Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summer Gazpacho Soup

Pin It I decided to make gazpacho soup because I know that Andrew likes it. He ordered it on the day of our wedding in Hawaii. I like it as well, but it took me a few trials to get a recipe just right for my taste. I adapted many recipes together and came up with this one. There are several variations of gazpacho soups, this is the one I make most of the time. It uses a lot of olive oil which gives the soup a lovely sweetness that balances the acidity of the tomatoes. Use the best olive oil you can and you won't regret.

The measurements for this soup are flexible and you should adjust them to your own taste. For instance, more bread and the soup will be thicker, less vinegar and it will be sweeter, more or less cucumber, etc. The sweetness of the tomatoes will also play a role on the final taste of the soup, if the tomatoes are not too sweet, use less vinegar.

Lastly, I have to say that this recipe is quite messy to prepare, but it also makes a lot of soup, and you can keep it in the fridge for a week.

Gazpacho Recipe:
makes about 3 quarts (3,5 liters)

You will need:

1 cup tomato juice, preferably home made
1 (2-inch) piece baguette, crust discarded and torn
12 very ripe medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped (plus 3 more for the tomato juice, if making it at home)
1 English cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 cup sherry vinegar (or use red wine vinegar - less than 1/4 cup)
1 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

For garnishing (optional):
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 small sweet white onion, finely diced
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil

Start by making the tomato juice, if making it yourself. Blend 3 tomatoes and strain it to get 1 cup of juice. You can also do this in a juicer.
In small bowl, pour tomato juice over bread and let it soak until very soft, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Add tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, 2 teaspoons of salt, and paprika and puree until very smooth. You may need to do this in batches if your blender is not very large.
Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids to extract all liquid. Discard solids, return liquid to blender (or you can use a food processor) and add the vinegar. With motor running, slowly add the oil in a steady stream, then blend until fully incorporated.
Transfer gazpacho to airtight container and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. before serving.
To serve, pour soup into chilled bowls, grind some fresh pepper over the soups, top with your choice of toppings and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil.
Enjoy it!

Blueberry Upside-Down Cake

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I didn't grow up eating berries. The only berry I remember having in Brazil was strawberry. Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries were either not available or incredibly expensive. So I look forward to cook with them during the summer months when they are in season. I like them all, although I have to admit I still prefer the tropical fruits better.

This is a small cake, and I like to have a slice when it's still warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Because it's a small cake, it's important to use a small baking pan, or the cake will be pretty short, like mine. The original recipe suggests using a 5 1/2 inches souffle dish, I used a 6 1/2 inches. If presentation doesn't matter so much to you, use whatever you have in hand, the cake will taste great regardless.

A few notes:
My cake didn't turn out as tall as the one on the picture, I wonder if it is because I used a 6 1/2 inches souffle dish instead of a 5/12 one. That reminds me of something else: This is a small cake. If you plan to make it for a large crowd, consider making two of them. Lastly, my cake was done after 40 minutes.

Blueberry Upside-Down Cake Recipe
slightly addapted from here

You will need:

4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 cups blueberries
3/4 cup cake flour (or use 10 1/2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 1-quart, 5 1/2-inch-diameter souffle dish. Pour 2 tablespoons of melted butter into the souffle dish. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of brown sugar over butter. Scatter 1 cup blueberries over sugar. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together remaining 2 tablespoons butter, remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar, and the egg. Whisk the milk into the egg mixture. Add flour mixture; whisk until batter is smooth.

Pour half the batter into the souffle dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup blueberries over batter. Spread remaining batter over blueberries. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean of batter, about 45 minutes. Immediately invert cake onto a serving dish.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lavender Float

Pin It Lavender reminds me of Provence. I used to see postcards of beautiful lavender fields, the envelope in a matching purple colour, I always thought to myself, wouldn't it be great to visit those places.... Ironically when I went to France and had a chance to visit Provence it wasn't lavender season.Nor sunflower season either (another one of my favourites). But that didn't stop me from falling in love with the area, its small villages and towns, patios filled with happy people sipping glasses of (French) wine, dogs sleeping under the tables, bicycles parked along the side walks... Yes, it is a really great place. But so is Washington State, in it's own way. This lavender float is made with two wonderful local products from the Seattle Area. It's one of my favourite treats during the summer.

Lavender Float Recipe:

makes 2 floats

You will need:

1 bottle of lavender soda
2 scoops of lavender ice cream

Place one scoop of ice cream in a cold tall glass. Top it with the lavender soda slowly, as it will foam up. Repeat with another glass.

Close you eyes and dream of purple lavender fields!

