Orange Coconut Shake

Orange Coconut Shake

I’m not always in the mood for a mocktail, but that doesn’t mean I just want water. Consider this Orange Coconut Shake, a refreshing drink made with orange juice and coconut milk. Think of it as a nonalcoholic drink that uses simple ingredients that you probably have on hand. It can be a menu addition to your small family gathering in times of Covid. Especially if this means you get to have a chic adult cocktail without any alcohol.

 

Orange Coconut Shake

Makes 4 small shakes

 

1 tablespoon cardamom pods

¼ cup (50g) organic cane sugar

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

¼ cup sour cream

½ cup crushed ice

 

  • In a small skillet over high heat, toast the cardamom pods lightly until they are fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Let it cool completely. Reserve 3 pods for garnish.
  • Place the cardamom, sugar and coconut milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Let it cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
  • Strain the coconut milk mixture directly into a blender, along with the orange juice, sour cream, and ice. Blend until smooth. Pour into 4 tall thin glasses (or champagne glasses) and grade a little bit of cardamom on top as garnish. Serve immediately.

 

 

 

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Jeweled Rice With Carrots

Jeweled Rice with Carrots

This recipe for Jeweled Rice With Carrots, featured on my cookbook Latin Superfoods, is inspired by my aunt Sarita’s. She is a Jewish immigrant originally from Morroco who came to Rio de Janeiro in the 1960s and adapted into the new tropical land, while keeping her roots and faith intact. She prepares a variety of jeweled rice dishes. The carrots add a natural sweetness to the rice and makes it the perfect side dish for a healthy meal. At home, this recipe for Jeweled Rice with Carrots is pure dinner treasure. You can assemble ahead of time in a big platter, and pass it around the table. I’m telling you, it will get devoured!

You can also see a video of this recipe on my YouTube channel. And don’t forget to subscribe!

 

Jeweled Rice with Carrots

Serves 6 or 8

 

2 cups brown basmati rice

2 tablespoons olive oil

Half an onion, finely diced

2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

2 cups grated carrots (about 4 medium carrots, grated on the smallest whole)

Pinch safron thread

3 1/3 cups water

½ cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

½ cup chopped pitted Picholine olives

¼ cup chopped parsley

 

Prepare the Rice:

  • Rinse the rice in cold water several times to remove the excess starch. On the final wash, drain the rice on a colander and let it sit for 5 minutes to dry.
  • On a medium saucepen over low heat, add the olive oil and cook the onions until they are soft, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the rice, salt, carrots, and safron and mix them with a wooden spoon until the grains are coated with oil and warm.
  • Pour in the cold water, cover partway, and cook the rice over medium heat until it’s soft and tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Fluff the rice and stir in the almonds, olives and parsley. Transfer to a bowl and serve hot.

 

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Bean Broth

Bean Broth with Croutons

I used black eyes peas simply because that’s what was in my pantry. Feel free to use any kind of dried beans to make this delicious bean broth recipe and serve with croutons, parsley and Parmesan, or other garnishes that you might prefer. I used the ends of a loaf bread to make garlic croutons. It goes to show, in times of pandemic, nothing goes to waste! Inspired by the magazine Bon Appetit, this is another great one! You can watch a video of me cooking this recipe with my kids here. 

 

Bean Broth With Croutons

Serves 4 to 6 people

 

For the Black Beans:

1 pound dried black eyed beans, picked over and rinsed (but not soaked)

8 to 10 cups water

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 to 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and whole

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

3 fresh bay leaves

 

For the Croutons:

2 end slices of any type of country bread

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

 

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Freshly chopped parsley

 

For the Beans:

Place the black beans in a pressure cooker and cover with tap water by 2 inches. (about 8 to 10 cups of water). Add the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and bay leaves. Lock the lid and bring to a boil. When you hear the sound of the pressure cooker in full gear, reduce the heat to medium- low (it is very important to maintain a constant gentle pressure because the pressure keeps increasing as the boiling point of the water increases). Check the beans after 20 to 25 minutes – they should be tender, showing no traces of starch, but not mushy. The water will be cloudy. Remove from the heat and set aside.

