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.

noname-7

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.

photo-1
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

Closeup

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

FAROFA BRASILEIRA

farofa
Many of the classic recipes of Brazilian cooking have a counterpart  in other cuisines, be it French, Italian, or American. For instance, feijoada,  the  famous Brazilian concoction,  could be described as a type of cassoulet using different kinds of meat, and black beans instead of the French Tarbais.  Other dishes are a bit hard to “explain” for those who are not familiar with it.  Farofa is one perfect example.  The closest culinary item that I can use to describe farofa would be the toasted rice powder used on larb.  It’s about texture.   Just like Bolognese sauce and chili, each Brazilian family will swear by their recipe.  I will give you my own family version, the one that Phil fell in love with the first time he’s tried it.

FAROFA BRASILEIRA
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

4 strips of bacon, center-cut, diced
2 Tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups manioc flour (see comments)
salt and pepper to taste
3 hard-boiled eggs, coarsely diced
parsley leaves, minced

Cook the bacon on low heat on a large, non-stick skillet. No need to add any oil, the bacon will release its own fat.  Once the fat starts to accumulate in the pan, increase the heat slightly and allow the bacon to get some color.  Add the butter and the diced onion, cook over medium-heat stirring often until the onion gets light golden. Add the garlic, cook for a minute, then dump all the manioc flour.  Season with salt and black pepper, and keep stirring until the flour starts to get toasted.  Make sure to stir the flour from the top to the bottom of the pan, so that the whole amount gets cooked.

Remove the pan from the heat, add the hard-boiled eggs and the parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature, preferably over a nice helping of white rice and beans.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

served1
Comments: If you want to make this Brazilian delicacy, it’s absolutely essential to find the right type of manioc flour.  It is NOT the fine powder used to bake items such as Brazilian cheese bread.  The manioc flour used for farofa is coarse, and sold in two different forms: white and toasted.  You can use either one for this recipe. If you start with the toasted flour your farofa will have a slight more intense flavor. To order some online, click here.  I really like Yoki brand, you can get “cruda/crua” (white) or “torrada” (toasted).  For a delicious farofa variation that includes corn, visit Angela’s blog (in Portuguese). I intend to make her recipe soon.

Farofa is best enjoyed over black beans and rice, or a nice moqueca.  Anything with a spicy sauce only gets better with a nice coating of farofa.  But, I must say that once you get hooked on it, you will find yourself reaching for the bowl with a spoon and enjoying it all by itself.  Gotta tell a little story here.  My Dad was the utmost farofa-lover.  He developed a very interesting skill to enjoy it, in which he grabbed a fork, balanced a big load of farofa on it, then launched it up in the air, catching it all with his mouth! Believe it or not, not a single crumb would fall on the floor…  It’s really too bad in those days cell phones with camera did not exist or he could have been be a super-star on youtube.  It’s ok, though.  He was and will always be a super-star for me.

ONE  YEAR AGO: Thai-Inspired Pork Tenderloin

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

THREE YEARS AGO:  Summer’s Tomatoes

FOUR YEARS AGO: Leaving on a jet plane… 

FEIJOADA, THE ULTIMATE BRAZILIAN FEAST

The day was September 28th.  The year was 2009.  On that day I posted a recipe for Brazilian black beans, and promised a subsequent recipe for feijoada.  It took me almost 2 years, but here it is!  Be aware that any recipe for this great Brazilian dish will be controversial, just as a Bolognese sauce is for Italian cooks. Every family has their own favorite, and noses will twist at any deviations from their norm.  It’s also tricky to find the authentic ingredients in the US, which my recipe takes into account by adapting to what’s available here. For instance, “carne seca”  (dry meat, a delicacy NOT to be confused with the American beef jerky), and some parts of the pig that are sold salted and/or smoked (pig’s feet, ears, tail) are basic components of the Brazilian dish, but I can’t find them at American markets. Because they are so salty and some are also quite fatty, most recipes ask to soak these meats overnight (discarding the water) and cooking them separately from the beans until almost tender.  I am substituting corned beef and other types of pork, easily available.  I also omitted using a pressure cooker, to make the recipe feasible for those who do not own one.  By the way, feijoada is a dish to be enjoyed at lunchtime, traditionally on Wednesdays or Saturdays.  It’s such hearty dish that enjoying a plate of feijoada at dinner could be risky…   😉

FEIJOADA 
(a family recipe)

2 pounds black beans
4 quarts water
2 pounds pork shoulder, cut in large cubes
1 cup orange juice
2 bay leaves
1 pound fresh spicy sausage (linguica)
3/4 pound corned beef
1 pound smoked pork chops
1/2 pound chorizo
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1/2 pound slab bacon, diced
2 onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Serrano peppers, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Cover the black beans with water and let them soaking overnight.  Next day, discard all the water, place them in a very large pan, add water to cover them by an inch, bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes, without any salt.

Meanwhile, prepare the pork butt by placing the cubed meat in a large pan with 1 cup of orange juice, water to almost cover the meat, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, simmer for 45 minutes, covered.  Discard the cooking liquid, reserve the meat, and add it to the black beans after they simmered for 45 minutes.   Add the brisket in one piece and the bay leaves.  Simmer everything together for 1 hour.

