Salmon ceviche

Posted: August 9, 2014 in Appetizer, Miscellaneous, Seafood

Having recently returned from vacations in Brazil, I remember one great dish which I had there from neighboring Peru: ceviche. It’s basically raw fish, marinated in some citrus juice and seasoned with vegetables. It was a great summer dish, so to enjoy the unusually hot Seattle summer, I tried it out with our local salmon.

WP_20140809_001

I got the salmon from my local Costco (good quality for large quantities), and used other ingredients I had at home, from a few recipes I found online. I didn’t have any chili pepper, so ground black pepper had to do. And I had some friends who don’t like cilantro, so parsley it was. For my first attempt, I think it came out good, but came out with the impression that I could add more ingredients for good variations (chopped sweet chili peppers, mango, cilantro per se, among others). Definitely something I’ll try again some other time.

Ingredients (appetizer or a light main entrée, for 6 people)

  • 1.5 lbs. salmon (I used wild sockeye, my favorite), with bones and skin removed, chopped in 1/2” pieces
  • juice of 2 limes
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 1/2 medium onion (I used sweet onions, turned out great), very finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • salt & pepper

Mix the chopped salmon, lime / orange juices, the onion, the cumin and salt & pepper in a bowl. Cover with a plastic film and refrigerate for at least 1.5 hours.

About 15 minutes before serving, remove the fish from the refrigerator, strain it to discard the liquid and mix wit the parsley. Let it get closer to the room temperature for 15 minutes then serve either by itself or with thinly-sliced and toasted hard bread (such as Italian or French).

Enjoy!

Ever since moving to the US, I started trying (and liking) the many Indian restaurants which exist around here. One of my favorite dishes is the Chicken tikka masala, a dish made with chicken chunks in a creamy sauce. But I always thought that it would be hard to make, so when I found one recipe for that dish which was supposed to be easy (“Quick Chicken Tikka Masala”) I decided to give it a try. And… it definitely wasn’t the same thing as I had tried – it tasted good, but I don’t think I can call that by the original name.

DSC_0093

The chicken was not cubed, but that wasn’t the main issue (I could easily have done that myself). The sauce, instead of the rich, creamy sauce I was used to, was a chunky, lighter version. Maybe using cream instead of yogurt, and possibly not blending the sauce caused that, so some later time I’ll have to try a different recipe to see if it will work out better. At the end it was tasty, as I mentioned before, and indeed quite quick, but it didn’t meet the expectations that I had for that dish.

Ingredients (for 4 people):

  • 1 lb. chicken tenders
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 tsp. garam masala (a blend of spices used in many Indian dishes; I found it in my local supermarket)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup parsley for decoration

Stir the garam masala, salt and turmeric. Sprinkle the chicken with 1/2 of the mixture and reserve the rest. Dredge the chicken on the flour, then cook it on a large skillet with 2 tbsp. of the oil over medium heat, about 2 minutes per side until brown, then reserve.

Heat the remaining oil on the pan, then add the onions, garlic and ginger, cooking until they start to brown, stirring frequently. Add the remaining spice mix and stir. Add the tomatoes, and bring it to a simmer, stirring and breaking the tomatoes. Cook for another 5 minutes, until it thickens.

Stir in the cream and the chicken. Cook over medium heat until the chicken is cooked through.

Garnish with the parsley, then serve with white rice.

Enjoy!

Baião de dois

Posted: October 7, 2012 in Beef, Brazilian, Main course
Tags:

A while back I started a quest for a decent substitute for “queijo de coalho” , one of my favorite types of cheese from my hometown in Brazil. The options had varying qualities, but it never really hit the spot with the perfect substitute. Earlier this year, however, while going to my local farmer’s market, I found one type cheese from a local producer, Ladysmith (from Samish Bay Cheese) which had all the qualities I was looking for: appearance, taste, crust when fried. I’d say that it’s about 90% of the original, which was amazing. Every Saturday when we went to the market I had to buy some of that cheese.

But our local farmer’s market is only opened from May to October, so with the year getting close to the end, my weekly cheese fix was coming to an end. So last week I decided to get a larger-than-normal piece of cheese, and to start enjoying it more – not only by itself, but within Brazilian recipes as well. And this one is from my home state of Pernambuco, called “Baião de dois”, which combines rice, beans, cheese and some other ingredients.

DSC_0539

There’s no good translation for “Baião de dois” – “baião” is a kind of music from Northeast Brazil, so it could be roughly interpreted as a pairing of two ingredients (in this case, rice and beans) to make something so great that it’s almost musical. Dried beef, bacon, coconut milk and some vegetables complete this dish.

Another thing which I like about it is that it’s one of the everything-in-one-pan meals, like lasagna, which don’t require any side dishes – it already has everything in it. I got its recipe from the great cookbook collection “Cozinha Regional Brasileira”, in the book about Pernambuco, but I changed it a little: used less coconut milk, butter and oil than it suggested; added some regular beef in addition to the dried beef (I can’t find it around here with very good quality); used black-eyed peas for the beans (they’re actually considered “beans” in Brazil, not peas); and some other minor changes.

