Category: Brazil

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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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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Moqueca Baiana – A seafood stew

Not sure why took me so long to blog about Moqueca, after all this is one of the most traditional Brazilian dishes.

It is a seafood stew original from the native people of Brazil, slowly cooked on a clay-pot and made with some of the freshest ingredients that our land and sea have to offer.

The dish evolved during the Colonial Brazil times when the Portuguese brought coconuts to the country (and planted the coconut trees along all our coast in replacement for the prime wood that was taken), while the African slaves introduced Palm Oil to our culinary.

The two variations of dish are the Moqueca Baiana (from the northeast State of Bahia) and the Moqueca Capixaba (from the Southeast State of Espirito Santo). The difference between the two is that coconut milk and palm oil are only used in the Baiana recipe.

People from both States claim for the dish invention but I absolutely love both of them and honestly think that they are so different that shouldn’t even be compared.

Although it is a stew, this dish can be enjoyed year-round so whenever you happen to be in Brazil, make sure you find a restaurant that serves a good Moqueca.

Seafood Moqueca Baiana

I’ve been cooking this dish for years and there is no real science behind it: easy to make and you can adapt the measurements accordingly to whatever you have available.

This might sound a bit controversial but I have a Capixaba clay-pot that I actually use to make Moqueca Baiana.

Ingredients

4 cutlets of Blue Eye Cod (or any firm fish with similar texture)
300 g prawns, head removed
300 g calamari, cut in rings
500 ml fish stock
200 ml coconut milk
1 red capsicum, sliced in rings
1 yellow capsicum, sliced in rings
1 green capsicum, sliced in rings
3 tomatoes, sliced in rings
2 small onions, sliced in rings
1 small onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
juice of 1 lime
1 red chilli, chopped
2 tbsp palm oil
chopped parsley for garnishing
black pepper
salt

Method

Place the fish cutlets into a bowl. Season it with lime juice, salt, ground pepper, and garlic. Reserve it for 20 minutes.
In a separate bowl, season prawns and calamari with salt and pepper.
Heat the palm oil in the clay-pot and fry the chopped onion until golden brown. Remove the pot from heat.

Layer half of the raw onions, capsicums, tomatoes in the clay-pot.

Add all the marinated fish pieces over the layered vegetables and drizzle it with any leftover marinade.

Sprinkle it with half of the parsley and red chillies.

Layer the rest of the onions, capsicums and tomatoes on top of the fish cutlets. Sprinkle it with the rest of parsley and red chillies.

Pour coconut milk and fish stock into the clay-pot.

Bring mixture to a boil, simmer it gently covered for 15 minutes.

Remove lid.

Add the calamari rings and prawns. Stir it gently and simmer it for another 15 minutes or until vegetables are well-cooked.

Serve with rice and toasted manioc flour (farofa de dende)

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