Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Buns)

This recipe should have been here a few years ago. Seriously. 

Because since we tried them the first time (at Fogo de Chao in LV) a few years back, these cheesy rolls have been our choice of bread to accompany many of our dinners at home.
They're crunchy on the outside but slightly chewy in the center, and relatively easy to make.
The only tricky part for most people is finding the right kind of flour for this. 
If you live in the area where there's a sizable Brazilian population, you should be able to find sour tapioca flour (povilho azedo) in a Brazilian/Latin America market (I got mine from Bossa Nova Brazil in El Cerrito, by the way).
If that's not an option, you should be able to purchase one online from

Regular tapioca flour can also be used for a substitute. Although in my opinion, it's not the same since it lacks that slightly sour and fermented flavor. So don't change if you don't have to.

And did I mention that in addition to being delicious, they are also gluten-free?

  • 500 grams sour tapioca flour (povilho azedo)
  • 10 grams salt
  • 125 ml vegetable oil
  • 175 grams grated firm cheese (parmesan works well for this)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 300 ml milk
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, oil and salt, mix thoroughly. Add cheese, eggs and milk into the mixture, and blend until well combined.
  • Line a cookie sheet with non-stick liner or parchment paper. Using a cookie scoop or spoon, scoop a round portion of the dough and roll into a ball (about 1.5 inches in diameter) using the palm of your hands. Place the balls on the lined cookie sheet with an inch space in between them.
  • Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until the balls turn slightly golden and crispy on the outside. Serve warm.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Dublin Coddle

Being sick stinks. 

But that's what I have been experiencing this past week, together with my oldest offspring. In fact, big C got it worse than me. His flu was so bad he had to stay at home and missed his rowing practices the entire week. 
The house was beyond messy, but I didn't care. Our meals consisted of whatever quick and easy I could manage to whip up. Mostly stir-fry stuff. 
But finally today, we said we want something different. No more stir-fry, let's have something soupy and comforting, but still easy to make.

Then Dublin coddle came to mind.
This slow-cooked Irish stew filled with bacon, sausages and potatoes is not only easy to make, but also tastes great. This is the kind of dish that makes you warm and fuzzy inside. 

Because the dish only calls for a few ingredients, make sure you only use the good quality sausages and bacon you can find. The better the ingredients, the better your stew will be. Enjoy!

  • 5 thick-cut/slab bacon (or rashers), cut into strips
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 5 links pork sausages
  • 10 unpeeled gold potatoes, washed and halved
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 small cabbage , cut into 8 sections (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Brown the sausages on both sides, transfer to a plate and set aside.
  • Add bacon and onion into the saucepan. Cook until the onion has softened, about 5-10 minutes. Return sausages into the pot, add potatoes and pour the stock into the pot. Add cabbage into the pot as well, if you're using. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low,. Cover the saucepan and simmer for about 1 hour, until the potatoes are tender.
  • Ladle soup into individual bowl and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve hot with good crusty bread.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mapo Tofu

Mapo tofu, to me, is comfort food.
This spicy dish with fermented bean base, combined with mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns, can be found in most Chinese restaurants across the country. But seriously, what not to like?

There are 3 important ingredients for cooking authentic Mapo tofu: doubanjiang which is chili bean paste (one of the most important ingredients in Sichuan cooking), and dou-chi, also known as fermented black beans, and lastly Sichuan peppercorns. Omit any of these ingredients, and your tofu will not be the same, I'll tell ya!

Poaching the tofu prior to cooking will help to make your tofu more tender. Simply soak tofu in hot salted water for about 3 minutes, drain and slice/cube.

