Sunday, March 29, 2009

Caramelized Onion Dip (or Sandwich Spread)

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onion dip

Caramelizing onions is a trick that I use often here at home. It makes vegetarian dishes much more flavorful and therefore more interesting for meat eaters. This pasta is a typical example of this technique. This time I am sharing a dip recipe using caramelized onions. I don't normally make recipes for guests that I never tried before, but this dip is so straight forward that I made for the first time for some girlfriends of mine that came over the other night. The result was a very flavorful dip, lightly sweet and aromatic. It can also be used as a spread for sandwiches (roasted vegetables sandwich comes to mind). As a dip, use with cut up veggies, crackers and pita chips.


Caramelized Onion Dip Recipe:

serves 4

You will need:

2 large onions

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar

1 cup of sour cream

1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, chopped

salt and pepper to taste


Peel and thinly slice the onions (I use a mandoline). Melt the butter over medium heat on a heavy bottom skillet. Add the onions, salt and pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon each), lower the heat and cook until the onions are deep brown and cooked, stirring occasionally. This takes about 20-40 minutes, depending on the heat level and the amount of onions. Do not rush this process, as it is essential for the developing of the sweetness in the onions. Add the balsamic vinegar to the skillet at the end of cooking and scrape any brown bits that have accumulated on the bottom.

When the onions are ready, let them cool to room temperature. Once cooled, place onions in a food processor along with the thyme and sour cream. Process until smooth. Serve at room temperature with vegetables, chips or use as a sandwich spread. Keep refrigerated.


onion dip1

Friday, March 27, 2009

Lasagne Verdi with Vegetarian Bolognese Sauce - Daring Bakers

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lasagna1lasagna 2

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

This month's challenge was to make lasagna from scratch. I had never made any pasta from scratch before so I was both nervous and excited about it. The idea was to bring back the simplicity of an authentic Italian lasagna, which is made with three components: the lasagna sheets, a simple béchamel sauce and the meat ragu. Vegetarians were given the option of making a vegetarian ragu. I chose to make a "bolognese" sauce using Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP),  something I've made before and pleases vegetarians and meat eater alike.

The lasagna tasted GREAT, it reminded me of the lasagnas my grandma used to make, only she used chicken instead of meat. This is really how a lasagna should be. Making the pasta was ok, I thought it was going to be harder specially because I made it by hand, no machine. I had fun doing it - once. I don't think I will do it again, it's just too much time consuming, but for a challenge purpose it was fun to channel my inner Nona for a day!

Regarding the recipe: the original recipes for the pasta, béchamel and meat ragu can be found on this moth's hosts blogs named at the beginning of the post. I made the béchamel sauce without any changes, for the lasagna I decided to half the recipe, using 2 eggs.

The recipe for the original lasagne verdi can be found at Mary's blog, including an awesome how-to video that really helps you get an idea of the pasta hand-rolling process (believe me, it is a process...)



I included here my recipe for the vegetarian bolognese which can be used anywhere you use a regular meat sauce. Since the TVP doesn't have much flavour, be sure to add lots of fresh herbs, vegetables and season it very well.


Vegetarian Bolognese Sauce Recipe:

makes one large pot of sauce, enough for a lasagna plus 2 cups pf left overs


You will need:


8 oz of textured vegetable protein (TVP)

12 tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon of my herb seasoning salt (or use 1 onion, chopped and 2 garlic gloves, mashed)

2 teaspoon of tomato paste

celery stalk, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

8 oz of sliced white mushrooms (or anyone you like best)

1/4 cup of white wine

1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons of fresh oregano, chopped

2 tablespoons of fresh thyme, chopped

1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, chopped

8 oz of vegetable stock

2 teaspoons of salt


First re-hydrate the TVP in triple amount of very hot water, on this case, 24 oz. Let stand in a bowl for about 30 minutes. Squeeze out excess water by pushing it through a sieve, it should yield about 3 cups of the TVP. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.

If using the herb seasoning salt: Add the seasoning salt and cook it for about a minute, add the tomato paste and cook them together for about 2 minutes more, stirring often.

