Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dessert: Elegant Canoli on Glass

  • 2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons light cream (also called table cream - I like Nestle)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 Ghirardelli chocolate bar (I used semi-sweet but bitter sweet and milk chocolate can also be used)
  • 10 sheets Athens Phyllo (fillo) dough - Buy it frozen and let it thaw for 2 hours in room temperature.  
  • 2 Tbsps unsalted butter 
  1. In a large bowl thoroughly mix the ricotta, vanilla extract, light cream, and confectioner's sugar with a spoon
  2. Cover with plastic and let it settle in the fridge while preparing the phyllo dough
  3. Carefully remove the thawed phyllo sheets from the box.  Phyllo is extremely sensitive so be careful not to break it apart
  4. Melt the butter and grab a brush
  5. Open a single sheet of Phyllo on a clean hard surface and coming in from the edges spread the melted butter all over using your brush
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  7. Stack another sheet of Phyllo on top and do the same with the butter
  8. Stack a total of ten Phyllo sheets
  9. Using a sharp knife cut the buttered Phyllo dough into four pieces
  10. Set each rectangle piece onto a cookie sheet. Don't grease it! There's already enough butter to go around
  11. Bake at 375 degrees for 5-7 minutes then turn and bake for another 5 minutes.  The goal is to get the Phyllo dough to a pretty golden crust
  12. Grate a couple of the chocolate squares. (Save it in a small zip lock bag
  13. Remove the dough and place each rectangle into a large zipper lock bag and zip it up
  14. Using a rolling pin or your hands start crumbling the dough into small pieces that can be spooned up into a glass
  15. Pour about a Tbsp of the dough into a martini or margarita glass
  16. Spoon some of the grated chocolate on top
  17. Pour two Tbsps of the ricotta mixture on top 
  18. Finish with some more chocolate and dough if you'd like
  19. Place a chocolate square on top as garnish

I wanted to make a special dessert for Christmas!  I had some Phyllo dough in the freezer that my friend Magali Lopez gave me a couple of months ago.  I found this video on youtube and decided to make it!  It is VERY GOOD!  It's also very light!  It's not too sweet and you feel good after eating it!  If you want to impress your guests and your family definitely make this dessert!  The grated chocolate and crumbled Phyllo dough will last for days inside the zip lock bags.  Just don't refrigerate it!  Keep everything room temperature :)  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Red Velvet Cake Layered with Raspberry Sauce

Ingredients (cake or 24 cupcakes)
  • 2 1/2 cups of cake flour or all purpose flour 
  • 2 tsps cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Red coloring (I used 3 tsps liquid. Use your best judgement on how red you want it)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsps vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
Ingredients (frosting)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 16oz cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 4 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Ingredients (raspberry sauce)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 2 Tbsps orange juice
Preparation (cake and cupcakes)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large bowl sift the flour, add salt and cocoa, and whisk everything well
  3. In a separate large bowl using an electric hand mixer beat the oil with the sugar on low until well combined
  4. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, red coloring and beat on low until well combined
  5. Pour 1/3 of the dry mix into wet mix to start your batter.  Mix until well combined
  6. Add half the buttermilk and mix
  7. Add another 1/3 of the dry mix into the batter and mix well until combined
  8. Add the rest of the buttermilk and mix
  9. Add the rest of the dry mix and make sure everything is well combined
  10. On a small bowl mix the vinegar and the baking soda with a spoon.  It'll fizzle.  Add it to the batter and mix everything one final time
  11. If making a cake pour the batter into a cake pan and bake it on 350 for about 30 minutes or until stick comes out dry. I used a 3" deep 8" round cake pan
  12. If making cupcakes line your paper cups on a cupcake or muffin baking pan.  Pour the batter into a jar and fill each cup to about 3/4 full.  Using a spoon to do this is not efficient.  I use a juice jar and it's really fast!  Bake on 350 for about 20 minutes or until stick comes out dry
Preparation (frosting)
  1. In a large bowl sift the confectioner's sugar
  2. Add the butter sticks, cream cheese, and vanilla extract
  3. Using an electric hand mixer beat everything on low until frosting consistency is achieved.  It'll take about 2 minutes.  Don't freak out if at first it seems too dry and powdery.  It'll smooth out eventually
Preparation (raspberry sauce)
  1. Add the raspberries and orange juice to a small sauce pan 
  2. Heat on medium allowing the raspberries to dissolve.  It should have a thick consistency.  Not completely liquid
  3. Place it in the refrigerator and allow it to get cold
This was the first time I made a cake with this recipe.  I cut it in three layers and layered some frosting and raspberry sauce.  The result was a moist and tasty cake!  My daughter loves red velvet and I've gotten great compliments from other kids who don't usually eat frosting but love this frosting.  I basically combined a few recipes I saw online and tried a few variations on some of the ingredients.  I like moist cakes so I decided to play around with the raspberry idea.  I'm not sure if the orange juice is necessary or not but that's how I've always done it.  Acidity I guess lol!   I hope you make this cake or cupcakes soon!  Oh, if making cupcakes you can spoon the frosting on top and spoon a little bit of the raspberry sauce on top of that! It's delicious!   


