Friday, February 29, 2008

Baked T-bone Steak with Pineapple Sauce - Royal Foodie Joust

A simple dish that gets a unique flavor with spices from different countries that blended so well together along with the pineapple sauce that is an incredible complement.

I use mirin, the Japanese cooking wine, to enhance the flavor of all kinds of meat and also tabil, a Tunisian spice mix to add some zest to the food.

I became a huge fan of Tunisian spices when a friend of mine who lives in Montreal and is married to a French-Tunisian, gave me some last year when we met for the first time here in Brazil.

A beautiful friendship that started with a comment on my blog. To make a long story short, we found out that our grandparents and also my father and her father were long-time friends, even though we had never met! Things that only internet can explain...

This month's joust at the Leftover Queen forum was an easy one for me with pork, citrus and pink or white peppercorns. The hard part was to choose the pictures for the post, as I ended up taking 149 photos of the same dish!

Baked T-Bone Steaks
6 T-Bone steaks
1 tablespoon salt (or to taste)
1/3 cup mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon tabil (Tunisian spice mix)
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped scallion
Juice of 1 lime

2 potatoes, cut into wedges
5 shallots, cut in half
Dried rosemary leaves
Pink peppercorns

1) Mix salt, mirin, evoo, tabil, garlic, scallion, oregano and lime together. Pour over steaks. Marinate overnight or at least one hour in refrigerator, turning occasionally.

2) Transfer the steaks and the marinade to a large baking dish. Add potatoes and shallots. Season the potatoes with rosemary leaves and pink peppercorns. Bake, uncovered at 400ºF/200ºC for 45 minutes/1hour or until cooked to your taste. Usually, when the potatoes are done too. Serve with rice and pineaple sauce.

Pineapple sauce - from the kitchen of my sister-in-law's mother
1 fresh pineapple, cored, cut into chunks
3/4 cup sugar
1 malagueta pepper, finely diced.

1) Put the pineapple and the sugar into a blender and puree until smooth.

2) Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often, until most of the liquid has evaporated and sauce is thick. Let cool and then add the malagueta pepper.

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.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fresh eggs from the farm

We visit my husband's family farm once a month but I would love to live closer to enjoy all the good things there. A good reason to have chickens is to be able to collect fresh eggs and have a regular supply of delicious eggs to try new recipes.

Chickens there have room to roam free and eat outside. The kids love to throw kale from the garden fence and watch the chickens running torwards their natural food!

Much different from this other farm... Birds that live short lives, 40 to 45 days, under confined conditions, without ever seeing natural daylight. There is a campaign called Chicken out in Europe and you can read more about it here too.

And that reminds me of the British movie "Chicken Run," released a few years ago, about the miserable lives of a clan of chickens at a farm in 1950's England that plan to escape their prisonlike coop. Did you notice that they have teeth?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Romeo and Juliet - a sweet pizza for my Valentine

It's Valentine's Day in many countries, but here... What are you making for your sweetie, neighbor or friend?

Here's a sweet pizza I made, with guava paste and cheese, a common combination found in many latin countries and known here as "Romeo and Juliet." The name might have come from the famous play by Shakespeare, but the idea is that "cheese and guava paste" make an irresistible and perfect combination.

Also, Portuguese has two genders for nouns, so Cheese is masculine and Guava is feminine. A language peculiarity that makes Portuguese a beautifil language but very confusing for English speakers who have a hard time trying to figure out the gender of things.

My contribution to "A heart for your Valentine" event. If you would like to participate, please find the instructions here.

To make the Romeo and Juliet pizza:
1 recipe for personal pizza
1 can guava paste cut into cubes
cream cheese, white cheese or mozzarela

Cover the pre-baked pizza with the cheese and the guava paste and bake in preheated oven until cheese and guava paste melt.

Guava and guava paste

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Do you say Mardi Gras or Carnival?

This has nothing to do with food, but it's Carnival in Brazil and I will be out for a few days.

Can you tell it is a mannequin? It looked so real to me. By the way, I say Carnival. Have fun!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Game night with Arugula and Sun-dried Tomato Pizza!

For football fans or not... There is nothing like homemade pizza to please everyone! Set up a table for personal pizzas with pre-baked pizza crust, different toppings, olive oil, herbs and a no-cook tomato sauce. The do-it-yourself pizzas will sure please everyone and the cook can score a touchdown too, fixing the pizza crusts in advance!

My contribution to the Game Night event that Mansi at Fun and Food is promoting.

Pizza dough
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (about 105 °F/40°C)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil

1) In a mixing bowl or food processor: dissolve yeast in water and add sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes, then add the flour, salt, and oil and beat or process until smooth.

2) Knead: on a floured flat surface for about 5 minutes, until smooth.
(This step can be skipped if using a food processor).

3) Cover and let rise: in a warm place until doubled. It should be ready in 30 to 60 minutes. (Make the pizza sauce below while the dough is rising.)

4) Roll out: break the dough in half, or in the amount of personal pizzas you want to make. Roll out using a rolling pin to flatten it out to about 1/4" (0.5 cm) thick. Run the pin over the dough once or twice, flip over and roll it again to make it even (use a plate to cut out a round shape). Transfer dough to a lightly greased cookie sheet, prick several times with a fork.

5) Pre-bake: at 425 °F/220°C for 6-8 minutes.

6) Add toppings: Cover with your favorite sauce and toppings and bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

My toppings suggestion: fresh tomato sauce, mozzarela or goat's cheese, oregano - cook a few minutes in the oven. Remove from oven, place arugula and sun-dried tomatoes on top - these last two ingredients do not need to be cooked; sprinkle coarse salt and pepper over the pizza. Enjoy!

For skillet pizza:
Instead of baking, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat, cook each round 2 minutes per side or until lightly browned. Add toppings, cover with a lid and cook for another 2 to 4 minutes.

No-cook fresh tomato sauce
3 ripe tomatoes, cut in half
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil (evoo)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
oregano, fresh basil leaves, black pepper and garlic powder to taste

1) Grate tomatoes: use a coarse vegetable grater over a bowl, grating as close to the skin as possible (flesh down, do not grate skin, discard it).

2) Mix together grated tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt, sugar, pepper and garlic powder.

This recipe makes a great fresh tomato sauce for any pasta.