Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My favourite meal of the year

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 fave meal 1

In July of 2008 I started Pink Bites, and it has been a love affair since then. I love cooking and photography and I found a way of putting the two together. It's been six months and I will continue blogging  for as long as I enjoy it. Surely we indulge ourselves every once in a while, but make no mistakes, not all our meals here at home are plated nicely, photographed and posted. Nor they are all made with sugar, butter and flour... We have our fair share of grilled cheese dinners, left over meals and pantry/fridge clean-up meals.

One thing we don't do much if compared with most people we know is eating out.  The times we do, however, we really enjoy it. We discovered some really nice Thai, Vietnamese and Italian joints in Seattle over the past year. We also happen to live a couple of blocks away from a fondue restaurant which we enjoy too.

So, what was my favourite meal of 2008?  The one I can remember anytime despite my terrible memory? It wasn't anything fancy, expensive or any special occasion. It was one that Andrew put together for me on a summer day when I was walking home from downtown after one of the many job interviews I went through in 2008. I was drained, tired and hungry. I had spoken with Andrew over the phone while coming home and told him how exhausted I was. When I got home, I saw the table set for me with a simple yet delicious salad made of beans, onions, radishes, greens, croutons , olives and parmesan cheese. And because Andrew knows me so well, I also had my favourite drink of all times - fresh coconut water - opened and waiting for me. He even took photos of it. It was really fun and a real treat for me.

One could think that having dinner ready on the table for me would perhaps spoil me and make me want it every day, but in fact it had the opposite effect. I realized how special it is to have a meal that it was prepared just for you, by someone you love. That made me even more eager to spend my mornings in our kitchen cooking and preparing meals for him and for us to eat together.

After all, it is so much more than just food.


Happy New Year everyone. Wishing that 2009 will bring us many sweet, memorable moments around the dining table.

 fave meal

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pea and Mint Soup

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pea soup for post 2 


I hate to waste food. It is just not right, in any level you can think of. So do you remember my pea and mint bruschetta from our Christmas party? This soup is the result of the leftover pea and mint mix I ended up with in my fridge.  This is more of an idea than a recipe itself, since I used whatever I had in my fridge that I thought it would work here.  To make a soup,one needs a base of onion and vegetables, a liquid and a flavour (in this case, mint and peas), and you have soup!

I chose to puree part of the soup only. I started blending the vegetables and realized that maybe I wanted to see some carrots, peas and have a little more texture.

So here you are, a soup made from party leftovers and freezer staples. Is there a better type?


Pea Mint Soup Recipe:

Most soups start with a mix of onion, carrot and celery. In this case I used one of each, chopped.

I had about 1 cup, give or take of pea and mint mix left from the party, otherwise use frozen, thawed  peas  and some mint leaves (I also added extra peas, about 1/2 cup, to total you'll need 2 cups of peas)

First cook the onions in olive oil until translucent, add the carrots and celery, cook for another couple of minutes. Add the peas, or in my case the pea&mint mix I had left over. Add enough broth (I used vegetable) and simmer. Add a splash of milk if you want it creamy (cream will work too). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

If you like, blend the soup to the consistency you prefer.


pea soup cropped 2 I added some peas at the last moment so they would retain their shape and nice green colour.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Banana Spring Rolls

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fried bananas

What would you always find in my kitchen? Bananas. I love banana, mostly in it's raw form, just peel and eat it, specially for breakfast. I also make my morning smoothie and Andrew's favourite cake using bananas. I don't usually fry them though. I don't fry a lot, for many reasons (it's messy, it uses up too much oil and deep fried stuff normally gives me head aches), but every once in a while it's worthy. This time I did it for Andrew. We had a dessert like this at PF Chang's and he really liked it, so I decided to do it at home for him, since it's so easy. They turned out really well, very crunchy on the outside and soft inside. Another nice contrast on this dish was serving the hot banana spring rolls with vanilla ice cream. I drizzled them with chocolate sauce because it was what I had in the fridge, but a dusting of powdered sugar will be nice too. I would have used some berries for decoration/colour/taste if I had any on hand.

As in all-things deep fried, the success will depend on having the oil temperature just right. Too hot and it will burn, too cold and you will end up with a soggy and oily final product. I do not have a candy thermometer (yet), so I just keep checking with a piece of the dough until I see it's the right time for frying.

Banana Spring Rolls Recipe:

You will need:

Spring roll wrappers (I used 6 inches square rice paper wrappers that I had in the freezer)


Vegetable oil for frying ( I use canola)

Ice cream (I used vanilla)

Chocolate sauce (optional)

Thaw the wrappers by letting them stand at room temperature for 15 minutes or until they are easy to handle.