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lemon Merengue Pie

  1. 1 Ready Crust Shortbread or Graham Cracker.  I like shortbread more
  2. 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  3. 1 egg yoke
  4. 4 egg whites
  5. 1 can condensed milk 
  1. Preheat the oven at 350
  2. In a blender blend the lemon juice, the egg yoke, and the condensed milk.  Blend it enough to combine all the ingredients. 
  3. Pour the blended ingredients into the ready crust
  4. With an electric hand mixer beat the four egg whites in a bowl until the egg whites foam up and stick to the bowl
  5. Add 2 Tbsps of sugar and mix with a spoon making a merengue
  6. Place the merengue on top of the blended mix making sure to cover the whole top.  Make some peaks and valleys with a fork for aesthetics
  7. Place in the oven to brown the top.  About 5 to 10 minutes
  8. Cover the pie with the plastic cover the ready crust comes with and place it in the refrigerator to settle before eating it


I believe it was our friend Cleide Capelozza who gave this recipe to my mom over 15 years ago.   She is a master in the kitchen and I don't think she uses ready crust.  She makes her own!  She also makes her own fresh pasta for lasagna! We have all enjoyed this pie over the years and will be making it forever!  It's that simple and it's THAT good!!!  Enjoy it and make it this holiday season! 

Creamy Garlic Shrimp Pasta

  • 1 lb large raw clean and deveined shrimp with tail on
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 3 tsps all purpose flour
  • 5 large garlic cloves minced (I like garlic so you can add more or use less depending on taste)
  • 1 cup of spinach leaves
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • Parsley finely chopped handful 
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Nutmeg (a pinch or two)
  • 1 box of angel hair pasta (penne, linguini, spaghetti, and fettucini also work well
  1. Boil water and cook your pasta au dente.  Set it aside
  2. On a large hot pan melt the butter and cook the garlic till translucent.  Don't brown it
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and while stirring add the flour creating a rue 
  4. Return the pan to the heat and add the white wine.  Let it reduce.  About 2 minutes.  The sauce will look thick but it will thin out later
  5. Season the shrimps with salt then add them to the sauce along with the spinach
  6. Season the sauce with more salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.  I like my food with a kick so be careful not to add too much if you like it mild.  Cook for about 3 minutes or until the shrimp starts to turn pink
  7. Reduce heat to medium and add the heavy cream and the cheese.  The sauce's consistency and color should change.  
  8. Cook for another 2 minutes mixing and tasting for seasoning.  Add a couple of pinches of nutmeg for a special kick and about a handful of the chopped parsley
  9. Add pasta to the pan and mix with the sauce.  Sometimes I leave the sauce on the side and ladle it on each individual plate of pasta.  For this meal I mixed it all together

We arrived home really hungry this Sunday morning.  We had planned on not eating out so I knew I had to cook fast.  This dish is extremely easy and quite fast to prepare.  I took 30 minutes to prepare it including cleaning the shrimp.  Don't be afraid to season everything.  Cream sauces need garlic and salt! I might have put too much fresh black pepper and will reduce it next time.  Otherwise I couldn't have enough of it!  Two huge plates!  If you like you pasta more on the wet soupy sauce side then use this amount for about 3/4 of the box.  If you like it just right then the amount of sauce is perfect!  I want to try it with penne next time.  Enjoy it and make it today for your family!  Thank you for sharing my blog with your online friends! 

