Beware: I am taking a Chinese classic and messing with it. This turned out absolutely delicious, and so quick to put together like it’s the case for stir-fries. Gather all your stuff, turn the heat on, and be ready for dinner in 5 minutes. It did involve about 25 minutes prep ahead, mostly waiting time, which was perfect to cook some rice as a side dish. Efficiency. One of my favorite words. Particularly welcome on a weeknight in which my experiment was a big failure and last thing I needed was to face a complicated dinner preparation.

(adapted from Easy Chinese Recipes – Bee Yinn Low)

for the chicken:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 + 3/4 pound)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
a bunch of snow peas, sliced or cut in half
about 1/3 cup cashews, lightly toasted
salt to taste
for the sauce:
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp Chinese rice wine
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

Cut the chicken breasts into 1 inch pieces. Place in a bowl and add the baking soda, mixing to coat all pieces. Leave 15 minutes at room temperature. Rinse the baking soda out using a colander, then place the pieces of meat on kitchen paper to dry.

Marinate the chicken pieces in rice wine and cornstarch for a few minutes.  As the meat marinates, mix all ingredients for the sauce and set aside.

Heat one tablespoon of oil in a wok until almost smoking. Add the chicken pieces and stir-fry until almost cooked through. Remove and reserve.

Heat one more tablespoon of oil, add the grated ginger and the snow peas, stir fry for a few minutes. Add he chicken back to the wok, pour in the sauce and cook until the meat is fully cooked and coated with the sauce. Sprinkle toasted cashews, mix and warm up for a minute or so. Serve right away over steamed rice.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: What I love about this recipe is the simplified method of “velveting” the meat. Usually the process, very common in Oriental stir-fries, is a lot more involved. The pieces of meat are marinated in a mixture of egg white and cornstarch, then dropped in either simmering water or oil for a brief pre-cooking time. You can find a detailed explanation here. It results in amazing texture, but it is a bit involved, you are left not only with the wok to clean but the large pot used for the pre-cooking time. In this recipe, the meat is simply coated with baking soda, which increases the pH (or in other words, reduces acidity) and affects the way the molecules of protein at the surface of the meat interact with each other. Instead of trying to stick together and resulting in that harsh texture so common in quick stir-fry dishes, they behave with a lot more composure, and interact with the sauce components more efficiently instead. The texture changes so much that it does give the impression of velvet. Try it, and you will be hooked, I guarantee. You can use the exact same approach with other types of protein, seafood, beef, pork. Just add the baking soda, allow it to sit for 15 minutes, rinse it out, dry the meat and proceed with your recipe.

ONE YEAR AGO: Two Deliciously Simple Salads

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2016

THREE YEARS AGO: Spring has Sprung with Suzanne Goin

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chai Brownies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pomegranate-Molasses Glazed Carrots

SIX YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Peach Glaze

SEVEN YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Spring Rolls on a Spring Day











You know how every single Paleo-lover food blogger goes on and on about the wonders of cashew cream and how it will replace melted cheese in a way you won’t believe until you try it?  Well, those statements always put me into eye-rolling mode. I cannot help but mentally associate cashew cream sauce with those gluten-free donuts that look like sawdust shaped into rounds and make me want to run away screaming.  Of course, I have the utmost respect for those with non-imaginary gluten allergies. But I doubt they would like those donuts. In some cases, if you cannot have the real thing, better skip it altogether.  But, back to the cashew cream.  I am here to say I was absolutely wrong in my assessment. The stuff is awesome. Awesome. I made it, and could not stop sampling a little teaspoon here and there, I drizzled it over everything. Then, when I considered dunking a chocolate cookie into it, Phil pointed out that maybe I was getting a bit carried away. Fine. My next batch will be divided in two, and one of them will have coconut sugar in it. Or maybe maple syrup. And I shall dunk a cookie into it. You better believe it. Whatever your take on Paleo nutrition, open your gastronomic horizons, and made this sauce.

Cashew Cream

(adapted from many sources)

1 cup raw cashews
1 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Place raw cashews in a bowl and add cold water to cover by 1 inch. Soak cashews at room temperate for 8  to 24 hours. Drain and rinse  very well.

