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Green (peas), eggs and ham

March 4th, 2011

I was surprised to find yesterday published 15 ways to make peas. That was exactly my major ingredient for the new post!!

I found it on the grocery store a few weeks ago, a tray of shiny and greenly fresh peas almost talking to me. I had to take them home!! You may be asking yourself “Did she keep the peas until today?”. No, I wouldn’t’ do that, frozen peas are available all year long and fresh peas are kind of a treasure. In fact, it was the first time I saw them here.

So, I prepared my recipe, shot my pics and saved everything for this week. And then came Saveur!

But that’s just fine. I’m actually happy because it shows that in the kitchen possibilities are endless, and you can’t say you don’t like one ingredient until you had tasted it in different ways.

It just sends me to my other subject, Doctor Seuss. Obvious? Did you hear about him the whole entire week? Did you prepare green, eggs and ham with your toddlers, read books and draw a picture to celebrate his birthday?  Well, at least here in my neighborhood a lot of moms did that. I’m sorry American folks if I’m boring you with all the same talking you’ve been hearing but for me it’ll never be a cliché.

I admire and see it as an example and inspiration. I’m not talking about him; this man definitely has his place in our life now, teaching my daughters and myself a LOT of English.

But I’m talking about all the celebration of Doctor Seuss Birthday. It makes him a living character, vividly participating in his own stories while gathering kids and books. I wish I could have blown a candle for each one of my favorite writers too.

Oh, yeah, that’s a blog about food. So, a different way to make peas and my interpretation of green peas, eggs and ham is here. You can try my recipe, one of the 15 Saveur gave to us or get to use your creativity as Dr. Seuss.

Good Luck!

First, prepare the peas. Bring a pot with water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add peas and cook until tender. The time depends on which kind of pea you are using. Mine took about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a bow with cold water and ice cubes. When the peas are already cooked, drain them and transfer to cold water. This process called blanching or “shocking” breaks the cooking process immediately and gives to vegetables such as peas, broccoli or green beans an extra crispness, color and flavor.

While the peas cool down, prepare two sauté pans (non stick is better). We are going to sauté the peas with feta cheese in one pan; the other one is for frying the eggs and crisping the ham. I like to do both on the same time so everything is on the same temperature when it’s time to eat.

Don’t be scared, it’s a very simple and quick process and it helps even more if you have all the ingredients on hand.

Heat the pans with 2 tbsp olive oil each. On the first one, place the eggs and ham and let them cook, watching them while you prepare the peas.

On the other pan, add thyme, garlic, cook for a few seconds and add the peas. Cook for two minutes and add the cheese.  Now you can decide if you want your cheese totally melted. Actually, I like mine melted and with a little crispy crusts joining the peas. Add salt, peppers and basil.

Check your eggs and ham; it’s time to assemble the plates.

If you have ramekins and small and individual bows, that’s the perfect moment to use them. Start with peas on bottom, add ham and put one egg on top of each dish.  Garnish with more thyme and basil.

It’s just that simple!

February 27th, 2011

It’s still winter, but as things happen in advance here, spring talking is everywhere. Even spring break is about to start where I live. I can understand why; first this country is so much organized and focused then other places I know (although this is not necessarily good!).

Second, this is a huge country where some spots already experience a summerlike temperature, vegetables are already growing and farmers market didn’t even have a break.

Meanwhile, on the cold and grey, not to say dark side, people tired of being confined are dreaming about planting a garden when the weather warms up.  I’d say what really makes my mind is a big tender piece of meat burning on the grill and an endless talking barbecue outside but it’s not any news coming from myself.

Well, we do try to feed a few fantasies doing crazy things such as grilling a steak on the day after the big blizzard but it happens just once in a while (the blizzards and barbecues after big snow storms). For now I’m just buying my vegetables at ordinary grocery stores and roasting them inside my home and my oven.

So, my point here is we don’t have to suffer or wait, we can enjoy life now! And better, with these kind-of-grilled-but-roastesd bell pepper bruschettas.

And let’s talk seriously, colored bell papers aren’t just to make food prettier or colorful. No, it’s not to decorate the vegetable session on the grocery stores ether. Ok, they can decorate a blog. But they can be the star and shine beautifully in so many ways, including on your table.

The “hard work” here is to cut the ingredients (after scaring you with kind-of-prof chocolate recipes I had to come with a simpler dish no? .

Pre-heat the oven to 400˚F (210˚C). When your mice-en-place is done, or after having all the ingredients organized, mix onions, colored bell peppers, herbs, garlic, season with salt and pepper and toss with abundant olive oil.

Spread on a baking sheet and roast for about 25minutes. In this recipe I don’t care about pilling the pepper but I do like to get the edges get burn a bit, just to deep the flavors.

Meanwhile, prepare the bread. And please, use good bread, it’s not a supporting actor!

Heat a skillet or grill and toss each slice of bread with olive oil. Grill on each side side for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from the grill and rub each slice of bread with a garlic clove cut in a half.

Spoon the roasted peppers (hot or cold, it’s up to you) onto the grilled bread just before serving.

As as option and to give an especial touch, try to put a slice of fresh mozzarella under the roasted peppers!

Three months old!!

