Tag Archives: Recipe

Pasta Nera with Shrimps and Herbs

“Just stick to the list”, said my husband as I was walking through all the isles in the supermarket.
“What list?”, I replied.

Here in good old Luanda, you don’t have shopping lists, you buy what you can get. When eggs are extinct, you don’t bake, you make fruit dessert. When eggs are around, you buy gazillions of them so next time they’re gone, you can still bake. We already live “frugal” even before the whole world can spell the word. That’s why most companies equip us with freezers the size of two coffins.

Yesterday, I found packed Pasta Nera (simply put, black spaghetti) and I bought five packets. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know by now that we’re not Italians and we’re moving (for good) in a month, but I just can’t get rid of this frugality within me.  So we had Pasta Nera with Shrimps and Herbs.

How To:

  • Boil pasta till al dente
  • Prepare sauce by sautéing (in olive oil) garlic, chopped onion, and peeled-deveined shrimps. Add anise seed, basil, chopped parsley, salt and chili (if liked).
  • Mix the pasta with the sauce
  • Enjoy

Picture was processed with lomo-ish look.

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(Supposedly A) Tom Yam

I am not Thai, but I LOVE Thai Food. I love Tom Yam, Papaya Salad, Gelatin Rice with Mango and Coconut Milk, Pat Thai, Thai Duck Soup, you name it.

Right now I live USD 2000 away from Thailand and there’s no Thai restaurant exists in this most expensive city (for expats) in the world. Thus, home-made (supposedly a) Tom Yam is always in order. Of course my Tom Yam will be a laughing stock to Thai people, as westerners’ version of Satay to me. Still, it’s better than nothing. Besides, I always believe that if you want to get the authentic dish, don’t be a cheap and fly to the respective country.

Ingredients for soup

  • 15 medium size shrimps (remove head, skin and tail)
  • 500 gr fish fillet (I use Corvina), dice in cubes then fry
  • 300 gr button mushroom
  • 2 liter water
Spices for soup
  • 9 shallots
  • 9 garlic
  • 3 red chilis (or more if you’re brave)
  • 1 tbs of dried shrimp*
  • 1 tsp of shrimp paste
  • 2 sticks of (smashed) lemon grass root**
  • 9 kaffir lime leaves***
  • one thumb size of galangal (smashed)
  • chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste****
  • 3 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 tbs lime juice
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tbs salt (add more if needed)
  • 2 tbs cooking oil

Tamarind paste, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal

Ingredients for serving

  • chopped coriander leaves
  • sliced spring onion

Prepare the soup

  • With a blender, mix together shallots, garlic, red chili, dried shrimp & shrimp paste
  • In a big pot (with cooking oil) stir fry the mixed spices until fragrant
  • Add the head, skin and tail of the shrimp until color turns red
  • Add water
  • Add lime leaves, lemon grass, coriander leaves, galangal, tamarind paste, fish sauce, lime juice, pepper, sugar and salt
  • Taste (add salt, sugar, lime juice as needed and preferred)
  • Let it boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer for an hour
  • Strain the soup leaving only the cloudy reddish liquid
  • Into the strained soup, add shrimps, mushrooms and fried fish
  • Bring to boil, until shrimp and mushroom cooked
  • Add fresh chopped coriander and sliced spring onion before serving


  • *If you don’t have dried shrimp, you can make them by putting shrimps in the oven 200 C, until shrimps dried and crispy
  • ** You can use dried lemon grass roots (you need the roots, not the leaves)
  • *** This cannot be substituted with dried ones. Most Asian stores should have freshly-frozen leaves, so look in the frozen section
  • ****Tamarind paste can be substituted with vinegar. Don’t go overboard, try add little by little until you get the preferred acidity
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Less Sugar Butter Cream

Two days ago, my daughter just turned 7. As this is our last year here, thought that I could throw her a (sort of) bigger party. Then, we (I actually) came up with Cupcake theme, thinking that it would be cool if kids could decorate cupcakes and brought them home as goodie bags.

Having 1500 people at my (totally outsourced) wedding, I thought having 17 little girls for a (non outsourced) birthday party would be a breeze. We had had plenty of dinners and lunches at our place, the biggest one was just a month back where we had around 50 people at home. In this naive head of mine 17 kids was equal to having 40 adults. What I had forgotten was, adults didn’t scream, suddenly crawled around the house pretending to be runaway babies and definitely adults did not carry each other trying to show how strong they were.

Anyway, with 17 kids (each supposedly bringing back home 6 cupcakes), I needed to have 102 cupcakes at the minimum and on top of it I needed to have some more for display and for the kids to eat on the spot. At the end, I baked 158 cupcakes. Though I iced some of them with fondant, I still needed butter cream, LOTS of butter cream. Then I turned to the one guy I could always count on, Mr. Google.

It was really shocking to see those recipes of butter cream, the amount of sugar that they had could definitely fuel a space ship rocket, some even called for 3 – 4 cups of sugar for 1 cup of butter. Then I found this recipe from Chowhound. What intrigued me was, this recipe used Tangzhong as a key ingredient that holds the buttercream (replacing the function of the excess sugar).

Then I made one batch of this recipe to test few key butter cream properties. Here’s the verdict;

  • Taste : good, not too sweet
  • Texture : soft & fluffy
  • Strength : I piped one sample at 6 pm and I checked 12 hours later, it was still there (and still soft & fluffy)
  • Storage : in refrigerator, took 3 hours to thaw in room temperature
  • Overall : definitely an excellent option of doing butter cream


  • 1 recipe of Tangzhong (50 gr flour + 250 mL milk), let it cool
  • 200 gr butter
  • 1 cup sugar (of any kind)
  • Beat butter and sugar until starts to be fluffy
  • Add Tangzhong 2 tbs at a time while beating
  • Add 1-2 tsp Vanilla (optional)
  • Ready to be used

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