RIO OLYMPICS 2016: A GOLD MEDAL MENU

Corcovado_statue01_2005-03-14By Klaus with K – CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1970179

Olympic games are going at full speed, these are two exciting weeks! So much to follow, we tend to stay up late trying to catch up with the events we enjoy the most: swimming, running, track and field, synchronized diving, gymnastics, volleyball, beach volleyball, soccer, and this time even golf  is keeping us glued to the TV screen… Three words for you: Simone Biles rocks. 

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In this post I share a full menu with Brazilian goodies published in previous years, but first I offer a new take on Shrimp Moqueca, adapted in honor of the games.

 

ShrimpMoquecaGolden

SALLY’S GOLDEN SHRIMP MOQUECA
(from Bewitching Kitchen)

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or dendê oil, if available)
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Serrano pepper, minced
salt and pepper
roasted bell pepper, cut in large squares (preferably yellow)
2 cans (15 ounce) yellow tomatoes, drained, briefly processed in blender
a lot of cilantro (a lot)
about 1/2 cup coconut milk (full fat, please)
lemon juice to taste
hot sauce to taste

Squirt a little lemon juice all over the shrimp and reserve.

Heat the coconut oil in a large saute pan with a lid. Add the onions and cook until golden and fragrant. Add the Serrano pepper and roasted bell pepper, cook for a couple of minutes, stirring often.  Add the garlic, cook for about 30 seconds, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. Now pour the processed yellow tomatoes, season with salt, pepper, a dash or two of the hot sauce of your choice. Cover the pan and let it all simmer for about 10 minutes in very low heat.

Add the shrimp, simmer until cooked, just for a few minutes, then add coconut milk and cilantro to the pan, stirring until warm. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and more hot sauce to taste.  If you’d like, sprinkle fresh lemon juice right before serving. Perfect over white rice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

If you don’t have canned yellow tomatoes, use red.  I like to process them to have a smoother sauce. Yellow bell peppers would reinforce the golden color of the dish, but our store did not have any this time.

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A BRAZILIAN MENU TO CELEBRATE THE OLYMPIC GAMES

Let’s get a trio of appetizers going, starting with Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread).  This is a very easy recipe using a blender and a few minutes of your time. If you’ve never had Pão de Queijo, don’t blink. Make them right now!  They were born gluten-free, which is an added bonus to many.

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For the recipe, click follow this link.

Another great, traditional option,  Pastéis (a bit like empanadas, but fried).

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for the recipe, follow this link.

And perhaps my favorite, the one that gets the Golden Medal of Appetizers,
Mandioca Frita (Fried Yucca Root)

mandiocafrita1For the recipe, follow this link. 

To serve with the Golden Moqueca I recommend basic white rice and a nice helping of Brazilian Farofa, to help soak up the flavorful tomato-coconut sauce.

farofa

For the recipe, follow this link.

 

You definitely need the Brazilian national drink to get into the Olympic spirit!

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recipe for Caipirinhas can be found here.

Finally, for dessert, let’s share a triple round of goodies, starting with Brigadeiros,
because how could you not have brigadeiros during a Brazilian feast?

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For the recipe, click here

But it’s hard to beat the level of deliciousness of Cocada de Forno (Baked Coconut)

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to get the recipe for Cocada de Forno, jump here.

 

And perhaps my favorite of all, as Brazilian as Brazilian gets, Mangas Flambadas, served  comme il faut, with vanilla ice cream (but if you use Dulce de Leche it won’t hurt my feelings at all).

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For the recipe, click here.

Top the meal with what my Dad used to call um cafezinho esperto (a smart coffee), and dream with Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals around the neck of your favorite athletes.
Let’s keep in mind that medals are great but the effort each athlete puts into being there to compete, that’s what impresses me the most. Imagine the personal ordeals they go through to finally be part of the Olympic team.  Commitment, hard work, mental and physical struggles most of us could never face.

Quoting a great phrase from an advertisement for Under Armour: 

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Watch the video in full here. It is moving, truly mesmerizing.

Golden Shrimp Moqueca, from Bewitching Kitchen

ONE YEAR AGO: Tomato Tatin

TWO YEARS AGO: Headed to Colorado! 

THREE YEARS AGO: Farofa Brasileira

FOUR  YEARS AGO: Thai-Inspired Pork Tenderloin

FIVE YEARS AGO: A yummy Brazilian cake: Bolo de Fuba’

SIX YEARS AGO:  Summer’s Tomatoes

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Leaving on a jet plane… 

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TORTA DE LIQUIDIFICADOR

Come again? 

🙂


The best translation for this Brazilian recipe would be “Blender Pie.” First, let’s learn how to say it like a native. Repeat after me, three times:
.

Easy, right? I knew you could do it.

