Monday, 31 January 2011

Kafta & Salads

Hello Bloggers and Friends

I’m sure many of you have made this dish or have eaten it somewhere, but it’s always good to add a piece of your imagination with very simple ingredients found in your fridge or cupboard. One of the things we find absolutely essential to have in our kitchen  is a full shelf of different spices and herbs. The amazing flavors and smells add character to the dish and compliment meats and vegetables so well, it’s a combination made in heaven.

Today , we have Lebanese Kafta marinated with different spices and love, Potato salad with yogurt sauce and Cucumber and Chili salad. This is not a heavy meal and can be prepared in just 30 mins. It can also be a great suggestion for casual dinner parties so you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen. 

Tip : stock up your cupboard with amazing spices from all over the world , it will give you a taste of adventure. 

Serves 4 people
Ingredients :
½ kilo of lean ground beef
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2  teaspoon of cumin seeds and ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
1 slice of bread of soft bread (cut the borders and moist with a bit of water )
Optional : 1/2 cup of finely chopped fresh parsley or coriander

Preparation :
Step 1 : In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients until evenly blended (onion, parsley, spices, salt, pepper and the moist slice of bread). The bread will help the meat and the spices stick together.
Step 2 :  Divide into small portions, and press around one end of the skewers to form a log shape
Step 3: Preheat the grill for high heat or If using  the pan sprinkle some olive oil on it (you may have to remove the skewers depending on the size of the pan )
Step 4 :Grill for 10 to 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until meat is golden brown

Potato salad
Ingredients :
½ kilo of new potatoes
1 medium onion, finely chopped
200gr natural yogurt
1 tablespoon of fresh parsley or coriander finely chopped
1 to 1 ½  tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste  

Preparation :
Step 1 :leaving the skin on place the potatoes in a sauce pan and bring it to boil until its tender. Let it cool down for 15 min.
Step 2 : cut the potatoes in half in half and place it in a large bowl
Step 3: adding the olive oil , salt , pepper and for last the yogurt
Step 4 :mix it gently and sprinkle the fresh herbs on top

Cucumber salad
Preparation :
Cut the cucumber in fine slices , add some finely chopped chilies and dress it with olive oil and lime juice

Tip: you can also add on top some fine slices of onion marinated in balsamic vinegar  ( drain the vinegar before serving ) , the balsamic vinegar reduces the acidity of the onion and gives a fabulous flavor

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies - for dark chocolate lovers!

Hello food lovers,

Following Fabiana's wonderful, exotic food stories brought back from Brazil, we're back in London to give you some of our latest home cooked recipes. And today, we have another dessert to share with you: chocolate chip cookies! 
I remember my mom used to bake cookies for my sisters and I for our birthday parties when we were kids. It was by far my favorite treat in the world... She used to make variations, including versions with Smarties or M&Ms. I remember the warm, sweet smell coming out of the oven, it was like being in a bakery. Just a few years later, I learned how to make my mom's cookies and today I have become the official cookie baker of the family! (to my mom's greatest delight of course). And the smell that comes out of the oven always brings back sweet childhood memories...
Try baking these at home, they're really fun to make and your friends will love you for it! 

Cookie Dough 
Place in the oven and  let the magic happen...
Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes 35-40 cookies)

2 cups plain flour
2 cups Muscovado brown sugar
250g good quality butter
2 eggs
1 tea spoon vanilla extract
1 tea spoon baking powder
1 tea spoon salt
300g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)


1) In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla extract and salt together.
2) Dissolve the baking powder with 1 tea spoon of hot water in a cup until it starts foaming, then add to the mix.
3) Add the chocolate. You can use ready made chocolate chips but I prefer chunkier bits of chocolate in my cookies so I break 3 x bars of chocolate into bits. (You can use a Ziploc bag and gently beat the chocolate bars inside with a rolling pin. Be careful though, don't beat too hard or you'll end up with chocolate dust!)
4) On a non-stick baking sheet, place 9 x balls of dough at equal distance. Make sure the balls are no bigger than the palm of your hand, otherwise they flatten out too much and the cookies will stick to each other. 
5) Bake each tray for approximately 7 mins at 180C until golden. Once ready, take the cookies out the oven and let them cool for a few mins before serving.

TIPS: it's important to use good quality butter. I find that French butter usually works best (as with most desserts in my case). Apologies to all other countries but you just can't beat the flavor and texture of French butter. (Vive la France)!

Served with a glass of cold milk - perfect combination!


Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Pão de Queijo Haddock Lobo

“Pão de Queijo”  is a cheese flavored roll , usually eaten either at breakfast or as a snack. This is probably one of the most popular snacks suitable for both vegetarians and meat lovers.  Made of polvilho (cassava starch) they are easily available at supermarkets in Brazil. In London you probably need to look for more specialized places. A lot of people buy the mix and bake them at home rather than buying it ready, although pão de queijo is broadly sold at snack bars and bakeries , everyone likes to bake them at home and talk about different variations, textures and processes. They can also be bought frozen at supermarkets. Some mainstream brands are 'Yoki' and 'Hikari' if you want to buy the ready mix.

Based on the original recipe, the main ingredients are polvilho (flour), eggs, salt, oil and cheese but the recipe has been recreated with many special ways, “ingredients and secrets” that makes it taste slightly different from one place to another, i.e. more sour , less sticky , softer , harder , crunchier, etc. Minas Gerais, one of the states of Brazil, claims to have the BEST Pão de queijo ever but others could argue against that. 

My friend Renata took me for a walk around Jardins – São Paulo and told me about the BEST pao de queijo ever so I had to try it …. As we got there I was overwhelmed by the smell coming from that tiny place and with so many reviews on the wall  I doubted she was mistaking. Their Pão de Queijo was indeed gorgeous, they come out of the oven every so often (10 /15 min), are placed in a big basket and covered with a clean white cloth to keep warm. The texture is perfect and there is a slightly sour after taste,  not to mention the other “quitutes”  found there. Everything is delicious and the staff is super friendly, well worth checking out! It's no wonder they have been established for over 35 years selling this amazing snack!

Rua Haddock Lobo, 1408, Jardim Paulista, +55 (11) 3088-3087 &  +55 (11) 3082-4772

Mercado Municipal de São Paulo

“Mercado Municipal de São Paulo” is situated in the old center of the capital, built in 1928 and inaugurated in 1933, it is not only an important commercial warehouse of wholesale and retail products but also one of the MUST see places of the big city of São Paulo today. The market not only captivates Paulistanos for its quality products but also for its beautiful architecture of eclectic style and magnificent glass windows designed by Conrado Sorgenicht Filho, showing some aspects of the food production.

The market is specialized in the commercialization of fruits, vegetables, cereals, meats, spices & herbs, cheeses, olive oils and many others local products. It also includes a huge selection of world products that you don’t normally find in supermarkets. The variety and choice of products certainly impresses anyone who visits the market.

The building was renovated in 2004, creating an extra space and mezzanine, which today is a meeting point for many Paulistanos who are looking for delicious snack bars with lots to choose from. There you will find pastel & bolinho de bacalhau, mortadela sandwiches and much more …

You cannot miss out on the Hocca Bar, it’s the best Mortadela Sandwich of São Paulo, you have to be hungry though because it is huge! Don’t’ forget to order a refreshing chopp with it too (unpasteurized beer) it will go down like a treat ;-)

Photos by Fabiana Boarin

Friday, 21 January 2011

Sunday Brunch - BBQ & Cachaça

Tio Francisco & Tia Angela hosted brunch at their house on Sunday to wish me a good trip back to London … Considering they are quite religious, it didn’t cross my mind we would be drinking alcohol at lunch , let alone Cachaça …

Cachaça is a liquor made from fermented sugarcane. It is the most popular distilled alcoholic beverage in Brazil. It is also known as pinga, caninha or other names. Cachaça is mostly produced in Brazil, it is normally served on its own as a shot or as a cocktail, the most popular popular is the famous Caipirinha (we’ll talk about it in a future posting.

Tio Francisco is a great cook and very passionate about food, he loves talking about it and sharing his great secrets in cooking … I remember as a child spending vacations with them and writing on my diary “I hate Tio Francisco, he made me eat minhoquinhas”… “Minhoquinhas” (little worms) was my conception of his aubergine salad, which was finely chopped and then dehydrated in salt to achieve the cooking texture. Little did I know that aubergine would be one of my favorite vegetables EVER … and I eat it in any shape or form … and to revive my childhood days, he obviously made especially for me his famous “salada de minhoquinhas” I can now write on my blog …. I love Tio Francisco for his awesome aubergine salad ;-)

They also served Pork BBQ ribs marinated one day before with special herbs prepared by Tio Francisco, a Palm Heart tart made by Tia Angela which was absolutely delicious, light and fluffy, filled with lots of palm hearts and flavor.

