Sunday, April 24, 2016

Coconut Pudding with Exotic Fruits

This coconut pudding, coming from the Brazilian cuisine, is another dessert that is very easy to make and is also very attractive in presentation. It is an ordinary pudding, just flavored with coconut milk, which gives it an exotic taste. It can be garnished with all kinds of fresh fruits sauces, including ones made of strawberry or raspberry, but I think coconut goes very well if paired with passion fruit and mango, or either one, especially since both of them grow in Brazil.

The whole secret of the preparation is in the right proportion of liquid and starch. It should be set but not too hard or too runny. The original recipe that I found in one of the culinary magazine did not work too well and the pudding collapsed after being removed from the dish. I added then an extra tablespoon of cornstarch which helped to make it more firm. If you like, you can add shredded coconut flakes to the pudding, or if you like it smooth you can do without them. It is also handy that this dessert can be made even two days ahead.

Coconut Pudding

(For six servings)
2 cups whole milk,
1/2 cup coconut unsweetened milk,
1/2 cup half and half,
1/2 cup sugar,
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes (optional),
3 tbsp corn starch,
2 fresh passion fruits,
2 champagne mangoes.

1. Pour all the liquid in a medium pot. Add sugar and cornstarch and mix until blended.
2. On a medium heat bring the liquid to boil mixing constantly until bubbles start forming. Simmer for about 2 minutes.
3. Turn off the heat and add coconut flakes, if used.
4. Dip 6 small dishes (you can use ramekins) in a cold water to prevent the pudding from sticking to them.
5. Divide the pudding between dishes and cool down to room temperature, then chill in a refrigerator until well set, preferably overnight.

6. Peel off the mangoes, cut two slices of flesh from each and slice into strips.
7. Cut passion fruits in halves and using a spoon remove the seeds and juice.
8. To serve, flip over the pudding on the plate. Divide the passion fruit content on top of each and finish with mango slices.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spinach and Jerusalem Artichokes Salad

Almost always around this time of the year I post a recipe with Jerusalem artichokes (aka sunchokes). Although in certain stores they are now available all year long, a true season for them comes in the early spring.

Today, this is a recipe for a simple salad. I came up with idea to roast Jerusalem artichokes like I roast beets. If the are young and fresh they do not need to be peeled and only require a good wash. If they are bigger and softer it is better to peel them off. Then they should be coated with olive oil and lemon sauce and roasted until slightly brown. I mix them with baby spinach, toss some roasted walnuts on top and sprinkle with lemon dressing. And the salad is ready.

Served with good prosciutto or beef carpaccio it can be served as a nice starter. Served on its own, it can make a nice lunch dish.

Spinach and Jerusalem Artichokes Salad

1 lb Jerusalem artichokes, finely sliced,
one 6 oz bag of baby spinach,
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted,
2 tbsp olive oil,
juice from one lemon,
2 tbsp. walnut oil,
salt and pepper.

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Mix olive oil with juice from 1/2 of a lemon, and salt. Pour over the sliced Jerusalem artichokes, toss them well and spread on a baking tin.
3. Bake for about 20 minutes until the Jerusalem artichokes are light brown.

4. Cool them down. Transfer Jerusalem artichokes to a bowl and mix with spinach.
5. Mix the rest of the lemon juice with walnut oil, season with salt and pepper, and pour over the vegetables. Mix gently. Finish with walnut oils and serve.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Roasted Bell Pepper and Onion Tart

This tart is very popular in my home and always appreciated when by my guests. Probably because it reminds a pizza, which almost everyone loves.

I make it on a short crust base, but without the typical for tarts high walls and creamy egg filling. Instead, it is rather flat and the topping is made just from vegetables and cheese.

However, it requires a special touch that makes the whole difference--a homemade crust. I always make the dough for my tart crust in a food processor but the secret of the crust's delicate and flaky texture comes from rolling the dough several times afterwards and letting it chill in a fridge.

You can finish it with any topping you like. Sometimes, I just spread onion with herbs and pancetta, or seasonal vegetables. In any event, it always tastes great served with green salads and a glass of wine.

Roasted Bell Pepper and Onion Tart


For a 13-inch pizza dish crust:
2 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour,
1 and 1/2 stick unsalted butter,
1 tsp salt,
3/4 cup iced water,
2 tbsp lemon juice.

3 bell peppers,
2 large onions sliced,
1/2 cup sour cream,
1 cup of grated Gruyère or Cheddar,
fresh thyme leaves,
2 tbsp olive oil,
salt and pepper to taste.


1. To make the crust, put flour, butter, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until crumbs form.
2. Pour in water with lemon juice to the crumbs and pulse for about 30 seconds, until a sticky dough forms.
3. Transfer the dough to a flour dusted surface and roll to a large rectangle. Fold the rectangle in three, cover with plastic foil and refrigerate for 20 min.
4. Roll the dough again on a dusted surface and fold in three. Repeat rolling and folding three times, then again cover with foil and refrigerate for the second time for 20 min.
5. Repeat rolling and folding again and chill the dough for the third time for 20 minutes. Once made, the dough can be refrigerated up to one week prior to use. Take it from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.

1. Preheat broiler to very high and char the peppers on all sides. Transfer to a dish with a lid, and let cool to room temperature.
2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions until transparent.
3. Peel off the peppers, remove seeds. Cut into strips and add to the onion. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble the tart:
1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Roll the dough on a flour dusted surface to the size of the baking form.
3. Grease the dish with butter and transfer the dough to the form.
4. Spread the cream on top of the dough, and then spread the mixture of peppers and onion on top.
5. Cover the top with grated Gruyère and thyme leaves.

6. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the sides of the crust turn gold.

Serve cut like a pizza with green salads.