Judy’s Blueberry Pie

June 18, 2009

pie by Judy Cabral (Nuala’s mom)

Preheat oven to 450

Prepare the Blueberries:
4 cups fresh berries
Mix 2 tbs cornstarch with 1/4 cup of Orange Juice and 1 cup of sugar
Stir gently into blueberries and let stand for 15 minutes
(Sometimes I add more blueberries and adjust other ingredients to make a thicker pie.)

Prepare the Crust:
Sift then measure 2 cups of flour
Resift in large bowl with 1 tsp of salt
Measure 1/3 cup of this mixture & put in small bowl or cup
Stir into this small bowl 1/4 cup of water and stir to form paste
In 1st (large) bowl, cut into flour mixture 1/3 c butter & 1/3 c shortening (Crisco or Organic no trans fat shortening from Whole Foods)
Mash these ingredients with pastry blender or 2 knives until doughy
Stir the paste into the dough with fork, turning bowl. Work with hands into large ball & then divide into 2 balls.

Roll on floured surface, rolling from the center out and turning the dough often, adding more flour underneath so it won’t stick.

Put blueberries into pie shell and cover with top crust. (Can put dots of butter on top of blueberries or lemon juice). Flute the edges with fingers or fork.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 min.
Reduce heat to 350 and continue for 45 more minutes.


World Famous Fried Chicken

June 9, 2009


This is a recipe that I’ve been working on for quite some time, and I’m still perfecting…but I think it’s progressed far enough to share with the world. There have been a few different people who have shown me how to make fried chicken, and I’ve mixed and matched their methods to find a great tasting (very fattening) fried chicken recipe.

I gotta shout out Dr. B for showing me how to season the chicken properly and my homey Mom (not my birth mom) for teaching me how to make the chicken batter.


Drumsticks and/or thighs
Lawry’s Season Salt
Vegetable Oil

Step 1: Prepare your chicken.
You want to let the chicken brine for about a half an hour. You do this by filling a pot large enough to hold all of the chicken you plan to cook with hot water and salt. This cleans out the impurities and makes your chicken a bit more tender.

Step 2: Prepare your batter.
What’s fried chicken without god fried chicken batter? You want to get a big ziploc bag thats atleast 10×10 inches but the bigger the better. Fill that about 3/5th’s with flour.
Next, you wanna dump a decent amount of Lawry’s season salt in until the bag turns brownish. Shake it up, mix it in then add about two table spoons of pepper, a tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of paprika. There’s honestly no exact science to it since a lot of the batter cooks off anyway.

Step 3: Heat your pot.
Now, I’ve been using a wok for a little while which is really great for fried chicken since it’s deep and doesn’t splatter as much, but any pan deep enough to hold enough oil and chicken to your liking is fine. You wanna fill the pan up until you know you can comfortably cover your chicken to about 3/5ths with oil, cut it on and wait for it to simmer.

Step 4: Season your chicken.
This was my aha! moment. Place your chicken on a plate or something large enough to hold however much chicken you’re cooking and sprinkle it with Lawry’s season salt, ordinary salt and pepper. Flip it over, and do it to the same side. This is what brings out the most flavor.

Step 5: Start frying!
Once your pot is hot (the pot it hot bay-bay) then you can start frying. Since your chicken should still be a bit damp from brining, you can toss it into the ziploc bag, piece by piece, shaking it as you go. Once your chicken is completely covered, you can take it out, and place it in the oil. Do this until the pan is full and let it cook. Give it a good 7 or 8 minutes, and once you can start smelling the fried chickeny goodness, then flip it over. Continue to flip at increasting intervals until it’s evenly cooked and golden brown on the outside.

Step 6: Cool off and serve!
To help drain out some of the excess grease, place a few paper towels into container and place your chicken inside for about 10 minutes. Once your chicken is cooled off, it’s ready to be served!