Ingredients (for 8 people):

  • 10 oz. thick-sliced bacon, cut in 1/2” pieces
  • 6 oz. dried beef (found a piece in a local Brazilian store)
    • This type of beef is really, really salty, so you need to de-salt it first: cut it in 1/4”-thick slices, then add to water in a pan and bring to a boil; change the water and bring it to a boil again, then discard the water
  • 1lb. beef strips (it can be found in supermarkets marked as “for stir fry”), seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 cups of cooked black-eyed peas (that comes out a little less than 1lb uncooked)
  • 2.5 cups cooked rice
  • 8 oz. coconut milk (the recipe asked for 1 liter, I think it was too much)
  • 1/4 lb. fresh Ladysmith cheese (if you can’t find it, you can substitute it with “queso fresco”, although it won’t have the same tanginess of the original), finely crumbled
  • salt & pepper
  • chopped green onions, for decoration

Add the bacon to the pan, frying it until most of the fat has rendered, then reserve. Remove about 1/2 of the rendered fat and reserve. In the remaining fat in the pan, fry the beef strips until the desired doneness, then reserve. on the Cut the dried beef in thin slices, and fry it (in the same pan) for about 5-10 minutes (the beef that I found was really hard, so I sliced it really, really thin), then reserve.

Return the reserved fat to the pan, add the chopped onion and the garlic, season them with salt and pepper, and cook until the onion is soft. Add back the bacon and dried beef, the beans, mixing it well, then the rice and the coconut milk. Add back the beef and mix well. Finally, add the cheese and cover the pan, leaving it on slow heat for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts.

Sprinkle chopped green onions and serve hot.

Enjoy!

P.S.: At the end, I talked to the farmer at the market, and he mentioned some other farmer’s markets where I could find them year-round, so my cheese fix is safe after this month :-)

I recently returned from a trip to Brazil, and one typical dish in some restaurants is a fish filet served with a creamy sauce made with passion fruit. I always loved it, but finding that fruit here around Seattle isn’t as easy, so I decided to make a similar version, with limes instead of the more tropical fruit

DSC_0675

The sauce itself turned out great (some of the other parts were under-salted, something to be fixed in a future attempt at this recipe), and was fairly quick to be prepared. I used tilapia loins which I can get at my local Costco, but other kinds of fish filet would work as well.

Ingredients (4 people)

  • Fish
    • 4 tilapia loins (about 1/4 lbs. each), thawed if previously frozen
    • juice of 1 lime
    • salt & pepper
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Sauce
    • 2 tbsp. butter
    • 2 tbsp. flour
    • zest + juice of 1 large lime (or 2, if it’s small or not too juicy)
    • 1/3 cup whipping cream
    • 1/3 cup milk
    • 1 tbsp. sugar
    • a little salt & pepper

Prepare the fish: dress it with the lime juice, season it with salt and pepper and reserve for at least 30 minutes. Heat the olive oil in a large pan, then add the fish, cooking for about 3-5 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of the loins). Transfer to a serving dish and cover with aluminum foil to preserve the heat.

Prepare the sauce: melt the butter and mix in the flour, salt and pepper. Add the lime zest and juice, and mix to dissolve. Add the whipping cream and the milk, mixing well. Add the sugar at the end, and mix to combine. Pour it on top of the fish.

Serve with white rice and vegetables, and enjoy!

We just left the month with many festivals in Brazil – the June Festivals (“festas juninas”) – the high point of which is the feast for St. John (June 24th). It’s a huge tradition the Northeastern region, with parties, dances, fireworks and other cultural displays. Since it is also the high point of the corn harvest in that region, corn dishes such as canjica, munguzá, pamonha among others are a common sight in the festivities of the month.

I’ve always found making those dishes quite hard (unless you can find one of the pre-cooked version in the supermarket, which are ok but not nearly as good as the originals). Often when I go to Brazil on vacations I bring some canjica and munguzá packets for a quick breakfast treat (which the kids love), but the pamonha has always eluded me. It’s hard to make, and it requires corn husks which we can’t find easily around here. But last week I found one recipe in a blog from another expat from my region living in the US (From Brazil to You) for a kind of pamonha which is baked, and I decided to give it a try.

DSC_0483

One thing I liked about her recipe is that it was really quick to prepare – blend a few ingredients, mix some others, put in the oven. The kids even liked helping me with mixing the ingredients (and cracking the eggs, a challenge on its own :-), which made it more fun.

The end result – it turned out really good, although it really didn’t taste like the pamonha I remember having. The fact that I forgot to add one ingredient (sugar) probably didn’t help my case either ;-), but even though I don’t know whether to call it a proper “pamonha”, I’ll definitely be making it again in the future!

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz. (about 2/3 of a can) of sweet corn
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3.5 fl. oz. coconut milk
  • 1 oz. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 14oz. can condensed milk
  • 5 oz. heavy cream
  • 3.5 oz. dehydrated shredded coconut (I had actually tried making it with the non-dehydrated, sweetened flakes a week before, but it didn’t turn out as good)
  • [the original recipe asked for 1/4 cup sugar, but I forgot it, and actually liked the way it came out, so your call whether to use it or not]
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • pinch of salt
  • confectioner’s sugar for decoration

On a large blender, blend the corn, eggs, coconut milk and parmesan cheese until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and add the remaining ingredients (except the confectioner’s sugar), stirring to combine well.