Peel and cut the bananas in half. For each banana you will use 2 wrappers. Working with a piece of the time, position a spring roll wrapper with one of the corners towards you. Place one piece of banana in the center of the wrapper. Fold in edges and roll wrapper around the banana. Dip your finger in water and use it to seal the ends of the rolls if necessary. make as many as you want.

In a large or medium pot, heat enough oil to cover the rolls, about 2-3 inches. When oil is hot add a few rolls at a time, not over crowding the pot, or the oil temperature will go down. Fry rolls for about 1-2 minutes per side, until golden. Drain them in paper towels.

Plate rolls and add a scoop of ice cream on the side. Drizzle with chocolate sauce if you like it.

Note: You can use store-bought chocolate sauce. I had some home made left in the fridge (hot cream poured over chocolate chips and stirred).

fried bananas panoramic

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Apple, Celery and Pomegranate - a good luck salad for the New Year

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apple thyme celery salad

This is a time of the year when Christmas memories are still fresh in my mind while thoughts of New Year's Eve celebrations are slowly taking over. In terms of cooking and eating, this means that I am still on recovery mode form all the Holiday eating, but aware that as December 31st gets closer, so does the need for some "New-Year-Good Luck " food. A salad with pomegranate seeds fits the bill.

I ll explain: Some foods are known for having specific meanings and therefore should be eaten sometime between December 31st and January 1st. In my family we always have lentils on New Year's Day. It's supposed to bring wealth during the year to come. Pomegranate seeds symbolize both wealth and fertility. Some people think you should eat the flesh around the seeds and store the dry seeds in your wallet during the entire year. The same goes for grapes and their seeds as well.

I am not going to spit grape seeds into my wallet...but eating lentils and pomegranate is a good idea. Superstitious? Maybe, but it also a tradition in my family and I enjoy celebrating it.

This is a warm salad, which is perfect for this time of the year when the temperatures are low and we crave "warming-tummy" foods.

Warm Apple, Celery and Pomegranate Salad Recipe:

To make one single-serving salad, you'll need: (if you want to make more, just double the ingredients.

1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter

1/2 an apple, cut into chunks

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (if using dried, cut amount in half, but fresh is much better here)

1 celery stick, sliced

Pomegranate seeds

1 slice of Brie

Salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet, melt butter, add apples and thyme and cook for about 2 minutes, string often, just until the apples start to look browned but are still firm. Add the celery, and cook 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a plate (you can warm up the plate if you want to) and top it with a slice of cheese. The cheese should start to soften as it sits on top of the warm salad. sprinkle salad with pomegranate seeds and serve/eat immediately.

Note: the brie would melt better if it is at room temperature and not straight out of the fridge.

apple thyme celey salad 2

Friday, December 26, 2008

Shitake and Soba Soup - a Holiday Detox

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soba shitake soup close up

I don't know about you, but I am feeling the need for some healthier, lighter food. I have been eating so much sweets, baked goods, pastries, chocolates, I actually cannot remember when was the last time I had a salad for lunch . It seems like the Holiday Season is a great excuse to eat anything you normally wouldn't on a daily basis... and not feel really guilty about it, after all, it is the Holiday Season....

So I decided to make something that didn't call for half a stick of butter, heavy cream or melted chocolate in the ingredient's list... I settled for this soup which is easy to make, satisfying (as most soups are) and the ingredients are most likely to be pantry/fridge staples, at least here at home. I really like Asian soups, they are so warming and healthy, and making them at home gives me the freedom to adapt to my vegetarian needs.

I used dried shitake mushrooms that I re-hydrated by soaking in warm water, but fresh ones would have been great too. This recipe makes enough for two people, or two bowls of soup.

soba shitake soup

Shitake and Soba Noodles Soup Recipe:

Adapted from here

What I used:

5 dried shitake mushrooms

soba noodles

1/4 cup of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, finely chopped (or shredded if you don't like the pieces on your soup)

1 tablespoon of brown sugar

1 tablespoon of chopped garlic

1 small carrot, cut into matchsticks (or shredded if it's easier for you)

1 green onion, sliced

Soak mushrooms in warm water for about 30 minutes. Remove stems and slice caps in half. Set aside.

Cook soba noodles according to the package directions and run under cold water. Set aside.

In a medium size pot, combine soy sauce, ginger, brown sugar, garlic and mushrooms. Add about 1 cup of water, bring it to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes or until mushrooms are soft and cooked.

