Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Broccolini, cheese and rosemary tart

Broccolini, cheese and rosemary tart

I love puff pastry. I have to admit it. I know it’s not light or healthy and not good at all for my waistline, but the thing is delicious.
I never buy puff pastry exactly because I’m not that kind of moderate lady who knows when to stop eating something unless I’m at a party or having lunch with my bosses – that’s when I pretend to be that kind of lady.

There was some puff pastry left because of this recipe and since I’m not into wasting food – even when it’s fattening as hell - I used it to make a quick lunch. It was great because I needed to be back in the kitchen to finish the gateau.

I got the idea from this book – it was a potato, goat’s cheese and rosemary tart. My tart was made with the cheese and the broccolini left from our Saturday night pizza.


I liked it so much that I decided to use it as my entry for this Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Kalyn, the great mind behind this great event.

Broccolini, cheese and rosemary tart
adapted from Modern Classics Book 1

1 cup grated yellow mozzarella
½ cup grated parmesan
2 heaping cups broccolini florets
1 tablespoon rosemary leaves
puff pastry
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 205ºC/400ºF.
Cut the broccolini florets into bite-sized portions and quickly steam or blanch them – I prefer to steam because they remain firmer and greener. Set aside to cool.
Mix the two types of cheese in a small bowl.
Cut a 25x20cm rectangle on your puff pastry and place it on a lined baking sheet. Spread the broccolini florets on top, leaving the borders without filling (2.5cm should work).
Season with salt and pepper.
Spread the cheese over the broccolini and then top with the rosemary leaves.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and puffed.
Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

I think it can serve 2 with something on the side – I had ¾ of the tart and nothing else. João didn’t want tart but when he saw me eating it he kept asking for bites (he was having spaghetti, for crying out loud).

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Gateau Saint Honore

Gateau Saint Honore

I'm having a slice of the cake while I type this. It is good, but I can’t say it’s my cup of tea…
I love puff pastry and even used the amount I had left to make lunch today. The Saint Honore cream is so delicious that I was afraid there was not going to be enough to assemble the cake – I kept reaching for spoons in my drawer and dipping them into the smooth mixture, promising that it would be the last time I was going to do that. Caramel is caramel – the word itself makes my mouth water. Cream puffs are a classic – everybody likes them, even my-not--into-sweets husband. So, what’s wrong?

In my humble opinion, all these incredibly delicious things just don’t go well together – I know it sounds insane since this cake is such a big staple in patisserie and all, but for me it wasn’t all that.

I’m glad I could try making cream puffs for the first time – actually, João is way happier with it than me. :)
I still have a lot to learn and improve and I thank the two ladies behind this for making the opportunity I needed to start trying my hand on that.

I’m sure the other Daring Bakers have some interesting cakes and points of view to share – you can find their links on the sidebar.

Since I used store-bought puff pastry I’m not going to post the recipe for that – only for the rest of the cake.

Oh, and let's forget the fact that my caramel decorations suck.

Gateau Saint Honore

Pate a Choux – Cream Puffs Dough:
135g (4 ¾ oz) all purpose flour
240ml (1 cup) water
58g (2 oz) unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon salt
240ml (1 cup) eggs

Sift the flour and set aside.Heat the water, butter and salt to a full rolling boil, so that the fat is not just floating on the top but is dispersed throughout the liquid.Stir the flour into the liquid with a heavy wooden spoon, adding it as fast as it can be absorbed. Avoid adding it all at once or it will form clumps.
Cook, stirring constantly and breaking up the lumps if necessary, by pressing them against the side of the pan with the back of the spoon until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan, about 2-3 minutes.Transfer the dough to a mixer bowl. Let the paste cool slightly so that the eggs will not cook when they are added. You can add and stir the eggs by hand but it requires some serious elbow grease.
Mix in the eggs, one at a time, using the paddle attachment on low or medium speed. Do not add all the eggs at once. Check after a few, the dough should have the consistency of thick mayonnaise – I ended up using only 4 out of 5 eggs.
Transfer the dough to a piping bag and use as desired.

