Saturday, January 26, 2008

Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)

We found this recipe for Pao de Queijo (pow jee kayjo) a few years back, and have been enjoying it regularly ever since! The end result is just like my husband remembers from his two years living in Brazil. They're easy to make, and can be frozen. We're not sure how long they'd last in the freezer- we've never gotten past a month without eating them all!

The recipe comes from an online Portuguese school created by a lovely woman named Sonia. There are Portuguese language lessons, cartoons, phrases, and lots of great recipes. Go check it out! The recipes are well-organized and easy to follow. We've been eying a couple others- coxhina are out of this world, if you can find someone to deep fry them for you (one of my cooking phobias.) Maionase (may-o-nay-zee, or potato salad) is one of my favorite side dishes -- and yes, it translates as "mayonnaise." The dessert "pudims" (puddings) are so rich and delicious- you've got to try them to find out for yourself!

The recipe below is not word for word- I've added a few of my own notes, learned over the course of making these many times.

The recipe is great for celiacs, as it doesn't contain any wheat. Makes about 75 walnut-sized breads. Allow 3-5 per guest.

Pao de Queijo

1 cup water
1 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 package tapioca starch (450 grams)
2 to 3 eggs, depending on size
about half a pound of parmesan cheese, grated (that's our favorite, but I think other kinds would work well.)

1. In a large pot bring to a boil the water, milk, oil, and salt.

2. Remove from heat, and stir in tapioca starch with a wooden spoon. Stir quickly because once the tapioca starch hits the liquid, it becomes an incredibly stiff goo. Let cool.

3. Put the mixture in a large bowl and knead in the eggs.

4. Add the cheese, and keep kneading till the dough is smooth.

5. Roll the dough into small balls (about 1 tablespoon each.) You don't want them very big- just bite size. You may need to grease your hands for this.

6. Bake about 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven, on a parchment lined or greased cookie sheet.

6. Place on a large baking sheet and flash freeze. Pop off the sheet and store in an airtight bag in the freezer. You can bake them directly from the freezer, 350 degrees and about 20 minutes. I like to bake them on parchment paper or aluminum foil as they tend to weld themselves to the cookie sheet.

These will be light golden in spots when they are done, but still rather pale. The outside will be almost crispy, while the inside stays stretchy. They're addictive, and unfortunately you can't really use less oil- I've tried.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

This is close to what has been posted before, but it's a little different, and it's what we had for breakfast!

In blender:
sliced, frozen strawberries (I bought them fresh last summer, and froze them, sliced, in sandwich-sized bags.)
handful of frozen raspberries
1 banana
milk to cover 3/4
a few scoops of powdered milk for extra calcium

Blend till smooth. Serves 2

Margherita Pizza

A totally delicious, easy pizza.

Roll out pizza dough (use your favorite recipe, or purchase a mix or premade dough.) Place on a cookie sheet or pizza stone that's been sprinkled with corn meal.

Drizzle dough with olive oil, then top with sliced tomatoes, a sliced mozzarella ball, and basil leaves. Sprinkle with a little salt, and bake in a 450 degree oven till dough is light brown and cheese is bubbly. You won't need more than half a ball of mozzarella for one pizza- it all melts together into a delicious lake of bubbling cheese.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Chinese Style Broccoli

I saved the best for last. As I understand it, Eric absolutely loved the sauce from the broccoli. Luckily for him, that same sauce (with small variations) is used on just about any vegetable or meat you could care to cook!

Basically, the Chinese kitchen uses a basic three-ingredient sauce, with three other variable ingredients, in different quantities, on everything.

Their very own trinity of ingredients: soy sauce, corn starch, sugar.
If you would like your sauce a little richer, add a little oyster sauce. If you'd like it to be a little more pungent, add some green onion. If it needs a little kick, try some fresh ginger.

For my broccoli:
In a skillet, heat up 1 tbs. oil and 3 tsp minced garlic. Before the garlic browns, add about four handfuls of chopped broccoli and 3/4 cup water. Cover and steam until tender, about 8 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix1 heaping tsp. cornstarch, 2 tsp soy sauce and 2 tsp sugar. Add just enough water to be able to stir the mixture together.

When the broccoli is done, remove the lid and make a little "clearing" in the middle of the pan. (There should still be about 1/4 inch water in the bottom of the pan.) Add your bowl of sauce and stir into the water. Let this come to a boil. When the sauce has thickened, you're ready to serve! Taste it - oyster sauce, sugar or soy sauce can still be added at this point. If it is not thick enough, you can add more cornstarch, but be sure to mix it into a little cold water before adding it to the pan. Otherwise, you'll get little cornstarch dumplings, and nobody likes that!