NOTE:  You can make this with chicken breasts also!  Just sear the breasts first and set them on the side.  Chop them up and return them to the pan before step 7!  

Friday, August 12, 2011

"Bud" Chicken Legs


  • 6 to 8 Chicken Legs (large and meaty)
  • 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/3 cup White Vinegar
  • Salt and Black Pepper 
  • 4 large Garlic cloves
  • 1 12oz Can or Bottle of Budweiser Beer
  • Thick Bacon
  • Large Zip Lock Bag

  1. Place the chicken legs inside the zip lock bag
  2. Pour salt and black pepper liberally into the bag.  Don't worry about it landing on all the pieces.  Just put it in there.  About 1 tsp of each but use your best judgement
  3. Pour the olive oil and vinegar into the bag
  4. Press the bag to remove the air inside and zip lock it well.  Once it is secure start pressing the bag from the outside as to mix all the ingredients inside.  Make sure every piece gets covered with the marinade you just created.  Be careful not to turn the bag up side down so you don't drop chicken legs all over the kitchen in case the zip lock malfunctions. 
  5. Carefully lay the bag in the refrigerator so that the pieces are all side by side as opposed to on top of each other.  You want all the pieces to be in the marinade while in the fridge.  Keep it in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  I like to prepare mine in the morning and leave it marinading for at least 6 hours or until I cook it in the evening.   The longer it marinades the tastier it'll be. 
  6. Remove the chicken legs with a tong and place them on a baking pan large enough to hold all your pieces.  Wrap on bacon strip around each leg and lay them down with enough space between them to assure proper baking. Pour the remaining marinade all over the chicken.
  7. Open up your "Bud" and pour it all over filling up the pan. 
  8. Bake on 350 for 2 hours.  The chicken will bake while swimming in beer!
This was simply amazing!  I've heard about people using beer to bake meat but I had never tried it!  I will make this ALL THE TIME!!!  It was simply incredible!  In regards to the measurements just use your best judgement.  I don't measure anything when I'm cooking.  The more you cook you develop an idea of how much salt and pepper you should use.  Make it tonight or this weekend and your loved ones will really appreciate you! 

Thank you for sharing :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fried Chicken Wings (Breaded)


  • Chicken Wings (about 24)
  • 2 Cups Butter Milk
  • Red Devil Hot Sauce
  • 2 cups Self Rising Flour
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Paprika 
  1. In a large bowl season all the chicken wings (split) with salt, pepper, and paprika then pour a good amount of the Red Devil hot sauce all over the wings.  Rub everything together with your hands and let it sit marinading for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Pour the buttermilk in a separate bowl and the self rising flour in a different bowl. 
  3. Preheat frying oil in a deep frying pan or a deep fryer at 375 degrees (Medium High)
  4. Dip each wing in the buttermilk and then on the self rising flour.
  5. Once the oil is hot enough fry the wings in batches.  Don't over crowd the pan.  I did it in two batches of 12 in a large pan with room around each wing.  Fry for about 12 to 14 minutes.
  6. Remove the wings and let them rest so the oil drips on a rack or over paper towel.  This will help keep them crispy when you bite them! 
  7. Serve with your favorite side.  I served mine with roasted garlic potatoes.

I have had a guest from Brazil over our house for a few weeks.  He loves the way Americans make fried chicken!  He kept asking to go to KFC lol.  I had never made fried chicken but was not about to take a guest to KFC!  I decided to try making my own fried chicken!  It paid off... My guest, Eduardo Gigo, loved it!  We ate tons of it! Don't be afraid of seasoning the chicken.  The buttermilk will soften the chicken and the taste somewhat so seasoning it heavily is not a problem.  Have fun making it and enjoy!!!  