Saint Honore Cream (Rapid Chiboust or Diplomat Cream):
7g (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
60ml (¼ cup) cold water
130g (½ cup + 2 tablespoons) sugar
70g (½ cup) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks
480ml (2 cups) whole milk
1 tablespoon rum – I used vanilla extract
60ml (¼ cup) whipping cream
3 egg whites
dash of salt
100g (½ cup sugar)

Soak the gelatin in the ¼ cup of cold water.
Put the sugar, flour, and salt into a saucepan and stir together with a whisk. Add the yolks and enough milk to make a paste. Whisk in the remainder of the milk.Place over low heat and stirring constantly, cook until thick. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.Stir in the whipping cream. Set the mixing bowl in cold water and stir until the cream is cool. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and using clean beaters, whip them with the dash of salt. As soon as the whites begin to stiffen, gradually add the ½ cup of sugar and beat until they are very stiff.
Fold the egg whites into the cooled cream.

240g (8 oz) sugar

240ml (1 cup) heavy cream
1 teaspoon sugar - I used 1 tablespoon

Assembly the cake:
Roll the puff pastry out to 3mm (1/8 in) thick, 30xm (12 in) square. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate covered at least 20 minutes.While the puff pastry is resting, make the pate a choux and place it in a pastry bag with a #4 (8mm) plain tip. Reserve.Leaving the puff pastry on the sheet pan, cut a 27.5cm (11 in) circle from the dough and remove the scraps. (An easy way to cut it is to use an 11in tart pan as a “cookie cutter”). Prick the circle lightly with a fork.Pipe 4 concentric rings of pate a choux on the pastry circle – as I made a smaller cake, I piped only 2 circles. Pipe out 12 cream puffs the size of Bing cherries onto the paper around the cake – I used only 8 cream puffs.Bake the puff pastry circle and the cream puffs at 205ºC (400ºF) until the pate a choux has puffed, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 190ºC (375ºF) and bake until everything is dry enough to hold its shape, about 35 minutes longer for the cake and 8 minutes longer for the cream puffs (just pick them up and take them out as they are done).
Place about 114g (4 oz) of the Saint Honore Cream in a pastry bag with a #2 (4mm) plain tip. Use the pastry bag tip or the tip of a paring knife to make a small hole in the bottom of each cream puff. Pipe the cream into the cream puffs to fill them. Refrigerate.Spread the remaining cream filling on the cake. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to set the cream. Caramelize the 240g (8 oz) of sugar. Fill a bowl that is large enough to hold the pan used for cooking the sugar with enough cold water to reach halfway up the sides of the pan. Set the bowl aside. Place the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and cook until the sugar until it has caramelized to just a shade lighter than the desired color.Remove from the heat and immediately place the bottom of the pan in the bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Dip the cream puffs into the hot caramel, using 2 forks or tongues to avoid burning your fingers. Place them on a sheet pan. The caramel must be hot enough to go on in a thin layer. Reheat if necessary as you are dipping, stirring constantly to avoid darkening the caramel any more than necessary. Also, avoid any Saint Honore cream to leak out of the puffs and get mixed in with the caramel while dipping as the cream can cause the sugar to recrystallize.
Whip the one cup of heavy cream and teaspoon of sugar to stiff peaks. Place the whipped cream in pastry bag fitted with a #5 (10mm) star tip. Pipe a border of whipped cream around the top of the cake. Arrange the cream puffs, evenly spaced, on top of the filling, next to the cream – I decided to secure them using caramel.

Option: Before filling the cake, take care of the cream puffs, dip them in more caramel, hook them up to the base. Fill with the cream filling and fill the holes with the whipped cream.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tomato, broccolini and basil risotto

Tomato, broccolini and basil risotto

I was going through one of the editions of my Donna Hay magazines when I saw a delicious pasta dish* – I immediately thought of making it for our lazy Sunday lunch. The cold weather changed my mind – I knew then that I needed some risotto.


I’d seen a recipe for roasted tomato risotto and it sounded great – but the tomatoes I had at home were so beautiful and juicy I didn’t want to roast them. I decided to make the risotto my way (even using red wine instead of white).

There were some broccolini florets in my refrigerator and I used them too. The good thing is you don’t need to blanch them first – they’ll cook while the rice cooks.

The risotto turned out really good and this is my entry for the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by one of my favorite foodies ever, the sweet Ellie from Kitchen Wench.