Add drained nuts to a powerful blender with 3/4 cup cold water, the lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Process until very smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Adjust consistency with extra water if you like. Season with salt, pepper, and extra lemon juice to taste.  Sauce will keep in the fridge for a few days, and it can also be frozen.

ENJOY!  (I know you will…)

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: What can I say?  I regret it took me so long to finally try this recipe. If I have one criticism about it is that cashews can be pricey, but if that was not the case, I would make it regularly.  I can now understand why so many people make fake Alfredo sauce with it. You can find quite a few variations online, some add nutritional yeast to take it on a slightly more “cheesy” path, but I decided to keep it simple. Basically you must soak the cashews for a few hours, discard the water. Process with a slightly acidic ingredient, sometimes a little olive oil is also added, season with salt and you are done. Variations with sugar can be used to drizzle over fresh fruit, and I’m dying to try that soon. For the moment though, I leave you with a photo of a recent lunch which was enjoyed three days in a row. Ground chicken sautéed with mushrooms, green curry paste, garam masala, and ginger. Spooned over butter lettuce leaves. And topped with this magical sauce…

Lettuce Cups

 Cashew Cream Sauce…. It’s been a  pleasure to meet you! 

ONE YEAR AGO: Blood Orange Margaritas

TWO YEARS AGO: Smoked Salmon Appetizer

THREE YEARS AGO: Clementine Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: Springtime Spinach Risotto

FIVE YEARS AGO: The end of green bean cruelty

SIX YEARS AGO: Torta di Limone e Mandorle



I won’t lie to you, making zucchini pasta with the spiral cutter is a task that requires patience (a virtue that I lack)  and probably one or two less than spectacular outcomes. By that I  mean overcooked zucchini that will lay as a limp mass on the plate and make you wonder if take-out sushi was that bad an idea after all. If you want to see the gadget I used in action (by someone who is a lot better than me at handling it), take a look at this youtube video.

Once you master the spiral cutter and how to deal with the zucchini strands, you will be on your way to a satisfying, flavorful and unique dish.  After butchering a few Cucurbita pepo, I was rewarded with a beautiful bowl of veggie strands.

(adapted from Martyna’s recipe at Wholesome Cook)

for the pesto:
2 bunches fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 Serrano chile, seeded and minced
¼ cup raw cashews
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grape seed oil
½ tsp sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper to taste
zest of 1/2 lemon
squeeze of lemon juice

for the “pasta”:
enough zucchini to make a large bowl of strands
(save the collateral damaged ones for veggie stock, stir-fries, soups)

Make the pesto by adding the cilantro, chile, cashews, and cheese to the bowl of a food processor.  Process until a paste forms.  Add grape seed oil until you achieve a consistency you like. I tend to add a lot less oil than most recipes call for.  Adjust to your taste.   Process until smooth, season with salt, pepper, the lemon zest, and juice.  Process again. Reserve.

Cook the zucchini by placing the strands in boiling water for 20 seconds, drain well, incorporate with the pesto and serve.   Alternatively, you stir-fry the zucchini quickly in a small amount of olive oil, then mix with the pesto.

Sprinkle roasted cashews, and…


to print the recipe, click here

CashewPestoMy beloved mini-food processor did a great job on the pesto…

Comments:  On my first attempt at making zucchini “pasta”, I overcooked the strands, which is very easy to do.  The taste was still pretty good, but the poor zucchini looked almost gray.  No bueno.   This time, the 20-second blanching worked much better.  I might even cut the cooking shorter next time. You can sauce this dish any way you like, including a marinara sauce, which was on our menu the following week, by the way.  I still need to master the spiral cutter better, our kitchen looked like a crime scene when I was done, and zucchini bits were found on my hair later that evening.  That’s some wild cooking prep.  😉


For those interested in gluten-free side dishes, or low carb pasta-like concoctions, this recipe fits the bill nicely.  For those who simply enjoy trying a new preparation for the under-appreciated zucchini, the same applies.