 

For the Croutons:

Tear the bread into small pieces or cut them with a serrated knife. In a large saute pan over medium heat, add the oil and butter. add the bread in a single layer. the oil and butter should be bubbling lightly. Adjust the heat as necessary and keep stirring the croutons as often as you can, to make sure they turn golden evenly all around. Cook until the croutons are crisp and a beautiful golden rich golden brown on all sides, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Let them cool completely. Once cooled they can be stored in the refrigerator and warmed back in a hot oven for 3 minutes to crisp up again.

To assemble, pour some of the beans into bowls and garnish with croutons, parmesan and parsley.

 

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Duck Stir Fry

Duck Stir Fry

Duck Stir Fry

Duck Stir Fry

Serves 4

During these quarantine cooking days, whatever is available in the market and is on sale, is what we buy. As I mentioned in the Quarantine Cooking Club video on You Tube, my husband went to Costco and found a package of pre-cooked duck for sale. Knowing of our daughter’s love for game meats, he bought and said, “I’m sure you’ll find something interesting to do with it”. Duck Stir Fry! Hello! The package from Maple Leaf contains one half duck, roasted weighting net 28oz (1 lb + 12oz). It also comes with an orange sauce, which I didn’t use at all. By the time I pulled the meat, it yields about 2 cups pulled duck meat. We love “stretching” the duck by making this rice stir fry. It serve 4 generous portions, something we need these days!

 

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, finely minced

2 stalks celery, peeled and finely minced

1 carrot, finely minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 cups cooked brown rice

2 cups pulled duck meat

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley

2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro

 

Procedure:

Warm the olive oil in a large saute pan and add the onion, celery and carrot all together. Season with salt and pepper, cumin and oregano. Cook until soft, about 4 minutes.

Add the rice, duck, soy sauce and herbs and mix everything together, stirring occasionally until it all belongs together. You can add about ¼ cup water to moisten the dish. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

 

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Pasta with Peas and Pancetta

Pasta With Peas And Pancetta

Pasta with Peas and Pancetta

 

Pasta with Peas & Pancetta

Serves 4

We first tried this recipe for Pasta with Peas & Pancetta at our neighbor’s house for dinner one night, and after that, we never stopped making it at home. Our neighbors are from Rome, Italy, so we get spoiled sometimes with a Parmesan cheese from Italy and other imported ingredients that we love to indulge. Don’t worry too much about the kind of pasta you use for this dish. We used orecchiette, because that’s what was in the pantry, but any other shape along the lines of penne, farfalle, or fusilli will go well here. This is what we call Quarantine Cooking Club! You can watch a video of me cooking this recipe with my kids, Thomas and Bianca on You Tube 

 

Ingredients:

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

6 ounces pancetta, diced

½ onion, minced

One 10-ounce package (about 2 cups) frozen peas, thawed

1-pound orecchiette (or other pasta shape mentioned above)

¼ cup fresh chopped parsley

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Coarsely ground pepper

 

Procedure:

Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a large pasta pot. Season with salt. Add pasta and cook stirring occasionally, until just al dente (take one minute off from package instructions). Drain and reserve about 2 cups of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, combine 2 tablespoons of the oil and the pancetta in a large skillet and cook over medium high heat stirring occasionally, until the pancetta has rendered some of its fats and it’s crispy, golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a plate.

Using the fat that’s in the pot, add the onion and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the peas, the pasta, the pancetta and a couple of tablespoons by eye to the pan, mixing everything together and making sure every ingredient is enrobed by the natural juices in the pan. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Finish with Parmesan cheese and serve in individual bowls.

 

 

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Latin Superfoods

My New Cookbook: Latin Superfoods!

Latin Superfoods

My New Cookbook Latin Superfoods is due out October 15th by Skyhorse Publishing! I can’t believe it!

