PARSNIP, COCONUT & LEMONGRASS SOUP

Inspired by a recipe from Mary Berry, this soup is simple and flavorful. I don’t think parsnips receive the attention and praise they deserve. There’s something about their slight sharpness that can be quite pleasing. Maybe for some it might be an acquired taste… Come to think of it, when I was a teenager, I would march out of the house if my poor Mom would dare serving parsnips in any type of preparation. I was difficult. I got better… At least in some aspects…

Back to soup. Make it. If you are not lucky enough to have friends who give you a gorgeous lemongrass plant, search for those cute little plastic tubes at the grocery store.  They are actually not that bad if you cannot have the real thing. I confess to always having the ginger kind in my fridge. And once our lemongrass goes into hibernation, that version will be joining us too.

PARSNIP, COCONUT AND LEMONGRASS SOUP
(inspired by Mary Berry Everyday)

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
3/4 pound parsnips (about 8 medium ones), peeled, cut in chunks
1 medium shallot, minced
2 teaspoons finely minced ginger
2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
2 tsp honey
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock  (or water)
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 lemongrass stalk, bashed to release flavor
salt and pepper to taste
yogurt and black sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the shallot and parsnips, and saute for a few minutes, until they start to get a golden color at the edges.  Add the ginger, red curry paste and honey and saute for 30 seconds, then add the coconut milk, stock, fish sauce and lemon grass.

Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through, very tender. Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste, then remove the lemon grass and discard.

Process the soup in a blender or food processor. Serve warm with a dollop of yogurt and black sesame seeds, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Loved this soup. Lemongrass, fish sauce, coconut milk, ginger, red curry paste, they do make a fantastic fantasy of flavors in your mouth, but oddly enough, you can still detect a bright and clear taste of parsnip. I had it for lunch several times in that particular week. Phil tried some and enjoyed it, but he prefers to have his smoothie – Wasa cracker/nuts/jam combination so I was left alone to savor this comforting soup day in, day out.  It gets a bit thicker each day, but adding a bit of water brings it back to a perfect consistency. I also like to squirt a little lemon juice right on the bowl.  Have I ever told you that we never, absolutely never run out of lemons in the fridge?  I get nervous if I see only one in there. Use them all the time, not only for cooking but in my carbonated water and that evening tea.

Soup weather is approaching fast. Too fast.
Grab a pin to be ready for it!

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2016

TWO YEARS AGO: Paleo Moussaka

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2014

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2013

FIVE YEARS AGO: Bourbon and Molasses Glazed Pork Tenderloin

SIX YEARS AGO: Crimson and Cream Turkey Chili

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Taking a break from the nano-kitchen

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Cookies

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CREAMY BROCCOLI AND MUSHROOM CASSEROLE

One more time I am sharing a recipe from the super athlete Mike, who runs the blog The Iron You. For those who like to experiment with a lower carb or Paleo nutrition, eggs are a fundamental ingredient. Great source of protein and fat, they are so versatile: you can make a nice omelette, frittatas, egg muffins, egg bakes, adding all sorts of ingredients from meats to veggies. I eat a lot of eggs each week for lunch, usually sunny side up or scrambled, sometimes hard-boiled, but at dinner time I opt for more elaborate uses, souffle’ being a favorite when I don’t mind splurging a little.  This casserole is quite low in carbs, but feels like splurging. Satisfying without making you feel uncomfortably stuffed. Perfect side dish, if you ask me…

Broccoli Casserole1

CREAMY BROCCOLI AND MUSHROOM CASSEROLE
(slightly modified from The Iron You)

1 ½ pounds broccoli florets
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 pound white button mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon fine grain salt
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup full fat coconut milk

Heat oven to 350°F  and place a rack in the middle. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with olive oil.
Place an inch of water in a saucepan with a steamer and bring to a boil. Steam the broccoli for 5 minutes, until tender but still firm. Remove from the heat and let cool.

While the broccoli cools, melt coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the shallot and celery and sauté until translucent and fragrant, about 5 minutes.   Add mushrooms, thyme, salt, paprika, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Sauté until mushrooms have browned a bit, about 8 minutes.

