Any cooking tips from you?

Hello all,

I have not accessed this blog in almost one year.  Have not been doing much fun cooking however, here and there there is something special but I don’t have the energy to post it.

Life is busy now and there isn’t much time for the kind of cooking I love to do.  I have been forced to simplify; take out, Trader Joe’s, pasta, pasta, pasta, burgers for the kids, I don’t know, not very inspired.

Do any of you have a good recipe, easy, to share?

Tip of the day: if you are going to make a potato leek soup, use the green parts of the leek to make a broth.  They can be cooked with potatoes, which makes it a bit hard to disregard the leeks after they are all mushy or cook them separably and then cook potatoes in the green leeks broth.  It adds lots of leek flavor to the soup.  And I cannot stop myself for adding some lemon juice to the soup at the end when I am fixing the flavors. Lemon juice brings brightness to the food. Taste for salt and pepper and if you want, add some heavy cream.  Delicious and very easy to make.  Best to use shallots instead of onions, if you can.

Yukon Gold potatoes, Leeks, shallots, chicken broth, leek broth, butter, lemon, heavy cream and a good crusty bread to go with it.



Bon appetit!





Shortcut to Polenta from Fine Cooking Magazine by Maria Speck

I love polenta but a good polenta has to cook for at least 45 minutes for the corn flavor to be released.

This is the recipe for Classic Polenta making from the Cambridge Culinary School:

Since polenta is basically just a combination of cornmeal and water, it is important to start with a good quality cornmeal. A medium grind is best for both flavor and texture, and, just as with cream of wheat, instant quick cooking versions of polenta lack both.

Polenta can be made to serve soft and creamy. Or, it can be allowed to firm and then sliced. Once sliced, it can be grilled, sautéed, or roasted. This recipe is for soft polenta.

1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 cups coarse grained Italian yellow cornmeal (polenta; not instant)
2-4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pats
2⁄3 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Bring 8 cups water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Heat an additional few cups of water in a second smaller saucepan. To the large saucepan of boiling water, add the salt and then the polenta in a steady stream, stirring constantly with a whisk to avoid lumps and having the meal seize up.

Lower the heat and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon more or less constantly, for 30-45 minutes. (It takes about 30 minutes to develop the flavors of the corn; it can cook much longer). As the polenta thickens, add small increments of hot water to continue to keep it creamy and pourable, like the consistency of honey. Upon cooking for 30-45 minutes, add the butter and cheese and adjust seasoning. Serve soft polenta immediately or keep it warm over a double boiler, stirring and adding more hot water as needed to keep loose, until ready to serve. To serve, pour polenta onto a platter or into a serving bowl.

Now the short cut version from Maria Speck:

2 cups of corn meal

3 cups of boiling water

3 cups of lower-salt chicken broth or water, more as needed ( I only use water)

Fine sea salt

2 cups finely grated Parmigina-Reggiano; more for serving

3 TBs unsalted bitter cut into 6 pieces

Freshly ground black pepper

Soak the Polenta:

Put the polenta in a 4-quart heavy-duty saucepan and wish in the boiling water. Cover and let it sit at room temperature for at least 8 and up to 12 hours (you can refrigerate the polenta at this point for up to 2 days).

Cook the Polenta:

In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the broth (or water) to a boil. Whisk the broth and 1 tsp. salt into the polenta, loosing it and breaking up any clumps. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking once of twice, about 5 minutes.

Turn the heat down to low. Cover and cook, stirring vigorously and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula every couple of minutes.  When you can see he bottom of the pan as you drag the spoon across it, 5 to 10 minutes later, begin tasting the polenta; it’s done when it’s thick, creamy and tender. It should be granular, but not gritty.

Remove from heat, and stir n the butter, cheese and 1/2 tsp. pepper until butter is melted. Season to taste and sever right away, passing more cheese at the table.

Again, neither recipes are mine but they are both delicious. I find, that when I use the Shortcut to polenta I use a lot more water than it ask for. It is a good idea to keep an extra pot with hot water  in case you need to add more.

Enjoy!!! I just make over the weekend with chicken and okra. (frango com quiabo). Very yummy.

Easy Raviolis

Clarence was away over the weekend and I had 5lbs of blanched tomatoes waiting to be turned into sauce, two chickens to be brined and cooked, and two kids to fee: a picky one a good eater one.

I also had some leftover meatloaf that I could feed the picky eater so bought two packages of high quality raviolis at Whole Foods, I forget the brand, I think they were some unusual cheese, prosciutto and peas, and the secret to this recipe is the crunchy buttery sage.

I have lots of sage on my back yard and you may or not know how delicious fried sage in butter is.

Basically, you have a couple of TB of salted butter and lay the sage leaves when the butter has melted. Do it a medium/low temp since butter burns at high temperatures and you will want to use that sage tasting butter on your raviolis.

When they look crispy enough, using tongs, pick them up and place it aside. Add a little white wine to the butter, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary, boil the raviolis making sure to salt the water when it starts to boil and after adding the raviolis at boiling water point, only when it starts to boil again you set the timer for the cooking time, usually around 4 minutes but bring the temperature down otherwise the raviolis can fall apart.

I almost forgot; I sauteed some crimini  mushrooms with garlic after I got the sage out of the frying pan. Had to add a bit more butter.  Let the mushrooms untouched for a while for a good sear, if you move them, they release water and won’t brown. Salt with salt and pepper.

Transfer them to the butter and wine sauce, shake them up and crumble the crispy sage leaves on top.

Sever immediately with good Parmigiano Reggiano on the side if needed.IMG_2548[1]

Buon appetite!

Tip of the day: everything tastes better with butter!!

