Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Watermelon, Ginger and Honey Juice

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Here in Seattle we are still having nice days. Yesterday afternoon it was almost 80 degrees! Sure, the leaves are getting yellow and they are starting to fall from the trees and cover the sidewalks, but the temperature is still warm around here. I think of it as Mother Nature's way of making it up to us Satellites for the late start of spring (or completely lack of it...)

So that means I am still enjoying summer-type foods. I still use my outdoors BBQ pretty much daily, have chilled soups and refreshing salads. I actually haven't cooked any "fall food" yet. Today it was warm, and I decided to make this juice which is very refreshing on a warm day. I actually make this drink every summer, several times.But that doesn't mean it can't be enjoyed when the mercury drops a little bit.

Besides, if you are getting a typical fall-entering cold or flu, the ginger in this juice will help you feel better.

Watermelon, Ginger and Honey Juice Recipe:

I used one of those personal size seedless watermelons. It doesn't mean they are really seedless, it means it has less seeds than a regular watermelon.

I chopped the watermelon into chunks. Peeled and grated a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger. Blended it all with a teaspoon of honey.

If you want to, you can strain the juice, I normally don't bother, unless there were a lot of seeds in the fruit.

Refrigerate and serve very cold.

This a great healthy snack, a good addition to the breakfast table and for me it also works as a decaffeinated pick-me up drink. I thinkit's all the frsh ginger in it, it really wakes me up!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Upside-Down Lemon Muffins

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I think there is something special about upside-down desserts. I am not sure exactly what is it. Maybe it's the suspense on the time you remove it from the pan (there is always a little hesitation.... is it going to be just perfect? Is it going to fall apart?) Or perhaps it's the fact that you can see the main ingredient right on top, on this case, lemons.

These muffins are better served warm, and of course, upside-down. The lemon slice on the top (or bottom?) is edible, but some people might not like it. On this case, it can simply removed. I suggest trying it, the lemons are super sweet and just melt in your mouth.

And since this month's challenge from Leila and Cris is about muffins and cupcakes, I am submitting these little guys!

Upside-Down Lemon Muffins Recipe: (this recipe is adapted from an old Williams-Sonoma book I have called Muffins & Quick Breads)

3 lemons

1 tbsp water

1/2 cup sugar

6 tbsp unsalted butter

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teasp baking powder

1/2 teasp baking soda

1/2 teasp salt

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400'F. Spray a standard 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

Finely grate the zest of the lemons, removing only the bright yellow portion. Set lemons aside.

Combine the zest, water and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add the butter and stir until it' s melted, about a minute longer. Remove from heat and set aside.

Remove all the remaining peel from the lemons (just like you would do with an orange or a grapefruit). Cut crosswise into slices, you will need 12 slices. Pour about a teaspoon of the remaining sugar on the bottom of each muffing tin and top it with a slice of lemon.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a larger bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and reserved lemon mixture until smooth. Add the combined dry ingredients and stir just until blended.

Spoon batter into muffin tins, bake for about 15-20 minutes. Immediately invert muffin pan into a wire rack and lift it away.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Grilled Mango and Spinach Salad (Salada de Espinafre com Manga Grelhada)

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I love to mix fruits with salads. This one is very good. Mangoes and spinach is actually a classic salad combination in Brazil. Sometimes I use arugula instead. I quickly grill the mango in the barbecue to extract even more flavor from them. The dressing for this salad is also made with mangoes. The nuts give the dish a crunch.

Grilled Mango and Spinach Salad Recipe:

1 bunch of spinach, washed and dried
2 large mangoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
2 radishes, thinly sliced
a handful of almonds, lightly toasted
1/4 cup of fresh lime juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Take one of the mangoes and brush the flat side with canola oil. Quickly grill it until the pieces get nice grill marks on them. Cut it into smaller cubes and toss it with the spinach, almonds and radishes.
For the dressing: in a blender cup, place the second mango (cut into smaller pieces), the soy sauce, the lime juice and the mustard and blend it until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving, or if you prefer, toss it together.

