31 January 2010

Cooking Spree

It's been a while since I had that feeling of wanting to cook something new!

Korokke! I used a youtube's recipe ( i love cookingwithdog) and made some soboro for emergencies (Recipe from AnnaTheRed)

This should be enough for 3/4 good lunches. Everything worked perfectly in the kitchen! The soboro's sauce evaporated nicely, the korokke got golden brown and i managed to make about 18 of them, for rushed evenings/mornings. Here they are just before being frozen:

I had never tried panko before and I must say it was wonderfully crunchy! Something you can't get with normal breadcrumbs, or at least me. I'm not a fan of deep fried things, specially the smell of hot oil and mushy, greasy food, but most of the oil was gone from these and none of it got inside. I was so pleased with this, specially because it fills me up quite fast, and I've got a bit stomach.

We went for a walk on a different place, the tide was very high, cold but sunny. I miss seeing the sea everyday like in Madeira, this was the best I could get (it's Tejo river).

For dinner, we ate out and I took a picture because most people out of portugal have no idea you can cook this "thing" like this:

Can you guess what it is?

Fried eel! How does that sound to you? These weren't the best ones I've eaten but when well fried they're really good. Not so good for health but I eat them once a year, if lucky. Usually is eaten with tomato rice and saute'd bell pepper salad.

Do you know some unique foods from your country?

21 January 2010

Pan-fried Shrimp, Garlic & Lemon

I'll be talking about a giveaway at the end of the post, stay tuned!

I forgot to take a picture at the bento box (tupperware actually) but I took one at my plate:

It took a bit to make this because I had to peel the shrimp and save the shells for stock. Underneath there's plain rice and the vegetables came from the freezer and sauté'd.

Shrimp with skin on, defrosted.

I decided to leave the end of the shell for better presentation.

For the shrimp, what I did was:

- Heat a pan with a little olive oil and put a small dried red pepper along with whole (slightly mashed) garlic. Let the flavour come out a bit and then start putting the shrimp (which had salt and some lemon juice) gently and flip it over until it's nearly cooked. Don't overcook shrimp or it'll feel like chewing gum.

Here's the shrimp just cooked.

As you can see, I didn't peel off the garlic because I like the flavour that it adds to the rest and prevents the garlic from burning too quickly. It's a shame whole shrimp can be so expensive. We can't really afford buy this, and this one we got was from relatives that were really nice in sharing some :D

Yesterday I was running through my RSS feeds and one of them had a "Win a Tamagoyaki pan"! I immediately read the whole post and wanted to enter the contest. I have been looking for a tamagoyaki pan for a while now and there are none available in my country :(

So, if you want to join the competition and give it a try, here's a direct link to the post. Thank you Sarah for hosting this event!

18 January 2010

Inspired meals

I had a wonderful weekend on an ongoing project of mine, I guess it reflected on the kitchen. I even made my lunch!

My bf's lunch.

There was some chicken leftovers (I was so happy when I saw I didn't have to cook meat!) which I de-boned and but into bite-sized pieces and put then on a lettuce bed. Next to it there's some broccoli, sliced tomatoes, cucumber and couscous. The problem about having couscous at home is that since it's so fast to make, we make it until there's no more. I just put some couscous on a pot and cover it with boiling water (about 1 finger above the couscous) put the lid on and go finish other things. When I'm done with all of the preparations, I uncover the couscous and it's done!

Surprisingly I wanted to make my own lunch too but didn't want to eat any meat so I experimented a little:

My lunch.

From left to right there's cucumber, hijiki with lettuce underneath, some cheese rolled, olives, sliced tomatoes and broccoli. In the silicone cup underneath the tangerine was a little treat for after my exam :D some pumpkin home-made sort of jam. I don't know the name of the pumpkin in English but in Portugal we call it Gila. It's very stringy and I love the sweetness of the pumpkin itself. It's one of my favourite things to eat since I was a little kid.

While I was eating it I realized these tupperwares are perfect for salads, I've tried eating other things here but I get too full and end up eating more than needed.

I haven't posted so much recently because well, I'm kind of waiting for my things to arrive (which should arrive next month by the 22nd) so I can start improving. I am also waiting for another bento book and when I have it I will post about the books I got on X-mas all at once. Until then, I hope I keep my inspiration up and will to cook wonderful meals!

