Archive for the ‘Main course’ Category

Bean Bourguignon

Posted: May 7, 2016 in French, Funghi, Main course

Ever since I started running a few years back, I started trying to eat a little healthier (just a little, I’m not ready to give up all the stuff I love). One of the ways to do that is to try to get a traditional recipe, and find some alternative ingredient to make it healthier, while not compromising too much with flavor. One of the recipes that I found – at the Runner’s World magazine – was a variation of the classic Beef Bourguignon, but removing the beef and adding beans and dialing up in the mushrooms. It turned out to be really good – it’s certainly not a meat dish, but it’s very fulfilling by itself or served with rice. Another plus is that it’s almost a vegetarian dish (I added some pancetta for taste, but if I were to serve it to a vegetarian, I could skip it). Finally, it’s one of those “one-pot recipes” that doesn’t require a lot of cleaning afterwards.


The dish that I cooked was really close to the recipe from the magazine, with some changes due to ingredients that I didn’t have. Instead of prosciutto I used some cubed pancetta, and I didn’t have thyme or bay leaves, so I skipped those. I’ve cooked this dish other times adding or removing some ingredients, but the main ingredients remain the same.


  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 12oz crimini (baby portabella) mushrooms, quartered or sliced
  • 4oz. pancetta, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cans (15oz each) of white beans (I used cannellini and great northern, since I had one of each at home; others can be used as well), drained
  • 2 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
  • salt & pepper

Heat 2 tbsp. of the oil in a large pan, then add the mushrooms. Cook them until they start browning and render some liquid, then move them to a bowl and reserve.

In the same pan, add the pancetta and cook it until the fat is almost all rendered and it starts to crisp. Add the onion and the garlic, then cook until right before the onion starts browning. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Add the wine and the stock and mix well. Finally, add the beans and bring it to a boil, then cover reduce the heat to low.

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After 10 minutes, add the reserved mushroom with its liquid back to the pot, cook for another 5 minutes, and it’s ready.

Serve it in a bowl as a hearty soup, or with rice. If you have some fresh parsley, sprinkling some on top gives it a nice fresh touch. I didn’t have it this time and it was missed 🙂


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.


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.


Baião de dois

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

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.


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.


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


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!

“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. 🙂


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.



Even though we don’t have any Irish heritage in our family (as far as I know), St. Patrick’s Day is kind of a big deal here in the US, so my daughter asked if we were going to do something to celebrate it. I actually find it quite fun – there’s a St. Patrick’s Day street race which I’ve been many times, there’s green everywhere, and there’s beer (sometimes green too). And since my kids still like Dr. Seuss’ books (including “Green Eggs and Ham”), I tried to mix those together as the dinner theme… And I’ll definitely need to improve my presentation skills for this one.


I imagined it would be quite easy to do that – while cooking the eggs, drop some food coloring on the yolk and that would be it. Well, not as easy. The drops started falling off the yolk into the whites, and trying to do “bring them back up” only caused one of the yolks to break… The ham steak wasn’t as hard, although the color wasn’t as uniform as I’d like. The kids actually liked it, though, so I’ll likely try it again next year, this time trying something different to make the picture as it is below (minus Sam-I-Am).


Ingredients (for 2 people):

  • 1 large ham steak
  • 2 eggs
  • green food coloring
  • 1/2 tbsp. butter

Prepare the eggs: in a large non-stick pan, melt the butter and add the eggs at least 1” apart (so they don’t mix). Cover with a lid and wait for about 30-60 seconds, until the yolk starts hardening. Carefully drop some green food coloring on the yolks, and, using a brush, very lightly bring the drops up as the gravity brings them toward the white. When they’re done enough, remove and reserve.

In the same pan, add the ham steak and drop some more food coloring on it, brushing it on its surface. Cook it for 3 minutes on one side, then turn it and add some more drops of the coloring.


Beets/parsnip soup

Posted: March 29, 2012 in Main course, Soups, Vegetables

In my daughter’s school the parents association often prepare something for the teachers, as a way to thank them for taking good care of our children. It’s a nice gesture, and whenever we can we try to participate. Last week they decided to prepare a “soup lunch”, where many parents would bring soups and we offered to prepare something. Since I imagined most people would bring “traditional” soups, I decided to try something different, and when I saw some beets on the supermarket, it looked like a good idea.


Having never prepared a beet soup before, I didn’t know whether the beets would stand on its own or it needed something to thicken the soup. Potatoes were an option, but since I was trying something new, I decided to go with parsnips, which I had tried in a soup a while back and gave a nice aroma to the dish.

It turned out to be quite good (and, indeed, very different). The bright burgundy color was really enticing, and offered a good contrast for the decoration. The only problem I had was that I think I used too much salt, to balance the sweetness of the beets; next time I’ll just less salt and embrace the “beetness” of the soup instead.

Ingredients (for 8-10 people):

  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 5 beets (~2” diameter), peeled, chopped in small pieces
  • 2 parsnips, peeled, chopped in small pieces
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • parsley and cream for decoration

In a large pan, heat the oil, then add the onions and season them with salt and pepper. Fry them until they’re golden brown. Add the beets then add the stock and water, and bring it to a boil. The beets take a long time to cook, so chopping them in small pieces helps making the process faster.

When the beets look almost fork-tender, add the parsnips and cook for another 10-20 minutes, until the parsnips themselves are fork-tender. Using a blender (or an immersion blender, which I did), purée the soup until it’s clear of any lumps. Adjust the salt (careful on this step), and serve with a sprig of parsley and a touch of cream. The soup can be prepared a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator, just reheat it (adding some water if necessary) prior to serving.