Note: I sometimes add sliced red onions and raisins to this salad too. If you end up with extra dressing, keep it in the refrigerator in a airtight container.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lime-Cilantro Sweet Potato Mash

Pin It My mom loves potatoes. A lot of people I know love potatoes. I don't. I don't dislike them either, I just think they are quite plain and boring. My uncle makes some roasted potatoes every Christmas that I really like. That's when I can say I enjoy eating potatoes. Too bad I can't spend every Christmas with my family, but that's another story......
Now.....sweet potatoes are an entirely different thing. They are tastier and the colour makes me want to eat them!

I found this recipe at migthyfoods, a great site I visit often to find out about food information, nutrition as well as recipes. I like the idea of adding lime and cilantro to the sweet potato mash. It balances its the sweetness. I also added some feta on top for extra flavour. This is a very nice side dish, or on my case, a meal by itself, just accompanied by a small salad.

Lime-Cilantro Sweet Potato Mash Recipe:

Cook the potato as usual (peeled, cubed) in cold water until tender. Drain, return to pot and mash. Add some butter (about 1 tbsp for each potato), mix well. Stir in chopped cilantro and a squirt of fresh lime juice. You can add as much or as little lime as you want. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top it with some feta cheese.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tropical Parfait

Pin It Normally you see this type of parfaits with a medley of berries, but it can be done with pretty much any type of fruits.

The mango I used was really ripe and sweet, just perfect for this kind of recipe. If the mangoes are not quite ripe, it might be better to wait a day or so to make the parfaits.

Coconut-Mango Parfait Recipe:
from the Martha Stewart website

2 cups plain yogurt
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 ripe medium mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup sweetened coconut, lightly toasted *

*To toast the coconut, place it on a baking tray and toast it in the oven at low temperature. Be careful so it doesn't burn. It starts toasting around the edges, so shake the pan every once in a while.

In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and maple syrup; set aside. Divide 3/4 cup mango cubes between 4 parfait glasses. Top each with 2 tablespoons of coconut. Place 1/2 cup yogurt in each glass. Divide the remaining 3/4 cup mango between glasses. Garnish each glass with 2 tablespoons coconut.

This is also my entry for this month's edition of Weekend Wokking, hosted by Precious Pea. The secret ingredient for September was coconut!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Spinach Soufle

Pin It This is the first time I made a souffle, I was a bit nervous about it. I heard that it's tricky to make it right. I read all the tips, did my best not to break the whites when folding them into the souffle, and I think it turned out very nice.

After I removed it from the oven though, it kind of lost it's fluffy top. I don't really know if it is normal for souffles to "sink" after it's been seating around for a while, but I thought the consistency and taste were really good. I will keep trying other types of souffles, maybe carrots will be next.

This recipe is from the book Eating by Color by Williams-Sonoma.

Spinach Souffle Recipe:

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
6 oz spinach leaves (about 1 bunch)
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg ( a pinch)
1 cup (8 oz/240 ml) milk
4 whole eggs, separated, plus 2 egg whites, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a -quart (1 liter) souffle dish and sprinkle with cheese so it covers bottom and sides. Set aside

Make the spinach mixture:
Quickly blanch spinach leaves in boiling water and run under cold after. Squeeze all excess water and chop it.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter, add onions and cook until translucent. Add spinach and cook for about 2 more minutes. Set aside.

Make a white sauce:
Melt 3 1/2 tablespoons of butter, when it foams remove from heat and whisk in nutmeg, flour 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Return to medium-high heat and slowly whisk in milk. Cook, whisking constantly until it thickens. The sauce should cover the back of your spoon. Remove from heat and let it cool.
While it cools, beat 6 egg whites until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, beat the 4 egg yolks until creamy.

Whisk egg yolks into cooled white sauce until well blended. Sir in spinach mixture. Sit about 3 tablespoons of the egg whites into the mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in the rest of the egg whites,. The best way to do this is to use a rubber spatula.
Pour it into prepared souffle dish and bake it until golden brown, about 35-40 minutes.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Carrot, Walnut and Chocolate Cake

Pin It This cake turned out very nice. I adapted a Brazilian recipe for carrot cake and added walnuts and chocolate chips in the batter.

