Archive for February, 2012

When shopping for the Yogurt-Chicken Curry, I bought a pack of sliced white mushrooms that I thought would go well with the sauce. But, as I do quite often, I forgot that ingredient and it remained chilling in the fridge until the next day when I realized my memory lapse… That same week I went to a friend’s house who was cooking some gougères (which were great, by the way), I noticed a recipe for flambéed mushrooms (I don’t know where it came from). Since I like to play with fire (and we still had some cognac left), the next dinner I decided to try it out at home.

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If you have pre-sliced mushrooms, this is really, really fast to prepare (about 10 minutes, or more if you want to gratin it with cheese as I did). It also tasted really good (although since I only had about 1/4 cup of cognac left it didn’t leave as much flavor as I ‘d wish), so I’ll definitely try it again.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. sliced white (button) mushrooms
    • Other kinds probably would work as well, such as chanterelles or shitakes.
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cognac (I’d use 1/2 cup if I had more)
  • grated parmesan or pecorino cheese (I used the latter, although the former would also work out just fine)
  • salt & pepper

On a large pan (non-stick is preferred), heat the oil and the butter until the butter is completely melted and starts foaming. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and sauté them for about 5 minutes, until there’s hardly any liquid left in the pan.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the cognac, lighting it up with a long match. Swirl the pan until the fire is extinguished. Transfer them to an oven-safe dish, then grate some hard cheese on top of it. Add to a pre-heated broil for 3 minutes, then serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Virado à paulista

Posted: February 16, 2012 in Brazilian, Food, Main course, Pork
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After a few months dabbing in international cuisine, I decided to go back to my favorite food collection, “Cozinha Regional Brasileira” (Brazilian Regional Cuisine, http://www.abrilcolecoes.com.br/colecoes/cozinha-regional-brasileira-486777.shtml), to try another one of the typical dishes from around Brazil. This time I chose one which is from the state of São Paulo, called “virado à paulista” (really hard to translate into English, it would be something like “food turned in the Paulista style”, paulista being the adjective from someone from that state). Never having tried the original, I also invited some good friends from that state to assess whether it was close to the “real thing”, so we have their impressions as well.

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First of all, this is not a very complicated or fancy dish. Far from that, the “virado” is a common lunch fare in that state, often served as a cheap lunch in many downtown restaurants for a blue-collar workers, but it has reached a “cultural” status that it’s appreciated by people from all income levels.

There are a few variations of the “virado”, but they all have some meat (pork or beef), white rice, “tutu de feijão” – beans mixed with “farinha” (dried, toasted manioc flour), “couve mineira” (thinly sliced collard greens fried with bacon and garlic), “calabresa” sausage (typical in Brazil) and banana. The banana can be of the regular kind, or one similar to plaintains, also raw or fried (breaded). Sometimes it’s also served with an egg on top. The one I made I used pork chops and a kielbasa in place of the calabresa, used plain bananas and skipped the egg (there was already a lot of food in the plate, the egg would have been too much).

Based on the “natives” opinion, it was quite close to the original, but the beans should have been cooked a little more. Since that was their only remark, I took that as a sign that the dish came out good 🙂

Ingredients (for 4 people):

  • 4 pork chops, bone in (~2lb)
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • salt & pepper
  • 6oz bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1lb kielbasa, cut diagonally in 1/4”-thick strips
  • 3 cups cooked beans, with the liquid
  • 1/2 cup “farinha”
  • 2 bunches of collard greens

Prior to cooking: remove the stems from the collards and cut them into thin strips, then reserve. Season the pork with the lime, salt and pepper, and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

In a large pan, add the sausage slices and cook them both sides until they’re golden, about 3 each side, then reserve. If the sausage didn’t render a lot of fat, add a tbsp. of olive oil. Add the pork chops, then fry them until they’re close to the desired doneness, but not there, then move them to an oven pre-heated to 350ºF (175ºC) to finish in 10-15 minutes. In the same pan, add 4oz of the bacon, cooking them until the fat has been rendered. Add the collard greens (you’ll need a large pan, because it will be a lot, but they’ll shrink considerably) and salt, mixing it often while the beans are being prepared. When the greens are done, if you want to fry the banana, you can use the same pan to do so at that point.

For the “tutu”: while the bacon is being rendered in the large pan, add the remaining of the bacon and the 1 tbsp. of olive oil to a medium pan; when most of the bacon fat has been rendered, add the onions and the garlic, and cook until the onion is golden. Add the beans and cook for 10 minutes, mixing it occasionally. Add the “farinha” very slowly to prevent lumps from forming, mixing it well. Cook it for another 5 minutes, still mixing it often.

