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So you wanna cook Brasilian Food?

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Ok, so I told myself when I started this blog I’d put down all the recipes I found and take pictures.  Lo an behold a year and a half later, even though I’ve made a ton of things from scratch, and some quite regularly (Stroganoff) I haven’t really been super great about doing this.  Well imagine my sheer joy when I found Kitchen Corners.  One because she’s all about cooking and lives in Bahia currently, and two because she had a recipe up for Passion Fruit/Maracuja/Lilikoi bars.  MMM mmm yumm~!

I can attest they are delicious. Especially because by the time I finished making the bars everyone in the house (but me) got sick , and no one but me felt like eating.  My poor husband can only look on sadly and wish he felt like eating these golden goodies.

Here is how my bars turned out (not as lovely looking as hers, but lovely still the same.

The crust is cripsy, caramel, crunchiness.  The fruit layer perfectly tart and creamy.  My oven sucks, so I ended up cooking the whole thing for 45 minutes instead of 35 like the recipe said, and still think the center was a bit soft.  I also only used a stick of butter (220 grams), which isn’t quite a half pound (like I was going to measure that out).  Seriously, I will NEVER make lemon bars again.  These are perfect.

But this post isn’t just about Maracuja Bars, this is about all of the other great Brasilian recipes she’s got up on her site.    They are good staple Brasilian dishes like pao de quiejo, coxinha, Brasilian lasagna, feijao, etc.  All in English, with photos, and using cups and oz and tsps.   Seriously, when I first moved here I made coxinha, and the only English recipe I could find wasn’t helpful or looked that Brasilian delish, and the Brasilian one while it looked yummier, was harder for me to follow (obvious reasons).  The recipe on her site is clear, and has photos of what each stage of the time consuming process looks like.

So go visit the site, and at the very least make your self some of these yummy bars.

Catipury cheese – so what if I don’t have cheddar

I’ve learned to love it.  It’s a savory cream cheese they sell here.  Requeijão cremoso is what its generic name is, and like cheddar cheese in America there is a noted difference with different brands.  Catipury is like Xerox, the gold standard when it comes to requeijão .  The flavor is wonderful, and unique, and I’ll miss it.  It’s like cream cheese, but with more flavor like Edam (those little babybel cheeses I loved as a kid).  Either way it is yummy and creamy, and they don’t have it all over the place in the US, unless you haul up to a Brazilian grocery store.  Let’s be honest, the only ethnic stores I will take the time to visit are Asian ones, sorry Brazil.

So anyway, the point is you can TRY and knock it off at home.  Why not right? This isn’t too difficult of a recipe, and as I live in Brazil, I have not tried it yet, since heck I get the good stuff.  But if you are not in Brazil (and for me once I return to the US), here’s a recipe from TudoGostoso… meaning everything yummy.  So how can it be wrong?

Catipury

8 tablespoons corn starch
1 liter of milk (about 4 1/4 cups)
200 g butter (just a smidge less than a cup)
2 cups grated mozzarella
2 cups grated cheese curd (good luck on that, I’ve seen it but I know not too common)
1 can cream (about a cup)
Thicken the cornstarch, milk and butter in a pan.  Once custard like, add the cream, mozzeralla and grated cheese curd together, with the cornstarch mixture.  Beat everything together in a mixure

Refrigerate for 6 hours, then serve.

Yum Sugar had this recipe, which is easier if you don’t want to deal with the above.

Ingredients:

2 packages (9 oz.) Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 lb. Munster cheese

Preparation:

Over very low heat, melt the two cheeses together until they are completely blended. Remove the mixture from the heat, place it in a container and let it cool. Then put it in the refrigerator for a few hours and after it has been chilled, it can be used in any recipe calling for Catupiry.

Gimme some Mexican Food!!

So we love Mexican food.  After living in LA for 5 years, not only am I now an avid lover of Korean food, I also love myself some Mexican food. mmmmm..  I think when people think of Brasil, they think of South America and then they think everyone in South America eats what most American’s think of Mexican food.  Listed on the items I brought back from my most recent trip to the US were various packets of enchilada and taco seasonings.  Because, the sad news is Brasil is more European in food than the rest of South America.

