December 30, 2013

Roasted Pork Sirloin with Potatoes

Tender, tasty and easy to prepare!

servings: 8
time: 2 hours

1 pork sirloin roast (about 4 lbs)
2 tbs oil (olive or vegetable)
salt and Tabasco pepper to taste
5 mashed garlic cloves
juice of 1 lemon
thyme and rosemary to taste (about 1 tbs)
a pinch of paprika
1 cup red wine
2 lbs baby potatoes, washed

1 – In a bowl with lid, season the meat with oil, salt, pepper, garlic, lemon, thyme, rosemary and paprika. Mix well, using your hands.
2 – Add the wine and mix again. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
3 – Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place meat, potatoes and the broth from the bowl in a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
4 – Turn the potatoes and bake for about 1 hour at 350°F. Depending on the size and how you like the meat cooked, more time may be required.
5 – Remove from the oven and cover lightly with foil, so that the meat rest for 15-20 minutes. Slice and serve.

Tips and Options

  • To get even tastier, season the meat 1 day before and refrigerate.
  • If the baking sheet starts to dry during cooking, add a little water.
  • As side dishes, serve white rice, mashed potatoes, green salad and/or garlic bread.
  • Freeze the leftovers, chopped or shredded. That will make a delicious sandwich. For that, sauté the meat in the onion, garlic, tomato, lemon and olive oil.

Original recipe (in Portuguese): Lombo de Porco Assado com Batatas.

December 19, 2013

Caramel and Walnut Cake

The perfect Christmas dessert!

servings: 25
time: 1:30

9 egg whites, beaten to “firm snow”
9 egg yolks
5 tbs sugar
5 tbs plain bread crumbs
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup chopped walnuts

Filling and Topping:
2 cans caramel/dulce de leite or 2 cans of caramel made from condensed milk*.
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts
1 – Beat egg yolks with the sugar until very light in color.
2 – Add bread crumbs and let it mix for about 2 minutes.
3 – Stop the mixer and stir gently, with a spoon, beaten egg whites, baking powder and ½ cup walnuts.
4 – Preheated the oven to 400°F. Pour the batter in a greased and floured baking sheet and bake for about 35-40 minutes (do the toothpick test to see if the dough is baked).
5 – Remove from oven and let cool. Remove the cake from the pan and cut crosswise. Fill with half the caramel and nuts.
6 – Place the other cake half on top, cover with remaining caramel and nuts. Serve chilled.

Tips and Options
  • *To make caramel from condensed milk, place the can in the crockpot, fill it with water until it covers the can, turn the crockpot on low and set the timer for 6 to 8 hours. Turn off the crockpot. Remove can from crockpot and let it cool completely before open the can.
  • If the caramel is too thick, mix 1 or 2 tbs heavy cream.

+ Info
This recipe is a tradition in my family's Christmas for years and years and my aunt, Mercia, is the specialist responsible for it. I hope you enjoy as many as we do, and that this sweet treat bring you and your family some of the incredible memories we have! Merry Christmas!

Original recipe (in Portuguese): Torta de Nozes.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Wine Sauce

So good! You will love this mushroom sauce!

servings: 4 to 5
time: 45 minutes

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 ¼ pound)
3 tbs olive oil, divided
salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tbs butter (at room temperature)
2 tbs all-purpose flour
1 large shallot, minced
3 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp minced fresh thyme

¾ cup dry red wine
2 cups veal or beef stock
juice of ½ lemon
2 tsp finely chopped Italian parsley

1 – Preheat the oven to 425°F and separate a baking sheet that fits the pork.
2 – Remove excess fat from the meat, especially the silverskin. Rub 1 tbs of the olive oil over the meat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
3 – In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbs olive oil and add the meat to sear on all sides (about 3 minutes per side).
4 – Transfer the meat to the baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes.
5 – Remove from the oven, place foil paper on top (do not press) and let the meat rest for 15 minutes before cutting to serve.
6 – In a small bowl, mix butter and flour to form a paste. Set aside.
7 – Once you put the meat in the oven, start making the sauce, using the same pan. Return pan to heat, adding 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté shallots for about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, garlic, thyme and a pinch of salt. Let it cook for 6 minutes.
8 – Add the wine and stir well, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine has evaporated almost completely.
9 – Add the stock, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Put the flour/butter mixture and stir constantly, until it has dissolved. Cook for a few more minutes, until the sauce is creamy and consistent.
10 – Taste and add salt, if necessary. Add lemon juice and parsley.
11 – After letting the meat rest for 15 minutes, cut the pieces on the diagonal and serve with the sauce while still hot.

Tips and Options
  • Substitute four (6-ounce) filet mignons for the pork tenderloin.
  • The mixture of butter and flour can be used to thicken various types of sauces, stocks and soups and avoids the formation of lumps. This French technique is called beurre manié.
  • This recipe is quick to make but, let me tell you, it's a bit overwhelming. My tip for success is to read the whole recipe before to understand step by step. Separate and chop all ingredients before starting is also a great help.
  • The better the stock, the tastier will be the result. So, it is worth to get a high quality product or even opt for the homemade version.