Thank you for sharing :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011


  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 25 egg yokes (organic brown chicken eggs)
  • 2 Tbsps unsalted butter
  • 1 coconut
Preparation  yield 12
  1. Open the fresh coconut using a hammer and a nail or an electric drill.  Let the coconut water come out before breaking it. Remove the hard shells and shave the coconut till it's all white
  2. Shred the coconut pieces and place in a mixing bowl
  3. Add the sugar and the butter to the shredded coconut
  4. Using a thin strainer break each egg (one to four at a time depending on your strainer) and separate the yoke from the egg whites.  You can save the egg whites for an ommelette later or for a merengue pie. Carefully place the yoke on the strainer.  With a fork gently poke the skin tissue holding the yoke together to release the yellow content through the strainer and into a different bowl.  Repeat this step until all the eggs have been separated and all the yokes have been broken and strained.  (This process of straining the egg yoke is what keeps the "egg" taste away from the Quindim.  It requires patience but it is worth it)  NOTE:  Don't speed up the process by pressing the yoke through the strainer with a spoon.  Simply move everything around with a fork until only the tissue skin is left
  5. Add the strained yoke into the coconut sugar bowl
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  7. Mix all the ingredients together with a spoon
  8. Butter a cupcake baking pan and then cover each cupcake space with sugar.  (This will allow each Quindim to reach a pretty color)
  9. With a spoon fill each cup with the mixture pretty close to the top
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Keep checking for a golden brown color and do a toothpick test to see if it's coming out clean. 
  11. Remove from the oven and let cool down for about 30 minutes and then place them in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  12. Remove the Quindims from the cupcake pan using a knife around the edges.  Careful not to hurt them and change their shape
  13. Place each Quindim upside down in a cupcake paper cup and sprinkle them with confectioner's sugar
A friend of mine asked me if I had ever made Quindim.  I had not only not made it I didn't even remember what they tasted like!  I saw it as a challenge.  I spent the next few days researching different methods and philosophies concerning this traditional Brazilian dessert.  Many have taken shortcuts and turned it into an everyday custard made on a blender in 2 minutes.  I decided I wanted to make it how it is intended to be made.  Slowly and with top notch fresh ingredients.  The recipe I used is a combination of a few recipes I have found online.  A town in Brazil called Sao Joao de Almeida is famous for its Quindim and they also keep it fresh and original.  I loved it that I was able to make such a pretty and tasty dessert!  It is not too sweet due to the fresh coconut as opposed to the sweetened coconut in the bag and it is also very light.  It uses a lot of eggs but there is zero egg taste in it.  In regards to presentation I received the most wows out of all my recipes when I posted it on facebook.  Everyone who tried it loved it!  Definitely make them and treat it special.  It takes time to strain the yokes properly.  If this step is done incorrectly you will get a Quindim that tastes like your ommeletes.  That's definitely NOT what you want!  Enjoy making them for your friends and family... they are guaranteed to love them!  I want some more right now... :)

Thank you for sharing :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bobo De Camarao (Shrimp in Creamy Cassava)


  • 1.5 lbs of fresh shrimp cleaned and with no shells (I used about 17 jumbo and 20 medium but it's better with larger shrimp)
  • 1 large can of organic chopped tomato
  • 1 large red onion (chopped)
  • 6 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  • 2 lbs of yuca/Cassava (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 cup of coconut milk (some cans are 14oz)
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • Shrimp stock (two cups of water and all the shrimp shells and heads boiled)
  • Cilantro 2 big handfuls
  • Hot sauce
  • Red Pepper flakes
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Palm Oil OPTIONAL (I did not use it but it's commonly used in Brazil when cooking this dish)
Preparation yield 4-5 servings
  1. Place yuca in pressure cooker and fill up with water until the yuca is covered (about 2/3 of the way) and add a good amount of salt to the water.  Once the pressure cooker starts letting out steam cook it for 5 to 7 minutes.  Remove and drain.
  2. While pressure cooker is going heat the olive oil in a large tall frying pan.
  3. Add the onions and the garlic
  4. Once the onions become translucent add the shrimp and cook until they become somewhat pink (Do not overcook) and remove them to a separate plate
  5. Add the tomatoes, the shrimp stock, half the cilantro, salt and pepper, hot sauce (to taste), and red pepper flakes to the onions and garlic. Let it cook down for about 4 minutes
  6. Meanwhile place the drained yuca in a large bowl and add the coconut milk.  Using a hand mixer mash it all together.  If you don't have a hand mixer use a manual masher.  You want it nice and smooth but it's ok if it's a little chuncky
  7. Add the yuca coconut mash to the tomato sauce in parts. Mix well each time and check the consistency. A good consistency is probably somewhere between a creamy soup and mashed potatoes. 
  8. Add the heavy cream and mix well
  9. Add the separated shrimp to the pan and mix well but carefully not to damage your shrimp
  10. Add the rest of the cilantro
  11. OPTIONAL add 2 tbsps of palm oil/paste
  12. Heat for a couple more minutes and serve with white rice
I've been wanting to make bobo de camarao for a while now and Friday was the perfect day.  I got a great discount on fresh jumbo shrimp because it was Good Friday.  Definitely use fresh shrimp.  The taste is much stronger!  I chose not to use fresh yuca because frankly I haven't noticed a big difference between that and the frozen Goya one.  I used organic tomatoes for a stronger taste too.  One of the main ingredients in this Brazilian dish is palm oil (oleo de dende in Portuguese).  I thought about using it but once I researched about it I found out it's probably the most unhealthy oil there is!  It's completely saturated fat!  If you do want to use it you can find it in Brazilian shops, Caribbean shops, and African shops.  Use 2 tbsp in the last step before adding the cilantro.  This is one of my favorite dishes to eat!  You can make it without a pressure cooker but it will take about 30 to 40 minutes to cook the yuca in boiling water.  The consistency I like is somewhere between a creamy soup and mashed potatoes.  Adding the yuca to the sauce in parts will allow you to control the consistency you want. Try making it and let me know how it turns out! If you have questions don't hesitate to ask! Remember to always season your food! 