Grease a bread loaf pan with butter, then sprinkle some flour to help unmold the cake. Transfer the mix to the pan, and bake it in an oven pre-heated to 350ºF for about 60 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife comes out clean when inserted in the middle.

After it cools, unmold it and serve warm, sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar.

Enjoy!

“Bobó de camarão”  is a typical dish from the Northeastern state of Bahia, but growing up in the neighboring state of Pernambuco I had that many times, so the influence of that dish has spread around. It’s a shrimp cooked in a sauce based on cassava (yucca root) and oil (usually palm oil – “dendê” – but olive oil is also used when that’s not available). It has never been known for being easy to make, but last time my mother-in-law visited us she prepared one she found and said (her words) that it was really easy. When she returned to Brazil I asked her to send me the recipe, and that’s what we came up with at home. The recipe isn’t exactly the same, since here had amounts listed in technical terms such as “a good amount of”, “a finger of”, “some”, and so on. :-)

DSC_0272

Easy to prepare? Not quite, but definitely not as hard as I thought it would be. And the fact that I found the cassava already peeled and frozen in an Oriental market made my life easier still. It came out really good (although I had to use some tomato paste to get it the same color as the one my MIL had prepared, which wasn’t in her recipe).

Ingredients (for 6 people):

  • 3 lb. large shrimp, cooked, thawed
  • juice of 3 limes (lemons work as well)
  • 1 lb. peeled cassava, thawed if previously frozen, cut in small cubes
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 5 tbsp. tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste (for color)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Season the shrimp with the lime juice, salt and pepper, and reserve.

Add to a blender the onion, chopped tomatoes, bell pepper and cilantro, with enough water to help the blender go through all the vegetables and turn them into a paste (about 1/4 cup water is enough, depending on the strength of the blender). Add 3 tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper, then reserve.

In the same blender (no need to wash), add the cassava and the milk and blend it until the cassava doesn’t have any more lumps (more milk may be necessary) – I had to use the pulse option to get this done, even though the cassava wasn’t too hard. Transfer it to a large pan, and cook it for about 10 minutes over low heat, stirring often. Add the reserved vegetables and the tomato sauce and cook for another 20 minutes, still stirring. What I had at that point was more of a greenish color, so I added about 2 tbsp. of tomato paste to get it to the expected color. At this point you can take the pan off the heat.

When close to the serving time, bring the pan back to medium heat, add the coconut milk and cook for 10 minutes, stirring well. Add the shrimp, cook for another 10 minutes. Serve over white rice.

DSC_0274

Enjoy!

We live in the Pacific Northwest, where hippies are not something out of the ordinary. In our house we already separate the trash in 3 buckets – “regular”, recyclable and compostable. I drive a fairly small car, not one of the gas guzzlers which are typically associated with people living in the US. I have a (very) small vegetable garden in my backyard. And in my quest to get my hippie card, I decided to follow a friend at work and make homemade granola.

DSC_0907

There’s no standard recipe for granola (even store-bought ones have different ingredients), and I’ve already played with the ingredients a few times to get to what we prefer in our house. Most supermarkets around here have a great section for foods in bulk (cereals, grains, nuts, etc.), so I was able to experiment with some different recipes over time. The basic idea is simple: a cereal (usually rolled oats) for the base; some nut for flavor and crunchiness (I usually go for walnuts, but I’ve already used slivered almonds and pecans); seeds for texture and healthy properties (pumpkin seeds are my favorites); some syrup to bind everything together (I like maple syrup best, but honey or even corn syrup should work as well); and more “healthy” ingredients which don’t compromise the taste (oat bran, flax seeds, etc.). A few times I also added raisins (or craisins – cranberry raisins), but I usually skip those.

One thing which I’m often impressed is that even though I use quite a lot of maple syrup, it still tastes a lot less sweet than the packaged cereals – no wonder so many people condemn those as one of the culprits of the obesity epidemic. I wouldn’t go as far, but it’s nice to have something healthy which you know all the ingredients which went into it. This recipe is one which I prepared last month.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds, raw
  • 1 cup walnut pieces, crushed to small pieces
  • 2/3 cups oat bran
  • 1/3 cups flax seeds
  • 1 1/3 cup maple syrup

Mix all the ingredients well then spread them in a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet (it will likely require to be split in two sheets). Bake in a 350ºF oven for 12 minutes, then remove and stir. Return to the oven and bake for 15 more minutes, until the oats start to brown. When it starts smelling of roasted oats it’s about time to remove it from the oven (the time may vary depending on the oven and the amount of granola).

DSC_0038

It can be served in different ways. I like to eat it either as a “regular” cereal with milk and some berries, or mixed up with plain or vanilla yogurt.

DSC_0042

Enjoy!