Category: Tourism and Gastronomy

Brazilian Cheese Bread

I see lots of Northern Hemisphere food bloggers writing about beautiful summer recipes such as home made sorbets, fruit salads, cold drinks and plenty of other refreshing dishes! People are having a great time enjoying the beaches in Provence, throwing a bbq picnic somewhere in Canada but here in the Downunder things are not quite the same…

It is a freezing Sunday afternoon in Sydney.

We didn’t have proper summer neither autumn in NSW this year and while the weather is just about to get more and more miserable, I have to confess that apart from the rain, I do love winter.

Winter for some reason feels more romantic and it is also the time of the year where we eat a lot of comfort food. Not to mention that this is what we’ve been doing since January.

It is time for a good soup, a slow cooked meat, a hot drink, simple cakes and why not some hot cheese buns!

Pão de Queijo

Pão de Queijo or Brazilian Cheese Bread are basically made of tapioca starch, eggs and your choice of shredded Brazilian cheeses. Served hot, crunchy in the outside, gooey in the inside. It is just a perfect choice to go with a hot cup a tea.

Its basic form – which is a tapioca bun – is from the state of Minas Gerais, where around the 1600s, slaves were making manioc flour for the farmland owners.

Minas Gerais is also well known for some of the best cheeses that you will find in Brazil so that gives you an idea of how cheeses were added later to the recipe.

There are lots of variation of its recipe. The one I’m sharing today I’ve got from my friend Mari.

Ingredients

2 eggs
½ kg blended shredded cheeses. I’ve used mozzarella, tasty and Parmesan cheeses
250 ml natural yogurt
250 ml milk
A pinch of salt
½ kg tapioca starch

Method

Preheat oven to 200°C.

In a blender, mix all ingredients except tapioca starch. Blend it until smooth.

Place the tapioca starch in a bowl. Add the dough to the bowl and use a spatula to gently fold ingredients together.

Grease muffin tins with oil.Fill muffin tins half full with the cheese dough.

Bake it for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve it warm.

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PYO fruit and vegetable farms

I’ve been planning to visit some PYO fruit & vegetable farms for a while so we finally made the time to go for an exciting day in the Farm Gate Trail of the Hawkesbury region.

PYO (pick your own) fruits and veggies is a great idea to get in touch with nature, pluck your produce straight from the trees and spend some relaxing time talking to some passionate and laid-back farmers in the countryside of NSW.
It is also a fun an educational experience for children, who can see where their food comes from.

So off we went to Hawkesbury, approximately one and a half hours north-west of Sydney. We checked the harvest calendar and knew what was in season and which farms to go to.

I was particularly interested in finding feijoa – a fruit that is originally from the South of Brazil and It is usually very hard to find in Australia.

It was a typical Autumn day: very sunny but cold and the colour of the vegetation had a stunning mixture of green, orange, brown, yellow and red. There was this amazing smell of cinnamon and apple in the air. So it is definitely not too hard to find a good apple pie in the region!

I really enjoyed our PYO stop at Bilpin Springs Orchard:we were guided by a young bloke that gave us a basket and pointed us to the middle of the orchard, where a farmer met us and assisted everyone very patiently on picking the best fruits without damaging the trees.

We were the only two interested on feijoas so we had a guided feijoa tasting with the farmer while filling up our basket.

We were charged $3.50 per kilo of any fruits. Apples, persimmons and feijoa are all in season so we got a bit carried away by the experience and ended up bringing home more food than what we actually needed.

Among numerous rustic roadside sheds selling fresh produces, we had homemade apple pies from The Local Harvest, from where we also stocked up some free-rage eggs and potatoes.

We finished our day trip at Mount Tomah Botanic Garden in the Blue Mountains where we had a late lunch in the terrace, overlooking the cool climate gardens and the endless vista of the foggy and blueish Mountains.

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Manjar Branco – A coconut pudding

Manjar Branco is an old favorite of mine. A coconut pudding very commonly found in other cultures and known as Blancmange, blamesir, coconut flan. You name it.

For some reason mum used to prepare it only for our Christmas festivities so this simple dessert became a traditional dish in my family. In fact, mum has used the same jelly mold for ages to give it that very specific shape.

This coconut pudding is a refreshing dessert, very light in the mouth and it’s texture is almost like a firm custard.

So few days ago I found online that same vintage jelly mold of mum’s, except in a different colour. I ended up buying it and here it is this simple dish that brought me back some memories of my childhood, helping mum to decide which shaped lid we would use for the manjar branco on that Christmas.

Manjar Branco

Ingredients

1 l whole milk
250 ml coconut milk
7 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla paste

Syrup
¼ cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
100 g pitted dry prunes

Method

Prunes Syrup

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and cook it until it becomes a syrup. Add the prunes and give it a stir. Cook it for a few minutes until prunes and moist and soft. Reserve it.

Manjar Branco

In a saucepan, combine milk, cornstarch, coconut milk and vanilla paste. Stir well until completely dissolved.

Place the pan in medium-heat, stir it constantly while simmering it gently for about 15 minutes or until you have a very thick custard.

Slightly glaze the jelly mold with a bit of oil.

Pour the custard it the mold. Let it cool and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until set.

Unmold the manjar on a flat plate. Pour the prunes syrup over the pudding and your manjar branco is ready to be served.

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