quinta-feira, 30 de setembro de 2010

Radicchio Salad

Still on salads phase...

I love radicchio. The color, flavor, crunch, everything. I remember  as a child we were used to go to Curitiba every year, to visit my mother's family.We used to take one day for lunch in the Santa Felicidade. Homemade pasta, grape juice and radicchio salad. Sacrapantina pie for dessert. Runnig with the cousins in the garden of the restaurant while waiting for food. Great time.

It has beem a long time since I last went to Santa Felicidade. Well, there is four years that I do not even go to Curitiba! But there's much more time we do not go to Santa Felicidade. The last time I went, I noticed everything had changed a lot. It turned into a kinda tourist trap. Dozens of tour buses at the door of huge restaurants, too many people. Maybe it was just a childhood memory, but the pasta had no longer the same homemade taste . And even the radicchio  was gone from the salad! A pity ...

Anyway, enough of the "moment of nostalgia" (I'm getting old! Haha). The salad I present here is NOT the same as the one served in restaurants in Santa Felicidade. It's not even like. Just have radicchio as one of its ingredients. That was enough to trigger a memory. But I think I'll do some research, and some time I will try to recreate the old one. For now, we are left with this one:

Radicchio Salad

1 radicchio, cut into thin strips
1 lettuce
1 mango, diced
8 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup chopped walnuts
4 tsp lime juice
1 cup mayo
Salt to taste
Line a bowl with the radicchio and lettuce. Mix the mango, celery and walnuts and arrange in center of bowl. Season with lime juice, beaten lightly with mayo and salt. This sauce can be served separately.

Também em http://www.labgastro.blogspot.com/

quarta-feira, 29 de setembro de 2010

Radish, Apple and Almond Salad

I'm in the mood for salads. I've seen some interesting combinations, so beautiful dishes, in my old magazines that I get inspired. As summer is coming around, I decided to do some tests and prepare myself for the season.

This salad is very simple. The charm of it is up to the decoration of the dish.

Radish, Apple and Almond Salad
4 medium carrots, grated
200g almonds
2/3 cup sour grapes - Use seedless grapes or raisins, or if you prefer
8 large radishes, sliced very thin - I used a mandolin
4 chopped green apples

1/2 cup vinegar
4 tsp. lime juice
4 tsp. mustard
4 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt

In a bowl, combine carrots, almonds and grapes. Arrange the salad around the radish and put the apple in the center.
Sauce: In a bowl, beat with a whisk all ingredients and serve separately.

Também em http://www.labgastro.blogspot.com/

segunda-feira, 27 de setembro de 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge - September 2010 - Cookies

Blog-checking lines: The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

Recipe Source

Basic Sugar Cookie recipe adapted from Peggy Porschen:

Also found in her book: “Romantic Cakes” http://www.peggyporschen.com/book-detail.asp?ID=2

Royal Icing recipe adapted from The Joy of Baking:

We had to make the Basic Sugar Cookie recipe provided (unless specific diet restrictions apply). We had to decorate our cookies with the theme of September, whatever that means to us.

Variations Allowed
While we had to use Peggy Porschen’s sugar cookies recipe, we were allowed to add our own flavourings to the dough, so if we’d like to add a pinch of cinnamon & nutmeg, substitute some of the flour for cocoa, or maybe add orange zest, it was ok.
We didn’t have to make our own royal icing from scratch, we might use a store bought mix.
We might make any shape cookie we liked so long as it has the theme of September, this means we could do round or square cookies and pipe pictures/words on them or use specifically shaped cookie cutters (butterflies, flowers, hearts etc)
We might also use coloured sugars, luster dust, edible glitter or flakes, dragees and coloured sprinkles to decorate our cookies.

Well, it was too easy to find out what September means to me.
First of all,

Spring, of course!

September, here in Brasil is a month when lots and lots of weddings take place. So

September also means LOVE.

And last but not least, today is my birthday! and I've recived a lot of

I decide to flavour my cookies by adding a 1/2 teaspoon of dried lavander flowers. It's spring, after all!

Basic Sugar Cookies
200g Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
400g All Purpose flour
200g Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
5ml Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean
Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming creamy in texture.
Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during baking, losing their shape.
Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
• Tip: I don’t have a stand mixer so I find it easier to switch to dough hooks at this stage to avoid flour flying everywhere.
Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces. Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm. Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
• Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.
Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife. Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.
• Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.
Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
• Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in some cookies being baked before others are done.
• Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.
Leave to cool on cooling racks. Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.
• Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated cookies can last up to a month.

Royal Icing
315g – 375g Confectioner’s / Powdered Sugar, unsifted
2 Large Egg Whites
10ml Lemon Juice
5ml Almond Extract, optional
Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined.
• Tip: It’s important that the bowls/spoons/spatulas and beaters you use are thoroughly cleaned and grease free.
Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites.
• Tip: I’ve listed 2 amounts of icing sugar, the lesser amount is good for a flooding consistency, and the larger amount is for outlining, but you can add even more for a much thicker consistency good for writing. If you add too much icing sugar or would like to make a thinner consistency, add very small amounts of water, a few drops at a time, until you reach the consistency you need.
Beat on low until combined and smooth. Use immediately or keep in an airtight container.
• Tip: Royal Icing starts to harden as soon as it’s in contact with air so make sure to cover containers with plastic wrap while not in use.