I find I’m buying these really pathetic “wraps” at Pao de Acucar.  It’s the only tortillas I’ve found here, and the flavor isn’t that great.  I usually cut them into chips and fry them. (Making tortillas from scratch, just to fry it is pointless. In fact, sometimes I just by the pastel dough and fry that for chips).

Anyway, I really wanted to start making tortillas.  I’ve got two recipes that I use, depending on preferences.  For the flour tortillas that you think of when eating fajitas, light and fluffy. I use this recipe.

Texas Flour Tortillas (adapted from The Border Cookbook by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison)
Ingredients:

  • Two cups of all-purpose flour (can make them whole wheat by substituting one cup of whole-wheat flour for white flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cups of warm milk
  • Method:

Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and oil. Slowly add the warm milk. Stir until a loose, sticky ball is formed. Knead for two minutes on a floured surface. Dough should be firm and soft. Place dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap for 20 minutes. After the dough has rested, break off eight sections, roll them into balls in your hands, place on a plate (make sure they aren’t touching) and then cover balls with damp cloth or plastic wrap for 10 minutes. (It’s very important to let the dough rest, otherwise it will be like elastic and won’t roll out to a proper thickness and shape.) After dough has rested, one at a time place a dough ball on a floured surface, pat it out into a four-inch circle, and then roll with a rolling pin from the center until it’s thin and about eight inches in diameter. (If you roll out pie crusts you’ll have no problem with this.) Don’t over work the dough, or it’ll be stiff. Keep rolled-out tortillas covered until ready to cook. In a dry iron skillet or comal heated on high, cook the tortilla about thirty seconds on each side. It should start to puff a bit when it’s done. Keep cooked tortillas covered wrapped in a napkin until ready to eat.

Makes eight tortillas.

However, I’m also a huge lover of Cafe Rio. If you’ve ever driven through St. George, Utah you’ll know what Cafe Rio is. It’s gggreeeat.  I have a knock off recipe that I’m quite fond of, on a recent visit to the site I found they had added the tortilla recipe to go with the ranch dressing and pulled pork. As this is my all time favorite Cafe Rio recipe, I knew the tortillas would be spot on. mmm buttery, chewy tortillas. This one includes shortening, so it gives it that chewy flavor. CLICK the link, there are too many recipes to post on this ridiculously long post as it is. I make the tortillas in my wok so I can make them big enough.

Couple of notes.  I haven’t found enchilada sauce in Sao Paulo, other than at the Mercado Municipal. So,  normally I make my own enchilada sauce (soo happy to have purchased some in the US!!).  I kind of just mashed up a bunch of recipes:

Enchilada Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 -3 teaspoons cocoa powder (depends on your preference)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

Directions: Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl. Stirring constantly, slowly add enough of the water to make a thin paste. Pour into pan and add rest of water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Stir in tomato sauce.  If you don’t like the bitterness of normal sauce, you can also throw in a bouillon cube.

Also the ranch dressing calls for tomatillos.  You can substitute green tomatoes, although it’s still not perfect. But I have yet to find tomatillos here, just their cousins the ripe, sweet physalis.

For sour cream (because that too doesn’t exist here) I usually just mix some lime juice in with my creme de leite.  It works.

 

 

 

Guava Lime Bars

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I saw this recipe on Pinterest and it looked super yummy. Addicted to that by the way. Back to the point.

I’m in Brasil, and while my grocery store does carry lemons, I buy limes as they are cheaper.  I also didn’t have strawberries on hand, even though they’ve finally in season and so cheap enough to buy. I only had a packet of frozen guava…and yes I said package. You don’t buy your juice in little tin concentrate cans. You buy it in little plastic baggies, and then mix it with water and server.  Normally you don’t add sugar, as there is a a little thing of sugar or liquid fake sugar at the table for people to mix it themselves.

So here is my Brasil twist on lemon bars.