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I have a sister in Brazil who is 16 years older than me. By the time I got into my teens she was already married, throwing parties, and pretty involved into cooking. One of the things she used to make was this blender pie, but her favorite filling was tuna with green peas, black olives and tomatoes. Being the mega picky girl I was, I never touched that kind, preferring instead more friendly (and austere) versions with ham and cheese, at most a touch of oregano. The basic process is always the same, a thick batter is made in the blender, half of it gets poured into a baking dish, the filling of choice scattered on top, and the rest of the batter spread all over. It is comfort food by default, or as we say in Portuguese, por definição. I won’t sugar coat the pill, it is a bit heavy. Accept it and move on. As an appetizer a couple of small squares will be enough for each guest. If you’d like to serve it as dinner with a salad on the side this full recipe feeds six hungry people.

Blender Pie

TORTA DE LIQUIDIFICADOR
(BLENDER PIE)
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the “dough”
1 cup oil (I used canola)
2 cups milk (full-fat)
3 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup shredded Parmigiano cheese
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

for the filling
caramelized onions
sautéed mushrooms
shredded mozzarella cheese
diced tomatoes
(or any other filling you like to use)

Heat the oven to 375 F. Lightly grease or spray with oil a baking dish (9 x 13 or slightly smaller is fine).

Make the dough: add to a powerful blender all the ingredients, and blend for 5 minutes until completely smooth. Stop the blender and clean its sides a couple of times during the process.

Pour half of the batter in the prepared dish, add all ingredients for the filling on top, pour the rest of the batter, spreading gently with an offset spatula to enclose all the filling.

Bake for 45 minutes or until all puffed up and golden on top. Let it cool until just warm before cutting in slices. It can be prepared a couple of days in advance, to re-heat use a low oven, microwave is not recommended.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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The beauty of this recipe is its versatility. You can pretty much use any filling you imagine: shredded barbecued chicken, ground beef with taco seasonings, roasted veggies, maybe some grilled shrimp, all doable. One popular version in Brazil uses corn and peas, green and yellow like the colors of the country. I do think cheese is pretty much mandatory in any kind of blender pie. If using shrimp or roasted veggies I suppose a bit of crumbled feta would be a nice option. No need to measure anything, just cover the extension of the baking dish with a hearty amount of filling.

I made this particular version for a reception we hosted. Keep in mind that in the span of two weeks we hosted three receptions for faculty and one pizza-party for our whole lab. After the pizza party we had some toppings leftover, so this Brazilian concoction of my past was a perfect choice to use it all up. But to make it more special, I prepared a batch of  caramelized onions, following this recipe from my friend Elaine. She used a clever method that allows caramelization to be an almost hands-free process, by making them in a low oven. I added a smidgen of balsamic vinegar to the onions, together with salt, pepper and olive oil.

Here they are, in a before and after shot…
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I intended to add black olives to the filling too, but found the bowl with pitted Kalamata staring at me right after shutting down the oven door. Not the first time I pull this type of trick on myself, I believe it won’t be the last. Black olives would have been wonderful… (sigh)

The little pie squares are irresistibly gooey due to all the cheese…

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So there you have it, a Brazilian concoction from my teenage years finally featured in the Bewitching Kitchen. I hope I made my sister proud!  

ONE YEAR AGO: Lamb Meatballs with Toasted Orzo

TWO YEARS AGO: Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars

THREE YEARS AGO: Penne with Trapanese Pesto

FOUR YEARS AGO: Superman

FIVE YEARS AGO: Spring Pasta

SIX YEARS AGO: Ice Cream Melts for Mango

BRIGADEIROS DE MORANGO

Strawberry Brigadeiros

Say it like a native: repeat after me….


I grew up enjoying brigadeiros, probably the most popular food item in Brazilian birthdays and wedding celebrations. They are pretty much mandatory in such occasions. Then, last month we were at my niece Raquel’s home and when it was time for dessert she marched into the dining room with a humongous batch of brigadeiros sent by one of my cousins who could not join us that day. Brigadeiros, home-made with love! Most were the normal, chocolate type, but some were pretty wild, with a bright neon-pink color. “What are these?”  The answer puzzled me: “These are bicho de pé.” A literal translation produces something definitely unappetizing. Bicho de pé is a type of flea-like creature that lives in tropical swamps. Walking barefoot in those places carries a high risk of having those creatures set territory in the delicate flesh between your toes. They happen to look a lot like strawberry seeds, therefore the name. With this explanation, I just proved to you that Brazilians have a twisted sense of humor… At any rate, I rather go with  “strawberry brigadeiros.”  They are addictive. It’s hard for me to decide if they are better than the traditional ones, but… they put up a decent fight for first prize.  Easy to make and even easier to wolf down.  You’ve been warned!