I was meant to bring the desserts (made by myself) but  got stuck in the process of having fun and completely forgot I had to prepare them ….  So I cheated and stopped at my favorite bakery in Sao Paulo “Padaria Elite” at Perdizes and ordered a strawberry and Lemon tart, unfortunately I couldn’t take the credit myself but they were DELICIOUSSS!

Obrigada Tios pelo almoco tao divertido e gostoso xx

Text & Photos by Fabiana Boarin

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Margarita Tuesdays!!!

 Hello Foodscape followers,

I know it's not Friday yet but with so many limes in the fridge I couldn't resist the temptation of a cocktail. What better to lift your mood up than a zesty, refreshing margarita! So simple and so delicious, especially when made from fresh lime juice. (You won't find any mixers in this house!) There are many different ways of making this drink, some like it frozen (blended with ice), others like it sweet, some sour. Mine is made on the rocks and has the right amount of sugar in it. I don't like very sweet cocktails so if you have a sweeter tooth, I suggest you add more sugar to the recipe.


Margarita (serves 4)

4 single shots of tequila reposado
2 single shots of triple sec or Grand Marnier
the juice of 8 x limes
2 tablespoons of sugar
ice cubes 
Maldon salt and lime wedges to garnish

1) Pour the tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a blender then add the sugar and pulse a few times to mix the ingredients together.
2) In a shaker, add a few ice cubes and pour 1/4th of the margarita mix. Shake and serve on ice in a glass with a salted rim and a lime wedge. Repeat this second step until you get 4 x drinks.

Tip: dab the lime wedge on the glass rim for the salt to stick. This works better than using water or any other liquid.

And remember drink moderately ---- tequila will get to you before you know it!!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

"Petiscos de Praia"...

Brazilian beaches are very well known for their soft white sand, palm trees, sporty bodies and small bikinis but let’s not forget to mention the food and drink which is part of the culture of a day on the beach. It's the famous “petiscar”  which basically means pick on food and drink away all day long… 

It’s amazing the variety of things you can find on some beaches you visit …. If nothing there, there will be at least one kiosk, most visited places will cater from the most luxurious beach bar to the man walking on the beach selling their home made goodies … but the most famous ones are the “barraquinhas de praia”  where you find a range of fried fishes and shellfish… I must admit it doesn’t sound very healthy or appealing when you talk about deep fried food to me, but damn it tastes good and the classic way to compensate it and cleanse your body is to drink loads of coconut water. Ask for the very cold ones, they are delicious and very good for you.

If you hear someone shouting “olha o sanduiche naturalllll … saaaaaanduiche natural…” don’t get scared: no one is fighting or anything, they are just trying to sell their fresh homemade sandwiches… and alongside there will be the corn on the cob, churros, candies, smoothies, ice cream, peanuts , cocktails (batidas de frutas) and caipirinhas… I could go on forever!

Hmmm , what a great way to lazy around…

Cold coconut water stand

Barraquinha de praia

manjubinha e cebola

Lula a dore
Bolinho de siri
Just be warned, don’t eat too much and try to swim by the red flags, they do mean dangerous, I’m talking from experience here … luckily the life guards were very fast and the friendly staff from the bar were happy to welcome us with another with a drink  :-)

Text & Photos by Fabiana Boarin

Happy 2011 - A Prawn Feast

Hello dear bloggers and friends,

Happy 2011 to everyone! After a hectic end of the year with festive season and family gatherings, we are back to wish you all a fantastic 2011 full of happiness, success and health.

We are hoping that this year will bring many great moments to all of us so we can share our love and passion for life, living every minute to make this place a better world…

To celebrate the new year, Marina invited me to stay at her family’s apartment on the coast in Santa Catarina, on Balneario Camboriu Beach, Brazil. And to say a big thanks to Marina for hosting us, I offered  to cook a prawn feast for New Year’s Eve. With great help from Hanna we had a fabulous meal to fill us up for a night of partying…
Camarao Rosa - fresh from the local market

Grilled BBQ prawns
Prawn Salad with avocados, tomatos & red onions

Tomato & Mango Salsa
The big celebration was hosted at Marina’s cousin's house, plenty of drinks and fun throughout the night… What a great way to say goodbye to 2010 and start 2011…  Towards the end of the night we thought another food attack was in order but I won't share the lovely mixes I made with you, unless drunken mixtures are excused ;-) I bet there were no bombons or brigadeiros left at the end of the night…

Happy 2011

Marina Prosdocimo , Ana Beatriz , Hanna Dallmann & Fabiana Boarin

Sonho de Valsa bombons and Black and White soft brigadeiros