If using onion and garlic: Cook the onions until translucent, add chopped garlic and cook for a minute more, stirring. Add the tomato paste and cook it, stirring it around the pot for about 2 minutes.

Add the celery, carrot and mushroom and cook it until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring once in a while. Add the wine and let it evaporate, scraping down the brown spots form the bottom of the pot. Add tomatoes, herbs, vegetable stock and the hydrated TVP. Bring it to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt and taste, re-season if necessary.


Before & After...

 lasagna sheetlasagna 3

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

No-Cook Banana Ice Cream

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banana ice cream

I wanted to make an ice cream for Andrew the other night, since he loves banana ice cream, I decided to try this recipe for the first time. Most ice cream recipes call for a yolk-based custard to be made first, then cooled and then put into the ice cream maker. This one skips the custard and instead uses a combination of sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream and half and half to provide the creaminess to the ice cream. The result is a pretty sweet, nice ice cream. But it is not as smooth and creamy as the ones using eggs (like this one). So far I have never found an egg-less ice cream recipe that makes really creamy ice cream, so when that's what I want, I go for the full custard deal.

The advantage of this one is that it is much faster and easier to make, good when you decide at noon that you want to have ice cream for dessert ready at dinner time, for example. Be sure to use very ripe bananas here.

This recipe is from this book I found at my local library, so far it's the second one I try, and there are many more lined up...

No-cook Banana Ice Cream Recipe:

makes 1 quart

You will need:

2 cups of half and half

1 can of sweetened condensed milk

1 cup of heavy cream

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 very ripe bananas

2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice

Mix together the first four ingredients until combined, making sure the condensed milk is well blended with the other liquids. Chill until cold.

Pour mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze accordingly.

Mash the bananas with the lemon juice and add to the ice cream maker 2 minutes before it's finished. Transfer ice cream to a freezer safe container, cover and freeze for at least 3 hours.

banana ice cream1

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wild and Brown Rice Salad

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I love this salad, it's light and refreshing but is still very hearty, perfect for a light lunch. It's a great way to use left over brown rice. I like to cook the wild rice in salted water along with fresh thyme for added flavour. I always have fresh carrot-orange juice in my fridge, so that's what I use for this salad, but just orange juice is fine too. The nuts and dried fruit can be easily substituted for whatever you have at home. I make this salad for myself and keep it in the fridge, it lasts for a couple of days.


Wild and Brown Rice Salad Recipe:

serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side


3/4 cup of wild rice

1 spring of fresh thyme (optional)

1/2 cup of cooked brown rice (day old is perfectly fine)

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped

a handful of dried cranberries

a handful of shelled pistachios

1/3 cup of fresh orange-carrot juice (or plain orange juice)

1 tablespoon of canola oil

arugula leaves for decoration (optional)


In a large saucepan, combine the wild rice with 3 cups of  water, thyme (if using)  and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring it to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until tender. Drain and discard the thyme spring. Let cool.

While rice cool, heat a skillet over low heat and add the pistachios. Let nuts toast lightly, keep a close eye on it so they won't burn.

In a large bowl, combine the wild rice, brown rice, toasted pistachios, cranberries, celery and carrots. Stir in the canola oil and the juice. Mix well, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature. If you want to make a nicer presentation, decorate individual bowls with arugula leaves.

Enjoy it!


rice salad 1

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Vietnamese Beef and Noodle Bowl

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I mentioned before that Andrew loves Vietnamese food, and even though this type of cuisine is fairly new to me, I try my best to learn a few dishes to cook for him. This noodle bowl is one of his favourites, and it's much easier to make than the Vietnamese summer rolls, another favourite of his. I believe the main flavour comes from the beef marinade which is a mixture of lemongrass, garlic, sugar and fish sauce.

The meat I use varies, sometimes it can be thin cuts of beef I find at my local supermarket or a sirloin steak that is thinly sliced across the grain. For the dish pictured on this post I used sukiyaki meat, normally found at Asian markets, they are marbled beef slices that cook very fast because they are so thin.