Add the smoked pork chops and both types of sausage, continue simmering for another 2 hours, keeping an eye on the water level, adding more if necessary.  At this point, the meats should be tender enough to cut into pieces. Remove them, cut the brisket, the sausages, and add them back to the pan.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan, add the bacon cut in pieces, the onion, garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the onion starts to get golden brown.  Add the serrano pepper, saute for a minute, add the whole mixture to the black beans, holding back some of the fat in case the bacon released too much oil.  Remove 1/2 cup beans with a slotted spoon (draining the liquid), add them to a small bowl and mash gently with a fork, forming a puree. Return the mashed beans to the pan.

Simmer everything for another 30 minutes or until the meats are completely tender.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, remove bay leaves.  Serve over white rice, with fresh oranges, cut in large chunks.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

These photos were taken at my youngest niece’s home, she and her husband hosted an unforgettable Saturday lunch for the whole family.  The table was beautifully set, with the green/yellow colors of Brazil, fitting the menu to a T.

Feijoada is always served with fresh chunks of oranges, sauteed and shredded “couve” (similar to collard greens), farofa, and white rice.   The  best way to serve it is to assemble all the goodies in a buffet type setting, so that each guest can make their own plate.  In my family, we also provide an assortment of salads, especially now that we have two vegetarians in our crowd.

It is easy to understand why this meal suits lunchtime a lot better than dinner!  😉

What to drink with feijoada?  If you want to remain authentic, go for capirinhas: either the traditional drink made with limes, or some of the many new departures on this classic. At any rate, my brother–in-law Celso is a pro at making capirinhas, one glass and one huge smile at a time…

and once the feijoada is over,  only a good hammock will do!

ONE YEAR AGO: Vegetable Milhojas

TWO YEARS AGO: A Peachy Salad for a Sunny day!

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A YUMMY BRAZILIAN CAKE: BOLO DE FUBA’

I often say that I don’t care  much for sweets, and visitors to the Bewitching likely realize that for me, savory stuff tops the sweets by a long, long margin.  But,  for many years I heard comments about my youngest niece’s cake skills (a gene that must have skipped my generation!), and now, finally, I had a chance to savor one of her specialties: a traditional Brazilian cornmeal cake, called “bolo de fuba’.”  Her recipe has two interesting additions:  a farmer’s type cheese and shredded coconut.  Together, they produce a cake that´s moist, with just the right sweetness.  If I had to describe it in a single word, that word would be irresistible.

RAQUEL’s BRAZILIAN CORNMEAL CAKE
(adapted from Na Cozinha com Carolina)

a little butter and flour to prepare the pan
4 eggs
3 cups of milk
1 + ½ cups sugar
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs flour
1 cup cornmeal
100 g (4 oz) sweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup farmers type fresh cheese, coarsely grated
1 Tbs baking powder

Heat the oven to 350F. Prepare a round, medium size, ring cake type pan by buttering the inside and adding a small amount of flour, tapping off the excess.

Add all ingredients to a blender and mix until they form a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool for 10 to 15 minutes before unmolding. Serve it warm or cold.  

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Bolo de fuba´ originates in Africa, in fact the name fubá  means flour in kimbundu (spoken in Angola),  but in Brazil it is used exclusively for what in the US is known as cornmeal.  The Portuguese, main colonizers of Brazil, expanded the use of cormeal into all kinds of sweet and savory concoctions, including breads, as their famous “broa.” 

Bolo de fuba´ is the type of cake one would expect to be served with a nice cup of coffee or tea in the middle of the afternoon, or at breakfast to start the day on a good vibe.  As you can see from the photo below, this cake bakes in three distinct layers, a cornmeal cakey component on top, a creamy center, and the coconut flakes in the base.

Raquel´s version is the best I´ve ever had, making me lose all my composure and restraint, going back for another tiny sliver, and another, and another, until she could not take it anymore and said “why don´t you just cut a real slice and get it over with?”   Wisdom comes in many forms.  Lesson learned. 😉

ONE YEAR AGO:  Hidden Treasure

TWO YEARS AGO: Avocado Three Ways

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BRIGADEIROS: A Brazilian Party!

It’s time for a virtual visit to Brazil.  Brigadeiros are a mandatory sweet delicacy at children’s parties, especially birthday parties, but they’ll put a smile on  folks of all ages, at any celebration.   At a typical Brazilian birthday party hundreds of brigadeiros surround a beautiful cake in the center of a huge table.   Tropical Miss Manners states that brigadeiros should be enjoyed AFTER the cake, and until then they’re part of the party decor, but by age 5 each Brazilian has already developed his or her unique style of discreetly stealing a few. My Dad – whom I’ve already praised  for his expert kitchen thievery  (in stealing pasteis )  – used to  slowly circle the table while pulling  his white handkerchief from his pants as if to anticipate a sneeze. With a quick but quite elegant move, two or three brigadeiros disappeared into the handkerchief, adeptly pocketed for his later enjoyment while he was away from the other guests.