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STRAWBERRY BRIGADEIROS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

makes about 35 brigadeiros

2 cans of sweetened, condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 package of strawberry gelatin
1 tablespoon of strawberry liquor (optional)
pink granulated sugar, or other coating of your choice

Add the condensed milk and butter to a saucepan, preferably non-stick. Cook over medium-low heat until the butter melts. Add the strawberry gelatin and the strawberry liquor, if using.

Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and starts to release from the bottom of the pan.  Keep it in low to medium-low heat, and stir often so that it doesn’t burn at the bottom of the pan.  When it is thick, remove from heat and dump it over a half-sheet pan to cool faster. You can also simply transfer to a bowl and stick it in the fridge.

Pour about half a cup of granulated sugar on a small bowl. Reserve. When the brigadeiro mixture is cool, form little balls with a teaspoon, and roll on the palm of  your hand. If you wet your hands with cold water it is easier to roll, and also helps the granulated sugar to adhere.  Roll each ball on granulated sugar, and place in little paper cups.

Set the brigadeiros on a platter, and…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

PicMonkey Collage

Comments: Wanna try to guess how to say Bicho de Pe’? Hint: the “CH” in Portuguese has a sound of “SH.”  (try it then click on the sound file below to see how well you did)


Bicho de pé
is actually a registered trademark for these adorable candies. They were first made in a patisserie called “Amor aos Pedaços” (Love by the Slice) that opened in São Paulo back in 1982.  The person behind the store, Ivani Calarezi, made beautiful gourmet cakes and pies, and her customers could choose one, grab a slice (or several), and go. It was a huge hit. Today Amor aos Pedaços is a chain with 50 stores all over the country. From what I’m told, the quality is not compromised. Apparently Bicho de Pé was available since its opening, so it’s a bit surprising that I had never seen one until now. Better late than never!  I got the recipe from my cousin Yvone and made it right away after coming back home. A Halloween party was the perfect occasion…  Everyone loved them!

They are a little tangy, a little sweet, plenty delicious… You can use different gelatin flavors, raspberry, blueberry, to have a slightly different color and taste. You can coat with chocolate sprinkles or make a mixed batch with different coatings, whatever you decide to do, I know these will be a huge success. Kids will go crazy for them, adults will try to act with restraint. HA! Wish them luck with that… Everyone turns into a kid around a batch of brigadeiros

😉

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We freeze well too! Make a big batch, stick us in the freezer,
and we’ll be ready to party whenever you are…

ONE YEAR AGO: Pan-charred Veggies from Cooking Light

TWO YEARS AGO: Artichoke-Saffron Souffle

THREE YEARS AGO: Cinnamon-Wreath

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Yeastspotting 11.11.11
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FIVE YEARS AGO: Oven-baked Risotto
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COXINHA DE GALINHA: A SAVORY BRAZILIAN DELICACY

You know how some recipes adapt ingredients to make an overly heavy dish lighter and “healthier?”  Maybe  using cauliflower instead of potatoes, baking instead of frying? Well, this recipe is not it. This is authentic Brazilian cooking the way it was meant to be: substantial, loaded in carbs, and to make matters worse, breaded AND deep-fried. My advice? Enjoy it with a tropical smile, then go for a Spartan life-style for a couple of days. Totally worth it.  This is the type of finger food that Brazilians grow up enjoying at parties and street markets.  It originated in São Paulo, in the 19th century.  It turns out that Imperial Princess Isabel had a son who loved to eat chicken, but he would only eat the thigh meat.  One day, the cook ran out of chicken thighs and decided to shred the meat of chicken breasts, and hide it in a dough shaped as a drumstick.  The boy loved it, and from then on coxinhas were a regular item in the Imperial kitchen. Imagine the thrill of that cook if he knew that 200 years later his creative recipe would be featured in a Bewitching Kitchen 6 thousand miles away!

Coxinhas de galinha

Before getting in the gastronomic aspect of this delicacy,  I must give you a little lesson on Brazilian Portuguese. I promise it won’t be too painful. Ready? Ok, in Portuguese you can turn almost any word into a diminutive form by adding the suffix “inho” or “inha” depending on the gender of the word. Masculine words get “inho“, feminine gets “inha“.  A few examples:

Casa (house) –> Casinha (little house)

Gato (cat) –> Gatinho (kitten)

Chuva (rain) –> Chuvinha (very light rain)

Linda (beautiful) –> Lindinha (more appropriate to describe a young girl or baby)

So, that brings me to the title of this post, “coxinha de galinha.”   Sounds like two diminutives put together, right?  Not so fast, dear students!  The first part is indeed a diminutive. It derives from “coxa” (thigh), so coxinha is a small thigh. Now, moving to the second part: galinha… that is not a diminutive per se, it is a real word that means chicken. The word for rooster is “galo.”  So, in Portuguese a male rooster gets a beautiful word, but the female is defined by its diminutive form. How sexist is that?

