I'm missing some of the dishes I used to cook back in Portugal.
There are just some foods that we tend to crave whenever we feel home sick and I think that is the case with this recipe! We have a traditional dish called "Salsichas em couve lombarda" which consists in a vegetable stew with sausage stuffed cabbage leaves - I can't find that type of sausage here in the US but I decided to make something based on that idea but somehow with a new twist and using the ingredients I had at home! There is nothing like a food pantry and fridge check to get some ideas for new recipes, right?
I decided to try out a dish that I will incorporate in my next month's Whole30 but I added the orzo this time, so the kids will eat it too. Not that they wouldn't like it without it but I'm sure they'll be happier with a pasta dish! Next month I'll just skip the orzo and make a batch of this comforting dish which can be easily pre-portioned in individual containers and frozen, if necessary.
It's also a great dish to use up some leftover roasted chicken or bacon. Other option is to make it an all vegetarian dish, skipping the meat and loading up on the veggies - add some diced zucchini, shredded kale and more colorful peppers and you'll have a rainbow veggie dish!
It turned out to be a success! A creamy and veggie filled pasta dish that was the perfect ending for a fulfilling day of work, school and a play date!
1 - Peel the onions and finely dice them. Prep the cabbage: cut it in half and chop it coarsely. Wash it and let it on a strainer to get the rest of the water out while you're cooking up the other ingredients.
2 - Cook the onion on a skillet with the olive oil. Add the chopped garlic cloves and stir. Add the minced meat with chorizo and let the meat cook until the color has changed and the mixture releases a fragrant scent.
3 - Add the pepper, previously washed and finely diced and also the mushrooms: I used canned ones because I had ran out of fresh but feel free to use whatever ones you have at hand. Add the carrot, finely grated. Let this all cook for about 5-7 minutes and check the seasoning. It shouldn't need salt, because of the chorizo, but if you're using regular minced meat you may want to add some. Season with pepper, garlic powder and add the freshly chopped parsley.
4 - Add the previously chopped cabbage and mix everything carefully because you may end up with a big mount of food in the pan! The cabbage will wither as it's getting cooked so don't worry about it. If you realize that you had too much cabbage for your meat just reserve some and use it for something else like soup.
5 - Add the orzo and the chicken broth. At this point I used chicken bone broth that I had made the previous day - it has a very rich flavor and texture and it is far better to use bone broth that regular store bought broth. Remember, if you don't have time or aren't able to make your own broth check out the Bare Bones Broth which offers the option to buy a variety pack which is perfect for a first time try! Check out my blog post on bone broth here.
6 - Check the seasoning one last time and let this all cook for about 10 minutes. Make sure to keep checking on the liquid level so you can add some more, if necessary.
7 - Serve in individual ramekins and sprinkle on some more fresh parsley.
I made sure to reserve several individual sized meals in meal prep glass containers that I use for my husband's lunches. The overall recipe was enough for 5 portions which is pretty good for the value of this meal - I used inexpensive ingredients and got out this many meals which is definitely budget and health friendly!
This is a pretty versatile dish and you can always personalize it and add your own personal touch with some other ingredients and colorful options.
Just keep it colorful and your health will appreciate it!
I'm so excited about bone broth that I'm always thinking about what I'm going to cook and if I can use it to make some more broth! I keep recommending it to other people because it really is a powerful food and, as I'm writing this blog post down, I'm feeling under the weather - cough, chest and nose congestion have been going though our family and now is my turn! I've bought some bone broth yesterday because I ran out of my home made one and I found one that has a Thai flavor and comes in a sipping cup which is great! In the evening that's going to be my pick-me-up for a boost of natural defenses and bone strengths reinforcement! If I can use something natural to help me get better I will certainly do that!
Actually bone broth is a natural multivitamin: it has over 2 dozens of essential and non-essential amino acids, it is rich in collagen and gelatin which help form connective tissue and bone bone broth also contains nutrients essential to the digestive, immunity and brain health.