When broccoli florets have cooled down a little bit, chop the larger ones into bite-sized pieces. Add broccoli to the skillet and gently stir until combined. Pour the broccoli-mushroom mixture into the prepared baking dish. In a bowl whisk eggs with coconut milk and pour over broccoli mixture. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until golden-brown.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you google recipes for low-carb egg bakes or egg muffins, you’ll end up with thousands of hits to choose from. For the most part, they can be divided in two categories: those that use just eggs to bind the ingredients, and those that rely on dairy (quite often heavy cream).  I am not too fond of recipes that use only eggs because they end up with a rubbery texture I don’t care for. As to the ones loaded with heavy cream, they feel overly rich for my taste. This recipe solves both problems, the texture is perfect, and it has just the right amount of naughty…   We enjoyed it back in December, actually.  Obviously, it’s taking me a while to share,  but the weather is still appropriate for casseroles. Make it and you will fall in love with it too. You can add different veggies, in fact soon I intend to try a version using carrots and zucchini. I might even get my spiralizer out just for fun, and a bit of added naughty.

Mike, thanks for all the great dishes you blog about, two thumbs up for this one!

ONE YEAR AGO: Maple Walnut Biscotti

TWO YEARS AGO: Barley Risotto with Peas

THREE YEARS AGO: Oatmeal Fudge Bars

FOUR YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Steaks

FIVE YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

SIX YEARS AGO: Quick sun-dried Tomato Crostini

CREAMY ZUCCHINI MUSHROOM SOUP

Soup weather is here to stay. I should not complain, actually, so far things have progressed more or less smoothly. Anytime December catches me in my neck of the woods going for a morning run with no gloves, no hat, no growling, and wearing only a light long-sleeved shirt, I am a happy camper. Actually, happy jogger is more like it. But, let’s face it, things will get nasty soon enough and diving into a creamy bowl of soup feels like the right thing to do. I improvised this one using stuff I had in the fridge, not sure how it would turn out, but it was so delicious I had to share. The combination of zucchini with mushrooms might be a bit unusual, but worked very well… If you care to know, the soup is Paleo-friendly, low in carbs, and high in deliciousness.

Creamy Zucchini Mushroom Soup

CREAMY ZUCCHINI & MUSHROOM SOUP
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 onion, diced
salt and pepper (I recommend using a heavy hand for the black pepper)
za’tar (optional)
3/4 pound white mushrooms, sliced thick
3 medium zucchini
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups water
fresh thyme
2 handfuls spinach
1/2 cup coconut milk
toasted coconut flakes for topping (optional)

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan, when hot add the onion, season lightly with salt, pepper, and a little za’tar, if using.  Saute until onion is translucent, add the mushrooms, and cook them in medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. If the pan gets too dry, add another tablespoon of olive oil.  When the mushrooms are starting to get soft, add the zucchini, cook for a couple of minutes then add chicken stock and water. Mix well, cover the pan and let it simmer for about 12 minutes.

Turn the heat off, add thyme and spinach. Mix, transfer the contents to a blender.  Blend very well, being careful (hot stuff in a blender can be dangerous, do it in batches if necessary). Return the blended soup to the pan, add the coconut milk, warm it up in low-heat, taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve with toasted coconut flakes or any other topping you like.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments
: I am very fond of zucchini soup, and also love a nice creamy mushroom soup. Never thought of marrying both ingredients. When mixing zucchini with mushrooms you’ll enter a twilight zone of unappealing color that can be tricky to deal with. After all, part of the charm of zucchini soup is its beautiful green, but the mushrooms mess that up. That’s when the fresh spinach enters the scene. I use this trick often when I want to perk up the green color of a soup. The secret is to add it right before you blend the soup, and don’t add too much. You won’t be able to tell there is spinach in it because the zucchini and mushroom flavor is prominent. Use a nice blender, if you have a Vitamix put it to work for at least a couple of minutes.  You will have a gorgeous green soup, creamy, soothing, flavorful. It will be light but keep you satisfied, thanks in part to the fat from the coconut milk.  I had a bowl of this soup on a Saturday after running and felt like a million bucks after.  Two Aleve pills as a side dish probably did not hurt either.