Tomato, broccolini and basil risotto

1 liter vegetable stock – use a mild one otherwise it will be too overpowering
1 tablespoon butter
½ tablespoon olive oil
½ small onion, finely chopped
115g (a heaping ½ cup) risotto rice – I used Arborio
1 ½ tablespoons dry red wine
a heaping ½ cup broccolini florets, chopped in bite-sized pieces
1 tomato, plump but firm, finely diced
1 tablespoon cold butter – extra
¼ cup (not packed) basil leaves
50g (½ cup) parmesan, grated – reserve 1 tablespoon
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the stock and keep it gently simmering.
Place the butter and olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Add the onion and sauté until it’s soft and transparent.
Add the rice and stir for 1 minute or until the grains are glossy and well coated in the butter/olive oil. Add the wine, mix well until the wine is absorbed, then add 1 ladle stock, simmer and stir until it is absorbed. Add the broccolini florets and continue to add the stock, 1 ladle at a time, stirring continuously until the stock is absorbed.
Before adding the last ladle of stock – the rice will be almost al dente - add the tomatoes then keep stirring.
When rice is al dente, fold in the butter, basil and parmesan through the risotto and season with freshly ground pepper – add salt if necessary.
Spoon onto warm serving plates, sprinkle with the reserved parmesan and top with an extra dash of pepper if desired.

Serves 2 with a very light appetite or 1 like me. ;)

* Joey posted the exact same recipe I intended to make – a delicious coincidence.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Banana hazelnut muffins

Banana hazelnut muffins

Searching for a new way to use my much too ripe bananas, I found a banana muffin recipe that called for walnuts too. That sounded great to me. I didn’t have walnuts at home but I did have some hazelnuts and I thought it would be a different twist to an already good recipe.

I made the muffins and they turned out really good. I was amazed by how tender they were, even on the following day. I immediately thought of posting them here but first I decided to ask Saffron, a foodie I didn’t know until then, if she was OK with that.

**** pause to clarify something ****

I’ve been blogging for a while now and up to this moment I’ve made and posted several recipes from foodies I admire - thank heavens I’ve never had a problem with that.
But I have a sort of rule I follow – if the blogger is someone closer I know they won’t mind. Much to the contrary – I know some of them actually like it.
I do – every time someone cooks something I posted (or gets inspired by my recipes) I get all smiley and I even talk to my computer, if there’s no one else to share the joy with.

Depending on the case, I sent the person an email just letting them know about the post or asking for their permission to post.

**** end of pause ****

She sent me a sweet, sweet email back and I was sure that I had found one more foodie to admire.

The only thing I’d have changed is the amount of sugar - I'd use a bit less because my bananas were really ripe and sweet.
Saffron, tks for sharing such a delicious recipe!

Banana hazelnut muffins

4 ripe bananas*
150g (¾ cup) sugar
75g (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
210g (1 ½ cups) all-purpose flour
small handful of hazelnuts, toasted and peeled

Preheat oven to 190ºC/375ºF and line muffin pan with muffin paper cups.
Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix well. Set aside.
Chop the hazelnuts and reserve 1 tablespoon for sprinkling on top – I reserved 1 ½ tablespoons.
Place the bananas in a large bowl and mash well. Add the sugar and melted butter. Mix well.
Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and then add the hazelnuts - mix just enough to bring everything together. Don’t overmix.
Fill muffin cups about ¾ to the top and sprinkle with the reserved chopped nuts.
Bake for 20 minutes or till the muffins are golden brown.

* you can use 3 large bananas and 1 egg. I made them exactly like the original recipe and I can say that it worked beautifully without the egg.

Makes 12 large muffins – I got 14

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Corn fudge

Corn fudge

I had to make a recipe with corn to take part in one event for blogs written in Portuguese. You guys might think “Corn? So easy!” – but that’s the whole point: I wanted to make something different, unusual. Something new.

It took me forever to choose something but I finally did: this corn fudge, which I found at the Brazilian Nestlé website.

It’s similar to brigadeiro, but flavored with corn instead of chocolate. A pinch of cinnamon reminds us of curau – a sort of corn pudding I’ll be making soon to share with you here.

Different and new, indeed, and also delicious.

Corn fudge

1 can (200g) corn kernels, drained and rinsed
1 can (395g) sweetened condensed milk
1 ½ tablespoons milk – I used low fat
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
butter, for greasing
granulated sugar, to coat the fudge balls

Place the corn kernels and the milk in a blender or food processor and purée them. Push the purée through a sieve and place it in a medium saucepan. Add the condensed milk, cinnamon and butter and mix well.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the bottom of the pan starts to show – it will be thicker and bubbly (20 minutes). Remove from heat, pour in a greased plate and set aside to cool completely.
Grease your hands with a bit of butter and roll portions of fudge into balls – this will be easier if you refrigerate the fudge.
Roll them in the granulated sugar and place in small fluted paper cups.
Decorate them as you wish – I had some extra kernels so I used them (an idea I saw at the website, too) and I also used cloves.