February 23rd, 2011

Give me flour, three months old! It’s been a time of adjustment to the outside world. And, after 7791 visits, the baby is starting to interact, to recognize and look into other people eyes.

The future is promising! And you are welcome to leave a comment, ideas, critiques, anything to help Give Me Flour’s development and behavior.

Thanks everyone who had stopped by!


Lemon bars!

February 20th, 2011

Lemon, it’s hard to find somebody who doesn’t like it. I know a person who is allergic to lemon, can’t touch it at all and, nevertheless, doesn’t stop to consume lemon, as it was the forbidden fruit.

I venture to say lemon plays well with everything; fish, meat, pork, chicken, in the cake, pie or tea. What about flan?? If you want to impress just add a few zests onto the recipe. You are going to receive a lot of compliments about your cooking skills.

Sometimes I even think it’s underused and should appear more frequently. That’s why I get very excited when I find a recipe where lemon is the major ingredient.

Like these bars, so traditional in American bake-sale and sadly unknown in Brazil. And, although it’s not a new stuff in this part of the world, I had to show them in my virtual recipe notebook.

The recipe comes one more time from the book Cookies, by Martha Stewart. And as the author says, these little squares are the most intensely lemony ones I’ve tried.

That’s an easy recipe. But remember, the key to success is the frozen butter and frozen crust; don’t skip these steps.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish, and line with parchment.

Make crust: Grate butter on a cheese grater with large holes; set aside. Whisk together flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add butter; stir with wooden spoon until combined and mixture looks crumbly.

Transfer mixture to prepared dish; press evenly onto bottom with your hands. Freeze crust 15 minutes. Bake until crust is slightly golden, 16 to 18 minutes. Leave oven on.

Meanwhile, make filling: Whisk together eggs, granulated sugar, flour and salt in a bowl until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and milk. Pour over hot crust.

Reduce oven temperature to 325ºF, and bake until filling is set and edges are slightly golden brown, about 18 minutes.

Let cool slightly in a cool rack. Lift out; let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into 2-inch squares. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Lemon squares can be refrigerated in airtight containers up to 2 days.

Just a few more things to say. The book tells you to use parchment paper but I didn’t and the bars came out of the pan easily. So, it’s up to you.

And, if you want, you can divide the ingredients and make half recipe. In this case, use an 8×8 inch square pan.

Sticking to my promise

February 15th, 2011

I couldn’t wait for this new entry. Seriously! First because I’m still stuck on the sofa with my foot up, bored!!! And a new post is always exciting.

Second because this recipe was a challenge. I have to confess I’d never made it before. It’s so much easier to buy sheets of eggroll or “massa para pastel”, as we call it in Brazil.

But for this specific treat the stuff we find on the grocery store, they really don’t work. The dough should be thinner and lighter in order to give the perfect result: a thin, crispy, crunchy shell lightly salted, dignified to welcome the king of all desserts, an indulgent dulce de leche.

So, I looked on the internet, did some research and ended up with this recipe. I tested, made just a few adjustments and here it’s, my fulfilled promise: CANUDO DOUGH RECIPE.

And the best thing, I got to play with flour again!

*Cachaça, pinga or aguardente is a spirit made from fermented sugar cane and it’s the most popular distilled beverage in Brazil. It is typically between 38% and 54% alcohol by volume. And the alcohol is exactly what gives the crispness to this dough. So, you can’t avoid this key ingredient but can easily switch it for vodka or silver tequila.

Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Make a hole in the center, add vinegar, cachaça or vodka, oil, water and stir with a spoon to combine. Flour a flat surface and knead the dough, as if you were making bread. Here comes the secret of this recipe: the dough should be firm but neither hard or sticky. If it’s too hard, add a few drops of water and keep working. As it gets kneaded it will become smoother, be patient.

After kneading it’s time to give the dough some rest. Cover it with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for at least an hour or up to 3 days.

Cut the dough in four pieces and start to work with one at a time. Don’t forget to keep the other ones covered.

Roll out the first piece of dough, as symmetrically as you can, shaping it to a 10X6 inch rectangle. A pasta machine would work nicely here but this dough is malleable enough to be rolled by hand too. Just a tip: if the dough is still too hard to roll and didn’t get the right thickness yet, cover and let it rest for 5 minutes and then try again.  You can repeat this process as much as necessary, especially before cutting the dough to prevent any contraction.

When you hit approximately 1/20 inch (thinner than a eggroll but thicker than a filo dough), cut in 1/2X6 inch stripes. Each quarter of dough should give you approximately 15 stripes.

Keep the dough covered while shaping the cones. Start from the thicker side of the mold and roll the stripe around it, leaving the edges visible to make the unmold stage easier.

Be careful to not overlap too much dough, otherwise it won’t fry as it should and you are going to have a thick and unpleasant cone.

Deep fry in vegetable oil at 350ºF until golden and crispy.  Drain and let it cool before unmolding.

Fill with dulce de leche just before serving or store in a container at room temperature up to 3 days.

This recipe gives you approximately 60 cones. And the amount of dulce de leche is up to you!!

And since it’s a super versatile dough, you don’t have to use the whole recipe just for making cones; you can play with different shapes too. And it goes with savory fillings as well. Use your imagination!!!

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