16 January 2010

Some news

I am finally back in shape from a nasty flu! It's been a hard week with so much to wipe from my nose and trying to sleep that I didn't make anything worth taking a picture. I did however take a picture of what my bf did for me on one of the days:

Don't you miss anything here? No matter how hard I try, if he cooks, he will never put vegetables in it!

Yesterday I made some lunch for me for today because I had classes all day. I guess the kitchen was angry at me for not using it for nearly a week and so, it punished me: First the eggplant i was saving to try out a new recipe was rotten from the inside -_- this is the 2nd time this happens; I buy rotten-on-the-inside eggplants...

Lucky for me I had some zucchini so I changed he eggplant with it. Then I forgot to defrost the meat and ended up burning it a bit when I stir-fried it. If that wasn't enough, when I cut it to bite-sized pieces one of the pieces fell to the back of the oven, then the rice would refuse to cook, I cooked a sweet potato (never cook them, they taste awful when cooked), I cut myself and to end the night beautifully me and my bf started a long fight (until 3am).

The food however tasted so good today, it felt so warming to eat my own food at a public garden even though it was cloudy. I should cook more for myself!

And finally the last news: I decided to upload a song I sang on youtube - Hallelujah the Jeff Buckley version. If you're curious, give it a little try on your ears it won't hurt (much) :D

07 January 2010

Farfalle with bell pepper sauce

Today I looked at BookDepository to find that they're giving away free ebooks! I looked through some, searched on something I'm planning on doing (and I'll be sure to post!) and got to some Italian recipes of pasta. All of it combined, got me to make a little experience, and a well succeeded one:

I'm almost finishing the chickpea burgers staple and those fish fingers have been on the freezer for more time than I wanted them to, so this time I tried a different approach: instead of pan-frying and deep frying the fish and the burger, I baked them. The burgers were brushed in a little olive oil because they had no fat in it but the fish fingers didn't so I added nothing. Baking is a bit more useful to make 4 meals at a time than frying because you do it all at once plus you have the fat amount reduced which is a plus.

With the farfalle, I cooked it but there was colour missing (there still is, it's all golden brown green-ish but) so, inspired by the Italian food videos/articles, and the lonely bell pepper in the fridge, I made a little invention which turned out nice. Here's the recipe of it:

- 1 green bell pepper chopped in small pieces;

- 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped;

- Olive oil;

- 1/2 teaspoon of fine chopped basil ( I didn't have fresh basil but I bet it would taste a lot better);

- salt, pepper and a little sugar to taste;

- 4 tbspoons tomato sauce (or if you can, replace it for a fresh medium-sized tomato);

Heat the olive oil and when it's hot enough, put the garlic and be careful so it doesn't burn! Don't mince it or it'll burn really fast. When the garlic is golden brown, put the bell pepper and wait for it to cook, remembering to steer it. When it looks cooked, add basil and the tomato sauce and stir frequently until some of the liquid evaporates. Taste it and season to your liking. I had to put a bit of sugar because the tomato sauce was too acid, I use this trick on tomato soup as well to reduce the acidity. After seasoning it, turn off the heat and pour it over the pasta and mix it until all of the pasta has a little of the sauce. Serve warm and it'll taste heavenly ^^

Oh, and please ignore the background, this is something I have to improve because when I take pictures of the food, I usually forget where it is and there were some dishes/silverware drying where I took the pic.

05 January 2010

Pan-fried tofu & couscous "gratin"

It's been raining for about 2 weeks (or maybe 3 I'm not even sure anymore) without a sunny day, and yesterday afternoon I found myself in an enjoyable experience: under the rain. I always try to leave school at the time my bf leaves work so we can go back home together. Here's his lunch for today!

There is a pile with couscous underneath, fresh tomato slices, cheese and oregano. On the lower part I put some snow-peas and some stir-fried tofu "steaks" (slices).

The tofu is an old recipe from my mum (or at least one of my favourite ones she made a long time ago).

She always uses extra-firm tofu (something like cheese tofu) boils it until nearly cooked. Then grabs a frying pan, slice sthe tofu, some chopped garlic, a bit of olive oil and some soy sauce. She Pan-fries it until golden brown on each side (or at least make sure it's stiff on each side because you might not be able to see the golden with the soy sauce). When it's cooked, just eat it warm and it'll be delicious.

