Chicken and Carrot Salad… Adapted from a Brazilian Recipe.

Coming from Rio, where the winter is almost non-existent, people are on a constant diet (after all we have to show our figures at the beach every now and then) and there’s plenty of fresh and tasty fruit and vegetables growing all year round: we eat salads all the time! It’s not like in Europe that it’s a summer meal, no, it’s always present at our tables. It can be a simple lettuce and tomato salad to accompany something more substantial but it can also be like this one, the main meal as it’s quite filling.

That’s an adaptation from a very traditional brazilian salad – Salpicão de Frango. Everyone knows how to prepare it and usually has its own recipe and unrevealed ingredients. I can say that I also have my very own version, but it’s far from being secretive as I’m about to share it with you!

Summer asks for a refreshing meal but let’s not forget that it’s when we show a bit more of our body, and we need to be in good shape to fit in that new bikini! Therefore I’ve tried to make a lighter version as this is not exactly a low in calories dish.

Ingredients for 2:

  • 1 carrot, medium size
  • 1 chicken breast, skin off
  • 1 cube of vegetable stock (optional)
  • 2 tbsp Greek or Natural Yogurt or Quark or Mayo
  • 150g frozen peas
  • 170g canned sweetcorn (a small can)
  •  50g dried cranberry (sultanas are also good)
  • 1 stick leek
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

1. Cook the chicken in salted water. I also add a cube of organic vegetable stock.

Once it’s cooked, shred and reserve it.

2. Peel and grate the carrot. Reserve it.

3. Thaw the peas under hot water.

4. Thinly slice the white part of the leek stick.

In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and fry the leek until golden and crispy.

5. Mix all the vegetables (except the leek) and chicken in a bowl and add the yogurt (I used 1tbsp of light quark and 1tbsp of light mayo).  Combine well all the ingredients.

6. Correct the salt and add some freshly ground pepper.

7. Serve the salad in two small bowls and top it with the fried leek.

-> All the quantities can be adjusted to your taste. There’s no exact balance among the ingredients.

The original Brazilian version uses a sort of shoestring potato sticks or chip sticks on top of the salad to give it a bit of crunch. But as I’m a good sample of a “carioca” , I’m always on a diet, so I replaced the potatoes (which I can’t find here in Switzerland anyway) for fried leek.

I have to tell you that I still love the fattening version with the potatoes, but the leek gave the salad a sweeter and subtle taste that made it very special.

Also the original recipe uses sultanas, as it’s not easy to find cranberries in Brazil, since we don’t produce it. It’s a lovely combination as well!

That’s all you could ask for summer: an easy, fresh and light salad! This way you don’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen and have more time to enjoy the sun outside!

Prosciutto di San Daniele… The Annual Festival!

It happens once a year at the small town of San Daniele del Friuli, located in the Province of Udine, northeast of Italy. Every end of June they celebrate in style its famous dry-cured ham. And they have a good reason for that! Among the large array of Italian delicacies there are its two most famous varieties of prosciutto crudo: Prosciutto di Parma & Prosciutto di San Daniele. I, honestly, can’t make the difference between them although sometimes it feels to me that the San Daniele has a gentler, sweeter taste. But maybe it’s just me…

I found out about this festival when visiting friends in São Paulo. I know it sounds weird learning about an Italian event in Brazilian soil, but that’s how it really happened! I guess that what’s called globalisation… I was at a cool bookshop with Fabíola, my very dear friend, who was looking for a book to her mum. So while I was waiting for her, I went to my obvious sector – the cookery books – and started checking on what they had there when I laid my eyes on a book. You’ll have to forgive me on this one, because I have NO IDEA which book was that. I’ve researched like crazy on the internet and at the bookshop website, but for some unfortunate reason couldn’t remember the name of it. What a shame… This would have been quite an acquisition for my collection!

It was inevitable, I had to go through it!!! For those things that just can’t be explained, I opened the book right at the page about the Prosciutto di San Daniele Festival. Running out of time, as my frieds had already found the book she was looking for and was heading to the counter, I got my red moleskine from my purse and took note of the website – ; so I could check it out when I’d get home.

Months have passed until I’ve gone through my notes again and for another coincidence it was an afternoon in June, just about two weeks before the festival, which took place from the 24th to 27th June. Prosciutto crudo is one of my favourite foods in the whole world. I love its singular taste, but most of all its versatility… it’s the perfect antipasto, incredible with a mixed salad and superb in a freshly baked ciabatta. So, without hesitate I called my husband and asked him if he wanted to make a long weekend and take a road trip to the Italy to have some very fresh and authentic Prosciutto di San Daniele. Of course I omitted the fact that it was a bit far from Zug, so far that it was almost Slovenia! Of course he said a big fat YES!!! After all, there’s a good reason why I chose him to be my husband!

