Thursday, May 25, 2017

Chocolate granola to make breakfast even more delicious

Chocolate granola / Granola de chocolate

I know that for those of us who like to cook making things from scratch is actually fun and does not feel like a burden, but even for those who are not very fond of cooking I would recommend making their own granola – the difference in quality is huge, you have complete control over the ingredients (especially sugar) and can tweak flavors as you wish, creating delicious types of granola.

I have been making this chocolate granola for a couple of years now for it is so insanely delicious and very easy to put together – it is my favorite granola, hands down, the tastiest I have ever tried. The only real challenge is to NOT eat the entire batch while it cools down – be warned. :)

Chocolate granola
own recipe, inspired for several others I saw online

400g jumbo oats
100g sweetened coconut flakes
50g flaked hazelnuts or almonds
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
½ cup (45g) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup (100g) agave or honey – I prefer agave here because its flavor is more subtle, letting the chocolate flavor shine
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
50g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, coconut, nuts, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine cocoa, oil, sugar and agave (or honey) and whisk over medium heat until melted and sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla.

Pour over dry ingredients and stir well to coat. Spread mixture over foil and bake for 15 minutes. Stir the granola around and bake for another 15 minutes – the granola will still be soft and will get crunchy once cooled. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the chopped chocolate. Wait 1 minute for it to melt, then mix everything together. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Serves 8-10

Friday, May 12, 2017

Broccolini and gorgonzola risotto

Broccolini and gorgonzola risotto / Risoto de brócolis e gorgonzola

As I was choosing and editing the photo for this post I started to think of how and when I became such a great fan of risottos and… I could not remember. I can’t remember when I first tried risotto or which flavor that was, and I can’t remember when I first cooked a risotto myself either.

I usually have strong memories linked to my favorite foods, but not this time – I have no recollection whatsoever. I might remember some time and the best way of exercising my brain is to make more risottos, right? ;)

The one I bring you today combine broccolini and gorgonzola and it tastes really good – perfect for the cooler fall nights we have been having here lately.

Broccolini and gorgonzola risotto
own creation

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 ½ cups (330g) Arborio or Carnaroli rice
½ cup (120ml) dry white wine
200g broccolini florets
5 cups (1,200ml) hot vegetable stock
freshly ground black pepper
150g gorgonzola, coarsely grated or crumbled

Heat half the butter – 2 tablespoons – and the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. As soon as the butter melts, add the onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent. Add the rice and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, until rice is nicely coated in butter/oil. Stir in the wine and cook until it evaporates. Stir in the broccolini florets, followed by 1 ladleful of hot stock, and continue to cook, stirring until all the stock is absorbed.
Repeat this until all the stock has been used, the rice is al dente and the risotto is thick and glossy – about 20 minutes (you might not use all the stock). The broccolini florets will break into the rice making it look freckled. Season with salt and pepper, but go easy on the salt since gorgonzola is a salty cheese.

When the rice is al dente, stir in the gorgonzola and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Check seasoning, put the lid on and wait 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Monday, May 8, 2017

Plum and almond crumble and the end of "Girls"

Plum and almond crumble / Crumble de ameixa e amêndoa

After I binge-watched Girls while sick with the flu last year I could not help but continue watching the show even though Hannah got on my nerves most of the time – I sometimes wonder if the writers are trying to create the most stupid character in the world of the TV shows.

On the other hand, Elijah and Ray were my favorite characters of the show. :)

So I watched all the seasons, up to the series finale, and at the end I felt that the actual finale was episode 9 – there were several beautiful scenes, and I felt that the story could have ended right there. To be fair, I felt that the whole final season was much better than the others – and it moved me a lot more, too.

I am no stranger to making crumbles to go with my dear TV shows, and this time I made again the plum and almond crumble I had made months before, when I had last found good plums at the grocery store: plums and almonds complement each other perfectly. With my almond crumble and a nice, soft blanket and I was more than ready for Girls – and even though I was never a huge fan of Hannah and the ladies I shed a few tears at the end of the episode.