All jokes aside, let’s make sure you can pronounce the words correctly. The “inha” component might be a bit tricky, be patient, listen carefully and repeat after me…

Sheila

Sheila, a Brazilian graduate student from our department…

COXINHA DE GALINHA
(adapted from From Brazil to You)

For the filling:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, finely minced
1 celery rib, finely minced
3 cups cooked (or rotisserie) chicken, finely shredded
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
A pinch of red pepper flakes
¼ cup cream cheese, softened
3 Tablespoons minced green onions
minced cilantro leaves to taste

For the dough:
3-1/3 cup chicken stock
A pinch of salt (enough to taste)
¼ teaspoon annatto or turmeric
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

For dredging and frying:
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs, whisked with a tablespoon of water
2-3 cups breadcrumbs
enough vegetable oil to fully immerse the coxinhas

Prepare the filling: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent. In a large bowl, place the finely shredded chicken and stir in the cooked onion and celery mixture, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes , the cream cheese, green onions, and cilantro. Set aside. It can be made a couple of days in advance, keep refrigerated.

Prepare the coxinha dough: In a large, non-stick saucepan, place the chicken stock, salt, annatto or turmeric, and olive oil, and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. When the stock is hot, add the sifted flour all at once while stirring very well. It will get more and more difficult to stir but continue to stir vigorously for about 1 minute or so until obtaining a uniformly lumpy dough.

Remove from heat and transfer the coxinha dough to an electric mixer fitted with a hook attachment. Knead dough at low-speed for about 5 minutes or until it becomes soft and smooth. Scrape dough from mixing bowl onto a well-floured surface with a dough scraper or spatula, and knead a little bit more by hand. Shape the coxinha dough into a flat disk and let rest for 10 minutes at room temperature.

Using a rolling-pin, roll out the dough onto a well-floured surface until it is about ¼ to ⅛-inch thick. Using a 3-1/4-inch round cookie cutter, cut out disks of dough and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (a metal spatula can be useful to help pry the disks from the rolling surface). Aggregate the dough leftovers, re-roll, and cut out more disks. You should have between 30 and 35 disks.

Form the coxinhas: Scoop about 1 tablespoon of the chicken filling onto the center of each disk. Lightly oil your hands and shape the filled disks into drumsticks by folding the dough up and around the filling into a beggar’s purse shape, forming the neck of the coxinha between your encircled index finger and thumb, and gently press the filling down into the center as you close. Pinch and seal the edges. Pull the dough at the top out slightly so that it resembles a drumstick. Use a moist towel to clean your fingers off each time they touch the filling. Make sure the dough has no cracks; if it does crack, wet your fingers in water and pinch the dough together. Flatten the rounded bottom of the coxinhas very minimally with the palm of your hand (just enough that they will be able to rest upright), and placed shaped coxinhas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Dredge and fry the coxinhas: Prepare three separate bowls for the all-purpose flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs. Pass the fritters through each bowl (flour, egg whites, and then breadcrumbs), shaking off any excess.  Pour enough vegetable oil into a frying machine or heavy-bottomed pot. Heat to 350 degrees F. Fry the fritters in batches. Please, do not place too many coxinhas or chicken fritters in at the same time because this will lower the temperature, making the fritters oily. Make sure to turn all sides while frying the fritters so that they will brown evenly. Transfer coxinhas or fritters to a baking sheet lined with a double sheet of paper towels to absorb any excess oil. To serve coxinhas warm, keep the finished batches in a warm oven until serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: I won’t sugar coat the pill,  this is a pretty involved culinary project.  If you have a couple of friends to join in the fun it will be a lot easier. In that particular Sunday I had two friends over, Cindy, who has been a regular in our kitchen since the days we lived in Oklahoma, and Sheila who wanted to introduce Brazilian cuisine to her friends  on campus. We made the full recipe, ending up with 33 coxinhas, more than enough for us to enjoy and share. Perfect!

Shaping takes some practice, but even if you don’t hit it perfectly it will taste great, it’s all about the crunchy outside, the soft dough, and the flavorful meat inside.

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Nothing better than biting into one of these babies….. The turmeric gives the dough a characteristic yellow color, but you can definitely omit it. The same dough could be used to enclose all sorts of goodies, you can even opt for a vegetarian filling, but if you do, please don’t call them ‘veggie coxinhas,” and don’t worry about the shaping, go for a simple round or oblong fritter. I am so glad Sheila asked me to dive into this culinary adventure!  I hope you enjoyed this post on a super traditional Brazilian delicacy. It was a great weekend, actually, because the day before Cindy and I made French macarons for the second time together. You will read all about it soon…

ONE YEAR AGO: Prosciutto-Wrapped Shrimp Skewers

TWO YEARS AGO: Linguine with Cauliflower Pesto

THREE  YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: A Tribute to Daniel

FOUR YEARS AGO: Nutella Drop Cookies

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Dreaming of butternut squash

SIX YEARS AGO: Simply Elegant: Salmon Curry (one of my very favorite dishes!)

