Pão de Queijo: Brazilian Cheese Bread

Pão de Queijo: Brazilian Cheese Bread

Pão de Queijo: Brazilian Cheese Bread

Pão de Queijo, or Brazilian Cheese Bread for you North Americans, is AMAZING, and with the Olympics in Rio, what better time to enjoy the chewy, cheesy goodness?

The first time I had these I was at a brunch among friends. One person brought them upon request because it was another friend’s favorite food. I embarrassingly ate at least 4 of them, they are so yummy.

I have tried a couple of recipes. Some call for blending/food precessing the ingredients (SimplyRecipes) instead of using a stove top. Others call for cheddar (Food52), feta or any kind of cheese. Some encourage using muffin tins for baking (gawd I hate washing those). This one seems to be the most authentic, but what would I know? I have only ever had them at brunch. Either way, feel free to mix it up a bit.

Pão de Queijo

Makes 10 – 12 biscuits. Based on the recipe from Wikipedia

ingredients

  • ½ cup Oil (your choice; olive, vegetable, butter)
  • ⅓ cup Water
  • ⅓ cup Milk
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 cups Tapioca Flour
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • ⅔ cup Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated (it seems you could do cheddar or feta instead, either way it should be fresh)
  • 2 Eggs, beaten

 

instructions

  1. Combine oil, water, milk and salt in a large saucepan and place over medium heat.
  2. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat and immediately stir in tapioca flour and garlic. You may have to be aggressive with your stirring, the tapioca can be a bit stiff.
    Add tapioca and garlic
  3. Set mixture aside to rest for 10 – 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°
  4. After the mixture has cooled, add the Parmesan and eggs. Stir until well combined, though it will still be a bit chunky.
    Add cheese and egg
  5. Using well-greased hands or a greased measuring cup, drop rounded ¼ cup balls onto an ungreased baking sheet. I like to use a silpat. The smoother the balls, the smoother the buns, but either are fine.
    Scoop dough onto baking sheet
  6. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
    Baked cheese bread

Best served warm.

Brazilian Cheese Bread #Olympics #Recipes #Rio2016 🇧🇷

A photo posted by Belén Torres-Gil (@lemontinely) on Aug 5, 2016 at 2:35pm PDT

Spanish Rice Recipe

Spanish Rice Recipe

Spanish Rice

I am not sure why we have always called it Spanish Rice, when really it would be more aptly named Mexican Rice, but nomenclature aside, we have always served it as a side dish to pretty much everything at my house growing up. Fried chicken, enchiladas, lumpias, arroz con pollo, or even albondigas, you can pretty much always guarantee that there is either a fresh batch on the stove, or leftovers in the fridge.

My aunt likes to add frozen corn, peas and carrots to hers. My mom likes to use a halved onion, whereas I use chopped. My brother uses brown rice instead of white. Some use chicken bouillon, some use stock, some use water. Some use chopped tomatoes, others use tomato sauce. There are a million minute variations, but the essentials are: browning the rice, and adding a tomato-based seasoning.

Spanish Rice

ingredients

  • 2 tbsp oil of your choice, up to ¼ cup
    • Vegetable Oil
    • Olive Oil
    • Lard
  • ½ large Yellow Onion
    • chopped or peeled and halved, keeping the root intact
  • 2 cups Long Grain White Rice
  • 4 cups hot or boiling Liquid of your choice
    • Water
    • Chicken Stock
    • Water with Chicken Bouillon
    • Vegetable Stock
  • 1 x 8 oz can Tomato Sauce
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

