Thursday, June 28, 2007

Kitchen Space in the Top 5!!!!

I was totally thrilled to see my name and my dear blog being mentioned by Rita Lobo at her own Blog! Rita Lobo is a super nice Lady who wrote some cookbooks and has a culinary website called "Panelinha", which is full of wonderful recipes and pictures!
Both blog and website are in Portuguese, so I am sorry to my English reading friends... but do take a look, and if any recipe strikes your fancy just let me know and I will be more than happy to translate it for you!
I love Rita's way of writing and relating her culinary tastes and adventures to passages in her life. Reading her blog is both pleasant and informative, plus to me reading her talk about her memories just makes me think of my relationships and the way my family influenced me and my cooking style.
I wrote her an e-mail the other day just to say how much I appreciated her blog and wow, I was very surprised to see me, myself, "euzinha", being mentioned on the blog, and on the TOP 5!!
Did I say it was the weekend's top 5???!!!!
Thanks Rita, once more, for your nice blog, for your kindness and for mentioning my kitchen in your awesome space!
For those who like me love recipes and photos (all of Panelinha's recipes are tested and have pictures on them!), run to the website and take a look around, it is really worth it! And, of course, stop by Rita's Blog to see "me" and the other 4 who made to her weekend's rank!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Grilled Eggplant Stacks

We just had this for lunch and I had to run and post the recipe here. This dish was extremely flavorful, really good, truly delicious!!!
I don't think I have enough words to express how much I loved this one! I already liked all the components by themselves (c' mom, grilled veggies are the best, aren't they?!!!), so there was no way we would not enjoy this one. Sooooo yummy!
It is not difficult to put together and it has just the right ingredients to make an awesome and delightful summer dish.
It takes a little prep time to prepare the ingredients and grill them, but that's all you need to do. The rest is assembling and enjoying!
The stars of this dish for me was first of all the herbbed goat cheese, and then the balsamic-wine syrupy reduction. The cheese made it taste even fresher and it was so delicious on its own, I measured the 2 ounces asked in the recipe and then threw a little more in there just so I could have a tad extra, and also because I love goat cheese and I wanted a good portion of it in my "stack"!
The balsamic reduction was amazingly good. So rich, so syrupy, it made me feel like I was a very good chef, really, it tasted "chic"!
This could be easily be served as part of a vegetarian meal, as I actually had mine with tofu and brown rice, while the boys opted for red meat.
Making dishes like this makes me happier than ever, and it makes me love cooking more and more; because I know it is really hard to find such tasty food around. It would certainly cost me a fortune and no one could ever guarantee it would be this fresh.
This is why I love cooking the most. Treating my family with healthy and delicious food and seeing their happy faces is much more than I could ever ask for!

Grilled Eggplant Stacks
(From Cooking Light Magazine, July 2007)

1 (1-pound) eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 small zucchini (about 4 ounces)
1 small yellow squash (about 4 ounces)
1 large red bell pepper, quartered lengthwise and seeded
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

Place eggplant slices in a colander. Sprinkle evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt; toss well. Let stand 10 minutes. Rinse slices thoroughly; dry with paper towels.
Combine vinegar, wine, and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 8 minutes).
Prepare grill.
Trim ends from the zucchini and yellow squash; slice each lengthwise into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices. Flatten pepper pieces with hand. Brush eggplant, zucchini, squash, and pepper pieces with oil; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Place pepper pieces, skin side down, eggplant, zucchini, and squash on a grill rack; grill 8 minutes or until tender, turning once.
Combine cheese, basil, and oregano.
To assemble stack, place 1 eggplant slice on a plate; top with one-fourth of cheese mixture. Lay one strip of yellow squash and one strip of zucchini side by side. Drizzle with 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic mixture. Top with one pepper piece. Top with one eggplant slice and drizzle with 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic mixture. Repeat procedure three times with remaining eggplant, cheese, squash, zucchini, peppers, and balsamic mixture. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Those leeks were sooooo good....!!

Every time I cook with leeks I wonder why I don't use it more. It is so flavorful, so delicious... I just wish it was a little less expensive though.
This recipe is ultra simple to put together and results in a very delicate and tasty dish. I got it from the book "Everyday Food: Great Food Fast", which I borrowed from the library and am seriously considering getting a copy for me, the recipes are easy to make and each of them comes with a nice picture, and I loooove cookbook with pictures!
This recipe turned out just as the picture, the only difference being I used Halibut instead of Cod (as the recipe asked for), as I just cannot stand cod in any form (fresh, salted, cured, etc).
The fish was moist and yummy, but the leeks were the very best part!! So good, next time I think will make just roasted leeks with tomatoes!! :o)
This dish was pretty to look at and had a "clean" taste, plus the leeks and tomatoes made a great combination with the white fish.
Feel free to sub your favorite fish in this recipe, I bet that for those who like it the cod would be good too.

Halibut with Leeks and Tomatoes
(Adapted from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast - From The Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living)

2 leeks, thinly sliced, rinsed and patted dry
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and pepper
2 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
4 halibut fillets

Preheat oven to 375F. In a baking dish mix together the leeks, lemon zest and juice, oil, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Cover with foil and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove dish from oven, add tomatoes and toss to combine. Season fish fillets with salt and pepper and place them on top of the vegetables. Cover the dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more.
Server 4.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Having Fun with Jell-o!!