Guava Lime Bars
Adapted from Baking Bites

Crust
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Filling
1 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 Tahiti limes)
2-3 tsp lime zest
1/2 cup pureed guava (1 large frozen bag)
1 1/4 cups sugar (If you like your bars sweeter, I’d up the amount as these are tart!)
4 large eggs
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Begin by making the crust.  In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until smooth and fluffy. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly. Pour into prepared pan and press into an even layer. Bake for about 17 minutes, until set at the edges.

While the crust bakes, prepare the filling.  In a blender, combine lime juice, lime zest, guava puree, sugar and eggs and process until smooth. Add in flour, baking powder and salt, then pulse until smooth.

Gently pour the filling over the hot crust when it has finished baking. Return pan to oven and bake for 26-30 minutes, until the filling is set (There will be a light colored “crust” on top from the sugar in the custard – nothing to worry about).  Then gently dust with powdered sugar.

Beijus!

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My maid has introduced us to beijus, well hubby was already familiar with them as they are pretty popular in the North, but my son and I have now been introduced to them.  A Beiju is a crepe of sorts made solely from tapioca starch.  MMM yum you’re thinking 😉  They’re actually pretty good, the tapioca gives it a kind of gummy chewyness that makes it yummy. The centers are filled with various things, from plain ‘ole butter to cheese and ham or guava.

My son actually eats these, which totally surprised me!  I am lazy and just buy the packet of tapioca powder at the store, but in the US you have to buy tapioca starch and make it from scratch

Beiju

INGREDIENTS
1 kg of tapioca starch
2 liters of water

Let the tapioca starch soak for 2 hours in the water. Remove water and dry over a white cloth for 2 hours. Pass through a sieve. Heat a non-stick skillet, don’t oil or grease it. Keep the flame low.  Place the tapioca starch in the pan, smoothing the beijú softly into a crepe. Fry for about 3 minutes or until the beijú solidifies. 
When I made it from tapioca starch, I took half the bag and mixed with water and let sit for 45 minutes, then mixed with the dry powder.  It’s a bit quicker than the above method.  You want the tapioca to not be powdery anymore, but also not be wet, so kind of the consistency of bran.

The Best Cookies Ever

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Did you know that May 15th was Chocolate Chip Cookie day??? The husband is mad at me because I was sick again… I get sick a lot … maybe I should drink more water so I stop getting kidney stones.  Brazil’s hot climate is not conducive to my poor water drinking abilities. But I digress (I do that A LOT).   I didn’t make these cookies yesterday, but I made them a week ago for our anniversary.

These are my friend Jessica’s cookies.  They are addictive, I should warn you now.  They have replaced both of my other “favorite” chocolate chip cookie recipes.  See chocolate chip cookies, are like Brigadero in Brazil.. separate blog post on that when I get around to finally trying my hand at making it.  The normal recipe is half white chocolate and half semi-sweet chocolate.  Normally, I’m not a fan of white chocolate, but it adds a wonderful sweet vanilla flavor to the cookies, and I STRONGLY recommend it.  My husband however is a fan of pure milk chocolate chips, and so as this latest batch was an anniversary gift to him.. his very own batch of cookies, made just the way he likes them, my recipe below is made with milk chocolate.  I have made notes on my “Brasil adaptions” to the original recipe.

Jessica’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks of butter (I block of 200 grams of butter… yeah butter doesn’t come in sticks here)
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar (I mule it in, because I will only use C&H Sugar.. I’m from Hawaii after all!)
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla (I muled this into Brasil too, because it’s kind of expensive here)
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda  (It’s called Feremente em Po here)

3 cups flour (add more as needed so the dough is no longer sticky)