OTTOLENGHI IN BRAZIL?

Was he really there?  Not that I am aware of, but his salads were part of my niece’s meals every single day we stayed there last Thanksgiving.  My youngest niece Raquel is a fantastic cook and has a ton of energy: with three young kids, she still finds time to make bread, bake all sorts of sweets (cakes included, she’s got the right genes), and exercise on a regular basis. Phil and I stayed with her, her hubby Celso and the kids during part of our last visit, and we were treated like royalty! She also hosted a lunch for our whole family that consisted of Brazilian classics like feijoada, pastéis, mandioca frita, farofa, mashed plantains, and a chocolate mousse with cachaça that swept Phil off his feet.  Almost literally. Not the type of dessert appropriate for kids, mind you…    Knowing that my goal was to leave Brazil with the exact same weight I had upon my arrival, she prepared several salads from Plenty, so that I could resort to a light meal every once in a while. My favorite was a salad with dates and chèvre, so when I arrived back home, I sat down with Jerusalem, Plenty, and Plenty More to be properly inspired.

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BABY GREENS SALAD WITH DATES, ORANGES AND ALMONDS
(modified from Ottolenghi & Tamimi Jerusalem cookbook)

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 ½ ounces pitted Medjool dates, quartered lengthwise
2 large navel orange segments
2 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup sliced almonds
¼ cup sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sumac
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
5 ounces baby greens
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
sea salt

Put the vinegar and dates in a small bowl, add a pinch of salt and toss mixing well. Leave to marinate for about 15 minutes, then drain and discard any of the residual vinegar. Reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet, add the slivered almonds, season lightly with salt, and cook until dark golden.  Place them on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle with sumac and red pepper flakes. allow it to cool.

When ready to serve the salad, place the baby greens in a large bowl. Add one tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat the leaves with dressing. Add the oranges, and dates, tossing it all gently again. Top with the almond mixture and the sesame seeds.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  if you have Jerusalem, this version was a departure from his spinach salad with dates and toasted pita bread.  I am sure it is even more delicious, but I kept it simple this time, and used a nice coating with sesame seeds, plus orange segments which I think go very well with the dates.  I love the unique flavor that sesame seeds impart to dishes.  We have an Oriental grocery store in town that sells HUGE bottles of plain, toasted, and black sesame seeds from the Middle East for a great price, so I make sure to never run out of them.

And now, time to share a few shots of that wonderful lunch that joined my whole family: two sisters, one brother-in-law, four nieces (two with their respective husbands), 5 of my 6 grandnephews, and of course, my Mom presiding like a Queen over all of us.

FeijoadaFeijoada, a Brazilian classic…

All the “usual suspects” that are mandatory to go with it…

FeijoadaStuffOrange segments, shredded “couve” (similar to kale), farofa, white rice…

MandiocaFritaMandiocaServedMandioca frita, to die for!

PasteisPastéis, of three kinds: ground beef, cheese, and hearts of palm…
Choose your ticket to paradise!

Plantains2My first time enjoying this delicacy:  mashed plantains… very very tasty!

SaladOne of Ottolenghi’s salads….  nice counterpart for so many rich dishes!

MousseChocolateLa pièce de resistance…. Chocolate Mousse with Cachaça….
a complete dream in chocolate form!

MomNailsMy Mom’s 91-year-old hands…
I guess it’s clear where my fascination with nail polish comes from…

Mom&Me2One more visit that went by too fast… Until next time, Keep Calm and Carry On…  

Before I say goodbye, a little note to tell you that I just started a Facebook page for the Bewitching. It is a bit strange to start a page for a blog that is almost 6 years old, but I joined a Facebook group of bloggers and they advised me to do so.  If you want to like the Bewitching on FB, just click on the link on the right side. Thank you!

ONE YEAR AGO: Roasted Winter Vegetables with Miso-Lime Dressing

TWO YEARS AGO: 2012 Fitness Report: P90X2

THREE YEARS AGO: Caramelized Bananas

FOUR YEARS AGO: Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette

FIVE YEARS AGO: Whole Wheat Bread

MY RIO DE JANEIRO: A COOKBOOK REVIEW

Time for a cookbook review, the second publication by Leticia Schwartz.  Those who have been around the Bewitching Kitchen long enough might remember I reviewed Leticia’s first cookbook, The Brazilian Kitchen.   With this new book, she takes her favorite city in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, and professes her love by showcasing recipes from each different neighborhood.  I imagine that only two of them might ring a bell for those who never set foot in Rio: Ipanema and Copacabana.   Those are names made famous by Tom Jobim’s song Garota de Ipanema, and by images of beautiful women wearing bikinis that cover the bare minimum of their bodies. But Rio is a lot more than that, a collection of very diverse neighborhoods reflecting the immigrants who shaped them.