As soon as I read Agdah's post about this gelatin idea I just let go a "Wow, this is so cool"!!! My excitement called Matheus' attention and as he saw the picture he was just as thrilled as I was "Cool, can you make it for us Mommy"??
Of course!!! In fact, I was already thinking about the jell-o flavors I might have had in my pantry at that time. And as soon as we got the colors we wanted I settled myself to get it done.
There are no tricks or level of difficulty for this dessert, and the end result is so cool! The colors, the rainbow effect, just make you smile by looking at it!
The method is simple, all you need to know is to boil water and stir in the jell-o! The rest is just a matter of waiting for the layers to set before you add the next one. As Agdah's said, it is a good way to exercise your patience!
Dissolve the jell-o in a little less water than asked in the box (I used 300ml for each package). Pour 1/2 of the jell-o in the pan, and to the rest of the jell-o add a tablespoons each of coconut milk and condensed milk. Wait until the first layer is set and then carefully add (spooning it, if needed) the next "milky" layer. Repeat for the following colors!
I mixed some coconut milk with condensed milk (don't overdo this one as the jell-o is already sweet) in a bowl and added this mixture to the jell-o flavors as I made them.
Simple, easy but tons of FUN!
We all liked it, my son LOVED this gelatin, and seeing the big smile in his face as he ate amazed his rainbow layers compensated each and every minute it took me to make it!
Thanks Agda for this cool treat, it really brightened our day!

And here is a slice, it does look COOL, doesn't it?!!!!
(Yes, I am a "grown-up-child"!!)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Stuffed Patty-pan Squash

The week was filled with dishes made with the fresh produce I bought on my last visit to the Farmer's market.
We had okra, yellow zucchini carpaccio, tomato salads, fresh peas, and fruits, lots of yummy blueberries!! Fresh blueberries are just the best!
Today I used the patty-pan squash. Just made it simple and the end result was delicious, I really liked it!
No actual recipe, but here is how I made it: hollow the squashes and reserve the pulp. Put hollowed patty-pans on a baking sheet, season with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Roast them in the oven (400F) until they are done and the bottoms are caramelizes.
Meanwhile, chop up the pulp from the squash. In a skillet sauté some garlic and onions in olive oil. Add the squash pulp, cook for a couple minutes, then add one or two chopped tomatoes (I used a big one), season everything with salt and pepper and cook until the veggies are tender. Add some fresh chopped parsley and basil (from the backyard!!!) and stir.
Remove squash from oven, fill the cavities with the cooked veggies and top with a mixture of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. A couple more minutes under the broiler and you have a lovely side dish for your meal!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Pasta with Peas and Ham

A very simple and easy dish to make when the pasta crave hits and you don't want to spend much time around the stove on a hot spring day!
I made it with spaghetti but I believe it would be even better with a shorter type of pasta, such as penne or farfalle; the sauce was more on the liquid side and it was hard to get the peas together with the long pasta strands. A shorter pasta and maybe even a spoon would help a lot!
However it was really taste and yummy, I made half recipe and there were no leftovers around!

Creamy Fettuccine with Peas and Ham
(Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, June 2003)

1 package fresh fettuccine (9 ounces)
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup frozen green peas
2/3 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded Parmesan cheese
Black pepper to taste
1 cup (4 ounces) ham, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips

Cook pasta, drain. Meanwhile melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add peas, half-and-half, cheese, and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently (do not boil). Stir in pasta and ham.
Serves 4

Friday, June 08, 2007

A trip to the Farmer's Market, what's not to like?!?!?!?!!!!!!!!!
Friday Funny...

"Be very quiet , Jeffy. Grandma's tea has to sleep for three minutes"

(From yesterday's Cartoon section of the local paper, The News & Observer)

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Baby Shower!!

And no, before you ask, it was not for me! It was just a little Baby Shower breakfast that I had today for my friend Kennon to celebrate her 4th little one!
I just wanted to share here with you the cake I made, as Me and all my friends agreed came out really cute!
It was really fun to make and I am seriously thinking about venturing myself into the cake decorating area, as I am truly enjoying this cake-making thing! (take a peek at the other one I made for my son's birthday a couple months ago - click here)
For this one I used a very simple recipe for a pound cake and filled with the same butter cream used to ice the outsides before applying the fondant.
I am posting the recipe as I think it is a super versatile one! I love this cake just by itself, but you can make it your own way by changing the extract or by adding fruits or even chocolate chips to the batter.
Simple but really yummy!!
Kennon, once again, congratulations on the new baby! I loved our gathering today and am super glad you liked it all too!!

Sour Cream Pound Cake
(Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, April 1997)

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
4 eggs (or 7 egg whites)
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°.
Beat sugar and butter in a mixer until well-blended. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Combine sour cream and baking soda, set aside. Combine flour and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Pour batter into a 10-inch greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 325° for about 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting. Let cool and serve.

And here a picture of a slice! The baby seems to like it too!!!