Plum and almond crumble / Crumble de ameixa e amêndoa

Plum and almond crumble / Crumble de ameixa e amêndoa

Plum and almond crumble
own creation

1/3 cup (46g) all purpose flour
2/3 cup (66g) almond meal
¼ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
¼ cup (50g) demerara sugar
4 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter, cold and diced
1/3 cup flaked almonds
4 large plums
2 tablespoons granulated sugar – if plums are very sweet, omit the sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Have ready four 1-cup capacity (240ml) heatproof bowls – you can also bake this crumble family style, using a shallow 1-liter capacity heatproof dish.

Make the topping: in a medium bowl, mix with a fork the all purpose flour, the almond meal, baking powder, salt and demerara sugar. Add butter and rub ingredients together with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Using a fork, stir in the flaked almonds – do not overmix. Freeze for 5 minutes while you prep the fruit.

Cut the plums in half and remove the stones. Cut each half in 0.5cm slices, then transfer a medium bowl. Add the granulated sugar (if using) and stir to combine – if not using the sugar, transfer the plum slices to the heatproof dishes. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit and bake for about 25 minutes or until topping is golden and crispy.

Serve with heavy cream or vanilla ice cream.

Serves 4

Friday, May 5, 2017

My Bolognese sauce, as per my husband's request

My Bolognese sauce / O meu bolonhesa

I started blogging about food in 2006 (sometimes I find it hard to believe I am still here, to be honest) and for years now many people have written to me to tell me they learned how to cook with me (Brazilians, since I write in Portuguese, too). Every time I read the emails I feel joy in my heart, for I know how liberating learning how to cook can be – it was for me.

So here we are, almost eleven years later, and this time the “revolution” is happening in my home: my husband has been learning how to cook. :) It started with sandwiches, it evolved to salads and soups (very good salads and soups, by the way) and days ago he tried to make one of our favorite dishes: Bolognese sauce. I arrived home late after a tiresome day at the office and smelled something wonderful when the elevator door opened – for a moment I thought the smell could be coming from my neighbors’, but those people, besides being incredibly noisy and rude, don’t cook food that smell that great. :)

For my surprise, the smell was coming from my apartment and as I walked in I found my husband smiling at me: “surprise! I made your Bolognese sauce!” – I helped him cook the linguine and we had a delicious dinner.

He then told me he was a bit confused during the preparation of the sauce and that he had searched the blog to make sure he remembered all the steps – “I could not find the recipe on TK”, he said, and I told him I had not published it here. He said “it’s about time”, so here we are: I am sharing with you my Bolognese sauce – and I call it “my Bolognese” because I know it is not the most authentic one out there, but it is the one I have been making for years and that my husband loves so much. I don’t always have carrots and/or celery at home for the sofrito, so onions and garlic are the aromatics of choice; also, I hardly ever have 3 hours to wait for the sauce to come together, so mine is ready in 30 minutes or so. I hope you give it a go and if you do, please let me know how it went.

My Bolognese sauce
own recipe

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
250g beef mince
salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup (60ml) dry red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 400g (14oz) can peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 bay leaves
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
handful of fresh basil leaves or fresh oregano leaves
300g linguine

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant, then add the beef and break it down with the spoon into smaller pieces. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is well browned. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the wine and cook again for 2-3 minutes or until wine is reduced – using a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits in the bottom of the saucepan for extra flavor.

Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the canned tomatoes and smash them with a potato masher. Fill ¾ of the can with water, swirl it around and add to the saucepan. Season again with salt and pepper, add the sugar, the bay leaves, the thyme and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until thickened. Add the basil/oregano, stir to combine, remove the bay leaves and the thyme sprigs, cover and remove from the heat.
Cook linguine in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and stir in the sauce. Serve immediately.

Serves 3

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