1/2 bag of white choc chips
1/2 bag of milk choco chips
(I substituted the above for one Garota Chocolate bar Ao Leite.  For about R$20 you can get a Kilogram of the stuff and chop it up into little chunks.  I used about 1/4 of the bar or 2 cups)
Cream together butter, and both sugars for a good 5-6 minutes, until the batter can hold peaks (kind of like when you make whipped cream).  Add the eggs and mix for another couple minutes.
Add vanilla and mix.  Combine salt, baking soda and flour and slowly add to the mixture.  After fully combined, add your choice of chocolate chips.
Unless you have a Kitchen Aid/Bosch mixer you will have to add the choc chips by hand.  My hand mixer gets tired after I add the flour!  I’ve found with this recipe that the real key is mixing each ingredient for several minutes.  They bake nicer when you take the time to do it.  Definitely worth it!
Bake at 350 degrees (180 C)  for 12 minutes.  I like to cook them on a piece of tin foil on my cookie sheet.  then you can just pull the sheet of cookies off onto your counter and scoop up the next batch. Enjoy!
If you decide to double the recipe it makes A LOT of cookies.  Also, if you double it, only use 3 eggs, not 4.  The recipe above is actually half of the original recipe, but it makes a more reasonable amount of cookies.
 
Ok so they look a little flat, that’s because I suck at baking, but trust me they are GREAT. Hubby just likes them almost raw.
Here’s a batch fully baked:

My first son’s first birthday

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My first son’s first birthday

We are losers with no friends.  Okay, we are work aholics with a 1 year old, it makes things hard when it comes to going out. So his first birthday wasn’t Brasilian style, maybe his second will be and I’ll fill you in on how crazy it was.  We did it very simple, and I’m somewhat ashamed, as in Hawaii you celebrate big just like in Brasil.  But don’t worry thanks to the power of the internet and youtube, you can all celebrate with us!

I decided that we should make a cake, but wanted it to be as low sugar as possible, as I didn’t want my kid to get the sugar sickness buzz afterwards.  He really loved the cake, and ate a ton of it while bouncing in his chair he loved it so much.  He smeared it across is face, but miraculously he didn’t chuck a bit of it on the floor.  And then after a thorough scrub down he went to bed, since he didn’t have any sugar rush, it was perfect.

Dad insisted he get something special for dinner as well, so he got to eat fried chicken and peas (this kid seriously loves the peas, they’re like candy to him).

For his birthday cake, I ended up making a double layer cake so we could have some and he could eat some later (it is his birthday after all!).  When making a cake you usually trim off a thing slice to make the cake flat.  I used that slice to make a  3 tier mini cake for the little guy.

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups agave syrup
  • 1 cup butter (used 200 grams)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup milk

My oven STARTS at 180 degrees.. so that’s what I HAD to cook it at, but the recipe states:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners. In a medium bowl, cream together the agave syrup and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.  I modified it from a white cake recipe found at All Recipes

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

From Kiss My Bundt’s frosting recipe

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (measured then sifted) — replaced with 2 tsp Stevia
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the cream cheese and butter until soft and completely smooth, at least two minutes. Turn the mixer speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, making sure to scrape down any frosting stuck to the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract.   Mix on medium speed until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.

** The frosting with Stevia passed the bowl taste test, but isn’t quite as sweet as the cake, so I probably would have added maybe 1 or 2 Tbsp of Agave too.  It’s just that Agave really is a fructose sugar, and a liquid.  Either way it wasn’t bad, just wasn’t exactly right on.

MANGO CURD FILLING

I took it from a blog about some chic making a wedding cake and of course adapted it.  She used a  Mango Curd Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 1998

Makes 1 to 1.5 cups

  • 1 15-ounce ripe mango, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (1 lime)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Puree mango, sugar, lime juice and salt in blender, scraping down sides of work bowl occasionally. Add yolks; puree 15 seconds longer. Strain through sieve set over large metal bowl (I used Haden mangos, which don’t have all the fiber so didn’t need to strain.. so it really depends on the type of mango you use).  Discard solids in sieve. Set metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water); whisk puree until thickened,  about 10 minutes (felt like 20-30 to me personally). Remove from over water. Whisk in butter 1 piece at a time. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

You can leave out the lime juice if your kid is sensitive or you like it sweet and not sour (Atonia complained it was too tart but we loved it!).  My kid also doesn’t have any issues with limes, and loves em.

The cake was VERY Dense.  And because the agave syrup changed the white cake into a bit more yellow hue, it worked with the mango flavoring/color scheme.