10/30/2010

A Halloween Treat - Pudim de Abóbora



I have a confession to make. I am not a fan of pumpkin pie. There - I said it! I know, I know... how can I not love this staple fall dessert? Well, I'm not quite sure. I like pumpkin. I like pie. I just don't like pumpkin and pie together in one.





Now that I have come out with this breaking news, let me tell you how I survive fall dinners without pumpkin pie...




One of my favorite desserts my mom makes is pudim de leite, or caramel flan. This is a staple dessert in Brazil, and I think I'm safe to assume all of Latin America. It's a no-fuss dessert to make, requiring only a few accessible ingredients to be blended and baked in a water bath. So, I decided to combine the flavors of America's beloved pumpkin pie with the delectable caramel flan.


There are tons of flan recipes out there. Some use heavy cream, regular milk, powdered milk, condensed milk, or a combination of these. In most Brazilian flan recipes, condensed milk is always present. So, for my pumpkin flan I combined condensed milk, a tiny bit of 2% milk, eggs, pumpkin puree, and some spices.





I have a mild obsession with individual desserts (I don't like to share), so I decided to bake the flans in individual ramekin. After the flans baked in the oven, I refrigerated them overnight - by the way, you can make these up to three days ahead! When I was ready I popped them out the ramekin onto a dish, and the caramel flowed right over the flan.

I am taking these to my mom's house tonight for Halloween dinner. My mom loves, loves, loves pumpkin pie, so I am excited to see what she thinks about the flan. I taste-tested one, of course, and thought it was perfect! It has all the earthy flavors of a pumpkin pie, in a creamy custardy flan!

Happy Halloween!

10/24/2010

Camarão na Moranga







Fall is here. This is made quite clear every time I walk into the grocery store and see huge piles of assorted winter squash and pumpkin. Earlier this week, I couldn’t resist myself and took one back home with me. I grabbed a beautiful acorn squash, with plans of making a rich and creamy soup. But, somehow later on in the week, I deviated from my soup plans. I craved for a recipe my mom used to make during the fall season, camarão na moranga. This dish, which literally translates to shrimp in a pumpkin, was and still is one of my favorite comfort food.







The traditional recipe calls for pumpkins. But, since I had already bought a beautiful acorn squash, I though I’d use it instead. Besides the pumpkin, the traditional recipe calls for queijo catupiry (catupiry cheese). Catupiry is a soft, mild-tasting cheese that is found in many Brazilian dishes. Now, although I love this cheese, I was a bit too lazy to drive to the closest Brazilian store in Kirkland to buy it. So, I decided to use a cheese that I thought would best capture the essence of the traditional dish: Brie.




Camarao na Moranga

1 Acorn/Danish squash
1 ½ tsp olive oil
¼ cup onion, diced
¼ cup green pepper, diced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1tbsp tomato paste
6oz prawns, peeled
1 cup of brie, cubed and rind removed
1/8 cup of whole milk
1tsp finely chopped cilantro, for decoration
Salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut 1” off the top of the acorn squash and scoop out the seeds. Cut off a small portion of the bottom, in order for squash to sit upright. Pour ½ tsp of olive oil inside squash, and sprinkle a little bit of salt. Set squash on a sheet pan and bake for about 30 minutes or until tender.

In a sauté pan, combine remaining olive oil and onion. Sautee until onions began to turn translucent. Add green onions and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add garlic to the mixture and sauté for about 30 second. Add the prawns and tomato paste to the sauté mixture. As soon as the prawns begin turn pink, add brie and milk to the sauté pan and cook until the cheese begins to melt.

To serve, pour prawn and cheese mixture inside squash.








