March 29, 2011

1000 Hits

Oh my God!
MyVerySmallKitchen just got to a 1000 hits last Tuesday and I am so, so, so happy!
I know there are several blogs out there that probably get  1000 viewers per day, however for me getting to MY first 1000 is something really special.
When I started this blog last year I didn’t intend to become famous, or a writer or a chef. I just wanted to register my adventures in my kitchen and show people that cooking can be simple. I think I already achieved this because I met so many interesting people saying they had tried one of my recipes and were happy with it.
I also didn’t know I would attract viewers from so many different places like US, Canada, France, Malaysia, Portugal, Singapore, Argentina, UK besides Hong Kong and Brazil. I’m so glad this is happening and hopefully some new places will be added to the list soon.
I still consider this just the beginning and I have a lot to learn and several recipes to try. I can assure you I am having a lot of fun experimenting new delicious recipes and trying my best to share beautiful pictures with you.
I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to all of you that supported me so far and enjoy the blog. Please keep coming back! New recipes are posted every weekend and of course there are the odd mid- week posts when I have some extra time.
And of course, if you have a recipe that you would like to see posted here please drop me an email at and I will try my best to learn it and share with you.
Thanks again,

March 25, 2011

Cheese Breads

Cheese bread is a traditional Brazilian appetizer that originated in the states of Minas Gerais. It is a soft and chewy snack that melts in your mouth and smells fantastic when baking. They are easily found everywhere in Brazil and always present in the menus of international Brazilian Barbecue restaurants.

This bread recipe uses tapioca flour instead of wheat flour and because they are so popular there are several versions of the original recipe. The one I am posting today is an easy version that is made in a blender and doesn’t involve rolling the dough in small balls. It is a  winner recipe in our home since it takes no more than 20 minutes to make.

To prepare this recipe you will need:

1 cup of milk
3 cups of tapioca flour
3 eggs at room temperature
½ cup of canola oil
1 teaspoon of salt
1 ½ cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
2 muffin tins – 6 muffins each
Muffin paper cups

Start lining  your muffin tins with the paper cases and pre-heat the oven at 180o C. In case you don’t have two muffin tins bake the breads in two batches. I usually do this since I can’t find the two trays in my oven!

Next, in a blender, add the milk, the eggs, the oil, salt and tapioca flour. Mix for two minutes until the flour is totally incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a medium ball and mix the cheese in with a wooden spoon.

Fill the muffin tins with the bread mixture until each cup is ¾ full. Sprinkle some extra Parmesan cheese on top of each cup (this is optional and the quantity is really up to your taste). Bring the tins to the oven and cook for 12 to 15 minutes until the breads are light golden. Make sure you don’t over bake them or they will turn out quite hard.

Remove the cheese breads from the muffin tin and let them cool for a bit. We like to eat our cheese breads warm.

March 18, 2011

Glazed Pork Chops & Tomato Salad

I wasn’t sure I was going to mention the sad events that happened in Japan last week in this post but I am sure that like me you were also touched seeing all the horrible images after the earthquake and the tsunamis. In moments like this is that we see how strong people are and I have to say I am very impressed with the dignity the Japanese people are showing the world.
In moments like this we stop and thank God for our blessings: our family, friends, comfortable homes, health and so on. I am praying for Japan and I hope I could do more to help. If you can, please help as well, sending positive energy to such an admirable nation or making a donation to one of the many charity organizations that are genuinely organized to help when natural disasters happen.
Back to today’s recipe (that is not related to Japan in any way) I wanted to share with you something simple, easy to make. After such a difficult week I still want to enjoy good home-made food with my family but I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen.
I chose Glazed Pork Chops & Tomato Salad. This is a really simple recipe that doesn’t require any special cooking skills or unusual ingredients. You can serve it with rice or mashed potatoes if you prefer a more substantial meal. I am sure you will like it in any way.

Pork Chops
6 boneless pork chops
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
½ teaspoon of olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Tomato Salad
200g red cherry tomatoes
100g yellow cherry tomatoes
1 Japanese cucumber (peeled and sliced)
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Start preparing the marinate for the pork chops. In a small ball mix the Dijon mustard, the balsamic vinegar, the maple syrup and the olive oil. Mix it well until totally incorporated. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper in both sides. Brush the pork chops with the marinate sauce (if you prefer you can just put the pork chops in a medium bowl, add the marinate sauce and use your hands to mix and make sure the pork chops are coated with the sauce). Reserve.
For the salad, start preparing the dressing first. Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Next, wash the tomatoes very well and chop each one of them in half. Peel and slice the cucumber. Chop the parsley. Mix all these ingredients in a medium bowl and season with the dressing.
Cook the pork chops in a non-stick skillet (I use cooking spray as well) for 2 minutes in each side in medium flame.
Serve the pork chops and the tomato salad together. Serves three.

March 11, 2011

Chia Gio & Nuoc Man Cham (Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Fish Sauce Dip)

Last week I went for a Vietnamese cooking class in a local kitchen ware shop.  I have been receiving the classes schedule from this shop for a while and I wasn’t sure a two hours class would teach me much. I had never attended a cooking class before and since I love Vietnamese food I felt it was the perfect excuse to try it.

I was very surprised to find out that two hours is enough to teach you 3 to 4 recipes in a very relaxed and informal atmosphere still giving you the opportunity to participate hands-on in some of the recipes. I learned 4 recipes, several tips about Vietnamese food and ingredients and got to meet a bunch of interesting people that like me love food and eating.

