Friday, June 30, 2006

Go Brasil!!

I've been meaning to post for a while here, since I came to Brazil, but due to a few techinical problems the computer needed some repairs and only this week we were able to use the internet again. Isn't it funny how attached we get to the computer world? It seemed we were isolated from the world without the internet for a few days! hehe!
Now I am back and hopefuly with a few recipes to post in the near future. I haven't been cooking much these past few days, mostly we are enjoying the family and the yummy Brazilian foods we don't have (or is harder/expensive to find) in the US.
I am not going to post a recipe today, as I just came to say hello and coment a bit about the Brazilian soccer team that is doing great at the Soccer World Cup. And oh boy, people over here are going crazy with the games, there are flags and the yellow and green colors everywhere, it is a little overwhelming, but the happines around is really cool!
On the last game I made some yellow and green jello for dessert, yummy!
I will be coming back home next week, and will definitely resume my cooking/posting activities around here!! I love to cook, and posting on this blog as well!
See you all soon!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Happy Birthday to the Husband!

Yesterday was the husband’s birthday, and he asked for an ice cream cake this year. I went on the web and found this recipe at Epicurious; the original recipe used peppermint candies and extract to flavor the ice cream, but I opted for leaving the ice cream on its original vanilla flavor, as we definitely like it more around here.
One of the husband’s favorite ice creams is vanilla-Oreos, so when I spotted this recipe I knew right away it was going to be a success. And it sure was; we all liked it a lot here! Although, with lots of ice cream and chocolate, what is not to like?!
It is not a difficult cake to make, actually the crust and glaze is all there is to make. The rest is basically assembling and waiting for it to freeze as you go. Quite simple, but you need to make it in advance.
The cake provides a good contrast between the softness of the ice cream and the firmness of the crust, plus the shinny and gooeyness of the glaze. One word: Yummy!
Now, recipes apart, we are going to Brazil today, so it will probably be a few days before I post again, but do come back, because I will sure be posting while we are there!
See you all soon!

Ice Cream Cake
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 9-ounce packages chocolate wafer cookies (about 61 cookies)

1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

7 cups vanilla ice cream, slightly softened

For crust:
Melt butter with chocolate in heavy small saucepan over low heat. Finely grind cookies in processor. Add warm chocolate mixture; blend just until crumbs are moistened. Reserve 1 cup crumb mixture in small bowl. Press remaining crumb mixture onto sides, then bottom of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Freeze.

For glaze:
Bring cream and corn syrup to boil in heavy large saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; whisk until melted and smooth. Let stand until cool but still pourable, about 1 hour.

Spoon half of ice cream into crust; spread evenly (place remaining ice cream mixture in bowl in freezer). Sprinkle reserved 1 cup cookie crumbs over ice cream in pan; press gently. Pour 1 cup chocolate glaze over ice cream in pan. Freeze 1 hour. Top with remaining ice cream; spread evenly. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours. Stir remaining glaze over low heat just until pourable but not warm (I nuked in the microwave for 20 seconds). Pour glaze over ice cream; spread evenly. Freeze overnight.
Run sharp knife between crust and pan sides to loosen cake. Release pan sides. Transfer cake to platter. Garnish as desired and serve.
(adapted from the following recipe from Chocolate-perppermint Ice Cream Cake)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Granola Bars

Matheus loves granola bars; he likes to eat them for breakfast, and sometimes as a snack as well. Granola bars are yummy and even sound like a healthy treat, however if you don’t pay attention to the ingredient list of store bought ones you could be ingesting a lot of not so good for you stuff together with a little of the healthy oatmeal and dried fruits (and I mean things I read and can’t even pronounce…).
As a nice mom who happens to love cooking and experimenting, I decided to try a few granola recipes for Matheus’ breakfasts, this way at least I know what he is eating and make sure he is getting some proper nutrition before sending him off to pre-school!
I tried a couple recipes already and this one was the absolutely winner. So much so that I didn’t even try another one, since Matheus declared he loved these and has been happily requesting them for breakfast!