Acorn Squash on FoodistaAcorn Squash

10/14/2010

Lactaid Challenge: Avocado-Vanilla Bean Smoothie



A while ago, Foodbuzz announced that Lactaid would be holding a contest for the best lactose-free smoothie or milkshake creation. I, of course, jumped on board and entered a recipe for a delicious avocado and vanilla bean smoothie. Soon after, I found out that my recipe was chosen by Foodbuzz and Lactaid as one of the twelve most appealing recipes! But, the contest isn’t over yet. Now, Foodbuzz and Lactaid are going to be picking one out of the twelve recipes to win the ultimate prize: an all-expense paid trip to this year’s Foodbuzz Blogger Festival! The first and second runner ups get to have their recipes served at the Taste Pavillion at the Festival. I would really love to go to this festival, so please send positive vibes this-a-way!

Those of you who read my avocado crème brulee post know that I grew up on daily doses of fresh fruit and veggie smoothies. Thanks to our huge backyard full of fruit trees, there was never a day without a fresh smoothie in the morning. Although I usually cringed at the fruits and vegetables selection that were thrown in the blender, I had some all time favorites. My ultimate favorite was a creamy avocado smoothie. So, when I read Foodbuzz’s email, I instantly thought of my childhood favorite.

I love making sweet concoctions with avocado. It is the way we enjoy it in Brazil. We make smoothies, dessert and eat it by simply dashing a bit of sugar on top. Although I have come to enjoy the savory side of avocado, thanks to guacamole, I still have a very soft spot for the sweet side. And the best thing about it is it doesn't take much to create a delcious avocado recipe.


Although I knew the original avocado smoothie recipe had a fighting chance for the number one spot, I decided to give it a little bit of a twist by throwing in a little vanilla bean. I also added a few sprigs of mint leaves, which really balanced all the flavors out and gave it a really nice refreshing tone. I added little bit of acidity by adding some fresh squeezed lime juice to the recipe. All of the ingredients really worked together to bring out the delicious flavor of the avocado. The result was a creamy, thick, rich, yet refreshing smoothie. I think that the texture is what really sets this smoothie apart. I’ve got to be honest with you all, the result was actually better than the original, old-school version my parents used to make. I guess sometimes you can fix what isn’t broken!






Thanks to Lactaid, I was free to indulge in two full glasses of my tasty smoothie without annoying stomach aches. For those of you that don’t know, I have a bit of lactose intolerance issue. Whenever I sip on a tall vanilla latte or indulge in a big glass of cold milk, I get a bit of a stomach ache. For a while there I just put up with my tummy issues – lord knows I would not give up my morning latte for anything! I knew that lactose-free milk products existed, but to be quite honest, I was a bit hesitant about trying them. It wasn’t until my mom, who also recently started having tummy issue due to lactose, started drinking Lactaid that I tried it myself.

Lactaid is made from real cow’s milk without the lactose and tastes like regular milk with the lactose. I even found that Lactaid’s fat-free milk is even creamier and tastier than the regular watered down fat-free milk.





Thanks to products like Lactaid milk and Lactaid ice-cream, lactose intolerant people can enjoy delicious cow’s milk, without the lactose.


I was in second grade the first time I ever remember hearing of lactose intolerance. I distinctively remember my friends and I standing in the lunch line when I overheard this kid say he couldn’t eat or drink anything with dairy in it. The first thought that popped in my head was how the heck does this kid survive life without ice cream?! I went on to secretly thank God for allowing me to be able to eat all the ice-cream I wanted. It wasn’t until I was a bit older that I actually fully grasped the concept of lactose-intolerance. It’s a really serious matter; in fact Lactaid has launched a brand new website, Moovision, which is all about bringing awareness to lactose intolerance. The site has lots of fun videos and games on the matter. And, for those who love some competition in your life, Moovision is currently hosting a gourmoo cook-off! The competition entails creating yummy recipes featuring lactose-free milk, and the prizes look pretty freakin' awesome.