To assemble the plate, put some white rice, beans and a pork chop in each plate, then top the rest with the sausage, bananas and the collards. If you still want a little more cholesterol, feel free to top it off with a sunny-side up egg.

Enjoy!

Yogurt chicken curry

Posted: February 9, 2012 in Asian, Food, Main course, Poultry
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Growing up in Brazil I didn’t have a chance to have many curry dishes. There just aren’t many applications of this spice (or, as I learned later, mix of different spices) in the Brazilian cuisine, and apart from an occasion sprinkle of curry in an egg salad my mother would prepare, I just didn’t grow up eating this ingredient.

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After moving to the Seattle area, the large number of Indian restaurants (and other Southeast Asian restaurants as well) in the region reintroduced me to curry dishes. I actually always liked it, but rarely prepared something with it. This one is a recipe which I already prepared once, and it’s quite simple and fast to prepare. The most difficult thing this time was that I only had chicken thighs and I spent a lot of time trimming off the fat and the tendons, but if I had chicken breast / tenders it would have really been something that could be prepared in around 30 minutes.

The end result was quite good, especially given its simplicity. I have seen variations of this recipe in some websites that are even simpler (without the basil or onions), but I think they give a nice touch to the taste.

Ingredients (3 people):

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 9 fingerling potatoes
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil
  • salt & pepper

Remove as much of the fat from the chicken thighs as you’re willing to (that’s a lot of work, which is why I mentioned that using chicken breasts would be easier), and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Season them with salt and pepper and reserve.

Meanwhile, boil water in a medium pan to cook the potatoes, and when they’re done (~10-15 minutes), remove the hot water and add cold water (or some ice cubes, if the tap water isn’t too cold) to stop the cooking.

Heat the oil in a large, non-stick pan and add the onions, seasoning it with salt and pepper. Cook until it almost start to burn (about 5-10 minutes), mixing often, then add the chicken and cook on high heat for 2 minutes, to sear the meat. Add the water, then cook it over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the chicken is done (the water will have reduced at least by half). Add the curry powder and mix it well, then add the potatoes and the yogurt, mixing well to create a uniform sauce.

At the end, add the basil to the pan and cook for another 2 minutes to get the flavors of the herb in the sauce. Serve with white rice.

Enjoy!

Beer-onion soup – take 1

Posted: February 2, 2012 in Food, Soups, Vegetarian
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This is an attempt in a variation of the traditional French onion soup which came out tasty, but with a few things which need improvement – so I’ll have to try it again later. I’ve been with a cold lately, and my doctor said that soups would be a good thing to have. Mostly I wanted to have something light for dinner after a heavy lunch, so an onion soup seemed like a good idea.

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Getting home I realized that it wouldn’t be a smooth ride. I only had one (medium) onion, and I’d need at least two of them – next time I’ll definitely use more. I also didn’t have any wine leftovers, and since I’m taking some medication for the cold and can’t drink alcohol, I didn’t want to open a full bottle to use only 1/2 cup, so I decided to use beer instead (as I had already tried, and liked, a Guiness stout onion soup in one of my favorite pubs), so I used a local lager, with good results. I also tried to cut corners and use a simple toasted sliced bread, but it wasn’t dry enough and ended up quite soggy, but next time I’ll try to get some hard bread or day-old baguette. Finally, I only had some Colby-Jack cheese so that’s what I used, but some harder cheese will probably be better. In the end, the soup itself was good, but we ended up scooping the bread out of the bowl and discarding it.

Ingredients (for 2 people):

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced (the best amount would be 1 small / medium onion per person
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 12-oz. bottle of beer (I used a lager; a darker one would work too – lighter beers probably won’t work as well)
  • 2 toasted slices of bread (as I mentioned, it didn’t work well – I’ll try it again with either store-bought croutons or a harder bread)
  • 2 slices of Colby-jack cheese
  • Parsley for decoration

Melt the butter in a medium pan and add the onion, salt and pepper, cooking for about 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly, until the onions are browned. Add the stock and the beer and scrape off the pan, and mix it well again, cooking for another 10 minutes over medium heat.

Transfer the soup to oven-safe bowls, top it with the bread, then the cheese, and add them to an oven pre-heated to 400ºF (200ºC). I find that placing the bowls in an oven tray helps getting them out easier. Bake it for 10 minutes until the cheese is melted; if you have a broiler you can also use it to speed up the baking (in ~3-5 minutes the cheese should be good).

Top with a small parsley sprig and enjoy!