Since it's been cold, my bf's been warming up his food in the microwave from work so I made use of that aspect to plan the food.

The tomato-cheese-oregano idea came from something I made in summer called "pan pizza" which is made of bread with tomato slices, cheese, salt and oregano on top, then slightly grilled or baked in the oven until the cheese melts, making it look like some sort of pizza.

I was quite surprised when he actually said he LIKED the tofu, usually he says "mm" or "it's okay". I might be doing some more tofu recipes because it's cheaper than meat and this month's budget is super tight for me at least, having to pay school and some workshops.

I'll leave you with the little adventure "underwater" :D stay safe and warm!

Yesterday, instead of taking the bus from my school to my bf's work, I walked half the way with a classmate, went through a shopping centre, did some quick shopping and went out. It was raining quite a bit when I left the centre but I would never expect the rain to get THAT worse... in 3 minutes I was on the tips of my toes avoiding giant puddles and when I reached some stairs, they had turned into small waterfall. In 15 minutes (which was the time I took door to door because I stopped for about 5 in the rain jut looking around and listening, I love rain ^^) the main road was a river, and I am not exaggerating.

At some point I regretted waiting on the rain because it got so hard even the umbrella couldn't stop it from dripping on me.

When it stopped raining, my bf went out of work (lucky bastard, he never gets the heavy rain) and we had to cross the road to get the bus, the problem was on the "crossing" part... We tried thinking of different paths but we'd always have to cross the road with half a meter of water on each side. We reached a point where half the zebra crossing was covered in water. At that moment,  the bus came and we ended up running in water, to catch it, which reached to 1/4 of my legs. With all that water, the result was 1h and a half ride home of really slow buses and flooded streets.

02 January 2010

How to cook farinheira

First of all I'd like to wish you all a Happy new year!! As promised, here is the farinheira with scrambled eggs:

This is one of the various versions you can cook farinheira.

We were so hungry this was the only picutre I remembered to take before eating it.

For those who don't know what farinheira is here's a rough explanation of how it's made and what's in it:

Mix in a bowl: wheat flour, corn flower, garlic, melted lard, paprika, ground pepper, orange juice, vinegar and water until the consistency is right. Then you grab a pork's dry intestines (used for home-made farinheiras) or plastic that resembles the same texture elasticity of the pork's intestines (use in d Industrial) and fill it to 2/3 of the total size. After separating and closing them up, they are smoked for 2-3 days and end up drying in the sun. They're still not cooked at this point, just smoked, you should cook them after this or rub in olive oil and they preserve for a year. I prefer to freeze mine since I don't have a dry dark place to put them. I do not make my own because it's a very big mess and the amount of lard is not so healthy at all.

Since mine was frozen I put it in the microwave (after cutting the metal clips on each tip) for about 2 minutes until I can remove the skin.

You should carefully remove it with a sharpen knife or rip it with your fingers. Don't try to squeeze it out or you'll lose half of the content that glues to the skin. Remember, the skin is NOT edible so make sure to remove it.

When all of it is removed, mash or cut the farinheira into chunks. Don't worry if they're too big, you'll be crushing them almost until it's ready sothe bits will get smaller.Turn on the heat. You won't need oil, even with a sticking pan like mine,because of all the lard the farinheira has.

Keep it on medium-high heat until the bits are small and it looks like this. As you can see, I did not add anything else to the pan and you can see the lard. At this point, drop some eggs inside. I used the ones I had at home at the moment but you can use more or less depending on your taste.

You can beat the eggs first if you want an even colour or put them in like this for yellow/white chunks in the middle. I didn't have time to beat them beforehand so I dropped them inside. The different colour of the egg yolks is because the large yolks were from the supermarket and the smaller ones from my grandparents' chickens which are from a smaller race, therefore lay smaller eggs.

Keep the heat on medium-high and mix it well until the egg is almost cooked. You can leave it moister or dryer by adjusting the cooking time here. I like mine well cooked. And the final version is on the top (the first picture I showed) since as I said before, hunger was stronger and soon after it was all gone.

Farinheira can also be boiled or put in a stew, but I don't use it like that so, if I eat it at some relatives' house, I'll be sure to take pictures!

Enjoy your kitchen time!

And if anyone wants the recipe for how to make the farinheira by themselves, leave a comment and I'll e-mail you with the values. I do not own the recipe but I'll translate it for you if asked.