Granola Bars III came from the website allrecipes. They are super easy to make, simple and yet delicious!
I have made them with both chocolate chips and dried fruits (dried cherries and raisins), and they were equally good (omited the walnuts both times I made). Matheus liked the chocolate chips ones better though!
The bars are chewy, kind of moist but with a nice texture to it. They also freeze remarkably well; just let them sit on the counter for a few hours (or overnight) to thaw, or a quick 20 seconds on the microwave will quickly do the trick for you.

I am sorry for the picture, I know they didn’t come out very good-looking bars, but they sure tasted great!

Granola Bars III (
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped English walnuts
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, and spray with vegetable oil spray.
In a large bowl, stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, raisins, wheat germ, salt, cinnamon, and walnuts. In a smaller bowl, thoroughly blend oil, honey, egg, and vanilla; pour into the flour mixture, and mix by hand until the liquid is evenly distributed. Press evenly into the prepared baking pan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are golden. Cool completely in pan before turning out onto a cutting board and cutting into bars.

Chocolate-Tofu Mousse

Don’t let the title of this recipe refrain you from trying this mousse. I know sometimes tofu can be intimidating, and I have had some issued with it myself, but in this recipe there is no error, no problems, no after tastes, what you get is a creamy and chocolaty concoction, so good that no one will never ever think about tofu when eating this.
My husband won’t even get near tofu… no matter how much I want to try and experiment with it, I will have to eat the food all by myself. However, I have made this recipe twice already and he has not the slightest idea it has tofu in it. No one here knows… and we all agree it is one of the best chocolate desserts. I loooove creamy desserts, and this one is just perfect!
Super easy to make, full of good stuff, not to mention the rich chocolate flavor!
This recipe turned into a very dense and dark chocolate mousse, and I have made another similar recipe before which contained 2 egg whites beaten to stiff peak. We liked this recipe a lot as is, but if you want your mousse to have that light and airy texture, then you might consider adding the egg whites, which to be quite frank with you, I will do next time I make this.
Try this mousse. Seriously, it is good!
Oh, and before I forget, it is Valentine's Day in Brazil today so... "Feliz Dia dos Namorados" to all the Brazilian lovers out there!!

Dark Chocolate Mousse
1 (12.3-ounce) package silken tofu
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

In a blender puree the tofu until it is smooth.
Melt the chocolate, cocoa powder and water in a double boiler, or in the microwave
. Remove from heat. Mix in 1/2 cup of sugar until smooth.
Add the chocolate mixture to the tofu and puree until smooth and well blended. Spoon the mousse into serving dishes, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Yield: 5 servings
(adapted from a recipe by Ellie Krieger)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Flaxseed Crackers

I love the nutty flavor of flaxseeds, add it to my yogurt every morning and always put some in my muffins and baked goods. Besides being yummy, it has good fatty acids, such as omega 3, and help keep me “regular”, if you know what I mean.
Since it is so healthy and good for us, I have been experimenting with recipes, bought a book about it and the ones I have tried have been winners.
This recipe I got from the Bob’s Red Mill Website. While browsing for bread recipes I found this one for crackers and promptly printed and added to the “to-try” list. The other night I wanted some savory crackers and there was none in the house, so I decided to try these ones.
They came out very nice, crispy, crunchy, with a yummy nutty flavor to it. The whole seeds add to the texture and complement the flavor that the meal lends to the whole thing.
I used half whole wheat and half white flour, but next time I will try using all whole wheat. I am so used to its taste, and eating mostly whole-wheat products, that I didn’t care much for the white flour taste on my crackers.
They are easy to make and to eat too… I made mine smaller than the size the recipe recommends (basically the size of those TLC crackers, which are my favorites), so I got a lot of crackers, which was not bad, as they tasted just as good after being stored for three days in a tight-sealed container.
I mixed all my ingredients by hand, in a big bowl and added a little more salt than the recipe asked for (doubled the amount), and I glad I did, because I still thought they need more salt…. Also, to half of the batch I brushed with melted butter and sprinkled kosher salt, which made them even better, and I will definitely do the brushing/sprinkling to all of them next time a make them!
Hearty and healthy, nice wholesome crackers that are worth trying!