Makes 40-45

Corn fudge

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Garlic chickpeas with cumin fried fish

Garlic chickpeas with cumin fried fish

This dish reminds of my dear friend Valentina – she is crazy for chickpeas and I’m sure she’d love this.


There’s not much left to say about Donna Hay’s recipes – they look good, taste fantastic and are not over the top complicated to put together. Her success is totally deserved – she’s the real deal, in my humble opinion.

What a delicious way to have chickpeas – they were the perfect side for the fish, which was unbelievably easy to prepare and full of flavor, even though I didn’t use the chilli.

This is my contribution to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging – I keep forgetting to mention that it was created by the lovely Kalyn - this time hosted by Rinku from Cooking in Westchester.

Garlic chickpeas with cumin fried fish
adapted from Off The Shelf: Cooking From the Pantry

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 leeks, shredded
1 tablespoon shredded lemon zest – I used lime zest
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2x 400g cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
freshly ground black pepper

Cumin fried fish:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 small red chilli, seeded and chopped – I didn’t have any at home
4 x 200g firm white-fleshed fish, cut into pieces

Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the oil, leeks and lemon zest, stirring occasionally for 8 minutes or until the leeks are golden and a little crisp. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the chickpeas and cook for 5 minutes or until heated through. Stir through the parsley and salt.

To cook the fish, heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the butter, olive oil, cumin and chilli and cook for 3 minutes. Add the fish to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until just cooked through.

Place the chickpeas on serving plates, place the fish on the side and serve with a lime wedge.

Serves 4.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lime meringue muffins

Lime meringue muffins

Some of you know that I have a 13-year-old sister who happens to be the apple of my eye.
I chose her name and looked after her since she was a 4-month-old baby until a bit before I got married, 2 years ago. I used to bathe her, feed her, play with her, take her to school…
We used to do everything together and I’d take her with me wherever I went. Every time we were at the counter at the supermarket the clerk would ask me if she was my daughter – and I’d be all proud, even though we have no physical resemblance whatsoever. :D

I’ve recently found out that she loves baking, too and that she makes cakes sometimes.
She and I spent an afternoon together the other day and she wanted to help me prepare something for us to eat. So I showed her some of my cookbooks – the ones loaded with photos – and told her to choose a recipe. I helped her translating the names of the food (she knows a little English) and she finally decided for these muffins, saying the she preferred them to a chocolate muffin recipe.
I was smiling from ear to ear to see that not only she shares my passion for baking but also for citrus flavors – that’s my girl!!!

Lime meringue muffins
adapted from Sweet Food

245g (1 ¾ cups) self-rising flour
80g (¼ cup + 3 tablespoons) sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
160ml (2/3 cup) milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
75g (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
zest of 1 lime*

2 egg whites
50g (¼ cup) sugar
grated zest of 1 lime
1 tablespoon caster sugar - extra

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF. Grease 12 standard muffin cups.
Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the sugar. Make a well in the center. Place the egg, egg yolk and salt in a bowl and beat together. Stir in the milk, vanilla and butter. Pour the egg mixture into the well. Fold until just combined – the batter will be lumpy. Divide the batter among the muffin cups.
Bake for 15 minutes - the book says the muffins would rise a little but ours rose a lot. :)
Remove from the oven – leave it on – cool the muffins in the pan for 10 minutes then loosen them, leaving in the pan.
While they bake, prepare the meringue: beat the egg whites until firm peaks form. Add the sugar and zest and beat well.
Put a heaping tablespoon of meringue on top of each muffin and sprinkle with a bit of sugar. Bake for 5 minutes or until meringue is golden.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

*next time I’ll add some lime juice too

Makes 12 – Jessica and I got 10

This is the doggy muffin:

Lime meringue muffins

Monday, May 14, 2007

Chicken with rosemary and lime

Chicken with rosemary and lime

I usually cook 2 different types of food for Sunday lunches: one beef-based dish for João and pasta or salad for myself. A friend of mine told me once that I was “brave” to do that. :)

The idea of making chicken that day was João’s, so I searched for a chicken recipe that would please us both.
This is a very simple recipe that I adapted from a Brazilian cookbook and it turned out very good. I served it with rice and arugula and onion salad.

If you (like me) love chicken but hate those white/pale pieces that look like Styrofoam then this recipe is for you.