instructions

  1. Heat your choice of oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. I almost always use a combination of olive oil and lard or bacon grease, or just olive oil.
  2. Add onion and rice. If you are adding chopped onions, just toss them in the pan. If the onion is halved, simply place the cut-side down, directly on the pan. You want the halved onion to maintain contact with the pain, and add the rice to be added around it.
    Spanish Rice: rice and onion in the pan
  3. Brown the rice. Allow the rice to brown in the pan, stirring every couple minutes until the majority of the rice is a golden color. Do not rush this step.
    Spanish Rice: browned rice
  4. Once the rice is browned, added the hot or boiling liquid of your choice and ¾ a can of tomato sauce and stir. I almost always add water and a couple heading tablespoons of chicken bouillon. If you have chicken stock, this adds a lovely flavor, but I don’t find it very cost efficient. If you’re out of both, water works fine. If you’re a vegetarian, vegetable stock is an excellent alternative. I like to add most of the can of tomato sauce, reserving a small amount as a topping once the rice is done. This is a personal decision, you can absolutely add the entire can, and even rinse the can with your liquid to be added to the pan as well. My siblings use so much tomato sauce we always end up opening an extra can anyway.
    Spanish Rice: adding tomato sauce
  5. Bring to a boil, increasing the heat if necessary. Cover. Reduce heat to low, maintaining a low simmer. Allow to cook for 30 minutes.
  6. Cook until all the liquid has been absorbed. If there is still liquid, cover and cook longer, checking in 5-minute increments.
  7. Fluff the rice with a large wooden spoon or rice paddle (like this one at Amazon) and serve hot.

Fluffed Spanish Rice

 

Notes:

  • I like to serve the rice the way my grandma liked it, topped with fresh chopped tomatoes and sliced hard boiled egg
  • My sister likes to serve the rice topped with extra tomato sauce, directly from the can, and cotija cheese.
  • My aunt likes to add 1 cup of frozen or canned peas, carrots and corn to her rice at the same time as the water. Or some combination of these veggies.
  • I usually run a teapot on the back burner while browning the rice. Since I always keep a teapot on the back burner, this creates no extra dishes, but if you are using stock, then you’ll have an extra pot.
  • My mom adds minced garlic to the pan with the onions.
  • My mom adds 1 green onion stock to the pan right before covering it. This creates a nice, photogenic rice, but I am not sure how much flavor it adds.
Gekochter Erdäpfelsalat: Austrian Boiled Potato Salad Recipe

Gekochter Erdäpfelsalat: Austrian Boiled Potato Salad Recipe

Sometimes you just need to go on vacation. You don’t care where you’ll go, or what you’ll be doing, you just know you need to get away for a while. Brian and I were in this very position early in our relationship. After a year of dating, we were ready to start planning a getaway beyond the weekend roadtrip, or college friend’s wedding.

Christkindlmarkt

We had some loose ideas of places we’d always wanted to travel, but were a bit restricted by vacation time, so we could only travel over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

One Saturday, we were casually browsing a bookstore and stumbled upon Where To Go When (Lonely Planet). This is a fantastic book where you choose a month, and it tells you great places to travel in that time range. There are categories like “family,” “adventure,” and “cultural.”

When we flipped to the month of December, it recommended Vienna for their unabashed love of Christmas, winter wonderland atmosphere, and the kickoff of the ball season. We were sold. The next day we booked tickets, and began taking dance lessons.

Our trip included Christmas Markets, Punsch (mulled wine) from street vendors, castles, the Kaiser Ball, and, dare I say, a little bit of magic.

Kaiser Ball 2008

After our trip we hosted an Austrian themed dinner party, selecting favorite recipes from our travels, as well as a couple that sounded interesting. We hadn’t tried Gekochter Erdäpfelsalat, or Boiled Potato Salad, but it seemed a natural compliment to the rest of the meal highlighting Wienerschnitzel (breaded veal, not chili dogs), and as a bonus surprise to us, it was by far most people’s favorite. Even better? It was surprisingly easy to make, and the ingredients were cheap and readily available. In fact, many homes will have a majority of the ingredients in their cupboards.

Gekochter Erdäpfelsalat

This is definitely one of those recipes that you can imagine your grandmother making with whatever scraps she has laying around. Adding this and that, not measuring, tasting as she goes to get the right balance. I, for example, add more bacon, onion and pickles than called for. It kicks up the flavor without harming the integrity of the dish. But if for some reason you were out, you could omit or substitute many items as well. If you need to feed more people, it scales very easily with more potatoes. It can easily be altered to be vegetarian by substituting bacon with just a little oil, and chicken bouillon with vegetable bouillon.

The dish is perfect warm, a very hearty side for a winter meal, and also makes great cold or hot leftovers the next day.

