate on top with a spoon. Serve warm.

If using pears in light syrup:
Drain pear halves, reserving 3/4 cup of the syrup. Arrange pears, flat sides down, in bottom of a greased pan. Boil 3/4 cup syrup for 5 minutes with the lavender leaves. Continue from step 4.

Recipe inspired by BHG.