INCREDIBLY SIMPLE: CRUNCHY ASPARAGUS

For a few years I’ve been blogging on recipes that are almost too simple to call as such (see them all here), but tasty enough to sit side by side in a blog with more elaborate concoctions. Normally I like to wait until I have several “incredibly simple” items to share in a single post, but spring is almost here, asparagus season is knocking at the door, and this recipe was too good to keep it a secret for much longer. I made it three times in two weeks. The delicate crunch on these babies? I am seriously in love.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE CRUNCHY ASPARAGUS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

a bunch of asparagus, tough ends removed
olive oil
lemon juice
salt & pepper
Herbes de Provence
1/3 cup almond meal

Heat oven to 425 F.

Mix enough olive oil and lemon juice (half and half) to give enough liquid to coat the asparagus well.  Add salt, pepper, Herbes de Provence to the mixture, eye-balling is totally fine.

Place the asparagus on a tray, pour the seasoned olive oil mixture over them, and move to coat well.

Place the almond meal in a separate tray, drop the asparagus coated in olive oil over it, move gently to make the almond meal stick to the surface.

Arrange them on a single layer on a baking dish covered with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Roast for 12 minutes, shaking them a bit halfway through.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Really hard to imagine a simpler recipe. Well, of course, you can omit the almond meal coating and still get excellent roasted asparagus that way. But this very minor additional step sends this side dish to a whole other level of deliciousness.

Change things around by using other spices, although you risk masking the flavor of the veggie itself. Still, if you are in the mood for it, add cayenne, smoked paprika, sumac (oh, that would be great), play with the whole concept and make it yours. Whatever you do, do not omit the lemon juice.

ONE YEAR AGO: A Sourdough Quartet

TWO YEARS AGO: When bad things happen to good people

THREE YEARS AGO: Sweet Potato “Hummus”

FOUR YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Crust Pizza

FIVE YEARS AGO: Silky Rutabaga Puree

SIX YEARS AGO: Bon Bon Chicken: Light and Spectacular

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Red Wine Sourdough Bread with Cranberries

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Award-Winning Sourdough Baguettes

NINE YEARS AGO: Country Rye (Tartine)

TEN YEARS AGO: Penne a la Vechia Bettola

 

PEARLED FARRO WITH ASPARAGUS COINS

A few years ago I posted a pasta recipe using tiny little asparagus coins as a component of the sauce. The other day I decided to roast them and ended up with a side dish that won me over. Added bonus: it is super fast to prepare. Pearled farro cooks a lot faster than the regular grain, and I did not detect any loss in flavor or texture. If you find it in your grocery store, stock on a few bags.

PEARLED FARRO WITH ROASTED ASPARAGUS COINS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

3/4 cup pearled farro
asparagus stalks, cut in very small rounds
2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Herbes de Provence
squirt of lemon juice

Heat oven to 420F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the farro, cook for 15 to 20 minutes. If you like it with a bit more bite, check at 15 minutes and if it’s done to your liking, drain and reserve.

Meanwhile coat the asparagus coins with olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and Herbes de Provence, amounts are flexible, just go with your intuition. For a regular size asparagus bundle I used 1/4 tsp Herbes de Provence.

Place the asparagus in a single layer in a baking dish covered with aluminum foil to facilitate clean-up. Roast for about 15 minutes moving it around the baking sheet.  When they are done, squirt some lemon juice, adjust seasoning and mix with the warm farro.  Serve right away. Leftovers are great also. Even cold as a salad.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Many variations are possible here. If you don’t want to roast the asparagus coins, simply sautee them quickly in olive oil plus all the spices. Because the coins are so tiny, they cook very fast, so doing the top of the stove method, they can be ready in 5 minutes for sure. The roasted version has slightly more intense flavor. The second picture shows a similar approach (top of the stove), but using zucchini. Also very delicious.

I use farro a lot, but was a bit unsure about trying the pearled version, thinking it would not be nearly as good. I was wrong. It is a way to make farro a suitable option for a fast side dish after a busy day in the lab.

I hope you’ll give this simple recipe a try.

ONE YEAR AGO: Pistachio Caramel and Apple Mousse Cake

TWO YEARS AGO: Someone turns 70 today!