Taking bone broth on a regular basis can benefit you in a lot of different ways:
So, why not try it? Bones and marrow, skin and feet, tendons and ligaments are things that you don't usually eat as they are but you can easily boil them and simmer them for a very long period of time specially if you have a slow cooker. As you can read on the recipe below, I cooked my marrow bone broth for 21 hours!
This slow cooking process allows the bones and ligaments to release healing compounds like collagen, proline, glycine and glutamine which are all powerful compounds that can help us heal from a variety of different conditions. Bone broths contain minerals in the forms that your body can easily absorb them: calcium, magnesium, phosphurus, silicon, sulphur and other. They also contain chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine compounds on a natural form...why buy pricey supplements that you don't even know where they come from if you can get the same or even more benefits from a natural source? These compounds help reduce inflammation, arthritis and joint pain.
All these advantages should be enough to get you curious enough to, at least, buy some bone broth and try it out, right? Nowadays we can find several brands of bone broth in supermarkets and you can choose from different natural flavors too. Once you try it you don't go back! If you feel good enough to try it at home, please do - that way you'll have your personal stock of broth and whenever you run out of it you can always buy a pack or two to make up for it!
I've been using the Bare Bones broth and I highly recommend that you start by doing it too! They have different flavors which will, allow you to try the simple flavor to sip and the flavored ones to cook. They are truly amazing and I'd love to know that some of my followers would try them out!
1 - Preheat the oven at 400 F.
2 - The first thing to do is to prep your bone barrow. Place it on a baking sheet and bake it in the oven for about 30 minutes to bring out the flavor.
3 - While the marrow is roasting prep your vegetables: peel the carrots and cut them in big chunks and do the same with the celery and the onion. Add the onion peel too, for extra flavor and color.
4 - Put the roasted bones on the Instant Pot and add the vegetables which should be already prepared.
5 - Add the fresh herbs, the peppercorns and the apple cider vinegar. Cover everything with filtered water up to the point where the vegetables are all submerged.
6 - Close the lid of the Instant Pot and set it up on the "slow cooker"mode. Program for 21 hours and let the pot do its magic!
7 - When the program comes to an end and the pressure has vented off open up the lid and take all the solids out. Use a mesh strainer to strain all the liquid and reserve on a big container. Let it sit for, at least, a couple of hours for the fat to accumulate on top, in the form of a thick film.
8 - After that time has passed remove the fat film with a spoon and collect the broth in glass jars. I kept mine in the fridge and also froze some of the jars to use later on. If you do that make sure to let the bone broth defrost overnight in the fridge so you won't have sudden temperature shocks and broken jars!
This was the most rewarding experience ever! To have such a precious broth that I was able to cook at home was amazing. I have been using it in soups and other recipes to boost our joint and bone health and have also been sipping on it, once in a while.
The other broth I tried was turkey broth. It was perfect to make the most of the Thanksgiving turkey leftovers that we had! We roasted a huge turkey just for 5 people so I had a lot of bones to work with! Also, I froze a lot of diced turkey and I've been using it to cook up some delicious meals such as chili, pot pies and soup.
This turkey was cooked by me and my mother in law, who was visiting at the time. It was super delicious and juicy and we took all the bones apart from the meat to be able to prepare the ingredients for the broth. For the turkey broth I proceeded almost in the same way as for the bone marrow broth.
The exceptions were:
Now you must remember - whenever you're roasting a chicken or a turkey or if you're having big chunks of in-bone beef (preferably grass-fed) cook up some bone broth and try it yourself. You may be surprised! It's delicious and good for you so go and have a cup! If you prefer remember you can always order the Bare Bones variety pack and give them a try!
I'm not going to start talking about "new year's resolutions" and fresh starts or other cliches that we are all fed up with and know that it's just something we say because we've just been costumed to. It has become a habit and, as most of our habits, it doesn't live long...we get to the second or third month of the year thinking that we don't have enough time, enough energy to do it but, essentially, what we lack most of the times is COMMITMENT.
It takes strength to commit to something and STAY committed for a long time, lets say...a lifetime!