 

Gekochter Erdäpfelsalat: Austrian Boiled Potato Salad

based on the recipe in Cooking the Austrian Way (Easy Menu Ethnic Cookbooks)
serves 4 to 6

ingredients

  • Gekochter Erdäpfelsalat Ingredients3 large Potatoes, washed and peeled
  • 3 slices Bacon, chopped (may also be substituted with 1 tbsp Oil for vegetarian option)
  • 1/4 cup White Onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp Flour
  • 2 Chicken Bouillon Cubes, dissolved in 1 1/4 cup hot water (use Vegetable Bouillon for vegetarian option)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Pepper
  • 2 tbsp Sour Pickles, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Spicy Brown Mustard
  • 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Pinch of Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Parsley, chopped

instructions

  1. Boiled Potatoes Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.
  2. Drain potatoes in a colander and allow to cool.
  3. Wash and dry pan. In the same pan, sauté bacon and onion until onion is golden brown.
  4. Add flour and stir until lightly browned.
  5. Add bouillon, a little at a time, stirring constantly with a wire whisk to make a thick sauce.
  6. Add remaining ingredients, except parsley and potatoes, and turn heat to low.
  7. Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch slices and add to sauce.
  8. Cover pan and simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are tender.
  9. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

 

Gekochter Erdäpfelsalat with Sausages

Mexican Mac N Cheese Recipe

Mexican Mac N Cheese Recipe

Mexican Mac

When I was young, the sound of onions sizzling in a pan used to scare me the way vacuums scare cats. There was something about the attention-seeking onions that were different from other foods. Where pancakes hissed and then surrendered to the pan, onions continued to cast their spell throughout the cooking process, gaining strength with every stir. I was certain that at any moment the evil onions were going to burn my mother, as she continued to wage war on the pan.

But, they never did.

Now, that same sound is the sound of home. Most of my mother’s dishes begin with the sizzle of an onion, and end with a full belly and a warm heart. When my siblings and I moved far away from home for college or work it was the simple foods we craved, my mother’s own personal sucker punches to ensure we would return. Mexican Mac N Cheese is one of those dishes.

 

Close up

 

Mexican Mac-N-Cheese

serves 4

 

ingredients

  • stars1 – 2 tbsp Canola Oil (or your choice of Olive, Canola, Vegetable, Lard or Bacon Fat)
  • ½ cup Yellow Onion, finely chopped
  • 7 oz pkg small Mexican Noodles (Stars, Alphabet or Small Elbow work best, can be found in the International aisle of your supermarket)
  • 8 oz can Tomato Sauce
  • Boiling Water
  • Optional: Chicken Bouillon
  • 1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded plus more for serving (you could substitute Jack, Colby, or other hard cheese)
  • Wide sauté or frying pan with a lid

instructions

  1. Add enough oil of your choice to your pan to coat the bottom and place over medium heat. The wider your pan, the faster your noodles will brown. Let the oil heat for a moment before moving on, this is how you’re going to get that great sizzle.
    Noodles & Onions
  2. Add the onion and noodles to the pan and stir. Brown the noodles in the oil until most of the noodles are browned.
    Browned Noodles
  3. Once the noodles are nicely browned, quickly pour enough tomato sauce to cover the surface of the noodles. This may not be the entire can. Do not stir, or the sauce can boil or burn.
    Sauced Noodles
  4. Continuing to work quickly, pour enough boiling water over the pasta to cover completely, do not stir. If you do not add enough, you will have crunchy pasta, if you add too much, you will have soup. At this point, you can sprinkle with chicken bouillon for a richer flavor, or skip for a vegetarian option.
    Watered Noodles
  5. Bring to a boil (if it isn’t already), sprinkle the cheese on top of the water, cover and reduce to low heat. Cook for 20 minutes and check if the noodles are cooked through.Cheesed Noodles
  6. Once they are fully cooked, fluff the noodles and serve. Top with extra shredded cheese.