Place some noodles on the bottom of two soup bowls, pour half of the broth (make sure it is very hot). Top it with carrots and green onions.

scissors 1The stems from shitake mushrooms are very tough and can be hard to remove. Try using a pair of kitchen scissors to help you with the task.


I am submitting this recipe to this month's Weekend Wokking hosted this month by Palachinka.

The round-up is January 4th and the secret ingredient is Mushrooms.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Panettone Chocolate Candles for the Holidays (Velas de Panettone)

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holiday candle 2

Wishing everyone a Holiday filled with Joy and Peace.

Panettone Chocolate Candles How-to:

This edible candle is made with only 4 ingredients.

A chocolate Panettone, or as they call it in Brazil, "Chocottone"


Semi-sweet chocolate

Milk chocolate

I made 3 candles out of this 26 oz chocolate- panettone:

Picture 004

The way I did was to slice the panettone with a serrated knife going around in circles so you end up with one long piece. Roll it with a rolling pin to flatten it a bit. Kind of like this:

rolled out

Bring cream to a boil and pour over chocolates on separate bowls. Stir until chocolate is fully melted and you have a good consistent sauce.

Divide panettone in 3 peices.

Spread some of the semi-sweet chocolate sauce on the panettone and roll is as you would a roulade. Wrap it with wax paper and twist ends like a tootsie roll.

rolled 3

Refrigerate it for about 2 hours. Unwrap it and cover it with more semi-sweet chocolate sauce. Alternatively, spread the chocolate sauce on a clean piece of wax paper and re-roll. The goal is to cover the panettone log with chocolate and let it set. Place it standing on a tray or plate, you can use some chocolate on the bottom to secure the candle up.

To make the melted wax effect, top candles with some of the milk chocolate sauce and let it drip on the sides. Top them with a Brazil nut posing as a flame.

I kept my candles in the fridge until they are ready to make their appearance on Christmas Eve.

in the fridge


I really like the idea of a home-made-edible center piece, however, this was more messy and time consuming than I expected. So to help you out, check out this page where I got the recipe from, it is written in Portuguese but there are more pictures that might be helpful.

3 candles

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sausage in Puff Pastry

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sausage in puff pastry

It's the 23rd afternoon,and in my perfect world plan, I would have done all the preparations for Christmas Eve dinner, cleaned the house and sent emails to everyone still missing on my list. In my real world, however, I am far behind plans... Pretty much 100% behind... I guess I could blame it on a small incident involving broken glass, a bottle of super glue and my fingers soaking in acetone for an hour.

So this is going to be a small post, very straight forward. This appetizer is great for parties, maybe I'll do them again for New Year's Eve Party. It is super simple, if you have a package of sausage and puff pastry at home, you are all set. So good luck, and stay away from that Crazy Glue!!!

Sausage in Puff Pastry Recipe:

You will need

Flour for dusting

1 lb of puff pastry, thawed (2 sheets of store bought type)

1 lb Bratwurst sausage or other kind of your preference ( 1 package of store bought sausage)

1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry into a large rectangle about 18 x 9 inches. (If you are using store bought dough, this is roughly the size of both sheets put together. Just place them side by side overlapping slightly and smooth it out with a rolling pin). Cut rectangle in half lengthwise so you'll end up with 2 pieces 18 x 4,5 inches.

Remove the casings from the sausages and roll them into 2 long logs the same length of the pastry (about two and half sausages for each log). Use flour if needed to make it easier to shape them. Place one sausage log on top of each piece of pastry. Moist the long edges of the pastry with water and fold the pastry over the sausage, pressing ends to seal it. You will end up with some excess dough around the edge. Trim it with a knife and poke the left edge along with a fork so it puffs up nicely.

Brush the logs with the egg and cut it in smaller pieces, about 12 - 16 pieces per log. Using a kitchen scissor, make two small cuts on top of each small piece of sausage roll.

Transfer pieces to a baking sheet and bake until puffed and golden, about 20 minutes, but keep an eye on it as they can burn quickly towards the end. Cool them on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature or reheat on a low oven (200 degrees) for about 15 minutes.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Roasted Potato Bites (Holiday Appetizer)

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potato mortadela 1 potato veg


I love this snack. It's perfect for a Holiday party like ours when people are coming straight from work, and therefore, hungry... Potatoes are filing, but this small bites are also cute and easy to make.  A few things will make this appetizers extra nice ad not just some ordinary potatoes:

Good butter - don't skimp on this. I used salted, Irish butter that tastes great.

Fresh herbs - makes all the difference. Dry herbs are always a substitute, but if you can, try using fresh ones here.