Baked Brie

June 9, 2009

A wheel of Brie (or just a big slice of Brie if you’re cooking for a few people or broke (see pic). (You know a wheel of brie can be expensive).
2 spoonfuls of Triple Sec Liquor
Dried cranberries
Dried apricots (chopped up)
Candied Pecans (chopped up)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Poke holes in cheese with fork 10 times. Pour a spoonful of triple sec over cheese and let seep into holes. In small bowl mix dried cranberries, candied pecans, dried apricots with another spoonful of triple sec in bowl (tsp of maple syrup optional, but I only recommend this if you are going to finish the cheese all at once. Same goes for substituting raspberries for the dried cranberries. The compote won’t stay fresh overtime if you use syrup or raspberries, but it will taste good). Pour compote over brie and bake in oven on a stick free cookie sheet or glass pan for about 10-15 min.

Save leftovers– you can reheat this in a microwave or toaster oven. This is a perfect appetizer to serve with bread or crackers. Your friends will be impressed cause it looks and tastes kinda like a big deal.

Liz’s Caramel Brownies

June 9, 2009

IMG_7487In high school my friend Liz used to make these for our lacrosse games. It was great because no matter if we won or lost, these brownies were there to make life just a little more sweet. Thank you, Liz for sharing your splendor with all of us then and Cool Cooks today…

1 Chocolate CAKE mix
1 1/2 sticks of butter
2/3 cup of evaporated milk
a bag of chocolate chips
about 25 Caramel candies (you can get a bag of the soft caramel candies in the candy section at the super market)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter and add to the cake mix with 1/2 c. of evaporated milk. Stir together until blended and thick. Then drop the mixture on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Use your hands to press down the mixture so that it is flat and covers the cookie sheet. Place wax paper on top of the dough and chill it in the freezer for like 7-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the caramel and evaporated milk on low heat and stir continuously.

When you take the tray out of the freezer the dough will be stiff. Divide it into two, and peel off one half of the dough and place it into the bottom of a greased brownie pan. Place in the oven for 6 minutes (until it looks pretty well baked).

Then take the pan out and cover the brownie layer with chocolate chips. Pour the caramel on top of the chocolate chips and use a spoon to spread it evenly.

Next, take that second half of brownie dough and put on top. If it starts falling apart don’t worry– It will expand. Just try to cover the caramel.

Now, put the pan in the oven for 9-11 minutes or so. Keep your eyes on the corners of the pan to make sure you don’t burn the bottom layer. Let it cool for at least 20 minutes after baking and enjoyyy!

Patrice’s Avocado Salad

June 9, 2009

Recipe by Patrice Berry

Recently I was at Rashid’s house for dinner and his friend Patrice started to eat this big bowl of salad. I thought it was odd that she was eating out of a bowl I assumed was for everyone, but then I realized it was her dinner. Nevertheless, she shared some with me… and it was amaaaazing! I immediately understood why and how she could eat a big bowl of salad for her dinner. (I’m not a huge salad person if you can’t tell. And I always need to throw something sweet in it, like candied pecans or fruit). Anyway, thank YOU Patrice for sharing this recipe with me. Thanks to you my mother will know I’m eating veggies more often! (Yes, I’m 28 and she still cares about this.)

1 Bag of Spring Green Lettuce
1 Avocado sliced up into small pieces
A few spoonfuls of Fetta Cheese
A few spoonfuls of dried cranberries (optional)
Candied Pecans (optional)
Trader Joe’s Poppy Seed Dressing

Wait until your ready to eat it to put the salad dressing in it. Otherwise it will just get all soggy.

 Candied Pecans (for the sweet tooths!)