Remembering these little gems, it’s not surprising  that we all had a difficulty waiting for the candles to be blown.

BRIGADEIROS
(traditional Brazilian recipe)

1 can of condensed milk (for instance, Carnation brand)
1 + 1/2 T butter
1 + 1/2 T cocoa powder, sifted
pinch of cinnamon
chocolate sprinkles (enough for coating all brigadeiros)

Place all ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan (preferably enamel coated, but not absolutely necessary). Cook in medium heat until the butter melts, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, until the mixture starts to pull out of the bottom of the pan. It should take between 10 and 17 minutes. If the mixture starts to boil too furiously, reduce the heat or remove the pan from the burner for a minute or so, always stirring.

Allow it to cool until you can handle it. It is OK to put it in the refrigerator to speed up the process.

Place the chocolate sprinkles in a shallow dish. Have a small dish with cold water to dip your fingers and moisten the palm of your hands. Using a teaspoon, grab portions of the cool chocolate mixture and roll into balls. Immediately roll them in chocolate sprinkles and place in a small paper cup.

Makes 24 brigadeiros.   Scale up the recipe for large gatherings.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Rolling brigadeiros kicks off the party. Usually a bunch of women sit together at a table working in factory-like style. When I was a young child, I recall feeling  jealous of my sisters, because being older than me, they were allowed to “enrolar brigadeiros,” whereas my job was to painfully open and prepare the little paper cups.  It seemed so unfair!   But, they were democratic as far as eating the misshapen ones:  I always had my share when all was said and done… or should I say “when all were rolled and done?” ;-).  As you may have already gleaned from the recipe, brigadeiros are not just about chocolate.  The sweetness and smoothness of the condensed milk cooks down into a retro, fudgy texture that you won’t forget!

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ONE YEAR AGO: Lemony Asparagus

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CAIPIRINHAS 101

THE WORLD CUP IS FINALLY HERE!

The World’s Most Adorable Dog….
printed with permission from Life of Jalo

I grew up watching all the games, and I still remember well when Brazil won (for the third time) in 1970, with a team that joined the one and only Pele’,  Rivelino, Tostao and Gerson, to name four of my favorites.  Most people in Brazil have their own routine  to watch the games and the whole country pretty much freezes when Brazil plays. Our family gathered at my parents’ home,  with my Mom sitting in her favorite chair, always wearing the same robe. It turns out that she wore it in the final game of 1970, when Brazil beat Italy in a nail-biter to capture the World Cup.   That outfit became, and remains to this day the “World Cup robe.”   It was carefully washed and stored away, only to appear every 4th year after that 1970 game.

Since I left the country watching the games hasn’t been the same, but  to bring the right spirit to the festivities I like to make “caipirinhas“, Brazil’s national drink.  It’s a blast of refreshing lime with “pinga” – a sugar cane distillate  not too hard to find in the US.
caipirinha1

CAIPIRINHA
(the authentic way, prepared one drink at a time)

1 thick-bottomed glass
1 large lime
1 Tbs granulated sugar
ice cubes (enough to fill the glass)
pinga (aka cachaca, aguardente de cana)

Wash the limes, cut both ends. Quarter the lime lengthwise, removing the central white pith which is bitter. Cut each quarter in half crosswise and place the lime pieces in the glass.

Add the granulated sugar, and working with a wooden pestle , crush the limes with the sugar.  Crushing the fruit with a wooden pestle is essential to the authenticity of this drink, but such tools are hard to find in the States.  If you don’t have one, maybe the handle of a heavy wooden spoon will suffice.   Once you’ve crushed the limes fill the glass with ice cubes or crushed ice. Pour pinga to the top, mix with a spoon and serve.

ENJOY!

pingas222


Comments: There are many types of pinga around.  Some are clear, some are aged,  turning yellow or  light brown.   Those are smoother, with less bite, and besides in capirinhas they may also be enjoyed by sipping.   In the US, the chances are that you will only find clear pinga, among which the most popular brands are “Ypioca”, “51”, and “Pitu”.

Recently in Food and Wine magazine the well-respected chef Daniel Bouloud shared his take on caipirinhas, and served them in wine glasses. My jaw dropped in disbelief when I saw the photos of this crime!  Mr. Boloud would certainly not approve of Champagne served in a teacup, and drinking  caipirinhas from wine glasses is just as bad.  So please, stick to these basic rules: prepare them in a large, strong glass, one drink at a time  using granulated sugar (no simple syrup, no agave nectar, no mint).

Brazilian-approved variations: You can use vodka in place of pinga, for a drink called “caipiroska“.  They’re delicious too, and probably a little easier next day ;-).   Some of my friends have been trying to convince me that “kiwi caipirinhas” are as good as the real thing, but I am a purist and I haven’t made them.  They do sound tasty, plus you get to eat the kiwi at the end.  Go lighter on the sugar if using kiwis, though.     And let me know if you try it, I might just relax my standards and go for it.  😉

Finally,  a few sound files to help you with Brazilian words…

Caipirinha click here  

Pinga… Cachaça… 

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