THREE YEARS AGO: Carioca Cake, the Final Chapter

FOUR YEARS AGO: Duck Confit for a Special Occasion

FIVE YEARS AGO: Ken Forkish’s Warm Spot Sourdough 

SIX YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, Rainbows, and a wonderful surprise!

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Salmon Wellington

EIGHT YEARS AGO: The Green Chip Alternative

NINE YEARS AGO: Weekend Pita Project

TEN YEARS AGO: Let it snow, let it snow, eggs in snow

 

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES FOUR – JANUARY 2018

It’s done. I  just added a new category of recipes to the blog, entitled Incredibly Simple.  You can find it on the right side, scrolling past Blogroll. Under this new category I list recipes that are almost effortless to put together. In the near future I will also make a separate category in the index page, so they are not only easy to make, but also easy to find in the site. For this round-up I share four side dishes, one uses the air-fryer. I am aware that not many people own one, but I was so amazed by the outcome that I had to include it. You can of course make it in a regular oven… it will just take a bit longer to reach the dinner table, and the texture won’t be quite the same.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #1

MICRO-STEAMED ASPARAGUS  

Inspiration for this recipe came from seriouseats

The simple part of this method is the steaming.  I’ve been using it all the time now. Place asparagus in an even layer on a large microwave-safe plate and season with salt and pepper. Lay a double layer of damp paper towels on top of the stalks, completely covering them. Microwave on high for about 3 minutes. Check with a fork, if necessary add another 30 seconds to 1 minute. That is it. You can dress them super simply with a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice, or if you have a bit more time, go for this simplified walnut vinaigrette. 

Toast half a cup or so of walnuts in a skillet or oven. Coarsely chop them and place in a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of a mild vinegar, 1 tablespoon of water, a very light drizzle of honey or maple syrup. Whisk 1/4 cup olive oil, until it all emulsifies. The walnuts will help the process. Season with salt, and add on top of the asparagus fresh from the microwave step.  That is all. You want to know a little secret? The exact same method works well for broccolini too, you might have to slightly increase the steaming time.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #2
 .
AVOCADO AND ORANGE SALAD  

Inspiration for this recipe came from Geoffrey Zakarian on a recent episode of The Kitchen.

Don’t let the simplicity of this non-recipe fool you. The result goes well beyond expectations. As GZ put it on the show, the combination of orange and avocado is a complete winner, and we agree. The only work involved is segmenting the orange. Distribute the slices of avocado on a plate, add orange segments on top. Squeeze all the juice left from the orange in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper, whisk a small amount of olive oil to emulsify it. If you like your dressing on the sweet side, a touch of honey will do.  Drizzle on top of the salad, and sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top. You can also substitute toasted slivered almonds or walnuts in case you don’t have pomegranate around.  I’ve made it twice in the same week, and intend to keep bringing this to our table. Blood oranges would make it even more special, so keep that in mind.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #3

ROASTED BROCCOLINI WITH LEMON AND PARMIGIANO CHEESE

Inspiration for this recipe came from Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes, by Alison Roman.

Put a baking dish in the oven and heat it to 425 F. You will need broccolini, one lemon, and freshly grated Parmigiano cheese.

Add one or two bunches of broccolini to a large bowl, add to it very thin slices of one lemon. Drizzle olive oil all over, just enough to coat the veggies and lemon slices. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the broccolini on the hot baking sheet in one layer, add a small coating of grated Parmigiano cheese and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until it all starts to get golden, and the broccolini is cooked through.

The cheese will more or less disappear, but you will notice its sharp bite as you bite into the broccolini.  Super simple indeed, and absolutely delicious.

 

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #4

This is really a non-recipe if I’ve ever seen one.  Fork the skin of the sweet potato a few times. Rub it with olive oil, season with salt.  Place in the air-fryer set at 390 F or the highest temperature your machine will go.  Cook for 35 minutes, turning it once or twice during frying.  Remove from the fryer, cut the skin open, add some butter, salt and pepper. That’s all.