As far as food goes I've always tried to eat healthy during my post-kids life and I do my best to pass on to my kids my love for food and cooking. This didn't always happen. Growing up I always ate what I wanted and it showed on the outside. I was "the chubby girl" in the classroom and with that came the body shamming and the whispers by the boys (and girls! let's not blame it all on the boys). I practiced sports until I was a teenager - I did ballet, judo, swimming and aerobics when that was a hit! But the one thing I didn't think about changing was what I was feeding my body with. I started gaining weight and cellulite showed up to the party! I started having issues with showing my body and looking to my body and I finally got to a point when, after having my son I weighted almost 220 lbs.
Wow! It's the first time I share this out loud and it feels good...I'm not ashamed, embarrassed or sad.
I realized I had to change and a few months after I birthed my son I seeked help through acupuncture to loose weight. I started the treatments which involved acupuncture sessions and diet. On the first week of the diet I though I was going to die! No, really, I was so sad and started feeling depressed because I felt hungry all the time but I knew I had to go on because I, finally, wanted to succeed. I carried on and by the second week it became easier and little by little I started changing my daily diet and it all became easier. When I finished the treatment I as happy with my weight which had come to about 147 lbs. I'm a tall girl with a strong bone structure and any less than that it shows on my face and I really don't look good at all. Besides, I think we all have to feel good to feel happy and spending life counting calories doesn't make me feel happy at all!
I changed my lifestyle in the way that I broke a relationship I had with food. I used it to console me, to give me comfort whenever I was going through something or if I simply was feeling bored. It's easy to grab that snack, it takes a strong willed power person to say NO and just grab a cup of water or warm tea and get busy!
Even though we try to eat healthy in our daily life when we really look at it we don't do that much. Everything we have in the pantry has an ingredient list that, usually, consists of dozens of ingredients most of which we can't even pronounce! That means that we are eating too much processed foods, too much sugar, too much additives. Starting to read the "Paleo Manifesto" by John Durant was a turning point for me. I don't like extreme measures and I don't know if I'll ever eat Paleo all my life but I believe in trying to eat the most naturally possible and that's what I'm going to do for me and for my family. It has been a truly rewarding journey and I've been learning a lot about several issues that I had never tough of and I have learned a lot about what modern society medicine and brands have imprinted in our mind about what we should or shouldn't eat.
With that being said I started reading about the Whole30 program in December. I thought it was pretty interesting, specially to me, because it comes out as a way to know my body in a way that I never though possible. By removing a lot of food groups I'll be able to reset my body and then start to experiment and document what changes I sense in my body. For example, I suffer from migraines everywhere from 2 to 8 times in a month and it will be extremely interesting to learn if food, or certain kinds of foods, are a trigger to that. Also, inflammation and joint health are a concern to me as is my bone health. I had spine surgery almost three years ago and once in a while I do still have back pain and that will also be interesting to observe when I start reintroducing the food groups in my diet.
As some of you know, the basis of the Whole30 is to trust whole natural foods and eliminate the following groups:
Well, that is a pretty long list of ingredients, if you go one by one! To be honest, the thing I'm going to miss the most is BREAD. I love bread and I'm used to having it in the morning - without even thinking about it I'll just grab two pieces of bread and will have it toasted with some butter on it (oh, boy! I can't have that either!).
The issue here is that I need to know how what I putting in my body is affecting me. I can't thing of this as a life-time sentence for bread or pasta or for any other food group. After the 30 days reset I'll try a weekly reintroduction of each food group and document what I feel different, how I feel and decide what I'm going to do from that week forward.
Did that make me feel any different from when I cut it back?
Did I notice a difference in my skin, in my energy levels, any mood swings?
Did I feel more/less joint pain or aches?
Were my migraines more or less frequent than when I was doing the Whole30?
I'm really interested in this and it will be like a case study. I'm going to be documenting a daily food journal on my Instagram account so anyone can make me accountable for what I'm choosing to do! If you come across my posts please give me some input - that would be deeply appreciated! I think this is the first "personal" post I share but I think having a blog is so much more than, in my case, sharing recipes and shopping trips! I love having a space where I can write my thoughts and feel like I've shared something that I need to get out! I hope that it can also inspire others to follow a healthier and happier path.