Chicken with rosemary and lime

1 chicken (1.8kg) in pieces and with the skin on – I used only whole legs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
3 garlic cloves, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
80ml (1/3 cup) dry white wine
2 tablespoons lime juice
grated zest of 1 small lime

Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry.
Heat oil and butter in a large pan over medium heat. Place the chicken pieces without overlapping them.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until golden. Turn the pieces, sprinkle again with salt and pepper and cook until golden – both sides should be nicely browned.
Add the rosemary, garlic and wine. Cook until tender – if it gets too dry, add a little water (I didn’t have to).
When it’s cooked through, add the lime zest and juice. Cook for another minute and serve right away.

Serves 4

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Dulce de leche brioche rolls

Dulce de leche brioche rolls

The minute I saw Helene’s wonderful rolls I knew I had to make them – my dad is absolutely crazy for dulce de leche!

So I invited dad, my brother and my sister to have dinner at my house. I baked the bread and left it on the dinner table, while I was making the pizzas in the kitchen. You should have seen the look on his face when he arrived and saw the rolls… He immediately asked what those were and I said they were dulce de leche rolls that I had made especially for him. The man was thrilled!
And so was my 13-year-old sister – I saw her whispering something to my father and asked what was going on. He told me that she was asking if she could get some of those for herself. :)
She told me later that she took the rolls to school and had them as a snack during class recess – but she had to share them with a friend, who asked to have some! :)

Helene, this recipe is absolutely divine: the buttery dough is very tender and soft and the filling complements it perfectly. Thank you so much for sharing!

Dulce de leche brioche rolls

80ml (1/3 cup) warm water
80ml (1/3 cup) warm milk
14g (5 teaspoons - 2 envelopes) dry yeast
525g (3 ¾ cups) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
50g (¼ cup) sugar
340g (1 ½ cups - 3 sticks) unsalted butter, each stick cut into 4 pieces, room temperature

approx. 300g (1 cup) dulce de leche, room temperature

1 egg, beaten to blend with 1 tablespoon water

Place warm water, warm milk, and yeast in a bowl of standing heavy-duty mixer - I don’t own one so I used my old and not so heavy standing mixer, with the beaters that look like springs - stir until yeast dissolves. Fit mixer with dough hook. Add flour and salt to bowl; mix on low speed just until flour is moistened, about 10 seconds. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl.
Beat in 3 eggs on low speed, then add sugar. Increase speed to medium and beat until dough comes together, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding next (dough will be soft and batter-like). Increase speed to medium-high and beat until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 7 minutes.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Lift up dough around edges and allow dough to fall and deflate in bowl.
Cover bowl with plastic and chill until dough stops rising, lifting up dough around edges and allowing dough to fall and deflate in bowl every 30 minutes, about 2 hours total. Cover bowl with plastic and refrigerate an hour.
Take the dough out of the fridge and divide in half.

For the buns: roll out the dough to a 35x22cm (14x9in) rectangle. Spread the dulce de leche leaving a 2.5cm (1in) border. Roll into a log and cut into 12 pieces. Place them in a buttered 22.5cm (9in) round pan, cover and refrigerate until the next morning. The dough will rise slowly overnight.*
In the morning, bake at 175ºC/350ºF for 20-25 minutes.

You can repeat with the other half or make a brioche loaf – like Helene did.

* I halved the recipe, baked the rolls in a 25cm round pan and l let them rise for 1 hour baking them instead of refrigerating them until the next day.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award - what a thrill!

Last week, I got an email from the lovely Kirsten – she had nominated me for a Thinking Blogger Award. Can you guys believe it? I was so happy! She’s one of my favorite foodies and it was a thrill to know that she likes my blog that much. Thank you, sweetie!

A few days later, I found out that Steven had nominated too. Again, one of my favorite foodies – and he lives on the other side of the planet. Internet is really fantastic. Thank you, Steven!
I bravely managed not to be devoured by my own ego - after that, who can blame me?? – and now it’s my turn to choose 5 bloggers who make me think.

Kristen and Steven, I’m sorry it took me forever to make this post, but it was sooo hard to choose only 5 people!

There you go, guys, my choices – the ones that make me think about getting better and better, always improving my cooking skills, my photos, my texts, the whole bunch:

- Valentina, who writes Trem Bom and Trem Bom in English: her blog was the inspiration that made me start Technicolor Kitchen (and then, the English version of it). We’ve met through the Internet and became friends – she and I have so much in common it’s amazing. Some months later she came to Brazil and we had lunch together – it was great. Our friendship has grown so much after that. She’s my best friend and I adore her.