  • 1 pound (1 block) soft tofu, poached and cut into 1" cubes
  • 1/2 pound ground pork or beef
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons doubanjiang
  • 1 tablespoon dou-chi
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup green peas (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorn (fry whole peppercorns in a pan, cool down and ground using food processor)
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • Salt (if needed)
  • 3 stalks green onion, chopped
  • In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon cooking oil over medium-high heat. Cook ground meat until done, transfer to a plate and set aside.
  • Add sesame oil into the skillet. Fry garlic, ginger, doubanjian, dou-chi in the skillet until fragrant. Place tofu cubes, green peas and ground meat into the skillet, mix gently so the tofu don't turn mushy. 
  • Pour chicken broth into the skillet. Add soy sauce and ground peppercorn, and let the liquid to boil. Mix water and cornstarch in a small bowl, stir into the tofu mixture. Simmer and let the liquid thickens, about 2-3 minutes. At this point, taste the dish to see if additional salt is needed.
  • Transfer dish to a serving plate. Garnish with chopped green onion and serve hot with steamed rice.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Minangkabau Beef Rendang

Ask an Indonesian, any Indonesian you meet, to name one dish that best represent their country, and most of them will say rendang.
Authentic Indonesian rendang (there's only Indonesian rendang. Everything else is just a cheap knock-off that doesn't come even close in flavor or appearance) hails from Minangkabau highland in West Sumatra. It takes a long time to cook it and lots of practice to perfect it, but in the end you will be rewarded with delicious spicy aromatic dish that will make all other curry turn green with envy. 
Serve with steamed rice.


  • 10 shallots
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 1 inch fresh galangal
  • 12 fresh cayenne peppers
  • 5 Thai bird chilies, more if you want it hotter
  • 1 teaspoon toasted cumin
  • 1 teaspoon toasted coriander
  • 1 teaspoon toasted white peppercorn
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 asam kandis (garnicia xanthochymus), substitute with kokum (available from Indian spice shop), or if you're not able to find any, use 2 tablespoon of tamarind pulp
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 lemongrass, white part only, bruised
  • 2 turmeric leaves (might omit if not available, but will change the flavor significantly. Strongly recommended)
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 2 pounds beef chuck or shank, cubed (about 2 x 2)
  • 1 can (14 ounces) coconut cream
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Place shallots, garlics, ginger, galangal, peppers, cumin, coriander, and peppercorn in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat, add the spice paste into the hot oil and cook until fragrant, stir constantly. Add coconut cream and coconut milk into the saucepan, mix thoroughly. 
  • Add beef chunks, lemongrass, lime leaves, star anise, cinnamon, asam kandis, turmeric leaves, palm sugar and salt into the mixture. Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan partially so the steam can escape. Cook for 3-4 hours, stir occasionally, until the meat is very tender.
  • Remove the lid and turn up the heat. Stir and continue cooking until the moisture is almost gone, the sauce dries up and turns oily, and the meat is caramelized.
  • Serve with hot steamed rice. Rendang keeps very well, in fact it will taste better the next day. Just reheat before serving.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Potato Bacon Cheddar Scallion Pierogi

I always love Pierogi, but never felt inspired to whip up a batch and make them myself. 
Until today.
And I'm wondering what took me so long to finally do it. 
Because I could have been in Pierogi heaven sooner. Way way sooner.
Because nothing's more comforting that sitting in front of the TV while it's raining outside, with a plate full of these delicious potato pockets drizzled with sour cream.
Because they're that good!


For the dough:
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Salt
For the filling:
  • 1 pound Yukon potatoes
  • 6 strips of Bacon
  • 1 cup grated aged Cheddar
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallion
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pot of salted water for boiling
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter for frying
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallion for garnish
  • Sour cream for dipping


  • To make the dough: In a large mixing bowl combine flour and salt, add sour cream, egg and salted butter and mix together. Knead the dough for about 5-10 minutes, until the dough is elastic and pulls away from the bowl. Wrap with plastic and store in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to overnight. 
  • Boil the potatoes in the pot until tender. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel the skin and mash until smooth. Cook the bacon until crispy, then crumble and add to the bowl of mashed potatoes. Add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and mix thoroughly until well combined. Allow the filling to cool completely, then roll the filling into 1-inch balls.
  • Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 1/8-inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter (about 5-inch in diameter), cut the dough into circles. Place a ball of filling in the center of each dough circle. Using your finger or pastry brush, wet the outer half of the circle, fold the dough in half and preset the edges to seal. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the dumpling in small batches until they float to the top. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and let dry. 
  • In a meanwhile, melt a stick of butter in a large frying skillet. Fry the dumpling until brown and crispy on each side. Serve with sour cream and chopped scallion while they're still warm.

Makes about 20 Pierogi