Alexandra Olsen, for the Gazette
Cooking is not just a daily task or a chore to me. I love creating in the kitchen. Trying new ingredients, concocting new dishes and experimenting with different techniques gives me an outlet for creative expression on a daily basis. Even so, I have “off” days every once in a while.
Social distancing and isolation have made these off days more common as of late. As I’m sure many others are experiencing, three meals at home means the kitchen is never truly clean, and there is a constant need to cook.
A few nights ago, I finally felt a bit of inspiration and decided to revisit a favorite recipe from my childhood, Brazilian panquecas, savory crepes filled with a simple but delicious ground beef mixture.
Growing up, I often would be recruited by my grandmother to help her roll these little bundles of comfort food.
I remember taking the time to fill each panqueca with the correct amount of filling, lining them in a casserole dish and chatting with my grandmother about anything and everything as we went along.
Usually, I prefer to have full control of the kitchen. But as I finished cooking the filling for my panquecas, I remembered the quality time I had with my grandmother and recruited my husband to help me roll.
It was the perfect way to spend time together doing something other than watching television, something we have been doing a lot of during this time of isolation.
I think I’ll recruit him more often as we continue to social distance together.
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Sharing your passions with your loved ones often can lead to more inspiration and a chance to bond. That is what I experienced with my grandmother all those years ago, and with my partner just last week.
Having a delicious outcome also helps.
Follow Alexandra on Instagram, @FeedMeIowa, for more recipes and restaurant recommendations.
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green bell peppers, diced
1 chicken or beef bouillon cube
2 pound ground beef
2 tomatoes, diced
4 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped
2 cups of milk
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 cups of flour
A pinch of salt
A pinch of sugar
Optional: Parmesan cheese for garnish
In a large skillet or frying pan, saute onions, garlic and green bell peppers until onions are translucent. Then, add your bouillon cube and cook until dissolved.
Add ground beef to the pan, with the veggies, and cook until brown. Do not strain.
Add your tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until softened, then add your hard-boiled eggs and stir the mixture to combine.
Set mixture aside to simmer on very low heat as you prepare your panqueca “wraps.”
In a blender, mix eggs, milk, baking powder, flour, salt and sugar.
Once the batter is fully combined and smooth, warm a skillet with a tablespoon of oil.
Ladle one scoop of the mixture into the pan and spread out in an even circular shape. Imagine you are attempting to make a thin crepe-like wrap.
Allow to cook on medium heat until bubbles form on the top and then flip the wrap and cook until both sides are golden brown.
This will take only a few seconds.
Repeat until you’ve used all the batter, adding oil to the pan as needed.
Once your panquecas and filling are cooked, it’s time to roll.
Add a large spoonful of the filling to each panqueca and roll them tightly. Then, fill a casserole dish with them side by side.
Once the dish is full, add the remaining filling on top and sprinkle Parmesan cheese. Broil on low heat for a few minutes to melt the cheese.
Serve and enjoy each panqueca on its own or with white rice.
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