Archive for May, 2012

“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. 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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Enjoy!