Vietnamese Beef and Noodle Bowl Recipe:

serves 4


For the noodles:

8 oz of rice noodles

1/4 cup of canola oil

4 tablespoons of chopped scallions

1 garlic clove, chopped


Cook the noodles in boiling water for about 5 minutes, drain and rinse under cold water. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add the scallions and garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes, be careful not to burn the garlic. Toss the noodles in this oil mixture and divide into bowls.



For the beef:

If you are using thinly sliced meat, it's best to stir-fry them quickly using a wok or skillet. If using a piece of meat such as a sirloin, grill it and then slice it thin across the grain.

1 piece of lemongrass, about 10 inches long (the amount sold in herb-like packages)

2 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar

1 garlic clove

1 tablespoon of canola oil

4 tablespoons of fish sauce

1 lb of meat (see note above)

cooking spray or vegetable oil

Place all ingredients except the beef in the food processor and pulse until lemongrass is finely chopped and mixture looks combined. Pour marinade into a plastic resalable bag or a baking dish, add the beef, making sure it's well coated by the marinade. Let stand for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 4 hours in the fridge.

Heat a wok or a large skillet over high heat and spray with cooking oil or add a little bit of oil and cook the beef, moving it around the wok or skillet until it's browned and cooked though. This should be quick, since the meat is very thin. ( If using sirloin, grill meat and then slice it across the grain)

Top each noodle blow with a portion of the beef.


For the sauce:


1/2 cup of water

1/4 cup of fish sauce

3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice or vinegar

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

2 small dried or fresh red chiles

Mix all ingredients well and serve alongside the noodles.


Toppings: use any one of these, according to your taste


dry roasted peanuts, crushed

mint leaves

basil leaves (Thai or regular)

carrots, shredded or julienne

Napa cabbage, shredded

If you have spring rolls at home, such as frozen ones, you can cook them, cut in half and add to the noodle bowls as well.





I am submitting this recipe for this round of Weekend Wokking, an event created by Wandering Chopsticks that features a different secret ingredient every month. This month's host is Palachinka and the secret ingredient is beef.



Monday, March 16, 2009

White Beans with Rosemary (Feijão Branco com Alecrim)

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Beans have a lot going for them. They are nutritious, inexpensive and easy to make ,but somehow they are not very popular here in the U.S. They are slowly getting more popularity these days as people look for ways to shorten their grocery bills without compromising on nutrition. If cooking beans from scratch sounds daunting, think about this: if you can make pot roasts, then making beans isn't much different. It's actually easier.

I grew up eating beans as they are a staple of Brazilian cooking, and for that I am so very grateful. Black beans are probably the most common type of beans found on Brazilian's tables, but today I am sharing a recipe for white beans. I call them aromatic beans because they are cooked along with fresh rosemary, cloves and plenty of onions and garlic. It smells and tastes wonderful.

This is a vegetarian recipe, but you can add some meat to it if you like. Maybe a piece bacon ,pork or beef or a combinations. This recipe makes a lot of beans and I like to freeze leftovers on freezer bags in individual portions. I like eating these beans with some brown rice alongside and salad. It can be a side dish for meats and it's also delicious by itself with a chunk of good country bread.

Just add water and walk away...It's that simple.


White Beans with Rosemary Recipe:

serves 6 - 8

You will need:

1 lb white beans, any type you like

3 large onions, peeled

6 whole cloves

3 garlic cloves, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Preparing the beans:

Pick the beans and remove any pebbles, broken beans and any visible dirt. Rinse well under running water and place it in a large bowl. Top it with water by 2 inches and let it soak overnight (6 - 8 hours).

Cooking the beans:

Press the cloves into one of the onions until they stick and chop the remaining two onions. Place the beans with water enough to cover them (you can use the same soaking water as long as the beans were well rinsed in advance), add all the onions, garlic, carrots, tomatoes and rosemary. Add salt and pepper to taste (I usually start with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and increase it if necessary). Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer it until beans are tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Time will depend on the quality of the beans and how young (or old) they are. Old beans take longer to cook.

If you like a thicker sauce, scoop out some beans (about one ladle full) and mash them with a fork. Return it to the pot and cook it for a while longer until desired consistency is achieved.