Thank you for sharing :)

Monday, March 7, 2011


Ingredients (Dough)
  • 4 Cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 2  1/4oz envelopes of Fleischmann's Active Dry East
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Egg Yoke for egg wash
  • 1 tsp of Salt
  • 1 Tbsp of Sugar
  • 1 Cup of Warm Milk
Ingredients (Filling)
  • 1 lb of Lean Ground Beef (I used 93% lean)
  • 1 Medium Onion Chopped
  • 1 Roma Tomato Chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves Finely Chopped
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Cheese Cloth
Preparation (Dough - Filling - Dough - Assembly)
  1. Add 2 cups of flour, salt, and sugar to a large bowl and combine
  2. Heat the milk in the microwave
  3. Add the dry yeast to the milk and mix with a spoon until dissolved
  4. Pour the milk and yeast into the large bowl with the flour and mix all the ingredients together with a spoon until everything is combined.  The dough will look wet and messy but just clean off the spoon and let it sit covered with a towel while you prepare the filling.  The dough should double in size in the meantime
  5. For the filling drizzle the olive oil on a hot frying pan and add the chopped onions and garlic
  6. Once the onions become translucent add the ground beef and the chopped tomatoes
  7. Season with salt and pepper and let it cook on high heat mixing to make sure there are no raw parts adding more olive oil if necessary
  8. The meat will give off some juice so once it's cooked layer some cheese cloth (about 20") over a baking sheet and add all of the cooked meat on top of it
  9. Bring the four corners of the cheese cloth together on top of the meat (like tying a Hershey Kiss) and with your hands squeeze as much juice out of the meat as you can.  This will keep the meat tasty but not so juicy as to leak out of the dough while baking
  10. Set the meat aside until dough pieces are ready
  11. Remove the towel covering the dough and add two more cups of flour, 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil, and one egg 
  12. Mix everything together by hand until the dough takes shape and no longer sticks to the bowl or your hand
  13. Form a dough ball (much like a pizza dough) and let it sit for a couple of minutes
  14. Cut the dough into equal parts cutting it in half each time (16 little parts total)
  15. Spread one of the small parts with your fingers forming a laid down triangle
  16. Add a little more than a tbsp of the filling (use your judgment) to the center of the triangle
  17. Bring one corner over the filling and straight in between the other corners
  18. Fold the two other corners to the center over the filling creating a closed triangle
  19. Preheat the oven to 375
  20. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray
  21. Beat the egg yoke and brush it over each "Esfiha" to create that nice golden baked look
  22. Bake for about 20 minutes checking to make sure they are not burning on the bottom.  They are done when they become golden brown
  23. If not serving right away keep them covered with a damp cloth or in a steamy condition.  This will keep them nice and soft
  24. Serve with hot sauce, ketchup, or your favorite condiment
This was a lot of fun to make and to eat of course!  I definitely recommend it with hot sauce! Esfihas are really popular in Brazil.  They are of Middle Eastern origin but are as Brazilian as soccer. Especially in Sao Paulo.  If you are walking around in the city and want a snack chances are you can find esfiha in luncheonettes and bakeries.  They make a perfect weekend afternoon snack for the family!  If you want to make them ahead of time you can but you should bake them and then put them in the fridge.  Just sprinkle them with water when reheating in the oven. I took some over to my worship team at church and everyone loved them! You can definitely play around with the filling.  I also made some with ham and cheese but instead of a triangle shape I rolled them up differently just to tell them apart.  Other filling options are chicken, lamb, corn, or any veggies you might. Beef is my favorite but next time I'm using lamb! I would've also added some green olives to mine if I had any in the fridge. There's always next time lol  Make this!!! You'll love it! Let me know how it turns out!