Enjoy it!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tortilla Chips-Crusted Chicken

Pin It We had a party a while ago and ended up with a lot of tortilla chips left over. I don't mind them if I am in a Mexican restaurant, as an appetizer or at a party. But it's not the kind of food we eat on a daily basis. I find it very salty, and I don't like jarred salsas either, so I have to make my own (really good one) every time we want to eat the chips, plus we avoid highly processed foods like this one as much as possible.
So I decided to try and use it to coat chicken breasts and roast them. It turned out really good, a nice way to use a left over bag of Doritos. The chicken was roasted, not fried, and I used mustard to coat it first instead of eggs. If you leave some chunks of tortilla chips the chicken turn out crispier and have a nice texture to it.

Tortilla Chips-Crusted Chicken Recipe

Note: this more an idea than a recipe itself. The quantities and oven time will depend on how many chicken breats you wish to roast or/and how much tortilla chips you have. I would say that for each chicken breast I used approximately 1/4 cup of crushed chips.

You will need:

corn tortilla chips (like Doritos), preferrably left over

boneless, skinless chicken breats

salt and pepper

Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper and set aside.

Crush tortilla chips (I did it in a food processor) and transfer to a plate. Coat chicken breasts with some Dijon mustard and cover them with the crumbs, pressing down with your fingers.

Place coated chicken breasts in a cooling rack set over a baking sheet and roast it until in the preheated oven until cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oatmeal Molasses Bread

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Bread is one of those things that for the most part I preffer to buy it than make it at home. This loaf is one of the few exceptions, it's made with oats and molasses which gives the bread a nice flavour and this dark colour. It is easy to make and tastes realy good. It's a good bread for sandwiches and toast, but most of the time I have it just plain with some saffron honey on top.

Oatmeal and Molasses Bread Recipe:
addapted from Willians-Sonoma Essentials of Baking Cookbook

makes 2 loaves

You will need:

2 1/2 cups water
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup molasses
2 packages (1/4 oz/7 g each)dry active yeast
5-6 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt

Bring water to a boil and pour over oats. Add butter and molasses and let mixture cool to warm.

Add 3 cups of the flour and the salt. In the bow of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm oats mixture and wait 5 minutes. Knead on low speed with the hook attachment. Add remaining flour as needed for the dough to come away from the sides of the bowl after a few minutes of kneading (I use normally between 5 1/2 to 6 cups of flour, but it varies each time). Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 5-7 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl.

Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in volume, about 1 hour.

Butter 2 (9x5 inch/23x13 cm) loaf pans. Punch down the dough and transfer it to a floured work surface (it may be sticky). Cut it in half. Form an oval log with each half (by rolling and sealing the dough). Place the logs seam side down in the prepared loaf pans. Press on them to flatten them evenly into the pans. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let it rise again in a warm, draft-free place until doubled, about 45-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mist the tops of the loafs with water and sprinkle with extra oats. Bake until golden brown. Bread should sound hollow when tapped on top, 40-45 minutes. Let them cool completely on wire racks before slicing.

Roasted Eggplant with Coconut Milk

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This dish is super easy to prepare, fast and healthy. Just perfect for those days when I don't feel like spending too much time prepping, but still want to eat something that is nourishing and good for you. I served it over rice to soak up the sauce. A simple arugula and radish salad completes the meal. Enjoy it!

Roast Eggplant with Coconut Milk Recipe
addapted from the Brazilian cookbook O Grande Livro de Receitas Claudia

Serves 4 as main dish or 6 as a side dish

You will need:

1 eggplant
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, finely sliced
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup coconut milk
red pepper flakes or chopped red chillies to taste

Slice the eggplant and place it on the bottom of an oven proof dish (9x13 inches). Season with salt and pepper.
Top with the onion. Mix the milk with the coconut milk and pour on top of dish. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, or chopped red chillies.
Cover with foil and roast it at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes. Remove foil and return to oven until the top is golden brown, about 5 minutes more.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Homemade Granola

Pin It Granola is the type of recipe that anyone can adjust and adapt to their own taste. It's almost impossible to mess it up. This is my version. I looked at many different recipes and came up with this one that is adapted mainly for Andrew's taste, who eats it everyday for breakfast. I like to sprinkle it over yogurt, or a nice bowl of Brazilian açaí with some sliced bananas. I always make a double batch as the recipe can be easily doubled, and it goes really fast here at home.

Rita's Homemade Granola Recipe

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup sliced almonds

1 cup rice puffs

1 cup Brazil nuts, chopped

1 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Combine first six ingredients. On a separate bowl, mix maple syrup, oil and salt until combined. Combine both mixtures well and spread it on a rimmed baking sheet pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Add raisins and keep it in an air-tight container.

I love Brazil nuts, besides adding a personal touch to this recipe, they are full of mood-lifting selenium and are also rich in zinc. I think macadamia nuts will be a good substitute as well. But remember, there are no rules, use any nut, fruit cereal you like best and create your own granola.