I am extremely concerned in using food colloring at home. I mean, we are already too exposed to artificial ingredients we eat in industrial food. I don't like the idea of using this kind of thing at homemade food. I tried to use annatto for red hearts but it didn't work as I expected

Of course, I HAD to use my new torch. But I didn't like the result either :(

Anyway, I loved this challenge. I love baking cookies. I enjoyed a lot all the process of decorating them. I had a great time. It was really funny. Thanks Mandy.

It's worth a visit to Daring Kitchen website. You can see all the beautiful work all the fellows did and read some great tips on decorating cookies.

Também em www.labgastro.blogspot.com

segunda-feira, 20 de setembro de 2010

Creme Brûlée and another Alaska

As promised, here are my first recipes using the blow torch.
I made the cream brûlée, so desired by my eldest daughter. Actually I made the cream twice, following different recipes.
The first recipe was found on the Internet, a famous French chef, who lives in Brazil. I believe he has tried to simplify things. He bakes the cream in the oven in a water bath. He also uses milk and cream. But I'll tell you, I didn't like the final result.
So I had to do it all again. I did a search on the Cordon Bleu's book and I ended up doing a recipe from Julia Child (Mastering the Art of French Cooking -  the one from the movie and book Julie and Julia. Yeah, I bought it!) This time, the cream was great.

Creme Brûlée
5 egg yolks
165g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (it is worth investing in the extract, not the essence)
500g heavy cream.
Beat the egg yolks on high speed until they begin to whitening. Add the sugar by spoonfuls and continue beating. The mixture should get thick and be clear, almost white. Meanwhile bring the cream to the heat and let boil. Remove from heat and pour slowly over egg yolks, still beating , but at a lower rate.
Get back the mixture to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, do not even simmer. The cream should go slowly acquiring consistency, covering up the back of wooden spoon. Do a test: when the cream cover the back of the spoon, pass your finger through the spoon. The spoon must be clean, without the cream drips. Remove from heat, pour the cream into little bowls, cover with plastic film and refrigerate for approx. 5 hours.
When chilled, remove the cream from the fridge, cover with a thin layer of sugar and burn with torch. Serve immediately.

Note: some recipes recommend granulated sugar, other confectioners sugar. Julia Child speaks in brown sugar. I tested the first two and caster sugar. My best result was even with the caster sugar.

I also did the Baked Alaska again. This time my Alaska were much more beautiful. I made a plain cake, just added a peanut flour to the dough. The ice cream was chocolate, I bought at the grocery. My meringue was... almost good. Still need some practice.

Também em www.labgastro.blogspot.com

quarta-feira, 15 de setembro de 2010

Got my Cooking Blow Torch

Yeah! Nobody can stop me now. I'll use my torch in just everything!
Finally got my torch. The retailer had promised me to deliver it before the weekend, but did not... It arived AFTER it.
Ok, now  I'm in trouble! As soon as the torch arrived, my oldest daughter has stated:

- The first thing you'll do with this new toy of yours must be a Creme Brûlée!

She is crazy about Creme Brûlée. Since she tasted a wonderful one, in Tiradentes, last year, she does not talk about anything else.

But my youngest daughter, at once replied:

- No! Mama will make other Alaska. This time, as beautiful as those of Renata (Testado, Provado e Aprovado)!

Sorry, Renata, but now she thinks you are a close friend of her. What can I do? Lol
I must thank Renata. She read here that I wanted a cooking torch and, besides being willing to send me one, from Korea, just imagine!, she did a whole search on the internet about where to find the gas here in Brazil. She ended finding where it is sold here and at a great price. Of course I bought it! Thank you so much, Renata.
Well, then, as I said, it created an impasse. The twins were divided, each supporting a sister. My husband, who is not fool, said nothing. He says being the only man in a house of five women had taught him not to get into trouble by little things. He is quite right, isn't he?
So after eternal considerations, it was decided that I would make the two recipes at once. Both are in the fridge, waiting for the  right moment to be burned with the torch. As soon as they're ready, I'll post the photos here.

terça-feira, 14 de setembro de 2010

Daring Cooks' Challenge - September 2010 - Food Preservation

Blog-checking lines: The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Mandatory: he wanted us all daring cooks to try canning or freezing one of the recipes presented in the challenge.

Variations allowed: If we were familiar with home canning and would like to make our favorite up to date recipe, we were free to make this recipe.

John gave us all a great biochemistry class. He explained everything about preserving and canning food at home. He also presented some very interesting recipes of aplle butter and preserved tomatoes. You can check these recipes out at the Daring Kitchen website.
I myself did some research about the subject and found two recipes that really attacted me: Pear butter and an apple and onion chutney. I'm crazy about chutneys and I love pears. So, as variations were allowed, I decided to give a try to them.