These are the basic steps I'm taking until the day when I'll start the program which will be on Janurary 29:
So far I've been feeling pretty excited and encouraged to do this. It will definitely be a test to my will power as long as food goes. I don't think it will be easy but I think I'll be successful with the support of my family and the Whole30 community.
And now, let me get back to studying all the theory behind the program and get this February month all planed out in terms of meals, snacks and shopping lists! Just to give you an example of what I'll be doing on my meal prep on a weekly basis, this was the veggies that I roasted last Sunday. They were great to build my meals throughout the weekdays - I just had to cook my protein of choice and add it to the veggies and season with some fresh herbs. It also worked perfectly for the whole family because we all love vegetables and I appreciated the downsizing of the workload during the weekdays!
I've been thinking about cooking up a breakfast bake since last year! This ended up being more of a "lunch bake" and it's loaded with delicious "Man Cave Craft Eats" jalapeno and cheddar sausage, which gives the eggs a spiciness and hot hint that turned out to be the perfect pairing for the feta cheese that I crumbled at the end.
As usual, I had a package of Clever Foodies Scramble in the fridge. I always have these packs at hand because they can make your life extremely easy - just add some veggies and protein to your scramble and you're good to go! For this recipe I used the Mediterranean flavor because the veggies I had to cook up go really well with the ones that come on the package.
I hope you like the recipe as much as we did. My husband helped me devour this and I'd gladly make anther one over the weekend!
1 - Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2 - Get all your ingredients prepped: wash and cut the peppers and the onions into slices. Trim the mushrooms, wash them and cut them in chunks and do the same thing with the mustard greens. Cut the sausage into big pieces and open up the eggs on a large bowl.
3 - Melt the butter on an skillet and add the onions and the peppers. Let the vegetables cook in a medium heat until they're soft.
4 - Add the mushrooms and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and the red pepper flakes.
5 - Cook the vegetables for about 7-10 minutes and add the mustard greens mixing everything together to get the seasonings all over the greens.
6 - Add the Mediterranean scramble, the eggs and some of the feta cheese, reserving some to add in the end, after taking the egg bake out of the oven. Add the sausage slices and transfer the skillet to the oven to bake.
7 - Let this bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the eggs are golden and crisp around the edges. Turn the oven off and sprinkle over some chopped parsley and some more feta cheese on top of the breakfast bake and enjoy!
This recipe was enough for 3 whole meals for and my husband and also a light snack so these ingredients do go a long way.
I'm loving the Man Cave Craft Eats handcrafted meat products and can't wait for them to be sold all over the country so that everyone can get to try them out. Every item is unique and you can make so many different recipes with them that you won't be bored with the products.
Have you tried them yet?
Oh, well, here we go again - soup is the perfect comfort food for a cold winter day, is it not?
This past week we went through a rough end of week and weekend with the temperatures getting in the single digits and things were pretty cool, literally! So, I cooked up a batch of this delicious soup and decided to do a whole pot of it so I could have enough leftovers to freeze in Mason jars to keep for those days when I don't feel like cooking or just want to get something truly satisfying without being in the kitchen for a long time.
Freezing food is an option that is always on my mind when I do my meal prep over the weekend. If I have something that I can cook in a bigger batch I'll do it and that will save me money, time and sanity!
Now, for the recipe!
1 - The first thing you have to do is soak up the beans or, as I did, boil the beans in two cups of water for about 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it rest for about 1 hour. Strain the beans and run them through cold water for a while. Reserve.
2 - Prep all your veggies and be sure to get your turkey out of the freezer, if your using frozen turkey. There's no need to defrost it ahead of time because it's going to cook for a long time in the slow cooking mode which will be perfect to get the turkey more than ready! Peel the onion, the carrot, the garlic cloves and the sweet potato and dice them finely.
3 - Get the onion on the bottom on the Instant Pot and add the olive oil. Cover with the drained reserved bean mix and the chopped garlic.
4 - Add the sweet potato, the carrots and the frozen diced turkey. Season with salt, pepper and the red pepper flakes.
5 - Add some chopped parsley - about a Tbsp should be enough. Some more will be added at the final stage, when the soup is to be served, to give it a fresh herbs taste. Cover with the fire roasted tomatoes.
