A few weeks ago a reader left a comment on my post about “mandioca frita.” He told me about “mogo,” a common dish in Indian restaurants in the UK, that also starts from cooked manioc root, but instead of frying, the root is seasoned with a mixture of spices and roasted.   I was intrigued, and put google to work, searching for an authentic recipe.  Very quickly I realized there is no consensus about it.   The only common denominator in mogo recipes is that you start with cooked roots, prepared as I described in this post.  After that, some recipes call for roasting, some for frying  then roasting, others for gently cooking on the stove.   Some recipes use tomatoes, some only peppers, others add coconut milk.  Spices also vary a lot.   With all that complexity facing me,  I shutdown my computer and improvised.  So, here is my version of mogo, a delicious, hearty dish that will be showing up at our table on a regular basis.  Well, as regularly as I can find manioc root at the store…  😉

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

10-12 pieces of cooked manioc root
1 Tbs olive oil
1 shallot, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (or more)
1/2 tsp curry powder
salt and black pepper
1 can diced tomatoes with their juices (14.5 oz, about 1 + 3/4 cups)
1/2 cup coconut milk
chopped cilantro leaves

Cook the manioc root until tender. Cut in serving pieces and reserve (cooked manioc can sit in the fridge for a few days, or be frozen for months).

Heat the oil in a saute pan, add the shallots, cook until soft and starting to develop some color.  Add the minced garlic and the red pepper flakes, cooking for a minute or two. Season with salt and pepper, add the tomato with the juices, cook on gentle heat for 5 minutes, stirring a few times.  Add the coconut milk, curry powder, cook for a couple of minutes, add the cilantro leaves, taste the seasoning and adjust to your taste.  You can add some hot pepper sauce if you like it really hot.

Spread the cooked manioc on a baking dish, pour the tomato-coconut sauce on top, cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375 F for 45 minutes.  Remove the foil, and serve or, if you prefer less sauce and some browning on the cassava root, increase the heat to 400 F to finish roasting.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I will be forever in debt with Jack for the heads up about this recipe.  We enjoyed it with roast chicken, but next day it was a meal in itself re-heated in the microwave and served over Israeli couscous.  Wonderful!   Change this basic recipe around by adding roasted bell peppers to the sauce, increasing the heat level with a hot sauce, maybe some smoked hot paprika.

I hope my Brazilian readers will give mogo a try, as they have access to excellent quality manioc root in farmers markets and grocery stores everywhere. Manioc root is not a very popular item in the US, but hopefully that will soon change!   😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Slow-roasted chicken thighs

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Ever since I started dating Phil he spoke fondly about a bran muffin that he enjoyed on a regular basis at Hans’ Danish Bakery in Berkeley (it closed years ago), during his grad student, “hippie days.”  At that time (while living in Brazil and not quite a teenager) I watched the hippie movement from afar, too young to embrace or fully understand it.  Never in a gazzilion years could I imagine that one of those long-haired, tie-dyed,  war-protesting, head-banded hippies would become my husband.   We didn’t meet until decades later, but the passion for peace and love,  tie-dyes, and hippie ideals are still in-force around our home, and that includes a fondness for  bran muffins!   No sense quitting what makes us happy. 😉

Nevertheless, my attempts to recreate the famous bran muffin from Berkeley were stuck on a road paved with failure and frustration, until this past weekend my luck began to change. I went to Dan Lepard’s collection of recipes at The Guardian in search of his take on the elusive bran muffin, and adapted his recipe to suit my favorite hippie’s finicky taste.

(adapted from Dan Lepard’s original recipe)

75g wheat bran
100g dark brown sugar
200ml milk (3/4 cup)
1 Tbs molasses
zest of 1 orange
150ml vegetable oil (1/2 + 1/8 cup)
2 large eggs
200g all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
75g sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup dried raisins and dried blueberries
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped

Heat the oven to 400F (200C)  and line the cups of 6 large muffin tins with paper.

Place the wheat bran and the brown sugar in a mixing bowl.  Bring the milk almost to a boiling point, and pour it over the bran. Mix to incorporate, and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.  Beat in the molasses, orange zest, oil and eggs until very smooth.

Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt, then gently mix this through the bran mixture trying not to over-mix.  Fold in the blueberries, raisins, dried blueberries, and walnuts.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tin, and bake for about half an hour, until they get a dark brown color on top and feel firm to the touch.  Tip the muffins slightly off the pan to cool them without steaming the bottom.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Because some people find them too dense or dry, almost austere, bran muffins are not everyone’s favorite.  But, these muffins are different, starting with their nice texture, and finishing with a great balance of whole grain flavor and sweetness. I dare saying that they will please even a hard core anti-bran person.   They received a nod of approval from the resident muffin-connoisseur, who said the main difference between these and those in his memory was the orange flavor, which is pronounced in Dan’s recipe.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that… 😉  But my next batch will  omit the orange zest.

I already smell the fireworks…

ONE YEAR AGO: Flourless Chocolate Cake (a chocolate lover’s dream come true)

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Cooking shrimp in the oven has its problems.  It is easy to end up with the delicate meat all tight and dried up from the excessive heat, so I always use recipes that protect the shrimp with enough sauce and/or topping.  This simple casserole is one of my favorites, adapted from a recipe by Molly Stevens published in a Fine Cooking issue years ago.   Fennel, tomato and orange offer a nice base to cook the shrimp, and the layer of bread crumbs on top makes them simply irresistible.  Trust me!