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I had a pretty tough time picking a recipe to share with you, but decided to make her Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus in Coconut Milk because it is quite unique and brings many of the flavors of Brazilian cooking in a single dish.

Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus in Coconut SaucePASTA WITH SHRIMP AND ASPARAGUS IN COCONUT MILK
(published with permission from Leticia Schwartz)

kosher salt
8 ounces tagliatelle, linguine or the pasta of your choice
8 ounces asparagus (about 1 bunch), tough parts trimmed
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled (use shells for stock)
black pepper
1 shallot, minced
1 cup shrimp stock (or chicken stock)
1 cup coconut milk2 Tablespoons Cognac
2 Tablespoons chives, minced

Steam the asparagus for about 3 minutes, cool them quickly in a bowl of ice-water. Drain well and reserve. Cut in pieces before adding to the sauce.

Bring a large amount of salted water to a boil and start cooking the pasta until a little short of al dente.  As the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce. Reserve some of the pasta water when you drain it in case you need to thin the sauce at the end.

Heat the olive oil in a large, preferably non-stick skillet on medium heat.  Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, add to the skillet and saute until they start to turn orange, about 1 minute per side. Remove the shrimp to a plate, tent with foil, and reserve.  Add the shallots to the skillet, cook until they start to develop a golden brown color, about 3 minutes.  Add the stock and bring to a boil, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the coconut milk, bring to a gentle boil again, cook until the sauce starts to concentrate, thicken, and reduce to about half the volume (about 3 to 4 minutes).

Reduce the heat to low, add the cooked pasta, the reserved shrimp, and asparagus pieces. Toss everything together vigorously, if needed add some of the pasta cooking water, or a little more coconut milk to keep the dish creamy.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, stir the cognac, and add chives right before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: Making your own shrimp stock is not absolutely essential, you could use chicken stock or even vegetable stock, but it does add an extra something to the sauce. The seafood flavor is obviously intensified.  Leticia likes to roast the shrimp shells with a little tomato paste, I just sauteed the shells on olive oil, then added water and simmered them for 20 minutes with some celery, carrots, and onions.

I had never used coconut milk  in a pasta sauce before, I might try the light coconut milk next time, I don’t think it would pose a problem.  I could not find chives at the store that day, but a little cilantro or parsley sprinkled on top would also be wonderful. I only remembered that step after we were halfway through with dinner.  Such is the life of a blogger. You don’t always fulfill your own expectations.  😉

Spaghetti with Shrimp and Asparagus in Coconut Milk Sauce

Now, let me go through the book, chapter by chapter, so you can have a better idea of what it’s all about. I list just a few recipes from each chapter, as the book contains 90 recipes.  I should also mention that even though the chapters are divided according to each neighborhood of the city, in the index the recipes are listed by ingredients, making it very easy to find anything you might be interested in cooking.

LeblonEvening in Leblon

CHAPTER ONE: LEBLON. In this chapter, Leticia brings the type of food associated with “botequins“. A quote from the book: “A botequim is a simply type of restaurant that came to being in Brazil in the late 1800’s by and for Portuguese immigrants”.   The botequim actually reminds me of simple bistrots in Paris, not the fancy ones geared to tourists, but the small, usually a bit dark inside, where folks who live or work in the neighborhood meet for a simple meal, a drink, a coffee.  She opens the chapter with Sugar and Lime Cocktail, the Brazilian national drink, “capirinha“.   “Botequim” food is usually finger food, a bit like Spanish tapas.  You will find Golden Salt Cod Fritters (bolinho de bacalhau), Brazilian-Style Fried Chicken, in which the pieces are cut very small and heavily seasoned with garlic, and the wonderful Brigadeiros, like the ones I had in the blog  years ago.

GarotaIpanemaAn old photo of Helo Pinheiro (the original Girl from Ipanema)  & Tom Jobim.

CHAPTER TWO: IPANEMA. The opening part of this chapter is a nice tribute to Farmer’s Market, which are a must-visit in Rio (as well as Sao Paulo, says the “paulista” in me). She describes the hard work associated with getting the market ready, as at 7am every stand is open for business.  Grated coconut, coconut milk, fresh coconut pieces, those are ingredients that are part of many traditional Brazilian recipes, and as Leticia points out, no one wants to do that type of job at home, so the street markets have several stands in which people grate coconut the whole day, handing you a bag with the freshest possible product. Absolutely nothing to do with the stuff we get in grocery stores, dried up, often overly sweet.  Her first recipe in the chapter is for Yucca Cracker, and that brought me so many memories!  I grew up enjoying them, and honestly I had no idea they could be made at home. They are shaped like a bagel, but their taste and texture is absolutely unique. You can see them here. Pao de queijo is in this chapter too, her recipe more traditional than the one I blogged about in the past.  Some other recipes in this chapter: Feijoada (Brazilian Black Bean Stew), Duck and Yucca Shepherd’s Pie (be still, my heart!). and the recipe I shared with you today, Tagliatelle with Shrimp, Asparagus, and Coconut Milk.