6 - Add the Bare Bones broth and the vegetable broth, just enough to cover all the ingredients that are already in the pot.
7 - Closed the lid and seal the Instant Pot. Turn on the "slow cooker" mode for 5 hours and set the pressure to high.
8 - When the time is up check the soup consistency and adjust the seasonings. Add a small can of pureed cannellini beans (just blend the beans without the liquid that comes in the can and use some of the soup liquid to help it blend easier), the kale and the orzo. This will thicken up the soup if you cook it for another half an hour so, which was what I did. If you like your soup more on the liquid side just skip this part.
9 - Serve the soup in big bowls and garnish with lots of fresh chopped parsley for a burst of flavor.
This really is a meal in itself because it has everything you need - you've got the veggies, the satisfying beans, the protein form the meat, the greens and the orzo. What more do you need? At the most a fresh loaf of bread would be great to have with the it!
I've been loving my winter soups and there will be more to come until the end of the moth, for sure!
Keep checking the blog's Facebook page so you know when there's a new recipe up on the blog!
Keep safe and keep warm!
As I must have said already along my blog posts I LOVE bread! It's one of my soft spots and I love having it toasted in the morning, with some good quality butter and a hit cup of coffee. Also grilled toasts are a hit around here and with so many possible ingredient combinations you can never get bored!
I decided to give bread pudding a try because, oddly enough, I have never cooked it before. Now I'm already thinking about this sweet, soft, cozy bread pudding on a snow day, like the one we're having today. here in Scotch Plains, on the day that I'm writing this blog post! We're having a snow storm today so the schools are closed and the kids are eager to bake something...I'm hping for chocolate chip cookies!
Well, after trying this out I must say thta we all loved the end reuslta and it will be something that I will be baking again, for sure! It's like dessert and breakfast in one spoonfull! I'm sue there are a lot of different recipes but I just went with what I like and add it to the mix!
As for the bread I chose Challah because I love the slightly sweet flavor and the soft, fluffy texture. It worked perfectly and I'll use it again for other desserts that include bread.
1 - Measure you ingredients and get them all on the counter to simplify the assembly process.
2 - Preheat the oven to 425 F.
3 - Slice the Challah bread and cut them in medium size cubes. Drop them on a baking dish.
4 - Get the wet ingredients mixed up: on a big cup or bowl add the milk. the cream and the eggs. Mix everything together until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Add the ground cinnamon and stir the mix again.
5 - On top of the bread lay all the other ingredients: the brown sugar, the sultanas/raisins, the cranberries and the pecan nuts, reserving some to add after pouring the liquid ingredients over the bread.
6 - Bake the bread pudding in the oven for about 35-40 minutes, making sure to check by the end to prevent burning. By this point the wet ingredients should have cooked and not be runny at all, but the pudding will still be moist enough.
7 - I covered it with some simple icing, just powder sugar mixed with a bit of water and lemon juice and it was the perfect final touch. Just a drizzle, not to be over powerful.
This turned out to be a delicious dessert and even my youngest, Miss B, which is usually not a sweet treat fan, loved it! Success accomplished! I''m already thinking about different breads I can use and different toppings to give this recipe a twist!
What about you, do you like bread pudding? What are your favorite add-ons?
Before I forget, again, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
With the rush of everyone getting back to their school and work routine I forgot about this special occasion on the previous blog post, which was the first of 2018! I hope everyone had a great Holiday season and that a lot of baking has been done! We had a great time, just the four of us - we headed to New Orleans to spend the Christmas week and we had the most amazing time ever. The kids loved it, specially because there was a Christmas Fest, involving rides and fun activities! We loved getting to know someplace different from where we live (New Jersey).
Everyone was so nice and we had a great time tasting all we could from the Creoule and southern cuisine. Well seasoned food and great quality seafood! We had to get a po'boy (of course!) and the gumbo, which are the typical dishes around NOLA. You can find them everywhere and we had them on the French Market, where we could also experience the true flavors of the South!