Creamy Zucchini Mushroom Soup2
ONE YEAR AGO: Mascarpone Mousse from Baking Chez Moi

TWO YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Brigadeiros

THREE YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Espresso Loaf

FOUR YEARS AGO: Caramelized Carrot Soup

FIVE YEARS AGO: Miso-Grilled Shrimp

SIX YEARS AGO: A Special Holiday Fruitcake

CREAMY BROCCOLI SOUP WITH TOASTED ALMONDS

This soup was quite a revelation for me, because it tasted amazing even though it called for very few, humble ingredients. No need to search for black truffles in a jar to make it, although I must say the flavor was so complex that I wondered if truffles had been hanging out around that broccoli at harvest time. Nah…. Just my overly vivid imagination.  The inspiration came once more from Mike, the man behind The Iron You. I’ve been a reader of his blog for only a few months, but that is long enough to realize his taste in food matches ours quite well. On a side note, for those into special nutrition, this concoction is paleo-friendly and low-carb.

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CREAMY BROCCOLI SOUP WITH TOASTED ALMONDS
(modified from The Iron You)

1 ½ lbs broccoli cut into florets
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or olive oil)
1 leek stalk, thinly sliced
3 small celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
2 ½ cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon fine grain salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 (13.5 oz) can full fat coconut milk
dash of ground nutmeg
slivered almonds slightly browned in olive oil
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Heat the coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leeks, celery, garlic, a little salt and pepper, and cook, stirring every now and then, until softened, about 7 minutes.

Add broccoli florets, broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the broccoli florets are tender, about 15 minutes. Add coconut milk, give a good stir and cook for further 5 minutes. Add the nutmeg and mix well.
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Transfer the soup to a blender and puree in batches, or use an immersion blender if you prefer. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, maybe a little more nutmeg. If the soup is too thick add a bit of water; if instead it’s too thin cook until it reaches the desired consistency.
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Serve warm with sautéed almonds on top.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: For some reason I don’t make soups that often, but whenever I do, I feel quite virtuous…  I prepared this particular recipe early in the morning and had it for lunch after running. It was a bright sunny day, but quite cold, maybe 40 F with a little wind.  The soup was like a warm hug, soothing and energizing at the same time. I highly recommend it after a workout. There’s something about the creaminess offered by the coconut milk that will make you feel on top of the world.  Vivid imagination, you say? 😉

Mike, thanks for the constant culinary inspiration!

ONE YEAR AGO: Cheddar and Fennel Seed Crackers 

TWO YEARS AGO: A Festive Pomegranate Dessert

THREE YEARS AGO: My First Award!

FOUR YEARS AGO: A Message from WordPress

FIVE YEARS AGO: Turkish Chicken Kebabs

 

RASPBERRY BROWN SUGAR CHOCOLATE CHIP ICE CREAM

When I spotted this recipe during last month’s Reveal Day of Secret Recipe Club, I knew it was the perfect excuse to bring our Cuisinart ice cream maker out of its hibernation in the basement.  Raspberries offer their beautiful color and sharp flavor, brown sugar mellows it all down, the chocolate provides exciting contrast in texture, but what really sold me was the use of coconut milk. Wonderful!  So, allow me to share with you the first ice cream of the season!

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RASPBERRY BROWN SUGAR CHOCOLATE CHIP ICE CREAM
(slightly adapted from Nora’s site Natural Noshing)