In this book, I write recipes that are super healthy yet unapologetically delicious that help you eat better, make good food choices, and perform at your peak in all aspects of your life. And in every page there is more cooking, more photos, more recipes and more stories that inspire. They are made to be used and to be useful. Want a tease? How about Braised Chicken with Fennel and Oranges (photo below), featured in Latin Superfoods is just one of the many recipes that will have you signing in the kitchen! Oh yeah! We cook through life in the kitchen with a bit of singing and dancing allowed! If you want to see videos that inspire too, check out my YouTube Channel! 

Thank you so much for your support throughout the years! Pre-order your copy today on Amazon to get this recipe and many more!

Chicken with Fennel & Oranges

Braised Chicken with Fennel & Oranges

 

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French Cheese Puffs

French Cheese Puffs

I’ve been making French Cheese Puffs, aka GOUGERES for years, and there is always a conflict in me because this is a delicious French version of cheese bread. As a Brazilian, how can I possibly opt for the French Cheese Puffs when my country is the king of cheese bread? So I went to therapy, debated my food conflicts, and decided that I love both, and will bake both. Just not at the same time. There is time for Brazilian cheese bread, and there is time for French Cheese Bread! Viva!

In honor of Bastille day, shall we bake some Gougeres? Feel free to bake these wonders any other time of the year—they are evergreen.

Most recipes for cheese puffs call for milk instead of water. Some call for a mixture of milk and water. Over the years, I realized that milk actually makes the cheese puffs less crunchy on the outside; so I’m leaving milk out of the recipe, and the recipe is still so moist inside. Take a bite of this open cheese puff through the screen! Hope you’ll bring it to life in your own kitchen!

French Cheese Puffs

 

French Cheese Puffs (Gougeres)

Makes 40 Gougeres

 

1 cup (235ml) water

1 stick + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (125g)

1 teaspoon (5g) Kosher salt

1 teaspoon (5g) sugar

Freshly ground pepper

Freshly ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon paprika

1 cup + 1 tablespoon (175g) all-purpose flour

3 to 4 eggs

2 cups (250g) finely grated Gruyere cheese

  • Center a rack in the middle of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 375˚F.
  • In a medium saucepan, pour the water, butter, salt and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Add the flour in one stroke, and cook with a wooden spoon, now over low heat, until it all comes together as a ball.
  • Add the fresh pepper, nutmeg and paprika and continue mixing, until the dough leaves a light crust on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes. You are looking for a smooth dough, nice and tender.
  • Transfer the dough to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and turn the mixer on low speed. Beat slowly for a minute to let the steam out. By the way, you CAN do this part manually, using a bowl and a wooden spoon, but the machine makes it easier and faster.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time. Now, here is the tricky part: depending on the humidity and temperature, you might need only 3 ½ eggs, or 4, or 4 ½ eggs. Be sure to add one egg at a time and beat well after each egg. How do you know if the dough needs another egg? You need at least 3 eggs (still adding one at a time). If you run your finger through the center of the dough, the dough should close slowly.If it doesn’t, then add another ½ egg (beat an egg with a fork in a small bowl), beat the dough, and check with your finger again.
  • Add the grated cheese and continue to beat slowly until it’s well mixed.
  • Prepare a sheet pan lined with silpat.
  • Using a small ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, form little balls of the dough, spacing them about an inch apart.
  • Bake in the oven until it’s firm, puffed and gorgeously golden, about 18 minutes, rotating once between baking time.
  • Serve warm or transfer the pan to cool. If you want to prepare them ahead of time, they re-heat very well; let them cool completely, place them in a zip lock bag and keep them in the fridge. Reheat in the oven for 5 minute, and serve.

 

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Leticia

 

 

 

Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp

Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp

The Taste of Darkness

Why can’t we resist black colored food?  Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp is such a case. Tinted with the ink of cuttlefish, this dark food became a favorite of my family. it goes really well with shrimp and tomato sauce. You can find the ink available in some Italian, Spanish and Japanese stores. Some fish mongers will also sell it. Or you can buy black pasta just like I did. I found it at Arthur’s Ave in New York, one of my favorite places to shop. There is absolutely nothing different than cooking this pasta from the other regular pasta that you already know.