CopacabanaSunsetSunset in Copacabana

CHAPTER THREE: COPACABANA & LEME.  A quote from the book: “Rio’s magical places have the power to inspire musicians and artist from around the world. Indeed music and passion are always in fashion at the Copa! Copacabana!” The chapters opens with a classic soup of Portuguese origin, Garlic and Cilantro Soup with Poached Eggs and Croutons (Açorda Alantejana), followed by Creamy Brazil Nut Soup (a heavy contender for featured recipe, by the way), and also brings some dishes with Middle Eastern influence, like “Esfihas“.  The recipe that made my heart miss a beat, though was Moqueca Blinis with Shrimp.  A fantastic twist on Shrimp Moqueca, in a recipe by Chef Rolland Villar, joining Brazilian and French cuisines.  I must make it! Here is a photo from the book, doesn’t that seem amazing? The moqueca flavors are in the blinis, and the shrimp sits on top of each delicious bite…

photo(2)CHAPTER FOUR: JARDIM BOTANICO, GÁVEA E LAGOA. A quote: “Cariocas are obsessed with exercise and Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas (a lagoon) is one of the most beautiful places in town to go jogging. … exercising in that setting it’s as if your endorphins double from the visual effects of Rio, and the result is a sense of pure happiness, elation and peacefulness…”  Some recipes from the chapter include Rolled Sausage Bread with Rosemary (a concoction from the very famous Pizzaria Braz), Chez Anne’s Cheese Empanadas, Brazilian-Style Veal Stroganof, and Cashew Fruit Ice Cream (trust me, this is to die for!).

SugarLoaf
CHAPTER FIVE: FLAMENGO & BOTAFOGO.
The famous Sugar Loaf is located in this part of town.  Leticia featured in this chapter some recipes from trendy restaurants like Nomangue and Irajá.  I was quite tempted to prepare the Hearts of Palm Soup, so soothing and creamy, but the Molten Brigadeiro Cake (which Leticia likes to serve with ginger ice cream) was also calling my name.  Real loud.

Cristo

CHAPTER SIX: SANTA TERESA, GLÓRIA, LARANJEIRAS & COSME VELHO: Dining with a view. Perhaps the most famous landmark of Rio, Christ the Redeemer, is located in this neighborhood. Leticia recommends two restaurant in the region, Aprazível, and a botequim-type place called Bar do Mineiro. By the way, clicking on the link to Aprazivel will bring up a beautiful Brazilian song, worth listening to. She features not only recipes from these places, but also some from caterers that often come up with incredible twists on classics.  A few examples: Plum Tomato and Bread Soup, Rita’s Fried Zucchini, Chicken and Chorizo over Jasmine Rice (the famous Galinhada), and Passion Fruit Mousse.

Carnival_in_Rio_de_Janeiro

CHAPTER SEVEN: CENTRO, LAPA E ARREDORES.  This is the neighborhood associated with samba and Carnival, where the “Sambódromo” is located, and the huge avenue where the samba schools parade for days, Avenida Marques de Sapucaí”.  Lots of great recipes in this chapter, like Feijoada Fritters with Collard Greens (a take on feijoada from the restaurant Aconchego Carioca), Slow-Roasted Pork Ribs with Guava Sauce, Polenta Turnovers (what a great culinary move!), and Tapioca Pudding with Coconut Caramel Sauce.

CHAPTER EIGHT: BARRA DA TIJUCA.  Well, that is a part of Rio very dear to my heart.  My Mom and my sisters were born and raised in that neighborhood, and so was Leticia!  Quote from the book: “To enter Barra, you have to drive through Rocinha, the largest favela of Brazil. Leticia grew up just a few minutes away, but never connected with this world – so close but yet so far away”.   That is one interesting aspect of Rio, and quite disturbing for foreigners, how close the opposites of society co-exist in town.  A common denominator, though, is food.  Some examples of recipes featured in this chapter are Yucca Fries (the best food in the known universe, if you ask me), Chicken Salad with Carrots and Chives on Whole Wheat (very famous sandwich sold at every beach in Rio, by vendors who scream as they pass by “Look, it’s the Natural Sandwich!”, Fresh Cod with Onions, Potatoes, and Broccolini, and the absolutely delicious Pulled Carne Seca with Butternut Squash Puree.

Buzios
CHAPTER NINE: BÚZIOS.
  Búzios is supposed to be a paradise on Earth. I have never been there, believe it or not, but one day I dream of spending a few days with Phil. It is a beach town, three hours drive from Rio. Enjoying seafood is a must.   How about Farfalle with Salmon and Caipirinha SauceTuna Sandwich?