Enjoy it!

white beans 1

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pizza Dough

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A basic pizza dough is only flour, yeast and water, with a little olive oil added. So how come something so simple could be so hard to perfect? I made pizza dough several times and was never really satisfied with the final result. There are so many recipes out there and variations of it, but overall I always felt like I ended up with a pizza that was too thick, or tough, or chewy, or even worse a combination of all previously mentioned. I wanted a pizza that was light in texture, with a flavorful and thin crust.

That's the kind of pizza we like to eat here at home, and that's why we rarely order pizza, neither from home or at a restaurant here in the US. It's too much dough (almost like a bread), the tomato sauce is most of the time very disappointing and the toppings are too much. When it comes to pizza, less is better and I find the average American pizza just "too much." That is not to say there aren't good Italian restaurants making nice pizzas out there. We know  a very good one a few blocks away from our home, but  it costs so much that I rather just make my own at home and save the money (perhaps for a trip to Naples...)  :)

Anyway, after making many different types of dough, I develop my own tricks and found out what really works for me. That is what I am sharing here today, the steps of my pizza making, with plenty of pictures to make it easy to visualize it.


The one thing that really made a difference on how my pizzas tasted was a pizza stone. I am not a gadget person and don't buy what I don't need to, but a pizza stone was well worth the 20 bucks. The pizza comes out  crispy on the bottom and it cooks faster too. I leave my pizza stone in the oven at all times. The pizza peel came with the pizza stone and it helps me a lot too, although I think a rimless cookie sheet would do a good job too (I don't have one).




I use regular all-purpose flour for my everyday pizza recipe. I want to try a whole wheat dough but don't have a good one yet. The amount I use is exactly what you see in this picture. It is a 1 1/2 cups measuring pitcher filled with flour all the way, as much as possible.It is not quite 2 cups, but almost.  This translates into about 400 grams of flour. I start with about 350 grams and use the rest as needed.

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The other dry ingredients are 1 package of dry active yeast (7 g), 1 t teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Everything is whisked together and then 1 tablespoon of olive oil is added along with 200ml (7 oz) of warm water.

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After mixing in the olive oil and warm water with a spoon or spatula, everything goes into the bowl of a stand mixer. Attach the dough hook and knead on low for about 4- 5 minutes (this can be done by hand too).

The dough should be wet and sticky. A dry dough will give you a tough pizza.

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This is how it looks like when it comes out of the mixer, very soft but it holds together.

 pizza dough 4pizza dough 5



The dough then gets transferred to an oiled bowl, covered with a kitchen towel and rests for about 1 hour at a warm spot. I put it near the fire place when it's too cold.



After about 1 hour resting it's time to punch down the dough and transfer it to a well floured surface. I like to dip my hands in flour before doing that so it won't stick so much.



Flour the surface very well and keep adding more flour as needed, but don't over do it, just enough for the dough not to stick to your hands. Make one ball of dough.




Slice it in half, each part will make a 12 inch round pizza. I normally use one right away and wrap the second one for later. It keeps in the fridge for several days. I never froze it, but I suppose it can be done too.





Preparing the pizza peel makes it much easier to slice the pizzas into the oven. I like to use cornmeal between the pizza peel and the parchment paper. I don't really like having the cornmeal directly in contact with the pizza as it is a bit grainy.



The parchment paper goes over the pizza peel and I like to flour it very well. The flour will make it easy to roll the dough and it will also give a nice touch to the finished pizza.




I sometimes roll the dough directly on the parchment paper. The rolling pin is well floured too.



This is how the uncooked pizza looks like.

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Into the oven it goes. Hot, hot oven, 475 degrees.

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Ready to be removed, about 10 minutes later.



The final product!


A close up of the crust, just how I like it. Thin, crisp on the edges and with a nice flour coating.



Thin Crust Pizza Dough Recipe:

makes 2 pizzas, 12 inches each



pizza peel

pizza stone

parchment paper

rolling pin


You will need:

about 400grams of flour,  just shy of 2 cups (see pictures above) Plus more for kneading

1 package of dry active yeast (7 grams)

1 teaspoon of sugar

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

1 tablespoon of olive oil

200ml (7 oz) of warm water.