As usual I didn't make use of any frosting or icing. I believe they are for special occasion's cakes only, and this was a weekday cake I made when a girlfriend of mine came over for coffee.
So here is the recipe:

3 small carrots, chopped (about 1 1/2 cup) **
4 large eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
3 cups all purpose flour, or use 1/2 wheat, 1/2 AP
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a blender, combine carrots, eggs, oil and sugar and blend it until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. Sprinkle some of the dry ingredient mix in the chocolate chips so they are lightly coated (this prevent them from sinking in to the bottom of the pan). Slowly add dry ingredients to carrot mixture until incorporated. Do not over mix it. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips.
Pour batter into a prepared (buttered and floured) cake pan and bake it at 350 until done, about 35-40 minutes.

** You can add up to 2 cups of carrots, it will make the cake colour brighter and the carrot taste more evident.

Notes: try a piece of the cake while still warm, when the chocolate chips are still melted. Yuuuumm
Other variations for this cake include raisins, shredded coconut (all added to the batter) or skip the chocolate chips and top it with a chocolate frosting instead.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hungarian Sour Cherry Soup

Pin It This soup is wonderful. I tried it first in Hungary, then later in my mother-in-law's home in Canada. The colour is so beautiful and the taste is really unique.
I took a look at many different websites and blogs, looking for an authentic recipe. I finally picked this one from
I had a hard time finding jarred sour cherries. I got morello cherries which I found at Trader Joes. Some recipes called for fresh cherries, which I think would make this recipe more time consuming.

This is not a sweet soup. There is no sugar in the recipe at all. It's a bit tangy, which it's what makes this soup so nice in my opinion. You could still serve it for dessert I guess, but I like it as a snack in a hot afternoon.

Hungarian Sour Cherry Soup Recipe:

1 24 oz jar of morello cherries with their juices
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 slice of lemon
4 oz sour cream

Mix all ingredients except the sour cream, bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes until the cherries are soft. Remove from heat.

Separately, mix 1/4 of the hot cherry liquid with the sour cream. Stir mixture into soup and chill it.

Note: I made half of the original recipe. It yields two good servings or maybe 4 small ones. The recipe at also tells you the substitutions necessary if you decide to use fresh cherries.

This is also my entry to no croutons required, which this month is inviting us to try salads and soups using fruits.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Grilled Chilli-Lime Corn

Pin It Here is a different and fun way to season your grilled corn on the cob. I found it at, tried it and loved it! All you need is a brown bag and your favourite corn toppings.

I used chili powder, lime juice (squeezed lime wedges) and salt. After grilling the corn (I cut them in half to make it easier to shake) place them in a paper bag (I used 2 just in case), top with the chili powder (about 1/4 teaspoon for every 2 corns), squeeze 1 lime inside the bag and add salt to your taste. Shake it all very well.

To serve, I just cut open the bad and voila!!!

PS- next time I 'll try adding some grated cheese too...yuuummm

Sunday, September 7, 2008

At Last.... Homemade Tapioca Pudding

Pin It I finally made tapioca pudding! I have been buying Kozy Shacks for Andrew for over a year now, and I always thought I could make my own pudding at home, which would have a much shorter list of ingredients... Well, it turns out it is a pretty simple dessert to make.

My tapioca pudding had to be "very thick, not watery or runny at all" (special request...) So I stir it in the pot for a bit longer then you normally would. The pudding also thickens as it cools. To store it, I place a plastic film directly on the surface to avoid a "skin".

I got the recipe from Bob's Red Mill's website. I chose this recipe which was easier and I had a feeling it would make a thicker pudding.

Tapioca Pudding Recipe:

1/3 cup tapioca pearls
1 cup Water
1/2 cup Sugar
4 cups Milk (1 or 2 %)
2 Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla

In a 4 quart saucepan soak the tapioca pearls in the water for 60 minutes. Whisk in milk, sugar and eggs. Let stand 30-60 minutes. Let mixture come to a full rolling boil and stir often as is cooks with a wire whisk. Remove from stove and let set 60 minutes and do not stir. Place a plastic film on top and refrigerate it until ready to serve. It makes a lot of pudding...