I am sharing with you today two of the recipes I learned in the class and hope you like them as much as I did: Chia Gio & Nuoc Man Cham (Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Fish Sauce Dip). After the class I did some research on internet and found there are several versions of Vietnamese spring rolls each one of them with a slightly different ingredient. The recipe in this post has the same ingredients from the class handout with quantities adapted a bit to suit our family taste. I’m sure once you try this recipe you will be adapting it to your style as well.

Chia Gio Recipe (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)
450g of lean minced pork meat
½ cup of noodles, thin cellophane mung bean noodles or vermicelli
½ cup of carrots chopped or grated
½ cup of chopped white onion
2 tablespoons of chopped green onions
2 tablespoons of chopped coriander
½ cup of chopped mushrooms ( I used white mushrooms)
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
½ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of black pepper
25 pieces of Vietnamese rice paper for rolls

Nuoc Mam Cham (Fish Sauce Dip)
½ cup of orange juice
6 teaspoons of caster sugar
2 teaspoons of white vinegar
3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
5 to 6 tablespoons of fish sauce
2 chili peppers finely chopped and deseeded
2 cloves of garlic minced

Start mixing all the ingredients for the fish sauce. Next chop all  the ingredient for the spring rolls. Soak the noodles in warm water for 4 to 5 minutes. Rinse with cold water to stop cooking and cut the noodles in several pieces of 3-4cm long.

To prepare the spring rolls filling mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl and use your hands to mix them all well. Let this mixture marinating for 20 to 30 minutes.

Once the filling is ready it is time to start rolling the spring rolls. Get one piece of rice paper each time and dip it quickly in warm water. Dry the rice paper in a kitchen towel and transfer it to a flat surface.

Add one tablespoon of filling on the lower part of the rice paper.

Fold the rice paper once or twice in a roll shape.

Fold the two ends inside.

Adjust the upper part of the rice paper to have more triangular shape.

Roll it to the end of the rice paper.

If you think it is too complicated remember that my 8 years old daugther was helping me doing the rolls ...

When all the spring rolls are rolled it is time to deep fry them in hot cooking oil. The oil temperature should be medium/hot to assure the filling is cooked and the outside of the rolls is slightly brown.

Serve the spring rolls with the fish sauce dip.

March 7, 2011

Coq Au Vin

First time I tried Coq Au Vin I felt in love with it. A dear friend cooked it for me as my birthday dinner a long time ago. I loved the sauce rich flavors, the chicken falling out of the bones, the carrots, the mushrooms, the onions …yummmm!!! Since then I am cooking it for our family from time to time when I feel inclined to spend some extra time in the kitchen to produce something delicious.

I have a recipe that I printed from internet when I moved to Hong Kong and that what I was using until this time when I cooked Coq Au Vin again following most of the directions from Julia Child’s recipe included in her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. What a surprise! I found out that I was cooking something totally different before because this Coq Au Vin was way more delicious! If you know this book you are probably rolling your eyes right now thinking who would have the time to follow a recipe from a cookbook that has 684 pages????!!!! Trust me it is worth every single minute you spend in the kitchen.
The recipe below is not the original from Julia’s book since I adapted the ingredients quantities to suit us better, changed the white onions for shallots and added carrots to my Coq Au Vin. The directions, however, are pretty much what you will find in the book. I omitted one of the steps (Brown-Braised Onions) what in my opinion doesn’t change the taste of the final dish (I got to this conclusion cooking Julia’s Beouf Bourguignon several times before) but if you are cooking this recipe first time I suggest you do it so you can decide what you prefer.
I started with chopping all the ingredients and removing the fat and skin from the chicken pieces. Next, in a large casserole I added 1 tablespoon of butter and sautéed the bacon until it was lightly brown. When done, remove the bacon to a separate dish.

Dry the chicken pieces with a paper towel. Add the chicken to the pan and brown it in the bacon/butter fat. Add salt and pepper and return the bacon to the casserole. Cover and cook it for 10 minutes in low heat.

In a second pan, add the second tablespoon of butter and sauté the onions and mushrooms.

Add the chicken and the bacon to this pan. Add the wine and the brown stock to the casserole (just enough to cover the chicken). Stir the tomato paste, mashed garlic, bay leave and thyme herbs in.  Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes in medium heat until the chicken pieces are tender.

Remove the chicken to a side dish and let the sauce in the casserole cook for more 10 minutes in higher heat. The sauce will reduce to about half. Check if more salt and pepper is needed. Transfer one cup of the sauce liquid only to a separate small bowl and add in the 2 tablespoons of flour. Mix it well until totally incorporated and add this mixture back to the casserole. Let it cook for more 5 minutes in lower heat. Add the chicken back to the pan and heat it up to serve.

Decorate with springs of parsley.
Coq Au Vin (Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, page 263)

3-4 ounce chunk lean bacon (I used bacon strips, chopped, fat removed)
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 ½ to 3 pounds frying chicken, cut into pieces (I used 6 chicken thighs and 1 chicken breast chopped in 4 pieces)
½ teaspoon of salt, plus additional for seasoning
1/8 teaspoon pepper, plus additional for seasoning
¼ cup cognac (I consider this optional)
3 cups young, full bodied red wine (I used Chianti)
1 or 2 cups brown chicken stock, brown stock or canned beef bouillon (I used the 2 cups of canned beef bouillon)
½ tablespoon of tomato paste
1 large carrot chopped
2 cloves of mashed garlic
¼ teaspoon thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
8 shallots
10 small white mushrooms 
2 tablespoons of flour
Fresh parsley

For the original recipe and directions click here.