What amazed me about this recipe is that you won’t have to wait for the oven to heat to high temperature to start roasting. The air-fryer needs no advance notice. You turn it on, in a minute or so you are right where you need to be. For whole potatoes or sweet potatoes, it’s hard to beat the convenience of using the air-fryer. And the texture turned out perfect, I think better than a regular oven. We would need a blind test to be sure, but I tell you, this was really really good. Apparently regular potatoes can be prepared exactly the same way and won’t take more than 40-45 minutes to be done. They are on my list for the near future.

So that’s all for now… Four recipes that are so easy to put together, no matter what happened at work, you can face their preparation with a smile. Making life simple is always a good move.

ONE YEAR AGO: Two Salads and a Blog Award!

TWO YEARS AGO: When Three is Better than Two

THREE YEARS AGO: Somebody Stop Me!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Zucchini Pasta with Cilantro-Cashew Pesto

FIVE YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, Take Two

SIX YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Mogo Mojo

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Slow-Roasted Chicken Thighs: an Ice-Breaker

 

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TANGENTIAL QUICHE WITH ASPARAGUS AND FENNEL

I would like to thank everyone who contacted me about my Mom’s passing.
It is a natural cycle of life to say goodbye to a parent, but it is still very painful.
Your kind words warmed my heart.

I’ve taken way too many liberties with recipe titles. Hummus without chickpeas? Yes, guilty of that one. Tortillas with no corn? Read my sentence. Rice-free risotto? Just take me. Today I add one more to the list. A quiche. But no crust. In fact, I’ve made a version almost exactly one year ago using sweet potato slices to cover the pie dish. We loved it so much that it’s hard to believe it took me so long to re-visit. This time I paired asparagus and fennel, with a small amount of cheese for good measure. Trickiest part of this recipe is getting the sweet potato slices to roast without shrinking too much and collapsing from the sides of the dish. Still, even if that happens, no major harm will be done. It is all going to be delicious.

SWEET POTATO CRUST QUICHE WITH ASPARAGUS AND FENNEL
(inspired by The Wimpy Vegetarian)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, sliced thin
olive oil spray for potatoes
kosher salt (about 1 teaspoon total)
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup thinly sliced asparagus plus a few stalks left whole for decoration
1 large fennel bulb, diced
4 large eggs
2 egg whites
½ cup half-and-half
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 cup Gruyere cheese
nutmeg to taste

Heat oven to 400°F.

Coat a pie dish with the sliced potatoes, and spray a good amount of olive oil over the slices. Make sure to do a nice layer all around the edges coming up above the rim of the plate. Season lightly with salt. Place in the oven until the potatoes start to get some color, about 12 minutes. Reserve and lower the oven to 350 F.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the asparagus and fennel, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until just tender, about 8 minutes; set aside. Place the whole stalks in a microwave safe dish with a little water, microwave for 30 seconds. Reserve.

Whisk eggs, egg whites, half-and-half, milk, mustard powder,  half teaspoon salt and pepper in another large bowl. Spread the sautéed asparagus and fennel evenly on top of the sweet potato crust. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the vegetables. Pour the egg mixture over it all. Place the stalks of asparagus carefully on top. Grate fresh nutmeg across the top just before sliding into the oven.

Bake until quiche is set and crust is well browned, about 30 minutes, but check after 25 minutes in the oven. It should just jiggle lightly at the center.  Let cool to room temperature before cutting into wedges.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I love fennel but despise licorice. Go figure that one. My problem with fennel is that you buy this huge bulb and by the time you’re done prepping it, you are left with 1/4 cup at most of goodness. Oh, well. Maybe I don’t do a good job prepping it. But all instructions say to remove the tough outer layer. That “outer layer” is often so thick, a huge amount of fennel is gone once I remove it. Oh, well again. But I do love its flavor, both raw in salads, roasted, sautéed, it’s all great.  I am still learning my way around the sweet potato “crust.”  If you go to Susan’s site, you’ll  notice she opted for a hashbrown path to make the crust. That is definitely something to consider. At any rate, a quiche without the regular crust is so much lighter, and a lot quicker to prepare too. Obviously, you could omit the crust altogether, just coat the pie dish with a little butter or oil, add the veggies, pour the egg mixture and bake it. But it’s nice to have a bit of texture underneath.  Whatever you choose to do, this filling with asparagus and fennel, a touch of Gruyere (a favorite cheese of mine) is a winner.