Squid Ink Pasta

The Shrimp Stock:

In my opinion, it’s easy to discount’s the shrimp stock’s importance in this dish, especially when you have pasta water. But it’s an essential element, and it affects the flavor and texture of this Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp. Simply cook the shrimp shells in a hot pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil, add cold water and bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 20 minutes.

Shrimp Stock

My kids stay with me over the range, half cooking, half talking every time we make this dish. Then we sit and enjoy a delicious dinner. The result is incredible as anything a restaurant can provide. There is that moment of silence when we close our eyes and take the first bite, before the familiar laughter, which is the best part of dinner.

Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp

Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp

Serves 4

1 lb black squid ink pasta (spaguitti is my preference but other shape will work)

Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 lb (454g) raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 large shallot, finely minced (about 4 tablespoons)

¼ cup white wine

1 cup shrimp stock from the shells, or chicken stock, plus more for tossing pasta (optional)

2 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

 

  • Fill a pot with 4 quarts of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add a large pinch of salt. Add the pasta and stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is 2 minutes away from being al dente according to package instructions. Drain the pasta while saving some of the pasta water, just in case.
  • In a 12-inch skillet warm the olive oil. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and sauté over medium heat until they just start to turn orange, about 1 minute per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a bowl and cover with foil. Using the oil that is left in the pan, add the garlic and cook it just starts to turn golden, about 1 minute. Add the shallots and cook over low heat, scraping the juices from the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the white wine and continue to scrape the pan until every precious bit is released from the pan and flavoring the shallots and garlic. Add the shrimp stock and bring to full boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low, add the pasta and shrimp, tossing vigorously to distribute the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and finish with tomatoes and parsley. Transfer to warm bowls and serve hot.

 

I’m so happy that you visited today! Thanks for reading and browsing my site!

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Leticia

 

Quentão Brazilian Drink

Quentão, Brazilian Drink

I wasn’t exactly in a cozy room when I tried Quentão, a Brazilian spiced tea made with chachaça, but I quickly immersed myself in the excitement of this rich drink while sitting in a snack bar in Teresópolis, a mountain town about one-hour away from Rio de Janeiro.

Teresópolis allows us, Cariocas (people born in Rio), a fake-winter excuse to wear warm sweatshirts and boots, while sitting by the fireplace with a coffee cup, as the local weather is at least some 20 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than Rio itself.

In Portuguese the word quente means hot (quentão=super hot). By tradition, the tea is prepared with flavorful spices such as cinnamon stick, lemongrass, ginger, cloves, star anis, and some sugar, and finished with cachaça.

As I taste the rusticity of this Brazilian cider-like-alcoholic-tea, hints of ginger, cinnamon and lemongrass filled my mouth with warm sensations, with a slight undertone of pepper from the cachaça.

If quentão promotes cozy feelings in the mild winters of Teresopolis, imagine what fantasies it would promote during a snowstorm in the American northeast? Its warmth, balanced by a lingering peppery sweetness surely promises happy endings, or at least, to ease the winter blues.

 

Quentão

 

Serves 4

 

1 L (4 cups) water

1 large piece of fresh ginger (about ¼ lb), peeled and roughly chopped

2 limes cut into 4 pieces

3 to 4 cinnamon sticks

1 lemongrass, roughly chopped

6 cloves

3 star-anise

1 cup sugar

I bottle (750 ml, or about 3 cups) cachaça

 

Place all the ingredients except the cachaça in a large sauce-pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil turn off the heat and cover the pan with a tight lid. Let it steep for 20 minutes. Add the cachaça, mix well, and strain the liquid. Serve hot. Keep the left over in a plastic container in the fridge and re-heat before serving.

 

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Pumpkin Mousse Parfait Latin Style

Pumpkin Mousse Parfait Latin Style

Every family has its own sequence of non-negotiable desserts during the Holidays and for mine, it’s pumpkin recipes. What is negotiable however, are the recipes itself. Now let’s be honest, to break the rules, you have the master them. After many pumpkin pies, it’s time to give them wings. I’m putting a drone on this recipe so that it lands in your kitchen and make your family super happy!