Tomato Tart

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This tomato pie (or tart) is best eaten the day that is baked. Served with a mixed green salad it makes a nice meal. I got the recipe from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook that I found at my neighborhood used book store. I love when I find great deals on cookbooks. I love when I find a great deal, period.
I used Fontina cheese, as per the recipe, but I found it was not my favorite. It gave the tart a really strong smell, and I thought it kind of overpowered the tomatoes. Next time, I will use some other kind of cheese, maybe mozzarella. The dough is the usual flaky pie dough, I added the recipe bellow.

Roasted Tomato Tart Recipe

1 head of garlic
3 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
1/2 recipe pâte brisée (below)
3/4 cup grated Fontina cheese (or your choice of cheese)
4 ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
salt and pepper
fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roast the garlic with 1 tbsp of oil in a foil package for about 45 minutes. Garlic will be golden brown and easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and set aside.

Rise oven temp. to 450 degrees F. When garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves out of their skins and mash them in a a bowl, set aside.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 13 inch round, about 1/8 thick. Fit the dough into a 10 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom, pressing the edges. Using a rolling pin or a sharp pairing knife, trim the dough flush with the top edge of the tart pan; chill tart shell until firm, about 30 min.

Spread roasted garlic on the bottom of tart shell. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of cheese. Arrange tomato slices in a overlapping circular pattern on top of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Add remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and drizzle with 2 tbsp oil.

Reduce oven temp. to 425'F and bake for 45-55 minutes. Tomatoes should be soft but still hold their shape. Cool for 20 minutes, sprinkle with torn basil leaves for a rustic look.

Pâte Brisée Recipe
from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

This recipe makes enough for one double crust or two single 9-inch pies important. Use cold ingredients, it's very important.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. if you don't have a food processor, use a pastry blender or two knifes to blend in butter.
Add the water with the machine running in a slow, steady stream, just until the dough holds together without being too sticky or wet. Don't process for more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a piece of the dough together, if it is too crumbly, add a little more water, 1 tbsp at the time.
Turn out the dough on a work surface and divide it in half. Shape each into a disk and wrap with plastic. Refrigerate it for at least 1 hour before using it.. Dough can be frozen for up to a month.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

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One of the reasons I enjoy cooking and home baking so much is because it can save you a lot of money. This biscotti are just as good (or better) as the ones you'd buy at any coffee shop, with the advantage that you can customize it and make it just the way you like, and it's cheaper. One recipe makes a lot of biscotti, and if you keep them in an airtight container they will stay fresh for a couple of weeks.
So, if you are the type that cannot pass without your mid-afternoon late & cookies, try making those and bringing it with you, it will make your daily pick-me up a lot lighter on you wallet.

The recipe was adapted from the Williams Sonoma Essencials of Baking cookbook. The almond extract really makes a difference, it's worth going to the grocery store for some if you don't have it in your pantry. The book also suggests a chocolate-dipped variation, but I like it simple.

Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti Recipe

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup coarsely chopped pistachio nuts, toasted
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 'F (180'C).
Beat eggs and sugar until light in color and thick. Beat in melted butter, orange zest, vanilla and almond extracts on low speed until blended. Add the dry ingredients until incorporated. Stir in the pistachio nuts and cranberries. The dough will be soft and sticky.
Divide the dough in half and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Make two logs 10 inches (25 cm) long each. Press the logs gently to make them 3 inches (7.5 cm) wide. With damp fingers, gently smooth the surface of the logs.

Bake until crisp and golden on the outside, about 20 minutes. They will still be soft in the center. Remove from the oven, reduce oven temperature to 300 'F (150'C). Let the logs cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.

Transfer logs to a cutting board and and cut each log on the diagonal using a serrated knife. Try to make it 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick. Arrange the slices, cut side down on the baking sheet. Return to the oven and bake until the cookies are crisp and brown on the outside, 17-22 minutes. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and them transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Nutrition Benefits: a good reason (excuse) to have them...
Along with heart-healthy fats, pistachios contain cardio-protective nutrients, such as magnesium, potassium, and copper. Cranberries are jam-packed with cancer-fighting flavonoids.
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About me:

Hi, I am Rita. I was born and lived in Brazil until the age of 21 and now I live in Seattle,WA. In between then and now, I visited many countries, worked hard, played hard, met people from all over the world, married Andrew and learned to cook.

I have been a vegetarian for over 10 years and although I don't eat any kind of meat, I cook ita lot for family and friends. The food I cook and eat at home reflects our diverse family background and world travels.

About Pink Bites:

You will find that the contents of this blog is about 90% vegetarian (sweets are vegetarian, right?). The 10% comes mostly from dishes I make for Andrew which he tastes and gives me his feedback. I love to cook and I do so everyday, but I only post recipes that work out and tastes good great.


If you are not SPAM, I promisse to reply.

Healthy Recipes

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