Roasting technique - covering the potatoes with foil will prevent them from burning and overcooking. Removing the foil at the right time (towards the end of the roasting time) will result in golden potatoes crunchy on the outside and soft in the inside.


Roasted Potato Bites Recipe:

For the potatoes:


Small (baby) potatoes

Butter, room temperature

Fresh herbs, chopped ( I used a combination of rosemary, thyme and oregano)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Wash the potatoes, dry and slice in half. Place it in a sheet pan lined with foil. Toss butter and herbs with potatoes. Drizzle some olive oil, not too much. Season with salt and pepper. The  amount of salt will depend on the  type of butter you use  - salted or not.

Cover baking sheet with foil and place it in the oven. Roast until potatoes are  slightly undercooked. Remove foil, give it a quick toss and continue roasting until the potatoes look golden and are cooked through.


For the toppings:


These potatoes can be topped with all kinds of good stuff. For the party I made  two types:

Mortadela slices, sour cream (or cream fraiche) and snipped chives.

Sun-dried tomato, fresh basil and sour cream.

Other ideas:

Fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of pesto

Goat Cheese and  sliced, roasted beets

Chicken or tuna salad (the type made with mayo)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gingerbread People - What is your profile?

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Business Men?



Cook's Apron?

cook's apron








Not so much....

small yellow heart



I heart u


Hot Pink...



Oh, silly you :)



Christmas in Seattle




Christmas in Brazil




Oh Christmas Tree...

tree 2tree



Gingerbread Cookies Recipe:

Recipe adapted from Everyday Food magazine

For the cookies:

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temp.

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

3/4 cup molasses


For the icing:

2 cups confectioner's sugar

4 teaspoons powdered egg whites (meringue powder)


Whisk together the first 7 ingredients and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter and the brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and molasses **(see tip on the bottom of recipe) . Turn mixer speed to low and add flour mixture a little at the time until it is all combined. It should have this look:

pea soup 002

Divide dough in half and flatten into 2 discs. Wrap each disc in plastic and refrigerate it at least for 2 hours. 

pea soup 004


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut out a piece of parchment paper and  sprinkle with flour. Dust your rolling pin with flour.

Working with one disk at a time, roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thick, adding flour whenever needed to stop it from sticking.  Bring rolled out dough to freezer for about 20 minutes (you can put the dough on baking sheets if you want).

Remove dough from freezer. Dip the cookie cutters in flour and cut out cookies. Transfer to a baking sheet. bake them for about 8 - 10 minutes for softer cookies, 11 - 12 minutes for crunchier ones.

Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.


To make the icing, simply mix the confectioner's sugar, the meringue powder and 1/4 cup of  water.  Decorate it using a piping bag or a plastic bag (make a cut in one of the corners).


** Molasses is pretty sticky and hard to pour. Try using the butter paper wrap to coat your measuring cup before adding the molasses. It will make it easier to pour it out.

butter mesuring cup

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sweet and Spicy Linguiça (Linguiça Picante com Mel)

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This was a big hit at our Holiday Party. Everyone enjoyed the linguiça so much that it was over before some of the late guests arrived. Linguiça (LING-GWEE-SAH) is also known as Portuguese sausage. Brazilians eat it in pizzas, as an appetizer, part of a BBQ, you name it. It can be found at Latino food stores, or sometimes at Asian groceries stores too, normally vacuum-packed. I like to grill it for Andrew, or use it in a caldo verde.

I found this recipe at this great Brazilian site. I didn't make any changes to it, but you can also see some pictures of it here.

Sweet and Spicy Linguiça Recipe:

You will need:

1 lb of linguiça, sliced about 1/2 inch thick

1 bottle of sparkling wine

1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes


In a large pot, combine the linguiça and top it with the champagne, about 1 inch. You might not need all the wine.Cover pot and bring it to a boil over medium heat, remove lid and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, adding the pepper flakes about half way through. When most of the liquid is gone and the linguiça is browned, remove from heat and drizzle with honey,enough to cover it all. Transfer to a plate and serve it warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rosemary Cashews

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cashews 1

Just before I left for my trip to Brazil I received a package in the mail from Sam of OhNuts! He had sent me some samples of cashew nuts as well as dried cranberries. I used the cashews to make those spicy nuts for our party. It was SO good. Not to mention the aroma of rosemary that spreads throughout the house when they are in the oven.

This recipe is from Ina Garten's book of French food, I believe it's called the Barefoot Contessa in Paris. Ina is the Barefoot Contessa, in case there is ANYONE out there who doesn't know that (I highly doubt that...) I should take this opportunity to express my happiness about having Ina back in the air. Remember back in the summer she disappeared and we were left with rerun episodes for a looooong time. Well, she is back now, and I love that!