Brown Sugar
Orange Juice

Crush the pecans up a bit. In a pan on medium heat melt a couple of tsps of butter, add brown sugar, orange juice and pecans. Add the vanilla and stir over medium heat for a few minutes.
Once the pecans are in a thick syrup, pour out the entire mixture onto a baking sheet and put into the oven for 2-3 minutes on 200 degrees. Don’t over bake! Then cover the tray with a paper towel and throw it in the freezer for a couple of minutes. When you take it out the pecans should be glazed over, dry and crispy.  If you make too many just save the extra pecans in a small tuppeware and keep it in the fridge… you can use em for another salad another day!  ~nu

Chicken Alfredo

June 9, 2009



3 Chicken Breasts
1 Box of pasta (any type will work, but I like penne)
A jar of Ragu alfredo (any brand will work, I just like Ragu)
A dash of Lemon Pepper
2 heaping tablespoons of Garlic
A dash of paprika
a dash of salt
a table spoon of pepper
Olive Oil
A Lemon and a Lime
a teaspoon of teriyaki sauce
a stalk of broccoli

Step 1: Let the chicken brine.
You wanna run some hot water in a big bowl and put a generous amount salt in. You can let the chicken sit in there for about a half an hour. This cleans the chicken of any impurities and some of the gunk inside.

Step 2: Poke some holes in your chicken.
After you’ve drained the salt water out of your chicken, it’s time to get started! You wanna make sure every bit of flavor gets into your chicken, so poke as many holes in it as you see fit.

Step 3: Start mixing your ingredients.
You can use the same bowl, or a new one as long as it has a top. Theres no particular order to putting everything in but heres the order I like to go in.

1. Lemon/Lime Juice: This helps the chicken take in the other flavors as well as acting like a natural tenderizer to it. From what I know, all citruses do that, so oranges and even grapefruits work well!
2. Garlic: This is probably gonna be the most dominant flavor, so I think its good to mix this in next.
3. Olive Oil
4. Teriyaki Sauce
5. Salt, Pepper, Lemon Pepper and Paprika

Step 4: Mix it up!
Get your hands dirty (but make sure you wash first) and mix all of your ingredients with your chicken until it’s completely covered and oozing out. Then you can let the chicken marinate. The longer the better, but at least 20 mins. The best is 2 or 3 days.

Step 5: Pasta!
Once you’re ready to start, get a big enough pot and you can start letting your water boil. Toss in maybe 2 teaspoons of olive oil for flavor and once it’s boiling nicely toss in your pasta.

Step 6: Cook the chicken!
Get a pan large enough to fry chicken in, and heat it up. Once it’s warm, coat the pan with olive oil and throw your chicken in there. You wanna start to flip it over every 3 or four minutes at first and as the chicken gets warmer a bit more frequently. Once it’s nice and brown on the outside, cut it open to make sure it’s not pink. Once it’s good, you can begin to slice it into nice chunks.

Step 7: Broccoli and Alfredo Sauce!
Go ahead and heat up you broccoli and Alfredo sauce in separate pots. You can go ahead and toss your chicken chunks in the alfredo and stir it every 2 minutes or so, it can get stuck to the bottom of the pan if it gets too hot.

Step 8: Mix it up!
By now, your pasta should be done cooking, you’ll know once it’s all floating at the top and puffy (take that, take that). Drain your pasta, and mix in the alfredo/chicken mix with your pasta.

Step 9: Last Step!

Once your broccoli is done, drain your water and mix it into the alfredo with a big spoon. I personally like to add a touch of butter to the broccoli for flavor, but it’s not a mandatory step. When you mix it make sure you’re thorough so that the alfredo sauce hits every pit of pasta. Adding seasoning salt at this point is optional.

AND BOOM! You’re done. Make sure you let it cool before you serve. It should make about 6 or 7 servings, so you can have a decent dinner party, or eat out of it yourself for about a week.

Welcome to the Cool Cooks’ Kitchen!

June 9, 2009


by Nuala Cabral

“You’ll make a terrible housewife,” my Nana said while watching me make a mess of the saran wrap as I struggled to tear off a piece to cover a plate of leftovers.

A sheepish and then devilish grin sprawled across my face as I took a moment of silence to think of a proper response, respectful and honest. I probably fell short when I finally blurted out, “Nana, I’m not planning on being a housewife,” before laughing from my belly while my grandmother just shook her head, raising her eyebrows. (She was not laughing).