When cooking Chinese food, green onions should be chopped (greens and all) and added with the final seasoning. Ginger should be added in slices (one or two will be sufficient, about 2 mm across, and whacked with a knife to release the juice) with the garlic, into the heating oil. These slices can be removed before serving - most people don't like biting into a slice of ginger with their chicken!

Spinach with Oyster Sauce

This one might be even easier than the cucumber and shrimp dish.

In a large skillet, heat up 1 tbs. oil and 1 tsp minced garlic. When the oil is hot, add as much spinach as you can fit in the skillet, and 1 cup water. Cover and steam until limp, about 2 minutes.

Scoop the spinach into a serving dish, draining off the water, and top with 2 tsp oyster sauce and 1 tsp. sugar. Serve warm.

Sweet and Spicy Shrimp with Cucumbers

We had some friends over on Saturday night. (I know, I know - amazing, right? I have friends!)

Anyhow, one of the gentleman in the party was so dreadfully taken with my Chinese food, he demanded that his wife learn to cook the dishes from that evening.

Wow. First off, does he know what Chinese food ought to taste like? (That was put in by my own sweet husband.) Second, SURE! Why not. The dishes I made were all super simple.

Let's start with the Sweet and Spicy Shrimp with Cucumbers. Are you ready for this?

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, split lengthwise, and sliced
1 lb shrimp, cooked, shells off
1/4 cup Sweet and Spicy chili sauce for chicken (available at any Asian market)

Place the sliced cucumbers in a serving dish. Layer the cooked shrimp on top. Top with the sweet and spicy chili sauce. Serve cold.

(You got all that, Eric? Alright. On to the next one.)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Romios Pizza and Pasta

Romios Pizza and Pasta

3615 Factoria Blvd
Bellevue, WA 98006 map
district: Bellevue

Tel. +1 425.747.3000

Oh, children, children, children.....I think I may have found the perfect pizza joint! It is delicious, loud (we could take children there, and nobody would notice) and close to Factoria Mall.

Louh Gung and I hit the road, sans baby (thanks, Mom!) in search of sustenance. We intended to go to Applebee's, where we have gift certificates. (Do they have a religion for those? A support group? I swear, we could live on the things!) As we circled the parking lot, trying to find a place that five people weren't already waiting for, I happened to glance inside the Applebee's window. Sweet peanut butter pie! There was a crowd of people, just waiting for their seats, almost overflowing the restaurant foyer. We quickly decided free wasn't worth a long (hungry) wait, so we turned around and considered our options.

When, what to our wondering eyes should appear,
But a new pizza joint, and it was across the street, quite near!
What used to be Prestos, serving old noodles and spaghetti,
Is now a new pasta place, where things aren't sitting there, ready.
There are cooks in the kitchen, and enormous menus on the wall.
With pizza and pasta, there is something for all.
The place it was packed, so we knew it was tasty.
We checked out the menu - we couldn't be hasty!
We ordered a pizza, to share, if you please.
It had garlic, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, pesto and cheese!
We topped off our order with a full Garlic Cheese Bread.
The marinara for dipping just went to our heads!
We ate with a relish, enjoying every bite.
As we prepared to leave, in the bill there was no fright.
$18 for two, that's really not bad,
When you consider the food and the fun that we had.

So if you're heading to the movies, or just to the mall,
be sure to check out Romios - there is something for all!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Pot of Beans

This is one of those dishes that once you know how to make it, you can't imagine ever using a recipe. But for those of you who haven't started your lifetime of beans yet, let's begin!

You'll need:
Big pot
Bag of beans (pinto, black, red, brown, etc.)
Bay Leaves
Meat, if you want (kielbasa, chorizo, ground beef, ham, etc.)

The night before, put your beans in the pot and cover with water to 2 inches above beans. Shake in a little baking soda, and let them soak overnight.

The next day drain and rinse your beans and again add water to 2 inches above the beans. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Add 1 or 2 bay leaves and a teaspoon of salt. When they've been cooking for a while, cut up and brown your meat in another pan with a quarter of an onion, chopped. If it's not a fatty meat, add some oil. Put as much pepper as you want into this mix (1 teaspoon makes very spicy beans!), and let the pepper work into the fat or oil. Add the whole thing to your pot of beans. Adding the pepper this way really works it in- otherwise it will float on top, and get stuck to the sides of the pan. In Brazil, this is called a refogado.