- Gattina and her Kitchen Unplugged. Just a look at her photos will make you dream. And once you start reading her texts, delicious recipes and caring comments you’ll become an instant fan. She’s been so supportive of my blog, even since I only posted in Portuguese. Talk about generosity.

- Haalo at Cook (almost) anything at least once: I just love her blog. The recipes are wonderful – and they work perfectly. I’ve tried my hand on some and was always very pleased with the result. Drop her a line some time and you’ll see how sweet she is.

- Anh and her Food Lover’s Journey: it’s wonderful to read her posts and relate to some of her cooking experiences. Anh has lately made some posts about baking bread and I share her passion for it. The photos are stunning and the recipes always make you feel like running to the kitchen as fast as you can.

- Last, but most certainly not least, Brilynn and her Jumbo Empanadas: her theme is “go big or go home” and I’ve tryed to incorporate that into my cooking, too. Brilynn is so passionate about cooking and baking that I doubt that you won’t feel at least a bit “infected” by that. Wanna bet?? Check her blog out.

If you are on the list above, this is what you are supposed to do:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think;

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme;
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Pasta shells with Italian tuna and artichokes

photo by Terry B

Last January my foodie friend Terry cooked a recipe I’d sent him: rice and beans, Brazilian style. After that, I thought it would be lovely to cook something he would send me the recipe for, and to have some of this witty text and beautiful photos around here.

Terry, time for you to take the stage:

"When Patricia graciously invited me to do a post here at Technicolor Kitchen, it was still winter in Chicago, where Blue Kitchen is based. Naturally, I thought of roasts and stews and other hearty cold weather fare. Then I remembered that it was summertime in Brazil. The Internet has made the world seem so tiny that I sometimes forget how big it really is.

So next I thought of this dish, one of my summer favorites--a quick, colorful pasta that makes a great lunch or light supper. And the only thing you cook is the pasta, so the kitchen doesn't get too hot. A great idea, except that I was in the middle of moving--hunting for an apartment, packing, painting, deciding what to keep and what to get rid of... and then the actual move itself. Now that I'm finally getting around to sharing the recipe, it's autumn in Brazil. Oh, well. It's still pretty tasty, no matter when you make it.

In Italy, a no-cook pasta sauce like this is called a salsa cruda. The room temperature sauce slightly cools the cooked pasta, and the pasta slightly warms the sauce, making for a meal that feels less heavy than many pasta dishes. The shells catch bits of tuna, the capers and other ingredients, delivering big taste with each bite.

A note about the tuna. For this dish, bring out the good stuff--quality tuna packed in olive oil. The olive oil becomes part of the sauce. I use a brand imported from Italy. As you can see in the photo, the quality of the flesh is far superior to the ground-up mush you often find in canned tuna.

photo by Terry B

Pasta shells with Italian tuna and artichokes
Serves 4

2 6-ounce (168g) cans imported Italian tuna in olive oil
1 6-ounce (168g) jar artichoke hearts, drained, bigger pieces sliced in half lengthwise
¼ cup capers, drained
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 large garlic clove, minced
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
freshly ground black pepper to taste

340g (12 ounces) medium pasta shells

Bring a large pot of water to boil to cook pasta. While water is coming to a boil, mix the salsa cruda ingredients in a large bowl, big enough to hold the pasta as well, once it's cooked. Do not drain the tuna--add the olive oil it's packed in to the bowl. Break up larger chunks of tuna into bite-sized pieces.

When water comes to boil, salt it generously, then cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente. Drain pasta, add to salsa cruda and toss. As the hot pasta mixes with the salsa, the fragrances you'd been noticing as you worked with the ingredients will explode. Garlic, lemon, parsley, tuna, artichoke hearts... and my favorite, the briny tang of the capers. Divide into four pasta bowls or plates and serve."

My thoughts about the dish: it’s just delicious! João had a big plate of pasta and kept saying how wonderful it tasted – and it’s so hard to cook for him sometimes.
I had seconds, Terry, and I wasn’t supposed to. :)

These are the things I had different from the recipe:
- I couldn’t find Italian tuna, so I bought a Spanish one that was packed in extra virgin olive oil. Very tasty and quite similar to the photo Terry sent me;
- I love capers, so I used a bit more than the amount on the recipe;
- I’m a basil worshiper so I added a handful of leaves to the salsa cruda.

This is my version of Terry's pasta:

Pasta shells with Italian tuna and artichokes

Terry, this post was so much fun! I’m hoping we can do this again sometime!

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