Thank you for sharing :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Eggplant Rolletini

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 2 cups mozzarella
  • Italian bread crumbs
  • All Purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 64oz Crushed Tomatoes (2 32oz cans)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped basil 
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Italian herb blend
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups Ricotta Cheese
  • 2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 Cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup fresh chopped basil
  • 4 cups of spinach
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup scallions

  1. Slice the eggplants length wise about 1/4" thick and lay each large piece (about 4 or 5 per eggplant long enough to roll - Save the other pieces for an eggplant bake) on paper towel
  2. Sprinkle some salt over each eggplant slice and let them sit until a dark juice is released on top.  This is to remove any bitter taste in the eggplant. About 20 minutes
  3. Combine the onion and the garlic in a food processor and finely chop them together
  4. Lightly cover a medium sauce pan with some extra virgin olive oil
  5. On medium heat insert the onion and garlic mix into the pan and let it sweat for a few minutes
  6. Chop all of the parsley and basil. Set about 1/4 of a cup of the basil aside for the filling
  7. Add 64oz of crushed tomato to the onion and garlic along with the chopped parsley, basil,  nutmeg, and Italian herbs. Mix all the ingredients, lower the heat, and let simmer for at least 30 minutes covered checking and stirring periodically
  8. Meanwhile, prepare a plate or bowl with all purpose flour (use plenty so you don't run out), a plate or bowl with 4 beaten eggs, and a plate or bowl with Italian bread crumbs
  9. In a different pan wilt down the spinach with some olive oil (about 2 minutes).  Chop the spinach when you remove it from the pan
  10. In a different bowl combine with your hands ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, 2 eggs, basil, scallions, and chopped wilted spinach. Set aside
  11. Take each eggplant slice and run it through tap water to remove the salt and the dark bitter liquid that was released.  Pat dry each slice with paper towel and set them by your breading station
  12. Heat a large frying pan with vegetable or peanut oil while you are breading the eggplant slices
  13. Follow the Dry Wet Dry rule.  Cover the eggplant slices with the all purpose flour.  Dip the floured slices into the beaten eggs and then cover it with the Italian herbs in the other bowl. Set each slice aside for frying
  14. Fry the breaded eggplant slices about 2 minutes on each side.  Make sure it's golden brown and not burned on either side.  Set the fried slices aside over a paper towel
  15. Grab 2 Tbls of the cheese filling and gently spread it over the slices being careful not to break the eggplant
  16. Roll each slice from one long end to the other and place the rolled slices in a casserole
  17. Preheat the oven to 400
  18. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper accordingly. Chances are the bread crumbs will have salt already and the Parmesan cheese is already salty so be careful not to over salt
  19. With a ladle pour some of the sauce over each stuffed rolled eggplant. I was generous! 
  20. Spread the remaining mozzarella cheese over the top and place it in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted
  21. Serve over pasta using more of the sauce you prepared or by itself
  22. I still had half of my sauce left over for other dishes so save it in the refrigerator.

This was my wife's favorite thing I have cooked so far!  It's also one of her favorite dishes.  We were the only ones eating so I was able to make 6 servings out of 2 large eggplants.  I froze another tray and we ate it two days later!  Perfect!  If you are not into cooking this can seem like it's too much work but I enjoy spending time in the kitchen being creative.  Especially on a Friday night we decided to stay in instead of going out.  It keeps me busy and we still get to enjoy a top quality meal!  Serve it with a chardonnay and your family
and guests will love you forever!  lol Sometimes we go all out for guests and visitors but we do the ordinary for our family.  I say, every now and then, spend the time preparing a special meal because your family deserves it!
Thank you for sharing :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Coxinha (chicken and cheese Brazilian hors d'oeuvres