Paraty
CHAPTER TEN: PARATY.
Now, THAT is a paradise I visited with Phil and a couple of great friends years ago.  We had a fantastic time, and also got one of the worst sunburns in the history of our lives… 🙂 Paraty is more or less halfway through Rio and São Paulo, and it is a historic city, full of churches from the Gold Era of Brazil, and also fantastic restaurants and hotels. Leticia opens the chapter with a drink, Coconut Cocktail, which I find as delicious or better than capirinha… Also in this chapter you can drool over her Roasted Garlic-Ginger Shrimp with Coconut and Fresh Herb Crumbs (the picture is enough to make me swoon).

CHAPTER ELEVEN: REGIÃO SERRANA. In this chapter, Leticia focuses on a town called Teresópolis, located in hills not too far from Rio de Janeiro. I would love to make her Spinach Crepes with Fresh Tomato Sauce (Brazilian crepes, called “panquecas”, are not the same as the French concoction), the Brazilian Tiramisu, or the Dulce de Leche Brioche Pudding (I gained a pound typing it, though).

CHAPTER TWELVE: HOME COOKING.  In my opinion, no better way to close a cookbook. She features recipes from her family, and surprisingly starts the chapter with her Aunt Sarita’s Moroccan Meatballs. It turns out her Aunt was born in Tangier, so you won’t be able to get more Middle Eastern than that…  One of the recipes in this chapter gave me a huge smile because it was part of my childhood, teenage years, and adulthood too: Ground Beef with Hard-Boiled Eggs and Olives. That is simple,  home cooking to the fullest, and I find myself making batches and batches to enjoy for lunch.  Also in this chapter, Baked Rice with Chicken and Chorizo (Arroz de Forno, each family in Brazil seems to have a version for it),  Brazilian Style Pot Roast, White Chocolate Mousse with Passion Fruit Gelee, and Brazilian Rice Pudding.

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Leticia, thank you so much for giving me permission to publish one more of your recipes!  I am sure My Rio de Janeiro will be a huge success, for Brazilians in Brazil, for those like us, living abroad, and for people all over the world who share a passion for food and like to learn about other cultures through their cuisines.  You did a wonderful job assembling these recipes, your love for Rio comes through in every page…

ONE YEAR AGO: Hearts of Palm Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

TWO YEARS AGO: Watercress Salad

THREE YEARS AGO: Curried Zucchini Soup

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chocolate Bread

PUMPKIN BRIGADEIROS

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Brigadeiros are the most popular Brazilian candy, mandatory item at Birthday parties. I blogged about them here, and shared a coconut variation here. This recipe has been sitting on my Pinterest cooking  board ever since I saw it on Denise’s site, From Brazil to You, around Halloween.  You should definitely stop by her site to see how she shaped each one as a cute little pumpkin.  Knowing my limitations, I simply rolled them as traditional “brigadeiros” and coated them with the shimmer sugar Phil recently bought for me, adorable husband that he is.  And, by the way, in Portuguese, pumpkin brigadeiros = brigadeiros de abóbora.  if you want to say it as a native Brazilian, listen to yours truly by clicking this audio link

PUMPKIN BRIGADEIROS
(slightly modified from Denise’s blog)

1 (14 oz or 396 g) can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Granulated sugar for rolling

Grease a dish with unsalted butter and set aside. Place about 1 cup of granulated sugar on another plate and set aside.

Mix the condensed milk, pumpkin puree, butter, and spices in a saucepan over medium heat. Non-stick is best.  Cook, stirring constantly in order to avoid burning, until thickened enough that the bottom of the pan shows through briefly when the mixture is stirred, and runs to the sides of the pan slowly if gathered in the center of the pan with a wooden or plastic spoon– this should usually take approximately 10-12 minutes, depending on your stove.

Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla, and pour mixture into the greased dish. Let cool. The brigadeiro dough can be refrigerated for about 20 minutes before rolling into balls if desired. Then wet your hands with cold water and shape the brigadeiros into balls, using a tablespoon as measure. Roll each one in sugar, and place in small paper cups.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

prep

Comments:  This was a delightful take on a Brazilian classic!  They are sweet with all the condensed milk, but the pumpkin offers a nice counterpart.  I took a batch for a potluck dessert party,  and lots of people asked me for the recipe, so I guarantee that whenever you make these babies, they will please your guests!

I bet  you cannot eat just one… 😉

Pumpkin Brigadeiros

ONE YEAR AGO: Pumpkin Espresso Loaf

TWO YEARS AGO: Caramelized Carrot Soup

THREE YEARS AGO: Miso-Grilled Shrimp

FOUR YEARS AGO: A Special Holiday Fruitcake