(adapted from Molly Steven’s recipe)

4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil (divided, 2 Tbs + 2 Tbs)
1 medium size fennel bulb, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/8 cup Triple Sec (or 1/4 cup dry, white wine)
zest of 1 medium orange
1 14-1/2-oz. can diced tomatoes, with their juices
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
3 Tbs. chopped parsley
1 + 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Heat 2 Tbs. of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the fennel and sauté until slightly softened and lightly browned.  Add the garlic and sauté  for 1 minute.  Add the Triple Sec and orange zest and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes and their juices, season with salt and pepper, and stir to heat through. Spread the tomato mixture in a baking dish that will hold the shrimp in a single layer.

Prepare the topping by mixing in a small bowl the breadcrumbs, parsley, remaining 2 Tbs olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Place the shrimp on the tomato mixture, and sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake until the shrimp are cooked through – 12 to 15 minutes.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you want to make this recipe even easier for a weeknight, prepare the tomato/fennel base in advance and simply re-heat it before placing in the oven.  It is important that the sauce is already warm when it goes in the oven, that helps coaching the shrimp into cooking evenly and remaining tender and juicy.  While you heat the oven, make the topping, and dinner will be ready in less than 20 minutes.  A side dish of pasta, rice, or just a hearty piece of bread with a salad will complement it perfectly.

I was hoping for leftovers to take to work the following day, but something went terribly right with this dinner.  😉

ONE YEAR AGO:  Tuscan Bread

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I received a wonderful gift the other day (proving once again that I have no shortage of special friends): two kuri squashes.  Unlike other members of the winter squash family, kuri has a thin skin that doesn’t require peeling.  It’s  a huge advantage, because peeling squash is one of my least favorite tasks in the kitchen.   Butternut squash is already bad, but acorn squash is worse.   I usually just cut it in half and roast it,  anything to keep my fingertips intact.   I knew exactly how to treat my Kuri squash, by turning it into a soup from Dorie Greenspan‘s Around My French Table.  It was perfect for the chilly weather we faced in Los Angeles last week. The thermometers read 55 F, so Californians immediately retrieved their wool scarves from storage to brave the elements! 😉

(adapted from Around my French Table)

2 kuri squashes (about 3 pounds total)
1 leek stalk, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
1 Tbs olive oil
3 cups milk
3 cups of water
salt and pepper to taste
dash of ground nutmeg
minced chives for garnish

Scrub the squash very well to remove any dirt from its surface. Cut the pointed end off, and discard it. Carefully cut it in half, scoop out the seeds.  Cut the squash in large chunks and reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and saute the leeks until they get soft, no need to brown them.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Add the squash, the milk, water, and cook under gentle heat until the squash is tender (about 20 minutes).  Puree the soup using an immersion blender, season with nutmeg, taste, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  The soup can be cooked down if you want it thicker.   Serve with minced chives sprinkled on top.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  If you have an immersion blender this soup is a real breeze to make.  You can puree it in the same pan you cooked it, and have only the small appliance to wash afterward.  I’m fond of this type of blender because it allows me to better control the final texture of my soups.  Unless I’m going for a very smooth, bisque-type concoction I prefer  some texture, and with a blender or food processor things can get too smooth too fast.

We enjoyed this soup for several days and it got better while sitting in the fridge, so if you have a dinner party, making it the day before won’t be a problem.  You can always thin it with a little milk or water if necessary, but we tend to like our soup robust.

ONE YEAR AGO: Celery and Apple Salad

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King Arthur promised and delivered again: a coffeecake so easy to make that even a cake-challenged as myself can do it without problems.  One of the things I loved about this recipe was the fact that I could prepare the cake the day before, stick it in the fridge, and bake next morning. By the time our lab meeting started, the cake was at its peak, barely warm, very moist and tender.

(adapted from King Arthur Flour’s blog)

12 tablespoons (1 + 1/2 sticks) butter (plus a little more for greasing the pan)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup low-fat yogurt

For the topping:
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup chopped walnuts  
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Prepare a baking pan (9 x 13 inch) by lightly greasing it with butter. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the softened butter, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla extract, mixing until smooth.  If you are starting from very cold butter, place it in the microwave for 20 seconds, and proceed with the recipe, it will be perfect to mix with the dry ingredients.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and the yogurt (one third at a time, alternating flour and yogurt),  stirring to combine after each addition. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

Make the topping by combining  the brown sugar, nuts,  and ground cinnamon in a small bowl, stirring to combine. Sprinkle the topping over the batter in the pan, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Next morning, take the cake out of the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap, and bake it in a 350 F oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until golden brown on top, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool it briefly before serving.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The original recipe called for a bit more brown sugar in the topping (3/4 instead of 1/2 cup), and also the optional addition of 1 full cup of chips (chocolate, butterscotch, or cinnamon).  I am glad I reduced the amount of brown sugar (and omitted the chips) because the cake was at the limit of my tolerance for sweetness.  If you have a real sweet tooth, go for the kill and follow the recipe as published.

The King Arthur’s blog is an amazing source of information for all things baking: cakes, breads, muffins, pies, cookies…   If you don’t know that site yet, I highly recommend a visit.  Followed by a bookmark, and many return visits!   😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Swedish Limpa

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