Zucchini Pasta with Cashew PestoA little shredded Asiago to gild the lily…

ONE YEAR AGO: Bran Muffins, Take Two

TWO YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


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


We are sometimes on a mission to cut calories or fat, and this holiday season was one of moderation for us, perhaps because cooking in a tiny kitchen forced us to minimize the excesses. ;-).  With this goal in mind it doesn’t get any better than a light and healthy lunch, and this salad feels like a complete meal that will satisfy you until dinner.  The inspiration is from Tyler Florence’s book,  Tyler’s Ultimate.  It was originally made with rice and served with a lemony, oven-baked chicken curry.  However, my Brazilian genes resisted the idea of serving cold rice as a salad, so instead I used orzo, and I also modified  the seasoning.  Make a large batch and you’ll enjoy it for several days!

(adapted from Tyler’s Ultimate)

1 cup orzo pasta
1/2 pound green beans
1 mango, diced
2 T fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup roasted, lightly salted  cashews
1 T olive oil
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the orzo in plenty of boiling water, drain and place on a baking sheet to cool quickly.  Drizzle a little olive oil and lemon juice to prevent it from sticking.

Trim the green beans and cut in 1 inch pieces.  Cook in boiling salted water for 4 minutes, then drain and plunge in ice water to stop cooking and set the vibrant green color.

Make the dressing by whisking the olive oil with lemon juice, season lightly with salt and pepper, and reserve.  Assemble the salad by mixing in a large bowl the cooled orzo, green beans, cashews, and diced mango.  Add the minced cilantro leaves, drizzle the dressing all over, adjust seasoning, and serve.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  In many regions fresh mango may not be easy to find right now, but if you can locate it then don’t miss the opportunity to try it in a salad like this.  The mango we bought was not as ripe and juicy as the best examples from my childhood in Brazil, but in this recipe it worked just fine.

This salad has it all:  carbs from the orzo,  vitamins and fiber from the green beans and mango,  omega oils from the cashews, that together with the green beans, add a pleasant “crunch.”

Some people even enjoyed it heated in the microwave as a side dish with their steak. 😉  It was also delicious that way.  If you want to serve it hot,  consider adding the diced mango and the cilantro at the very end.


ONE YEAR AGO: Beef Wellington (when you have romance in your mind…)

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Last weekend I made these spicy nuts for a get-together in our nano-house, to watch the Oklahoma x Nebraska college football game. A nail-biter of a game, fortunately with a happy ending for us OU fans.  Anxiety is a lot easier to take if you have something to munch on…   😉

The pepper coating gives this nuts an unusual look, but once you grab the first one, you will be going back for more, deliciously addictive they are.  You can substitute almonds, walnuts, in fact the original recipe called for whole, blanched almonds, but they did not have them at the store, I went with cashews instead. Extremely simple to prepare, with just the right balance of salty, hot, and sweet. Great recipe!

(adapted from Bon Appetit, 1997)

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 tsp water
2 cups whole cashews
1 Tbs ground black pepper
2 tsp salt

Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and butter the foil to prevent the nuts from sticking.  Heat the oven to 350 F.

Melt the butter in a skillet, add the brown sugar and water, mix until the sugar dissolves.  Add the cashews, mix them carefully to coat with the butter/sugar, lower the heat and cook, stirring often, for a few minutes, until the coating thickens slightly.  Meanwhile, mix the ground pepper and the salt in a small bowl.

Add half of the pepper/salt mixture to the cashews, mix gently.   Working quickly, transfer them to the prepared baking sheet, pressing with a spatula to keep them in a single layer.   Sprinkle the rest of the black pepper/salt all over, and bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.  Let it cool over a rack, then break the nuts apart, storing them in an air-proof container (they won’t last very long, they tend to mysteriously disappear).


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Folks in the cooking forum raved about this recipe, and their enthusiasm was what made me try it.  Plus, I tend to like contrasting flavors, so the idea of mixing brown sugar, salt, and pepper immediately perked my interest.   I imagine other seasonings   could work too: a little hot paprika, ground cumin… definitely worth experimenting.

ONE YEAR AGO: Ossobuco Milanese (one of my favorite dishes!)

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