I got a thumbs up from the "tapioca pudding expert" in the house.... No more store bought tapioca!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Pineapple-Mint Juice, the "goosebump" drink (Suco Arrepio)

Pin It I have yet to understand why here in the U.S. as well as in Canada you see a smoothie shop in every corner and every mall, but can't find places that sells fresh fruit juices. To find just a simple freshly squeezed orange juice is almost impossible, and when you do find, it is really expensive.
I love having a glass of fresh juice, I have it with my meals, as a snack, or as a dessert alternative sometimes. I will try to post more fresh juices here and perhaps inspire more people to try them.

This juice is commonly known in my hometown as "Goose Bump" and I think it's because of the combination of mint and pineapple. It makes your mouth tickle. It is so refreshing. I like serving this juice when friends come over because I know everyone loves it.

Pineapple-Mint Juice:

2 slices of fresh pineapple, cored
1 tall glass of cold water
a handful of fresh mint leaves
ice cubes
sugar to taste

Blend it all!! Adjust sugar to your liking.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Grilled Figs with Ricotta - two ways

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Here is a simple, quick and healthy dessert. Need more? It's also delicious. I love figs, normally I eat them as they are, but this time I decided to do something different with them.

All I did was grill the figs quickly and then make some flavored ricotta to go with it.
To grill the figs, I actually used a non stick pan sprayed with some canola oil (just a little bit). My BBQ grill is too messy and the space between the grates is too wide to hold the figs. But it can also be done in an indoor grill.

I flavored the ricotta two different ways. One was with almonds (pictured bellow) and on the other I used vanilla.

For the vanilla-flavored ricotta:

Mix ricotta cheese with some vanilla extract, lemon zest and a bit of honey. Drizzle some extra honey over the top.

For the almond-flavored ricotta:

Mix ricotta cheese with almond extract, orange zest, a tiny bit of the orange juice and some honey. Drizzle with extra honey and top with toasted sliced almonds.

Serve the ricotta mixture aside the warm figs. It makes a nice hot/cold contrast.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Eggplant Gratin from Ina Garten

Pin It I used to watch a lot of FoodNetwork. Since we moved from Vancouver (BC) to Seattle I watch it less and less. I think the Canadian version had more interesting shows (and chefs).
Nevertheless, there are a few rare shows that I watched then and continue to watch now. The Barefoot Contessa is one of them. I just really like her cooking. It's simple when it needs to be, and elegant when it should.

It is unfortunately that there hasn't been new episodes in a while. What' s going on? We want Ina back!!!!!!
So this is a recipe from an old episode. I made it several times. It is simply delicious. Let me warn you that although it is an eggplant dish, this is not a light dish. It is really rich and creamy, as many of Ina's recipes are.

To me, this recipe reminds me of a lasagna. In a way it is a similar concept. One layer of tomato sauce and one layer of creamy cheese sauce, with layers of eggplant in between. Simple and delicious. I like to bake them in individual soup bowls. It can also be assembled in advance and baked when needed.

Eggplant Gratin Recipe: adapted from Ina Garten (aka: The Barefoot Contessa)

3/4 pound eggplant, unpeeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick

1/4 cup ricotta cheese

1 large egg

1/4 cup half-and-half

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

salt and pepper

1/2 cup tomato sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Shallow fry eggplants slices in hot oil until browned and cooked, about 5 minutes. Drain in paper towels.

In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, half-and-half, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
In each of 2 individual gratin dishes, place a layer of eggplant slices, then sprinkle with Parmesan, salt and pepper and spoon 1/2 of the marinara sauce. Next, add a second layer of eggplant, more salt and pepper, half the ricotta mixture, and finally 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan on top.
Place the gratins on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the custard sets and the top is browned. It will be very hot, wait a few minutes before serving.