Flaxseed Crackers (Bob’s Red Mill website)
¼ cup flaxseed
¼ cup flaxseed meal
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
4 teaspoons butter, softened
½ cup milk

Preheat oven to 325°. Set aside an ungreased baking sheet.
In a bowl of a stand-up mixer, add flax seed, flax seed meal, flour, baking powder, salt and butter. With the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until the mixture
resembles a coarse meal.
Stir in milk and mix until mixture forms a soft dough. (You can also mix the dough by hand.)
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill 10 minutes. Divide the dough into quarters. Turn out onto a lightly floured board. Roll out very thin to a rectangle approximately 1/16” thick. Cut into 2-1/2” squares. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat with remainder of dough.
Bake 20 minutes, until crisp and golden.
1 tb powdered onion soup mix
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tb oregano with 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Yield: approximately 24 crackers

You Can’t Beet this Cake

No, it is not a typo, you read it right, I wrote “beet” in the title of the post. Yep, there is beet in the cake!
Can you believe it?!?! So couldn’t we! If no one tells, you would probably not know there was beet in this nice and chocolaty cake!

As I was making the cake:
Matheus: mommy, what are you making?
Me: cake!
Matheus: chocolate cake?
Me: yes, it is a Chocolate Beet Cake!
Matheus: (looking at me, smiling like I was crazy) Ahhh, silly mommy, you can’t put beets in cakes!
Me: Yes you can! Don’t we make carrot cakes?
Matheus: Yes!
Me: So, I am making a beet cake today!
Matheus: is it really a chocolate cake?
Me: Yes!
Matheus: Yummy, I love chocolate cake!

And he sure liked this one. Especially the glaze, he actually asked if he could eat a second piece, but just the glaze part! The husband also liked it a lot (and the glaze too!), and I actually ended up mentioning the beet to him, just to get a real review of the recipe. He said he would never guess about the beets in it, he could not taste it (although I could), and happily finished his piece of chocolate cake!
The method for this cake is actually the way we make Brazilian-style carrot cakes, however, we do not use the cocoa in the batter and the cake turns out a nice shade of orange, and it is commonly topped with a chocolate glaze. I will post a picture and recipe for the carrot cake here soon.
Now I have to get to the news… I am going to Brazil! Yes, again!! And no, this is not common. We normally go for Christmas time and my family came to visit us in July. However this year they are not coming and we are probably not going in December, so we decided to go now.
Matheus has been asking to go to Brazil again since we got back in January, so the husband finally gave off the multiple requests and decided to send the two of us for a little vacation (hubby has to work… no Brazil for him this time, sniff!). We are leaving this week and will be back in July.
I made lots of recipes this past two weeks, and have been meaning to come here and post, but between the end of school year and the trip I ended up not having much time and inspiration to write. But I guess I will have time in Brazil, so I will keep posting from there and adding the new recipes as we go.
Until then, I hope you enjoy our chocolate cake too!

Chocolate Beet Cake
1 large beet (or 2 small), raw, peeled and chopped into pieces
4 eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup canola oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 tablespoons cocoa

Pre-heat oven to 350F.
Put beet, eggs, sugar, oil and cocoa in a blender and mix until smooth and liquidy, and there is no large pieces of beets remaining.
Pour batter in a large bowl, add flours and baking powder, and mix well with a wooden spoon until everything is incorporated. Pour batter into a greased bundt pan and bake at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Chocolate Glaze:
In a saucepan put 1 cup sugar, ¾ cups cocoa, 1 tablespoon butter, and ½ cup milk. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat and immediately pour over cake.