 

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ONE YEAR AGO: Fakebouleh

TWO YEARS AGO: Yellow Squash Soup

THREE YEARS AGO: Grilled Chicken with Tamarind and Coconut Glaze

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chicken-Apricot Skewers

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Asparagus Quiche

SIX YEARS AGO: Two-stage Pea and Prosciutto Risotto

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Mellow Bakers: Corn Bread

 

PAN-CHARRED VEGGIES FROM COOKING LIGHT

Cooking Light magazine, in their April 2014 issue published a nice article about pan-charring veggies for a boost in flavor. More than simply offering a recipe, they shared a general method to deal with veggies like asparagus and green beans. Veggies that can take the heat, so to speak. All you need to do is choose three basic components: the fat to coat the veggies after the initial charring, the acidic ingredient to brighten things up and the herbs added right before serving.  No matter which veggies you are dealing with, they will be ready in no time.  I know I sound like a broken record, but when I get home from work and it’s my turn to cook, the last thing I want is a side-dish that takes 45 minutes to prepare.  Give me something fast and flavorful, and I am game!

So here is my take number one on this method: charred asparagus flavored with lemon juice and fresh dill at the end… Before you accuse me of the capital culinary sin of non-seasonal cooking, let me say that this dish was made last May, not too long after I got the magazine. As usual, it takes me a while to go from table to blog. But, since last week I used this method to cook delicious green beans, I am taking the opportunity to talk about both dishes. Clearly, it’s all about the char…

AsparagusDill

PAN-CHARRED ASPARAGUS
(adapted from Cooking Light, April 2014)

Cooking spray
8 ounces asparagus, cut in pieces
1 + 1/2 teaspoons walnut oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon salt
.
Heat a medium, heavy skillet (not nonstick) over high heat for 2 minutes.

Coat pan with cooking spray. Immediately add asparagus pieces to pan, shaking them into a single layer; cook, without stirring, 2 minutes or until asparagus is very lightly charred. Cook asparagus 5 more minutes or until crisp-tender and evenly charred, tossing occasionally.

Remove pan from heat. Let asparagus rest 1 minute. Add walnut oil; toss to coat asparagus pieces. Add lemon juice; toss. Turn on heat if necessary to evaporate most of liquid. Sprinkle asparagus with dill and salt; toss. Serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

And here is my take number two: the exact same method, using olive oil to coat green beans, a touch of apple cider vinegar as the acidic component, and fresh tarragon added at the end. Tarragon straight from the garden of our friend Cindy, who recently visited us with her husband. Remember, I am the lucky woman with the super generous friends…

GreenBeansTarragon2
Now, as I mentioned, this is all about the char… Look at these dark spots, aren’t they making you crave some green beans?

GreenBeansTarragon

Back in 2010 I  wrote a blog post about “Blasted Broccoli“, stove-top version. We loved that recipe so much that I went through a long phase of cooking it weekly. I can see that this method could be adapted for broccoli too. Or sugar snap peas.  Avocado oil, coconut oil, use your imagination (and your pantry) and play with this method.  You won’t be disappointed…

ONE YEAR AGO: Pomegranate Chicken Thighs and Carrot Mash

TWO YEARS AGO: The Many Faces of Kale

THREE YEARS AGO:  Short and Sweet

FOUR YEARS AGO: Ciabatta, a Classic Italian Bread

FIVE YEARS AGO: Magical Lamb Stew

 

MY RIO DE JANEIRO: A COOKBOOK REVIEW

Time for a cookbook review, the second publication by Leticia Schwartz.  Those who have been around the Bewitching Kitchen long enough might remember I reviewed Leticia’s first cookbook, The Brazilian Kitchen.   With this new book, she takes her favorite city in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, and professes her love by showcasing recipes from each different neighborhood.  I imagine that only two of them might ring a bell for those who never set foot in Rio: Ipanema and Copacabana.   Those are names made famous by Tom Jobim’s song Garota de Ipanema, and by images of beautiful women wearing bikinis that cover the bare minimum of their bodies. But Rio is a lot more than that, a collection of very diverse neighborhoods reflecting the immigrants who shaped them.

noname-7

I had a pretty tough time picking a recipe to share with you, but decided to make her Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus in Coconut Milk because it is quite unique and brings many of the flavors of Brazilian cooking in a single dish.

Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus in Coconut SaucePASTA WITH SHRIMP AND ASPARAGUS IN COCONUT MILK
(published with permission from Leticia Schwartz)

kosher salt
8 ounces tagliatelle, linguine or the pasta of your choice
8 ounces asparagus (about 1 bunch), tough parts trimmed
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled (use shells for stock)
black pepper
1 shallot, minced
1 cup shrimp stock (or chicken stock)
1 cup coconut milk2 Tablespoons Cognac
2 Tablespoons chives, minced

Steam the asparagus for about 3 minutes, cool them quickly in a bowl of ice-water. Drain well and reserve. Cut in pieces before adding to the sauce.

Bring a large amount of salted water to a boil and start cooking the pasta until a little short of al dente.  As the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. Reserve some of the pasta water when you drain it in case you need to thin the sauce at the end.

Heat the olive oil in a large, preferably non-stick skillet on medium heat.  Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, add to the skillet and saute until they start to turn orange, about 1 minute per side. Remove the shrimp to a plate, tent with foil, and reserve.  Add the shallots to the skillet, cook until they start to develop a golden brown color, about 3 minutes.  Add the stock and bring to a boil, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the coconut milk, bring to a gentle boil again, cook until the sauce starts to concentrate, thicken, and reduce to about half the volume (about 3 to 4 minutes).

Reduce the heat to low, add the cooked pasta, the reserved shrimp, and asparagus pieces. Toss everything together vigorously, if needed add some of the pasta cooking water, or a little more coconut milk to keep the dish creamy.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, stir the cognac, and add chives right before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

IMG_3874

Comments: Making your own shrimp stock is not absolutely essential, you could use chicken stock or even vegetable stock, but it does add an extra something to the sauce. The seafood flavor is obviously intensified.  Leticia likes to roast the shrimp shells with a little tomato paste, I just sauteed the shells on olive oil, then added water and simmered them for 20 minutes with some celery, carrots, and onions.

I had never used coconut milk  in a pasta sauce before, I might try the light coconut milk next time, I don’t think it would pose a problem.  I could not find chives at the store that day, but a little cilantro or parsley sprinkled on top would also be wonderful. I only remembered that step after we were halfway through with dinner.  Such is the life of a blogger. You don’t always fulfill your own expectations.  😉

Spaghetti with Shrimp and Asparagus in Coconut Milk Sauce

Now, let me go through the book, chapter by chapter, so you can have a better idea of what it’s all about. I list just a few recipes from each chapter, as the book contains 90 recipes.  I should also mention that even though the chapters are divided according to each neighborhood of the city, in the index the recipes are listed by ingredients, making it very easy to find anything you might be interested in cooking.

LeblonEvening in Leblon

CHAPTER ONE: LEBLON. In this chapter, Leticia brings the type of food associated with “botequins“. A quote from the book: “A botequim is a simply type of restaurant that came to being in Brazil in the late 1800’s by and for Portuguese immigrants”.   The botequim actually reminds me of simple bistrots in Paris, not the fancy ones geared to tourists, but the small, usually a bit dark inside, where folks who live or work in the neighborhood meet for a simple meal, a drink, a coffee.  She opens the chapter with Sugar and Lime Cocktail, the Brazilian national drink, “capirinha“.   “Botequim” food is usually finger food, a bit like Spanish tapas.  You will find Golden Salt Cod Fritters (bolinho de bacalhau), Brazilian-Style Fried Chicken, in which the pieces are cut very small and heavily seasoned with garlic, and the wonderful Brigadeiros, like the ones I had in the blog  years ago.

GarotaIpanemaAn old photo of Helo Pinheiro (the original Girl from Ipanema)  & Tom Jobim.