Avocados are a great source of vitamins and mineral


Many thanks to Foodbuzz and Lactaid for picking my yummy creation as one of the top 12. Bellow is the recipe, which you can see is super simple to make. You can even make this before you go to bed, keep it covered in the fridge and enjoy it in the morning for a delicious and nutritious breakfast. I hope y’all enjoy and if you get a chance to make it leave me a comment and share your thoughts. And don't forget to keep your fingers crossed for me!

Avocado-Vanilla Bean Smoothie
Serving: 1

1 glass Lactaid non-fat milk
1 small avocado, peeled and pitted
3 sprigs fresh mint leaves
½ vanilla bean, split and seeds scrapped
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 ½ tbsp sugar

Combine all the above ingredients in a blender. Blend on high until a smooth and creamy consistency is reached. Pour smoothie into glass and enjoy!


*As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a coupon for a free sample of Lactaid milk for the purpose of creating this recipe. This recipe an entry into a contest, held by Foodbuzz and Lactaid, to attend the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival!

10/03/2010

Saltenha: From Bolivia, to Brazil, to FoodBuzz Blogger Festival!





Earlier this month, I received an email from Foodbuzz announcing that they would be joining forces with Nature’s Pride Bread again in the Nature’s Pride Bread Ambassador Program. This program gives featured publishers the opportunity to create a unique and delicious recipe utilizing Nature’s Pride products for a chance to win airfare and accommodation to this year's Foodbuzz Bloggers Festival. Not only that, but the six lucky winners will be crowned Bread Ambassadors, and get to showcase their scrumptious recipes at the Foodbuzz Taste Pavilion!


For the past month, I have been brainstorming and testing possible recipes. I finally came up with a recipe that is unique and exotic, as well as delicious and simple to make. I decided to make saltenhas, or salteña as they are called in their native Bolivia. Saltenhas are empanada-like pastries, with a sweet and spicy meat filling. They are originally from Bolivia, but very popular in Brazil.







For this challenge, I created a recipe that combined the Bolivian-style saltenha, and the Brazilian version of them. I chose to use Nature's Pride Country Potato bread. Bolivians put potatoes in their saltenhas, which is something we Brazilians nixed in our version. I wanted to incorporate the potato flavor so that's why I chose the country potato. I cut the crust off of the bread and, using a kitchen brush, I soaked the bread with a little bit of milk. I chose a chicken filling for my saltenha. The filling included chicken, raisins, green Greek olives and malagueta pepper. I finished my saltenha rolls with a little egg wash and baked them for about 10 minutes.





The flavors of saltenhas are very complex. The combination of the sweetness of the raisins, saltiness of the olives and spiciness of the malagueta pepper, really ends up working together for an incredible burst of flavors in your mouth! I hope that this recipe shows that you can use an everyday ingredient, like Nature's Pride bread, to create something exotic and multicultural!






Nature's Pride Saltenhas

Serving Size: 18

1 chicken breast, boneless and skinless

salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

cumin, to taste

1tbsp vegetable oil

1tsp garlic, diced

1tbsp onion, diced

1tbsp butter

1tbsp all purpose flour

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup green Greek olives, diced

2 malagueta pepper, finely diced (or hot pepper/sauce of choice)

18 slices of Nature's Pride Counrty Potato Bread

3 tbsp whole milk

2 egg yolk

1tsp olive oil




Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Season chicken breast with salt, pepper, and cumin. In a sauté pan, add vegetable oil and turn heat to medium high. Add onion and cook until translucent, add garlic for 30 seconds, then add chicken breast. Fry chicken on both sides, until it has browned. Remove chicken and dice in small cubes. Add butter to sauté pan and melt. Add flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color. Add water and stir for about 30 seconds. Add chicken and cook until water thickens, about 1 minute. Turn the heat off and add raisin, olives and malagueta pepper.

Cut the crust off of the bread and, using a kitchen brush, gently soak every slice with milk (do not over soak bread). Place about a tablespoon of filling in the middle of each slice, fold slice over filling and pinch the edges with your fingers. Arrange saltenhas on a baking sheet, pinched side down, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.