Pear Butter
4 pounds medium pears, quartered and cored
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup orange juice
Place pears into a large pot over medium heat, and add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot and keep them from sticking, about 1/2 cup. Cook until the pears are soft, about 30 minutes. Press pears through a sieve or food mill, and measure out 2 quarts of the pulp. Pour the pear pulp and sugar into a large saucepan and stir to dissolve sugar. Stir in the orange zest, nutmeg and orange juice. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is thick enough to mound in a spoon. When the mixture begins to thicken, stir frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom. This will take about 1 hour. Ladle the pear butter into hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles by sliding a metal spatula around where the pear butter touches the glass. Wipe jar rims clean, and seal with lids and rings. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. The water should cover the jars by 1 inch. Check with your local extension for exact processing times for your area.

This recipe was found at allrecipes.com. Nice and easy. I wish you were here to taste this. W.O.N.D.E.R.F.U.L!

Easy Apple and Onion Chutney
1.8kg cooking apples
900g onions
3 - 4 plump garlic cloves
60g fresh root ginger
1 large red chilli
1l distilled malt vinegar
550g muscovado sugar
2Tbspoon ground tumeric
1Tbsppoon salt
Peel, core and chop the apples. chop the onions, garlic and ginger. Deseed the chilli, if liked, and chop. Put the apples, onions, garlic, ginger and chilli in a large preserving pan. Pour in the vinegar and stir in the sugar, tumeric and salt. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer for about 1 hour until thick. Stir often as the mixture reduces, to avoid it catching on the botton of the pan and burning. Spoon into hot sterilized jars, cover with vinegar-proof seals, label and store in a cool, dark place for about 1 month before using.
This one is from the amazing book Jams & Chutneys _ Preserving the Harvest, written by Thane Prince. I love this book. The recipes are clear and the pictures are beautiful. There is also a very comprehensive chapter on preserving techniques.

I tasted the chutney while is was simmering. A bit bitter but good. Now I have to wait a whole month to taste the final result. I promise I'll come back to this and tell you what happened, ok?

Thanks, John. It was an amazing challenge. Sure I do too eat4fun!

domingo, 12 de setembro de 2010

Hot Pasta Salad

Sunday afternoon, a chilly wind from the south, very common this time around and I did not want to make do something usual for diner ...hot chocolate ...soup ...   I wanted to make something light and different and that pleased everyone here at home. Since I'm in the process of researching  recipes, in some old magazines that I have long bought and never read, I found this one. I just loved the picture: colorful, nice and tasty... And it was a success!

Hot Pasta Salad
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
3 Tbspoons margarine
2 tspoons poppy seeds
A pinch of salt
200g cooked spaghetti
1 medium tomato, cut into thin slices
In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except spaghetti and tomato. Cook over high heat until the peppers and onions soften, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining ingredients, mix quickly and heat. Serve immediately.

Nice and easy, guys...

Também em www.labgastro.blogspot.com

domingo, 5 de setembro de 2010

Zucchini Bread

Do you like zucchini? I like it. My husband, too. But my kids hate. Or rather, not exactly hate. Actually, this is something children or ateenagers suddenly decide they don't like, without even tasting it.
Ok. So I always look for a way to "disguise" that something. When I saw this recipe (who follows this blog may have noticed that I've tested recipes from various old magazines, that were stored for a long time) I thought this zucchini bread would be perfect .
I do not know why they named it bread. The recipe, the dough, the way it is mae and the final result is more likely a cake than a bread. Nor would I say it is the eighth wonder of the world, but is tasty. Moreover, the wonders fulfill the role of disguise. Until now my kids believe that green stuff seem in the dough were lime zest!

Zucchini Bread
1 1/4 cups wheat flour
1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Line the bottom of a baking pan of a 20cm x 10cm with baking paper. In a bowl mix all ingredients except chocolate. Beat in a mixer, on low speed, until blended. Switch to medium speed for two minutes. Add the chocolate, mix gently and place on the baking pan. Bake in preheated oven at 180 º C, until  a toothpick comes out clean, about 30 min.
Também em www.labgastro.blogspot.com

sexta-feira, 3 de setembro de 2010

"Snowy" Beets

I love beets. But I never make anything different with them. I mean, they always end up being boiled in salted water, and going into a salad. These days I've found this recipe in a old magazine. I thought it could be very interesting.
Unfortunatelyi didn't pay attention at the time of the photo and almost nothing is left to shoot. As everyone here at home liked the dish, I'll repeat it sometime. Hence I  hope to take some better shots in the next.

Snowy Beetroot
1/3 cup corn starch
1/2 cup milk
3 medium beets, cooked, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cup Ementhal cheese, grated
4 eggs (whites and yolks separated)
1 teaspoon salt
1 pinch black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to medium heat. In a saucepan, combine cornstarch and milk. Bring to high heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Reserve.
Mix the cooked beets, Ementhal cheese, egg yolks and cornstarch cream. Bring the mixture back to the fire and cook, stirring constantly, until cheese melts. Pour into a dish. Reserve.
In mixer, beat the egg whites and pour over the beet cream. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake to golden brown. Serve hot.

Também em www.labgastro.blogspot.com