CHAPTER TWO: IPANEMA. The opening part of this chapter is a nice tribute to Farmer’s Market, which are a must-visit in Rio (as well as Sao Paulo, says the “paulista” in me). She describes the hard work associated with getting the market ready, as at 7am every stand is open for business.  Grated coconut, coconut milk, fresh coconut pieces, those are ingredients that are part of many traditional Brazilian recipes, and as Leticia points out, no one wants to do that type of job at home, so the street markets have several stands in which people grate coconut the whole day, handing you a bag with the freshest possible product. Absolutely nothing to do with the stuff we get in grocery stores, dried up, often overly sweet.  Her first recipe in the chapter is for Yucca Cracker, and that brought me so many memories!  I grew up enjoying them, and honestly I had no idea they could be made at home. They are shaped like a bagel, but their taste and texture is absolutely unique. You can see them here. Pao de queijo is in this chapter too, her recipe more traditional than the one I blogged about in the past.  Some other recipes in this chapter: Feijoada (Brazilian Black Bean Stew), Duck and Yucca Shepherd’s Pie (be still, my heart!). and the recipe I shared with you today, Tagliatelle with Shrimp, Asparagus, and Coconut Milk.

CopacabanaSunsetSunset in Copacabana

CHAPTER THREE: COPACABANA & LEME.  A quote from the book: “Rio’s magical places have the power to inspire musicians and artist from around the world. Indeed music and passion are always in fashion at the Copa! Copacabana!” The chapters opens with a classic soup of Portuguese origin, Garlic and Cilantro Soup with Poached Eggs and Croutons (Açorda Alantejana), followed by Creamy Brazil Nut Soup (a heavy contender for featured recipe, by the way), and also brings some dishes with Middle Eastern influence, like “Esfihas“.  The recipe that made my heart miss a beat, though was Moqueca Blinis with Shrimp.  A fantastic twist on Shrimp Moqueca, in a recipe by Chef Rolland Villar, joining Brazilian and French cuisines.  I must make it! Here is a photo from the book, doesn’t that seem amazing? The moqueca flavors are in the blinis, and the shrimp sits on top of each delicious bite…

photo(2)CHAPTER FOUR: JARDIM BOTANICO, GÁVEA E LAGOA. A quote: “Cariocas are obsessed with exercise and Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas (a lagoon) is one of the most beautiful places in town to go jogging. … exercising in that setting it’s as if your endorphins double from the visual effects of Rio, and the result is a sense of pure happiness, elation and peacefulness…”  Some recipes from the chapter include Rolled Sausage Bread with Rosemary (a concoction from the very famous Pizzaria Braz), Chez Anne’s Cheese Empanadas, Brazilian-Style Veal Stroganof, and Cashew Fruit Ice Cream (trust me, this is to die for!).

SugarLoaf
CHAPTER FIVE: FLAMENGO & BOTAFOGO.
The famous Sugar Loaf is located in this part of town.  Leticia featured in this chapter some recipes from trendy restaurants like Nomangue and Irajá.  I was quite tempted to prepare the Hearts of Palm Soup, so soothing and creamy, but the Molten Brigadeiro Cake (which Leticia likes to serve with ginger ice cream) was also calling my name.  Real loud.

Cristo

CHAPTER SIX: SANTA TERESA, GLÓRIA, LARANJEIRAS & COSME VELHO: Dining with a view. Perhaps the most famous landmark of Rio, Christ the Redeemer, is located in this neighborhood. Leticia recommends two restaurant in the region, Aprazível, and a botequim-type place called Bar do Mineiro. By the way, clicking on the link to Aprazivel will bring up a beautiful Brazilian song, worth listening to. She features not only recipes from these places, but also some from caterers that often come up with incredible twists on classics.  A few examples: Plum Tomato and Bread Soup, Rita’s Fried Zucchini, Chicken and Chorizo over Jasmine Rice (the famous Galinhada), and Passion Fruit Mousse.

Carnival_in_Rio_de_Janeiro

CHAPTER SEVEN: CENTRO, LAPA E ARREDORES.  This is the neighborhood associated with samba and Carnival, where the “Sambódromo” is located, and the huge avenue where the samba schools parade for days, Avenida Marques de Sapucaí”.  Lots of great recipes in this chapter, like Feijoada Fritters with Collard Greens (a take on feijoada from the restaurant Aconchego Carioca), Slow-Roasted Pork Ribs with Guava Sauce, Polenta Turnovers (what a great culinary move!), and Tapioca Pudding with Coconut Caramel Sauce.

