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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ICE CREAM MELTS FOR MANGO

I grew up watching my family members eating mangos and making a huge mess in the process.  Some varieties of Brazilian mango are so fibrous that the “correct” way to eat them is to cut a small hole in the top and suck out the juices while compressing the fruit, which leaves your mouth, face, hands, and possibly even your clothes covered with juice and sticky mango bits.  Some people view this process as part of the fun, but both me and my Dad had nothing to do with it, and only enjoyed a mango if it was laying on a pristine plate, dissected by a knife and fork, with a napkin alongside.

This simple dessert would certainly receive the seal of  approval from my Dad.

MANGOS FLAMBE  (MANGAS FLAMBADAS)
(inspired by my friend Vanda)

4 ripe mangos
1 Tbs butter
2 Tbs granulated sugar (or more)
pinch of salt
1/4 cup rum (or Cointreau or a mix of both)
2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Cut the mango in medium-sized pieces.  Go take a quick shower (optional).  Come back and melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.   Add the diced mango, sprinkle sugar all over it, add the salt, and cook gently until the mango starts to get soft.   Taste a piece and decide if you need more sugar.

Carefully add the rum, heat it for a few seconds, and ignite with a match.  Wait until the flames die down, sprinkle a little lemon juice, taste again.   Serve over vanilla ice cream.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You can change this basic recipe in many ways.  For example, you may first caramelize the sugar, and then add the fruit on top.  But, I prefer this preparation I’m posting because it’s simpler and the taste of the fruit is more pronounced.  You may also skip the alcohol with no major harm, but I like the extra flavor it imparts.   If you have leftovers (highly unlikely), they are delicious in the morning with yogurt and a little granola sprinkled on top.   You can prepare bananas in almost exactly the same way, or even along with the mango, but when making bananas flambe, I like to caramelize the sugar first.     My friend Vanda,  who makes risottos and souffles with her eyes closed and one hand tied behind her back, loves to prepare mangos this way.  After dicing the fruit, she usually grabs the pit and takes great pleasure in sucking all the mango-goodness clinging to it, standing next to the sink.   Unfortunately, I never seem to have my camera ready when that happens.  😉

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MEMORIES of PASTEIS

When traveling to a country for the first time, it’s a good idea to pay special attention to their “street food.”   In Paris, for example, the tiny shops selling crepes (sometimes slathered with Nutella!) are a delight as one strolls along the avenues.   Many big cities are filled with  such delicacies, and in fact, one of my favorite cookbooks revolves around this topic.

On the streets of Brazil, you might stop to buy a “pastel,” and after sampling it, immediately return to the vendor for a couple more (plural = pasteis).    These fried savory pastries are sold at the entrance of street markets: every week on the same day a few blocks of a neighborhood street close to traffic, while farmers sell their produce from early morning until slightly past noon, with prices dropping as the hours pass.  You’ll smell the pasteis from a distance, and it’s  impossible to resist eating more than just one… The vendors are usually hard working Chinese-Brazilians, with red faces from the intense heat in their huge woks.

Growing up in our house, my memories of pasteis go well beyond the street markets.   Luisa, a cook who worked for my Mom every Saturday, often made them, and always from scratch. She used no machines or special gadgets, but only her strong arms, a rolling pin, and a fantastic disposition.

Luisa routinely prepared two batches, one for the whole family, and another for my Dad, which no one else would touch.  What was so special about his pasteis?  They were filled with minced peppers, and I am not talking jalapenos, poblanos, or serranos.  Those were incendiary Brazilian peppers that can make a grown man cry.  Dad was absolutely addicted to them.

Besides his love for hot peppers, he loved a good laugh.  You might see where this is headed: he’d  sneak into the kitchen to steal a couple of pasteis as Luisa was busy frying them, and then hide one of his “special ones” in the middle of the normal batch.   He later patiently waited for a very unlucky camper to bite into it.  Although everyone was on high alert at the beginning of the meal, we always seemed to forget until someone started howling in pain!   Dad, laughing to the point of tears,  insisted that he didn’t do it,  that Luisa had certainly made a mistake.  😉   The best times were when Mom got the fiery one…  Normally soft-spoken and even-tempered, a mouthful of hot pepper really made her fume, literally.   It’s been almost six years since my Dad left us, but the memories will never fade.

PASTEIS
(recipe adapted from my friend and fantastic cook, Anita)

for the dough
250g all purpose flour
1/2 cup warm water
1 egg
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 Tbs pinga (or vodka)
1 tsp baking powder
vegetable oil, for frying (around 2 cups, depending on pan size)

Mix all ingredients together until very smooth. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes to 12 hours in the fridge, covered by plastic film.

Using a pasta machine, open small portions of the dough – on a Kitchen Aid, I roll up to number 5, not thinner. Place the dough on a floured surface and cut into squares. Add the filling of your choice to the center of the square and close the dough around it, pressing the edges with the tines of a fork to prevent it from opening as you fry it.  Make absolutely sure there are no holes for the oil to sip in, or they will be soggy.