So here it is. Ina's recipe says to serve warm, but I have to say that they tasted even better the next day. Which means........yes, you got it, it can be done in advance. Score!

WARNING: This nuts are addictive and I dare you to try just one.

Spicy Rosemary Cashews Recipe:

1 lb roasted unsalted cashews

2 tbsp minced fresh rosemary leaves

1/2 teas cayenne pepper

2 teas brown sugar

1 tbsp of salt **

1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

** I used salted nuts, so I cut back on the salt a little bit, maybe 1/2 tbsp or so.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the cashews on a sheet pan and roast until they are warm, about 5 minutes.

Combine all remaining ingredients in a bowl and toss the warmed nuts with it.

Enjoy it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bruschetta 2 Ways (both are easy and affordable)

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As promised, here are the first of the appetizers we served on our Holiday Party last week. Bruschetta (Brew-Ske-Ta ) is quite a popular party dish these days, maybe because it's so easy to make and it allows the cook to create so much with the concept. Think about it, toasted slices of bread topped with whatever... That's bruschetta, in a nutshell ( I hope I didn't offend any gourmets out there by simplifying it this way. But then again, I don't believe there are any gourmets reading this anyway....:) )

So here they are:

The base is always the same, just bread (day old id fine), sliced and lightly toasted in the oven (350 for 10 minutes will do it). I used regular old French baguette because it was cold and rainy and that's what the closest supermarket had that day. But a nice crusty bread would be even better.

peas mint bruschetta

Peas & Mint Bruschetta

Those two guys (the pea and the mint) seem to really like each other ( think peas and mint soup), so this is another way of using this combination.

You'll need:

Peas ( frozen is fine)

Fresh mint, roughly chopped

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

Just mash the peas with a fork * , add the mint and combine. Stir in olive oil until you see it's enough to give it a light moist texture to it. Season with salt and pepper to taste. This can be done in advance, just keep it in the fridge. In fact, you'll notice more the mint if you leave it to rest overnight.

* You can also use a food processor to mash the peas, specially if you are planning on making large quantities. On that case, I suggest pulsing it quickly a few times to avoid processing it. I like it with a few whole pieces of peas, it lends some texture.

blue cheese honey bruschetta

Blue Cheese, Honey and Fig Bruschetta:

If you never tried the combination of blue cheese and honey I urge you to do so. It is heaven!

You'll need:

Your choice of Blue Cheese


Dried figs, quartered or roughly chopped **

Start with a slice of cheese, drizzle some honey and top with a piece of fig. How easy is that?

** For this particular party, I used dried figs that I quartered and top the bruschetta with it. But you could use fresh figs too, it would be delicious. Or even use a fig jam on the bottom of the toast, and then topping it with the cheese. On that case I would taste it first before adding the honey, as the fig jam is pretty sweet already.

I also topped a few of them with chopped candied walnuts.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holiday Party Appetizers

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peas mint bruschettablue cheese honey bruschettaaunts in a log cashews 1

linguica potato mortadela 1 potato veg sausage in puff pastry

So last week Andrew and I hosted our first Holiday Party. We hope to make it an annual tradition, as there is nothing better than having good friends with some good food and drinks to enjoy. And December is the perfect month for that.

When it came to planning the food, there were a few things to consider.

  • We had about 20 people in our guest list, and although we knew not everyone would show up, I still wanted to be well prepared in terms of snacks.
  • The other thing to consider was the time of the party. This was an after-office type of get together, starting at 5:00pm, and since we live very close to the office, we expected people to come straight from work (which meant it would be dinner time for most of us).
  • We also knew that there were going to be a few vegetarians among the crowd (besides the hostess...) and wanted to make sure everyone had enough choices.
  • We also had to keep in mind the fact that we don't have enough plates and cutlery for everyone so everything had to be finger-food style.
  • Lastly, we had to keep in mind...budget. Need to say more?

So the plan was to make simple yet tasty snacks that would please a diverse, hungry crowd without braking the bank. So let's get to it:

Holiday Party List of Appetizers:

Peas & Mint Bruschetta

Blue Cheese, Honey & Fig Bruschetta

Brazilian Cheese Bread

Sausage in Puff Pastry

Sweet & Spicy Linguica

Roasted Potato Bites

Spicy Rosemary Cashews

Ants in a Log

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

cookies and pretzels

I will list the recipes on individual posts, just because I want to have them labeled individually, I think it will be easier to search in the future. So keep reading, the first one is coming up very shortly!

Find the recipe for those yummy soft choc chip cookies here.