CHAPTER EIGHT: BARRA DA TIJUCA.  Well, that is a part of Rio very dear to my heart.  My Mom and my sisters were born and raised in that neighborhood, and so was Leticia!  Quote from the book: “To enter Barra, you have to drive through Rocinha, the largest favela of Brazil. Leticia grew up just a few minutes away, but never connected with this world – so close but yet so far away”.   That is one interesting aspect of Rio, and quite disturbing for foreigners, how close the opposites of society co-exist in town.  A common denominator, though, is food.  Some examples of recipes featured in this chapter are Yucca Fries (the best food in the known universe, if you ask me), Chicken Salad with Carrots and Chives on Whole Wheat (very famous sandwich sold at every beach in Rio, by vendors who scream as they pass by “Look, it’s the Natural Sandwich!”, Fresh Cod with Onions, Potatoes, and Broccolini, and the absolutely delicious Pulled Carne Seca with Butternut Squash Puree.

Buzios
CHAPTER NINE: BÚZIOS.
  Búzios is supposed to be a paradise on Earth. I have never been there, believe it or not, but one day I dream of spending a few days with Phil. It is a beach town, three hours drive from Rio. Enjoying seafood is a must.   How about Farfalle with Salmon and Caipirinha SauceTuna Sandwich?

Paraty
CHAPTER TEN: PARATY.
Now, THAT is a paradise I visited with Phil and a couple of great friends years ago.  We had a fantastic time, and also got one of the worst sunburns in the history of our lives… 🙂 Paraty is more or less halfway through Rio and São Paulo, and it is a historic city, full of churches from the Gold Era of Brazil, and also fantastic restaurants and hotels. Leticia opens the chapter with a drink, Coconut Cocktail, which I find as delicious or better than capirinha… Also in this chapter you can drool over her Roasted Garlic-Ginger Shrimp with Coconut and Fresh Herb Crumbs (the picture is enough to make me swoon).

CHAPTER ELEVEN: REGIÃO SERRANA. In this chapter, Leticia focuses on a town called Teresópolis, located in hills not too far from Rio de Janeiro. I would love to make her Spinach Crepes with Fresh Tomato Sauce (Brazilian crepes, called “panquecas”, are not the same as the French concoction), the Brazilian Tiramisu, or the Dulce de Leche Brioche Pudding (I gained a pound typing it, though).

CHAPTER TWELVE: HOME COOKING.  In my opinion, no better way to close a cookbook. She features recipes from her family, and surprisingly starts the chapter with her Aunt Sarita’s Moroccan Meatballs. It turns out her Aunt was born in Tangier, so you won’t be able to get more Middle Eastern than that…  One of the recipes in this chapter gave me a huge smile because it was part of my childhood, teenage years, and adulthood too: Ground Beef with Hard-Boiled Eggs and Olives. That is simple,  home cooking to the fullest, and I find myself making batches and batches to enjoy for lunch.  Also in this chapter, Baked Rice with Chicken and Chorizo (Arroz de Forno, each family in Brazil seems to have a version for it),  Brazilian Style Pot Roast, White Chocolate Mousse with Passion Fruit Gelee, and Brazilian Rice Pudding.

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Leticia, thank you so much for giving me permission to publish one more of your recipes!  I am sure My Rio de Janeiro will be a huge success, for Brazilians in Brazil, for those like us, living abroad, and for people all over the world who share a passion for food and like to learn about other cultures through their cuisines.  You did a wonderful job assembling these recipes, your love for Rio comes through in every page…

ONE YEAR AGO: Hearts of Palm Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

TWO YEARS AGO: Watercress Salad

THREE YEARS AGO: Curried Zucchini Soup

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chocolate Bread

SPRING HAS SPRUNG!

To welcome one of my favorite seasons, a flash-back of recipes featuring one of my favorite veggies: asparagus!   Click on the title to see the original post.


(this post will be published during my trip to Brazil, in case of problems with links, I won´t be able to fix them until we are back)

ASPARAGUS ON ASPARAGUS
aspONasp

ASPARAGUS PESTO
AspPesto

ASPARAGUS BUNDLES WITH PROSCIUTTO AND CHEESE
AspBundles

SPRING PASTA
SpringPasta

SHAVED ASPARAGUS SALAD
ShavedAsp

SPRING ASPARAGUS QUICHEQuiche

LEMONY ASPARAGUS
lemony

PASTA WITH ASPARAGUS COINS AND TOMATOES
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