Carioca Cook is back! And with a delicious summer vegetarian recipe: Soba noodles with Spice Peanut dip with Tofu, cucumbers, carrots, scallions and cilantro.

As I was visiting a friend yesterday evening she asked me for a recipe that I had made years ago on a dinner party.  The peculiarity of her request is that I have began making this dish again now that summer is here and it is a delicious cooling meal on a hot day; and it is vegetarian!

I don’t have a real recipe to give since mine is based on a Dip recipe from Nina Simons on her book “Spices of Life”.

When I lived in New York I had a place on the West Village that I went for something similar to what I try to mimic at home.

The Nina Simons Spicy Peanut Dip recipe:

5 cloves of garlic ( I use 1)

3 1-inch square pieces of ginger, peeled and chopped very small

1 cup of peanut butter ( I use less than a cup)

2 1/2 table spoon of toasted sesame oil ( I use more)

1/4 cup of soy souce

3 1/2 tablespoon of black vinegar or Worcestershire sauce

3 TB spoon of sugar (I use Japanese Mirim or honey or maple syrup)

1 teaspoon of dried chile flakes or to taste

3 TB spoon of water or more if needed

1 TB spoon of minced scallion ( I use more)

lots of cilantro.

I like it spicy so sometimes I add a bit of jalapeno or Sriracha hot sauce.

Nina Simons uses a food processor to mince the ginger and garlic and to make the sauce. I usually make it by hand starting with diluting the peanut butter in hot water (peanut butter is not very easy to dilute) than add all the other ingredients expect for the scallion and cilantro.

Once the sauce is made boil the soba noodles following directions (usually 6 minutes than draining and running cold water on them).

Than, I add a bit of sesame oil so they don’t stick, let them cool up a bit and add the peanut sauce.

Mix well and taste for flavor.

Garnish with scallions and cilantro.

You can add tofu, cucumber and shredded carrots to it or serve it on the side (in case there are leftovers, the noodles will last longer without the cucumber, tofu and carrots.

Soba Noodles with Spicy Peanut Dip IMG_2056 IMG_2057Tip of the day: keep on cooking! and do a google search on how to grow your own ginger, apparently very easy; I am going to try.

French Style Country Bread

King Arthur Flour is a great resource for ingredients and recipes:

I’ve been making this french country bread for many years, improving, collapsing, improving again and would like to share it with you.

Most of the time I use a kitchen aid to do some of the kneading but still do some by hand., because I like it so much.

I make some changes; off course; of the 3 1/4- cup flour I add half a cup of whole wheat flour and 1 cup of Rye flower. The heavier flours don’t contribute to  a lighter bread but add a lot more flavor to an apprenticed bread making baker.

P.S- I do add about half a cup of Dominic and Sophia’s sourdough starter to the sponge that was given to us at Christmas time.

King Arthur Flour sells sourdough starter but I am happy to give some of mine if you wish. Dom and Sophia just gave us a little bit and as we feed it it can grow to whatever amount you want. We have lots to share now.

Dry aged beef homemade style.

Whole Foods sells dry aged beef for more $$ than regular beef but you can dry your own by letting it sit in the refrigerator, ideally sitting in some kind of rack so both top and bottom of piece of meat is exposed to the air. For steaks, I usually let it be on one side for 24 hours and flip it over for another 24 hours.

When they are air dried they grill almost perfectly since there is no superficial moisture.

I have a couple in the fridge now and will probably grill them tomorrow or the day after with some roasted potatoes and some veggie.

Grilling a piece of steak with potatoes and salad or vegetable is a yummy, homemade healthy fast food.

Since I don’t have a gas grill but I do have a powerful hood in the cold months I grill indoors.

Get the steaks out of the fridge about one hour prior to grilling. Sprinkle ground pepper and coarse salt (the coarser the better), heat up the grill pan to it’s hottest, oil the pan with an oiled paper towel, lay the steak on an angle perpendicular to the griddle slots for 3 minutes. Flip it  on a 45 degree angle (same side to create a diamond pattern grill marks) for another 3 minutes.

Flip to the other side and repeat. Move the stake to a pre-heated 400 degrees oven (I use the toaster oven for this) for about 5 minutes. Cover with foil for about 10 minutes and serve with potatoes and salad/veggies.

As far as potatoes go, I almost always have some duck fat in my fridge and that is what I use to roast my potatoes. Start by heating up a cast iron pan, melting the duck fat along with some fresh rosemary spring. When ready (hot) add the potatoes, toss and let it sit undisturbed until golden brown on one side. Toss it in the pan and do the same.  Add some chopped garlic, more rosemary, salt and black pepper, toss till all pieces are golden brown.

I tend to chop my potatoes into cubes but you can cut them to your preference.

If I was cooking only for Clarence and myself, an arugula salad with shaved Parmesan will be the perfect pairing for the meal but green beans will have to do it so the kids will eat them.

Ok, I grilled the meat and made grated potatoes pan fried with duck fat, green beans for the kids, asparagus for Clanrece and I.  We also had some artichoke hearts.

The whole thing did not take very long but I had had a long day and was a bit worked up so grating the potatoes was probably a mistake.  It would have been easier if I had just roasted them since when grating russet potatoes, they release lots of water, you have to drain it fast before they turn color (pink), season with salt and pepper, grease the pan with duck fat, pat them firm into the pan, wait till golden than flip it keeping them in a 200 degree oven while you keep on making the other patties.

They are absolutely delicious but a bit time consuming.



Bon Appetit!

Tip of the day:

Order take out when you had a tough day!

Logo Image

The Amazing Carioca Cook logo was created by a dear friend, Kita Telles who’s an painter and graphic designer.  I just told her the name and she came up with this beautiful Carioca looking logo.


You can view some of her work at:

Obrigada amiga!