Get ready for some baking! There are several components to this parfait. Good news: everything can be prepared ahead of time. As always, please get in touch if you have any questions before making this recipe and I’d love for you to share your photos and comments when you make it. Happy October everyone!

 

Components:

Dulce de Leche Sauce

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Pumpkin Mousse

Whipped Cream

Caramelized Pecans or any other crunchy nuts

 

Serves about 10

For the Dulce de Leche Sauce:

1 cup whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup dulce de leche, store bought, at room temperature 

 

For the Pumpkin Mousse:

¼ cup cold water

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

3 eggs, separated

3/4 cup sugar, divided

1 ¼ cups canned pumpkin puree

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

 

For the Chocolate Brownie Cookies:

¼ cup (35g) all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon of salt

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2/3 cup (125g) sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter

5 oz (140g) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into medium pieces

2 oz (60g) bitter chocolate, chopped into medium pieces

¾ cup (120g) mini chocolate chips

  • Prepare the Dulce de Leche Sauce:In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the milk, heavy cream, and butter and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute and remove the pan from the heat.
  • Add the dulce de leche and whisk gently but constantly in ever-widening circles.
  • When smooth, return the saucepan to the stove, and cook over high heat, whisking constantly, until you reach a full boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, still whisking, until the sauce becomes thick and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • If you want to use the sauce in its pourable state, let it cool for about 10 minutes. If you want to save it for later, keep it in a plastic container covered with a tight-fitting lid for at least 2 weeks in the refrigerator (re-heat in a saucepan, over low heat, whisking constantly, or in the microwave, 10 seconds at a time, whisking after each turn, until it’s hot and pourable).
  • For the Pumpkin Mousse: Fill a medium pot with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer.
  • In a small pot, add ¼ cup of cold water, sprinkle gelatin over the top, and let soften for a minute or two. Place on stove and stir over low heat to liquify, being careful not to boil. When gelatin is dissolved, remove from heat and let cool.
  • In a medium stainless-steel mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, and ½ cup sugar.
  • Add the pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and milk and whisk to blend. Set the bowl over the pot of simmering water on the stove and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and becomes custard-like, about 5 minutes. You are looking for a mixture with a similar consistency of vanilla sauce, not too thick, not too thin.
  • Add the gelatin into the now pumpkin custard. Pour and scrape the mixture into a large mixing bowl and let the pumpkin mixture cool for about 10-15 minutes.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks and slowly add the remaining sugar, beating until the whites are firm and the sugar has been fully incorporated. Beat half of the whites into the pumpkin mousse. Add the remaining whites, folding gently.
  • Beat the cream until it is stiff and fold it into the mousse. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic film. Chill until set, at least 2 hours, or up to a day.
  • Prepare the Chocolate Brownie Cookies:Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with sugar at full speed until white-ish and volume doubles, about 10 minutes. Add the vanilla and continue to beat.
  • While the eggs are beating, combine butter and the two bitter chocolates chocolates in a bowl of glass or stainless steel on top of a pan filled with warm water. (Attention: the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water.) Melt, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until the chocolate and butter are well mixed. Remove from the water bath and let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Carefully pour the chocolate mixture into the eggs, incorporating with a rubber spatula. Add the flour and continue incorporating and mixing until homogeneous.
  • Add the chocolate chips and mix again. This batter will harden slightly. You can make this up to 5 days in advance and leave it in the refrigerator, or in the freezer for 3 months.
  • Using a scoop or small ice cream scoop, mash the dough and flatten slightly. Place the cookies on the tray with at least 2-inches space between each cookie. Bake until the top cracks, but the inside should still be very moist. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack and let it cool completely before eating.
  • Assemble the Pumpkin Mousse Parfait:Scoop some pumpkin mousse and divide onto individual glasses, top with some dulce de leche sauce, break some chocolate brownie cookies, sprinkle some caramelized pecans, some whipped cream, and dust some ground cinnamon on top. Serve immediately.
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