This BBQ po'boy was the best! The spicy seasoning, the shrimps, the bread, everything was amazing! We had these two dishes at "Liuzza's by the track" which is THE place to go for a delicious and mouthwatering meal if you are ever by the city park, in NOLA.
This gumbo was so tasty that we had to ask for another bowl my 9 year old son! Being that kids tend to be picky with "non-familiar" foods I was so glad that he liked it and that he wanted a bowl of his own...yes, because I wanted mine for myself, too! Spicy alligator sausage, shrimp, tomatoes and gold old seasonings...hoe can we not love that??
Now, back to the cake!
I was feeling like baking a cake on a cold day. Baking is such a great satisfying hobby when you have cold weather outside and everything's covered in a white blanket of snow. It just makes sense! I always liked simple cakes, like teacakes and I usually try to sneak in some fruit for a moist texture and fruity flavor.
This time I decided to use pear, both inside the cake and on the top of the cake, for extra natural sweetness. I naturally crave for sugary foods on cold weather, so I rather have my sugar cravings satisfied with fruit and honey than with something not as natural, as artificial sweeteners. I also used the Savannah Bee Company whipped cinnamon honey and it was the perfect addition to the cake: the final result was a super moist pear cake with a touch of honey and cinnamon that were the perfect flavor combo to pair with some chopped walnuts that I decided to add at the last minute!
1 - Start by getting your ingredients measured and prepared.
2 - Preheat the oven at 375 F.
3 - On a standing mixer beat the softened butter with the sugar until you get a fluffy mixture. Add the eggs, the milk and the honey and continue beating until everything is well incorporated.
4 - Add the sifted flour and the baking powder and mix the batter up just to get these ingredients well incorporated.
5 - Peel and dice one of the pears and add it to the cake batter. Add the chopped walnuts, reserving some for decoration.
6 - Spray your cake pan with nonstick spray or use butter to coat it. Drop the cake batter on the pan and use the other peeled pear and the remaining walnuts to decorate the top of the cake, as seen in the picture.
7 - Bake the cake in the oven for about 45 minutes, until the batter is cooked through and with a golden color. Time may vary according to the oven so, please, check it from 30 minutes on, so you can keep the baking level of your choice.
8 - Turn the oven off and let the cake cool down on a cooling rack, still on the pan. When the cake has cooled down a bit turn the pan upside down, onto a plate and turn the cake over again onto a serving plate.
Doesn't that cake look delicious? I think I'm going to have to bake another one soon! I bought some delicious apples and they would be perfect for this cake, too! Also, I used the cinnamon honey to whip up a honey cream topping - I heated 1 Tbsp of cinnamon honey and 1/2 cup of cream in a saucepan and let it warm up until it was bubbly and thick.
It was perfect to drizzle on the cake and it gave it an extra quick of sweetness and sticky yumminess!
I'll be baking some delicious cake again, to face off this cold winter days that we've been having.
here's nothing like a warm cup of tea with a still warm slice of cake by the fireplace to warm up the soul!
I was trying to go through the holidays without overdoing with desserts and I think we did it! Usually, back in Portugal, Christmas is the season to gather around the table with family and friends and share the love and joy through food. This usually means a huge and delicious meal followed by an assorted variety of desserts like bolo-rei, arroz-doce, filhos, sonhos, broas de mel (traditional honey cakes). There's a lot of sugar, eggs and frying involved in all of these and that usually shows on the scale at the end of December!
As we've moved to the US I've tried to downsize on the desserts and it has been fairly easy because it's just the four of us and it becomes manageable. Last year my mother-in-law was here and we baked some more treats but not this year!
This year I remembered about this particularity dessert that my mother used to cook around the holidays. All of us loved it and whenever my mother would decide to make a bowl of it, it would sure be over by the end of the day! It's fluffy, sweet and amazingly simple to cook. I used the recipe that I got from a Portuguese recipe book for children. I love cooking and teaching my kids how to do it - I had this book ordered and my mother-in-law was kind enough to offer it to my son! He's also in the cooking spirit so he was happy to help me out preparing this delicious dessert.