As it was a long drive we decided to stop in Verona for a couple of days not only to make the trip more comfortable but also to enjoy a bit of Juliet & Romeo’s city that we went for the first time! On Sunday we drove a bit further to the tiny town of San Daniele del Friuli. Oh, I can tell you that we had the best prosciutto ever that afternoon! The city centre became an exhibition park, with its access closed to cars, so the visitors could freely come and go. There were food stalls all over the centre, of course the star was the famous prosciutto but you could find all sorts of things: wines, olives, clothes… People would get a plate of sliced dry-cured ham with some grissini or chopped melons, a glass of wine and seat on the communal tables, just casually chatting and listening to the bands that were playing at the various stages located along the centre.

Cooking Class

Cooking Class

San Daniele del Friuli

It was a pleasant afternoon, that’s for sure. But would I drive down there again for this festival?

No, I don’t think so… It was a great experience, I’m happy I’ve been there but I think once is enough! I do have good memories, fine photos and some authentic prosciutto di San Daniele in the fridge!

Chicken Curry with Coconut Rice… My aunt’s yummy recipe!

You don’t know that, but my aunt Glória is a fabulous cook. By far the best one in our small family. She’s sort of Midas of food, everything she touches turns into ‘golden food’, the kind that you can’t stop eating and wonder how on earth it can be so good. Among my favourites is her prawn and potato salad, I know it sounds dull but as I said she has magical powers…

Her food permeates my childhood memories… I remember the feast she would prepare for Christmas lunch or her delightful mustard sauce swinging around the dinner table.I hated mustard until a couple of years ago and the only thing close to it that I could put in my mouth was her mustard sauce. Although I enjoy having a dijon mustard on my salad sauce now and then, her sauce is still the treat, so much so that she always sends me some across the Atlantic Ocean.

When I was in Rio, early this year, I managed to get some of her recipes. I remember her telling me that this curry was a crowd pleaser, so at the first opportunity I had to throw a dinner party that’s what was on my menu. And I have to agree with my aunt, it was for everyone’s taste, all the guests had seconds and were very generous on their compliments.

The coconut rice is simply the soul mate of this chicken curry! The subtle taste of the coconut milk is in perfect balance with the tanginess of the curry.

Of course I saved the best bit for last… It’s a very simple dish to prepare!

Ingredients for 6 people:

Chicken Curry

  • 1kg chicken breast, cut in chunks
  • 1kg grated onion
  • 1 kg grated peeled apple
  • 100g grated ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 100ml mango chutney
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a big pan and fry the onion, ginger and crushed garlic until softened.

Add the chicken and brown it. Add the curry powder, the cumin and coriander seeds, the cinnamon stick and apple. Give it a good mix and cover with water, stirring often.

When the curry starts to thicken up and the apples to break then it’s time to add the mango chutney. Let it simmer for 30 minutes and it’s ready to serve.

Coconut Rice

  • 450g basmati rice
  • 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 500ml coconut milk
  • 425ml water
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp salt
Heat the oil a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. When the oil butter is hot, add rice, salt , the cinnamon stick and lemon zest, stirring until all grains are coated evenly.
Add coconut milk and water. Stir and cover with a lid.
Let it simmer for 20 minutes or until all the water has evaporated.

Serve it with sides of sultanas, unsalted peanuts, boiled and sliced eggs, desiccated coconut and mango chutney.

I’m back on the train…

You all must be wondering why I say I’m back when it seems like I’ve never hopped on this train in first place! Well, at this point I have to say that I’ve definitely been here before, but not exactly at the same blogosphere…

I’ve been blogging for over 3 years now but only in Portuguese, my mother tongue. Although, I was already living abroad when I first decided to start a food blog, it seemed natural, at that time, to write in Portuguese. The very first one I came across was written in Portuguese as well as most of the others that came after and served me as inspiration to start my own blog.

After 4 years away from home, it started feeling like a part of my life – a very big one – didn’t belong to my actual life. Along the years English became more and more present in my days. I’ve got to meet a lot of international people who got to try my recipes but never the chance to reproduce them at their kitchens, as none of them could understand what was written on my blog. It felt like I had a double life… At one, I was a Brazilian girl with a pulsating passion for food and a cool food blog, while at the other one I was just a girl who was a good cook (still Brazilian though…). I stopped feeling like commenting the upcoming posts or sharing new ideas for a new savoury cake recipe because it didn’t belong to my new life, where people around me didn’t the speak language I did.

Now, I’m putting together my two lives and making only one out of it! Modern math, I guess…

Spoon of What? will be written in both English and Portuguese. The readers will now have to option to read it in one of the two languages.

My previous food blog, Temperinhos & Afins, will remain online but won’t have new posts and the readers will be redirected to this new home. Eventually, some of the previous recipes posted there will be revisited at Spoon of What. The ones that are close to my heart will always have a come back at this blog as they have in my kitchen.

So, I’m delighted to be back on the train… Hope you’ll join me on this ride!!!