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Posts from the ‘Brazil’ Category

My Rio de Janeiro: A Cookbook

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I first met Leticia Moreinos Schwartz  at a seminar at the International Culinary Center.  Perched in the front row with a well-prepared list of questions and samples for the class, she would have been intimidating if she wasn’t so incredibly nice.  We’ve stayed in touch since and she’s always quick to answer my questions and offer much needed guidance and advice.  Her first book, The Brazilian Kitchen, is full of unfailing recipes and her personal insight into Brazilian cuisine and has become a favorite.  Less familiar to me than other Latin American traditions, Brazilian food has been a blind spot though I’m always happy when I make the effort.  Her latest, My Rio de Janeiro: A Cookbook, tells an even more personal story of both the carioca home cooking she grew up with and the contemporary Brazilian cuisine she encounters on frequent trips home.

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Empadinhas de Palmito

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I always loved Palm Sunday when I was little.  There was something about getting those palm fronds that felt important.  For once I had a focus for my fidgeting, and I’d spend the service shaping and reshaping them.  Last Sunday, though I (somewhat guiltily) didn’t attend mass, I fussed with hearts of palm instead. Read more

Licor de Mel

It might be a contact high from the first day of school, but I’ve been jittery the last couple of days. Operating under the delusion that summer was endless, I have a vague recollection of saying yes to a series of events and dates in September. With Labor Day come and gone, I’m anxiously waiting for the inevitable overbook or forgotten deadline. Though I’m ready to get back to work (somewhat), I’ll miss the steady stream of summer holidays when you’re never too far from your next firework display. Read more

Sorvete de Carambola

Some days, Manhattan’sChinatown could pass for Miami’s Little Havana. I have better luck finding tropical produce there than some of the smaller bodegas or upscale markets where a few tiny specimens are overpriced and undersold. A couple of weeks ago, I took the long way home, working my way through the East Village going along the Bowery to Canal St. where the fruit carts are piled high with pitayas, sapotes, and fresh guavas. Coming across a stack of carambola, I heard music. Read more

Casquinha de Siri

Looking over Caribbean or Central American recipes, it’s no longer necessary to seek out Latin American markets or bodegas in search of specialty items.  Increasingly popular, all grocery stores are now Latin American bodegas (or at least have a booming selection of Goya products).  I could also order absolutely anything online but it doesn’t compare to finding it in a newly discovered shop or even better, bringing back a longed for ingredient from a trip.  Portuguese and Brazilian recipes pose there own challenges.  Too often lumped in with the rest of South America, it’s a combination of indigenous, Portuguese, and African influences whose unique ingredients can put it just out of everyday reach.  I can find guajillo chiles or aji amarillo within few blocks of my house but I have yet to come across dendê oil or malagueta peppers by chance, making it that much more exciting to find farina de mandioca on the lower east side. Read more

Just Once More

I’d been burned before.  Last summer I found an old recipe for Brazilian coconut candies called  brasileiras.  I put all the ingredients together as directed – egg yolks, freshly shredded coconut, sugar – but they wanted nothing to do with each other.  I Googled “brasilerias” to find my mistake but the results were (not surprisingly) unhelpful.  A few weeks later, I attempted beijinhos de coco or “coconut kisses”. Similar to the brasileiras, they’re a combination of condensed milk, butter, and grated coconut that are rolled into balls and decorated with a single clove.  This version called for a final dip in chocolate and almonds.  I should have known when I wasn’t able to form the coconut into balls, mounds or anything like it that I’d made a mistake somewhere.  I kept going anyway, making an expensive chocolate almond mess.  I pretended they were edible, but after a day or two, I stopped kidding myself and threw the rest away.  I hadn’t looked a coconut in the eyes since. Read more

Last Call

Life inside the snow globe is pretty but it’s February and I’m tired of feeling (and looking) like a nesting doll.  It’s the final day of Carnival in Rio and I’m not there.  It’s hard to believe that there are people thinking, not about how many layers they can wear under their overcoat, but how many feathers they can get on their headdress – a headdress and little else.  I looked for coverage of the parades that have been going since Saturday but haven’t found very much.  While I hate to miss out, I love knowing that there are still events so wonderful, people don’t stop to upload.  Hoping to bring a little bit of carnival to my site, I asked a Brazilian friend for any good recipes made for the festival.  Her answer was immediate and simple – caipirinhas – the fuel behind the celebration and apparently, the unusually high November birth rate in Brazil.  As she put it, it is a country of Scorpios.

A combination of limes, sugar, and cachaça, the Brazilian liquor made from fermented sugar cane, you can also use vodka to make a caipiroskas or light rum for a caipiríssima.  I briefly considered holding my glass out the window for a caipisnowcone.  However, you mix it, it’s worth the Fat Tuesday effort lest you wake up on Ash Wednesday all repentance and no sin. Read more

Merengues con Chirimoya

I’d been looking for a way to use chirimoyas since I came across them a few months ago in a nearby market.  Originally found in the Andean region between Peru and Ecuador, they’re also cultivated in small pockets throughout Chile, California, Spain, New Zealand, Australia, and Israel.  Heart-shaped and scaly, they could be a dragon’s paw and are almost as rare in my Brooklyn neighborhood, so I was excited when I found them.  Also known as custard apples, they’re like everything and like nothing else.  The fruit can be likened to strawberry, banana, pineapple, papaya, avocados, mango, ripe pears, and commercial bubble gum while Mark Twain described it more simply as “deliciousness itself.” Read more

Pan de Yuca

Though I’d love to have homemade rolls every day, I stay away from bread recipes for first thing.  They never seem to rise and bulk up in the time promised.  I wake up early and spend the morning nervously peeking at the dough I lovingly covered in its blanky and placed in a draft free place to no avail.  One hour becomes two and there’s no breakfast in sight.  By the time it’s done, I’m too cranky to really enjoy it.  I didn’t get to sleep in yet the dough enjoyed a leisurely rise.  When I came across pan de yuca or yuca bread in a Miami, I was curious.  A combination of yuca flour (also known as tapioca starch) and cheese, it can be mixed and rolled as quickly as arepas then baked off.   Read more

New Map

I’ve been going through this week’s New York Times travel section featuring Latin America, specifically  an awakened Chile, colonial Colombia, 36 Hours in Montevideo, Rio hot spots, Peruvian restaurants, and rejuvenated Mazatlán.  Travel exhausts me but its a fun read.

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