Fry in extremely hot oil until golden, turning them only once. Remove to a tray with paper towels to absorb excess oil.  Pasteis can be kept in a 200F oven while you fry the full batch.

Ground beef filling
1 pound ground beef
1 Tbs olive oil
1/4 diced onion
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs pitted, diced green olives
1 Tbs minced parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 Tbs cornstarch
1 boiled egg, finely diced

Saute the onions in the oil until translucent. Add the ground beef, and saute until cooked through. Add the tomato paste, green olives, salt and pepper and cook in slow-heat for 10 minutes. Add the boiled egg, mix well. Make a slurry with water and cornstarch, add to the ground beef mixture, cooking for a few minutes, until it thickens slightly. Let it cool completely before using. Leftover filling can be frozen.

(makes about 20 pasteis)

ENJOY!

PDF file under preparation……  (it had a mistake when originally published)


Comments:
If you don’t want the trouble of making the dough, won ton skins will work reasonably well, and they are quite easy to find in grocery stores.  But, this recipe will produce an authentic version, with a crust full of blisters and slightly more “substance” than you’ll get from won ton skins.

Pasteis can be filled with many different things.   Pastel de queijo (cheese pastel)  is very popular in Brazil:   just enclose  a piece of mozzarella with a sprinkle of oregano, and remember that it will be very hot once it’s done frying.    Hearts of palm is another popular filling (pastel de palmito) that I’ll definitely post about in the future, because I’m very fond of it.  Your own imagination is the limit: roasted chicken with a little cream cheese, cooked shrimp with tomatoes and herbs, all veggie…..  Have fun with it!

Pasteis can be made in a small size that’s  perfect as an appetizer with a cold caipirinha on the side.  But my favorite pasteis are as part of a full meal, with rice and a fresh salad.  Tropical paradise on a plate!
For more photos, follow the slide show…. And for a quick lesson on Brazilian Portuguese, click on the sound files down below.

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If you want to pronounce it like a native, listen carefully:
pastel
pasteis

receita em portugues na proxima pagina….

pagina seguinte

MANDIOCA FRITA 101: FRIED YUCCA ROOT

I suspect that many people have never tried it, and that those who saw manioc root for sale didn’t take it home, because it looks too strange and intimidating.   That’s  all quite sad, because it means they’re missing this: the Brazilian version of french fries.

For many Brazilians, “mandioca frita” is even better than french fries.  I know, it sounds heretical, but trust me – once you try it you will be hooked.  Crunchy outside, creamy inside, with a flavor that can only be described as addictive.    I won’t lie to you, mandioca  frita takes some effort.  But  if you follow my instructions you won’t regret it.

Manioc, also known as cassava and yucca, is a major ingredient in many cuisines of the world.  You can read all about it here.

To cook the manioc, you first must peel it, a task that requires a good quality veggie peeler.  The root is often sold covered with a thin layer of paraffin, but don’t worry about it, just peel the brown skin to reveal the  white root underneath (Don’t even consider feeding the peel to your garbage disposal – you’ve been warned!).

Here’s a before and after shot…

Next, using a big, sharp knife and some caution cut it into pieces:  it’s a reasonably tough root….

… now you’re ready to begin cooking.  Fill a large pan with slightly salted water, and place the pieces of manioc inside.  Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and allow the pieces to cook until they’re tender, easily pierced with a fork  (the time is somewhat unpredictable,  anywhere from 25 to 50  minutes).  Some pieces might burst open;  just remove them from the water.   In this photo you can see what they look like when ready.

Cooking manioc is a labor of love.   Not all the pieces will be ready at the same time, and some pieces might never become tender.  In Brazil, “mandioca” is sold in street markets as well as grocery stores, and similar to what happens in France, once you establish a relationship with a particular seller in your neighborhood,  you’ll always have great quality mandioca.  😉

Once you cook it, you’ll notice a tough “string” in the very center of the root:  remove it before frying.  It’s too tough to eat, although it won’t hurt you if you don’t remove it.

Here in the US I’ve found excellent manioc root in Asian markets, but as you can see from the next photo, in the same batch I had a mixture of varieties (white and yellow), something that never happens in Brazil, because they would be sold separately.   Their taste is almost identical, although in my family you might witness heated discussions defending the qualities of one kind over another.  To avoid taking sides,  I pledge endless love for both.

At this point you can fry them right away or save them for later.  I normally cook a large batch, fry as many as we want for dinner, and then freeze the rest.  If you have a vac-saver system, you can use it to store the  cooked manioc root.    When you want to fry them, simply remove from the freezer and let them sit for half an hour; no need to even completely defrost them,  although I wouldn’t go straight from frozen into the hot oil.

To fry the cooked pieces, add 1/2 inch of vegetable oil to a large skillet  and heat it until the manioc sizzles when it touches the oil.  Fry as many pieces as will fit without crowding, and allow the first side to brown before moving them around, or they’ll get a bit greasy.    When finished frying, put them on absorbent paper and add some salt to taste.

Now, close your eyes, and dream of a tropical beach, coconut trees, a hammock, and perhaps a refreshing “caipirinha” with your mandioca frita!