Whisk all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and the warm water and bring it together with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Transfer dough to the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached and knead for about 4-5 minutes on low speed. Dough will still be quite wet when done, but it will look smooth. (see pictures above).

Transfer dough to a lightly oiled clean bowl and cover it with a kitchen towel. Let it rest for about 1 hour in a dry, warm spot.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees with the pizza stone placed in the middle rack.

Punch down dough with your fist (flour your hands first). Transfer dough to a well floured surface and knead lightly, adding flour as necessary just until it comes together in a ball.

Cut dough in half, wrap excess dough if not using it right away and store in the refrigerator.

Prepare the pizza peel by sprinkling it with cornmeal and some flour.

Cut a piece of parchment paper large enough just to cover the pizza peel. Dust it with lots of flour.

Roll pizza dough on a floured surface or directly on the parchment paper into a 12 inch round.

Top pizza as desired.

Using the pizza peel, slide the parchment paper into the pizza stone. Bake it for about 10 minutes or until dough is browned and topping is cooked.

To remove the pizza from the oven, use a tong to pull the pizza back into the peel. You can bring the parchment paper with it or not, just remember to remove it from the oven.

Slice and serve!



Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Eggplant Parmesan

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eggplant parmesan2

This is a classic vegetarian meal, but I have to admit I don't make it very often at home. It is delicious but I am not always up for the whole breading, frying and baking process. There are alternatives to cut down on the preparation, for example, the eggplant can be barbequed or broiled without any breading. This time I made it by the book, because I love the crunchiness of the breaded and fried eggplants. This dish is better eaten fresh, left overs tend to get mushy (eggplant) and rubbery (mozzarella). If you are cooking for yourself only (as I often do), split this dish into two baking dishes and bake them as needed (keep the unbaked dish in the refrigerator).

You can use this recipe to make chicken, beef or pork parmesan too, just substitute the protein of your choice and adjust the cooking time accordingly. When I was a kid back in Brazil I used to like the beef version, with breaded thin beef fillets swimming in tomato sauce and topped with lots of melted cheese. It is a great way to use those less expensive thin cuts of meat.

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Eggplant Parmesan Recipe:

serves 2 (recipe can multiplied to make more servings)

You will need:

1 small eggplant

flour (about 1/2 cup)

panko or breadcrumbs (about 1 cup)

2 eggs, beaten

tomato sauce (about 2 cups)

mozzarella cheese

parmesan cheese

fresh basil leaves

canola or olive oil for shallow frying

Preheat oven to medium heat (350 degrees).

Cut eggplant crosswise into 1/2 inch thick rounds, place it in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let stand for about 30 minutes (this will remove some of the bitterness from the eggplant).

Have 3 bowls or plates ready for your breading station. Place flour in the first one, the eggs in the second and the panko or breadcrumbs in the third plate or bowl.

Pat dry the eggplant slices and bread them by coating them first with flour, dipping in the eggs and coating again with the panko or breadcrumbs. Shallow fry eggplant slices in hot oil until they are golden brown, about 4-5 minutes total. Make sure the oil is hot, otherwise the eggplant will soak it up and be greasy. Drain eggplants in paper towel and set aside.

In an oven-proof dish, spoon some tomato sauce, place half of the eggplants side by side fitting snuggly in the dish. Layer slices of mozzarella cheese (or use shredded), basil leaves and tomato sauce. Repeat another layer starting again with the eggplant slices, mozzarella, basil, tomato sauce. Top it all with extra mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Bake it until golden and bubbly.

Enjoy it!

eggplant parmesan

Monday, March 9, 2009

Whole Wheat Banana Loaf with Prunes and Brazil Nuts

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banana loaf-2

I made this banana loaf out of nostalgia, really. It's what I call "hippie food "and it reminds me of the times my parents were on a macrobiotic diet. All natural, whole wheat, "no-white", strange types of sweeteners, home made yogurts, the whole nine yards. This loaf is exactly the type of food we would bring home from the natural food store my mom used to shop at. It's great for breakfast with a cup of coffee or as a mid afternoon snack with a dollop of yogurt on the side.

