Category: Cooking with wine

Sagu – Tapioca Pearls in Red Wine

Sagu - Tapioca Pearls in Red Wine

Having grown up in Brazil, eating Sagu when I was young was definitely one of the few ways to taste some wine and feel a bit dipsy just by having a dessert.

Sagu is a dessert made of tapioca pearls which is a bit different from sago: the tapioca starch is extracted from cassava root while the sago starch is extracted from the pith of sago palm stems.

Tapioca Pearls

Commercially both types of starch are processed into several forms and the pearls are very popular among the Asians, served usually in teas or smoothies.

Tapioca Pearls

The Brazilian dessert is very unique: the pearls absorb the wine and become very chewy. It is served chilled but the combination of the wine and the cloves kind of warm you up. Once you give it a try, you can pretty much say that you have eaten some wine, if it makes any sense.


SAGU by Mais Voce


1 cup tapioca pearls
3 cups red wine
1 cup sugar
10 cloves


In a large saucepan, boil 3 liters of water.
Add the tapioca pearls and stir gently until it boils again.

Remove from heat and cool inside the lidded pot, stirring it occasionally for about 2 to 3 hours.

Using a colander, drain all water and wash the pearls quickly to remove the sticky gum.

Transfer the pearls back to saucepan, add sugar, wine and cloves. Bring it back to heat until it boils.

When boiling, remove from heat and place in a glass bowl. Leave it in the fridge and serve the next day.

17 people like this post.

Exotic Mushroom Risotto

Exotic Mushroom Risotto

Despite all the Italian influence in many dishes that we cooked at home, my family is 100% carnivore like most Brazilian families.
Then a mushroom risotto is a dish that was never part of our menu to be honest!

Even at restaurants, I never considered ordering a vegetarian dish (when in fact there were not many vegetarian options on the menu). I’ve always been used to eat some sort of meat in every single meal.

In Australia, a country that has a large number of immigrants who do not eat meat for religious reasons or even by lifestyle, I’ve learned to appreciate cooking vegetarian dishes and risotto is in fact one of the greatest findings !

This dish is actually the hubby’s specialty and it is a winner when cooked for friends. I’ve chosen to make it after I went to the Sydney Markets on the weekend and I found very fresh mushrooms on a really good price: by AUD 10 a kilo of Australian grown shiitake, I guess there is no need to explain anything else, isn’t it ?
The recipe that I made serves 4 people generously.

Exotic Mushroom Risotto

Exotic Mushroom Risotto - Ingredients


500 g Arborio rice
250 g fresh shiitake mushroom
150 g fresh shimeji mushroom
25 g dried porcini mushroom
1 small onion, minced
3 tbsp butter
750 ml chicken stock
500 ml warm water
100 ml dry white wine
olive oil
chives for decoration
grated Parmesan cheese


Soak the porcini mushrooms in warm water. Do not throw this water out because it will be used as stock for the risotto.
Thoroughly clean the mushrooms shiitake and shimeji.

Remove stems from shiitake and slice the rest. Reserve the stems to prepare the stock.
Loosen well shimeji. Save any excess stem for the stock as well.

Then start preparing the stock for risotto.

Mix chicken stock, the water used to hydrated the porcini mushrooms, a pinch of salt, the stems of the mushrooms in a saucepan and bring it to medium heat for 15 minutes. Strain the stock and keep it warm in low heat.

In another pan, melt one tablespoon butter, add olive oil and fry the onion. Add the rice and fry until the rice starts to turn translucent. Add the white wine, stirring well until wine evaporates completely.
Mix the porcini mushroom with the rice. Then add a ladle of hot stock and stir until liquid is all absorbed by the rice.
Continue in this way, gradually adding stock and stirring until rice is tender and al dente.

In a saucepan, Melt one tablespoon butter and fry the shiitake and shimeji. Mix the sauteed mushrooms to the risotto, the remaining butter and parmesan, and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Let rest for about 2 minutes.

Then serve it, garnishing with chives (fried or raw, as you like).