3 cups coconut milk (full-fat)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup fresh raspberries, chopped
3/4 cup chocolate chips (I used 1/4 cup cacao nibs)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
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In a saucepan, heat coconut milk until it bubbles slightly.  Remove from heat.  Stir coconut milk into beaten eggs. Return to saucepan.  Cook and stir for approximately 2 minutes or until heated. Remove from heat. Let it cool.  Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
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In a mixing bowl, combine brown sugar with lemon juice.  Mix well.  Stir into chilled ice cream mixture. Cool the mixture for at least a couple of hours (or overnight).
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Follow ice cream maker’s instructions and towards the end, stir in raspberries and chocolate chips/nibs.  Transfer to a container and place in the freezer.   Scoop some, and…
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ENJOY!
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to print the recipe, click here
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Comments:  Nora modified the original recipe to use coconut milk, and what a great twist that was! The coconut flavor is not too intense, even people with coconut issues might not mind it in this preparation, as there’s a lot going on with the raspberries and the chocolate anyway.   I worried that the nibs could be too harsh in texture, that’s why I reduced the amount quite a bit.  You might want to play with this recipe and see how you like it best.  White chocolate chips could be perfect, although it might be a good idea to use mini-chips, keeping the whole thing more delicate and elegant.
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I cannot tell you how much I enjoy Spring and with it the promise of Summer…
Sun, shorts, t-shirts, sandals, bright colors, lighter food, it’s all wonderful!
And frozen treats don’t hurt anything either!
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YEAR2
(modified from a classic cartoon…)
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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.

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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

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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

GREEN CURRY PORK TENDERLOIN

A note to subscribers: Google Reader will shutdown on July 1st, 2013. If you have a subscription to this blog through Google Reader, please sign up for email notifications, or switch to another reader. I recommend Feedly or Bloglovin. They will automatically retrieve all your Google reader subscriptions.

If you are like me, when you think about curry you’ll imagine pieces of meat or veggies swimming in a spicy sauce.  This is not it. The pork tenderloin is marinated in a flavorful orange-soy mixture, then grilled.  The curry sauce is spooned over it, and to add another layer of flavor and texture pumpkin seeds are sprinkled on top.  This was one of those dinners that surpassed my expectations.  We could celebrate a Wednesday with it, but instead it opened our week to a good start: we enjoyed it for dinner after a very busy Monday.

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GREEN CURRY PORK TENDERLOIN
(slightly modified from Bon Appetit, May 2013)

for pork marinade:
1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 pork tenderloin, butterflied

for pumpkin seeds:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Kosher salt

for curry sauce:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 small shallot, chopped
2 heaping tablespoons green Thai curry paste
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk (I used light)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Combine soy sauce, orange juice, maple syrup, and sesame oil in a large resealable plastic bag. Add pork and seal bag. Chill, turning occasionally, at least 8 hours or up to 1 day.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pumpkin seeds and toast, shaking pan often, until seeds are brown, about 4 minutes. Add cumin seeds, then gradually add sugar, then lime juice, tossing constantly to coat seeds with melted sugar and juice. Transfer pumpkin seed mixture to a foil-lined baking sheet; spread out and let cool. Season with salt.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add curry paste and lime zest and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add coconut milk and bring just to a boil, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced by half, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Transfer coconut milk mixture to a blender. Add cilantro, lime juice, brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons water and blend until smooth. With motor running, drizzle in remaining 2 tablespoons oil and blend until creamy. Season curry sauce with salt and pepper, return to pan, and cover to keep warm.

Remove pork from marinade; pat dry. Grill pork until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 140°.  Let rest 10 minutes. Slice pork and serve with curry sauce and cumin-spiced pumpkin seeds.

ENJOY!

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Comments:  At first this recipe seems doable on a weeknight.  But I will be honest with you: when we come home from work I want dinner preparation to be as simple and painless as possible. The idea of making a sauce that involves grabbing (and later washing) the blender, toasting the pumpkin seeds, assembling everything AND thinking about a side dish to go with it leaves me searching for another recipe right away…  😉   So, I made all the components on a Sunday afternoon, no hurries, not pressure. The pumpkin seeds went into the pantry, the sauce in the fridge. The pork went to sleep in the marinade.    Next day I cooked some white rice, sliced juicy heirloom tomatoes, sprinkled them with Maldon salt and balsamic vinegar, a tiny little drizzle of olive oil.   Grilled the pork, warmed the sauce, and felt like a Kitchen Goddess.

Side note: these pumpkin seeds are excellent to snack on, the recipe makes more than you’ll need and that is a good thing!  😉

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