Let beans simmer for a few hours- usually 4 or 5. I normally start the rinsing process around noon. If you run out of time, you can start these the same day by bringing to a boil and boiling for a few minutes and then letting them soak. Draining the rinse water off is a personal preference- I normally do it if I add the baking soda, but I find that if I don't drain it off it makes a heartier pot of beans. Your call. If you want the pot of beans thicker, take out a cup of beans once they're soft and mash them into a paste, and stir back in.

Serve with cornbread, or our favorite, pao de queijo (a Brazilian cheese bread.) Recipe to follow. Now go enjoy! And remember- if you don't start eating this stuff now, when the Big One hits (whatever it is) and you need to live off your food storage, you'll be one sad person! We serve it once a week, and it's my favorite night of the week! It's delicious, economical, and a complete no-brainer.

Leftover Ham

I've been cooking up a storm these past couple days with no time for writing! Let's take a look at what I've been doing shall we?

We had some lovely leftover ham in our fridge, and mom wanted to make ham and eggs for dinner. She likes Breakfast Dinners... I don't. And so I made dinner.

~2 Cups Ham
2 Packages Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice
2 Cans of Pineapple Chunks
A little bit of butter

Cut your ham in to bite size strips.

Throw some butter in a large cooking pan that you have a lid for (Lid is important!)

Once the pan is hot, throw the ham strips in and let 'em sizzle for a while until they are nice and brown. They should have a nice bacony smell going, slightly crunchy on the outside and still nice and tender inside.

While those ham strips are sizzling away, open up your two cans of pineapple chunks and drain that tasty juice in to a large measuring cup (not down the sink!). You'll be using it in a second.

Now go check on those ham strips. Slightly browned and a little crispy on the outside? Perfect. Rip open those packages of Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice, and remove the two seasoning packets.

Now not everyone has a 5 cup measuring cup, so, in whatever way is easiest for you, add all of your pineapple juice and enough water so that you have about 4.5 cups of liquid in your pan. Dump in the rice, and the seasonings.

Put it on high heat and bring the contents of the pan to a boil. Once it reaches a boil lower the heat to low, put the lid on and let it simmer for a good 20-25 minutes, until most of the liquid is soaked up.

Once that's done, you'll probably have some extra liquid still in the pan, but if you don't that's fine too. Either way, add the pineapple chunks, bring the heat up to medium/high and stir everything around good until the pineapple chunks are warmed up, excess liquid is steamed out, and everything looks delicious (Your mouth should be watering by this point).

Once everything looks the way you want it, you're good to go. Enjoy a delicious use of leftover ham, and don't forget some veggies with that meal!

Easy Breakfast Smoothie

Alright, Ted - this is just for you. A Smoothie recipe!

Pile (in this order!) into a good blender:

4 inches of strawberries (about 10), frozen
One ripe banana, broken into 3 inch chunks
one carton soft tofu (sold unrefrigerated, for less than a dollar a carton, in any Asian grocery) (These will keep in the pantry for up to a year)
Enough milk to almost cover the strawberries (about 1 cup)
5 tsp sugar
1 tsp Postum

Blend. Makes two. This goes together really fast, because the tofu is already really soft. For dessert, you could add a scoop of ice cream. You could omit the sugar...but I was making these for dessert at the time.

This is super healthy, super fast - a great smoothie! Lots of protein.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Easy Chow Mein with Egg

So, what's a girl to make for lunch when she's starving now, and doesn't want another bowl of cereal or a sandwhich?

Make Top Ramen! Then, of course...there's the problem of Top Ramen being absolutely nasty unless her sweet husband makes it...and he's at

she improvises.

I cooked my ramen while I heated a frying pan and cooked an over-medium fried egg. (Cook the egg until the whites are just starting to set, and flip over. For an over-medium, leave it for about 30 seconds.)

When the ramen was al dente, I drained off most of the water, and returned the pan to the heat, drying the noodles out a little it. I added just enough of the seasoning packet to flavor the noodles (about 1/4 tsp.), a little Worcestershire Sauce, a little soy sauce, and a little sesame oil. I threw in some chick peas I had in the fridge, too, for added protein. I continued to "pan fry" ("chow") my ramen ("mein") until the flavors were blended and everything was nice and hot.

I served it in a bowl with my fried egg on top. The noodle texture was surprisingly creamy - I'll definitely make this again! I will probably pan toast the chick peas first, next time, to crisp them up a little bit.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Heartline Cafe's Radiatori with Shrimp, Chive Butter, Butternut Squash, and Wild Mushrooms

As of this week, I LOVE vegetables. Don't show me chocolate, bread, ice cream, or pot roast. I'll look at rice or noodles if they're paired with an inordinate amount of greens or mushrooms. Reading other bloggers, just emerging from the December food-fest I don't think I'm alone in this. So when I saw this recipe in my new cookbook, I had to give it a try! It's remarkably similar to the meal I ate there last week.