+ Info
I learned to make this recipe in a cooking class at Viking Cooking School in Salt Lake City.

Original recipe (in Portuguese): Filé Mignon de Porco com Molho de Vinho.

December 18, 2013

Lemon Herb Potatoes

Excellent side dish to any kind of meat!

servings: 8 to 10
time: 30 minutes

3 lbs baby or fingerling potatoes
1 fresh lemon, juiced
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh chives, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh chopped Italian parsley
salt to taste

1 – Wash the potatoes very well and put them in a large pot, covered with cold water and add 1 tsp of salt.
2 – Bring the pot to a boil and let it cook until potatoes are tender (about 20-25 minutes ). Do not let them overcook.
3 – Drain them and place the potatoes in a large bowl.
4 – With a fork, gently press the potatoes to be broken lightly (they have to remain individual potatoes, not all mashed).
5 – Add the lemon juice and mix well.
6 – Put olive oil, chives and parsley and stir until seasoning is evenly distributed.
7 – Taste and add salt, if necessary.

Tips and Options

  • To check if the potatoes are soft, stick a fork on them. It should easily reach the center of the potato.
  • To make the dish even prettier, use 2 or more types of potatoes, that way you will have different colors.
  • If you want even more lemon flavor, add the zest.

+ Info
I learned this delicious recipe in an Italian cooking class, with instructor Matthew Hamby.

Original recipe (in Portuguese): Batata com Ervas e Limão.

December 17, 2013

Flavored Cream Cheese

A great appetizer for your holiday’s parties!

servings: 1 lb.
time: 15 minutes

0.9 lb. cream cheese
4 or 5 garlic cloves, minced or finely sliced
2 or 3 tbs. olive oil
red pepper flakes to taste
½ cup chopped parsley


1 – Remove the cream cheese from container and place in the bowl that you will serve the appetizer. Set aside.
2 – In a saute pan, heat the olive oil and add the garlic. Let get brown according to your preference, more or less dark.
3 – Add the pepper flakes and parsley. Stir and remove from heat.
4 – Let the mixture from the pan to cool slightly and pour it over the cream cheese. Refrigerate for about 2 hours and serve, accompanied by bread, toast and crackers.

Tips and Options
  • To vary the flavor use other herbs such as thyme, chives, leeks and rosemary.
  • Instead of garlic, use sautéed onions.
  • This appetizer can be done the day before and kept in the refrigerator.
  • The recipe from the pictures was made with a Brazilian cream cheese called Catupiry, but because it’s a hard product to find in the US, I rewrote Caturipy for cream cheese.
Original recipe (in Portuguese): Catupiry Temperado.

December 12, 2013

Rosemary Focaccia

Nothing smells like hot bread fresh from the oven!

servings: 1 flatbread
time: about 4 hours

1 (1/4-ouce) package active-dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
1 ½ teaspoons honey
1 ½ cups warm water (110°F)
½ cup semolina (3 ounces)
4 cups all-purpose flour (20 ounces), plus extra as needed
1 teaspoon fine salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra as needed
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 to 6 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced, plus extra sprigs for garnish
Vegetable oil cooking spray
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 – Combine yeast, honey and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook; mix for 30 seconds. Set aside until foamy and creamy, about 5 to 10 minutes.
2 – With the mixer on low speed, add the semolina, flour, fine salt, olive oil, garlic and rosemary, and mix until just incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and mix until shiny and smooth, about 4 minutes more. Note: add a bit more flour if the dough is not cleaning the sides of the bowl.
3 – Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl; turn it over to oil all sides. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and allow rising in a warm draft-free place until almost doubled in size (about 1:30 to 2 hours).
4 – Punch down the dough, and return to the bowl; cover with plastic wrap and set aside for a second rise, about 1 hour more.
5 – Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly spray a 10 x 15-inch pan with cooking spray. Without kneading, gently place the dough in the pan, spreading it out to fit. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and set aside for about 15 minutes.
6 – Just before baking, make dimples in the bread by pressing with our fingertips (as shown in the picture). Drizzle olive oil over the surface and spread lightly with your fingers. Sprinkle coarse sea salt and pepper, and garnish with a few springs of rosemary.
7 – Bake in the center of the oven until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway trough baking time. Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tips and Options

  • To make a crunchy crust, spray water in the oven to create steam. It also works if you place a pan with ice cubes in the rack underneath.
  • Besides salt and rosemary, other options for toppings are: olives, sundried tomatoes, roasted garlic, caramelized onions, Italian cheeses and other herbs.
  • It can be served as an appetizer, snack, side dish or used to prepare sandwiches.

+ More info
I have learned to make this recipe in a bread basics class at Viking Cooking School, in Salt Lake City. I need to say that it is a lot of work, but the result is so worth! This focaccia is very tasty. I hope you enjoy!

Original recipe (in Portuguese): Focaccia com Alecrim.
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