The funny thing is that this book, called "A minha primeira cozinha traditional Portuguesa" (something like "My first traditional Portuguese cuisine book") was written by one of the most famous Portuguese female cooks alongside with her granddaughter which is really proof that traditions get carried on if we make it happen and teach our kids what we have also been thought by our mothers and grandmothers.
I do apologize but I'm writing down the measurements in the original units but feel free to convert them to the usual ones!
1 - Get all the ingredients measured. Separate the egg whites and reserve the yolks in a bowl.
2 - On the mixer, beat the egg whites until they form soft peeks. Add 50 g of sugar and continue beating the egg whites until they form stiff and dry peeks.
3 - Heat the milk on a pan with the remaining sugar and the lemon rind. When it starts to boil reduce the heat to maintain a soft boil.
4 - With a serving spoon insert portions of the fluffy egg whites in the milk, to boil them. Cook them for 1 minute and turn them over.
5 - Remove the cooked egg whites with a ladle and put them on a mesh strainer to collect the milk that runs through the egg whites. After straining them collect all the cooked egg whites on a deep serving bowl.
6 - Gather all the milk that as been strained and return it to the pan. Turn off the heat and let the milk cool for a while. Dissolve the corn starch on a bit of milk with the egg yolks and the, whenn the milk has cooled down, add it to the pan and give it a stir.
7 - Turn the heat back on and cook the custard until it has become creamy and luscious. Keep mixing the custard at all times. Taste it to figure out if you need to add more sugar.
8 - Pour the hot custard over the fluffy egg whites and let it cool down for a while. Pour some ground cinnamon over the custard - in our family the kids don't like it so much, so I decided to sprinkle cinnamon in just one half of the dessert.
The custard is so creamy and delicious that I had to try a spoon just by itself! It really reminded me of the flavors of my childhood and, once again, proved to me the power of cooking, traditions and family.
I'm writing this post after the dessert is all finished and, I must say, it didn't last that long! My husband made sure of that! I guess I'll have to cook another batch in a couple of weeks.
I'd love to have someone try the recipe and tell me all about it.
Will you try it out?!
As some of you might have already noticed I'm obsessed with soups! I think they're the perfect comfort food for the cold weather and, even so, I love to cook them year round taking advantage of the different vegetables that are in season.
With tomato soup I think there is a hate/love relationship - either you love it or hate it. I LOVE it! My son also craves for a bowl, once in a while, and now I got the husband on board too! I found this roasted tomato soup when I was wondering around Facebook and it was on the Jamie Oliver page, from another English cook. I found the recipe so simple and the end result so irresistibly yummy that i decided to try it out. It turned out perfect! Creamy, with a deep flavor from the roasted tomatoes and with a freshness from the fresh basil that keeps it fragrant until the last spoonful. The sweet, sticky textures of the tomatoes works wonders in making up a smooth cream.
I'm sharing it so you can also try it out. I love visiting pages from professional Chefs and cooks in search of new ideas or combos that I can apply to my own cooking experiences. It's such an enriching way of trying out new flavors and ingredients which is one of the main things that I love about cooking.
1 - Preheat the oven to 425 F.
2 - Wash the tomatoes and pat them dry with a paper towel. Cut them in half and arrange them on a baking tray, cut side up. Add the tomato stems for extra flavor.
3 - Drizzle the tomatoes with the olive oil and season with a bit of coarse salt. Not too much, you can fix this later on. Add the garlic bulb, cut in half. Roast the tomatoes in the oven, for about 30 minutes.
4 - Remove the tomatoes out of the oven and transfer everything to a bog pot, removing the tomato stems and the thyme sprigs. Squeeze the garlic out of the peel and add it to the tomatoes in the pot. Add the bone broth (I used the Bare Bones bone broth with tomatoes and spice) and cook, in medium heat, for about 30 minutes. This extra cooking time allows for the soup to develop a deep flavor and makes it even more flavorful.
5 - After this time the liquid must have reduced a bit and the soup should be thicker. Add a bunch of fresh basil, according to your liking, and blend the soup with an immersion blender. If the soup is too thick just add some more extra broth or vegetable stock until you reach the desired consistency.
6 - Cook again for another 30 minutes and enjoy this delicious warm soup on a cold winter day.