I love Brazil nuts and I try to use them whenever I can. They are full of mood-boosting selenium and lend a great crunch to this recipe (just look at them poking out of the loaf in the photos...) Any other nut would work well too. The prunes, on the other hand make the loaf moist and with chewy bits of natural sweetness. If prunes are not available, raisins would be a good substitute.

I used a food processor to combine the dry ingredients and later the butter, but it can be made without one, just whisk dry ingredients and then cut the butter in with a pastry cutter or two knives. The muscovado sugar can be lumpy at times and that is when the processor comes in handy.

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Whole Wheat Banana Loaf Recipe:

makes 1 loaf (9 x 5 )

1 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour

2/3 cup of muscovado sugar

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 cup of ripe, mashed bananas (about 2 large bananas)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup of prunes, chopped

1/2 cup of Brazil nuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour (or spray) a standard 9 by 5 inches loaf pan. Set aside.

In a bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg just until combined. Add the butter and pulse again until you have small pea-size crumbs. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Mix in the bananas and eggs and stir to combine. Add the prunes and nuts and mix until well combined, do not over mix it.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake it for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Wait 10 minutes to unmold and cool it completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Enjoy it!

Note: For those who can read Portuguese and have a Google account (necessary to view the page), here is the recipe that inspired me to bake this loaf:

banana loaf 6

On another note...


Last week I received a blog award from Sally of Pink Bytes. Yes, we have almost the same blog name! Sally blogs from Australia though, a place I can only dream of visiting some day...

This is the first Blog Award I receive so I want to thank Sally (Thank You!!) and pass it on to a few other adorable blogs:

Wandering Chopsticks

Life's Ambrosia

Not Another Omnivore

Pig Pig's Corner

Closet Cooking

Keep making yummy foods, our eyes and our tummys say thank you too... :)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hominy and Coconut Pudding (Canjica)

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I really wanted to share this recipe here even though hominy is not a very popular ingredient in the USA and perhaps not that easy to find (although I find it easily here in Seattle, at my grocery store in the Latin products aisle). Hominy looks like white dried corn kernels. This dessert is a typical Brazilian recipe that is normally made during the winter months (June, July and August). Although Wikipedia compares it to the American grits, I think Canjica (KAN-JEE-KA) is more like a rice pudding, but made with hominy instead of rice.

The recipe makes a lot, so keep left overs in the fridge. The use of crushed peanuts on top is optional, but most Brazilians wouldn't have it without it. Sweet condensed milk is a pantry staple in Brazil and it's used a lot more over there than here in the U.S. (not really something to be proud of). The amount of sugar to be added depends on your taste. Sweet condensed milk is already sweet, and if you are using shredded coconut that is already sweetened you might want to wait until the end of the cooking to see if more sugar is needed.

This is a very warming dessert. The spices make it so fragrant, it feels like a hug in your belly. For me it is even more, it's a bowl of sweetness that sends me back in time, straight to my mom's kitchen.

Hominy and Coconut Pudding Recipe:

You will need:

1 lb/500g of hominy (found in Latin Markets or Latin aisle of your supermarket)

2 quarts of water

1 can of sweet condensed milk

1 can of coconut milk

2 1/2 cups (500ml) of whole milk

2 sticks of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

10 whole cloves (see note below)

2 tablespoons of sugar (or more to taste)

2 cups of shredded coconut

crushed, toasted peanuts (optional)

Soak the hominy in water overnight. In a large pot, cook hominy with it's soaking water until they are soft, about 50 minutes. Add the condensed milk, whole milk, coconut milk and mix it well. Add the spices (cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon, cloves) and sugar, bring it to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring every once in a while. The pudding will thicken slightly. Stir in the shredded coconut and sweeten if necessary according to your taste.

Serve hot in individual bowls topped with a pinch of ground cinnamon and a tablespoon of crushed toasted peanuts (if using).

Note: I use a ball-shaped tea strainer that closes and place the cloves inside, so they won't get lost in the pudding and end up in my mouth. It is not a big deal, but you don't want to swallow an entire clove. Another option is making a sachet for the cloves using cheese cloth.