Brazilian Fish Stew

It's snowing outside as I write this, and I'm craving something warm and hearty. This stew is calling to me. I've never been into the typical beef or chicken stews. They never hit the spot for me. But, I'm always satisfied by this exotic, deceivingly rich, flavorful stew, this time of year. Actually, Neil introduced me to this stew years ago. He slaved away all day to make this for me for my birthday. This was the only time he cooked for me where I didn't help at all :) In fact I left the house for the day. I was a little nervous on what to expect, especially since I'm a little overly critical of food (SAYS HE), but I was blown away. The stew base is a puree of coconut milk and pungent flavors of fresh peppers and herbs. Don't be scared off by the number of ingredients. The only reason it took Neil so long is because he didn't have the proper tools. It's really fast if you use an immersion blender, and if you don't have one yet, buy it! They are really affordable on amazon.com. This handy tool has made cooking so much faster for me, so much so, that this stew can even be made on a weeknight. This tastes even better the next day. I usually make a huge potful so I can warm my tummy all week long :) I like serving it over creamy polenta, but traditionally, it's served with rice. Hope those in VA are enjoying the snow!


Buttermilk Biscuits

I checked the weather and planned ahead this past weekend. They were calling for a slow, steady cold rain on Sunday, so I knew I'd be in need for some comfort. Comfort came in the form of homemade buttermilk biscuits, gravy, and bacon for breakfast. I bought the few ingredients I needed on Friday after work. Starting the day off with these lifted my spirits and kept them going all day long. And to top it off, I was blessed with the most gorgeous sunny day on this holiday Monday :) These biscuits are unbelievably easy and fast to make, so try making them for your rainy day! Turn them into a dinner biscuit by adding cheddar and chives to the recipe.

I had a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit which I dipped in country gravy. Talk about comfort!! Neil stuck w/ the original biscuit n' gravy :) Btw, making a country gravy is essentially a simple bechamel recipe that you can find anywhere. The only difference is that the base roux is made with meat drippings (in this case, bacon) and flour, instead of butter and flour.

See Recipe!


Pink Lady Cake

Happy New Year! I can't believe the holidays are over and we're back to reality so soon. Jan/Feb/March are the hardest months for me b/c it's frigid cold without the holiday spirit. I'm just counting down the days till Spring! We did have a wonderful holiday season though. Christmas in San Fran was a treat. My sister in law made some delicious Indian food from scratch. I was sure to get all the recipes, so look out for that in 2010.

After ringing in the New Year at Zaytinya, we celebrated my mom's bday on New Years Day. Luckily it was a holiday, and I got to spend the day baking a fabulous cake. I haven't baked a cake in a while, so to ease back into it, I made a simple strawberry cake with none of the fancy, laborious fillers that I normally do. This cake just personifies "fun", and it's made for a lady, having been coined the "Pink Lady" cake. The name of the cake hooked me, and strawberries in the cake batter sealed the deal. This cake makes you want to have a slumber party with your girlfriends, dance to Madonna, and of course stuff your face with cake. No, I did not entertain that, but the daydream was ever present. But, no worries, the boys enjoyed the pink as well. I found the recipe on the Smittenkitchen blog (which is becoming my favorite food blog out there). The recipe originates from the Sky High cook book, and when you look at this cake you'll see that it really is "sky high". In fact I had to take it to my parents without a cover. My cake top was too small, and even my largest cake box couldn't fit it. So, if you plan to travel with this cake, prepare your compartment ahead of time. I did make some alterations to the recipe as noted below. Feel free to follow my changes, or just stick with the original. Happy eating in 2010 :)

- I used 2 cups strawberries (versus 1 1/2 cup).
- I thawed the strawberries before I pureed them. The frozen strawberries will solidify you softened butter.
- I followed the cream cheese frosting recipe but then folded in 1 1/2 cup of freshly whipped heavy cream. Only reason for this, is that my mom likes a "lighter" tasting frosting, although this obviously add more fat :)
- The recipe calls to mix 8 egg whites just to blend. I did this with 4 of the egg whites. With the remaining 4, I whipped them to somewhat stiff peaks, and gently folded them into the batter at the end. I did this for a fluffier cake.
- The cake itself is not very sweet, but the frosting is. If you are eating the cake alone, add about 1/2 cup more sugar.
- I added about 4-5 drops of red food coloring (versus 2) to the batter. It's suppose to be pink!!
- I used frozen strawberries, which is what the recipe calls for. If you use fresh, and they aren't very sweet, do compensate with additional sugar. I recommend sticking with the frozen for consistency.

See Recipe!