I loved the taste and texture of this soup and will be cooking this again and again over the next winter months.
There's nothing like a really hot bowl of soup on a snowy day, right?
Christmas is a special family time and, as usual, it involves food and old traditions that get passed on from different generations. Back in Portugal we have a very rich culinary traditional, not only on the holidays but all year round. Our cook books go back hundreds of years and are filled with wonderful and tasty recipes of meat, fish and sweet treats. The baking art has been around for so long that it has evolved and followed the modern trends - you can find the most different breads, from the traditional (Mafra bread, Saloio bread, Portuguese rolls) to the most up to date versions of bread, with seeds, chia or whatever new trendy ingredient you can find.
The pastry and baking heritage is particularly strong when it comes to Christmas specific items. It's unimaginable a Christmas without Filhós or Coscoroes (depending on the region of Portugal you're in), Broas de mel, Sonhos (fried dough with a sugar and cinnamon coating) or Bolo-rei. There is also a different version of this cake, the Queen-cake, that doesn't have the sugary fruits, just the raisins and nuts. I do prefer that version but I wanted to represent the most traditional version which is the one I baked.
I used a recipe from a Portuguese blog, by Leonor de Sousa Bastos. It's an amazing blog dedicated to pastry and it really makes you hungry just by looking at the pictures! those are taken by photographer Miguel Coelho. I'd be more than happy if you would visit and take a look around the delicacies that Leonor shares with her readers. You can access the blog here. I adjusted some thing from the original recipe but kept the main recipe in the core ingredients.
1 - Get all your ingredients measured and lined up so you can get the recipe going smoothly.
2 - Dissolve the yeast in the slightly warm milk and add the flour. These are the first three ingredients on the list. Mix well to get the yeast dissolved and cover with some plastic wrap. Let it rest for about 15-20 minutes so the mix will double its size and creates some bubbles on the surface.
3 - In the meantime, mix the raisins with the Port wine to get the flavor developing.
4 - Use the mixer to beat the sugar with the butter, the orange, the lemon zest and the vanilla extract until the mixture get bubbly and whitish. Add the egg ad beat a bit more.
5 - Attach the dough hook to the mixer and add the first mix with the yeast, in the batter that you just prepared. Mix everything at a medium speed and add the remaining flour, bit by bit. Add the raisins with the wine and continue to mix the dough for about 25 minutes. Add some more flour if the dough seems to sticky.
6 - Add the nuts and the sugary fruits and mix just to get them evenly distributed throughout the dough. That the dough out of the mixer bowl and turn it into a ball. Place it on a bowl, dust it with flour and let the dough rise fr about an hour, an hour and a half. The time necessary for it to double in size.
I did add extra nuts regarding the original recipe but I do LOVE nuts and the more the merrier! Be sure to reserve some of the fruits and nuts to decorate the cake before baking it in the oven. The amount will depend on the size of the cake after rising but a good amount is best! Don't save them, use all you can!
7 - Take the dough out of the bowl, press it and wok it a bit and turn it into a round shape with a whole in the middle. If necessary place a heat resistant cup, upside down in the middle of the dough so the whole won't close while the cake is baking.
8 - Place the dough on a baking sheet and wait for another hour, hour and a half so it doubles in size again.
9 - Brush the top of the cake with the egg yolk and sprinkle some more sugary fruit and nuts on top of the cake, pressing them onto the dough, in order for them to stick well. Bake the cake in a 360 F oven until its golden and fragrant.
The cake didn't rise as I was expecting it to, probably due to the different conditions here. Altitude has a lot of influence on baking and rising dough but I'm not sure if that was the reason. Either way the taste was perfect and the cake was really soft.
I froze the cake, well wrapped in parchment paper and aluminum foil and had it it the oven right the next day to serve to my family, warm, right of the oven. It turned out great and it's also really tasty just warmed up a bit on the microwave.
It's usually served up for Christmas so I served it on a Christmas serving plate.
It's always a pleasure to share traditional Portuguese recipes, here on the blog, and I'd love to know if someone has tried this before. Let me know how it turned out!