Mexican Mac N Cheese

 

Lobster Mac

Lobster Mac

I have been dying to make Lobster Mac and Cheese since the first time I heard of it which had to have been in the late 90s. The marriage of the creamy mac and cheese and delicate chewiness of the lobster seemed an unbeatable combination. The dream was always delayed because:

  1. Lobster is expensive
  2. I hate taking risks on expensive ingredients

The other day lobster was on sale for $5 a tail, so I bought 4, the store limit. After feasting on a lobster tail dinner with my husband, I decided to use the last two tails on a Lobster Mac Fest. I spent a lot of time researching recipes, and have had a couple iterations. For example, I knew I didn’t want a bland white bechamel sauce, but rather a punchier cheddar based sauce. I wanted to use a heartier noodle, and not some ravioli or shell or linguini. Scouring the web, and after watching a plethora of Food Network episodes dedicated to the cause, I decided on this recipe courtesy of The Neelys. The sauce is creamy, decadent, flavorful, and a gorgeous color. I opted for spirals instead of penne, and likely used more cheese than the recipe calls for, though after watching the video, so do they.

Result:

Lobster Mac and Cheese… the sum is less than the whole of its parts.

The concoction is good. Maybe even great. But is it better than a lobster tail with a really good mac and cheese on the side? Eh…

I do not blame the recipe. The recipe is outstanding and completely accurate. It’s just when you get a good bite of a chunk of lobster embedded in molten cheese alongside a swirl of perfectly al dente  pasta, you can’t help but wish that the mac and cheese tasted slightly less oceany, and that the lobster were simply steamed and served with lemon and butter.

Call me crazy, but some foods are better left in the pure form and need no adornment.

So, if someone else is serving it, make mine a double. If I am paying for it, and preparing it? I think I can do better.

Purée of English Pea Soup with White Truffle Oil and Parmesan Crisps

Purée of English Pea Soup with White Truffle Oil and Parmesan Crisps

I have been dying to make this recipe ever since buying The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller. It was the first recipe I saw, and my mouth watered immediately. There were two obstacles, however:

  1. I don’t own a food processor, and
  2. It wasn’t spring, and therefore there were no English peas in season

Since, apparently, both of these things are still true, I took some shortcuts, but the result was still outstanding. Bright green, bursting with flavor, and delicious hot or cold.

Purée of English Pea Soup with White Truffle Oil and Parmesan Crisps

Serves 6. Recipe care of The French Laundry Cookbook

ingredients

  • 3 lbs English Peas, shelled (I used frozen peas in lieu of fresh)
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Vegetable Stock (high-quality, if not fresh)
  • White Truffle Oil
  • Parmesan Crisps (recipe here)

instructions

  1. Regardless of fresh or frozen peas, shock them in a bowl of ice water to bring out their bright color.
  2. The recipe recommends boiling 7 quarts of water, 1 cup Sugar, and 1 1/2 cups Salt. No offense to Thomas Keller, but this is way too much. You will throw away much of the water, and need the largest pot in your kitchen to contain it which will take forever to boil. Instead, fill a 4-quart pot with water, add 1/2 cup Sugar and 3/4 cup Salt, or however much water your favorite pot can hold along with salt and sugar to taste. Bring to a boil.
  3. Boil the peas in batches. You don’t want the want the water to stop boiling, and you don’t want to crowd the pot. Boil until tender, 10 minutes.
  4. While you’re waiting, put a colander into a large bowl of ice water. Once the peas are cooked through, strain the peas into another bath of ice water. If you’re doing multiple batches of peas, leave the cooked peas in here so they keep their color.
  5. Here’s where I skipped some steps. Because I don’t have a food processor, I just threw the peas and the vegetable stock into the blender and blended. How much vegetable stock? Just enough that the peas will blend. Taste the concoction along the way. If it’s too flavorful, add some water instead of vegetable stock. We have a “Will it blend?” blender, so it got very smooth. Had we a food processor, we’d have processed the peas, and then put the entire mush through a sieve, then blended the puré with the stock. I’m sure there’s a difference between my lazy version and Thomas Keller’s attention to detail, but mine also tasted amazing.
  6. At this point you can either chill the soup or heat it, as the soup will be pretty lukewarm after the boiling and then soaking in ice. I heated.
  7. Serve into individual bowls.
  8. Top with a generous drizzle of truffle oil and a Parmesan Crisp. (Thomas Keller swirled the truffle oil in, I liked it on top).