– Wipe the mushrooms using a paper. Due to the spongy texture they will absorb water if washed.

– The chicken stock can be substituted for vegetable stock.

– This dish requires a bit of coordination so make sure you prepare all ingredients before starting to cook the rice so you won’t mess it up.

The wine

Morello 2005 - Nebbiolo

To match the risotto, we chose a wine made from Nebbiolo grapes, as wine and dishes from the same region usually match well.
Nebbiolo is a grape originally Italian and it seems that even today is one of the most difficult grapes to grow outside Italy.
This grape is used to make Barollo, one of the Italian most famous types of red wines.

Some Australian producers however began to cultivate grapes in regions with similar climatic conditions to those in Europe.

This is the case of wine we bought, a Morello 2005 produced by Thorn Clark from Barossa Valley region.

The wine matched well with the dinner and proved a great cost benefit.

I found the colour very interesting: medium brown, orange, looking like copper colour.
It wasn’t much dry in the mouth which makes sense for its soft tannins and good acidity.
And on top of the rich floral and cherry aromas, this wine actually smells a little bit like mushrooms.

I was very curious to experience an authentic Italian Barollo and to able to compare it to the Australian ones. But you know, at the end of the day the Aussie one does the job very well too!

Wine: Morello
Winery: Thorn Clarke
Composition: Nebbiolo
Harvest: 2005
Country: Australia
Region: Barossa Valley
Grape: Nebbiolo
Price: AUD 18
Graduation: 14%

Risotto and Nebbiolo as an Italian dinner

6 people like this post.

Poached Pear

Poached Pear

The inspiration

I have an aunt who is the queen of the dessert. Lunch with family is always followed by a coconut cake, a bread pudding, a strawberry pie or a meringue tart (one of those where even the meringues are homemade).

The funniest thing is when we come to visit her without any notice and the first thing she says is something like “Wow, I didn’t know you were coming and I haven’t baked anything today!”. Then she makes us a coffee, we keep talking and when we suddenly realise, she has already stuffed and baked a wonderful cake much better that any famous bakery that I’ve been to!

I remember when I moved to Australia and she gave me a gift: my 3 first cookbooks. Three very old booklets, with easy recipes. One of them was actually written by Claybom, an old Brazilian dairy brand. Does anyone remember Claybom?

Well, as pretty much everyone from my mother’s generation cooks very well in the family, the pressure is simple as this: Is anyone in this family going to learn how to cook like them?

No, I (still) don’t cook like them but I love my little adventures in the kitchen so, my dear family, hopefully I will get there eventually! And who knows If I won’t be the one to pass this precious legacy forward?

Poached Pear

Poached Pear

When I saw these little pears at Sydney Markets It reminded me a lot of my aunt and I decided to make a dessert with them. Small, delicate, hard to handle but worthwhile!

The flavour of the pear poached in wine is quite remarkable: it is possible to distinguish the taste of each ingredient in every bite and it’s amazing how all these flavours complement each other!

Not counting the leftover sauce that turned into a delicious jam when thickened a bit longer.

I hope I have the opportunity to make this dessert for my aunt during my holidays in Brazil.

Poached Pear - Ingredients

I got the base for this recipe on Real Simple .


1/2 bottle of dry red wine
1 lemon
1 orange quartered
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla, cut in half
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
10 small pears or 5 large ones, peeled


In a small saucepan mix the wine, lemon and orange juices, 1 quarter of the squeezed orange, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and cloves.

Remove the core of the pears through the bottom.
Add pears to saucepan and cook on medium heat until boiling. Lower heat, leave the pot unlided turning the pears occasionally for about half an hour or until they are soft.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to the dishes where it will be served.

Remove the squeezed orange, the cinnamon stick and cloves from the pan.

Bring the pot back to the low heat and cook until the syrup reduce to one third, approximately 20 minutes.
Pour the syrup over the pears.

Serve it warm to enhance the flavours. It goes well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

7 people like this post.