In a nutshell: peel and cube one butternut squash, toss with melted butter, and roast at 400 degrees on a baking ban. Mine took about an hour, and that was after being microwaved for 5 minutes to soften the skin.

Saute in 1/2 cup butter (it's necessary!) garlic, shallots, any wild mushrooms (I used fresh oyster and re-hydrated shiitake), fresh thyme, and snipped chives. I didn't have fresh thyme, and the dried made the whole dish bitter, although it smelled amazing. The recipe also calls for shrimp, which I didn't add. When everything is softened and the mushrooms are starting to "sweat" (these wild mushrooms are much hardier than our pansy white button mushrooms), toss in the roasted squash which should be nice caramelized in spots by now. Toss in your boiled pasta, and serve it up. PLEASE don't skimp and leave the butter in the pan! Without it, there's no sauce and dry pasta is a sad thing.

Friday, January 4, 2008

When in Salt Lake City....

eat at Grandma's house! She makes the best chicken ever.

Elsie's Velvet Chicken

Butterfly, rinse and dry one pan-sized fryer chicken. (If it's bigger than your pan when you butterfly it...get a bigger pan! This is worth it.)

Rub the chicken with a generous amount of salt, inside and out. Make sure you give his armpits a good scour with the salt, and massage it thoroughly into his thighs - relaxed chickens are happy chickens!

Next, find your envelopes of Knoors chicken rub (yihm guhk gai fan, if you get it at an Asian market). Rub half of one envelope into the chicken, making sure that you get it evenly distributed, inside and out.

Now, put that chicken on a plate, cover him in plastic, and let him rest overnight in the fridge - he's had a hard day!

When you are ready to eat Mssr. Chicken, heat up a frying pan big enough to hold the chicken. The pan should be hot enough that water will sizzle, but not so hot that water will jump when it hits the pan.

When the pan is heated, place the chicken (skin side down!) inside the pan, cover, and cook for ten minutes.

After ten minutes, turn the chicken over, cover, and cook for another ten minutes.

Test the thigh - poke it with a fork. Does any blood come out? If the juice is at all pink when it comes out, cover and cook for another five minutes.

If you have an electric stove, turn your burner off, leave the chicken covered, and it will be perfectly cooked by dinner time.

If you have a gas stove, turn your burner down to its lowest setting, and let the chicken hang out for another ten minutes or so.

When you are ready to eat, draw and quarter your chicken. Serve with rice and vegetables.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Matts Rotisserie & Oyster Lounge - Redmond Town Center

Tonight, Thursday, January 3, 2007 Sue and I shared a wonderful meal at Matts at RTC. Wow, it was incredible! I had Chilean Sea Bass in an oriental barbeque with oriental slaw and rice. It was the best fish I can remember ever having. It was like a giant and extremely tender scallop. Wow.

Sue had a Thai curry with scallops and prawns with lemmon rice. It too, was amazing. Highly recommend this place! We went early around 5:15 and there was only one other table occupied. Great!

We finished with a freshly made fruit cobbler topped with ice cream. Put this place on the A+ list! :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Heartline Cafe

Oh my, folks. If you are ever near Sedona, you high tail it over to Heartline Cafe on Highway 89A, just west of the "Y." (Ask a local- there's only one road through town, and then it splits off.) J and I stopped there for lunch today, because our local guide promised fresh, local, organic food. I'm not sure much of anything is "local" in January, but the owners grow the herbs at home, and edible flowers out front. All meat was free-range and organic, and everything was incredible. We started with a basket of fresh homemade rolls served with a tomato-vegetable puree. Very healthy, and VERY good. My meal consisted of a field greens house salad with chili-ranch dressing, followed by a bowl of orrechiette pasta with roasted butternut squash, fresh chives, and marinated shiitake and portobella mushrooms. J had a marinated/grilled chicken sandwich, red cabbage cole slaw, and fresh sweet potato chips. In fact, we had agreed before hand that I would eat the chips since he despises sweet potatoes in all forms, but he LIKED these! They were thin sliced, salted, and oven-baked. The cafe has been in business since 1991, and the owners finally got tired of sending postcards all over the world in response to recipe requests. They published their first cookbook in 2000, and we purchased a copy. Yes, it was THAT good. The only restaurant that has come close is Sea Star, in Bellevue. And doesn't that tell you something?

Oh, and please- go for lunch. The prices are at least half of the dinner menu, and the portions are great. In fact, neither one of us could face dinner tonight!