Ingredients (FILLING)
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp pepper paste (optional)
  • 1 tsp fresh saffron (optional)
  • 4 oz of corn
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Cream Cheese (optional)

Preparation (FILLING)
  1. Season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and cook them in chicken stock along with the potatoes as mentioned in the dough preparation below
  2. Remove the chicken breasts and set aside
  3. In a hot pan add the onions, garlic, and the olive oil and cook for about 4 minutes or until they begin to caramelize
  4. Add the chicken, corn, pepper paste, tomato paste, more oil if necessary, and the saffron.  Mix it all together and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes or until it's all blended in well
  5. Set the filling aside to cool before assembly
  6. Make sure to dry the filling before inserting it in the dough.  You can press it in a cheese cloth or paper towel to remove any liquid or moisture.  The dough may open up while frying if the filling is too wet
  7. Insert half a tsp of cream cheese in the dough before inserting the chicken filling
Experience (FILLING)
I wanted to make my filling a little different from what I had seen others do.  Many people in Brazil love to use bullion cubes in their everyday cooking.  I refuse to use MSG in my food and I find it to be a cop out for taste.  I rather use fresh ingredients and diverse seasonings to accomplish the taste I'm looking for.  That is the reason I used the fresh saffron!  It added color and an amazing taste to the chicken.  I also used turmeric in the dough to give it more of a color instead of using basic food coloring.  I made the mistake of making some of my "coxinhas" with the filling still wet.  This was not a good idea because they opened up when frying.  Definitely make sure you have nice dry chicken to fill your "coxinhas"! 

Ingredients (DOUGH) yield 30 large "coxinhas"

  • 2 lbs golden potato
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric 
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 4 cups plain bread crumbs

Preparation (DOUGH and ASSEMBLY)
  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into small cubes
  2. Place the potatoes in a pan and cover with the chicken stock. (Chicken breasts also get cooked in the stock at this point)
  3. Cook on high heat for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are soft enough to mash
  4. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan keeping the hot chicken stock on the side
  5. Add the turmeric to the chicken stock and mix
  6. Cut the stick of butter in 8 and place the pieces on top of the potatoes, add salt, and mash it all together
  7. Add 2 cups of the hot chicken stock along with 2 cups of flour mixing thoroughly and strongly with a wooden spoon over medium high heat
  8. Keep mixing and adding stock and flour until the dough reaches the right consistency.  You want it to reach the point that it releases from the bottom of the pan.  Use 3-4 cups of stock and 3-4 cups of flour.  It is really up to you how much more you want to use.  As long as the consistency is right it really doesn't matter. 
  9. Remove from the pan and let it rest and cool a bit before shaping the "coxinhas"
  10. Prepare a bowl with the remaining flour, a bowl with the beaten eggs, and a bowl with the plain bread crumbs
  11. Form a thick circle of dough on your hand about the size of the palm of your hand.  
  12. Fill it in the middle and slowly close the filling with the dough while leaving a tip on the top.  It'll look like a water drop! 
  13. Make sure the dough is thick enough around the filling so the filling doesn't come out when frying.  Also make sure the filling is pretty dry.
  14. Dredge the "coxinha"in the flour bowl
  15. Drop it and roll it in the egg bowl
  16. Bread it all around in the plain bread crumbs bowl
  17. Set aside for frying in hot oil (375) preferably in a deep fryer
  18. Fry for about 3 to 4 minutes or until brown and set aside over some paper towel
  19. Let rest a few minutes before serving with some hot sauce on the side
Experience (DOUGH and ASSEMBLY)

This is the hardest part of making "coxinhas"!  My first batch came out too soupy so I added more and more flour which made it too hard when I fried them.  My second batch came out perfect but then I had some issues during the frying process.  My arms and wrists are hurting from so much stirring of the dough on the first batch but since I slowly added flour and stock to my second batch I was able to reach the right consistency much quicker.  In Portuguese we say "dar o ponto".  Putting the coxinhas together was also a lot of work! I got the hang of it after a while but I noticed my rookie mistakes once I fried them.  Some of them came out great and some came out not so great.  Definitely try to remove the air out of the "coxinhas" and keep the filling dry! I will also focus on making the "wall" a little thicker next time.  All in all this has been a very exciting experience because this was literally my favorite thing to eat growing up in Brazil. 

Thank you for sharing :)