Clearly, my grandmother was disappointed with my perceived incompetence as a homemaker and my disregard for this role. Today, I still cannot tell her that I’ll become an ideal housewife. I just ruined a roll of tin foil last week and I still can’t fold fitted sheets correctly. Anyway, I have no interest in perfecting certain arbitrary skills related to housekeeping. My mother used to make me iron out the creases in table cloths and cloth napkins at holiday dinners, and it would make my blood boil. I was just so irritated because it seemed like such a pointless waste of time. Who cares if there are creases in the table cloth from being folded? Certainly not me. And I never saw a man iron such a thing. After years of complaining about this task and pleading to do anything else to help prepare for dinner, one day my mother decided it was no longer necessary to iron them at all. This was the best holiday I ever had. It was probably around this time when I started helping my mother cook more and started hearing my grandmother allude to it. The everlasting question (at holiday dinners, cookouts, etc.) is “Nuala, what did you cook?” Clearly, there became a point when saying “nothing” felt embarrassing and unacceptable.

While today I cannot promise my grandmother that I will be an ideal housewife or homemaker, I do have a couple of promises to make to her and myself concerning my abilities in the kitchen. These pacts are less about gender roles and more about nourishment, and cultural and familial responsibilities. The first promise is that I will be able to nourish myself (and others when I choose). And the second promise is that I will do my best to learn how to cook family recipes, including Cape Verdean dishes she and her elders grew up cooking (gufong, cachupa, conje, etc.), so that I can pass the recipes (and connected stories and culture) on to my family’s next generation.

These intentions along with my reality, helped me put these promises into motion. Like many other twenty-somethings, living on my own has forced me to become responsible for my own nutrition and what a better way then to start with family favorites. Unfortunately there was one problem right from the start: I don’t like to cook.

Now baking, that’s another story. I started baking regularly in the sixth grade and never stopped. All the sweet stuff– cookies, fudge, pies, cakes, pies, brownies. A family friend recently called me “Queen of the Cocoa Bean” and I felt both amused and honored. I enjoy the simplicity of baking– there is one product, not several that must be ready at the SAME TIME. And plus, I have a sweet tooth. Unlike baking, I’ve found that cooking tends to involve more multi-tasking and timing is important. Let’s just say that these are not my strengths in the kitchen.

In order to reconcile my dislike for cooking and need to nourish myself with non-desserts, I decided to focus on learning the recipes for dishes that I absolutely LOVE. Lately, whenever I eat a delicious dish I try to get the recipe and make it soon after– while I’m still excited about it. By focusing on specific recipes and trying to perfect them, I have been able to develop a small, but substantial menu of foods, other than sweets. Getting a recipe for a dish I’ve tried and loved, created by an individual I know (a friend, co-worker or relative), is a gift. Knowing the story behind the dish (there’s a story behind every dish) makes this gift even more meaningful.

Upon moving to Philly last year for graduate school, I met a circle of friends from diverse backgrounds who like me appreciate a social scene that is laid back, inexpensive and fun. They are other twenty-somethings like myself, graduate students and young professionals with hectic schedules, slender wallets and hungry bellies. Throwing potlucks just made sense and so we started having them habitually.


A couple of these friends enjoy to cook and some hate to cook, but most of them are in a similar boat as myself–  learning to cook out of necessity.

Instead of treading this irritating journey alone, we’ve decided to help each other by sharing our favorite recipes with a little humor and pizazz through an online cooking series: Cool Cooks.

Some of these recipes we have learned from our elders and are reflective of our respective cultures (African American, South Asian and Palestinian for example). Others are simply recipes that rock our world. And yes, there will be some baking in there. Can’t ignore the sweet tooths! We’ll just try to have some balance.

To ease the painfulness of cooking, we will teach only the dishes that motivate us to cook and make us FEEL like Top Chefs. We hope you enjoy our recipes and “how to” videos. Please feel encouraged to share recipes of your own.

They say “if ya cant take the heat than get the eff out of the kitchen!” Cool Cooks may not like to cook, but we can take the heat because we gotta eat. And we’re getting better. Just you watch, dear grandmothers and dear world. Welcome to our kitchen.